Tuesday 29 April 2008

Be aware, be moved, be involved...

I think the new Oxfam ad on TV this week is really very clever.  logo_oxfamBob says he keeps expecting it to turn into an advert for Lloyds bank though.

But it seems strange timing to launch it - Christian Aid week starts on May 11th which is less than a fortnight away 180px-Christian_Aid_Logo_svg - isn't Joe Public going to get a little confused?

I suppose if he does, he may just be prompted to give, even if he isn't quite sure which charity is which.

A man has just come to the front door collecting ...

"You may remember me, I come every year collecting for the animals who are killed by the poachers" He was wearing a badge and he had one rather creased leaflet which he waved at me - but no collecting tin, just a black leather unlabelled purse. He was well spoken, 60-ish, and smartly dressed - but I am afraid I declined and shut the door quickly.

Now I have loads of questions -

  1. If it IS a genuine charity, why no proper envelopes or collecting box?
  2. Why didn't he tell me the NAME of the charity? and finally
  3. What on earth is he going to DO with money he collects for 'animals killed by the poachers'? Is he planning to pay for a posh funeral - these animals are dead, after all!!!

Spending all day on a recalcitrant PC preparing for two church events has left me more than a little frazzled I am afraid.

Monday 28 April 2008

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without...

Just a little rant here about 'money-saving' articles in the media recently.  First Rosie Millard's article "Join me in the new austerity" in the paper over the weekend.millard [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/women]

She has bought herself a sewing machine as she thinks this will help her pay off "the dregs of my ... monster overdraft - £50,000 at its worst".

What kind of planet is she living on? She says she had a daily Starbucks habit, a personal trainer, manicures and beauty treatments which included dyed eyebrows. No wonder she was in debt!

I went to Boots this morning, spent £21, on essentials like tissues, shampoo, toothpaste etc, saved £5 using 3-for-2 offers, and used coupons for 450 extra reward points . At the end of all that, I had enough points on my card to get a travel hairdryer 'free'.

Good Housekeeping Magazine [a gift subscription I received at Christmas] this month also has 'Ways to cut your budget' - and featured another of these 'Starbucks habit' women. I accept that their working life is different from mine - I get to school and make tea in the staff room at 4% of the Starbucks price. But why don't they advise them to do what Liz does - get a Starbucks coffee maker with a timer, and wake up everyday to freshly made coffee, then pour another into a thermal cup and take that to work?

gh GH also featured another family, a couple with 2 children, committed Christians on a budget of £20,000. The writer of the article commented on their biggest outgoing next to basic living costs was their giving to their church - and the couple refused to cut back on that. The suggestion was that they should Gift Aid their offering, and then they could "still give the same amount to their church, but save themselves £660 a year". I found it hard to believe they were not Gift Aid-ing already - and thought it was a dreadful suggestion [I doubt the couple would act on it]. Bob pointed out that they probably were not paying much tax anyway, so it was a daft idea.

Old story...A man woke up his wife in the middle of the night and said "I had a nightmare. I dreamt the Lord took what I put in the offering, multiplied it by 10 and told me to live on it for the week"

Perhaps Rosie Millard should get together with the GH couple and find out that the Lord really does provide if you trust Him. And if you are mathematical pedant, I apologise, I know it should really be "multiplied by 9" but if you tell it like that, people don't get it!

Saturday 26 April 2008

Oh yes it is [oh no it isn't!]

IM002477 Bob went out quite early for a Deacon's Day at Oadby, so I took over the dining room and just sewed - twelve pencil rolls and ten sets of juggling bags, for Alex and Tom's fundraiser.

While I had the embroidery machine set up, I did a bib for my friend Ann's new grand-daughter too, just for a bit of light relief - the bags and rolls get a bit repetitive after a while! IM002479Isn't Grace a lovely name for a baby?

Listened to loads of good radio, then sat in front of TV to do the hand sewing bits. I enjoy 'Monk' the obsessive detective - it is a clever twist on the usual whodunnits. I had just finished all the sewing when Bob got home,which was good. The dining table is cleared for eating again.

We went out this evening to a Panto - the best I have seen this year [well, actually, it is the ONLY one I have seen this year!]

Next to the church is an OAP residential complex, and friends of the scheme put on a panto for them in January, in their communal lounge. It was so good,that they were persuaded to repeat it in the Church Hall for a wider audience. It was very well done [with an excellent meal served to us all during the interval]

Bon had lent his data projector, big screen and other PA gear, and Mike operated all the stuff brilliantly [they even rigged a mic/speaker system from the hall to the 'Green Room'] With the words all on the big screen, we were able to join in the sing-along. A good time was had by all. Thanks to Gwen and her team - and especially the Ugly sisters. Salmonella and Listeria were played by Simon and John, who have been hiding their light under a bushel I think. Hinge and Bracket watch out! Mind you, Brachinge bracket1ket died a few years back, so maybe there is an opening for them out there somewhere...

Then there was all the clearing up and loading of PA gear into the car. I wound the cables very carefully, as Bob has taught me, in the approved BBC manner, so there is no overall net twist. Just occasionally, especially when it comes to maintenance of his PA stuff, Bob makes Adrian Monk look laid back!! But I shouldn't complain, as careful treatment means some of these cables are 20 years old but still in excellent condition.

IM002473 One more picture for today - unlike the poor people of Anatolia, we are happy to report that our fig tree is thriving, and has eight little figs [figlets?] on it.

The tree is nearly four years old, and was a Silver Wedding gift from daughter Liz back in 2004.  It had a few figlets last year but they never came to anything much. I look forward to one day harvesting and eating a fig I have grown myself!

Mornington Crescent Blues

The Escalator of Time has stopped, and the Tube Train lytteltonof Eternity

has departed from Platform One.

RIP Humphrey Lyttelton [1921-2008]

Friday 25 April 2008

Elf an Saty

Last year, one of my pupils wrote down that we had to be careful with electricity "becos of elf an saty". I have just been reminded of this whilst listening to that lovely actor Peter Sallis peter sallisin the brilliant play "Purvis" which has just been repeated on BBC7. I found it screamingly funny - it is all about a long suffering vicar and his wife [like me, she is not gifted at cooking for church events] who are blessed with a super-enthusiastic volunteer Church Health and Safety Officer.

Disclaimer - I know a number of Church H&S Officers, and I am in no way suggesting that Purvis resembles any of them! But if you have 45minutes to spare and want a laugh, do use the Listen Again facility to catch this play if you can. I believe it will be online till May 1st.

Pressed for time!

The new iron has just been put through its paces, and thus far come through with flying colours. It's a Rowenta DG7140G0. rowenta dg7140 iron I read all the very positive reviews on Amazon, but actually bought it online from the Co-op, who were doing a great offer last week so I paid less than half the Amazon price.

Conclusions -I have just done a whole basket of ironing, and it was much quicker than usual, as the john Lewis website said. Most of the time I worked on 50% steam - but turned it to full power for denim, linen and Bob's Oxford twill shirt [I HATE ironing them!] It was easy to use, and very effective.

Calculations - if it only lasts for five years, it is going to cost me 30p a week - but if it saves me just half an hour a week in ironing time, it is well worth it. So this seems good economy - it should last a lot longer than hat.

Considerations - Rowenta recommend a mesh ironing board - well that is OK because mine is mesh. But you do need somewhere to rest the base unit. I iron in a bedroom and there is plenty of room for the board in front of the dressing table, where I have stationed the base unit. It is important to rest the iron on the base when not in use, and the instructions warn against putting it on anything metal. My current ironing board has a metal rest - and force of habit meant I was concerned I would put it down there by mistake. Currently the rest is wrapped in a towel until I get it removed. When using 100% steam, it does become a little sauna-like - but not enough to concern me. Perhaps I should combine ironing with some sort of facial which requires steam?

This is scary - I have just realised my review of the new iron has three alliterative points. Is there some sort of sermon-preparation gene I have inherited from my parents and grandparents ? I must press on! [Phil 3:12]

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Not enough hours in the day!

Yesterday was incredibly busy, but really productive. In the morning, I met with David from Desford and we got a lot of holiday bible club plans sorted out. Then before lunch I went online and ordered resources. Baker Ross are great for craft materials, and I discovered a new site, the Clever Baggers, for cotton bags to decorate. As usual we are modifying lots of the ideas in the Scripture Union progralogo1mme. Still cannot get to the Bulletin Board part of their website though.

We will order our T-shirts from Genesis-uk again, as we have done for many years. This company is efficient, reliable, and extremely good value for money.  Over the years they have proved very helpful and offer a personal service and I would recommend them to anyone.

                                                                  gensis                                          After lunch and again in the evening, I had meetings with people to organise various church events. Folk are so willing to give of their time and energy like this - we are very blessed here in our church with such generous people.

Just before I went out in the afternoon, the new iron arrived. I have yet to try it out properly, although I did quickly press a denim skirt and some linen trousers and it seemed remarkably efficient and easy to use. Full review to follow...

Today I was teaching Year 4 - the whole day in school was "Number Fun Day" and we had a visit from Dave Godfrey of the Omega Zone. I had met Dave before, when he came and did training for our numberfun children's workers at church and ran a Children's Praise Party, and it was good to see him in his other hat as an educationalist. The kids loved the singing and the maths, and you can't ask for more than that really. Dave also led a helpful staff meeting after school about implementing his ideas in maths lessons.

Then home again [thanks Bob for getting the meal!] to eat, then down to church for the Girls' Sewing Group. This is a fairly new venture, with girls between 9-13, teaching them basic sewing skills. They've been making simple cotton tote bags, and it is great to start a new generation off on the craft road. Initially they are a bit scared of the electric machines, and gradually increase confidence. Tonight I took down my embroidery machinemachine - a Janome Memorycraft 300E and let them prepare names to go on their bags. The machine is fantastic and does most of the work for you - but it is so exciting to see your name being stitched.

Susan is in charge of the group and she is very good at teaching them the different skills they need.

Stayed at church for yet another committee - local Churches Together, planning our contribution for the Village Fun Day in September. I found it a bit hard to get my head round that when there is so much else to get through first.

On a completely unrelated note, I am trying not to eat so many biscuits - but I am little alarmedFigRollsRWN_468x300 to discover there is an impending fig roll crisis - caused apparently by a poor harvest, which is a result of the demise of the pollinating-fig-wasps of Anatolia! I kid you not.

I was reminded of this disaster in this morning's School Assembly, because Dave G had us singing a wonderful song about Isaac Newton. I suddenly remembered that in the USA they call Fig Rolls "Fig Newtons". I don't know why. They are certainly a force to be reckoned with! [pun for the physicists there]

We finally got home around 9.45 and I made tea and got some crackers etc out for supper. Just when I thought I had got a few minutes to bimageslog and catch up with life in Ambridge, Bob casually says "Do we have a Roman Soldier's Uniform around? I need one for a School assembly tomorrow"

So I have just been up into the loft and dug out the sword, shield, breastplate and helmet. I think I got them originally for a children's talk on Ephesians 6. I was pleased to locate them so quickly - they were in the box with the pirate swords from Holiday Bible Club 2005. Do other people have such bizarre items stashed away?

The Archer's was all about Phil's 80th birthday. images Has Norman Painting done anything apart from play that one character for the past 57 years? The younger cast members seem to pop up on lots of other programmes - Tamsin Greig [Debbie Aldridge] is all over TV, and Tim Bentinck [David Archer]was on 'Broadcasting House' last Sunday. Felicity Finch [Ruth -oh no! - Archer] is always out interviewing people on Radio 4 programmes.

It is late now, I think I shall go to bed - I am teaching Year 5 all day tomorrow. Life is certainly very busy, but it is never dull.

Monday 21 April 2008

Juggling priorities

I have been busy today preparing stuff for sewing. Bob is out all day Saturday so I may move the machines downstairs then and take over the dining table. Anyway, I have been cutting out pencil rolls and juggling bags. IM002467

Here are the pieces for the juggling bags - which will be made up into sets [a drawstring bag containing three small rice-filled bags, plus instructions on 'How to Juggle'] And here are the pieces for the pencil rollsIM002469 - which will each contain 12 coloured pencils and fasten with a ribbon tie.

I am making these for the Coffee Morning my friend Alyson is organising for Tom and Alex Gill.These two brothers are going out to Tanzania this summer,to help develop some sports facilities in the village which Tom visited last summer, when he was working with the Leicester Diocese. They need to raise a fair bit of money,so I hope my stuff will sell!

I made quite a few of these before Christmas, when I had a Craft Evening in support of the Mizpah Orphanage in OotacamundIMG_1977 - here are the juggling bags I made then. Another of our young people, Elizabeth Toon, teaches in the Hebron School in Ooty, and through her, our church has forged a link with Mizpah. When Elizabeth's parents visited her at Christmas, they took lots of photos. I was really thrilled to see a picture of an Indian child trying to juggle with three of my bags!IMG_1980

These are some of the pencil rolls I made in November. I did some with half-length crayons, but they did not sell so well. I am just sticking to the ordinary long crayons this time.

I think it is great that these young people are so willing to give their time to go abroad and work with others like this, and I believe it is important to encourage them, and support them both financially and prayerfully. Such opportunities weren't really available thirty five years ago when I was a student - and I am not sure I would have had the confidence to do it then anyway!

Such trips do seem to be very worthwhile though. Elizabeth went out to Hebron initially as a volunteer, and has now returned as a full member of staff. Our Steph spent the summer of 2005 in Sao Paolo, Brazil, working in the favelas with the street children,CNV00006 and I know how much she has benefited from the experience.

I have just sponsored Steph as she is doing the Race for Life next month. She just phoned to say she had been training for it after work.

Too many people seem too ready to dismiss young people as self-obsessed and materialistic, spending all their time with Playstations and Facebook, texting each other and shopping. It is thrilling that young Christians like Steph, Elizabeth, Alex and Tom are actually out there serving others and putting their faith into practice.

Sunday 20 April 2008

Picture Post

Following the facetious comment after my last post, here is a photograph of Mosesimage!

Moses Ndeto is a little boy in Kenya who is sponsored by our Ladies' Fellowship, through the Soapbox Trust.

We lost contact with him after Christmas, because Moses lives in the area where there was a lot of trouble following the elections - but we heard from him recently and we are thrilled to report that he and his family are all safe and well.moses charlton heston

Of course, there are people who feel that Moses probably looks more like this!

RIP Charlton Heston [1923-2008]

We had another good service this morning, lots of visitors. The sermon had FIVE points - but still only lasted 23 minutes [which is about the right length for me]


Praying that my Jewish friends enjoy a blessed Passover time

First service of the day

Some Sunday mornings it actually all comes together beautifully. Like today - it is 9.15am and everything is ready and I am just waiting for Bob to call me to go to church. The morning service on Radio 4 was great - do listen to it, on BBC website, if you can.

The sermon was all about God's strength made perfect in our weakness. There was an incredibly moving testimony from a young widow, and the singing was marvelous.

The sermon was topped and tailed by two of my favourtie hymns - a new one - Townend's 'In Christ Alone' and the Spafford's 'It is well with my soul' [which was a favourite of my parents, so I do get a abit weepy, I admit]

Thank you to everyone at Emmanuel, Didsbury for the service.Looking forward to listening to Roy Jenkins, a Baptist minister from Cardiff next week - he is usually very good too!

Off to church now. I believe we are looking at Passover and the Israelites in the wilderness. Sorry, no time to post any pictures!

Saturday 19 April 2008

Cleansing power

  Satcilliturday is often a good day for housework [if any day is good for such a task] because I have Radio4 and BBC7 to distract me. I wander round the house, switching on all the radios, and drift from room to room doing chores whilst Bob is closeted in his study trying to finish sermon preparation. I enjoy Sandi Toksvig's Excess Baggage  - especially since last year when she read out an email I had sent. Sadly I know of only one person who actually heard my moment of Great Fame - but it did happen, Mr Warhol. For about 30 seconds. I shall get my other 4½ minutes later perhaps. Then there is From Our Own Correspondent - usually brilliant pieces of writing from BBC staff round the globe. I think it is really good, and Auntie is fortunate to have such gifted people as Justin Webb, Fergal Keane, Alan Johnson and Kate Adie, who can produce not only topical news items,but also 'human interest' pieces.

BBC7 provides Vintage Comedy, and also Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion". I revel in GK's Lake Wobegon stories - the place in Minnesota where 'all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average' [the UK equivalent is Kirby Muxloe] I love the absurd inconsistencies of his Brethren Family, and identify with the angst of the Pastor's Wife at the wobegon2 Lutheran Church. Each PHC programme always includes a Wobegon story, and there is also lots of music [I like both sorts, Country and  Western!] often an old Gospel song or two. It is a strangely anachronistic broadcast - a bit like Sunday Half Hour with added Humour. When the film came out last year, Bob took me to Birmingham to see it, as that was the nearest showing. There weren't many of us in the Cinema - but we were all [apart from my sainted husband, who was there solely to keep me company] obvious Wobegon Fanatics, laughing at the In Jokes and humming along to the tunes.

So this morning, duly distracted, I worked away, and the hob was cleaned, sheets were changed, and sundry other tasks completed. Steph telephoned from the SnoZone at Milton Keynes, where she was enjoying her first skiing lesson. For someone who takes after her mother, and does not enjoy speed or cold, I think she is quite brave.

I decided to have a bath in the newly painted bathroom. The bath, basin and loo are a pinkish colour - I believe the Edwardians called it 'Ashes of Roses' and the room is half tiled in a matching shade. On the current Crown paint chart, the suite's colour is somewhere between 'Cashmere Cuddle' and 'Gentle' [who picks these names?] When we moved in 12 years ago, the girls [teenagers!] were quite anti-pink, and so repainted the upper part of the walls in a deep blue, and Steph added very artistic fluffy white clouds. The ikea previous owners having taken the fittings, we added blue IKEA towel rail and loo-roll holder - plus a white roman blind with blue trim. Just recently, I felt the room seemed a bit dark and dingy. So we went off to B&Q and got some of their own-brand 'pink blossom' paint.

On the last day of his sabbatical, Bob painted the bathroom. It looks SO much nicer- especially with the new pink shower curtain and bath mat, and attractive IKEA print. Except for one thing...Teenage girls are fond of taking long baths with many Lush Bath Products, and scented candles etc. Because of the dark blue walls, I don't think any of us realised just how dingy and sooty the ceiling was. It is an Artex finish [the sort they call "Cottage Cheese" in the USA] and having done all the walls with white undercoat and pink topcoat, Bob brushed a small amount of white paint in the middle of the ceiling. It is SUCH a contrast. We have not had time to complete the work, yet [the sabbatical being over, and all]

Lying in the bath just now I realise that my bathroom has moved from being a place of relaxation and cleansing to being a potential sermon illustration! I thought the ceiling was white and clean - but it takes the contrast of a splash of true, pure white to show up just how filthy it really is. The closer we get to Jesus, the more we realise the inadequacy of our own 'holiness'. Only He can cleanse us, and make us pure and whole again. It is not fashionable, nor popular these days to be 'good' - people instead have a fondness for the 'lovable rogue', and think it's ok to cheat the Taxman, or fib on the Insurance claim, because  'everybody does it'. But if we are Christians, it is NOT ok - we are called to be holy - and to seek God's grace and strength to live righteously. Forget the Cillit Bang, I am with Elisha Hoffman when it comes to getting properly clean!

Friday 18 April 2008

Please don't tell Pru Leith

Bob has developed the alarming habit of eating his evening meal, then relaxing briefly in front of "The Great British Menu" before he goes to work in the evening. It leaves me a little despondent, watching all these chefs serving up cod's cheek, and mozzarella smoke bombs and spun sugar concoctions - when I havIM002466e just produced a relatively boring sausage casserole [mind you they were very cute little cocktail sausages, which I found lurking in the freezer, needing to be used up]

However for dessert tonight, I managed a very impressive looking Mousse Latte Macchiato, served up in espresso cups, with little biscuits in the saucer. Tasted quite good.

I have to confess it was a packet mix, whipped up with cold milk in 3 minutes. I got it ridiculously cheaply in the Euralille Supermarket when we were there at half term.

pru leith etc Pru Leith said, and I tend to agree, that wonderful presentation counts for nothing if the dish tastes revolting. However, I do think that if one is serving up an OK but dull dessert, it never hurts to gussie it up a little!

The photo shows the cup on one of my red napkins. These were a real thrifty buy - beautiful linen, and I got six of them in 1982 for 10p each. Mind you, they do have the words "Laker Airways" woven into them! I think it was some sort of bankruptcy sale after Skytrain went into receivership. Sir Freddie Laker, like Bob, was a former pupil of the Simon Langton School in Canterbury.

My friend Debbie has kindly volunteered to take That Pew CZM40ushion to Norfolk next week - but she is travelling on the coach, and hadn't realised the cushion is almost six feet long. Thanks for the offer, anyway, Debbie!

I have enjoyed Lesley's Rowan Book [winter 2007, #40] but realise it will cost a fortune to make any of the projects in there which I really like. I do have a WIP from an earlier Rowan book, 'Nature' [not done in their yarns though] but that is languishing at the moment because I am busy knitting Sea Lettuce Scarves.rowan nature

Bob has gone out to the Worship Group Music Practice. I shall be virtuous and do the ironing and watch NCIS. My elderly Philips iron is not behaving very well, and I think it needs replacing. Has anybody out there got any comments on these 'steam generator' ones? The John Lewis website claims they 'cut ironing time in half' - which is a very appealing thought. If it is true, it would be worth the money!

Never a cross word in this house!

On Sunday, Bob wore his splendid Thomas Nash tie. tie He thinks I should make up some clues so he can fill in part of the grid.

Then last night, Liz mentioned on the phone that she had bought herself some Converse trainers in Office sale, which she knew I would like. I knew immediately the ones she was talking about!

converse 1 Is it fair? I ask. After all, I'm the chief cruciverbalist in the family. I actually won £100 in a crossword competition once - yes, really, not just in Monopoly. I shall just have to console myself with a cup of tea in my Sudoku mug!

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn has just died at the age of 90-something. I got out my Betjeman collected works, and quietly re-read the Subaltern's Love-Song in her memory. Then Bob came in, and read two or three poems in a beautiful Betjeman-esque voice. It's all that nostalgic twentieth century England, with bells, and cricket and village greens and district nurses on bicycles, and East Anglia and wonderful euphonious rhythms. My churchmanship is very far from the High Anglican smells-and-bells of JB, but I do find his verse very soothing, and also amusing.

On the subject of East Anglian Anglicans etc, I make a passing comment that my serendipitous discovery of a Libby Purves novel on Monday has proved rather disappointing. The chief protagonist, Sally, of 'Love Songs and Lies' is a Vicar's daughter from Suffolk. Unlike all the other LP's I have read, this was one where I did not find the characters believable, and got quite annoyed with them - particularly when it seemed that every financial crisis [and there were lots] was suddenly and wonderfully solved by an injection of cash which just arrived on the doormat in the form of a royalty cheque or a rich relation. And as Sally is supposed to be an extremely clever girl who gets to Oxford to read English, and has grown up in a Vicarage, and married into a Jewish family, I thought it extremely odd that she knew nothing about Levirate Marriage. Whilst I would not have expected her to have a deep knowledge of the book of Deuteronomy, I cannot believe she hadn't come across the story of Ruth, or encountered the Sadducees Question To Jesus in Mark 12. I will try and be charitable, about this - I believe LP was writing this when her own family were undergoing some sad times, and I think she just wasn't on her usual form.

Well done Royal Mail - the pork pie arrived safely in London - and the tin of yeast I sent to my friends in Brussels got there within 24 hours. Phil is a keen bread maker, and has been havingallinson problems getting the right yeast. The advent of automatic electric breadmakers has meant that many supermarkets only stock the yeast1 Easybake variety. Seeing a can of the right sort in Sainsbury's, I decided to buy some and post it off to Belgium. Phil and his wife Viv are missionaries with the BMS, so I covered the inner package wth lots of Bible references to yeast!

My last breadmaking attempt failed, but it was entirely my own fault. I had a carton of IKEA rye bread. The idea is you open the top, pour in water, then shake'n'bake. It is a bizarre process, producing a fairly nutty, dark loaf.bread mix In a moment of utter laziness on Tuesday, I just stuck the contents and the water in the breadmaker and switched it on to the 'multigrain loaf' setting. The results were even darker, denser and more solid than usual! But mercifully still edible. I discovered this link http://www.loafr.com/ to some enthusiastic American bakers.

Year 4 have started studying the Tudors - so Wednesday afternoon they were producing pictures of Henry VIII from the Holbein portrait. I love teaching about that period in history.The Elizabethans called yeast 'God-is-goode' because they couldn't understand how it made the bread rise and become soft and edible. They regarded the yeast as a blessing from the Almighty [which it is, in my opinion] I must not sit here typing about food - I should go and think about actually preparing lunch instead!

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Pew,Pew, Barney McGrew...

Today was my first day back in school since my birthday, and I was only needed for the morning. I took chocolate biscuits and panettone in to share in the Staff Room at break. These were very well received, especially the panettone! I love panettone - plain, buttered, toasted, pan fried...

After lunch I remembered to go and post the pork pie to Steph - but take no responsibility whatsoever for the condition in which it arrives! Then I came home and started my project.

Here's the foam I got yesterdayIM002462 - laid out on the lounge carpet. The plan is to make a custom-fit cushion for a pew. This is not just any old pew, this is one which my brother has retrieved from his church. It had been removed to make more space, and so he brought it home to go in their kitchen behind the dining table. We sat on it at lunch on Easter Monday. It fits the space beautifully, but needed some sort of padding. We agreed that a neutral fabric would be best - so I got some 'Ditte Beige' when I was in Ikea.

Here's the foam [corners rounded off] and the pieces of fabric IM002463 . I decided against piping, as I am not confident enough of making a good job. Also decided to sew the back seam by hand, rather than using a zip or Velcro. It would be hard to get a sixty-six inch zip in straight - not to mention the cost of it. Velcro would add too much bulk - the cushion needs to fit snugly.

Here is the finished product - displayed on my bed - and somehow not looking straight! It will look much better on its pew, I'm sure.IM002465I assure you the front and back edges are  parallel.  It took just under 3 hours from start to finish, and cost £14.98 for foam and fabric. Now all I have to do is work out how to get it to Marion in Norfolk.

We had housegroup tonight, which was quite thought provoking.Linda led an excellent study on the beginning of Mark Chapter 1. One of the study questions related to our view of the Old Testament, and how important is it - would the New Testament on its own suffice? Unanimously we felt the OT is crucial to the NT. Slight digression about Leviticus and rules on not eating shellfish, but one of the group pointed out that its OK now, because the NT talks about being 'prawn again'! Apart from that, it was a useful time!

Monday 14 April 2008

All roads lead to foam!

After another lovely fresh-croissant-breakfast, the three of us went into the City. We ambled along, dodging hailstones, and I was really pleased to find a new Libby Purves novel that I hadn't read before in a charity shop, 41dUePrcBRL__SL160_AA115_ 'Love Songs and Lies'. Having woken early and read 'A Free Woman' right through from cover to cover I was pleased to have another LP to read. Feeling slightly guilty because we tidied up all the fiction on the bookcase a few weeks ago, and I didn't remember reading 'A Free Woman' even though it was there with all the other LP stuff. I am sure I did read it when I first acquired it.

I really enjoy Libby's books414F8C5DF5L__SL160_AA115_ , both fiction and non-fiction. I like the way she writes about her characters, and I find their situations believable. I would much rather read her stuff than that of Joanna Trollope. She's a bit more Argos than Aga.

Anyway, the weather brightened as we strolled up New Walk to the Museum. Bob took a photo of Steph and myself [she is the slim blonde on the right!] After a lunch of jacket potatoes in the Museum Cafe, we did the exhibits.

family Everything is undergoing a major refit - but I particularly enjoyed looking at the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year [2007] display. Some stunning pictures - from all round the world - including an excellent children's category.

Also enjoyed the photographs of old Leicester shops, including the sweetshop by the Market, and the Sewing Machine shop on Narborough Road. Leicester's Motto is "Semper Eadem - always the same" which is certainly true of many aspects of the place. Nothing ever changes. The first Luddites came from Leicester after all!

Then we went off to find the foam suppliers in Beaumont Leys, who were very helpful and supplied just what I need for my next major project, at what seemed a reasonable price. It did take a while to find the place though - but Steph was confident we would get there eventually, and made the pun in today's title.

Steph cooked our evening meal, then Bob took her to catch her train back to London, and I went to knitting group. There were two dozen there, including another new person. My friend Lesley has generously lent me one of her Rowan pattern books. I read knitting books like other women read recipe books - enjoying the pictures, pondering on the construction - but only ever actually producing a fraction of the items displayed.

The Archers was very satisfying this evening, another storyline neatly tied up. I am looking forward to the forthcoming episode when Phil and family all journey to Leicester to visit the National Space Centre [his birthday treat] We had thought that the three of us could go there today - but unfortunately it is closed on Mondays. We also discovered it costs £12 per adult, which seems a little expensive. I realise that these places have to be staffed and maintained - but for a family day out, which would inevitably include travel, parking, food, a guidebook and the obligatory visit to the Gift Shop, you are probably talking about spending £100 - which is a lot of money I think. Phil Archer and co are fictional, so it won't worry them!

Full marks to the Museum for being completely free, with a reasonably priced Cafe and lots of inexpensive items in the shop. Full marks too to the children of Barwell Junior School and their staff. There was a busload of them on a school trip to the Museum and their behaviour was impeccable.I must be turning into a grumpy old woman - I cannot stand it when children on trips behpork pie2ave badly!

Steph texted to say she was home safe - but had left a pork pie in the fridge, and could we please post it to her?

Sunday 13 April 2008

Three Letter Acronyms

Yesterday was a long, and tiring day, but with some useful moments. We started early for Earl Shilton Baptist Church where we enjoyed an excellent breakfast [thanks to Ron and his team]with about 30 others from local Baptist Churches. Caught up on the news - learned of the death of Duncan Burnie on Easter Sunday. Duncan was at Bible College with my parents in the 1940s, so has been a friend all my life. He and his wife Daisy pastored the church at Welling from 1963-85 immediately before Bob and I served there from 86-95. A very caring and loving couple. My thoughts and prayers are with Daisy and their daughter Rosemary.

Chatted with David, the pastor of the church in the next village, about Holiday Bible Clubs. They are doing the Scripture Union Scheme Champions Challenge too. logo1 I would give a link to the SU website, but I am having incredible trouble with it at the minute and particularly frustrated by the inability to link to the HBC Bulletin Boards.

Bob and I left the breakfast early and drove north to Barrow-on-Soar, to a P.A. training day hosted by the MWF at the Baptist Church. The day was led by Dan Bowater of dB studios in Lincoln. It was very informative, and I learned some useful stuff. Like I knew what a TRS connector was - but didn't realise it stood for Tip Ring Sleeve. Much discussion of XLRs and DI Boxes etc. Unfortunately the sessions all over-ran,and I felt there was a bit too much from the front, and too little hands-on practical stuff. Dan obviously knows his subject extremely well- but it was a bit hard for those of us not familiar with all the TLAs to follow everything he was saying.

Dan also said that most people are born with 20-20 hearing. That is, hearing sounds in the range between 20Hz and 20kHz. I had heard of twenty-twenty vision, but not twenty-twenty hearing before. ear-closeupThe phrase "20-20 vision" refers to the distance in feet that objects separated by an angle of 1 arc minute can be distinguished as separate objects and relates to the Snellen chart which is that alphabet thing opticians use - and apparently dates back to 1862. So one is metric and the other imperial. I am fascinated by such trivia!

This morning was a family service at Church - good attendance, and again some super music and singing. We were considering the call of Moses and had some great video clips which illustrated the message very well. Of course we had to sing the traditional Go Down Moses - but we didn't sing it as well as these guys!

Then after church, Bob took me [and Steph] for a belated Birthday le-bistrot-peirre Lunch at Bistrot Pierre in Leicester. I can highly recommend it for a well priced, well cooked meal. I had Emincé au poulet, Bob had Pavé de steak, and Steph had Thon grillé [which sounds so much more exciting than chicken, beef and fish!] Pecan pie and sticky toffee pudding for dessert - then home for coffee!

Just time for a bit of a rest before this evening's service, which promises to be really exciting. More on that later.

Friday 11 April 2008

Another busy day

The birthday flowers which came yesterday from my good friend Elisabeth have begun to open. They are alstromeria in a variety of lovely coloursIM002454 - the photo does not do them justice. Elisabeth has been a wonderful friend for over 25 years - we met when our husbands were at theological college together in London and now it's great having her just round the corner in Leicester. We have loads in common - not least that we are both Archers Addicts! We have supported each other through various phases of motherhood - babies, toddler tantrums, teenage angst etc. The next big event is her daughter's wedding in May. We had enormous fun sorting out the mother-of-the-bride outfit recently.

MY daughter Steph got home today - I collected her from the station at 1pm, and I have loved having her here to natter to. She gave me a splendid book for my birthday - not knowing it was one I had read a review of and was already interested in. 519NVa5ZJYL__SS500_

Steve and Pam Paulson drove across the States taking pictures of the noticeboards outside churches. They are amazing.You have to ignore the bad spelling sometimes, but there are some real gems in there.

"Tithe if you love Jesus, anyone can honk" is one of my favourites.

I spent some time this afternoon making a skirt from the fabric I bought in John Lewis last week. This must be a record - buy the fabric and then have the garment finished inside only 12 days. Fortunately the calculations I did in the shop were correct and I did have enough fabric. I was quite taken with these printed swishy skirts with contrast trim on the hem, but they cost £55 - admittedly they are lined and mine isn't - but mine cost less than £7.50, so I am feeling quite smug. Johnnie Boden eat your heart out!IM002453

I finished the bottom with gorgeous purple satin bias binding from Button Boutique in Leicester [the place to get haberdashery in the city] Although it added nearly an hour to the total making up time, I machined the outer edge,then turned it in and handstitched the hem. So no stitching shows. And I remembered to sew hanging loops inside the waistband.

Cost £7.50, making-up time about 2 hours. Not bad going, really.

Last summer I bought a new Janome machine from Bambers - which, in my opinion is about the best sewing machine shop in England. I have purchased three machines from them in the last 10 years - an overlocker, an embroidery machine, and a regular machine. In the autumn I got an extra presser foot for my new machine - this one is designed for attaching bias binding. It works really well - but the stitching is visible. So I tend just to use it for craft projects and 'household linens' but continue to handstitch binding on clothing. It was certainly worth the money.

Today has been VERY wet -I hope we get some sunny days soon - I want to wear my new skirt!