Friday 30 April 2010

Annoying Adverts

I have a question - is the woman in this advert...

...the same as the woman in this one...

- they seem very similar to me.

and is there anyone else out there who finds both adverts annoying?

The new John Lewis ad is very clever

It depicts a woman aging from babyhood to 70 years in 90 seconds. There is a lot of detail in it, and it is quite intriguing to watch.

But don't study it too closely or it will start to irritate you because of the little inconsistencies.

A woman who is 70 now will not have had a nylon play tunnel as a baby in the 1940's. Or a fibre tip pen on her desk when she was 10 - they were not invented till the 1960's. And the fashions aren't quite right either as the ad progresses. And she seems to have a laptop remarkably early too.

But I do like the Billy Joel song!

Thursday 29 April 2010

Cutting Edge Part 2

My good friend over at The Madhouse has just reminded me that she too engages in constructive recycling of Boden catalogues. Here is her lovely Valentine's garland

boden hearts madmum

boden hearts2  madmum

Anyone else out there doing something creative with these pages?

Cutting Edge Creations

Oh dear - any day now I am expecting a lawsuit from Johnnie Boden. boden

He spends all that money sending me catalogues, and I don't buy anything - I just use them as a resource for other things!


First I use the catalogue as inspiration for a summer skirt - and now that Janet has taught me teabag folding, I have now cut up the Boden catalogue, and done some creative recycling.

I cut out sets of squares in three different sizes, and folded them up into flowers.


I think the smaller [3cm] ones, although the most fiddly to fold, are the most successful - because they came from the same page so are mostly the same colours. The 6cm and 9cm ones are colourful, but not exactly coordinated.

There is a purpose to all this cutting and folding - I am working on fresh ideas for our church Holiday Club crafts for the summer. I think this one is too complex for the younger groups though!

It is a very relaxing activity, sitting watching TV, resting a large book on my lap as a base for folding, creating flowers like this!

Wednesday 28 April 2010

A Nice Cup Of Tea

cream tea

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."[H. James]

Yesterday afternoon I was able to spend some time enjoying tea, [and scones, and jam and clotted cream] with a good friend. And we had some great conversation.

Henry James has a point! I felt truly blessed, and wonderfully relaxed. W E Gladstone apparently said

"If you are cold, tea will warm you-
If you are heated, it will cool you-
If you are depressed, it will cheer you-
If you are excited, it will calm you."

Time to put the kettle on again, I think!

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Things Children Say

I was covering an RE lesson. It was an introduction to Hinduism, and the idea of Brahman the Supreme Power. The plan instructed me to brainstorm the children about the idea of a "Job Description for the SP over the Earth- specifically noting what things the SP would control, and what things humans would control"

Here is what happened [my words are in red - stuff written on the board in blue]


No poverty, sickness, war or homelessness

Everything would be fair

Leicester City would win every football match they played.

"Would this work?"


"No, Miss, because if LCFC won every time it would not be fair on other teams. To be fair every match would have to end in a draw"

"That's no good, Miss, you wouldn't bother to play then, if you knew you would never win"


"OK, we will forget football for a minute [if only some of them could!] and think about what the humans will be allowed to control"


Where they put their furniture.

"That's it? That is all you will allow them? Re-arranging the dining chairs round the table!"

swastikaHumans can be allowed to vote in elections

"What if they vote for the wrong man - Germans chose Hitler to lead them in the 1930s and that ended in war."

"We cannot let them control anything then."

"That will make them into robots - is that a good idea?"

"I think that humans should be allowed to choose how they live their lives and control them."

"That's called Free Will"

"That is the best thing - let them choose for themselves"

Humans can have the Free Will to choose for themselves

"But just supposing you do let the humans have free will. You let them choose for themselves how they live. And they make the wrong choices - instead of ending hunger, they are greedy and take all the food. And they argue after a football match and have fights - or worse, two countries have a war with each other. If YOU are the Supreme Power, and you let humans have Free Will, and they make wrong choices like that, what are you going to do about it?"

There was a brief pause, then one boy said

"I'd go down there, Miss, and tell them"


And I just stood there - not knowing what to say next, with a lump in my throat. I so wanted to say "But He did - He did come down and tell us, and we didn't listen, we crucified Him"...but of course, I have to be a professional teacher, and I am not allowed to evangelise in class. And anyway this was meant to be an introduction to Hinduism. I just said

"That sounds like a good plan. Now let's move on to the next question..."


I told a wise friend about it afterwards, and she said she felt it showed that children know some spiritual truths instinctively - and she was praying that somewhere along the line they would remember the lesson and make the connections for themselves. Amen to that.

Monday 26 April 2010

Monday Musings

Off to the GP about my aching leg. Apparently the X-rays show no sign of arthritis, and he now thinks it may be a problem with the medial collateral ligament [so is that counted as 'collateral damage'?] plus the beginnings of Housemaid's Knee [don't be daft, I don't do that much housework!]

Then on to Sainsbury's to buy some flowers to arrange for tomorrow's funeral at church. Strange white van in car park...


Fish plastering? do the fishes do the plastering? How intriguing...

As I wandered into the store, pondering, I met two blue people


I do hope they pay them well for spending their day dressed like this. Nobody seemed to be buying their DVDs. [I saw the film in Norwich with Bob and Steph in December. They liked it. I didn't!]

Back to the church, where I saw a much more natural shade of blue


We are very fortunate in having a church member who tends the gardens beautifully


The tulips this spring have been brilliant. I love tulips, they are the true nonconformists of the flower world - not only for their Calvinistic tendencies, but also because you cannot arrange them in a vase because they always twist and turn and go their own way.

And the colours are stunning - especially the variegated ones


Flowers inside are crimson, gold and cream, in the colours of the LMS Railway Company, because John loved trains, and his family have asked for an arrangement in those shades


Home for lunch - some home-made soup from the freezer. I made this last week, with some chicken stock, some left over veg - and the remains of Bob's Children's talk from Church.

hippo pbaby food

heiz baby food

Bob is doing a sermon series on 'From Milk To Meat' - and did a taste test on foolhardy intrepid members of the congregation with various pots of pureed veg. Have you seen how much these jars cost ???? No way was I letting him throw away half a dozen jars with just a teaspoonful missing! It all went together to make a very satisfactory soup, enjoyed with hunks of crusty baguette.

Then into the city on the motorbike to go to the bank, pick up some stuff Bob needed for church, and buy an Ice Pack. The GP suggests that when I sit resting my knee in the evenings [!] I should put an ice pack on it.

But could I buy one anywhere? Not Boots, not Superdrug, not Sainsburys, not Wilkinsons.  I considered a pack of frozen peas, but I ended up in the Pound Shop, buying two of these




According to the packet, it brings

"fast relief from Boo Boos, Bumps and Bruises"

Presumably  'Boo Boo' is a euphemism for collateral damage!



So now this little princess is off to cook the tea and then rest her knee.

Sunday 25 April 2010

Call Waiting!

marty cooper inventor of mobile phone

This guy is Marty Cooper, the genial, genius guy who is credited with inventing the mobile phone. I love my little Sony Ericsson phone

· I always carry it with me

· I go back for it if I have forgotten to put it in my bag

· I check it regularly through the day

· Sometimes there are unexpected text messages

· I usually ring home at least once during my day, talk to Bob and say “I love you”

· I don’t think I could manage without it

· I take it away with me when I travel

· It isn’t just for communication – there are other useful things, like a calculator and leisure activities on it

· It is terribly useful in emergencies

· Once my children were old enough, I made sure they had their own

· But I do have to pay the bill regularly

Here is a picture of my phone...


...and beside it, my Grandmother's tiny  New Testament [around 70 years old] Nana was born and died before the era of mobile phones - but she loved her little New Testament

· She always carried it with her

· She went back for it if she forgot to put it in her bag

· She checked it regularly throughout the day

· Sometimes there were unexpected text messages

· She read it at least once during the day, talk to God and say “I love you”

· She could not manage without it

· She take it away when she travelled

· It wasn’t just for communication – but other useful things, a guidebook to life, a source of recreation and comfort

· It was terribly useful in emergencies

· Once her children were old enough, she made sure they had their own

· The best thing was - she knew Jesus had already paid the bill!

[this is the talk I am giving in the Children's Slot at church this morning, based on idea from this blog. Thanks Renee for giving me permission to use it]

Saturday 24 April 2010

Slice Of Life

Floss had a post yesterday involving the number 191. I knew 191 was a prime, but wondered if there was anything else interesting about it. Which is when I discovered it was a "Lazy Caterer's Number"

pizza I had never heard of the LCNs before, but here is how it works - imagine getting a pizza - and making 3 cuts across the centre, giving six slices like the one in this box.

Now if you were being lazy you may not cut as accurately. Your lines would not intersect at the centre, and you could end up with seven pieces [albeit oddly shaped] like this...

lazy caterer The so called Lazy Caterer's Sequence is the pattern of numbers representing the maximum number of pieces that can be made with a given number of straight cuts.

The mathematical formula [where p = pieces and n = cuts] is given by 

p = (n² + n + 2) ÷ 2

and the sequence is 1, 2, 4, 7, 11, 16, 22, 29, 37, 46 ... and the term for 19 cuts is 191. The boring term for this sequence is the central polygonal numbers.

I admit that I am utterly fascinated - and wonder why have I never come across this before? [I am such a maths geek that the Fibonacci series and Pascal's triangle were very significant numbers when Bob and I began courting]

The LCN appears to have such practical use - how often are you serving up a pizza/cheesecake/gateau/whatever and after you have neatly portioned it out for the guests present, one says "Oooh, no, just a sliver for me, I am dieting" whilst another says "Well, I am absolutely starving!" The picture above would indicate an ideal way to serve 3 average people, 2 dieters and 2 ravenous people!

Oh dear, this is just making me hungry for cake...

Friday 23 April 2010



Friday afternoon, and my class walked up to the field for a Cricket Coaching session. The coach was teaching them to catch, he explained the importance of holding hands close together when catching [so the ball doesn't slip through] and pulling the ball into your body.

Then we did underarm and overarm throwing. Then he sat them on the grass and did a Q&A session about what had been taught.

"And what happens when we put our hands together?"

and at least two little voices responded, without a trace of irony

"We close our eyes, Coach"

I muttered to the child next to me "I think he is talking about playing not praying!"

children pray

Thursday 22 April 2010

"A Woman Is Like A Teabag... never know how strong she is, until you put her into hot water."  or so Eleanor Roosevelt said.

Well, a group of strong women got together last night at Judy's house, for our regular Connexion meeting. As well as our usual tea and cake, and sharing of news, and prayertime,  we had an added dimension - a Craft Session led by Janet.



Janet showed us a card and a box that she had made, and said we would all be creating similar by the end of the evening

She taught us to do basic 'Teabag Folding' and we decorated boxes and cards. Initially I think she was concerned that we weren't getting it!




Janet looks really worried in this shot.










But then we got the hang of it, and she relaxed a little


We learned to do a simple modular design, where eight pieces combined to make a flower - sensibly she started us off with large squares of paper.

But then she gave us packs of tiny squares, which seemed quite fiddly.

We enjoyed ourselves enormously and did produce some amazingly pretty things. Here's Elisabeth and Hilary concentrating hard...




Judy was our host, and her green box was super [as were the home-made cakes she served us!]





Look at that tiny folded module - we needed eight of them for each centrepiece



Doreen and Elisabeth were pleased with their cards too





Here are the results of our labours...


What is intriguing is that the two boxes on the left and the bottom hexagon  all had flowers made from the same printed squares - but folding them differently completely changed the finished effect, giving red, green or yellow points.


DSCF0011This card was a joint effort - one of our group [absent last night] is celebrating a Diamond Wedding Anniversary - so we made this for her and her husband, and everyone signed it.



Janet's instruction book is by Tiny Van Der Plas - the Dutchwoman who is credited with developing this technique. More details here if you want to have a go yourself.

btw - the squared papers used in this craft were originally the colourful printed paper packets in which individual teabags were packed - the pretty fruit and herb teas.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Time On My Hands


I burned my left wrist slightly getting something out of the oven. Not a serious burn- but the presence of my watch strap seemed to be preventing the burn healing. So for the last couple of days, I have worn my watch on my right hand.

However, I have realised that this has resulted in even more bizarre behaviour on my part than usual.

When I want to check the time, I lift my arm and look at my left wrist [oops! no watch there, just a red mark] so then I lift my right arm and check.

But somehow I am leaving the left arm 'up' as well - so it looks like I am a member of the all Blacks performing a 'haka'!


[not that I make all the scary faces or strange noises like they do]

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Applying Myself To Appliqué

OK I admit it, I am really penny-pinching when it comes to buying clothes! But although I resent paying high prices to Johnnie Boden and co, I am also equally loathe to purchase things cheaply from Primark etc because I cannot believe the workers were paid a fair price for their labour, and anyway such goods are usually poor quality and do not last.

But Boden catalogues keep arriving in the post, or falling out of other magazines, and I did like these 'fun skirts' as they call them.

fun skirt

fun skirt 2

fun skirt 3


I thought the applique detailing was bright and summery and more interesting than an all over print.

But NO WAY am I going to pay


I have been giving the matter some thought, and came up with an idea...

I had two ankle length summer skirts- both about ten years old [both purchased in sales for less than £5] One a deep loganberry purple, in a heavy polycotton, the other a lilac floral in a lighter fabric.



Taking measurements from another knee length skirt, I cut off the bottom of the dark skirt. Then I made some bias strips from the floral print, using my 1" bias maker. I cut carefully to make sure the strips incorporated lots of the floral print and weren't just plain lilac.

biasbinding1 I found some scraps of plain fabric in The Great Stash and cut out some circles. Whilst I was digging about in the GS, I noticed a gift bag on the shelf, and it inspired me to make a butterfly template. I cut out a butterfly shape from more of the lilac skirt, and also some lilac voile.  [planning/cutting = 1 hour]


Then I had a bit of a play with the machine, finding out which embroidery stitches worked best. I had some lovely glossy green thread for the stems [which I did in a simple satin stitch] I decided on a variety of stitches for the butterfly.



Having prepared my applique with Bondaweb on the back, I ironed the patches onto the skirt, and then embroidered them in place. I machined the binding to the bottom edge, then turned it to the inside. [machining = 2 hours]

Finally I sat and handstitched the binding to the inside and added a few sequins to the patches. Also I carefully sewed in all loose ends. [handstitching = 1 hour - but I was also watching Flash Forward at the same time]

DSCF0010 DSCF0011

Front and back shown above. Here is the butterfly  and hem in detail

DSCF0012 DSCF0003

I still haven't got the hang of photography - the last picture is the only one which gives an accurate representation of the skirt's colour!

Skirt finished in about four hours, using stuff I had already. Result!

Monday 19 April 2010

Fruit And Nut Case

There were three pears left in the fruit bowl, so I made a cake using a recipe from this book.

rivercottage family cookbook

hugh f-w


  • 150g unsalted butter, softened

  • 125g caster sugar

  • 2 medium eggs

  • 75g wholemeal self raising flour

  • 75g ground almonds

  • A good pinch of cinnamon

  • 3 pears (reasonably firm, but not rock hard)

  • 25g unsalted butter

  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar

Method: How to make pear and almond cake

1. Preheat oven to 170°C/gas 3. Grease a 20cm-diameter springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.

2. Peel, core and quarter the pears.

3. Melt the 25g butter in a frying pan big enough to take all the pear pieces, over a medium high heat. When it’s bubbling, add the sugar and stir gently until it has dissolved into the butter. Add the pears and cook gently, turning once or twice, until they have softened and are starting to colour – 5-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

4. In a mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with the caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour with each to stop the mix curdling.

5. Combine the remaining flour, the ground almonds and the cinnamon, and fold into the mixture. Scrape into the prepared tin. Arrange the pears on top and pour on any buttery juices left in the pan.

6. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

7. Stand the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes, then release the tin. Serve the cake warm with cream/custard/yogurt – or cold.


Here it is cooling in the tin!

Once cut, it starts disappearing quickly.

The almond flavour is very pleasant [well I would say that, wouldn't I?]


My other foray into the kitchen over the weekend was to make jelly. One of my bargain finds on holiday two weeks ago was a traditional glass jelly mould. I had some 'frozen forest fruits' in the freezer, so decided to make a fresh fruity pudding.

It looked so good prior to unmoulding


All rich, and glistening, and exciting. The fruit was well distributed throughout the jelly. Then disaster struck!

DSCF0002Once unmoulded it totally collapsed. I surrounded the island with a pink sea of cranberry and cherry yogurt. Then I slopped it into two dishes.

It didn't matter much - Bob was watching the Grand Prix on TV, and I could have fed him almost anything and he would not have noticed!

[as GP is the only sport he follows, it is about the only time he has his Sunday lunch on a tray in front of the TV]

Saw this on the Internet and thought it was neat...

lego jelly mould


If I still had small children, I should definitely want a Lego Jelly Mould!