Wednesday 30 April 2014

Post Haste?

IMG_1878You remember the lovely new shoes mentioned the other week? I forgot to mention the bizarre way in which they were delivered.

Bob was standing looking out of the front window when a van drew up outside.

The driver got out of the van, carrying a parcel. He walked straight to the side gate, and threw the box over the gate – and then walked to the front door, and was about to push the “You were not in” postcard through the slot when Bob opened the door. Bob took the card and the driver went on his way.

IMG_1907He did not attempt to find out if we were in – he simply threw the parcel over the gate. If he had just bothered to walk to the door to ring the bell, he would have seen the box fixed to the wall.

It has a large, clear sign on the lid


I am told that the people who do these deliveries are paid a certain, rather small, amount per parcel, so the more they can deliver, the more they earn – so they do not want to waste valuable time, waiting for recipients to answer the doorbell.

So they automatically ‘assume’ you are out and deposit the parcel over a wall or gate. We have had computer parts over the gate, a friend received a bouquet of flowers like that, and another has told me about a parcel of books which split, having been dropped seven feet into a puddle [when she too has a large, labelled plastic box by the front door]

Full marks to Jaz from City Link Couriers, who makes every effort to deliver goods carefully to the right person] Thank you to our kind neighbours who take in parcels on our behalf [there always seems to be somebody at home in The Close to receive other peoples stuff] And full marks to Bob for creatively recycling the Glass Recycling box when the council binmen changed their system recently.

I won’t name the company who are responsible for the over-the- gate-slinging. But here’s a picture from the Sound Of Music for you.

lonely goatherd

That may give a clue. But I must warn you, expect a lot of S-of-M references from me over the next few weeks for another reason…

Tuesday 29 April 2014

1 Thessalonians 5;17


I usually prepare posts in the evening ready to publish next morning. But I have been struggling, as we drove home from Cornerstones, listening to the BBCs news on the car radio, every bulletin brought more sadness.

  • the missing Malaysian airline, the Korean Ferry disaster, the kidnapped girls in Nigeria – all ongoing situations where distressed families wait and grieve and long for the answers to their questions.
  • deaths in Ukraine, in Afghanistan, in Iraq
  • three generations of a family lost in a fire in Yorkshire
  • a politician and a publicist who abused little children
  • a much loved and dedicated teacher stabbed to death in front of her pupils

…and the list goes on and on… you can add those things which have saddened you – maybe global issues, national news, local incidents or personal tragedies. I do not have any easy, glib answers. There are two Graham Kendrick songs which come to mind as I try to pray about these situations

The first is an acknowledgement of collective responsibility

Who can sound the depths of sorrow
In the Father heart of God
For the children we've rejected
For the lives so deeply scarred?
And each light that we've extinguished
Has brought darkness to our land
Upon our nation, upon our nation
Have mercy, Lord

We have scorned the truth you gave us
We have bowed to other lords
We have sacrificed the children
On the altars of our gods
O let truth again shine on us
Let your holy fear descend
Upon our nation, upon our nation
Have mercy, Lord

Who can stand before your anger?
Who can face your piercing eyes?
For you love the weak and helpless
And you hear the victims' cries
Yes, you are a God of justice
And your judgement surely comes
Upon our nation, upon our nation
Have mercy, Lord

Who will stand against the violence?
Who will comfort those who mourn?
In an age of cruel rejection
Who will build for love a home?
Come and shake us into action
Come and melt our hearts of stone
Upon your people, upon your people
Have mercy, Lord

Who can sound the depths of mercy
In the Father heart of God?
For there is a Man of sorrows
Who for sinners shed his blood
He can heal the wounds of nations
He can wash the guilty clean
Because of Jesus, because of Jesus
Have mercy, Lord

And this one, which is more of a personal statement of faith

For the joys and for the sorrows
The best and worst of times
For this moment, for tomorrow
For all that lies behind
Fears that crowd around me
For the failure of my plans
For the dreams of all I hope to be
The truth of what I am

For the tears that flow in secret
In the broken times
For the moments of elation
Or the troubled mind
For all the disappointments
Or the sting of old regrets
All my prayers and longings
That seem unanswered yet

For the weakness of my body
The burdens of each day
For the nights of doubt and worry
When sleep has fled away
Needing reassurance
And the will to start again
A steely-eyed endurance
The strength to fight and win

For this I have Jesus
For this I have Jesus
For this I have Jesus, I have Jesus

I keep on trusting, and I keep on praying – Lord have mercy

Monday 28 April 2014

Thank You Kezzie!

52-projects_thumb6Last week’s project was to use my lovely Javanese Sarong from Kezzie to make something beautiful. In odd moments whilst we have been at Cornerstones I have been sewing myself a new dress IMG_1902


I didn’t think the button tab down the front looked right – it just didn’t show up against the busy print. So instead, I chose a selection of my vintage buttons in different shades of blue, and sewed them round the neckline. Very Boden-esque, don’t you think? Thanks Kezzie!!

Sunday 27 April 2014

Tracing Rainbows

noah crowe

We are on holiday – so we went to see Noah at the cinema. I didn’t go in the expectation of an accurate re-telling of the Biblical narrative- and so was not disappointed by that. But I did feel it was generally quite a poor film – there were so many holes in the plot which I won’t explain in detail, as I don’t want to spoil it for others who have yet to see it. Just a few comments

  • the trailers beforehand for ‘Godzilla’ did not help!
  • Methuselah seemed to have been confused with Merlin
  • the accents – Emma Watson’s precise pronunciation was in marked contrast to Ray Winstone [did he get that ridiculous welding helmet in Wickes??]
  • how had they become so proficient in textiles? [e.g. stocking stitch knitwear, and close weave denim]
  • the way the animals arrived, and were contained in the ark I thought was cleverly done. Other parts were just…silly!
  • midweek cinema trips during afternoons in termtime are brilliant – surrounded by elderly pensioners made us feel so young!!

noah crowe rainbow

This Noah seemed so utterly lonely. I came home and re-read the Genesis story. I was sorry the film had not made more of Gen 9;16

“Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

And I sang to myself the hymn that provides this blog with its title

Oh Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

Oh light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

Oh joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

Oh cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Planting And Painting

Last year, we built a summerhouse in one corner of the gardenIMG_0022 IMG_0463

This year we have made a few more improvements out there. The patio and decking were pressure-washed, and Bob planted the two rose bushes which Adrian and Marion gave me for my birthday




My birthday gift from Bob was this circular rush mat – because I have already discovered that pins disappear down the cracks between the floorboards when I sit outside and sew! [From this company – I’d recommend them!]

This past week we have painted the outside – green for the walls, and a contrast for the edgings, plus wood treatment for the floor. Bob did the high level work, but the back corner was my job- I had to squeeze through the very narrow gap and felt like a prisoner!

IMG_1890  Let me out!!IMG_1892 IMG_1893We are very pleased with the finished effect. It should ensure the summerhouse is a little more weatherproof. The lights inside are on now, and Bob has fired up the BBQ. What a lovely way to spend the evening - the blue sky has gone, but it is still warm…


Note to self when doing DIY tasks – it is quite OK to play one’s Rend Collective music, and sing along joyfully in a tuneless sort of way – but dancing whilst holding a loaded paintbrush is a more risky. [Michael Jackson meets Jackson Pollock is not what is needed here]

Friday 25 April 2014

Pedal Power!



The cycling bug has really bitten! Liz and Jon arrived here at Cornerstones last Thursday afternoon, and by the time they left on Tuesday afternoon, they had clocked up over 200 miles. They visited the coast, and countryside, Blakeney, Bircham Windmill, and lots of other places. Liz also managed to rescue a lamb which had got out of its field and could not get back to its mother.

They had a great time on their bikes – but unfortunately on their return to London things were not so good. On Wednesday morning, going to work, Liz was knocked off her bike by a foolish motorist who came up on the inside, then realised he was entering a bus lane, so pulled back in front of her, clipping her wheel and knocking her off. By the grace of God, she only had minor cuts and bruises. The bike is now in for repairs. I am so grateful she is OK, and grateful also to the unknown guys who stopped and helped her, and the police [and to the witnesses who came forward] We hope the man’s insurance will pay for the damage to the bike. All very frightening. Not a nice thing to happen! Liz said one of the guys yelled a lot at the driver and told him what he thought of him. Thanks, mate- I would have applauded you if I’d been there. I could rant for Britain on the subject of car drivers who take no thought for people on two wheels [both bicycles and motorbikes]

IMG_1895Meanwhile,we have both been given bikes to leave in the garage here, so we can ride around too [and other visitors to Cornerstones can use them as well] Thank you to the generous donors for these ‘fixer-uppers’


Bob has already got his into a roadworthy condition, and cycled to the farm for fresh eggs. My purple peril is currently in bits in the garage. A new saddle was top of the list, the original seems to have been nibbled by mice! Looking forward to pedalling round in the summer.

The week has been brilliant thus far – Monday we went on a Ramble with friends from Dereham Baptist Church, including Christine, Adrian and Marion. The weather was lovely and the pub lunch good.


We also had a belated Family Birthday Dinner for Marion and myself – this is the only photo I took – we began with soup in bread bowls, followed by ham with parsley sauce, accompanied by four different veg, then we had pannacotta [with ginger thins and blackcurrant compote on the side]It all tasted surprisingly good. I shall need to do lots of cycling to burn off all those calories.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Zesty Zakka!

zakka morinaka According to Amy Morinaka, author of Zakka Handmades, “Zakka is a Japanese term for the many small household goods that organize our homes and help us with our daily tasks” [and I always thought it was Bob who organized and helped round here!!] I picked up her book in Dereham Library this week.

zakka gifts

I also got Cecilia Hanselmann’s book, Zakka-style gifts. Dereham Library has a brilliant crafts section, and it is a treat when I’m at Cornerstones for a week to borrow a few of them. I knew nothing about zakka, so these two little books seemed a good introduction to the subject.

Homemade zakka is traditionally made by combining 100% natural fabrics [linen, cotton, wool] with small embellishments and meticulous handwork. Designs are inspired by cultures from around the globe [Scandinavian style, East European folk art, French country, Asian ethnic …] I enjoyed the two books and would like to try out some of the ideas. I found the ‘Handmades’ book more interesting than the ‘Gifts’ one. But both had around two dozen projects with well written instructions and clear photographs.

I felt the ‘Gifts’ one was less innovative. The pincushion was fairly ordinary, and I didn’t see why you would need a ‘glass holder’ – but the owl paperweight was quite fun [but who uses a p/w these days?]

zakka gifts pincushion zakka gifts glass zakka gifts owl

The ‘Handmades’ contained more projects which I felt I might like to make sometime. There was a cute Matryoshka key fob, various baby gifts, a shopping bag with its own drawstring pouch, an ‘air mail’ place mat and these little ‘kotori’ purses [kotori is Japanese for ‘little bird’] There are also projects which involve crochet embellishments as well as hand and machine embroidery.

zakka morinaka matryoshka zakka morinaka baby zakka morinaka bag zakka morinaka kotori purse zakka morinaka mat

I have no idea if I will make any of these – but the books are great fun to read and do certainly give you ideas for using up the small bits and pieces in your stash. I may have a go at the ‘chopstick holder’ – [it can also be a cutlery holder and doubles up as a napkin ]so would be ideal for my packed lunches when I am at school. I think the kotori purses are really cute. Two good holiday reads!

My verdict -

Zakka Style Gifts ****

Zakka Handmade *****

Wednesday 23 April 2014

The What, Where, And Wear Of Java!

java islandWhen you hear the word Java, do you think ‘island’, ‘coffee’ or ‘programming language’?
java language
Be honest, could you find the island on a map? For years I knew it was near the Volcano Krakatoa. That had a spectacular eruption in 1883 – the year our church was founded [no connection, I am sure] But mistakenly I believed the volcano was east of the island
krakatoa 1
That was what the film was called, after all. However, it is west of Java. The Hollywood producers actually thought ‘east of’ was more romantic than ‘west of’ so abandoned geographical accuracy! Five years later the film was re-launched, and this time round, they called it ‘Volcano’. I have no idea whether cinemagoers in Java bothered with either film!
krakatoa 2
Why the interest in Java? Well, it is famous for its beautiful sarongs – and I received a lovely one as a belated birthday gift on Saturday. The card with it said my friend had been saving it to give to someone who would make something with it.
What she didn’t know was that the other gift which arrived Saturday was a pair of shoes from my daughter. Look at this photo…
Isn’t that a fabulous match between the blue and navy shoes and the print of the sarong? [The navy and white strip with triangles is the matching scarf] The shoes are Clark's  Idyllia Dance– and will be needed for something special** which is happening to me in the middle of June. I now have the perfect fabric to make a dress to go with the shoes. I shall use that Lisette pattern again – I’ve already made a skirt, top and tunic – so getting my money’s worth from it!
Thank you S & K for your gorgeous gifts.
**more details to follow later – but I must stress I am not going anywhere near islands, Java or volcanoes!

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Sweet And Simple

Over the after-church coffee last week, my friend Gemma asked me for some help. She’d bought a pattern to make a dress for her little girl, Charlotte, but couldn’t work out the instructions. We spent a happy couple of hours together and produced this…


It’s very similar to the dresses we made at Sewing Club a few years back, to send to Africa. There’s a pattern here too. I suspect Charlotte will end up with a wardrobe of these this summer. Two half-metre lengths of fabric will produce two dresses in ‘opposite’ colourways. Doesn’t the dress look pretty? [that’s an IKEA print btw]

Monday 21 April 2014

Now The Day Is Over

52 projectsThis one has been a Work In Progress for a long time – nearly 3 years. But at last it is finally finished! I blogged in 2010 about Lucienne and Robin Day, the wonderfully talented designers.

polyprop chairThey were married for 68 years – and she designed amazing fabrics, and he produced furniture, most memorably the remarkably useful polyprop chair. I blogged again a year later, when we were clearing out some ancient, damaged chairs from a room at the church.



Stripping off the ripped plastic and foam revealed an orange polyprop chair- but sadly the seat was rather damaged and the surface was quite rough in places, and damaged by staples. I left the chair in the corner, where it got things piled onto it, but wasn’t much good for sitting on.


When my very old PVC apron developed a tear at the top, I decided to repurpose it as a cushion pad for the chair. It has the right mix of colours. I made a paper pattern, and fetched out my little vintage tin of sewing machine needles. The ‘leather’ ones are good for sewing PVC. I cut a top and base, and three layers of fabric from an old teeshirt to give just a little bit of padding.IMG_1861     

I stacked the layers and sewed round, then turned it inside out and top stitched. Currently the cushion is held down with some double sided tape. If it proves satisfactory, I’ll use something more permanent.


The stained areas and sharp, rough bits are covered up now.

The chair looks much more cheerful – and the old apron has been creatively re-purposed.

The 52 Projects is becoming increasingly addictive – check out Dreamer’s Blog where you will find a list of other people involved in the challenge – producing some fabulous items!