Thursday 31 December 2009

Time For Tea

I was making a batch of tissue holders and started playing about with the 6" x 7" pieces of fabric I had cut out. And I came up with these - for two friends who prefer fruit teas to regular. I thought they would find these little folders useful to pop into their handbags. You never know when you are going to be offered a cuppa!


Dead easy to make

Take 2 pieces 6" x 7" and one piece 5" x 7". Fold the smaller piece in half to make a 2½" x 7" rectangle. Cut a piece of tape about 4" long for button loop.



If you want to personalise the front panel in anyway do it now! Any embellishments should be in the top right hand corner of the outer piece


I sewed a piece on my embroidery machine - but you could do a cross stitch motif, felt initials, hand embroidery - the sky is the limit!

Now stack your pieces in this order

First 'outside' fabric - right side up.

Then small pocket - placed about a third of the way down

Then the inner lining right side down

Now tuck the tab in - between the outer fabric and small pocket.


Sew round top and sides, and clip top corners


Turn the whole thing right way out. Cut two 3" squares of card


Push the two bits of card up inside the holder, making sure they go right out to the edges.

Tuck in the raw edges at the bottom, and press everything thoroughly. Stitch along that edge.


Fold up the bottom pocket and pin in place. Stitch up the centre between the two pieces of card. Then handstitch the sides of the pocket.


Finally sew a button on the back, fill with teabags and fasten!



I think I'll go and put the kettle on!

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Matthew 4:4

I have received a new, very biblical apron! as a Christmas gift!


It is made of that wonderful fabric with plants from the Bible


Meanwhile, we were in Lakeland in Norwich, and Bob found something exciting in the sale…


It gets its name from the passage in Ezekiel 4…

“Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself”

It seems highly appropriate to me that a breadmaking preacher should buy this and make a loaf. What I haven’t checked with Bob yet, is whether he is following the rest of the instructions in that chapter - about ‘lying on your left side for 390 days’ [actually, with his bad shoulder, I am not sure he could manage 390 minutes right now]

Both girls now safely back in London – although Liz and Jon’s train initially pulled out of Nottingham going north not south, and when Steph’s train arrived in Norwich this morning, she found that her ticket was booked for a seat in a non-existent carriage, so they had to find her another seat ! Maybe they should forsake the railways and learn to drive. It has been lovely having them with us this week!

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Guiding Light

One very special Christmas gift – specially painted by Steph, for us to hang at Cornerstones, is now in place.


It reminded me of an old story…

The evangelist D L Moody told this tale;

On a dark, stormy, night, when the waves rolled like mountains, and not a star was to be seen, a boat, rocking and plunging, neared the Cleveland harbour. “Are you sure this is Cleveland?” asked the captain, seeing only one light from the lighthouse.

“Quite sure, sir,” replied the pilot.

“Where are the lower lights?”

“Gone out, sir.”

“Can you make the harbour?”

“We must, or perish, sir!”

And with a strong hand and a brave heart, the old pilot turned the wheel. But alas, in the darkness he missed the channel, and with a crash upon the rocks the boat was shivered, and many a life lost in a watery grave.

Then he turned to the congregation and said “Brethren, the Master will take care of the great lighthouse: let us keep the lower lights burning!”

His sermon inspired this hymn

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from His lighthouse evermore,

But to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.

Dark the night of sin has settled, loud the angry billows roar;

Eager eyes are watching, longing, for the lights, along the shore.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother, some poor sailor tempest tossed,

Trying now to make the harbour, in the darkness may be lost.

Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!

Some poor struggling, sinking sailor you may rescue, you may save

Christians are called to shed the light of God’s love in this dark world – thanks for the beautiful reminder Steph!

Monday 28 December 2009

Cornerstones Christmas

Bob, Steph and I got here yesterday evening, with what felt like a ridiculous amount of stuff for just a week’s stay. First there were the fresh flowers I didn’t want to leave behind.


Then there was all the food, a few clothes, gifts to deliver to friends and family here, a sewing machine, and some of my Christmas gifts which I want to keep here…



A beautiful handmade bag filled with sweet smelling French lavender to keep the wardrobe smelling lovely.






A useful noteblock and pen to keep beside the phone






More bunting!




Ivy and heather in a basket – we plan to replant this by the front door, along with its “Welcome” sign.





And finally, a Willow Tree figure from Liz called “Mi Casa, Su Casa”




Isn’t she wonderful?


It is lovely to have a day completely relaxing.

Bob is making bread [again] and after lunch we are going into Norwich to watch “Avatar”in 3D.

Sunday 27 December 2009

Seventy Six Trombones!

Don't you just love the fact that the French word for 'paperclip' is 'trombone'? Back in August we saw these amazing paperclips in unusual shapes in Staples in Norwich...


We loved the guitars and treble clefs - and the black and white ones together reminded us of piano keys. You could fill a tub with whatever shapes you liked- so Bob and I carefully sorted out a selection. I think other customers must have thought us mad "I've got twenty five guitars - how many hearts do you have?"

We thought they'd make novel Christmas gifts for the Worship Team at Church. These good folk are so committed to enabling the Sunday Worship in one way or another, and it is good to give them a small gift to show our gratitude for all they do, week by week.DSCF0809


I printed out a sheet of A4 card with keyboards, clefs, guitars, hearts and stars, then folded it into three.

Inside, Bob cut some slits with a craft knife and steel rule - then into each card we put an assortment of the paperclips.

Just a small token of appreciation!



[btw - please do not worry that I am at the PC writing this in the early hours of 27th December - I have prepared this post in advance!]

Saturday 26 December 2009

Tremendous Tracklement

Bob made a delicious stir fry using some of the Christmas goose, and lots of vegetables, with Roti flatbreads. We rolled up the flatbreads round the filling and it was an excellent lunch - given extra flavour with Steph's Boxing Day Chutney.

james martin She made this having watched James Martin on Saturday Kitchen this morning. His guests were the Hairy Bikers [her gift to Bob yesterday was a pair of tickets for their roadshow in February]


It is an 'eat immediately' chutney - not one that needs to mature. She has made two jars - one to take back to London and one to leave here. The pureed nature of this condiment means it will be excellent in sandwiches, I think.


110g/4oz caster sugar
1 onion, peeled, finely chopped
1½tsp grated fresh ginger
500g/1lb 2oz Bramley apples, peeled, core removed, chopped
75g/3oz sultanas
60ml/2½fl oz cider vinegar*
salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat the the sugar in a lidded pan until the sugar melts. Add the onion, ginger, apples, sultanas and vinegar, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until the apples begin to break down.
2. Blend the mixture in a food processor to a purée and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

*We hadn't got cider vinegar, so Steph substituted white wine vinegar, and a spoonful of Bob’s spiced apple drink.

[btw "Tracklement" is an Old English word for a meat accompaniment such as chutney, pickle, rowan jelly, mustard etc]

Friday 25 December 2009

Christmas Lunch At Church

LOADS of people at church this morning, lovely service, then most of us went home. Except about 3 dozen people...

For the third year in a row, Leon and Gillian organised lunch at church. Bob and I went down at 2.45pm to watch the Queen on the Big Screen with all the guests.

As usual they were having a splendid time

DSCF1067 DSCF1066

Leon and Tom had done a great job, assisted by Gillian and friends


Although we had enjoyed a fantastic meal** ourselves, we did share in some Christmas pudding with them


And every guest received gifts - and a goodie bag


...this contained sweets, a satsuma, a toy, a bookmark and other little bits [guess which company Leon works for!]

Ryan gave a brilliant vote of thanks to all those who'd been involved [and he was almost the youngest there]

[**Liz and Steph did a great job with the goose and all the trimmings]



Sorry Ma'am, didn't think this speech was as good as last year's, but never mind. It is Christmas Day and now we shall play a family game of Cranium, as is traditional here.

Immanuel- God With Us


Christmas blessings to you and yours.

Now leave your PC and go and rejoice with friends and family!

Thursday 24 December 2009

Twas The Night Before Christmas

And a drink got spilled [on the newly cleaned carpet!] Bob promptly leapt into action with a towel and did Kim-and-Aggie's Dance of Joy


Meanwhile, Steph and I took her newly acquired Pug [Angus] and set him up in a pose after the fashion of Coolidge's "Dogs Playing Poker" pictures


This is solely for the benefit of Jon, who had asked to see a picture of Angus in an amusing pose


Angus is of course, on the right, his hand of cards is much better than that of the lion and the moose. Please note, this in no way condones drinking, card playing or any other sort of gambling!

We hope this is sufficiently amusing, Jon!

We are being amused by the news from Market Harborough, who have cancelled the Christmas-Fair-With-Reindeer because of the threat of snow. We thought that was what reindeer were used to!

Cherry Tree, Christmas Tree

It snowed a bit during the night, and we enjoyed not having to get up so early this morning. This afternoon, Bob and I joined some others from the church for more carol singing. Sarah and Guy, who run "Cherry Tree Gifts" had asked if the church could supply some carol singers for this afternoon. Well done to the hardy crew who turned out to support.

Mostly we stood outside, but at the end we went into the shop and sang round the Christmas Tree because our toes were getting cold!Mulled wine, mince pies and coffees were being served inside the shop. The customers seemed to appreciate the singing, and kindly gave us donations for our Christmas Appeal. The square of cobblestones in front of the singers was just a sheet of ice.


I am really impressed that people are willing to give up a couple of hours on Christmas Eve to do this. Thanks, friends! [The dog did not join in the singing though]

Meanwhile the girls wrapped up more gifts, and Liz has found useful recipes for dealing with leftover goose.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Two Daughters And Many Friends


Liz got home around 6.30, and friends started arriving at 7 for the Open House. This picture is specially for Elizabeth in India - showing her Mum and Dad enjoying themselves [btw E - my last couple of emails have unexpectedly bounced back, undelivered. Sorry!]

It was a cold, damp night, and Bob's Warm Spiced Apple Juice proved very popular. Perhaps I will post the recipe tomorrow.

Richard's shoelace snapped as he arrived - and it was great to be able to say "Let us give you another pair - we have loads upstairs" [see here]

Blogging will be rather sporadic for the next few days a; it is Christmas, and b; Liz is sleeping in this room, so my access to the PC will be limited.

Hope you are all enjoying your time together with families and friends - it is good to read on other blogs that other friends' children have got home safely.

Flowers, Food, Festivities

We have been busy getting ready for the Open House. An unexpected gift of flowers has brightened the spot in the window where the Christmas Tree would usually go.


Bob was concerned about the squeakiness of the tumble dryer and went to investigate. Quite pleased to find a fiver bunging up the filter...


Does this count as money laundering?

All the food is ready


Steph and Bob have prepared some interesting drinks

I just keep stopping to enjoy the flowers!


Now Bob has gone off to the Motorway services to collect Liz - it will be really good to have her home.

Things are just about ready now, and I have even managed to return my Library Books [and their Christmas Quiz] and collect a load more to read next week.

Sounds like a car outside - must go!!


Thank you everyone for all your kind enquiries and prayers for Liz and Jon's safe return from Paris.

Providing It's With Dignity!

If you recognised that phrase, you too probably watched Top Cat in the 1960s.

topcat It was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, sponsored by Kelloggs, and ran for just 30 episodes. Perversely called "Boss Cat" in Britiish TV listings [because of possible confusion with a popular petfood] it was programme I loved as a child - with Officer Dibble and Booboo etc.

Of course, this was in the days of black and white TV. We didn't realise at first he was yellow.

My cousin had her bedroom redecorated with Huckleberry Hound wallpaper - and it was only then that I discovered HH was blue!

arnold stang top cat


I mention him today having just read of the death, aged 90, of Arnold Stang, who was the voice of this lovable feline rogue!


He began work as a child, on radio, then Stang spent a lot of his career voicing cartoons and dozens of advertisements, and also made appearances on US TV shows including The Cosby Show and Batman, and also appeared in 1963 comedy "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"

Mr. Stang married JoAnne Taggart 60 years ago. She said he never officially retired and continued to act in commercials occasionally, even in recent years.

His voice brought pleasure to many kids [of all ages!]

Bob is currently out at his third funeral of the week. Conducting it, as usual, with appropriate dignity.

Liz is somewhere on the M1.

Steph is cleaning up the kitchen

I should probably go and assist her, I think!!

Tuesday 22 December 2009

A Pane-Free Christmas!

The Window Man is not coming till the New Year. That's definite.

Bob and I went out very early this morning, for a 9am funeral. It was incredibly cold, icy and slippery, at the Crematorium, which is bleak at the best of times. It is just a year since we were there for the thanksgiving for Frank's wife - and he had found these last twelve months so hard without her. Sad to say goodbye - but glad he is at peace now.

teacup Afterwards we returned, with the family and friends, to the sheltered housing scheme where the couple had been so happy together. Christine had prepared refreshments with her usual skill, and we shared reminiscences together.

One thing that intrigued me at the scheme - a notice in the entrance hall [I felt it was inappropriate to take out my camera for a photo] It read...

"Our Christmas Party will be on 7th January 2010. If you are coming, please sign below before the end of August"

Why August? Isn't that forward planning in the extreme?

After that the day got even busier - but even better, because Steph's train got in at 12.30pm. She and I did some last minute food shopping on our way back from the City.

This evening we went down to Bob's brother's home in Rugby. We swapped presents and chatted to people - and were thrilled to get a text from Liz saying she and Jon were finally back from Paris and their plane had touched down safely. Praise the Lord!

Which is wonderful news - and tomorrow she should be home here too.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

The Pastor's Wife Spends Evening At The Pub!


Every year, BBC Radio Leicester broadcasts 'Sing Christmas', a one hour programme of carols and readings - and people all over the county [and a few far-flung Leicester people in France] listen in on their radios and join in the singing.

We gathered at the local pub - with the hosts Mark and Sarah - to participate in the event. Organised by the local 'Churches Together' committee, our diligent CT Secretary Sue was there in good time to organise chairs and tables and setting out of crackers etc. Bob and Paul set up the radio and loudspeakers.


DSCF1049The programme involved sharing mince pies, pulling crackers and drinking a toast. Venues were invited to text in - and so we were mentioned, and cheered enthusiastically.


After the radio programme had finished, we had a session of singing carols 'folk-style' accompanied by a live band. That was good fun - but why did Bob keep his paper crown on, do you think?


We were quite exhausted by the time we got home - but all agreed it was a good programme [better than last year!]