Wednesday 30 November 2011

I Have Done It!

thirty day declutter

I have managed to declutter 90 things this month! Various weekend guests, and a trip to Belfast, and other things meant I wasn’t very diligent about the three-items--a-day thing.

But lots has gone in a final end-of-month push


And the spare bed is clear of all the stuff pictured above, and it can be slept in again! I have decluttered the followingitems to children who may appreciate and use them [model making kits, books, toy cars]

  • a lot of ‘wearable’ clothes to the charity shop
  • paper and card to be recycled – including 700 worksheets for lessons I will never teach [the original master sheets retained on the PC just in case, though!]
  • some ‘unwearable’ clothes to the bin [sad and baggy size 14 underwear which is too big for the slimmer me. Lucy Lastic strikes again]
  • usable, but unwanted, items to the charity shop– fridge magnets, novelty mouse mats,a windchime, etc
  • haberdashery and fabric to various friends who can use it.
  • 3 paperback books [charity shop again]
  • various CDs and DVDs [ditto]
  • a stack of old magazines and catalogues
  • hair accessories [I haven’t had long hair since March – and I am unlikely to ever grow it long again]
  • masses of ‘silly’ fabric scraps – too small even for me to be able to use.
  • and lots more stuff I am too embarrassed to even mention


So a big THANKYOU to Thrifty Mrs for the challenge!

Pole Dancing?

Along with four African costumes, the school also wanted some Polish ones. They supplied me with a couple of pictures – but they were not terribly helpful ones



So I went and had a chat with a very helpful elderly Polish lady. She assured me that there was no definitive costume – they varied through different regions.


She said the key thing was use of ribbon, lace and braid.


I had great fun using trimmings and the fancy stitch settings on my machine, and I found some fabulous embroidered, sequinned trim.


Two boys shirts, with embroidered braid at neck and cuffs, two girls outfits [dresses, made to look like blouse and skirt] and four red waistcoats.

DSCF2775DSCF2776polish costumes

Tuesday 29 November 2011

What The Dickens Is This About?

This was in our local free advertising paper last week! I hope it results in a lot of people buying tickets.


Christmas? Bah! Humbug! I dare say those dratted children will want to be entertained – as if I’d nothing better to do! And they have the cheek to imagine I’m going to pay! Still – those thoughtful people over at Kirby Muxloe Free Church have engaged a bunch of wastrels – the Saltmine Theatre Company (about time they got proper jobs, if you ask me) to put on some dramatic entertainment in the form of a Panto-Mime, whatever one of those is.

So at least on the 15th December (7pm, so I’m told) I can make sure they have something to keep them busy. Tickets are horribly expensive - £6 for adults, and £3 for children aged 11 or under. And they can be obtained from 1st November by sending to What kind of postal address is that?

Frankly, I wouldn’t waste your money. The play seems to be about this upright chap who’s careful with his money, who ends up going completely round the bend. How can that be entertaining? It’s a tragedy! Local schools, apparently, have already filled two matinee performances? The world has gone quite mad. Stay at home, that’s what I say.

Monday 28 November 2011

Twenty Four Hours Of R&R

After a brilliant Sunday Evening Service** we went straight off eastwards along the A47, arriving at Cornerstones round 10pm. A good night’s sleep – then Bob coked breakfast while I went up into the loft to fetch the ‘Christmas Stuff’


I decorated the tree we got in last January’s IKEA sale


Spare blue baubles went into a glass vase in the dining room and bunting hung in the corner of the lounge over the TV


A welcome wreath on the front door, and another on the side door too – both aged and inexpensive plastic PoundShop finds – but they are weatherproof, and look fine and festive [and I would not be heartbroken if they got nicked in my absence]


My star is hung in the side window and will light up every evening on an auto-timer, and finally, in the kitchen window, by the front door, just in case any of my neighbours haven’t heard the good news…


And whilst I’ve had all the festive fun, Bob has cooked a fab breakfast, fixed the dining room light and replaced the broken lock on the bathroom door!

And soon we will be back on the road to the Midlands…

**led by the Worship Group, with a superb selection of songs, and some thoughtful and beautiful prayers. Bob preached on Malachi. This is the first of a series on Malachi for the Sunday Evenings in Advent. He said he had thought of doing a selection of four different prophets but had to change his plans as that might be illegal. Now our church is a registered charity, he explained, we are a not-four-prophet organisation!

Foiled Again!

Marie asked me to put a Nativity Scene in the newsagents window again. She had already put up a display with a sign saying “Season’s Greetings To All Our Customers” so I thought I would incorporate that


with this

jesus is the reason

Armed with my usual set of wooden nativity figures [and Poundshop angels] plus some of the amazing gold foil previously used for Easter Curtains [here] I have put up the display



[plus posters for ‘Get In The Picture’ and the upcoming Panto]



Sunday 27 November 2011

Bonne Bobotie


I made the Bonne Maman Bobotie – dividing the finished recipe into two dishes – one for last night, one for Sunday lunch. I don’t think I cooked it long enough at step 3, it was a little ‘wet’ – however, the flavour was delicious.

serves 4


  • 1 oz. butter
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1” fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1tbsp garam masala [I had none, so substituted korma curry powder]
  • 2 bay leaves [had none, so omitted them!]
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 14oz minced beef
  • 4tbsp Bonne Maman Apricot conserve
  • ½pint chicken or veg stock
  • 3tbsp chopped fresh parsley [subst. 1tbsp dried]
  • salt and pepper


  • 5oz Greek yogurt
  • 3½ fl oz. milk
  • 2 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C [fan 160°] Gas 4
  2. Melt butter, cook onion and garlic, stir in ginger, garam masala, bay, turmeric. Cook 3-4 minutes and remove from pan
  3. Put beef in pan, cook till deep golden brown, replace onion mixture, and add conserve and stock. Bring to boil, simmer 20 minutes till most of stock is absorbed.
  4. Stir in parsley, season, transfer to shallow ovenproof dish.
  5. Whisk topping ingredients together, along with a pinch of turmeric. Spoon over. It will sink a little – but do not worry.Cook 25-30 minutes till topping is set and golden.


  • mince mixture [without topping] freezes well
  • make half the quantity, spoon into scooped out baked potatoes, add topping, bake 20 minutes
  • serve as a family supper with fruity chutney and green salad.

[taken from Bonne Maman – The Seasonal Cookbook]

A Pause In Advent #1

Pause in Advent Logo from FlossEarlier this year, for the first time in my life, I had an ear infection and was deaf for a few weeks. It made me think a lot about how we hear,mis-hear or misinterpret words. I decided to make my Advent Pause Posts about ‘Homophones’ – those words which sound the same, but have totally different meanings.

weight [noun] the heaviness of a person or thing [synonym; burden]
wait [verb] Stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens. [synonyms; abide/expect]



It is so easy for us to struggle along, like Sisyphus, carrying unnecessary weight, which we do not need to bear.

We need to let go of the burdens, and like Christian, in Pilgrim’s Progress, to leave them at the foot of the Cross.

In Matthew 11 [this is from ‘The Message’] Jesus says this

pilgrim's burdenAre you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly

…and the second word


Advent is all about waiting- anticipating – looking forward to…

Scripture is full of verses that remind us to wait for the Lord.

I am by nature a very impatient person [how I identify with that little boy in the John Lewis ad, who cannot wait to give his gift!] and even after all these years, I still find it hard to wait for things – especially to wait for the answers to my prayers. But I am getting there – slowly – and God is very patient with me [as is my long-suffering spouse] But Hebrews 12 tells us quite clearly

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race that is set before us.


wait-upon-the-lordAnd if we do leave our burdens with Him, and wait for His action and His answer – then we will find our strength renewed – and He will guide us and bless us.

Thinking of Pilgrim’s Progress reminded me of another favourite book – ‘Little Women’

Here’s a passage from it

Mrs. March broke the silence that followed Jo's words, by saying in her cheery voice, "Do you remember how you used to play Pilgrims Progress when you were little things? Nothing delighted you more than to have me tie my piece bags on your backs for burdens, give you hats and sticks and rolls of paper, and let you travel through the house from the cellar, which was the City of Destruction, up, up, to the housetop, where you had all the lovely things you could collect to make a Celestial City."
"What fun it was, especially going by the lions, and fighting
Apollyon" said Jo.
"I liked the place where the bundles fell off and tumbled downstairs," said Meg.
"I don't remember much about it, except that I was afraid of the cellar and … liked the cake we had up at the top.” said Amy,

"We never are too old for this, my dears, because it is a play we are playing all the time in one way or another. Our burdens are here, our road is before us, and the longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes to the peace which is a true Celestial City. Now, my little pilgrims, suppose you begin again, not in play, but in earnest, and see how far on you can get before Father comes home."


Saturday 26 November 2011

The First Nowell

…was at our Churches Together Christmas Unwrapped event. Bob and Sue and co worked hard to plan and prepare – Sue made a great display.



Between 70 and 80 people gathered outside in St Andrew’s Church Car Park, with members of Ratby Band, the Rainbows and Brownies.

DSCF2767The guy with the mic is Pastor Ian, from the Forest Chapel, who led the service, with his wife Ruth alongside him.

DSCF2768DSCF2769Notice small woman in red pixie boots and jingle bells hat!

It was daylight when we started but soon got dark.DSCF2771


The tree looked really pretty, with plum and lilac and purple baubles.


So I have sung my first few carols, and eaten a mince pie…and Christmas really feels as if it is on its way now.


Tomorrow we will light the first Advent Candle in Church.

Out Of Africa

A strange request this week – could I possibly run up a few costumes for a local school? I thought they meant for the Nativity Play – but no, this is for multi-cultural education – costumes from around the world. First up they needed some African ones. I was given a length of fabulous printed fabric to use…




Plus these pictures from the Internet of what was wanted.

The request was 2 boys’ outfits [tunic, trousers, and a pillbox style hat] and two girls’ outfits [long dress, and a turban style head-dress]


I dug out my set of Pebble Mill At One Patterns [purchased in 1985/6] as I knew these were the right size, and would be a good starting point.


And I have produced theseDSCF2749

I think they fit the bill nicely. The trousers can be rolled up for shorter boys, and the long dress has elastic in a casing at waist level, so it can be ‘hitched up’ on girls who are not so tall.

I have deliberately made the garments loose fitting, as the younger children put on the dressing up clothes over their school uniforms.

Using the PMO patterns brought back many happy memories- Liz and Steph had jackets, coats, dungarees, skirts and more from this set. I always intended to knit the wonderful cable sweater from the blue pattern, but never got round to it!

Friday 25 November 2011

Of Sow’s Ears And Silk Purses

At last, everything [bar just one gift] is wrapped and ready. My stash of tins in the loft has proved very useful


Some festive uniformity here…


I sat and wrapped all afternoon, whilst watching the ‘Hooray For Hollywood’ Prom Concert which I recorded months ago – singing along very loudly, and very badly, to Doris Day and Ethel Merman numbers. Bob actually asked me to stop at one point! [I think his ears were hurting]

Like many people this Christmas, I am conscious that I am spending less than I would like on gifts for family and friends. Even with my crafting skills, it is a struggle to turn this …

pigs ear

into this…

silk purse

Actually, I think that if I did come across a sow’s ear in the Great Stash, I’d just wrap it up and send it as a Christmas gift to Jon, who could no doubt produce some glorious porcine edible from it!


Monday 14th November – I learned to crochet under the expert tutelage of Catherine [Kids and Capers] whilst sitting in Mags’ lounge. Wednesday 23rd November, less than 10 days later, I finish my first project whilst sitting with with girls at Sewing Club!


Here is my baby blanket – one exceedingly large granny square. It will be passed on to Dave Ford to take out to the maternity hospital in Morocco next time he goes. I am ridiculously excited to have learned a new craft – and glad that Project #1 is actually something that will be of use to someone. Thanks Catherine for teaching me, Mags for the hook and ball of green wool, [and coffee and encouragement as I climbed the learning curve]

The remaining wool was from my Great Stash – and will be counted as part of my November declutter [which is not going so well, I admit – I have not been diligent enough with that challenge!]

gareth and military wives

I confess, I was crocheting at midnight on Tuesday night, as I sat up to watch the Gorgeous Gareth and the Military Wives. Having heard them on Chris Evans’ Show at Breakfast in the morning, I wanted to catch the last programme of the series.

It was excellent– and I hope their Christmas release is successful. [There’s a good article about it all here]