Thursday 30 June 2022

I've Got It Covered!


I mentioned last week that I was up to my eyes in sewing related activities. [1] My Embroidery machine went off for a service - Thank you, Mike, at Sew Creative. Very efficient - a rapid turnaround [I was able to drop off the machine in Dereham] The new tension unit has made all the difference[as I suspected] 
[2] There's a vintage Jones machine currently lurking in the corner. It was given to a friend, in case her teenage daughters could use it. It isn't really what they are after - so I said we'd have a look at it. It may prove to be saleable.
[3]Then there was a cover for the new Roland keyboard at chapel. I have lost count of the covers for PA/Music gear I have made over the years. But I had an oddly shaped piece of the right sort of fabric in my stash and it proved to be big enough to do the job. [and saved church funds £20]
[4] The main activity was the 8 garden furniture cushion covers which I was making for a friend. They'd originally been a darkish beige/brown, but had faded badly, and were quite stained. The seat cushion covers had zips, so M had been able to wash them, but the back cushions were sewn in, and not washable
M had obtained some great 'outdoor' fabric, in a sale, and ordered it [I'd measured up and supplied quantities] It felt good and strong, and was a pleasing grey colour. BUT - it frayed horribly when cut in one particular direction. I cut out all the pieces, then overlocked them before attempting any seams.
I needed to make 16 ties - two per cushion, for attaching to the chairs. So I cut strips and then folded them and began pressing them ready for seaming neatly. At which point I discovered that pressing the fabric was well nigh impossible. I used a cloth - I'm not daft. But on the 2-dot setting I could not get a crease. 
I turned up to 3 dots. The fabric melted and left black lines on my cloth. Then I accidentally put the iron down on a strip, and got black marks on my sole-plate! Fortunately |I had spare fabric and could replace those two strips.
But there was a lot of pinning and holding firmly as I stitched. The fabric was too thick to fold and hem the ends. I decided to seal them by holding them in a flame [my gas-powered candle lighter] That worked brilliantly and they looked neatly finished. 
All covers made, I came to put them on. I cut the stitching on the back cushions, and removed the inner wadding. It began to unfold - and I realised it was only the outer cover keeping it in shape. 
When I unzipped and removed the seat covers, things were worse. These covers were technically removable- so the inner foam and wadding was wrapped in a strange papery j-cloth type fabric. Which had totally disintegrated! Clouds of white confetti floated all over the lounge, settling on the carpet
the furniture [and our clothes, so got transported all over the property] I ended up making eight 'pillowcases' out of sheeting fabric to encase the stuffing. Eventually all the cushions were done, and every one is removable, with a hook&loop closure. 
But all that overlocking, on this hardwearing fabric completely blunted the knives on my elderly overlocker.
I could not work out which size to order [one firm I rang said 'if you send it for a full service, we will order the knives for you and fit them' - Not flippin' likely!!] 
Thank you to S Nutt Sewing  of Birmingham - who advised me [and clearly knew which machine I
had] and sent me the correct knives by return. Bob fitted them and all is well. 
The machines are all put away now - although at one point there were four of them round the dining table!
M's cushions are being collected on Saturday, and all the bits of white confetti and grey thread are vacuumed up. 

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Good To Give

Jesus said "there is more happiness in giving than receiving" [Acts 20:35 Good News Translation] Last week I offered to pay for something, and the person refused payment, so I said I'd make a donation to the Foodbank. 

When I do a supermarket shop, I pop a couple of extra cans in the trolley and then deposit them in the collection bin by the door. But it is a bit haphazard, and I admit I often just pull out odd tins from my multipacks of beans or tomatoes. 

So I am grateful to Lidl for their new "Good to Give" programme. They've labelled certain products as useful to the Foodbank, by putting the logo on the shelf. I thanked the manager and said it was very useful. 

These make it so much easier to get a varied selection of foods - not just beans, tomatoes and pasta [useful though these are] I'd intended to spend £5, but then saw the choc chip cookies. I hope other supermarkets follow this lead, and continue to help families in need. 

Tuesday 28 June 2022

A Baker's Dozen


Thirteen library books! Isn't that rather a lot for one person to have on the shelf at once? [with my Norfolk Library Card I can actually borrow up to 15] How did I come to have so many stacked on the bedroom chest of drawers...
Well, first there was the visit of the Mobile Library to the village, and I was helping my neighbour with her walking frame, as she hasn't been since pre-Covid, and As she was taking her time, I borrowed a few. Then we were in Dereham, collecting my sewing machine from being serviced, and the best carpark is just behind the library. And while Bob was sorting out his books, I borrowed a few more. Then we were in another Norfolk town, and the library there was open, so I popped in, and came out with 3 more. And finally, one book in the pile is actually on Bob's ticket - he read it and thought I'd enjoy it! Top to bottom then...
  1. Trace Elements by Donna Leon a crime novel involving the words of a woman dying in an Venetian Hospice [yes, that is Bob's book]
  2. Not Dead Yet by Peter James - another case for Brighton-based detective Roy Grace [recent series on ITV]
  3. Zero Waste Cooking For Dummies - from the Dummies series
  4. The Whole Vegetable by Sophie Gordon -"sustainable recipes for a happier planet"
  5. OTK Shelf Love-  Home cooking ideas from the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen
  6. Letter by Clare Youngs  I love Clare's craft books - she is so talented in many areas, and makes you believe that you can achieve these great results too
  7. The 30 minute Diabetic Cookbook  by Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi. A husband and wife team - I liked the idea of fast, healthy low carb recipes
  8. Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook by Alain Coumont & Jean-Pierre Gabriel. We discovered PQ on a family holiday to Brussels in 2000. Delicious food!
  9. Batch Cooking by Keda Black. Maybe not as necessary now we are not out at work every day, or bringing up a family. But meal planning is always a good idea.
  10. Stitching by Fiona Goble. I need some more inspiration for the Postcard Project
  11. My First Sewing Machine Book by Emma Hardy35 easy projects for children aged 7 years+. Just in case Rosie feels creative this summer!
  12. Quilts In Burano by Kaffe Fassett - his 22nd colourful craft book, set on an island in the Venetian Archipelago [no mention of death or crime, I hope!]
  13. Dressing The Queen, the Jubilee Wardrobe by Angela Kelly. Grabbed this on a whim, and then discovered it was written for the 2012 Jubilee! 
That is six cookery books, five craft books, and two crime novels. This should keep me going for a bit! Some will be flick-through-and-return-quickly, others [I hope] will include inspiration and ideas to note down, and two are stories to send me off to sleep!
Some reviews may follow!

Monday 27 June 2022

If You're Happy And You Know It...

... Clap Your Hands!
On Sunday it was my turn to work with the children at church. We talked about finding joy when things are difficult and made happy-clappy paper cup people.
After lunch Bob and I went down to the Village Hall to the Gardening Club Summer Tea Party. It was great fun. 
There was loads to do - a plant stall, lots of games and quizzes, and great cakes! We chatted to acquaintances and met loads of new people. Everyone seemed very friendly. The GC meets monthly and I have now become a member. Bob and I did two quiz sheets about flower names [one was anagrams, the other rebuses] 
Bob has just become a Parish Councillor,  and a surprising number of folk came up to speak to him about that. It's good to feel that we're getting to know more members of the community. 
Then the afternoon drew to a close - there was the usual Drawing of the Raffle, and the winners of the competitions. We were delighted our flower name sheets won these two little boxes of gardening bits
I shall use those plant clips and string to fix up the peas I'm planning to plant out this week. My current gardening gloves are rather threadbare, and jute string is always useful. What a super afternoon! 
After a rather intense few days of sewing related stuff, it was lovely to be out in the sunshine enjoying village life. 

Sunday 26 June 2022

Lives Worth Celebrating

Did you know it was the inaugural Celebration Day here in the UK today? Me neither, until I read this article on Friday. There have been so many special, precious people in my life who are no longer with us - and to be honest, I celebrate them in little ways most days. Every time I stand up to preach, I recall my parents and grandparents. When I choose a greeting card, I think of the way cousin Gillian always made even the simplest card special with her words inside, and the fact that she chose the card so specifically for each recipient. My Christmas tree ornaments include lots of really random items, each representing somebody significant in my life. 
There are many stories on the website. Celebrities have nominated people - Richard E Grant chose his wife, Pru Leith talks of her brother. But I have decided rather to nominate someone I only met in person once. Dame Cicely Saunders. She came to Spurgeon's College in 1982, and she was utterly inspiring. Her belief that the quality of life left was more significant than the quantity really resonated with me. Since then I have sat with countless friends and family members as they have ended their days in Hospices up and down the country, and thousands of people throughout the UK have been really blessed by the Hospice Movement which Cicely started. I believe she is under-recognised.  You can read her story here 

I choose to remember Cicely today, and thank God for her faith and determination. And I will celebrate by making a cake for the new Volunteer Chaplain at our local hospice. [That's Bob, and I am incredibly proud of him for taking on this role]

Will you be celebrating somebody special today? Who, why and how?

Saturday 25 June 2022

Looking Back To Lockdown

I was looking again at old photos. It is hard to believe it is two years since Rosie came to Grandma's School at Cornerstones during lockdown! She's grown up and learned so much more in the time since then. But what fun we had together in that crazy summer...

Maths, literacy, science, art... Unicorns, Dinosaurs and lots more

I shall treasure these memories for the rest of my life.

Friday 24 June 2022


Up to my eyes in sewing machine related matters - back later!

Thursday 23 June 2022

This Blogpost Is A Little Sili

Let's clarify this - Silicon is a chemical element, symbol Si, atomic number 14. It has a hard, brittle blue grey crystalline structure, and is used in hard coatings for computers, keyboards and more.  You are probably looking at or holding something made of silicon right now as you read this. Its oxide [silica] occurs naturally in sand, agate, quartz etc.
Silicones are synthetic polymers, rubber-like compounds. Used widely in insulation, kitchenware, medical equipment, dentures etc [and breast implants] Silicones are seen as an eco friendly alternative to plastics. Resistant to oxidative deterioration (normal aging) for decades on end. They cope well with exposure to extreme heat and cold, harsh chemicals, sterilization,, ultraviolet radiation, ozone and acid rain, just to name a few. Not toxic to aquatic or soil organisms, not hazardous waste, and whilst not biodegradable, can be recycled after a lifetime of use [lasting longer than similar plastic items]. If disposed of at a landfill for incineration, silicones (unlike plastic) is converted back into inorganic, harmless ingredients: amorphous silica, carbon dioxide, and water vapour.
So not perfect, but considerably better than plastics. And extremely useful. Here are some pieces of silicone ware which are in regular use in my kitchen. I mentioned moopops lids last year. Perfect for pots of cream or yogurt in the fridge. I also bought a pack of stretchy silicone lids in Robert Dyas which give a good airtight seal to different sized containers. [Waxwraps are good, but not as airtight or secure, particularly with a pyrex bowl of sloshy liquid stuff]
My pan lids [from IKEA and Lidl] are SO useful. They fit saucepans, and bowls - on the hob, in the microwave and in the oven. Mostly mine are used in the microwave - but good in the oven if I want to keep a dish of food warm, without drying out.
And my collapsible colander is fabulous. It packs flat in the lid rack, in my pan drawer - but opens to three possible depths. I can put it over various different sized pans. And if I use it with my stainless steel steamer pan, then I can cook potatoes in the bottom, and steam two different veg - all on the same ring. A great energy saver. And I can strain the veg easily too, as its handles do not get overly hot. 
I love my silicone spatulas- flexible enough to scrape every scrap from the mixing bowl, and easy to wash. Following Steph's tip, I always use one of these to make my scrambled eggs nowadays. Very fluffy and all the contents properly delivered to my plate.
I don't have a lot of silicone bakeware - mostly because I have an adequate supply of tins already and I'm not replacing them just for the sake of it. 
But a little sili is definitely useful - do you have any silicone stuff?

Wednesday 22 June 2022

A Wind And A Prayer

The sun is shining, and it is lovely to be outside in the garden. When I took down all my patriotic bunting after the Jubilee, I decided to keep my newly made flags and hang them in the back garden for the summer, as they seem bright and nautical and not overly patriotic. Because I made them quickly, and didn't hem them, they have started to fray and fade already as they flap in the sunny summer breeze.

I went outside on Monday morning and noticed my neighbour's washing line - he had clearly laundered all his dusters and cleaning cloths and pegged them out

They reminded me of a row of colourful Tibetan Buddhist Prayer Flags fluttering in the breeze!

The traditional five colours used are
  • red [fire] 
  • green [water] 
  • yellow [earth] 
  • blue [sky/space]  
  • white [air/wind] 
Tibetans believe that as the flags blow in the wind, they will spread the good will into the all-pervading space, and bring benefit to all.
It is natural for these flags in the Himalayas to fade and fray - they are traditionally left unhemmed to enable this to happen, symbolic of the passing of all things.

As far as I am aware, my friendly neighbour is not a Buddhist - but I like the idea of our flapping displays promoting peace, compassion, strength and wisdom around the neighbourhood!

Tuesday 21 June 2022


First there was WMD - Weapons of Mass Destruction [I was not at all happy about them]

Then we had WWMD - What Would Martha Do? [I was OK with that, on questions of home organisation - but then she went into prison, and I felt she was not a very nice person, and lost my enthusiasm]

But now I am at the stage of WWMDD - What Would Monty Don Do?  - I watch Gardeners' World avidly, and find his cheerful manner, and self-deprecating honesty quite delightful. He makes me believe I can do this gardening lark!

I am still assiduously following Huw's book - but that is really basic, and I kid myself I am just a little beyond the babysteps now. Especially as friends and family have kindly donated extra plants which are growing in the green house and on the patio and not in that one bed.

I am incredibly grateful to my brother, for lending me this book. It is lovely to just read through - but also full of useful tips and has a very comprehensive index. When a book has over 400 pages and you want to find quickly the thing you read in bed last week, a good index is a must! Definitely a ***** volume.
We returned from 3 days away last week, and I discovered the potatoes had some leaves with brown spots and yellow patches. "Blight!" I yelled. I rushed inside to check WWMDD?
Answer - all is not lost, harvest promptly. OK, some of the spuds will not have grown to their full size, but cropping immediately mean they will not be utterly lost. I have over 6kg of new potatoes carefully  stored in brown paper bags in a cool place. We will be eating them relatively soon - with chives and fresh mint from my herb collection
Liz was in a shop the other week, and realised the tall pleasant guy coming the other way down the aisle was MD. He smiled and they passed each other. I would have been so tempted to say something. But what??? "You are Monty Don, and I claim my free packet of seeds" "I do like the way you manage your raised beds" "Please will you come and advise me on my tomatoes?".
I suspect I'd have been rooted to the spot, in silent admiration [apologies for unintentional gardening pun]

Monday 20 June 2022

I Was A Stranger And You Welcomed Me

 The quote from Matthew 25 is very appropriate today

It's World Refugee Day. Read more HERE. I could go on about this, but I am sure you know already about the desperate plight of so many in our world. 

Nobody puts their child in a boat unless the water is safer than the land. 

Sadly many people fleeing war and persecution end up in the clutches of people traffickers. For a long time, the charity Stop the Traffik has worked to break up trafficking rings, and enable people to escape. 
A while ago, I turned one of their keyrings into an earring. Then I made a second earring using a short length of chain. 
I have worn these in the past to show my commitment to praying for those caught up in this evil trade, and for all refugees. To working for a kinder, safer world
There is much evidence of people trafficking in Rwanda. HERE 

I am appalled that our government thinks it is a good idea to take refugees landing on our shores and fly them to Rwanda. This is ungodly, and an abomination. I have been wearing these earrings for the past week - a number of people have asked about them, and I've explained how angry I am about the words and actions of the Home Secretary. 
I think the late Tony Benn was right... 

UPDATE  I completely forgot to include a link to Sue's page. She is fundraising for refugees this week, and has already achieved sponsorship for around 10 refugees for A WHOLE YEAR. Read more HERE

Sunday 19 June 2022

Joie De Vivre

My friend's Mum died suddenly, just after Easter. Pauline was a lovely woman- loving, helpful, full of joy. It was a privilege to be asked to make two Memory Bears for her grandchildren. Mim gave me a selection of her Mum's blouses and a lightweight blue skirt. I started preparing to make the bears, by dismantling the garments and pressing the fabrics. In the skirt pocket I found a neatly pressed handkerchief, and one blouse had a tag at the collar, and a garment care label, both naming the manufacturer. I made the bears. A pink ribbon for her granddaughter, a blue one for the grandson.

I wasn't surprised to find the hankie. Pauline was always prepared, and would have been ready to use that hankie to dry tears, or wipe away dirt... As a Christian, she was forever serving other people, helping them, showing them the love of Jesus. There's a verse in Isaiah 52 How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the Good News! There was just enough fabric to cut two little 'soles' from the hankie. So each bear has a 'beautiful' foot, a memory of a good soul.
All my bears have a backpack - and inside an personalised label saying in memory of X made with love for Y. I used the skirt fabric to make the backpacks - but then decided to sew the two manufacturer's tags on the outside. The company was called "Joie de Vivre" - and Pauline radiated joy wherever she went.
Pauline understood what it meant in Nehemiah 8 The joy of the Lord is your strengthMim sent me lovely message when her parcel arrived- she was really touched by the extra personalisation. I hope these bears bring joy and comfort to two young people who miss their wonderful gran so much. RIP Pauline - rest in peace and rise in glory.

Saturday 18 June 2022

Tease And Seize Supply?

Do you ever hear something on the radio and completely misinterpret what was said? There are loads of websites dedicated to misheard lyrics. I think it has got worse since they have started speeding things up to get more words in. If you speed up a tape, the voices get higher, and sound like chipmunks. [try watching YouTube instruction videos at x2 speed - it saves a lot of time [try watching YouTube instruction videos at x2 speed - it saves a lot of time] But on the radio it is all done digitally and the pitch is kept at the same level, so the same voice sounds faster. 
On Classic FM [my favourite music station- I am definitely getting old!] so many ads end with the warning about terms and conditions. "Ts and Cs apply" they say. It sounds so much like "Tease, and seize Supply" like some bully making off with the sweets from the corner shop.
I was completely thrown by a holiday ad for "Reverend Yacht Cruises" - is this a getaway for overworked clergy? Then I realised the guy was saying "River And Yacht Cruises" Perhaps I need a hearing test?

Not too sure about my eyesight either - I drove past a chapel, and saw there was a new poster outside. It was in that trendy informal brushstroke type font.
A parked car meant I could only see the top half of the poster, which read "Your taller in heaven..."

"Hmmph!"I thought, "that should be You're, not your." And then I thought "Why will I be taller in heaven?" OK, I admit 4'11½ is a little on the short side- but will Bob be taller too? surely 6'4 is big enough?" At which point I realised that the flowing script actually said
Your Father in heaven...
I must go back sometime and check out the rest of the poster!
Maybe I should've gone to Specsavers

Friday 17 June 2022

A Wonderful Wedding

I've been so busy with the Jubilee etc that I completely forgot to post pictures of our family wedding at the end of May. My niece Rebecca married Rhydian at the lovely Kingscote Barn in Gloucestershire. It was great to get together with family, meet Rhydian's folks, and have a happy time together. The arrangements were excellent, and we stayed overnight in a cottage at the edge of the grounds. I'm not the world's best photographer- so some of these pictures are from Kevin [the bride's dad] and Steph...

The two Mums were witnesses, and both looked stunning. The three tiered cake was cut with the Almond Family Japanese Sword, as is traditional!

George tried to get into the big red fridge in the cottage! He enjoyed the reception food. That's the hand painted card Steph made

The happy couple.  I'm really pleased with this picture I took of Fran, the bride's sister, looking truly gorgeous in her deep pink dress.
George was still getting over chicken pox, and not very settled. But he enjoyed the pop-up book I had brought for him. Here we are in our finery. I am not convinced by the fascinator. It looks too much like a bright blue chicken on my head!
We left the venue early Sunday morning, going to Denise and Kevin's for lunch then driving back to Cornerstones. 
Left hand side- the view from our cottage. Top right, me outside the cottage, bottom right, Bob and Ruth [bride's grand] sitting at D&K's looking out over the valley towards Painswick. The Cotswolds are truly beautiful.
D&K worked incredibly hard to make their daughter's wedding day so special, and make every guest feel welcomed. Thank you both! Kevin's Father Of The Bride speech was well planned, the right balance of humour and paternal pride. I liked his advice to the couple that there were four important 3-word sentences to remember in a marriage.
I am sorry
I was wrong
You were right
I love you