Friday 31 January 2014



Thank you to the Band for a lovely evening, especially to Rachel for organising the event, and all the team who worked front of house, and doing the catering, and everyone else involved. A good time was had by all – looking forward to next time!


I Heard A Word


It was my scrambled eggs that started this absurd train of thought. Now I knew that the Americans were fond of a dish called shirred eggs – and I always thought these two were one and the same. After all, shirring elastic gathers fabric up into a sort of scramble.

shirring elasticshirring1

shirred eggs

I started checking this out, and discovered that for years, I have been quite wrong about this. Actually, shirred eggs are known in Europe as baked eggs, or oeufs en cocotte.

[I don’t like oeufs en cocotte though]

But the recent discussion of teaching phonics, and the wonders of the English language got me thinking about the word shirred. I have never heard anyone use the word shirr, just shirred and shirring. That set me off on a train of thought about the words which rhyme with shirred, and the glorious variations of spelling.

As I shirred the third egg, the kettle boiled. But my tea tasted odd, so I inferred the kettle element must be furred up. I heard a man talking on the radio about his pedigree herd. Then I motored to school.

Isn’t it absurd that word after word can be spelt so differently and yet still rhyme? [Gove, move, love …]

breathe window

On final question – what do YOU call the action of breathing on the window, in order to write messages in the condensation? I have always said “So I huhhed on the window” Which is yet another way of spelling the rhyme. The ultimate condensation writer was, of course, Miss Froy, in The Lady Vanishes. 


And by the way, if you don’t like your eggs scrambled or shirred, but boiled, check out Jenny’s beautiful pictures on The Custards recently.

Thursday 30 January 2014

And The Winner Is…

Well, clearly it’s not going to be Joni Eareckson Tada.

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All the names were put in my lovely wooden bowl, and Bob chose one at random. Well done Snitty Knitty [formerly Hardup Hester]



Thank you everyone who entered – and thank you for all your lovely comments. I’ll keep blogging, and there will be more giveaways!

Notice Bob’s gorgeous cable cardi [no I did not make it – he used his John Lewis tokens in their post Christmas sale] and also the copious use of red biro on the name slip. The pen is currently 60% used up.

This Little Piggy

little piggy

Children often seem to be fascinated by their toes- and little baby feet are so cute [just like their tiny splayed hands which remind me of starfish] I took some sample baby shoes to my sewing pupils …


…and look what they made for their little cousins!


Wednesday 29 January 2014

Don’t Play With Your Food, Angela!

Were you ever told that? It usually happened when I sulkily pushed my cabbage round the plate in an effort to avoid eating it! When I had children of my own, I took the opposite approach- making faces in the mashed potato with peas and ketchup, or cutting veg into silly shapes. Eating – like education – should not just be of benefit, but also be enjoyable! In the past week I have encountered some foodstuffs which have made me smile.

We had ‘cauliflower rice’ on Sunday. I picked this idea up from the Sainsburys magazine. Useful if you want to eat less carbs.


Place some cauliflower in a food processor and process until the florets are the size of grains of rice. Put in a jug or bowl, add 10ml of water [no more, it will go mushy] and microwave for 2 minutes.

I need to work more on seasonings [Bob thinks more black pepper, or perhaps smoked paprika] but it was good nonetheless It does look remarkably like rice, and it had sufficient ‘bite’ to it.

Also on Sunday, a lovely picture from my SIL, Denise, which she knew would amuse me – free range noodles - Who knew?

cauli rice

These noodles are probably healthier than that farmed spaghetti, which Richard Dimbleby filmed being harvested back in the 1950s!

Chris Evans was talking on Friday about eating haggis, as people anticipated Burns’ Night. Here is a picture of a wild haggis for you.


The best way to catch one, apparently, is to lie very quietly on a grouse moor, until one approaches, then make a noise like a sporran!

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Deep In My Heart, I DO Believe…

…we shall overcome, some day

seeger 2

This morning I heard Moira Stuart announce the death of Pete Seeger [at the ripe old age of 94] and felt amazingly sad. His music has been there all my life. My Dad wasn’t particularly ‘into’ folk music- but the music of this man struck a chord with him – particularly because of Seeger’s pacifism, and support for Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement. As well as ‘We Shall Overcome’ [which was adapted from an earlier, old Baptist hymn] Seeger wrote ‘Turn, turn, turn’ – an adaptation of Ecclesiastes 3

To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, a time to die.
A time to plant, a time to reap.
A time to kill, a time to heal.
A time to laugh, a time to weep.
To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to build up, a time to break down.
A time to dance, a time to mourn.
A time to cast away stones.
A time to gather stones together.
To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time of love, a time of hate.
A time of war, a time of peace.
A time you may embrace.
A time to refrain from embracing.
To everything, turn, turn, turn.
There is a season, turn, turn, turn.
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to gain, a time to lose.
A time to rend, a time to sow.
A time for love, a time for hate.
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late.

I learned these songs at home, and in my teens I sang them enthusiastically with my friends- at church youth events, at BMS Summer Schools, at the back of the coach when we went out on school trips, and sitting round campfires on the beach [did anyone else have ‘Sausage Sizzles’ back in the sixties?]

Pete wrote The Hammer Song [If I had a hammer] and the poignant anti-war anthem “Where have all the flowers gone?” I have vivid memories of rocking my newborn baby Liz to sleep with this, as I watched the reports coming back from the Falklands War in 1982

Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?Long time ago

Where have all the flowers gone? Young girls picked them everyone - when will they ever learn? when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone? Gone for husbands everyone. Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the husbands gone? Gone for soldiers everyone. Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards, everyone. Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone? Gone to flowers, everyone. Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone? Young girls picked them everyone - when will they ever learn?

When will WE ever learn?

Pete Seeger- may your music, and the sentiments behind it, live on. RIP

Mellow Yellow

52 projects

Here’s #4 in the 52 Projects Challenge – a new top in a bright summery fabric


For this I must thank my neighbour, Yvonne, who gave me this yellow fabric some while ago. She said she’d had it for years, but never done anything with it. It’s cotton – and measured 36” wide. I cannot remember the last time I saw that width in a fabric shop! It is a wonderfully retro print. I wish I had a photograph of my teenage bedroom to show you – in 1969, three of the walls were yellow, and one was orange- and there was a square panel over the old fireplace, which had been papered with a wallpaper in an orange/yellow print very similar to this fabric. I thought it was so stylish!


I used the Lisette pattern [from the ‘Amish’ skirt]I and found 4 equally retro buttons in one of my jars. They are just decorative – the top slips over the head and has no fastenings at all. Easy!IMG_1410

Here’s the finished article


It was incredibly simple to make up – but there was a fair bit of hand-hemming to do; the bottom, the sleeves and the neckline facing. That suited me – I could machine the seams, and then sit in front of the TV to finish things off. If I made it again, I think I would make the whole thing [and possibly the sleeves] slightly longer.

Now I am trying to decide whether to use the other length of cloth Yvonne gave me to make the tunic [or even the dress] included in the pattern. I would certainly recommend this particular pattern as it is well produced and easy to use, with clear instructions.

I’ve decided am not going to write about every single one of these 52 Projects. Some of them are quite boring [such as “line the Cornerstones bedroom curtains”and “sort out Bob’s old shirts as potential for patchwork”] but I shall still endeavour to complete something from my list each week.

Monday 27 January 2014

Tiny Treasures

The Christmas hyacinths have finished blooming and I wanted a floral arrangement of some sort to brighten the house. But there are no flowers in the garden, and I don’t want to spend money if I don’t have to. Whoever it was who said this didn’t have a huge mortgage!

bread and flower

I polished up my tiny silver Ianthe flower bowl [it is less than 3” across] and then picked some greenery from the garden. Result!!

ianthe bowlIMG_1415

Sunday 26 January 2014

Vagabonds On The Journey …

the journey 2

Back in December, the songwriter Stuart Townend came to Leicester. I was so looking forward to the evening…and then I had a bout of d&v and had to stay home in bed. Two very thoughtful friends went along – and bought me his latest CD as a Christmas Gift because I’d missed the concert. The CD is called ‘The Journey’ and I am loving it. One of the tracks I am particularly fond of is called “Vagabonds”

townend journey

Come all you fallen, and come all you broken. Find strength for your body and food for your soul. Come to the feast,there is room at the table. Come let us meet in this place, with the King of all kindness who welcomes us in, with the wonder of love, and the power of grace.

Come, all you vagabonds,
Come all you 'don't belongs'
Winners and losers,
Come, people like me.
Come all you travellers
Tired from the journey,
Come wait a while, stay a while,
Welcomed you'll be.

Come all you questioners
Looking for answers,
And searching for reasons
And sense in it all;
Come all you fallen,
And come all you broken,
Find strength for your body
And food for your soul.

Come to the feast,
There is room at the table.
Come let us meet in this place.
With the King of all kindness
Who welcomes us in,
With the wonder of love,
And the power of grace.
The wonder of the love,
And the power of grace.

Come those who worry
'Bout houses and money,
And all those who don't have
A care in the world;
From every station
And orientation,
The helpless, the hopeless,
The young and the old.

Come all believers
And dreamers and schemers,
And come all you restless
Just searching for home;
Movers and shakers
And givers and takers,
The happy, the sad
And the lost and alone.

Come self-sufficient
With wearied ambition,
And come those who feel
At the end of the road.
Fiery debaters
And religion haters,
Accusers, abusers,
The hurt and ignored.

Stuart Townend, Mark Edwards & Phil Baggaley

Saturday 25 January 2014

Soup At St Peter’s

We had our Annual ‘Africa Aid’ concert last night – but this time at a new venue – the St Peter’s Centre in Loughborough. St Peter's was built in 1911 and was once a hub of community activity. In recent years it was made ‘redundant’ as a parish church and lay unused for a number of years. As a result of a partnership project between Elim Church and Open Heaven Church money was raised and a massive refurbishment project was undertaken. The building now has a new glass fronted entrance, a fully operational commercial kitchen, a large auditorium and meeting rooms of different sizes.


st peters  before

The interior of the old church building [left] has been completely refurbished – with an excellently equipped kitchen, and space for ‘coffee shop’ at the front, and then the main body of the church made into a superb auditorium. Upstairs there is a balcony housing the PA system, with more rooms behind. It is a very exciting development, and looks great. [More pictures below] Well worth a visit if you are in Loughboro’ [have a coffee and cake!]

We served tea and coffee throughout the Folk Evening, and halfway through, the trusty Kirby Soup Kettle was called into service to provide minestrone. Bob was upstairs doing PA, whilst I was busy catering – thankyou Ian, for coming to be Bob’s roadie in my place [a girl cannot be in two places at once] We raised well over £300 for these three African Charities – EAP, African Steps and Mtengo

eap logoeapafricansteps_logomtengo

We had a good time listening to Dangerous Dogs, Dead Mans Handle, Resonance and others. I wish you could have been there! [More music next Friday with Ratby Band at Kirby Muxloe]

2014 loughboro

Click on the collage to see better shots of the auditorium, the kitchen, Bob enjoying the Behringer Digital Desk, and more.

Don’t Forget To Comment

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There’s still time to enter the January Giveaway [details here] It is open till Wednesday evening, but you need to comment on the original post. And I am not restricting it to UK only – if you live elsewhere in the world, you are still eligible to enter

Friday 24 January 2014

Sew, Scrunch, Pleat, Pull…

There is an awful lot of work going into some of the wedding dresses around today. In the 70’s – following Princess Anne’s lead, many dresses had fairly simple lines [mine included] I am rather glad Kate Middleton opted for ‘cleaner’ lines a couple of years ago. But Princess Diana came along  in 1981 with her frothy silk meringue and since then we have had this sort of thing - every bride has her own dream dress, many choose frills and froth and pleating and ruching.

for collage

I was very impressed this week, when I did an afternoon’s supply at a local Junior School to see on display a dress made by some pupils.


The information alongside explained that the children had been working with Ruth Singer, who is a talented textile artist working in Leicester. She did this project with them at Snibston, a local museum [whose funding is under threat, sadly] teaching them to manipulate fabrics to achieve these effects.




IMG_1412I was really interested to see this – Ruth obviously inspired them to work with the fabrics, and think creatively about the possible results.

I hope these young people go on to experiment some more with fabric and achieve even more stunning results!


Sometimes it is wise not to follow fashion too slavishly, as I discovered when sorting out my own wedding dress. I did try on a dress which had a full, frothy skirt – but being only 4’11” tall, I ended up looking like one of those covers for the spare toilet roll! And those little ‘Juliet caps’ also popular in the 70’s, made me look like the Pope.

What was your wedding dress like?

Thursday 23 January 2014

The Other Side Of The Coin

This year marks the centenary of the outbreak of WW1, so the Royal Mint has announced it is producing a commemorative coin, based on the famous Kitchener Recruitment poster.

kitchener coinkitchener poster

Many of us are actually wondering if this is the best choice – and  one enterprising woman, Sioned-Mair Richards, has started an online petition for a different person to be represented [more details here] Rather than a man who summoned hundreds of young men to their deaths, this lady proposes we remember a woman who saved many of them, and helped them get safely back to England – but was then shot by the Germans for doing so.

edith cavell edp

Edith Cavell was a Pastor’s daughter from Norfolk, who trained as a nurse, and in 1907 became Matron of a hospital in Brussels – she was there at the outbreak of WW1. In the first year of the war,she helped over 200 British soldiers escape.

You can read lots about her life and work here, here, and here. I remember being taken, as a very small child, to see her memorial behind Trafalgar Square. My Dad compared her words, with those of Lord Kitchener – and said patriotism was not the highest goal.

cavell inscriptioncavell memorial

Edith Cavell knew from her youth that she wanted her life to mean something to other people. She reportedly wrote to a cousin that “Some day, somehow, I am going to do something useful. I don’t know what it will be. I only know that it will be something for people. They are, most of them, so helpless, so hurt, and so unhappy.” When she was urged to stop her work with the soldiers, because she was in danger of being caught and punished, she said “I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved.” When placed on trial for her life, she refused to lie to save herself.

She was said to be "quite the most famous woman to be killed in World War I." Piaf, the famous French singer, was born two months after Edith’s execution – and named after her. The Canadians have a particular respect for her, and even re-named a mountain in her honour [read this article from last week!]

The Royal Mint does appear to have backtracked a little, and say the Kitchener coin is the first in a WW1 series.  I do so hope that one of the coins will acknowledge this remarkable woman, whose life was one of service and bravery – full of love, faith and peace.

Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness for anyone

Wednesday 22 January 2014

January Giveaway

Last month, I said that once I had 200 followers, I would celebrate with a giveaway. I have passed that now – and have done well over 3000 posts – so here it is

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As many blogs are focussing on being frugal, saving money and cooking from scratch, I decided to go for a kitchen themed package.


One of my home-made aprons [with useful pockets] to protect your clothes whilst you are cooking, some quick midweek supper recipes, and a book of ideas to produce interesting meals with a can of beans. You will be wanting to sit down with a cuppa in between all this thrifty baking, so here’s one of my teacosies [fabric, not knitted this time] and a little book of money saving tips to read during your teabreak. And a pack of tissues, in case chopping onions reduces you to tears [or you catch a cold] I’ll probably pop in a few other little surprise bits when I get the parcel ready for posting.

If you’d like to be on the receiving end, then leave a comment on this post, before midnight next Wednesday [29th]

You can find some more great ideas for being frugal over at Elaine’s blog this week- her Frugal Book is now available for free download. She compiled it from her reader’s tips - I’ve even got a comment included in it myself.

Thank you to everybody who is following this blog – publicly or anonymously. Your positive comments and emails are a real encouragement.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

52 Projects, Week 3

52 projects

IMG_0832I am not sure if I can keep this up! Week 1 was actually making a start on the list [that’s definitely a Work In Progress] and Week 2 was the Remake of the Amish Dress. But Scarlet asked about that white tunic which was stained [I blogged about it in October last year] and wondered if I had managed to rescue it yet. Having put that item on my 52 Projects list, I took that as an encouragement to fix things.

I began by tidying up my stash of lace and trimmings, and particularly sorting out the white cotton oddments. Empty wooden cotton reels which I’d been saving for some unspecified purpose came into their own as I wound lengths of lace round them


I also had a little bag of random motifs and collar pieces – I pressed these and looked at them carefully. I am not sure who gave all these to me!



This little collar is not white, it is ecru – but why did the original owner cut out that daisy? Perhaps she too wanted a little patch to cover a stain . I had some good lengths of broderie anglaise trim, both wide and narrow.

There followed much thought, and consultation with Bob . “Look at these, please – which is better, ‘A’ or ‘B’?”– it was a bit like visiting the Opticians. I came to a decision. I got some broderie trim about 1½” wide. I pressed a pleat all round which started at the top of the stain, and was 1” deep. Here’s a picture of the back of the top.


The stain still showed through, but I sewed three overlapping rows of trim [to the front only] and that looked good.


There were afour small black spots still showing, so I cut individual cotton daisies from a strip of narrow trim, and sewed them down. I now have a top which I can still wear – entirely repaired from bits and pieces I had already. Very pleased with this.