Saturday 31 October 2015

Fruit, Flowers, Food, Feasting

The saw was used to cut up the bones Bob bought from the butcher. He roasted them and then made a fantastic rich beef stock which was the basic of tonight’s stew. It was accompanied by mustardy mash and buttery savoy cabbage – utterly delicious.


For dessert we had cheese, pain de campagne, muscat grapes, and figs, from Swaffham Market [celebrating 800 years since its charter was granted]

As well as cutting up bones, Bob has also been pruning the shrubs in the front garden. Next door has a huge passionflower which has been seriously encroaching on our side of the fence.


Bob trimmed it back, and gave me some beautiful flowers and  luscious fruit. Sadly, most of the fruit was past its best, which seems a sad waste. Next door do not seem to have harvested any. The ruby red seeds inside are so sweet and luscious!

We have had a lovely day with Liz and Jon – but tomorrow it is time to pack up and return to Dorset. I love it here, but I am ready to return – there are lots of things to be done when we get back!

The Parson’s Saw

As a child, I learnt this Shakespeare poem by heart

When icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipped and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-who; Tu-whit, tu-who: a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marion's nose looks red and raw
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-who; Tu-whit, tu-who: a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

My Dad explained that ‘saw’ was another word for sermon – but as he, like Bob, was good at DIY, he would often quote the poem when he was doing woodwork. The weather has turned colder these past few days, and we have had lots of rain. Tonight Bob is cooking the meal – we’re thrilled to have Liz and Jon staying with us for a couple of days. This unlikely cooking implement has been in the kitchen…


I will make no comment whatsoever about my SIL Marion’s nose. And I have no idea who Tom, Dick and Harry Joan are!

Friday 30 October 2015

Happy Holiday!


Really enjoying our break at Cornerstones, not doing too much at all. It was lovely to go to Sheringham on Wednesday and meet up with this dear friend for lunch. Seeing family today – and back to Dorset on Sunday afternoon. Feeling blest, doing our best, appreciating the rest, renewing our zest [but not cold enough for a vest]

Thursday 29 October 2015

Now We're Cooking!

I gave up my dream of owning a lovely cream Aga years ago. But when we bought Cornerstones, we needed to find a cooker to fill the 90cm wide space in the kitchen – so purchased a Belling Kensington Range Style one. It is all electric [no gas in this village] and I loved it. But after a couple of years, the steel doors started to develop nasty rusty little marks. We rang Belling, who were very unhelpful, and offered to sell us new doors [costing a few hundred pounds] It would be almost as expensive as a new cooker- and they would not guarantee these would not rust as well. Internet searches showed others had this problem. I cannot find the pictures we took back then of the marks. Trust me, it looked awful – a spider web of orange and brown lines. This was what the new cooker looked like

…but mine has an electric hob. Now imagine a toddler had doodled all over those doors with a brown Sharpie. Lines and dots. Yes, that bad.
When we moved to Ferndown, Bob had found a firm on the Industrial Estate which did powder coatings. they were really helpful.
They explained that the doors were not properly treated stainless steel, and so the finish was bound to degrade over time. We had our doors redone with a cream enamel style powder coating finish. For less than the cost of having a bicycle frame recoated [which surprised us]

Here’s my super smart cooker – looking like new [it is over 6 years old]. With doors that will retain their pristine finish. And it does have a lovely creamy Aga-ness about it too. Thank you, TW Coatings for rescuing my doors, and thanks Bob for having the idea!

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Autumn Leaves


Autumn leaves begin to gently fall
As summer just fades away
And blackberries from the hedgerow
Make a feast at the end of summer ball.

Golden leaves carpet the woodland floor
And the branches of the trees,
With colours ranging from gold leaf
To rustic copper is something to adore.

Wearing jumpers in the autumn chill
To keep warm, we sit in the garden
Sipping tea instead of cold orange juice
Watching the sun go down, all quiet and still.

And watching the garden birds going to their nest
As the evening lengthens and dusk descends
Thus marks the end of the day, of all we had done,
And sitting in that twilight we simply take our rest.

P1020402There was a recipe for Spicy Leaf biscuits in this month’s Country Living Magazine. So I made some – they were delicious. You do need to let the dough chill well, or it is too soft to roll and cut properly. Here are the pages of the magazine – with my biscuits – looking very much like the ones in the picture. Most satisfying!

The poem is by David Wood



Tuesday 27 October 2015

Caped Crusaders

I love capes and cloaks, I always have. As a student I wore a cloak instead of a winter coat. I made it from a huge remnant of men’s suiting fabric which I got in a sale in Norwich. I was wearing my cloak ten years before Meryl Streep stood on The Cobb at Lyme Regis in The French Lieutenant’s Woman – or before Roger Moore’s daughter strode across the glen for the Scottish Widows.


steph cloak

But my lovely blue hooded cloak was relegated to the dressing up box years ago – and gets fished out regularly when somebody in the family needs a costume.

I love capes too – I went to Wales on holiday in the early 70s and fell in love with the handwoven tapestry woollen capes – but they were way beyond my price range. Emma Peel wore one on the Avengers once. And then there were all those caped superwomen…


Lynda Carter as Wonderwoman, in a fantastic cape made from the Stars and Stripes. More recently we have had Xena Warrior Princess [currently being repeated on Freeview on the Horror Channel] She has a cloak and a chainmail capelet! A girl definitely needs a cape if she wants to get things done.


This summer I finally bought myself a Welsh Tapestry Handwoven Woollen Cape. Only 40 years after I first loved them. This one is a true vintage model [and cost me all of £4 in a CS in Norfolk]


It is grey and red, with black trim. The belt was missing, but I had one that went perfectly. I put it in the wardrobe when we got back from holiday, then I noticed lots of capes in the shops this autumn. According to InStyle Magazine

It's official: Capes are the new jackets. After last year's boom in blanket ponchos… traditional jackets have been given the cold shoulder. Case in point: Designers have dialled up the drama on  during Paris Fashion Week, eschewing jackets in favour of cool capes in varying silhouettes, prints, and textiles.  Other fashion writers have said similar things

For once I am totally in fashion – quite inadvertently! I have also discovered that the Americans love these vintage Welsh Capes- and are paying over £100 for them. But I am hanging on to mine, I love it! It is so warm and practical. I only have one teensy weensy concern – here are the stylish capes I have seen in the shops…

cape 2015

…but I suspect that as I cycle round Ferndown in my cape, I look less like a tall slim fashion model, and more like crazy Madame Arcati, as played by the redoubtable Margaret Rutherford in Blithe Spirit!!


I don’t care, as my cape swings around me, I feel I can achieve as much as Wonderwoman, Xena or Emma Peel ever did. Does that make it my Cape of Good Hope ?!

Monday 26 October 2015

Going Berserk!

The word berserk is Scandinavian, it means to tear off one’s shirt. A berserker was an ancient Norse warrior who fought with frenzied rage in battle, possibly induced by eating hallucinogenic mushrooms! Having just borrowed a couple of craft books from the library, I am wondering what the word is for “being tempted to tear off one’s husband’s shirt” [for craft purposes, you understand!]

bawden shirt book

Juliet Bawden’s book “the shirt off his back”  is full of some wonderful ideas for re-using men’s shirts. She says it was inspired by the banking crash and the start of the credit crunch – what would all those city types do with their old smart Jermyn Street shirts? This has 30 projects with clear tutorials.

As well as an informative introduction about the history and development of the man’s shirt as a garment, there is a section on the eight components of a formal shirt [yoke, placket. cuffs, sleeves, collar, pocket, front and back] She uses some of these sections incredibly creatively.  Yes, there are the usual things you would expect – a cushion cover using the buttoned front, and a quilt made of rectangles from a collection of shirts – but other ideas too…


The book cover is made from strip-work made of plackets, the apron incorporates the collar, front and part of the back [no seams, just nifty cutting and hemming] The reversible bread basket uses a denim shirt paired with a floral shirt. The cute teddy night-shirt utilises the end of sleeves with cuffs in a clever way. There are also baby shoes, bunting, bags, chair covers, hats and more. As well as formal business shirts, she recycles Hawaiian florals, heavier cord and plaid shirts, rugby and polo shirts.

A lot of Bob’s heavier shirts have gone off to the refugees in Calais – but I am eyeing up some of the other older ones still in his wardrobe…

clare young xmas book

My second book is Christmas Crafting in No Time by Clare Youngs. I own her Scandinavian Needlecraft book and blogged about that a few years back. And I made the owls from this Christmas book when Prima magazine featured the project. I’d not seen the book before, so was pleased to find it in the library. More lovely ideas – sewing, papercraft and cookery

clare youngs xmas

Clear instructions and templates – lots of ideas I would like to make, if only I had the time. The patterns on the stockings and the dala horse clearly show Clare’s love of Scandi stitchery, and she has a lovely fruity, spicy chutney recipe, and some novel iced biscuits.

Some of the projects are complex and would take ages- others are simple yet effective- the gift tags on the book cover [heart, gingerbread lady etc] are simple card shapes, on which lines have been sewn on a sewing machine, using decorative stitches with red thread. [TOP TIP Clare doesn’t say this, but sewing paper blunts your needle. I keep a machine needle specifically for paper stitching- and I have painted its shaft with bright nail varnish for easy identification]

Both of these are lovely books to sit and read with a cuppa and a biscuit, and full of inspiration and ideas. If any of these ever come to fruition, I will post some pictures! I rate them both *****

Sunday 25 October 2015

Peacing Together

Last week, Miriam and the young people led a great Family Service looking at the Church, and using Ephesians 4 and other passages, to remind us we are all part of the body and have different roles.

As well as watching a brilliant drama, we were each given a jigsaw piece. We had to write on it our name, and the thing that was our ‘passion’, the thing that we felt particularly involved in, or gifted for, in the life of the church. The pieces were stuck down by the children, but Miriam stressed that they were not going to attempt to join them up – as it is God who puts us in the places where He wants us to serve.


I confess to being quite relieved that my piece ended up near Bobs – and smiled to see that we both put down preaching as our passion!


I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; … But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it… Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

…Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become, in every respect, the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Saturday 24 October 2015

The Lighthouse [again]

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the lighthouse [We sang that song in church last Sunday too]  In the last couple of weeks, I have heard from quite a few people who follow this blog, who are really having a rough time at the minute…hospitals, operations, chemo, family issues, work problems etc.  Some of you are friends I have met and hugged, and known a while – others are friends I only know through the internet [we could pass in the street and not realise it] But you know who you are. Know too that you are loved, and remembered, and prayed for.

This post is for you, with my love.


Friday 23 October 2015

Feeling Fidgetty

fidgetty phil poem

As a child, if I wriggled about, especially at the meal table, Mum would say “Fidgetty Phil who couldn’t sit still!” It weas a line from a poem in the 1845 book Struwelpeter, which begins thus…Let me see if Philip can
Be a little gentleman;
Let me see if he is able
To sit still for once at table:'
Thus Papa bade Phil behave;
And Mamma looked very grave.
But fidgety Phil,
He won't sit still;
He wriggles, and giggles,
And then, I declare,
Swings backwards and forwards,
And tilts up his chair,
Just like any rocking-horse-
'Philip! I am getting cross!'

Fidget means make small movements, especially of the hands and feet, through nervousness or impatience. It should not be confused with fidget pie which is a different thing altogether. There are various recipes for this dish throughout the Midlands and East Anglia – Huntingdon, Shropshire and Market Harborough all lay claim to it. My recipe is from Delia Smith’s Frugal Food, where she acknowledges that there are many variations on the basic pie.

The ingredients are simply chopped bacon pieces, finely sliced onion, potatoes and apples. Mix these, or put into separate layers, in a pie dish. Pour over water, or sweet cider, season with pepper and a few sage leaves. Top with a pastry crust and bake.


My pastry wasn’t Paul-Hollywood-Perfect in appearance, but it tasted fine. It is believed that this was traditional fare served cold to harvest workers. We had ours hot with gravy!

The unusual name has got nothing to do with the cook fidgeting. There are several theories about the origin of the name - either that it's to do with the shape of the pie, fitched meaning five sided,  others think that it was due to the way the ingredients fidget around in the pastry case when it is baked, and some say that it’s a corruption of fitchett, the old country name for a young polecat because it smelled quite unpleasant while cooking. Mine smelt fine in the oven. Making it five sided sounds too complicated though!

When I mentioned my pie to the people at the Lunch Club at Church, they hadn’t heard of it. I guess this being the South West, they are all Pasty-People!!

Thursday 22 October 2015

Who First Said “Charity Begins At Home”?

Well, to be accurate, it was Sir Thomas Browne, polymath, physician, scientist, antiquarian and prose writer. He wrote, in Religio Medici [1642] that “Charity begins at home, is the voice of the world: yet is every man his greatest enemy”


Here is his statue, on Hay Hill, Norwich. He lived in a house nearby [sadly now demolished] for 50 years until his death. He was an exceedingly clever guy, and among other passions, he really loved words.The Oxford English Dictionary cites Browne as the first user of the word “electricity” – which he defined as “a tenuous emanation or continued effluvium, which after some distance retracteth into itself” [no, I don’t understand that either!] . He also gave us incontrovertible, hallucination and cryptography.

But it was thinking about charity which reminded me of him this week. Is it just me [and Sue in Suffolk] or do other people get frustrated by some charity appeals?


This week the Red Cross have sent me a biro, 2 coasters and 2 notecards – along with a letter asking for a donation – and offering me either 2 notebooks or a cotton shopping bag if I send them £5.

I do not need any more notebooks or cotton shopping bags. Nor more coasters, biros or notecards to be honest.

I do believe in giving to charity – but it is something I prefer to do thoughtfully, carefully and prayerfully. There are some things I support on a regular basis, others where I might make a one-off donations, sponsorship of friends who are fund-raising – and prompt response to disasters when the DOC makes appeals. As a member of the WWDP National Committee, I have the awesome responsibility of helping to decide where a quarter of a million pounds is distributed each year. Yes I certainly do believe in charity.

But I didn’t ask for this stuff, and I don’t know what to do with it.


I have absolutely no qualms about re-using the many ‘charity collection bags’, which arrive regularly through the letterbox, for other purposes. Research by the British Heart Foundation a few years ago showed that only one third of goods donated in these bags eventually ends up in High Street Charity Shops – the rest is sold abroad for private profit. I usually turn such bags inside out, and fill them up with my non-recyclable rubbish before it goes in the bin.

But I am really uncomfortable with the Red Cross letter. Presumably everybody in my street [town, county, country?] received one. How much did such a mailshot cost?  There are 40 houses in my street. Even allowing for ‘economies of scale’, if it costs 10p for each person’s letter&contents, and only one person in my street responds, if sending them a shopping bag costs 50p, then the Red Cross are spending £4.50 to raise £5. This doesn’t seem a very efficient use of time and resources.

And if I choose not to send them a fiver, what do I do with this lot  of freebies? is it immoral to stand my coffee mug on the coaster if I have not given the Red Cross any money? or to write my auntie a note on the card, using the biro? will I be helping to raise awareness of the Red Cross, or misleading my aunt into believing I am more generous than I am?

Please don’t tell me to donate the coasters to one of the CS in the town – last week I saw a whole stack of the previous year’s Red Cross coasters [still unsold] on a shelf in a CS.

The statue of Sir Thomas was erected in 1905 [and in L P Hartley’s ‘The Go Between’ it is the place where Leo and Marian meet after their shopping trip] In 2007 another sculpture was placed nearby- ‘In Homage to Thomas Browne’ – it is a huge representation of  his brain! I love to look at them both when I’m in Norwich.

brownes brain

I think even a man with such a great brain, and such a generous heart, might struggle with this charity conundrum!

What have you done with your pens, cards, and coasters?

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Happy Birthday, Steph!

Your thirtieth year was certainly one of great achievement – God bless you richly in the days ahead. We are so very proud of you.


This Will Make You Lick Your Lips!

jarChutney, chatney or chatni comes from the Hindi word "चटनी" which means ‘to lick’, and signifies something tasty. Having been given bags of both green tomatoes and  cooking apples on Sunday at church, I decided a batch of chutney was in order. Chutney is easy – lots of recipes on the net.

You just prepare the ingredients, bring them to the boil, let the chutney simmer for a few hours, put it into jars…and then wait 2 or 3 months for the flavour to develop. If you taste it too soon, it will be horrid and vinegary! Here’s some helpful hints from Guardian food writer Jane Baxter

  • The ratio of fruit/vegetables to vinegar and sugar will vary depending on the sweetness and acidity of the fruit and vegetables. If you use sweet vegetables, such as carrots, or fruit, such as dates, you will need less sugar. Likewise, if you are using acidic tomatoes you can hold back on the vinegar. As a rule of thumb start with a ratio of 3kg vegetables to 1 litre vinegar and 500g sugar, then adjust for taste.
  • Don’t shred your fruit and veg too fine, as you’ll end up with spicy puree; but don’t be too slapdash with your chopping either. Just think about the annoyance of having half an onion falling out of your cheese and pickle sandwich. Daintily chopped vegetables can transform a good chutney into a brilliant one.
  • Chutneys get better when left for a few weeks. They mature. So try not to eat them at once.
  • Be aware that it’s often cheaper to buy jars with food in them than empty jars. Become a jar hoarder. Put them through the dishwasher on highest setting and they will be clean, hot and sterile, and ready for filling.

I began by chopping the onions and cutting the tomatoes into halves and quarters before breakfast, and then sprinkled them with 3tsp of salt. I left them to macerate [lovely word] for a couple of hours. I also measured out the chopped apples, brown sugar and sultanas and mixed in 2 tsp ground ginger for added spice.


Then I drained the tomatoes and onions through a sieve [the salt draws out any bitter juices, and greatly improves the finished taste] Everything was mixed in a large Le Creuset casserole, and brought to the boil, whilst I stirred it constantly. At this point you can turn the heat right down, and leave it to simmer, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. OR if you have a busy day and need to go out, very carefully transfer the boiling chutney into your slow-cooker, and leave it bubbling away on high for about 5 hours. Then carefully decant into jars using a jam funnel to avoid scalding drips. Put the lids on whilst chutney is still hot, and give them a half turn – tighten them up fully later.


P1020398I used around 2kg of veg [tomatoes, onions, apples and sultanas] and 300g of dark brown sugar plus 2 tsp ground ginger. 300ml of malt vinegar proved about the right amount.  I’ve prepared some labels for the jars – and those kind people who donated the fruit will each be receiving a jar as a Thank-you!

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Happy Families

Driving back from London early on Sunday, I listened to the Morning Service on Radio 4, introduced by Krish Kandiah of the London School of Theology. The whole theme of the service was “Adoption and Grace” and marked the start of National Adoption Week

adoption week 2015

I have to say that I found the words of some of the contributors incredibly moving. Parenthood [and family life generally] can be hard sometimes – and those who willingly take on the care of a child as an adoptive or foster parent have my true respect and admiration.


The theme of NAW this year is “Too old at 4?” – one website says that older children waiting to be adopted are often likely to be in sibling groups or to have additional needs and there is currently a shortage of adoptive parents coming forward for these children.

Sadly, sibling groups, those with complex needs and children from black and minority ethnic families are amongst the children who wait longest to be adopted. During National Adoption Week 2015 local authorities, adoption agencies, and all who work in adoption, will be working together to highlight the plight of these vulnerable children and to help them find ‘forever families’. David Cameron singled out adoption in his conference speech - but it should be remembered that only recently the British Association for Adoption and Fostering had to close due to lack of funding.

adoption teddyWe love our families; whether it's the ones we're born into or the friends we make for ourselves. But it's easy to forget that there are others who aren't as fortunate. This important week reminds us there are children out there waiting to be taken in by someone who will make them part of their own family unit. Adoptive parents need to be patient, and dedicated to offering someone lifelong love and support. 

It's a huge responsibility, but one that comes with great rewards.

God bless all those who take on this responsibility, and the children who are able to become part of loving adoptive families. God forgive us that there are still so many children on waiting lists …

Monday 19 October 2015

A for ‘orses – The Cockney Alphabet

Recent posts about nature words and Robert MacFarlane’s alphabet reminded me of another alphabet which we used to say in the playground at school. There are various versions of this – and some include the names of celebrities. These have certainly changed down the years – my grandmother would have recognised Arthur Askey, Ivor Novello, Eva Gabor and Esther Williams – but not Esther Rantzen or Kiefer Sutherland.


A for 'orses (hay for horses)

B for mutton (beef or mutton)

C for 'th highlanders (Seaforth Highlanders)

D for 'ential (deferential)

E for Adam (Eve or Adam)

F for 'vescence (effervescence)

G for police (chief of police)

H for a scratch (itch for a scratch)

I for looting (hifalutin’)

J for oranges (Jaffa oranges)

K for teria (cafeteria)

L for leather (Hell for leather)

M for 'sis (emphasis)

N for 'adig (infradig)

O for the wings of a dove

P for relief (pee for relief)

Q for a song (cue for a song)

R for mo' (half a mo')

S for you (it's for you)

T for two

U for mism (euphemism)

V for La France (vive la France)

W for a quid (double you for a quid)

X for breakfast (eggs for breakfast)

Y for mistress (wife or mistress)

Z for izat (his head for his hat)


E for Gabor (Eva Gabor)

I for Novello (Ivor Novello}

R for Askey (Arthur Askey)

S for Williams (Esther Williams)

K for Sutherland (Kiefer Sutherland)

S for Rantzen (Esther Rantzen)

Do you remember saying this in the playground – and how did YOUR alphabet vary from this one?

Sunday 18 October 2015

Open Our Eyes to See God’s Chariots of Fire

Here’s a Good Old Fashioned Sunday School Story from 2 Kings Ch 6


I love this one – we studied it last weekend. It is always good to remind ourselves that God’s power is greater than any other – and that sometimes we should surprise our ‘enemies’ by sharing a feast with them instead of fighting them.

One time when the king of Aram was at war with Israel, after consulting with his officers, he said, “At such and such a place I want an ambush set.” The Holy Man sent a message to the king of Israel: “Watch out when you’re passing this place, because Aram has set an ambush there.” So the king of Israel sent word concerning the place of which the Holy Man had warned him. [This kind of thing happened all the time!]

The king of Aram was furious over all this. He called his officers together and said, “Tell me, who is leaking information to the king of Israel? Who is the spy in our ranks?” But one of his men said, “No, my master, dear king. It’s not any of us. It’s Elisha the prophet in Israel. He tells the king of Israel everything you say, even what you whisper in your bedroom.” The king said, “Go and find out where he is. I’ll send someone and capture him.” The report came back, “He’s in Dothan.” Then the king dispatched horses and chariots, an impressive fighting force. They came by night and surrounded the city.

Early in the morning a servant of the Holy Man got up and went out. Surprise! Horses and chariots surrounding the city! The young man exclaimed, “Oh, master! What shall we do?”

He said, “Don’t worry about it—there are more on our side than on their side.” Then Elisha prayed, “O God, open his eyes and let him see.” The eyes of the young man were opened and he saw. A wonder! The whole mountainside full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha!

When the Arameans attacked, Elisha prayed to God, “Strike these people blind!” And God struck them blind, just as Elisha said. Then Elisha called out to them, “Not that way! Not this city! Follow me and I’ll lead you to the man you’re looking for.” And he led them into Samaria. As they entered the city, Elisha prayed, “O God, open their eyes so they can see where they are.” God opened their eyes. They looked around—they were trapped in Samaria!

When the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “Father, shall I massacre the lot?” “Not on your life!” said Elisha. “You didn’t lift a hand to capture them, and now you’re going to kill them? No sir, make a feast for them and send them back to their master.” So he prepared a huge feast for them. After they ate and drank their fill he dismissed them. Then they returned home to their master. The raiding bands of Aram didn’t bother Israel anymore.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend!

ucf tree stuffI said I would give the tutorial for our Church Christmas Tree Decorations – I prepared a double sided sheet for the needleworkers – one side had just written instructions, the other side was a simplified set of diagrams – people said the pictures helped!


Cut two circles of fabric – one plain and one a Christmas print. They should be about 7½” diameter, and on the wrong side of one piece, draw a circle 7” diameter [I used 2 tea plates of slightly different sizes] The circle marks the stitching line, which can be sewn with hand or machine stitching – but finishing needs to be done by hand. Iron with medium [2 dots] heat. Stitch as follows;

1. Place the pieces right sides together

2. Stitch ON THE LINE which is drawn on the plain piece, but leave a 1” gap at the top of the circle for turning [see picture below]

3. Clip the curves carefully, at ½” intervals and turn the shape out. Gently push the shape into a perfect circle [a chopstick or blunt end of a pencil is useful for this]

4. Carefully iron flat, and when you are happy with the circle, fold in raw edges and close the gap with a few tiny slip stitches.

5. Now fold the circle in half and use pins to mark the ends of the fold.

6. Open up, and fold again, at right angles, bringing those pins together. Put 2 more pins in the ends of the fold

7. clip_image003Open up – you should have your circle marked at equidistant 4 points [N,S, E, W]

8. Place fabric circle with PLAIN SIDE DOWN, have a threaded needle ready!

9. Lift up top and bottom, bringing pins at N and S together. Make a few tiny stitches at the centre to hold them in place. Do NOT stitch too tightly, and do NOT cut the thread!

10. Now bring points E and W up to the centre, stitch them as well. Fasten off the thread. [You should now have a shape that is like a little bag, plain on the outside, patterned inside – see illustration below]

11. Carefully flatten the shape so that you have a plain 3” diamond shape on the back, and patterned slits across the diagonals on the front

12. Now press the edges of your diamond flat. Make sure the corners are right angles, and the sides are 3” long

13. Open up the four ‘petals’ revealing the printed fabric in turn  [see illustration below]

14. Fold the petal corners over to the back of the shape [they should be tiny right-angled triangles]

15. Press flat, and sew the button in place in the centre of the petals [you can stitch right through – the other side will be covered by Aida]



When you turn the shape over, you have a diamond with four little contrast corners. You can leave this as it is, or put in a piece of Aida evenweave canvas on which you have stitched some words.


clip_image002[4]You will need a 5½” square of Aida. and a 2¾” square of thin card. Stitch your design in the centre of the canvas


1. Once stitched, please press the piece on the wrong side

2. Put the card diamond centrally onto the back of the Aida, and fold the edges over neatly.

3. Press these edges flat and use a few slip stitches to hold the fabric onto its card backing.

4. This is now ready to slip into the corners of your fabric diamond. Then neatly stitch round the edges to hold it in place. Sew hanging loop now using a 5” length of ribbon.

Sorry, this is such a long tutorial, I needed to explain everything very carefully on the instructions I gave to my friends.


Because this is for the Christmas Tree Festival, we chose 40 names of Jesus [Prince of Peace, Son of David, Good Shepherd, Light of the World etc ] but you could stitch your own message [Baby’s first Christmas, Christmas 2015, Season’s Greetings or whatever]

I prepared the charts using my Jane Greenoff Cross Stitch programme. If anybody would like to have the stitching charts for these 40 names of Jesus, email me, and I will happily send them to you.

Friday 16 October 2015

Fish On Friday

This is National Seafood Week


Thus far, I have not been terribly good at eating fish every day. On Saturday I declined the fish’n’chips option on the menu at my Conference, and similarly avoided Sunday’s breakfast kippers. But Bob and I did have tuna mayonnaise in Monday’s jacket potatoes, and on Wednesday managed fish fingers for tea. It was the first time for ages we had eaten these- but as they are celebrating their 60th birthday this year, I thought I’d buy a box [great article here]

I am not sure about the slogan Cook Me. Dine Me. Buy Me.

Should it not say Buy Me. Cook Me. Eat Me.  ??

I shall try and do something interesting with the tin of pilchards in the pantry for lunch. Off to London this afternoon – maybe there will be something fishy on Liz’s menu plan for tonight.

Seafood I like – cod, plaice, haddock, tuna, pilchards, mackerel, salmon, trout, tuna, kippers, mussels, crab, prawns.

Seafood I am less keen on – lobster, calamari, eels, seabass, tilapia.

Does samphire count as seafood? I like that if it is young and fresh.