Thursday, 26 May 2022

Put Out More Flags

I've never actually read this one - I know it is set at the start of WW2 and one of the main characters is called Angela, and it is regarded as funny, farcical and well observed. I enjoyed Waugh's "Scoop" - I must try and track this one down...

I thought about it because I went up into the loft for three specific items - and when I moved a box to get to them, I found my bag of patriotic bunting and Union flags!!

So there will be more patriotic flags than ever to display next week! 
What I went into the loft for - fabric, card and giftwrap. We have a wedding present for Saturday - but it had no box. So I wanted to custom-make a box, and also a gift bag.

Two of those large flat card packets used by online booksellers would make the box and its lid. 

And I had some fabric from Marion which made a neat bag for the gift. 

The box itself took a lot of time, measuring and cutting- but it is the sort of precision mathematical task I really enjoy. Covering the box neatly would be the greatest challenge, but I knew exactly what I would use.

About 5 years ago, I went into a fancy chocolate shop in Bournemouth which was closing down. The sort of place where you can select chocolates to go into a fancy box, and then have it gift wrapped and be-ribboned. All the products were greatly reduced. I picked up a couple of bars of plain chocolate for Bob, and cheekily said to the guy behind the counter "What's happening to all the gift wrap?" He picked up a large roll of silver kraft-paper, still in its cellophane.

"Five quid?" he said, clearly not really interested. "Done!" I said. When I got home, I discovered that I had 100 metres of quality paper, 50cm wide. And furthermore it was double-sided - choose gold or silver! Such a roll retails at around £30.I put it into the loft here, and decided that I would use up all my existing wrapping paper, and not buy anymore. And then I would start this roll. So now it is in use. 

Here is my box and the lid. I'm pleased with the way it has turned out. Now I just need a card for the happy couple. 

And a new pair of tights for myself .Dereham Tesco could only offer opaque black winter tights, or super cheap 5-in-a-pack 'nude' ones. Have stores stopped selling 'quality' tights since the pandemic?

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Right Royal Recycling

There's a Scarecrow Competition in the village, as part of the Jubilee Celebrations. I had this idea about creating scarecrow from recycled stuff. Nothing new, nothing purchased - maybe I could make it into Greta Thunberg? I started planning [I have a scandi hat like hers] After all, I said, no point in doing it if it doesn't say something.
Then I reread the rules, and discovered there had to be a Royal theme. Plan B - recreate January 22nd, 2020. Following his speech on decarbonisation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Prince Charles met the teenage activist. I could make two scarecrows- The Green Prince meets The Climate Princess.  After all, you can buy cardboard masks on line can't you?
No good- I'm not buying anything, and also the rules say no commercially available facemasks. We move on to Plan C, I will just have to stitch them.
I found two faces online, printed them off, and used them to embroider onto a piece of scrap calico from the stash
Here's my stitching - all backstitched in a darkish brown, with the Prince's eyebrows in grey/brown/black.
Then I started assembling materials for the actual scarecrows.
  • lots of old clothes & boots
  • some old towels [stuffing limbs]
  • old pillows [bodies]
  • cardboard boxes [heads]
  • stockinette from the Lathe Palace [for covering the head]
  • wool [hair]
  • long wooden spoons and a porridge spurtle [stiffening the thighs]
  • the bottom 'table' units from the high chairs
  • two gazebo leg structures
[these last items were the Christmas bits from Joseph and the Virgin Mary here] Last week, whilst Bob was busy being ill, I was working away on my creations. 
I cannot find my patriotic bunting anywhere. I am sure I would not have decluttered it before the move, but it really does not seem to be here. So on Monday evening I grabbed some blue and white fabric [gazebo leg coverings] and some red and white stripe ticking, and cut out 50 [Not bothering with niceties like hemming or overlocking] Tuesday morning I spent half an hour stitching them all down.
It looks quite nautical, with all those stripes, but will add a red/white/blue element to my final display. The rules say that the scarecrows must be on display by noon on Monday 30th May. So as we get back from the wedding on Sunday, it will be an early start Monday to display my creations and hang the bunting. And once it is all sorted, I will post pictures for you.

Are you having any scarecrows in your area for the Jubilee?

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Give Us Today - A New Craft Idea...

 We have been studying the Lord's Prayer at CafĂ© Church, and on Sunday we reached "Give us today our daily bread". But what could I do with the children? They sit round a table at the side of the chapel, and we cannot make too much noise. We began by talking about food - why is it important?

  • It gives us energy
  • It helps us grow
  • It keeps us healthy
  • It makes us happy
I expanded the last point, and talked about 
  1. eating favourite foods, and certain tastes giving pleasure. 
  2. We discussed the fact that sharing food makes us happy [family Sunday Roasts, birthday parties- and sharing the food we have with others who do not have any]
  3. Food makes us happy because it reminds us that God provides for our needs, and he cares for us.
We had a worksheet to colour in. But before we did the sheet, I wanted to do some sort of different craft. I have a handful of children, all under 7 [and some adult help!] but we do not have very long - and we cannot make a lot of mess.
After some internet trawling I came up with the idea of a stained glass window. This meant preparation on Saturday evening.
First I printed off a picture of a child kneeling in prayer. I typed "Give us today" and "our daily bread" using WordArt. That meant I could curve the words, and  flip them to mirror image. Then I took a lamintor sheet, and opened it up. I put the template underneath and traced the words and picture with a Sharpie onto the inner, matte side of the 'top' sheet,

I folded an A3 sheet of paper round the sheet, and folded the other blank sheet over it, and paperclipped it all round. Then I cut lots of squares of tissue into 4 [random quadrilaterals, not perfect squares] On Sunday I gave each child a bowl of tissue shapes and a glustick and encouraged them to cover the plastic sheet with squares, overlapping to leave no spaces.
They all enjoyed this, and it was relatively mess free! Whilst the other adults supervised colouring the worksheet, I took the tissued sheets across to the laminator. I removed the protective paper, flipped the 'picture' sheet over and put the whole thing through the machine.
Voila! a stained glass window. The children were really pleased with them, and I suggested they could tape them to a window when they got home to let the sunshine through.
At the end of the service, Pastor Nick invited them to come to the front and show their work to everyone - and for once, they actually shared the all key teaching points!
I think this craft could be developed in all sorts of ways - you could put any picture or wording on the top sheet, and maybe use different tissue shapes or set colourways for other lessons - not just Bible themes
Leaves and flowers [nature stuff] Red/orange/yellow flame shapes [Pentecost - or great fire of London]
Blue and green waves...etc etc
Because the Sharpie is on the inside, it cant get washed off. You do not need to stick every piece of tissue down completely - just a tiny dab in the centre will hold it in place till lamination 'fixes' it.

Monday, 23 May 2022

A Plague On Both Our Houses...

 In Norfolk and Manchester. Last week was not a very healthy week for our family. I am not listing all those among my nearest and dearest who have been unwell [some worse than others] and thankfully all are on the road to recovery now, but I should mention that Bob has suffered a pretty dire case of food poisoning, and poor little George has chicken pox

Full marks to Steph, who realised that the produce bags I made her a while ago are ideal for filling with oats, to make a soothing bath for a spotty, itchy child.
We missed the closing sessions of the Baptist Assembly last Sunday, and came home straight after breakfast. Our hosts Peter and Jenny were so kind, and Bob waved goodbye as I manoeuvered the Skoda off their drive and began the long journey home.

From Sunday 15th to Saturday 21st Bob ate no real food, but drank copious amounts of water. His days [and nights] were spent in the bathroom or the bedroom. He slept a lot and had very little energy. We are awaiting the results of the campylobacter test from the GP. 

I had as little contact as possible with other people, and did a lot of gardening, and sewing [and, I admit it, binge-watching Grey's Anatomy* in the evenings as I stitched. I am now at Series 9, and there are 9 more series to go!] I sewed the Postcard Project piece, did some mending and alterations, and worked on my Jubilee Celebration Item. 

I'm happy to report that Bob is much recovered now [but considerably lighter in weight] and when I went off to Church on Sunday morning, he got up and prepared lunch - and we both enjoyed sitting together at the dining table to eat it.

I managed to get the last pack of rehydration medication in Boots. There seems to have been recent runs on the stuff [bad pun, sorry] Bob definitely picked up his bug in Bournemouth [we suspect dodgy chicken from a Japanese noodle place], but two other families at church have had problems this week too. 

Someone suggested that maybe in the early days of lockdown we were all super diligent about hand-washing, but now maybe standards have slipped a little, and the germs are spreading again.

This week I hope we can get back to a regular pattern of sleeping and eating and doing stuff together. The Wedding Weekend is going to be busy!

*I enjoy hospital dramas - but could never have entered the medical profession. My admiration for Florence Nightingale is very great, but I have only sought to emulate her in mathematical activities, not nursing care!

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Transform, Revive, Heal

I posted about this hymn last year - and last week, at the Baptist Assembly Meetings in Bournemouth, I was very challenged as the video was shared in one of the sessions. [Even if you are not a churchgoers, I think you will probably recognise the tune if you live in the UK.]
The recent behaviour of so many in public office has sickened me. Words like justice, truth and integrity seem irrelevant to them. This is a prayer for real change in hearts and lives... 

We seek your kingdom throughout every sphere

We long for heaven’s demonstration here

Jesus your light shine bright for all to see

Transform, revive, and heal society 

Before all things, in him were all things made

Inspiring culture, media, and trade

May all our work serve your economy

Transform, revive, and heal society

 Peace, truth, and justice reigning everywhere

With us be present in our public square

Fill all who lead with your integrity

Transform, revive, and heal society 

Forgive us Lord, when we have not engaged

Failing to scribe your heart on history’s page

Make us again what we were made to be

Transform, revive, and heal society

 Faithful to govern ever may we be

Selfless in service, loving constantly

In everything may your authority

Transform, revive, and heal society

[you can read the story of how the hymn was written here

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Prettier In Pink

 I couldn't decide what to stitch for the Postcard Project this month. My niece gets married next Saturday, and I wondered about a romantic motif involving ribbons and lace. But the garden is looking splendid and I wondered about something relating to that. Then I had an idea...

Why not copy the terracotta tile which Liz gave me? It hangs in the garden - and the wording, plus the doves&roses pattern are both suitably romantic and wedding-y. In the loft I have a small book of fabric samples - all 22 x 13 cm, in about 30 different shades. It is a medium weight upholstery cotton.

I spent ages choosing the one nearest to the terracotta colour. I printed off the picture - having reduced it in size from 10x10 to 5x5 cm.[full size would take up too much space on the postcard] 

I used dress-makers carbon to reproduce the pattern [simplified] onto the fabric, put it in a hoop and started stitching. I chose black and red-brown threads using 1 or two strands, with backstitch and blanket stitch. And it was way too dark. The black looked thick and clumsy, the red threads could only be seen properly in certain lights. Start again...

This time I chose a lighter pink. I simplified the birds' wings but put more detail on the flowers. Here it is blanket-stitched to the postcard. Paler pink is a nod to the forthcoming wedding celebrations. I think it works much better!

My niece here in Norfolk is at a wedding today, and I have altered her new jumpsuit this week too. Now it is full steam ahead on a royal-themed project relating to the Jubilee Celebrations. Watch this space...

Friday, 20 May 2022

Less, But Better

That is the motto of designer Dieter Rams, who celebrates his 90th birthday today. 
Less, but better -design which concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Having trained in architecture, and carpentry, aged 23 he began work for the Braun Company in Germany - and 6 years later was their chief designer.
Dieter has 10 principles for design

1. Good design is innovative
2. Good design makes a product useful
3. Good design is aesthetic
4. Good design makes a product understandable
5. Good design is unobtrusive
6. Good design is honest
7. Good design is long-lasting
8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail
9. Good design is environmentally friendly
10. Good design is as little design as possible

You may not have heard of him, but I can guarantee that you will recognise, or own some of the products which have been inspired by his work and design philosophy.
Top row, a Braun radio [1956] and calculator [1987] both designed by Rams. Below, an iPod and iPhone designed by Jonathan Ive for Apple [Ive acknowledges the massive influence Rams has had in his work]

In the 1950s, serious music lovers had record players came in wooden cases, often huge dark pieces of furniture. Rams made the first with a Perspex lid - the turning disc, the technology were visible, . It was nicknamed "Snow White's Coffin" - but soon, everybody wanted something similar. 

Rams was way ahead of the game in terms of being eco-friendly. He abhors Fast Fashion, and the idea of changing a design every couple of years. He believes products should be repairable, and not discarded when a minor fault occurs. He believes that materials should be, if possible, environmentally friendly. He insisted that Braun's advertising should focus on technology and design, not on one-up-manship, having a better than the guy next door. Whilst he is not a minimalist, he believes that everything we bring into our home should be carefully considered and curated.
Bob and I have had a number of Braun products over the years - for food preparation, hairstyling, shaving, and more. And all worked well, and were beautifully designed. Thank you Dieter- Happy Birthday! 

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Use Your Loaf

We spent last weekend at the Annual Baptist Assembly Meetings in Bournemouth. It was enormous fun- we arrived a day early and stayed with Jenny and Peter in Ferndown [thanks!]. That gave us time before all the meetings started to visit good friends and special places. We met Rev Hayley Young, this year's BU President. We took a couple of selfies.
She is indeed young, exuberant and enthusiastic about sharing Jesus' love. More about Hayley's theme in another post. 
But I wanted to share an acronym I picked up on Saturday afternoon which I had not come across before [even though this has been around for a couple of decades] Somebody said that we should "Use our LOAF" when we plan our eating habits.
The LOAF Principles are these...
L = Locally produced
O = Organically grown
A = Avoiding Animal Abuse
F = Fairly Traded
This is such a simple way of explaining things. There is a useful leaflet here. I am not sure that I could honestly manage to be 100% consistent about following the diet. 
  1. I like tea, coffee, oranges and bananas, and a few other foodstuffs imported from overseas. Although I try to buy British, if not immediately local, whenever I can. And my Raised Bed Salad Leaves are very local!
  2. I do not always buy organic, sometimes the price differential is too great - but I am not putting any pesticides on my homegrown veg.
  3. I am in no way a vegetarian - but I do buy free range eggs, higher welfare meats, and MSC fish. We have regular Meat Free Days on our menu.
  4. Fairly Traded I am much stricter about
I found an article from 2004 about LOAF [here] I can see many good points- but recognise that for many people it is an impossibility. The author says "most people can prepare, or borrow a raised bed" to grow their own veg. Oh yeah?! 
Particularly in these days of rising food prices and with real poverty on the increase, I do not want to make someone feel guilty about buying non organic, non fairtrade, non local, non free range eggs and bacon to feed their children. Like the 100 Day Dress Challenge, this is maybe only truly accessible to middle-class, middle income families. But that does not mean that we should stop trying becuase we cannot achieve perfection. Every little helps...

Have you heard of the LOAF principles, and which of them, if any, do you put into practice?


Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Table Talk

 Back in 2019 - those heady pre-pandemic days when people did not have to socially distance, I posted a picture of some people carrying some wood...

This was the Fenland Black Oak Project. Hamish Low, a cabinet maker, who has worked a lot with ancient bog oak, found an incredibly large tree in the Norfolk Fens in 2012. A fallen tree which had lain undisturbed for 4800 years. 
Hamish and his team, and some huge excavators removed the tree from the Fens, and in specially built dehumidifying kilns, the planks, 13 metres long were dried out.
It was agreed that this wood should be made into a special table for the nation, to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee, and ten years later, the project is complete.The making of the table top was a phenomenal exercise. Four large planks, with 'river joints' - there are the outer two folding down to make the table easier to move into different locations, and the strong bronze under structure supporting the weight.
And now it is safely installed in Ely Cathedral, and was officially unveiled by Princess Anne yesterday. 
It was originally going into the Lady Chapel, but proved too big for the space, so is now at the side of the Nave. It will be in Ely till March 2023. I really want to visit!
Fans of "The Crown" will know that Ely Cathedral was used for filming the Coronation, when it 'stood in' for Westminster Abbey!

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

The Place Where Socks Go.

On a wet Wednesday afternoon, I was tidying my sock drawer, and I suddenly remembered this poem by poet and songwriter Godfrey Rust. 
It was the first poem in a book of the same name, which I owned 30 years ago. I think the book has gone to that place as well now...

There's a place where socks go when the washing is done

when the driers have dried and the spinners have spun
when it's past eight o'clock and there's no one about
and the launderette's locked— then the odd socks come out.
There is hosiery here of each pattern and hue,
some plain, striped or spotted, some black, red or blue,
some worn only once, some so old they have formed
to exactly the shape of the foot they once warmed.

Some were brought back from Sock Shops in airports in France,
some were hideous presents from matronly aunts,
but in all their variety one thing is shared—
to the place where socks go they will not go pre-paired.
Then the odd socks remaining are placed in the chest
(they must turn up sometime—now where was that vest?)
and new socks come at Christmas   and birthdays bring more
and the old lie, alone, at the back of the drawer.
And maybe, one evening when memory is low,
they too slip away to the place where socks go
and in silent reunion, each one with its pair,
they join in the dance with the other things there—
the letters unanswered, the calls not returned,
the promises broken, the lessons not learned,
the lost afternoons, the appointments unmade,
the best of intentions, the debts never paid,
and the friends not kept up and the others let down—
in the ragbag of conscience they waltz sadly round
beyond the respite of the washing machine,
no amount of detergent can now get them clean
till that day when all laundry is washed white as snow,
and everyone's tumbled and soft soap must go,
when nothing is hidden but all is revealed
and socks shall be holy and souls shall be healed.

Monday, 16 May 2022

That Was The Week That Was

 ...otherwise known as TW3 was a satirical programme on BBC in 1962/3. It has been selected as one of the BBC100 'groundbreaking' programmes. It starred David Frost, Roy Kinnear, Millicent Martin and others. My father loved it and I remember getting out of bed and coming downstairs to ask why my Daddy was laughing so loudly.

If that was the week that WAS, this is the week that IS. There is SO much going on, I cannot keep up with it all

[1] National Vegetarian Week. For various reasons, I have chosen not to do this one - although I can assure you there will be many many lettuce and spinach leaves eaten at Cornerstones, and a few radishes too. You can find all the details here
[2] As I mentioned yesterday, Christian Aid Week. CA is a year round charity 
- feeding the hungry, fighting climate change, supporting refugees, and much much more - showing Jesus' love to the hurting people of our world. Details of this here. The 'week' lasts 8 days - beginning yesterday. 
[3] The Big Plastic Count [you may have seen Chris Packham promoting this on TV] details here . I have printed off the tally chart and stuck it up in the kitchen. I hope the evidence gained across the nation will arm the campaigners in their fight to get the government, and retailers to reconsider their behaviour vis-a-vis plastic! And it should make me look again at the plastics I use
[4] Walk To School Week. Rosie walks or cycles everyday anyway. I hope other children get into such good habits - link here

I wouldn't be surprised if there are other causes who've chosen this week for their special cause too. 

If 7 days and 4 causes seems too much, here's an easy way out...
  • buy a can of chickpeas, [vegetarian]
  • in a recyclable can, [non plastic/recycling]
  • walk to the local Foodbank [exercise/eco]
  • and donate food to help a needy family [charity]
That covers all four ideas in one day!!

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Let Peace Blossom...In Our Homes, Heart And World

My beautiful Phalaenopsis "Moth Orchid" continues to bloom and delight us. It currently has a couple of dozen blooms, and one bud about to burst open.

Alongside it, my Peace Lily - a gift last year - has just bloomed for the first time. Christian Aid Week starts today - below is a Peace Prayer from their website.

God of all peoples and nations,
Who created all things alive and breathing,
United and whole,
Show us the way of peace that is Your overwhelming presence.
We hold before you the peoples of Ukraine and Russia,
Every child and every adult.
We long for the time
When weapons of war are beaten into ploughshares
When nations no longer lift up sword against nation.
We cry out to you for peace;
Protect those who only desire and deserve to live in security and safety
Comfort those who fear for their lives and the lives of their loved ones
Be with those who are bereaved.
Change the hearts of those set on violence and aggression
And fill leaders with the wisdom that leads to peace.
Kindle again in us a love of our neighbour,
And a passion for justice to prevail
and a renewed recognition that we all play a part in peace.
Creator of all hear our prayer
And bring us peace. Make us whole.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Another BSJ

That's a Baby Surprise Jacket. I first knitted one of these seven years ago  The Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern enables you to knit a cardigan all in one piece, and then it folds together, and just two sleeve seams later you have a jacket.

My Postcard Project Partner Kirsten mentioned that she was just knitting one - which was so bizarre, because I had just found my pattern in the loft and sorted some wool from the Stash to knit one myself. Kirsten's is beautiful - look here, and I was so pleased to be able to send her some buttons for it [The Button Collection is just too big, and I need to prune it down]

I did mine in some Sirdar Snuggly [originally from SIL Denise,] with a few bands of a pastel random yarn to liven up the grey. And here's one I did back in 2015 when Liz was pregnant

And this is the lovely one Kirsten has made. I think my 2022 version is distinctly lacking in stripes!

 Maybe I should sort out a whole bagful of yarns and make another. The great advantage of this pattern is that you do not need to worry about matching the stripes - they automatically line up because of the clever way in which the pattern is written.
It is truly a Surprise Jacket

Friday, 13 May 2022

Taking A Short Cut

I finally got myself organised and booked a haircut. My hair had got so long I was putting it back in a ponytail or clip to keep it out of my face. I trimmed my fringe to get it out of my eyes [bad idea!] I need it tidy for my niece's wedding in 3 week's time. 

Since giving up dyeing, the condition has been good, but I knew a trim would be a good idea. 

I went back to Above The Fringe in Norwich. I'm very happy with the cut, and the new blue fascinator sits well. The shorter length feels much more comfortable. 

And I'm back to wearing my dangly earrings again [I stopped two years ago, because they kept getting pulled out by my mask elastic]

The grey is gradually taking over - but my skin tone is lighter than it used to be. I really don't want to look like Morticia Addams, so I'm not dyeing any more!

Thursday, 12 May 2022

It Was Not Hers To Wear! A Rant

It was sixty years ago this month. I remember seeing in on our little black and white TV. Harold Macmillan was the British Prime Minister, and he looked like a grumpy old headmaster - but in the USA, John F Kennedy was the handsome, smiling President, and his wife Jackie seemed so glamorous to this little schoolgirl [we were living up in West Hartlepool, in a little terraced house] I wanted to wear a powder blue coat, and a pillbox hat, and shiny stiletto heels when I grew up...And then we saw JFKs birthday - and Marilyn Monroe, the beautiful film star, sang "Happy Birthday Mr President". The clip has been shown thousands of times since. Within 6 months, Marilyn was dead, and the following year, November 63,  JFK was assassinated. Rumours continue to abound about the nature of their relationship. I was too young to understand then - these were just glamorous people on the other side of the world. But somehow I was mesmerised by that song. And that sparkly, close fitting dress 

I knew that after the performance, the dress was put away - not even washed! and six years ago "Ripley's Believe it or Not" museum in Florida acquired it at auction for $4.8M. It was an iconic piece of fashion history. As someone who likes costume and films and history, I think it is important to preserve clothing which has a story behind it. I also know that when you put on a garment, even briefly, you change it - your sweat and body oils leave residue on the fabric, your movement can strain seams, pull the material in a different way, fingernails can catch on threads...
Precious historical items like these are kept carefully in Museums for this reason - in carefully controlled environments, so future generations can enjoy them. Museums like "The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute New York" for example. Museum are expensive to maintain - every year this one holds the MetGala as a fundraiser  to help preserve their artefacts. 
So can somebody explain to me the thinking behind letting Kim Kardashian wear Marilyn's dress last week? The woman was the wrong size and the wrong shape. Footage has been posted on line of her being tugged into the dress - and she had to drape a fur behind her to cover the gap wear the zip would not fasten.
I know nothing about KK other than that appearance is important to her. 

Surely somebody involved in all this had some sort of cognitive dissonance?
Who ever thought it was a good idea to deliberately inflict damage on a significant historical piece of costume in order to raise money for preserving other pieces? 

Zandra Rhodes, fashion designer [who made a number of Princess Di's memorable frocks] was asked about it. She said something like "I'd like to think that our grandchildren studying history will be able to see the video clip, alongside a mannequin in the dress. Letting somebody wear it and damage it was a Very Bad Idea" I tend to agree.