Wednesday 29 April 2009


Idly wasting a few minutes on the Internet, I came across this fabulous kitchen gadget

personal donut maker

A personal donut maker - which produces these...


If I were a rich woman [they cost around £200 to ship from the USA] I might consider buying one as a gift for my beloved, who would

a; love the gadgetry and technology involved

b; appreciate the end product

But I realise that such generosity on my part could produce a spouse who looked  like this...

homer donut

So I shall not be buying one, after all, I think!

Tuesday 28 April 2009

The Slummy Mummy Gets Something Yummy!

Bob has replaced the card in my camera, and now it seems to be working again. So I was able to take a photo of the parcel which arrived this morning - a belated birthday gift from Liz.

IM003416 "Don't read too much into the choice of book, just thought you'd find it amusing" read the card!

The bottle is organic citronella spray, from Neal's Yard - for discouraging insects [Liz knows I react very badly to bites]

The packet is 'instant' rice pudding from a German Supermarket - translating the back using Yahoo Babel Fish, it claims "Wonderful Benefit for Everyone"

The sweets are from her Istanbul holiday [I guess that makes them Turkish Delight] According to the English list of ingredients on the back they contain; "glucose, fig, strength, means, hazelnut, coconut, pistachio, linseed, dry fruit and water. All products which are within this packing are 100% naturally and healthy"

Not sure what "strength" and "means" are!

It is SO exciting to get a package like this in the post, with all the items packed neatly in shredded paper - and Liz always produces such efficiently organised parcels. Thanks daughter!

Daughters and Boyfriends

Liz Liz and Jon are back safely from their trip to Istanbul, thank the Lord. Steph has taken the day off work to spend it with Mark who flies to New Zealand later today for a month.

Bon Voyage Mark - our thoughts and prayers go with you for a great adventure!

DSCF1501 I am sure I must have some better photos of these young people somewhere on the PC.

I am concerned that on both these shots, my daughters have the sort of grin that says "I am smiling for the camera, even though the bloke next to me is slightly strange" [its OK J&M, we don't think you are strange, honest !]

I must tear myself away from the PC and get on with the housework, or nothing will get done today. I read a lovely quote somewhere at the weekend

"She went and to-did her to-do list!"

Aren't these Gorgeous?

My good mate Chrissy mentioned at Knitting Club the other week that she was about to start some baby knitting for some pregnant friends. So I lent her my Zoe Mellor Bootees Book

zoe mellor bootees

It really is a superb book, and full of a mixed bag of patterns - from simple to complex, in 4ply and DK, and ever so useful if you want to use up odd balls in your stash to produce quick baby gifts. I have certainly had my money's worth from it [well, actually I bought it with a gift token, but you know what I mean!]

Last night, Chrissy turned up at Borders with the first pair she haschrissy's bootees made using the book.

I look forward to seeing what comes next!

I've lifted the picture from Chrissy's blog where you can see many other examples of this gifted lady's work.

We had yet another new member at the Club last night - and as usual, it was a really happy atmosphere.

Boyle's Lore

susan boyle Much has been said and written about Susan Boyle, and her appearance on "Britain's Got Talent"

The lady does indeed have a great voice.

One of the best articles I have come across though, was "A Point of View" from Clive James on Sunday morning. Find it here. He begins "Whatever our thrill at Susan Boyle's performance, it remains the case that audiences expect cosmetic beauty"

He then says a number of wise and witty things - clive james including his take on the comments made by Cowell and Morgan...

The commentators ...assumed that Mr Morgan and Mr Cowell had no advance knowledge that Susan would have a voice. I suppose it's possible, although I must say it seems unlikely to me. I spent 20 long years working in the front line in television studios and I seldom saw circumstances in which a surprise of such magnitude could be kept secret.

But really it doesn't matter much whether the two men were choosing their words of praise on the spot, without acting, or whether they had had time to think the words up. What mattered was what they said, and it was very instructive.

Mr Morgan was the more blatant in letting the world know that he was stunned. The message from both men was that they had expected Susan's performance to be as nondescript as her appearance was lacking in glamour...By emphasising these previous low expectations, they underlined their subsequent large-heartedness in praising her to the skies.

Many commentators were able to spot that both men were suffering from an overdeveloped sense of entitlement, in which, while expecting the rest of us to admire them because they were so ready to admit they had been wrong, we would not despise them for having held such low expectations merely because the lady was not a glamour puss.

... The conceit shown by Mr Morgan and Mr Cowell was deeply off-putting and if I had been on a special judging panel to judge the judges I would have told both of them to beware, because a name made from giving opinions in a television studio is a name written in water.

There is no more perfect recipe for self-delusion than to suppose that being a television personality is some kind of achievement in itself. The best insurance to stop it happening is to keep a recording of say, Beethoven's 7th Symphony nearby in order to remind yourself of what an actual achievement is.

I hope that Susan is able to keep her feet on the ground, and not be tarnished by the exposure to such men as Simon Cowell [with his uncannily perfect teeth!] As the press keep telling us she is a "churchgoer and spinster" [like either of those terms is a bad thing!] - so I am sure she is familiar with Peter's words

What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewellery you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.

Sabbath Rest

"And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."

As Bob said on Sunday, this verse from Genesis 2 paints a lovely picture, of the Lord saying "All this 'creating' is hard work, I shall stop and have a rest now!"

We had a peaceful Sunday with Christine - and sung some super hymns and songs, including this one, which I love...


As water to the thirsty, as beauty to the eyes,
as strength that follows weakness, as truth instead of lies,
as songtime and springtime, and summertime to be,
so is my Lord, my living Lord, so is my Lord to me.

galilee moonlight
Like calm in place of clamour, like peace that follows pain,
like meeting after parting, like sunshine after rain,
like moonlight and starlight and sunlight on the sea,
so is my Lord, my living Lord, so is my Lord to me.
london sunrise

As sleep that follows fever, as gold instead of grey,
as freedom after bondage, as sunrise to the day,
as home to the traveller and all we long to see,
so is my Lord, my living Lord, so is my Lord to me.

chief rabbi

There was a superb piece in the Times on Saturday by the Chief Rabbi about the Sabbath.

He ended with these words "We cannot bring back the Sabbath to the public domain, but we can bring it back to our private lives. We need to because neither the environment nor the economy can be predicated on limitless growth, fed by artificial desire.

One day in seven we should give thanks for what we have and open our eyes to the radiance of the world."

I say "Amen!" to that

Saturday 25 April 2009

Sudbury, Sunshine and Singing

NT Sudbury Hall

This morning, Chris and I set off, in fairly dismal weather, to Derbyshire, to the Sudbury Hall Museum of Childhood.

I had recently read about this on two other favourite blogs [here and here] We didn't do the main house this time - just spent hours enjoying the Museum part. I even pretended to be a Victorian Child Chimney Sweep and climbed the chimney. Scary!

Then we had lovely baguettes for lunch in the pub opposite.

By the time we came out of the museum at 2pm, the sun was shining brilliantly and it was a beautiful afternoon. Unfortunately my camera seems to be on the blink, so no pictures.

Home to prepare Sunday School Stuff - Chris helped me prepare the shields for tomorrow's lesson [all about Deborah, a wonderful woman, described as a prophet, a judge and a 'mother for Israel' - and also Jael, who brought Sisera a dish of yogurt then gave him a blinding headache! Don't you just love these characters in the book of Judges ? - no weak lily-livered females here!!]

jonathan veira Bob has been busy at the church much of the day, setting up the sound system for tonight's event. "An Audience with Jonathan Veira" It was a good evening, with over 100 there. He has a great voice and tells some super stories. Check out Jonathan's Webpage for more information. Lynda, Carol and Jan worked hard to put together a superb event. Thanks!

I would certainly recommend him if you want a good evening of music, anecdotes and simple Gospel truths.


But now it is almost midnight - the car is completely unloaded and [yet again] the lounge is full of PA equipment.

And I am going to bed!

Friday 24 April 2009

Thoughts of a Headless Chicken

headless chicken I suppose technically, a headless chicken cannot think, having no place for its brain...but never mind.

It has been a Very Busy week, school every day and stuff in the evenings, and Bob has been working non-stop.

So it was lovely to receive a surprise gift from my friend Lynn- she has lent me her copy of this book

pace of a hen I had seen so many references to "The Pace of a Hen" on other blogs, and I shall comment fully when I have read the book properly.

According to a reviewer on Amazon "The title comes from a quote by Teresa of Avila who wrote that the spiritual progress of the married must be as the pace of hen. Mrs. Benton points out that the hen may wander in circles, but every day she creates an item of lovely use. Furthermore, Mrs. Benton says, life is circular, and we should not be embarrassed by the small circles on which our lives must run when we have small children."

My children have flown the nest now, but it will be interesting to see what Mrs Benton says.

Looking forward now to a lovely weekend with my oldest friend Christine, who has come over from Norfolk, so probably no time to post blogs for a few days.

Thursday 23 April 2009

Song of Songs 2:12


For Christmas, I was given a little bowl and some crocus corms. On Sunday when we got back from Norfolk, two of them had bloomed. Today there were three flowers. The name derives from the Greek word 'KROKUS' which means saffron yellow.

A lovely sign of spring on the windowsill! I am determined to improve my gardening skills this year.


Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come!

Wednesday 22 April 2009

The Song of the Spong

spong mincer Back in 1978, when we were engaged, I went over to Bob's church one Sunday, then back to his place for a lovely roast lunch. The following evening he turned up at my flat with a shepherd's pie which he had made.

He was very pleased at his thriftiness in using the remains of the joint to produce this meal. I confess I complained that it wasn't  very thrifty, because he had been into Timothy Whites to buy a Spong Mincer before he started cooking!

I hang my head in shame - thirty years later, I am still using my beloved Spong with its retro styling, suction base and orange plastic handle!

The brand-names of Spong and Timothy Whites have [sadly] disappeared now ... but I am still mincing the meat - virtuously using muscle power and not electric gadgets! It was a good buy after all.

Monday 20 April 2009

Time Saving?

IM003389 On Friday I decided we needed a clock at Cornerstones, so I got this in the Pound Shop. At 2.10pm I put in the battery and hung it on the wall. some hours later, realised it still said 2.30 and the red second hand was just clicking back and forth over the 6.

Perhaps I was just being a little bit too thrifty here. But as I pointed out to my friend Richard, a clock which is stopped at 2.30 is at least right twice in every day - but a clock which is five minutes slow is always wrong!

They do say that in a Norfolk village, you feel that time stands still.

Sunday 19 April 2009

Welcome to "Cornerstones"

Mum & Dad 1955 My parents went into ministry back in the 1940's - and never owned a home of their own.  Here they are in 1955...

Although they lived in Church Manses until Dad's retirement, after that it was not so easy. My Mum's real concern was that we too would find ourselves at 65 with no place to call our own home. 99.99% of the time, I love being a Pastor's wife - but I admit that just occasionally, usually around 4 in the morning, I have lain awake wondering "What if something happens to Bob...?" or "Where will we live in 2020?" and I knew each time I had these doubts, that the Lord would provide, but I found it hard sometimes to trust as much as I should. It got worse when I hit 50, and lots of my contemporaries were celebrating paying off their mortgages.

And then there was a global recession. And house prices fell significantly - and at the turn of the year, we realised that we might just about manage a deposit and a 10 year mortgage, on a small bungalow somewhere. Bob suggested Norfolk [lots of family and friends there - great for holidays etc] and so unbelievably it has happened! Last Wednesday we became the proud owners of  "Cornerstones" - a bungalow in the village of Swanton Morley in Norfolk. [actually, we don't own it, only about 28% of it, the Halifax technically own the rest...]

It has certainly been a Steep Learning Curve as they say. The word 'mortgage' is linked to something French about 'payment unto death'!!

Whilst we didn't inherit a house from our parents, we have certainly acquired a lot of furniture along the way, and so last Wednesday we hired and loaded a van...


My Old Man said "Follow the Van, and don't dilly dally on the way.

Off went the van with me 'ome packed in it, I followed on with me Ol' Cock Linnet ...


Actually I followed in the car with sewing machine, laptop and dog! It all went remarkably smoothly [thanks to Joy, our wonderful conveyancing solicitor, Rob our mortgage adviser and Nick at the Estate Agents, who were all very patient with this pair of novice first time buyers]

When we got the keys, we moved in and spent three days sorting and cleaning and getting things straight-ish. My brother Adrian - the best brother a girl could have - took Thursday off work and spent the day helping us. He worked incredibly hard on the garden. Here are a few moving pictures.


An essential Tea break











There are always so many cardboard boxes to crush and recycle


Those blue Sainsburys Boxes are very useful


First night, mattress on the floor


And a kettle boiling on the camping stove

But after that things got easier


Radio 4, a Laptop and a sewing machine all up and running - feels more like home now! [but no Internet yet]

And curtain tracks up, and the bed put together properly


A much more civilised bedroom!


Bob cut the grass at the back, whilst Adrian strimmed at the front [note the proper protective gear]


And once we had power for the electric kettle, friends and family [generously bearing cards and gifts] called round for tea and donuts.


Here is Sarah with an improvised plate to catch the sugar! And here is the little red rose she gave us as a housewarming gift.


Charlie the Dog seemed to adjust to the new location



Philip the plumber came and sorted out the heating boiler


I found little corner to sit and sew! The chair was another housewarming gift.


Bob finally sat down and relaxed a bit! My Aunt in Romford thoughtfully sent the curtains you can see behind him - and they fit the window perfectly. In fact I had enough curtaining in my stash to do every other window!

We still don't have a proper cooker, but Marion and Christine have kindly fed us some excellent meals during the week.

I did make a trip into Dereham for a few bits and pieces [like curtain tape] and found a fabulous little woolshop. However the millstone [sorry, mortgage] was playing on my mind, and I was careful to avoid profligate spending.

We have already met the neighbours in five of the other bungalows in the close - and by the time we got to church this morning in Dereham, a number of people were asking if the rumours were true,were we really moving to Norfolk?

We've been utterly overwhelmed by people's kindness, and their genuine pleasure that we have somewhere.

But just to make it very clear - retirement isn't till 2020! Until then, Cornerstones is our 'holiday home' where we plan to rest and recuperate. It has a roof, and an inside toilet and a proper bed. This makes it 100% better than summer holidays in a small damp tent!

Bob and I are both still slightly in shock about the whole thing and unable to believe it's really happened. It is entirely by the Grace of God. We still have lots of work to do here in Leicestershire, so for a few more years, "Cornerstones" will just be an occasional retreat. But once it is fully equipped, we hope to make it available for other friends who need a holiday break in a peaceful spot. Someone at church this morning suggested we set up a website with booking details. Maybe, in a few months...

So that is what we have been doing this week. Now you know!


Welcome to Cornerstones, friends! Hope you can visit it in reality one day.

I am not going to bore everyone stupid with any more details. The Easter Holiday is just about finished now - and the temporary excitement is over.

Back to work now, building the Kingdom of God here in Kirby Muxloe!

Friday 17 April 2009

My Photography Does Not Improve!

A wall, and a fence, and a gate and a patio door...
You'll have to wait to find out some more.

But this is where we have spent the last two days.
All will be revealed soon.
But we are having a lovely break here in Norfolk and it has been so good to see family and friends.
Thank you to my niece Lucy for the use of her PC this morning - mainly to renew my library books online, but I thought I'd update the blog quickly whilst I had the chance.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Some Holiday Reading

Today is a Fairly Significant Day for us. But you will just have to wait to find out more...

Bob suggested that as we are probably going to be out of reach of Internet facilities over the next few days I should prepare a post before we left civilisation and headed off to the Far East. Just in case you have nothing to read and feel I am neglecting you, or something...

He thought that I ought to put the first chapter of the journal I wrote on our holiday in Ireland last year - and if you like it, you can get the whole book online [see the 'Blurb' thingy in the sidebar]. This strikes me as blatant advertising - but I usually follow his suggestions so I hope this works!

If you click on

This link

you should get the file! But remember I am unlikely to respond to any comments until next week. [And in case you are wondering, by Far East, we mean Norfolk!]

Two pictures of our Irish holiday - you can see how wet the pavement is on the first picture. In the second the sky is misleadingly blue [that grass was Very Wet!!]

Expect more news towards the end of the week...

Monday 13 April 2009

Paws For Thought

So the White House has a new resident - a Portuguese Water Dog [no I had never heard of this breed either]

bo the whitehouse dog Malia and Sasha have named him BO [and there was me thinking it was Dad and Mum who were called BO and MO!] The first news report I heard said he was originally called Charlie [which our family believe to be the best name for a dog!] but that fact has disappeared from the airwaves now.

Apparently PWD are wonderful, house trained animals who do not shed dog hair.

This one, although not from a Shelter [the Obama's original plan] was "pre-owned" but didn't get on at his last home! [were they Republicans?]

I have spent a fair bit of today vacuuming and also shampooing carpets. Our poor old dog does not have PWD characteristics!


Now I know that they use Sebo vacuum cleaners like mine in the White House, because that used to be stated on the adverts. And Sebos are very good at collecting dog hair. In twelve years my trusty model has never let me down.

If you go to our local Tip, they have all the discarded vacuums lined up - rank upon rank of Hoover, Dyson and Electrolux - but I have never seen a Sebo there, which must prove something about the quality of the engineering.

I do not know if Mrs O has a carpet shampooer, but I guess her Mum may have brought one with her when she moved in to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Mine is a Vax Rapide and it is very good. However wonderfully house trained Bo is, the Obamas will need one of these sometime!


I got mine when they were on offer in the Cash'nCarry and we were expecting important visitors. It worked out at half the price of hiring a Rug Doctor and it's still going strong years later.

Two useful tips if you are ever shampooing a carpet [which they do not put in the Vax handbook ]

  1. Wear earplugs - it is an incredibly noisy occupation
  2. Do it barefoot - it is by far the easiest way to check you have covered the whole area with shampoo and sucked it all up again!

I know that some people prefer it if visitors remove their outdoor shoes, but I am never comfortable with asking guests to do that. And I cannot imagine that when HM next drops in on Michelle, the First Lady will say "Oh Elizabeth, could you take off those shoes please? I am sure I saw you on TV last week wearing them when you were tramping round your estate at Sandringham!"

Money Laundering?

Getting up surprisingly early on Easter Monday to sort out a load of washing is a good and commendable activity for someone attempting to be a Proverbs 31 Homekeeper.

Forgetting that your husband tucked a £5 note in his best white shirt pocket at church yesterday morning, and putting that shirt in a bowl of hot soapy water is not so praiseworthy!


A Clutch of Easter Eggs


I seem to have accumulated a lot of ornamental eggs over the years - some purchased, some crafted. I think possibly the collection is big enough now. And not a calorie among them!


The knitted eggs were made last year using a free online pattern from Little Cotton Rabbits. The candles and the tiny eggs were from IKEA - and all the others were various craft things I did with the girls when they were younger.

They are all packed away now though, till next year!

Saturday 11 April 2009

Holy Saturday

The day when we remember Jesus' body resting in the tomb.

We have just heard of the sudden death of a dear friend from church and Bob has gone to visit the family. It is hard to get my thoughts together, but this song keeps coming back to me

God sent His Son - they called Him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Saviour lives.

Because He lives I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because Christ lives.

And then one day I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory - and I'll know He lives.


Luke 12:27

Spent the morning at the church with Bob, Barbara and others, preparing everything for Easter. People kept arriving with baskets of flowers- it all looks lovely. The young people have made Easter Gardens. Halfway home, I remembered I had taken my camera- but I'd been so busy, I'd forgotten to photograph anything!

The village is looking gorgeous though - hosts of flowers in the gardens and blossom on the trees. So I took some pictures of the gardens I passed on my walk home. How blessed we are, to live in such a beautiful spot!






Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? [well I certainly haven't!] If fussing can't even do that, why fuss at all?

Walk into the fields and look at the flowers. They don't fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen colour and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the flowers, most of them never even seen, don't you think He'll attend to you, take pride in you, do His best for you?