Thursday 31 May 2012

Finding Fun #5½–A Freebie!

Just had to put this one in as an extra for Carolyn’s ‘Hands’ week. This is a frivolous activity – how to use up freebies, and have a ‘beauty spa experience’ at the same time. You will need a small towel, a bowl of warm water, scissors, a mug, and one of those ‘guest soaps’ that came back in your sponge bag from a hotel.


The next two items may have been in the bottom of the brown bag from McDonald’s when you got a takeaway. I keep such things in a screwtop jar in the fridge, because I can never bear to waste anything!

[in case you are wondering when it is that I venture into McDo’s, I only seem to patronise the one on the A47, halfway between Kirby and Cornerstones, usually late on a Sunday night] You need these


sugar st9ick

A sachet of mayo, and a packet of sugar [brown or white, preferably Fairtrade]

Now follow the instructions carefully, or you’ll be in a mess!

  1. Sit down at the kitchen table with your kit.
  2. Remove rings, watches, etc and roll up long sleeves
  3. With scissors, snip off the tops of the two packets – and prop them up inside the mug.
  4. Hold your hands over the bowl in case of spillage!
  5. Now, cup your left hand [Steph and other southpaws, reverse this bit!] and squeeze the mayo into your palm using your right hand. Drop empty pack back in mug.
  6. Pour the sachet of sugar on top of the mayo. Put the empty packet into mug.
  7. Now massage this goop all over your hands, between your fingers, backs of your hands, top of wrists.
  8. Rub, stroke, massage, for about a minute.
  9. Now use the soap and warm water to wash it all off.
  10. Dry gently with the towel.

And you will find your skin exfoliated, and your hands soft and lovely. All for free!


These are not my hands. This image and more hands tips here

The scissors and mug are not essential – you can always rip the packet with your teeth, and drop the packs on the table – but this way is a little tidier, and in hot weather, spilt sugar and mayo can easily attract a trail of ants!

I must show you my latest freebie soap, which came back from the Christian Resources Exhibition, where they were being given away by a pulpit manufacturer. Official Approved Preachers Soap


[is it the soap which is officially approved, or the preachers?]

Finding Fun #5

finding fun

Carolyn’s challenge this week is hands.

I remembered that the material for the Covenant Service from the Baptist Union has this image


This reminds me of those times in the playground, where two of us would lock hands and make a seat for a friend, who’d put her arms round our necks and we would carry her, giggling up the path. These hands support one another and work together.

mickeymouse hands 1932

These hands were drawn in 1932- designs for Mickey Mouse – and the beginnings of the ‘three-fingered-cartoon-hand’ tradition.[On the Simpsons, only GOD is drawn with four fingers!]


This lovely quilt is based on the traditional Shaker saying “Hands To Work and Hearts To God”

I have that saying on a bookmark stuck on the shelf above my desk


I love the Mendhi patterns my Asian friends paint on their hands [they brush them over with lemon juice to make them last longer]


But my ‘handy’ fun was at Sunday's Fun Day. I am too old for Face Paints, and anyway they are not pleasant in such hot weather. But I had my hand decorated with a lovely butterfly.


It lasted all afternoon! Two Jessie Willcox Smith ‘hands’ pictures




say grace

Wednesday 30 May 2012


michael wilshaw

Sir Michael Wilshaw [Head of Ofsted] has backed down on contentious plans to give schools no notice ahead of inspections, saying they will instead be notified the afternoon before. Wow! some improvement there then.

How is that going to work exactly? All the schools round here are having special days for Jubilee celebrations, Olympic events, summer picnics end of term production rehearsals etc. over the next few weeks [and in the autumn they will have trips to the Panto, practices for nativity plays] But the inspectors will want to see class teachers delivering Literacy Hours and teaching Maths.

If you get a phone call at 2.30pm saying “We are coming tomorrow” do you cancel the picnic or production or panto and send your already tired staff home to completely re-plan the day in one evening? Or risk a bad Ofsted because they didn’t see you doing the ‘regular’ teaching you’d be doing the other 4 schooldays that week?

The lovely school where I worked today had two year groups off site this afternoon, and one year group being completely covered by supply staff whilst the class teachers were working together moderating exam results. How would a snap inspection there have given a clear picture of the teaching in the school?

*I once did supply in a Roman Catholic Secondary School down in London, where the Head told me he believed that it was an acronym for O Father, Send Them Eternal Damnation!

Cutting Comments

“Wave goodbye to wonky wedges, say hello to uniform slices prepared with ease”

So declares the Lakeland website, with regard to its electric slicer. I have been interested in these since Jon got one, and since Froogs posted about hers. I didn’t feel like ‘splashing the cash’ though.

But now we’ve been saying goodbye and hello too. Jon very generously gave me his ‘spare’ slicer [don’t ask!] when we were with them the other weekend. It is great fun to use.

I bought and cooked a small gammon joint, then sliced it. The meat sits neatly on the platform, and is held in place by the ‘pusher’


The blade is adjustable[turn the big grey knob] for different thicknesses. You slide the platform back and forth, pushing the meat against the blade, and the slices come neatly out of the back of the gadget onto the tray [supplied] The blade spins more slowly than I had expected – but that’s a good thing, I think.


Here’s the picture from the catalogue, which shows both sides at once. It is all very efficient, and cleverly designed.

from catalogue

I now have a box of beautifully sliced meat in the fridge ready for sandwiches and salads. Everything comes to bits for cleaning – but two comments- the blade is viciously sharp [my hand is healing nicely, thankyou!] and it took me about three times as long to wash and re-assemble as it did to slice the meat and dismantle the gadget.

I have sliced ham, and Bob sliced a chorizo sausage the other day. We have yet to try it with cheese or bread. But on the whole, very pleased with the gift. I can see why Jon [who cures his own bacon etc – check out his blog] finds his slicer so useful. Thanks Jon, I am sure I will use this more and more in days ahead! Here’s an old joke

Did you hear about the grocer who sat on his bacon slicer and got a little behind with his orders?




Tuesday 29 May 2012

Move Over, Starbucks!

Liz has sent me details of Cà Phê Sữa Đá – which is Vietnamese Iced Coffee. Dead easy to make, and wonderful on a hot summer’s day!

She says “It’s not really a recipe, more a set of directions. I warn you - this is not health food!

Brew a small cafetiere of strong coffee, or make a double shot of espresso. Pour 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk into the bottom of a glass, then pour the coffee over the top and stir well to combine. Fill another glass with ice, and pour the sweet coffee over the top. You can top up with a splash of real milk if you like, or use more/less condensed milk depending on how sweet you like it.”

iced coffeeCheck out this page too for more info. I used this milk – I had a can in the cupboard [I don’t remember ever buying it though]

We both thought the drink was quite sweet, but pleasant nonetheless. I served it in the Meniscus glasses which Liz gave us when she worked at Tate Britain. Cheers!



Loyalty Binds Me!

Loyaulté me Lie [Loyalty Binds Me] was the motto of Richard III, and I think I have got stuck in a bizarre time-warp because of him!


Last month, we took Steph and Mark to Bosworth Battlefield and looked at all that stuff about Richard III.


Then I showed the Willows Three local sites like Bradgate House and Kirby Castle – both significant in R3’s story.


Then I read the last of my Josephine Tey Collection – Daughter Of Time – which is all about Richard III

daughter of time tey

And at Andy’s birthday party on Saturday evening, I found myself sitting with a someone who is a history buff, who told me even more about Richard III, at great length and in surprising detail. “Were you actually there?” I found myself asking at one point!


And Radio 4 Extra has been re-broadcasting Vivat Rex [interminably – an hour a day, 26 episodes!] because it is Jubilee Year. It is a drama following the English Crown from Edward II's accession in 1307 to the birth of Elizabeth I, told through the adapted works of Shakespeare, Marlowe and other playwrights of the period. Richard Burton, Martin Jarvis, John Hurt, Peggy Ashcroft and others provide the voices.

Boar-badge of bosworhtsite

It is almost becoming a bit of a boar! I hadn’t realised how many people are still fascinated by the events that took place more than 500 years ago. There are a multiplicity of societies who endeavour to right the wrongs done to RIII, and correct all the errors perpetrated by that Tudor Playwright Shakespeare. [Such groups are probably fuming at Vivat Rex, and shouting at their radios!] Here and here

And despite reading lots of opinions on both sides, I am still undecided about those two little boys in the Tower…

delaroche princes

This site thinks Richard killed them, and good old “Look And Learn” has what seems to me to be a very ambiguous article [here]

“The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones”  says Mark Antony in another of the Bard’s plays. I do not think Richard III can have been all bad. I want to believe the theory that they were smuggled out of the Tower to grow up safely somewhere else. But that is because I hate the thought of the alternative.

I need to stop pondering on the past and get on with the present…

Which historical mysteries which intrigue you?

Monday 28 May 2012

Take A Bow!

I was so hot, and after I called into the bank at lunchtime, I nipped into the cool Hospice Shop. There on the rail was the sweetest skirt – attractive gathers on a wide band, trimmed with a central bow.

red herring skirt

It was a “Red Herring For Debenhams” cotton skirt, UK size 12, and fitted me beautifully.

It still had its original price tag attached, along with the charity shop’s request for £5.

I asked myself the Three Questions, which my daughters taught me many years ago, to prevent me making shopping mistakes in their absence.

  1. Can you think of three occasions when you would wear this?
  2. Can you think of three items you already own which would go with it?
  3. Can you think of one item you will get rid of to make some space in your wardrobe?

Having answered** these ‘ragged’ questions satisfactorily, I handed over the fiver, and skipped [I did!] out of the shop. I am very happy with my purchase – and I shan’t even mind when local friends who read the blog call out “Is that the charity shop skirt?” when they see me wearing it. It flips and flutters and makes me feel cheerful.

** a lunch date and a concert in June, and a Garden Party in July

**my blue and white stripe Breton style teeshirt, my cropped green jacket, or my sleeveless black linen top

**some trousers which no longer fit me properly since I lost weight, despite my attempts to take them in.

And the question is – how did you read the title of this post? Take A Bow [rhymed with cow] or Take A Bow [rhymed with blow]?

Send The Fire!

Yesterday morning in church, we sang the great Sally Army song ‘Send the fire’ – and in the afternoon, I got to carry the Olympic Torch. Yes I did. Look!


It was at the Groby Fun Day, organised by Churches Together in Groby [that’s a village just up the road from us]. Somebody had some sort of connection with the company that made the torches – and this is a spare or something [I never did get the whole story] Good friends Mike and Sue, just back from honeymoon held it too [spot Bob in his Sound Tent behind them]


The day was amazing. Puppetry, and games


Activities for all ages



Our Youth Worker Hayley won the game for ‘being covered in most clothes pegs in one minute’. Bob was a very Sound Guy


Our great mate Steve Price did some phenomenal illusions


The church folk laid on this day for their community and everything was absolutely free – tea, cakes, burgers, hot dogs, and ice pops.

Here’s a pair of suckers!


We ended the day with Church Outdoors.We cancelled the usual evening service at our place, so that our congregation could join in the open air worship


A great time was had by all and it was super to work alongside fellow Christians sharing God’s love with their community. Here’s hoping next Sunday is equally sunny and bright for our Village Event.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Thanks, Bernice!

I received a lovely parcel this week from Bernice – she recently had a giveaway and I won! Inside the jiffy bag was a tissue bundle tied with string and a heart


What a lovely selection of crafty goods – a sheet of stamps, an ink pad, a bottle of paint, and a set of 6 Prismacolor pencils.


These last have “thick cores of colour to bring bold statements to life, while soft leads make them the best tool to blend in or shade away. They’re vivid and intense in one stroke and subtle and soft in the next, making them perfect for any project, big or small.”

I am looking forward to trying these out very soon.

It is ages since I have done any stamping, and I feel quite inspired!

Heaven Now

Busy day – Pentecost celebrations, our own service at KM [I’ll be preaching as Bob is busy], and then over to Groby where friends there are organising a FREE Fun Day. They are ‘doing church’ in their community, with an open air event in the local college grounds.

Activities, food, music and more, with a worship service at the end. Bob is doing all the PA. In these days when everything costs so much, and a ‘family day out’ can prove a costly business, I applaud my friends for being so generous, and pray that God will bless them as they share his love with friends and neighbours.


Another piece from my Celtic Praise book…

If I were in heaven

I would play my harp

And sing songs of praise with the angels

If I were in heaven

I would dance with joy

And fill the air with laughter

Let earth be like heaven, and people like angels

Don’t wait to die, enjoy heaven now;

Don’t argue or cavil –

Just dance!


Hoping for some heaven on earth today [with dancing] – and

a very happy 30th birthday to our Liz

who always brings so much joy and laughter, love and life. Hoping her birthday celebrations down in London are great fun too.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Saints On The Street!

Chris Duffett – Baptist Union President, was in Leicester today - as part of the Big Hearted Tour – teaching us how to go out and share God’s love on the streets of our city. It was a glorious sunny day.


Here’s Tim, before we went out, holding up a Stop & Pray sign.

We did loads of things – giving people squares of chocolate [encased in foil and Union Jack wrappers] and free bottles of cool water- telling them that God loved them and they were special to Him.

We set up a maze in Town Hall Square- with a treasure chest in the middle. In the chest was a huge mirror – as people ‘found’ the treasure, they realised it was they themselves who were precious.

We invited people to draw themselves on bunting, or stand on the podium with ‘medals’ and be photographed.




One of the most popular activities was ‘ Be a VIP and walk the red carpet’ – with two guys in DJs and bowties inviting you to step on…



People clapped and cheered for the VIPs who walked down – here’s my mate Steve, enjoying his moment of glory.

At the end of the carpet, Her Majesty was waiting [not looking too cheerful, I must admit] and Chris The President was his ebullient self on the other side!

The whole day was really good – people were very receptive to what we said. We all learned a lot.


We weren’t into ‘heavy’ evangelism, preaching long sermons, or getting into arguments about belief – just saying “God loves you, you are special, we want you to be blessed” I’m so glad I went!

Do look out for Chris as he tours the country. His infectious enthusiasm for Jesus is unstoppable.

UPDATE – here’s a picture of yours truly dispensing chocolate and God’s love[from Chris’ facebook page]

ang and chocs