Thursday 30 April 2015



In all the planning of wedding decor and invitations etc., Mark and Steph have very wisely avoided things bearing their initials! But they wanted to have some sort of personalised ‘favours’ at each guest’s place at the reception.


Continuing their ‘woodland’ theme, they purchased some sweets in shades of green and brown – and chose Skittles and M&Ms – as these have the right initials on them. But how to present them? Some sort of box or bag needed.

At this point, I came up with an idea which I thought was original – but it clearly has occurred to other people, because they were given something remarkably similar when they were guests at a friend’s wedding recently. The idea is based on the pyramid ‘humbug’ bags- I have made these countless times in fabric- large ones as makeup bags and small ones as rice-filled juggling bags. So I thought it wouldn’t be too hard to make them in paper.

I spent an afternoon experimenting and making prototypes with scrap paper and a box of tictac mints. First there was the planning of the printing – it took a few adjustments but I got there in the end. Then the sticking together. I felt rather like Goldilocks…

  • Plan A was to sew them on the machine. Too fiddly.
  • Plan B involved Pritt Stick. Too wide and messy.
  • Plan C. Narrow double sided tape. Just right. 

I collected the sweets from Steph at the weekend, and Tuesday I made the bags. Bob helped me fill them as we watched Midsomer Murders! [I like to help him enjoy his Day Off!]


Here’s what you do…Take the three parts of the design and arrange them on an A4 sheet.P1010234 

There are 6 to a sheet – each piece is 7 x 15cm [approximately]P1010230


Cut the strips out, and put three 6.5cm pieces of tape on the back. NOTE the bottom tape needs to be in the centre of the strip. Fold back the ends of the peel off bit, it makes life easier later.P1010239

Roll into a cylinder, overlap the edge, stick firmly.

Now peel off the LOWER backing and stick the bottom edge together. The seam needs to be in the MIDDLE of the BACK. [you need to practice and make a prototype to make sure you understand before you use your Posh Paper]P1010240P1010242P1010247P1010248

I kilo of each type of sweet fills around 130 bags if you put fourteen sweets in each bag [Skittles are slightly heavier than M&Ms]


Now seal the top of the bag by pinching the seam, and closing AT RIGHT ANGLES to the bottom seam. Pull out the adhesive backing paper [with the tag you left sticking up earlier] Press firmly.


Here is the completed pyramid, ready to sit tidily on the table at the Reception, with its message facing the guests.

Something a little different, but personal.


My cache of pyramids are now in store in a cool, dark, dry place, awaiting the big day.

Next week I will be working on the [silk] floral decorations. I am really enjoying these crafts, and grateful for the time and space to make them.

[If you want to make some pyramids for an event, do email me, and I’ll send you the template which you can edit and personalise]

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Natural [S]election?

Whilst in Norfolk just after Easter, we seemed to see dozens of posters extolling the merits of various candidates. My little corner of Dorset seems mercifully free of these displays of affection. I walked to the nearest pillar box recently [yes, I still send real letters, with stamps – old fashioned, but fun] and did not see one single poster. But lots of lovely gardens. I wondered if the people had planted flowers of specific colours to indicate their party political allegiances.

neighbouring flowers 04 15

I took these floral photos on the way back from the pillarbox [displayed in no particular order!] 

blue- Conservative, green – Plaid Cymru, orange – Lib Dem, red – Labour, pale yellow – SNP, bluey green – Green, purple/yellow –UKIP

The flowers in the Manse garden were planted before we got here. If colours are indicative, then either we are Independents, or belong to the Monster Raving Looney Party!!

Tuesday 28 April 2015

The People In My Prayers

jester-hat-1277664-mYes, this is the jester hat I took to London at the weekend.
But I am not putting it back in the cupboard just yet – I am leaving it out as a prayer reminder. You see, we purchased this hat about 16 years ago when we were in Edinburgh, at Festival Time.
Steph had broken her leg just before we went on holiday and we were pushing her in a wheelchair up a very crowded Princes Street. These hats were new back then – and I bought her one to wear so that the jingle bells would alert people to the wheelchair  behind them – and the people coming towards her would smile at her!
So why is the hat a prayer reminder? Simply because it is from Nepal.The company which first imported them to the UK was run by a retired Army Officer, who had worked in Nepal with the Gurkhas. He wanted to give properly paid employment to the Nepalese people, and he set up a hat factory. He imported these velvet jester hats and floppy top hats. You can still buy the hats – many are now made more cheaply in China, but some companies still maintain the Fairtrade factories in Nepal, and import their hats to the UK.
APTOPIX Nepal Earthquake
I look at this hat – and it reminds me to pray for Nepal.
paryer for nepal
The DEC (Disaster Emergency Committee) are appealing for donations. You can do it online or by 'phone - they're airing a tv appeal tonight, hosted by Joanna Lumley, It's a desperate situation alright. We can all help in some small way. [Thank you Nana Go Go for this comment]

Monday 27 April 2015

A Truly Amazing Day!

jester-hat-1277664-mI was up early in Sunday morning, and went over to Elephant and Castle to feed Monty The Cat as Liz and Jon were away. Then on to the tube again and up to Bermondsey. I wore my jester hat – being [a] alone and [b] quite small, I wanted to make sure Steph spotted me in the crowd!


It worked- she saw me at Bermondsey [too slow with the camera, only got a shot of the back of her head] After she’d gone past, I got quite emotional and burst into tears of joy**. Then I went on to Canary Wharf and spotted her there and cheered, and finally Shadwell, where I saw Chris Evans as well as Steph. I met up with Steph after the race in St James’ Park.

marathon 2015-001

I am so pleased for her- it was quite an achievement. A few months ago, she thought she might have to pull out due to injury. She raised over £800 for EAP – thank you again if you contributed. Thank you too, all the people who sent messages of encouragement, or prayed for her, or cheered as she ran past. I was standing on the pavement yelling “Go on Jenny!” “Keep it up Liz” etc to encourage random strangers who had their names on their shirts. I figured that if I was doing that for them, then other people round the 26 mile course were yelling “Well done, Steph!” for my girl.

I met some fantastic people during the day -

  • the lovely French students on the tube, who practised their English conversation with me as we told riddles
  • the bloke at Bermondsey who helped me track Steph on the phone, when the app wasn’t working properly
  • Rebecca at Bermondsey, who asked why I was weeping** [Its OK, I am just happy and proud] and gave me a hug.
  • the family from Beverly, Yorkshire who chatted as we walked back to the station – and turned out to know my dear friend Paul and his wife Steph
  • the stewards, St John’s paramedics, Railway Staff, and Policemen – all so helpful and cheerful.

FullSizeRender (2)Everything was incredibly well organised, the crowds were cheerful and well managed- and even the atmosphere as people were queuing for the trains was good.

And I am just so proud of my daughter – who finished the race in under 5 hours, despite her recent injuries and leg pains [and her time was 3 minutes less than Chris Evans]

275657_193710298_Medium (1)

Now we can settle down and finish the wedding preparations!

A Simple Snack


One thing that really irritated us both about “Back in time for dinner” was the repeated assertion that ‘nobody ate snacks before the 1970s’. Both of us being advanced in age, we would like to disagree – we remember ‘food in between proper meals’. After all, Leicester’s great “Walkers Crisps” company was started in 1948, when food was still on ration [because Mr W couldn’t get enough meat for his sausages, but potatoes were plentiful, so he diversified]

Biscuit_plateIn the late 50s, I always spent one afternoon a week at the neighbours while my Mum ran the Ladies Meeting at church. I was given a packet of Smiths crisps [with the salt in a twist of blue paper] – meanwhile the good Baptist ladies had their cup of tea and biscuit. Bob started at the Simon Langton Grammar in the 60s, where they had a tuckshop. And for as long as I can remember, fairy cakes and Victoria Sponges have been lovingly baked and served at church events. Surely all these things, eats-between-meals are snacks?

McVities and Huntley&Palmers biscuits were both being manufactured before Victoria came to the throne. Check your history, Mr Coren! The reason they didn’t show up in the National Food Survey was that the NFS asked people to simply note their meals. Biscuits, other snacks, and street food have been around for centuries!

P1010213I made some Anzac Biscuits last Friday, to acknowledge the Gallipoli centenary. I used this lovely book which my blogfriend Carole in NZ sent me some time ago. I decided I wasn’t leaving the entire batch for Bob to eat, so took a plateful round to Jim, my affable OAP neighbour. The biscuits were really simple to make. Next time I may do a double quantity.


I haven’t made them before [though clearly the recipe was popular with the book’s previous owner]. They are very similar to the pseudo-hobnobs here – but Anzacs have coconut in, which adds to texture and flavour. Rather than being sent to the front lines in WW1 for the soldiers to eat, as some people think, Anzac* biscuits were commonly eaten at fetes and other public events, where they were sold to raise money to support the war effort. At the time they were often called "soldier's biscuits", and this fundraising accumulated £6.5M for the to support New Zealand troops in WW1. One in ten NZ adults went to the War [both men as soldiers and women as nurses] and there was a 58% casualty rate. That’s a devastating loss for a fledgling nation. Australian losses were similarly high.


The Gallipoli Campaign was an utterly futile waste of life. Anzac biscuits may have been around a long time – but remembering what they represent, I don’t think I should take them for granted.

[*Anzac = Australia & New Zealand Army Corps]

Sunday 26 April 2015

Vocation Sunday

In many denominations, this Sunday is marked as Vocation Sunday – when Christians are asked to reflect on how God has called them to serve Him in their daily lives, and also to pray for those who have committed themselves to full-time work in the life of the Church.

I shall miss worshipping with my friends this morning- it is the London Marathon, and I shall be supporting and encouraging Steph. The Christian life isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon – we are called to run with patience the race set before us. It is good for us to stop occasionally and reflect where we are going, and if we are running in the right direction. Maybe God wants us to be serving Him somewhere else, or in a different way, or in a new role? Wherever, however that may be, we know he is beside us as we run, empowering and encouraging. He has a task for each one of us.

marathon logo

I’m not important, I can’t speak well

No-one will believe me, I don’t even know Your name.

You can’t possibly mean me!

I’m too young, I wouldn’t know what to say

You can’t possibly mean me!

I’d rather run away. I’ll sit under a tree and sulk

Even if it does get eaten by a worm.

You can’t possibly mean me!

I’m just a home- maker- so was Mary

I’m just a simple worker –so was Andrew

I’ve made a lot of mistakes-so did Peter

I thought I’d got my whole life mapped out-so had Saul.

You can’t possibly mean me! I’m not good enough

I’m not clever enough. I’m not wise enough.

You can trust me, you can put your hope in me

I will not let you be put to shame. I will guide you,

Show you the path to walk, and teach you my ways.

Can you possibly mean me? Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said “Here am I, send me.”

Because I realised that

Just possibly

He might mean


[Rosalind Selby: United Reformed Church’s Vocation Sunday 2007]

Saturday 25 April 2015

It’s Through The Arched Window!

arched window

From 1964 to 1988 thousands of children loved Playschool and wondered which window we would look through today. I am rather pleased my own children were able to sit and enjoy it with me. From the Blessed Brian Cant, to kooky Floella Benjamin, with maths-loving Johnny Ball [that Zoe’s Dad, for you younger ones!] I for one thought it was an excellent production.

johhnyball, carol leeder, derek griffiths


The BBC did try to resurrect the windows thing for Tikkabilla [the Hindi word for Hopscotch] which ran for a mere 5 years from 2002-2007 - but the Arched Window will always belong to Playschool as far as I am concerned. I thought about it this week when I was watching the progress of the building work at church.



On Sunday we were able to walk across the new concrete on boards, and go in through the front door – but they have already started demolishing the roof of the vestibule. By Wednesday this had progressed even further – look how blue that sky is!


And just look what’s happened to the UCF arched window.


playschool toysWhat would Big and Little Ted, Jemima, Hamble and Humpty have to say about all this activity?

Friday 24 April 2015

A Day To Remember, To Learn, And To Cherish


Tomorrow is Anzac Day – and this year is the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign when over 130,000 soldiers died, including 10,000 Anzacs. The BBC Website has a helpful article . The quote is from Bob Carr [Australian politician, former Foreign Minister]



I decided to ‘cherish my home and family’ by making some Anzac biscuits. I’ll leave these in the tin for Bob to enjoy whilst I am away in London for a couple of days. Gallipoli is on the NW corner of Turkey – it’s quite near to the old city of Troas, where the apostle Paul left his cloak [2 Timothy 4;13] but it’s a mighty long way from the Antipodes.

Something Old, Something New…

…Something Borrowed, Something Blue.

More Hen Party favours needed [this is to be the sort of hen party which is a memorable evening rather than the sort where the girls wake up next day with absolutely no memory of the night before] Liz emailed me a link and asked “Can you produce anything like this?” – at £5+ each, I can see why they didn’t want to buy them!


But I had vintage paper, and other bits in the stash, so…

Something old- a dictionary from a CS, bought by Steph in 2004 for another craft project for our Silver Wedding

Something new – two sheets of new card from my card-making friend Carol

Something borrowed – 2 craft punches, also from Carol

Something blue- some pretty voile ribbon my friend Elisabeth gave me

Here’s what I did

stage 1

  • for each rosette, cut 4 strips approx 5cm x 20cm, stick them in a row [overlap about 0.5cm] then fold a concertina
  • using a needle and thread stitch through the end of the folds-[about 0.5 cm in] and knot a loop note- you must not make this tight. You should be able to slide the tip of your little finger through, or the fan won’t open!
  • gently open each fan, and glue the end papers together to make a rosette. Hold in place with paperclip whilst it dries.

stage 2

  • using stiffish paper, punch a couple of flowers for each rosette. With tape [I used white gaffer, it’s strong!] stick a safety pin to one circle. With a hot glue gun, stick that to the base circle, and then stick the whole thing to the back of your rosettes.[tip – open all the pins first so you can see which part to tape to the card]
  • Cut your ribbons. Here’s the quick way. Fold a piece of card till it is 6cm wide. Wrap your ribbon once for each rosette[so I did 16] Now cut diagonally across the middle. You ave all your ribbons, with neatly slanted ends. Repeat with your second ribbon [I used blue voile for all, but a selection of colours for the others. I put the voile on top each time]


  • cut some 5cm squares of paper, fold in half. Tuck the two ‘V-shapes’ of ribbon inside, fold over the paper, and staple. Hot glue them to the back of a flower shaped punched in your ‘good’ card. Hot glue that to the centre front of your rosette

stage 4

  • Print labels saying bride, bridesmaid, hen onto a different coloured sheet of card, and punch out with smaller punch. Glue on the front. Embellish as desired!
  • Make a small box [the rosettes are surprisingly strong, and I made these boxes each from 1 sheet of regular printer paper, just folded and glued. This site is helpful]
  • Tuck the rosette inside, and seal with another name label.


My friend suggested that I should have chosen the dictionary pages to suit, so that Steph got the page with ‘bride’ and others had ‘love’ or ‘wedding’ or ‘party’. A nice idea, but I didn’t think of that, I just began at A and worked through.

My apologies to the girls who end up with aardvark, asp, baboon or behemoth on their badge! I will deliver these to Steph tomorrow when I get to London.[thanks to Carol and Elisabeth for your help!]


Btw, the cake is now cooked. Marzipan and icing to follow later…