Tuesday 30 April 2013


It was my own fault, I somehow managed to transfer a tiny lipstick smudge from my finger to the wall above the mirror. But now it has completely gone. Look at the genuine ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots


I removed the mark with one of my trusty ‘magic eraser’ sponges

DSCF5445These come from Aldi, and a box of six is just under £1.80, which I reckon to be 30p each – but I am very mean and cut each sponge into six smaller pieces- so that is 5p a sponge.

I have a reason for doing this


The sponges need to be moistened with water [no chemicals] and then gently rubbed over offending marks.As it removes the mark, the surface of the sponge itself wears away. By cutting each into 6, I am vastly increasing the surface area.

When these ‘magic’ sponges first came out, about 10 years ago, introduced by Proctor and Gamble under their “Mr Clean” label, I was quite suspicious, as they were so expensive. But these Aldi ones work just as well. The technology behind them is fascinating – they are melamine foam, and it was being used as cushioning in aeroplane seats. I cannot fathom how someone found out that making this foam wet turned it into a brilliant mark remover. But it was a great discovery.

Someone [a rival company?] started a rumour that the original P&G ones contained harmful chemicals, so the company had to issue a statement declaring that to be untrue. I think they are truly wonderful – and have been using them [the cheap ones!] for years, to clean up my act!

Monday 29 April 2013


We’re supporting the new Christian Aid ‘If’ Campaign – are you?

Sunday 28 April 2013

Autism Awareness

autism puzzle ribbon

April is Autism Awareness Month. Last week my friend Carolyn published a very moving post describing her experience of life with two children ‘on the autistic spectrum’ and she has kindly allowed me to quote from it here…

Autism is a developmental disability. It affects how you understand the world and other people; communication; social imagination; understanding and expressing your own feelings; processing language; processing unspoken communication; processing sensory stimulation; and more. It is a lifelong condition, you don't grow out of it, and it affects people in lots of different ways - this is why it is referred to as a spectrum. No two people with autism will be the same. All will have difficulties with social interaction, social communication and social interaction. 

…We live with this on a daily basis. Sometimes it is hard - but the joys are always there as well. I love my kids and this is just one part of who they are. It is a difference not a disorder. It brings challenges, but also brings rewards. I'd love to be rid of the negative parts, for my children to understand the world, for them to be able to play and full and active part in all aspects of society - but I love now they joy they bring me, the way they love and I love, the view of the world that they show me, the creativity and uniqueness that is them.

mps husbandIf you watched the first episode of “The Politician’s Husband” on Thursday, you will have seen the talented young Oscar Kennedy playing the part of Noah, who is the son of the family, and diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. He portrayed the insistence on routine, despair at variance from patterns, inability to relate socially, and many other characteristics of AS extremely well.


You can find out more about Autism, and Asperger’s at the NAS website [here] Parenting is hard, whatever your children are like – but spare a thought – and a prayer – for those Mums and Dads who are carrying this added burden.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Hailstone Numbers

Friday morning I put on my cycle helmet and pedalled down to the library for the weekly Coffee Morning. This is happening every Friday 10.30-12 – in the hopes it will bring more people into our fine establishment, to borrow books/use the computers/etc./etc.


There’s usually a good crowd and we enjoy a great chat along with the drinks and biscuits. I had to delay my homeward journey though, due to a sudden, heavy hailstorm. When I got outside, Hannah-the-Bicycle had loads of hailstones in the basket! [note to self, next time, take a plastic bag to put over the saddle to keep it dry!]


Do you know about hailstone numbers?

You make a sequence like this – pick a number, if it is even, halve it, if odd then multiply by 3 and add 1. Examples

1  4  2  1  4  2  1  4  2  1…

3  10  5  16  8  4  2  1  4  2  1…

7  22  11  34  17  52  26  13  40  20  10  5  16  8  4  2  1  4  2  1…

15  46  23  70  35  106  53  160  80  40  20  10  5  16  8  4  2  1…

What is weird is that it appears that whatever number you start with, you end up with the repeated 4  2  1 sequence. The “Collatz Conjecture” says it will always be true, whatever ‘seed’ you start with, but it’s unproven, I believe. The ‘hailstone’ name comes from the fact that the numbers display multiple descents and ascents like hailstones in a cloud. [see here for more info]

I confess that I find it easy to waste hours playing with numbers seeing how quickly I get to the 4 2 1 pattern.

Friday 26 April 2013

Chop Chop!

I have just had my first haircut in absolutely ages. It’s getting shorter each time [and I have layers at the back now too]

December 2010


March 2011


July 2012


April 2013


Back view April 2013


It won’t be squashed under a crash helmet any time soon, sadly!

Thursday 25 April 2013

The Peace Index

This is a fascinating document [check out the BBC website]


The UK Peace Index provides a comprehensive measure of the levels of peacefulness within the United Kingdom from 2003 to 2012.

Peace is defined as the absence of violence or the absence of the fear of violence.
It appears that the area in the UK which is most peaceful is Broadlands, Norfolk - that’s just up the road from Cornerstones

And the area which is most anxious is Leicestershire - where I live when I am not at Cornerstones.

I freely admit to a little anxiety in my corner of Leicestershire this week – the agency which is meant to pay me for some of my supply teaching has made a total mess of things, and I am still waiting for monies owing since February. How do they expect me to pay my bills?

But how on earth does the “Institute for Economics and Peace” measure these things? I can see that there are clear statistics for things like violent crime – but measuring anxiety levels is less clear cut. And why is Leicestershire most anxious, when it is not the most violent place [that’s Lewisham] And bizarrely, our adjoining county, Rutland, scores really highly for life satisfaction and happiness.

Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Busy Bees

The Great British Sewing Bee has inspired us at Sewing Club to still more sewing. We all agreed that Ann was a worthy winner of the trophy last night.

Susan and Hayley worked hard this evening on Tartan Sashes for this summer’s Holiday at Home, which has the theme ‘Highland Fling’


Barbara brought along her new mini machine to try out


And Tina was cutting out an A-line skirt


And I was working on cutting out some fabric for my May charity project. [I forgot to photograph my stuff]


We are both really enjoying Endeavour on Sunday evenings


It is an extremely clever ‘prequel’ to Morse. The sets are brilliant and strike us both as accurate to the period [being of a certain age, we both remember the 1960s!] I loved the fact that Abigail Thaw [John’s daughter] was in the last episode [playing the Editor of the Oxford Mail] It has been made with the co-operation of Morse’s creator, Colin Dexter.

The young Endeavour has so many of the traits we were familiar with in the later incarnation – a love of classical music and crosswords have featured very highly in the episodes so far [there are two more to come] I was surprised it took him so long to spot the “Bodleian Library” anagram though. Especially when it was presented in two different ways. I was yelling the answer at the screen. “It’s television, Ang, they have to leave time, so he will spot it at the ‘right’ moment” said Bob. Morse’s love of words is one of the things that have always endeared me to the character archers[Dexter is also a fan of “The Archers” – another point in his favour] Barrington Pheloung’s background music is excellent too, with the repetitive ‘Morse’ ostinato.

Years ago I was collecting the girls from Primary School when a teacher took me aside and said “I love having your daughter in my class – she is teaching me so many new words.” [Mum grins proudly*]

rebusApparently they had been doing word puzzles like this, and my girl had piped up "Miss, this is a rebus

rebus 1. a puzzle consisting of pictures representing syllables and words; in such a puzzle the word hear might be represented by H followed by a picture of an ear

2. [Heraldry] a heraldic emblem or device that is a pictorial representation of or pun on the name of the bearer [from French rébus, from the Latin rēbus by things]

Here’s a couple more for you to try…


…one of my other favourite crime writers, Ian Rankin, chose ‘Rebus’ as the surname of his detective. Wordplay features in these plots too.  I have the whole set on my bookshelf, and happily re-read them from time to time. It is 6 years since “Exit Music” – the final case before Rebus retired.


Rankin is a man of integrity, and didn’t write any more, once the man had retired. Then the law regarding police retirement changed. He brought him back, working on “Cold Cases” Liz gave me the book for my birthday.

I just read it –and found it excellent, I ignored housework to find out whoddunnit! [what’s new?]


rebus and siobhanWell written, Rankin puts us right back into the world of the scruffy, drink fuelled detective, with his complex relationship with Siobhan, Fox and the others. I am not sure how well this one would translate to the TV screen – but if you liked the earlier ones I think you will enjoy this.*****

[LIke Thaw/Morse, and Suchet/Poirot, Ken Stott is my Rebus. ]

*I ought to say that I wasn’t quite so sure about the fact that a few weeks later, my 10 year old also explained to her teacher who Lysistrata was!

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Charismatic Casseroles!

I love Orla Kiely designs [not that I actually own anything by OK] I think her simple leaf prints are so attractive


But long before OK put her leaves on coffee canisters and biscuit tins, Hornsea Pottery had a leaf design, called Charisma


It was around back in the 1970’s, when we chose Hornsea ‘Cornrose’ as our wedding present china. Here’s my casserole from back then


But recently, eagle-eyed Bob spotted a Charisma casserole in a charity shop. Same size and shape – so he bought it for £5!


As you can see, one is grey, and the other is beige – but I love them both. I think they are definitely OK!


I don’t make so many casserole once the weather gets warmer – but I may perhaps serve curry in one and rice in the other – or maybe remove the lids and use them to serve jacket potatoes and a salad.

Monday 22 April 2013

Rustic Charm

Last week I popped over to see Sandie’s new patch [she blogs here] Having just moved, she has been sorting and decluttering, and has kindly donated some bits and pieces for the Sewing Club at our church. One girl’s trash is another’s treasure. Thanks Sandie for thinking of us!

This spurred me on to doing some more sorting of my own – and I finally got round to emptying a toffee tin full of assorted buttons – trying very hard to get all my vast collection sorted by colour. This tin has been sitting in the cupboard for a while.


Outside it’s fairly uninspiring- but just look at the inside of the lid!


Most of the buttons were loose – but I found this little card inside with a length of darning wool and a spare button, clearly from a gent’s cardigan.


I cannot track down “Prince Igor” as a maker of knitwear [there are a lot of vintage 60’s/70’s Italian ties under that name on eBay – but that can’t be the same company. Italy was never part of our Empire]

I love the way it is labelled

“For your convenience!”

Somebody else clearly shares my fondness for !!!

What happened to the cardi? and why do we keep the spare button, safely on its card with the darning wool, long after the garment has gone from the wardrobe? I really should put the brown button in the jar with the others and discard the card and wool – but not just yet…

[Bob despairs of me, and is threatening to contact Stelios Kiosses from “The Hoarder Next Door”]

Sunday 21 April 2013

In the midst of life…

…we are in death

says the Book of Common Prayer

This has truly been a difficult week for many, full of death


…death at the hands of a bomber in Boston


…death because of a factory explosion in Texas


…death in an earthquake in China


…and world leaders gathered in London on Wednesday for the funeral of an elderly grandmother whose life and actions affected many people [for both good and ill] – whilst in my own village on Friday, mourners wept at the funeral of a young mother, who died of cancer- leaving husband, children, family and friends utterly bereft.

There are no easy answers – but the BCP reminds us

In the midst of life, we are in death: of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O Lord?

Today is the first day of a new week – there are signs of spring everywhere. I shall go to church to worship with my friends, and to pray for the bereaved, the injured, the hurting people, both in my little village and all around the world. May God give us all His grace and strength for the week ahead.

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Maybe not a song of joy- but a song of love, faith and hope.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Style And Simplicity…

I have boxes and boxes of dress patterns and knitting patterns. Last week, I saw an idea on Lazy Daisy’s blog for organising them. It was such an obvious thought too – store them in filing drawers, just like they do in the fabric shops.

contico unit

For more than ten years, I have had two sets of Contico drawers like this [mine are white plastic] stacked one above the other in the spare bedroom.  Full of random school worksheets, old birthday cards, A4 sized sheets of coloured paper, and other stuff. I seriously decluttered the drawers, and then re-assembled them. I made one unit with 4 deep drawers and one with 4 shallow drawers.

The remaining papers etc. all fitted neatly into the shallow drawers, and I put my sewing patterns into the bottom three deep drawers. The top deep drawer contains my knitting patterns. These have been filed those ‘display pocket’ folders. Just like they do in Button Boutique and other Proper Wool Shops


These are some of my ‘vintage’ knitting patterns- there are contemporary designs in there too!


The drawers needed something to prettify their translucent fronts, and in the declutter I found a 2004 Cath Kidston catalogue, so I trimmed a few pages from that and slipped them inside.


And now I have these


Holding Simplicity, Style, Butterick, Prima and even the odd Vogue pattern, neatly sorted – babywear, children, menswear, home goods, toys, and womenswear…


Isn’t that neat?

Friday 19 April 2013

In Focus

DSCF5403In ancient Rome, panis focacius was a flatbread baked in the ashes of the hearth (focus in Latin). This became a diverse range of breads that include focaccia in Italian cuisine, and fougasse in Provence.

Fougasse is traditionally shaped and slashed to resemble an ear of wheat. This one, with olives and oregano, was made using Bob’s sourdough starter


Thursday 18 April 2013


shepherdess-with-sheep-in-a-landscape, leemputten&gerard

woolgathering [noun] indulgence in idle fancies and in daydreaming; absentmindedness

I find it so easy to indulge in woolgathering! but for woolgathering of a different kind, here is an update to yesterday’s fish’n’chip post.

If you have any knitted items [vests, jumpers, blanket, hats, whatever] leftover from some Charity Knit drive, then you can always send them here

Knit for Peace
Radius Works
Back Lane

This charity will accept goodies and pass them on to projects who can use them. Check out their website which is a mine of information and a good source of simple patterns.

knitforpeace logo

[and thankyou to Cindy at TWAM for the info about the KFP project]

Of Mice And Martha

ms sewing

One of my sewing pupils has a pet cat, and wanted to make a toy for him.

We found an idea for mice in this MS book.

The pattern is on the CD which comes with the book, so I printed it off.

Here you can see the ones from the book and the ones my pupil made.

msl miceDSCF5380

I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the pattern and instructions [reading a few blogs, I find I am not alone in this – I found others using phrases like “instructions a little light”]

The narrow rouleau loop tail was really hard for a novice sewer [next time, I would suggest using a length of shoe lace] but the main problem was lack of marking on the pattern. It would have helped to have had “Nose” and “Tail” on the pattern pieces. My girl tried incredibly hard, but the tail somehow got sewn onto the nose end! She also needed an indication of where to stitch the ears. I think too that the ear pattern could have done with a clear marking as to which was the edge and which bit joined onto the head. Also a reminder to ‘clip curves’ would not have gone amiss.

ms pantsWe added some catnip to the stuffing – and I suspect the cat will enjoy these mice whatever they look like. My pupil loved them and that is what matters. This is the first time I have printed off a pattern from the CD – I look forward to trying something else. If I can find an appropriate piece of fabric in my stash, I may make myself the drawstring pants to wear as summer pjs.