Monday 31 August 2009

Maid Of All Work

Over the next few weeks, all our local villages seem to be having Galas and Fun Days. My friend Debbie is taking part in one in her village, on the 'Farmer's Market' Stand [she sells her cross stitch crafts at the FM each week] She needed to be dressed 'in Victorian Costume' - so on the trip up the M1 last Wednesday, she and I discussed the easiest way to do this. We concluded a maid's outfit would be simplest - plain blouse and long skirt [already had these] plus apron and mob cap.

I did these Saturday afternoon from the lining of an old red velvet curtain from the Stash plus some spare bits of lace.


To make the cap, I drew a 24" diameter circle, and inside that, a 17" circle. I pinned lace round the edge and zigzagged it in place. You need about 2 yards. I folded a channel along the inner circle, and pinned it on the wrong side,[ about ½" wide]  and sewed this round [ it puckered a bit because obviously the inner line was shorter than the outer, but it does not matter!] Then I snipped a tiny hole through the channel and threaded 22" of elastic, and knotted the ends. Voila!


If you want to make your own, you may find it useful to know that the bib piece was 12" square, the skirt piece 36" square before hems etc. And I stiffened the waistband with a leftover length of Wide Ruffle Tape! I added pockets because my friend Irene says aprons should always have pockets, and I think she is probably right!

Debbie's tried the outfit on, and it fits! If it is cold, she can drape a shawl round her shoulders. Victorians did not wear anoraks.

Sunday 30 August 2009

Colours To Dye For

 DSCF0423 In the veg box, along with the chard was some red cabbage.

I thought we should eat some on Saturday evening. It was a deep crimson red colour.

I chopped some of it, and boiled it together with some more of the chard [yellow stalked] to serve alongside some pork chops.

DSCF0422The cabbage turned from red to an amazing shade of indigo blue!

Can you believe the alteration in colour?**

Today I steamed some cabbage. I did this in a steamer placed over the potatoes which I was boiling for mash.

The cabbage retained a deep purple-red colour - but the water underneath in which the potatoes were cooking became an alarming inky liquid - which added a certain je ne sais quoi  to the mash. It tasted OK, but was a strange grey colour.[Too grim to photograph]

I am very tempted to experiment with cooking more of the cabbage then seeing what happens if I try to dye some white fabric in the resultant ink. I think the colour comes from similar anthocynanins to those found in indigo plants. Ron, [my friend Rachel's Dad] is an expert on indigo, and used to give lectures about it. He told me that almost all our indigo jeans now are dyed with synthetic dyes - apparently they could not possible grow enough plants to provide the world's denim manufacturers with the real stuff!

**Unretouched photos!

My Grandmother Always Used to Say...

...that when a good Christian Girl gets to church, the first thing she should do is make sure she knows all the Hims!

Is it any wonder I married a bloke with such a predilection for bad puns?

robert crampton Anyway, back to the hims/hymns theme.

Really interesting piece in the Times yesterday by Robert Crampton, about how he attended a Songs Of Praise Service whilst on holiday in Wales. Read it here

I usually find myself smiling at RC's stuff, although we have very little in common [But he lives in Hackney, and at one point when Steph was living there as a student, I suspected he was stalking her - wherever she went, he seemed to write about it the following Saturday!] But he is nowhere near the way!

So his article about how he actually enjoyed singing the hymns was fascinating. Equally intriguing - the full list of sixteen that the Vicar had chosen. Absolutely NOTHING written after 1950! But RC didn't appear to have any sort of problem with that - 'no fancy modern arrangements' he says, almost approvingly.

Yes, I enjoy Townend/Kendrick/Redman and the other new kids on the block, but somehow this article [by a non-Xn] extolling the joys of Wesley/Whittier/Newton and co vindicates my belief that sometimes you really can't beat a good sing to a melodious [and predictable] tune!

I hope and pray RC does act on his final comment... 'I really ought to go more often' - and enjoys it even more!village choir

[Picture is Webster's "'Village Choir" painted in 1847 from the V&A. Do check out their instruments!]

Saturday 29 August 2009

Put Out More Flags!

My friend C is decluttering because she is moving abroad [well, Scotland, actually] and when we returned from holiday, there was a jiffy bag for me full of fat quarters- which she did not want to take up north, and was sure I would have a use for them.

DSCF0407 So this week I have been using them up, along with some other vintage stash fabric to make things for the upcoming Charity Craft Events.

First I decided to make some bunting. It seems to be the thing this summer, so I made some more lengths, similar to the stuff I prepared for the Holiday Club Window Display last month.



I made labels for the bags - so people know how long the strings are


Here's all the packs neatly prepared for sale.

Can you guess what these are?


[No it isn't just another of my bad photos - I have been playing around with the soft focus tool!]

They are pencil rolls


I have always loved coloured crayons ever since I was a child - and was almost as happy just arranging them in different patterns as I was colouring pictures. Did anybody else do that?


C is very busy writing essays at the minute. Perhaps I should send her a pencil roll so she can colour pretty patterns round the edge of her assignments. [On second thoughts, that probably wouldn't please the theological tutor who has to mark the paper, would it?]

Anyway, must press on, got more sewing projects to do...

[One day I may get round reading Put Out More Flags, and other Evelyn Waugh stuff. But not this week!]

No Longer Gormless!

On Wednesday, I took my friend Debbie to IKEA - she needed bits for her new flat, and I wanted a bookcase for Cornerstones. Remember- when you take someone to IKEA for the first time, it always takes longer than going alone.This is the second time I have done it this year, and I keep forgetting to allow extra time!

cutters I also purchased a set of Drommar cookie cutters  [£3.99] for Steph. She had received her new catalogue a week ago and was very taken with the idea of Moose Biscuits!

I splashed out too on some Gorm Shelving [I have been Gormless for far too long]

The fabric and notions of the Great Stash have been stored in a random assortment of shoeboxes, plastic crates and biscuit tins, which were kept in what had previously been the girl's bedroom cupboards. When we moved those cupboards to Cornerstones, I just stacked the boxes in heaps which kept tumbling down like the walls of Jericho.

DSCF0409 So I moved the boxes onto Steph's bed.

This photo only shows a fraction of them!


Up went the Gorm Unit


And on went the new labelled, sorted boxes


Doesn't that look better?

I am hoping that now things are properly sorted, it will be much quicker to find a particular piece of fabric whenever I come to do some sewing.

I am having a mad sewing week this week, as Church Life in September is horrendously busy and term starts next week [I'm hoping for plenty of supply work!] but there are a few craft events coming up which I have been asked to support.

I need to get some fresh stock made up. Pictures of that to follow shortly.

Chard Remains!

DSCF0408 For last night's meal I had originally planned a tuna, courgette and tomato sauce with pasta. However the arrival of the veg box on Wednesday altered my plans a little.

The box contained a bag of chard. Now Bob and I tried chard last year, I bought some from the local Farmer's Market. We didn't really like it. But I felt I couldn't waste the stuff in the box. So I chopped the stalks into shortish sections and softened them in the oil, along with the chopped onions, garlic and courgettes. I added tuna, and half a can of chopped tomatoes, and then at the end, stirred the shredded chard leaves in, and it wilted down a bit like spinach.

carotino oil

I have been using Carotino Oil recently [I got some on offer in Morrison's] It is quite pleasant to cook with, once you have adjusted to its wonderful orangey-red colour!

The website here is very informative about the benefits of the oil and has some interesting looking recipes.

Anyway, back to the supper...I poured the sauce of pasta shells and served it up.

'What is this?' said Bob, slightly suspiciously. 'Think town in Somerset' I replied [was I perhaps Taunton him?] He had decided the green leaves were in fact spinach, but had been concerned the red stalks were rhubarb!

There is still more chard in the bag, I shall have to find a more interesting way to cook that tonight.

Anyway Steph has asked for evidence of my progress with vegbox.

I should mention that she has started a blog now. Whether she manages to keep it going once she starts her new job is another matter. You can find her at Steph's Salads.

Friday 28 August 2009

Apt Alliteration's Artful Aid

My parents maintained that when they were at theological college, in sermon class, their tutor was always harping on about the use of AAAA when preparing sermons and talks. I am fascinated by alliteration and the patterns in words.

And it occurred to me that the three programmes I have enjoyed a lot recently all feature presenters whose names begin with 'A'

kim&aggie First up, there's Aggie [Mackenzie] who does 'How Clean is Your House?' along with the rather scary Kim Woodburn.

And then there is Alex [Polizzi]


She is the Hotel Inspector. She does have a fondness for wearing asymmetric clothing, and huge scarves - but she gives some good advice to struggling Hoteliers. And I am impressed by the way she mucks in and helps with the cleaning, and shifting the sofas and things.

Finally, a newer programme, Economy Gastronomy introduced me to Allegra [McEvedy]allegra  She is a frightfully good-humoured chef, and you just know she captained the hockey team when she was at school!

EG is an interesting programme which I may blog about in depth on another day.


economy gastronomy

But my random thought this morning was ...

Three women, all beginning with 'A' who tell you

  • how to clean your house,
  • how to run your hotel
  • how to manage your food budget.

There must be a gap in the market for another 'how to' TV programme, presented by a jolly, slightly bossy middle aged woman beginning with A and they haven't had an ANGELA yet!

Trouble is, I cannot for the life of me thing of a subject in which I am suitably qualified. There's not really a demand for a series on 'how to make many useful things from old curtains'  - although I do...err... have plenty of material!!

All suggestions for programmes gratefully received.

Thursday 27 August 2009

An Apple A Day...

apple and ginger Here is a picture of James White's Organic Apple and Crushed Ginger Juice.

This was one of the 'extras' the girls arranged to be in our VegBox gift.

We have had it as an accompaniment to dinner last night and lunch today.

I really liked it - the ginger gave a nice kick to the apple, and the flavour was very good. Crisp and fresh. 10/10 I think!

j white ginger and apple



James White make lots of different drinks, you can check them out here



jwhite logo

Steph asked for a report on the box contents. So I guess this is Review #1. Lunch today was a chicken salad including the salad leaves from the box. We couldn't identify them all. They looked pretty, and personally, I thought they tasted OK, but Bob said he was suspicious of some leaves which he thought might have been random weeds!

Quelle Surprise!

A mystery parcel arrived


Inside, another layer- tissue paper, a card and a ribbon bow


It is from ElizabethD, who writes the lovely blog French Village Life. She has made me a gift for Cornerstones


What a lovely cushion - exactly the right shades of blue as well! The cushion has been beautifully pieced and quilted. I will deliver it on Sunday night when we go across to Norfolk.

Thank you dear friend. I shall really treasure this gift!

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Canvassing Opinions

ambridge Alan [the motorbiking Vicar] and his wife Usha have gone on a Camping Holiday.

Thus far it is all sounding disastrous.

She cannot cope with 'roughing it' in a tent, and two of their church members have fetched up on the same campsite. Can things get any worse? [Rain, perhaps?]

I shall be listening inTENTly to the next few episodes. If I suspect they have taken any material from this book, I shall be suing the BBC!

Thirty Years And Still Counting...

We had a lovely Anniversary Meal with the family last night, Bob's brother Frank [plus his wife Barbara and son Robin] gave us a fine feast in their lovely garden.

Frank was BBQ chef


The men spent much time discussing technology and motorbikes


Barbara produced a wonderful Almond Pavlova for dessert


Then she and I went inside to look at her superb new sewing machine [technology isn't just a bloke thing, after all!]




It is a Janome 6260QC Quilter's Companion.


Altogether a very nice piece of kit!




When we got home, we found a card with a lovely basket of flowers on the doorstep from friendsDSCF0400, and another card on the doormat


I was surprised by how many cards we had received during the course of the day, and before bed I arranged them all along the mantelpiece.





Today a lovely VegBox arrived from Riverford Organics - our Anniversary gift from Liz and Steph. Such a brilliant idea


vegbox This is a picture from the website - because Bob unpacked the box and put things promptly into the fridge when it arrived. [Which was very thoughtful of him - some husbands would have just left it to their wives to sort] Our box had cabbage not leeks, and some nectarines - and in addition there was a wedge of fancy cheese, some chocolates, a bottle of apple'n'ginger drink for me and a bottle of interesting ale for him. What an intelligent gift - the same sort of price as flowers, but really enjoyable, and so healthy. Thanks girls!

Some friends [cannot work out if they are really kind, or just that they need new glasses - I'll give them the benefit of the doubt...] have said I do not look my age, Steph says my hair looks better now than it did on my wedding day, and Frances asked for my beauty secret. Frances, I don't have any secrets regarding beauty[except hair dye - click here]

It certainly isn't eight hours of sleep a night, and it isn't expensive cosmetics, and it isn't a life free of stress. I'd like to say that being married to Bob for 30 years has kept me young - but I am concerned that the reverse is possibly not true - what little hair he has left turned grey before he was 30.

I have never smoked. I drink hardly any alcohol. But I honestly do very little exercise [other than putting out chairs for church functions, and climbing on and off the pillion of a very large, powerful motorbike] however I do race to meet deadlines, stretch my budget, throw my weight around, and jump for joy a lot.

I suspect that if I ever did work my way down to the bottom of The Great Stash in the loft, underneath all that fabric, I might possibly find a Dorian Gray type picture!!!

As far as I can see, the best facial workout involves laughing and smiling a lot - and when you are secure in the knowledge that God loves you, and Jesus is your Saviour, and His Spirit is with you, then it isn't too hard to maintain 'a cheerful countenance'

That reminds me of the great Baptist UHU Hymn, which refers to grey hair.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
He will not, He will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
He’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Now I must go and cook some of those lovely veg for tea.

Monday 24 August 2009

The Greatest is Love!

wedding 1979

That's us - 25th August 1979, on the steps of Dereham Baptist Church on our wedding day. I should mention that to get this head-and-shoulders shot, the photographer made us stand on different steps because of the 16½" height difference! We look so young!

IMG_1530 angela_school 2009

Here's us now - still incredibly happy, and still so much in love, even if we have aged considerably in the thirty years since. It is our PEARL Anniversary. God has blessed us richly, in ways I could never have imagined on that sunny Saturday all those years ago. We have two stunning daughters, a lovely caring church fellowship, a lovely wider family...and now, at last, a property of our own. I still cannot believe it all.

Place me like a seal over your heart,
      like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
      its jealousy as enduring as the grave.
Love flashes like fire,
      the brightest kind of flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
      nor can rivers drown it.
If a man tried to buy love
      with all his wealth,
      his offer would be utterly scorned

Happy Anniversary, Darling !

Going for Gold!

special olympics opening# Last month I posted about the Special Olympics, which were about to happen in Leicester, and about Zara Jurenko, from our church, who was acting as an Ambassador, and also taking part in the tennis.

I am really excited to report that Zara won THREE gold medals!

DSCF0387 She was a star in the Ladies Singles, Ladies Doubles and the Mixed Doubles.

Yesterday in church she displayed her medals, and said she had been nervous, but before every match had prayed God would keep her calm.

We are all very impressed, and wish her continuing success with her tennis playing.

Sunday 23 August 2009

Off The Cuff Remarks

Two more photos from yesterday - which didn't quite fit with the other wedding pics, but I couldn't resist taking them.  These splendid cuff-links belong to Paul, our resident Maths Geek...


...and this is the cuff of his father-in-law David, who played the keyboard at the wedding, and is part of our regular Worship Group


When I took Paul's picture, someone remarked that only a very limited circle of people would appreciate these cufflinks. I replied that those people would at least know what the circumference of their circle was!

Congratulations to Nicola & Fran!


What are these mysterious boxes in the Vestibule at Church?

Aha! they are the Orders Of Service for the Wedding















Nicola- a very beautiful bride - a very beautiful bride, arrived [a little late!] and came down the aisle on the arm of her Dad, Mike - to the strains of Pachelbel's Canon.

Two very nervous young people made their vows- Bob soon put them at their ease, and the atmosphere in church was happy and relaxed


And out they came together to Mendelssohn's Wedding March


Lots of photos outside the church in the sunshine [where it had absolutely thrown it down with rain 24 hours before!]



Then off to the reception in a lovely little car!



One happy couple outside Bosworth Hall!

And the bride - with parents, grandparents, siblings, partners, niece ...and new husband!


I thought this one was The Bride's Girlfriends- but somehow two blokes got in on this shot as well.







The three of us [I am SO short!]

I include this one because it is the only picture I have found that shows anything of the pretty pink fascinator I had pinned to the back of my head. Thank you, dear friend Elisabeth B., for the loan of that, and matching pink bag!





Inside our places were set round tables of ten. Each guest had a little gift - a keyring/bottle opener inscribed with the couple's names and the date.




We were sitting with our good friends Simon and Lynda.






Nic and Fran cut the cake!








Claire and Sophie - two more good friends - Sophie is currently working as our Church Administrator [and is doing it very capably!] and Claire is about to start teaching in Rotherham.





More attractive young ladies - Steph with Rebecca and Cat









The happy couple [and that gorgeous car] again.

It was a lovely day, and this morning at church, everyone was saying how much they enjoyed the event. My prayer is for Nic and Fran that they will enjoy many happy years together and know God's richest blessings throughout their married life.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. ...And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Footnotes - thankyou Steph, most of these pictures are ones which you took! Thanks again to Elisabeth B for the fascinator. Thanks to Jane and Mike, Laurie and John [the parents] as well as Nic and Fran, for giving us all such a lovely day.

To Elizabeth T, and other KMFC friends who couldn't be there, hope you enjoyed looking at these photos. I am sure there are lots of others on the Internet already!