Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Feeling Blue

Not in a negative way, you understand - I just seem to have done a lot of blue sewing this month. I turned a cheap tarpaulin into covers for the BBQ and Bob's trolley.
I finally finished the blue lounge curtains - seaming them into 2 pairs, and hemming them. 
And on Saturday I made some curtains for Rosie's Nursery.
This is a lovely fabric which Liz found in The Range in Norwich. I have put a good lining on the back, to help keep the room dark. Much as we love the sunshine, it is good if it doesn't wake the babe too soon in the mornings!
Here they are over the back of my sofa. The print is not babyish, so should last a good few years. Liz's first curtains were made from a remnant of red Habitat alphabet print. [Now repurposed into a dustcover for my Cornerstones sewing machine]

I have been doing a lot of hand sewing in the past week too - my knee has been playing up again, so I have sat with it propped up on the sofa, while I stitch away happily.

But my final bit of blue needlework was to make two cushion covers from a pair of tapestries I stitched in1976.  They were 21st birthday gifts.  Both Norwich scenes- Elm  Hill and Pull's Ferry.  The Ferry was framed and hung on the walls of my various homes for nearly 40 years.  The glass cracked when we moved here . The other one has sadly been rolled up in a box all that time!  So I took both canvasses and some blue tweed and made these cushions.  Much nicer,  and they are back in  Norfolk again! 

Monday, 24 October 2016


So this is Day 11 of the Capsule Wardrobe Experiment. What I have learned thus far is that I am not very good at taking selfies. I have worn all my trousers, dresses, and outer tops - but still have a few teeshirts, a skirt and a jumper as yet unworn. They will be in play very soon. Here are the first 10 days
Click on the picture for close ups. You can't see clearly that Day 2 is my tweedy suit, but Day 10 is suit jacket and plain black trousers. Day 8 I didn't get dressed till the afternoon [not feeling well] so wore the same stuff on Day 9 sans cardi. 
I am beginning to realise I possess altogether too many clothes which I do not really need, and suspect the CS will be getting another bag soon, of the Pile 1 clothes which are currently on one side.[Luke 3;11 and all that]
However, I am now fully signed on with a Supply Agency - so may have to supplement these items with some out of the Pile 1 store.
These pictures also show how much I am in need of a haircut and a diet!!

Sunday, 23 October 2016


I'm really enjoying Bob's current sermon series, as he preaches through the Lord's Prayer [sermon podcasts are being uploaded to UCF website] Recently I have come across a hymn by a Filipino [Daniel Thambyrajah Niles 1908-1970] He said it was inspired by the Lord's Prayer.
Father in heaven, grant to your children
Mercy and blessing, songs ever ceasing;
Love to unite us, grace to redeem us,
Loving Creator, parent and God.

Jesus, Redeemer, help us remember
Your gracious passion, your resurrection:
Your call to follow, your love tomorrow,
Jesus, Redeemer, our friend and Lord

Spirit descending, your light unending,
Brings hope and healing, is truth revealing:
Dispel our blindness, inspire our kindness,

Spirit descending, Spirit adored.

It was composed in 1961, and the tune Halad [which means 'offering'] was written by another Filipino, Elena Maquiso. Click here to listen to the tune - I think all offering tunes should be joyful - in too many churches, people sit there glumly putting their pennies in the plate as if they were doing their Tax Returns!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Oops-a-Daisy, I Missed Michaelmas

Close to the autumnal equinoxes, Michaelmas is one of the old ‘quarter days’. These were the four significant dates in the agricultural, legal and university calendars. It used to be said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming. Consequently Harvest Festival is usually marked at the end of September. It was the time at which new servants were hired or land was exchanged and debts were paid. This is how it came to be for Michaelmas to be the time for electing magistrates and also the beginning of legal and university terms. Michaelmas Day is 29th September.
Folklore in the British Isles suggests that Michaelmas day is the last day that blackberries can be picked. It is said that when St. Michael expelled Lucifer, the devil, from heaven, he fell from the skies and landed in a prickly blackberry bush. Satan cursed the fruit, scorched them with his fiery breath, and stamped and spat on them, so that they would be unfit for eating. As it is considered ill-advised to eat them after 29 September, a Michaelmas pie is made from the last berries of the season.
We did celebrate Harvest at UCF on the nearest Sunday - I think that was just how it worked out. I haven't picked any berries since either [although there's one small box left in the freezer] But to my delight, I have noticed we have a small clump of Michaelmas Daisies bringing a splash of purple to the garden since our return from Sicily.[picture 4 below]

Other unexpected delights in the garden this week - I found some lemon balm [picture 1] growing behind the shed [I love lemon balm] Somebody please advice me - if I dig it up and replant it with my other herbs in the raised bed now,  will it die? Should I just leave it, and transplant it in the spring, or what?
Picture 2 is the fuchsia planted last summer, which I thought had died. It has suddenly burst forth into glorious pink blossom. Very happy about that - I hated leaving my lovely big pink fuchsia bush back in Kirby [a gift from our late friends George and Ellen]
Pictures 3 and 6 are my geraniums from the little tub on the patio. Margaret said that if I picked off the dead blooms, more would grow. So I did - and they have! Picture 5 - being optimistic here - we were given some bulbs on our Wedding Anniversary in August. Hoping for a pretty display in the spring.

“The Michaelmas Daisies, among dede weeds, 
Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.”

The Feast of St. Simon and Jude is 28 October. The act of giving a Michaelmas Daisy symbolises saying farewell, perhaps in the same way as Michaelmas Day is seen to say farewell to the productive year and welcome in the new cycle.
Bob and I have noticed that it is significantly warmer down here in Dorset, and Autumn seems to be arriving a little later. What's the weather like where you are?

Friday, 21 October 2016

Heartaches, Love And Faith

I can still remember it so very clearly. October 21st 1966. I was 11. I came home from school - Mum and Dad were out with my younger brother - so I put the telly on, just for the chatter of children's TV in the background. But there was no kid's telly. Just continuous news coverage of a small welsh mining town, and its primary school, engulfed in black slurry.
I sat there, alone, on the living room floor and I wept. My family came back, and then Colin, the Baptist Pastor from the next town, rang my Dad. A Welshman himself, he'd come from nearby Abertillery, and knew Ken Hayes, the Aberfan Pastor very well. As a family, and as a church, we prayed and wept for those grieving people. Such an awful tragedy - and one for which the NCB was entirely responsible, having been warned repeatedly that the slagheap was unstable - and yet they ignored warnings and then they blamed 'environmental factors' for the disaster.
This week we have heard further news of the Chibok schoolgirls, and reports of many unaccompanied refugee children from Syria. 

And my heart still aches. Last Sunday, I listened to Roy Jenkins preaching from the chapel in Aberfan. The congregation sang - in the stirring way that Welsh Choirs can do - the beautiful old hymn 'God is love, let heaven adore him'. The second verse really resonated, as I thought about the suffering of all these children and their families
God is Love: let heav'n adore him; God is Love: let earth rejoice; let creation sing before him, and exalt him with one voice. He who laid the earth's foundation, he who spread the heav'ns above, he who breathes through all creation, he is Love, eternal Love.
God is Love: and he enfoldeth all the world in one embrace; with unfailing grasp he holdeth every child of every race. And when human hearts are breaking under sorrow's iron rod, all the sorrow, all the aching wrings with pain the heart of God.
God is Love: and though with blindness sin afflicts the souls of all, God's eternal loving-kindness holds and guides us when we fall. Sin and death and hell shall never o'er us final triumph gain; God is Love, so Love for ever o'er the universe must reign.
Ken Hayes lost a son that day - but he conducted many of the funerals. He went on to be the chair of the bereaved parents' association. Some time later, he said these words
The end of chapter 8 of Romans is a great summary of faith - What can separate us from the love of God - It’s a passage I always use when there’s a personal tragedy or disaster and that’s a message we always try to emphasise - I am certain that nothing can separate us from the love of God, neither death nor life, neither angels or other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future…As far as we’re concerned now, we’ve still got two boys. We’re only separated for a time. One day we’re going to meet. The parting and the loneliness and being without him is terrible, but it’s not for ever.
 I too must show more love, and have more faith...

Thursday, 20 October 2016

My Girls [And My Man]

Trawling through some old files, I just came across this great picture. It is more than 10 years old now. It was Steph's Graduation on a hot summer's day in 2016.
So much has happened since then - but I am still so proud of my daughters.
On Monday Liz passed her driving test [first attempt] and tomorrow it will be Steph's 32nd birthday.
As Miss Jean Brodie would say "My girls are the Crème de la Crème" [I am not so sure that I am still 'in my prime' though] And I must also make a public apology to Bob. I muttered recently that his Panama Hat was starting to split in places, and said he doesn't make his clothes last as well as he should. Photographic evidence that said hat is at least ten years old demands I say sorry for such a remark - he is clearly being careful with his wardrobe.
Congratulations Liz, Happy Birthday Steph, and Well Done Bob!

Rebus Redux, And Remake

I have had two books on the go recently - first, this one, which came from Bournemouth Libraries.
I wondered how Ian Rankin would get Rebus out of retirement again, but he manages it very successfully. This book came out last year, so I am a little behind here. There was a Guardian review at the time [here] which I avoided reading, in case it was a spoiler. I have looked at it now, and can reveal it spoils nothing!
Rankin's grubby, grumpy, grizzled detective hasn't changed much - except he is noticeably older, and maybe a little wiser. I enjoyed it - but if you have never read any Rebus, do not start here - there are so many characters from the earlier books that you need that knowledge to make sense of things. 
My second book was Remake It [Home} which I picked up in the Oxfam Bookshop in New Milton [OB's are usually real treasure troves, and worth seeking out] It describes itself as "The essential guide to resourceful living, with over 500 tricks, tips and inspirational designs"

It is crammed with pictures of household goods and furniture. Some are by artists and designers, created from scrap, or recycled/repurposed articles - such as pallets, ping-pong-balls, packaging and plumbing supplies. Others are items which you can make yourself, and clear diagrams and instructions are given. It begins with some useful history- covering the resourcefulness of the pioneers on the wagon trains across the prairie, the furoshiki cloths of Japan, the British WW2 Make Do And Mend ...right up to today's "IKEA hackers"...and all points in between. It is a fun read, even if you never create any of the projects, and there are some clever little jokes and puns sprinkled among the pages.

 Use an old broom head as a storage rack for odd bits in the garage

Make bowls out of old coathangers, or melted plastic figurines
Here's how to make a plaited rag rug from old fabrics
Much of the book is about re-using and repurposing and avoiding waste. There are some multi-functional items too. I liked the Japanese umbrella stand with build in plant pot. As your brolly drains, it waters the plant.
I am not too sure about Tom Ballhatchet's gizmo though [what a name!] It is a paper shredder attached to the top of the hamster cage. As Hammy runs roundin his wheel, he makes his own bedding
The book cheered me up - I was feeling a bit glum, as I'd just had an email from Norwich. Due to an admin error made by one of the volunteers at the Exhibition, my teacosies did not get paid for, or collected, last week. I shall have to retrieve them from the organiser, next time I am at Cornerstones. Not that the sale would have netted a great fortune, but it had felt so good to know some people actually wanted to buy them!
I have discovered there's a companion volume - Remake It, Clothes, by the same author. I shall keep a look out for that one.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Time Capsule

Years ago, I read this book by Susie Faux. She was the first person to use the term "Capsule Wardrobe" She wanted to help women dress more easily, spending their clothes budget more efficiently. 
She said that many women have a wardrobe containing a lots clothes that they never wear, in various sizes to accommodate weight fluctuations. 

Her theory was that fewer clothes, well chosen, designed to work together, would make a better way of dressing. She coined the term Capsule Wardrobe to describe this principle. I really enjoyed her book, and thought she made a lot of sense. I have often said that I ought to try it. "But you never do!" said Steph, and [as she often is] Steph was right. So this year, when I did my summer to winter clothes swap, I thought I'd have a try. 
Since Susie's original [pre Internet] plans, the advent of minimalism, and decluttering etc, have developed her ideas further. Project 333 is one such plan where you select 33 garments and wear them for 3 months. Unlike a lot of the online schemes [pinterest is full of them]  I have not gone out and purchased anything.  I decided to work with what was already there. Susie says empty your entire wardrobe and sort stuff into three piles.   

  1. Stuff you wear often, 
  2. Clothes you haven't worn for a year or two
  3. Clothes you haven't worn for years but hang on to anyway [because they cost a lot, because you might be a size 10 again one day,  because they remind you of a special event...] 
  4. NOW - put pile 3 into a bag  and take it to a CS now. Try on the clothes in pile 2. If they still feel good,  keep them, if not, into a CS bag.Build  your new Capsule from pile 1. 

So I did it! I have been pretty ruthless.  Two huge bags have gone to benefit others.  From my remaining heap the summer clothing is packed away.  I have  selected a couple of dozen garments as my Capsule, and seeing how that works. Currently on  Day 6. I  will report back later. I did get one comments on how smart I looked on Saturday,  and two on Saturday  -  so maybe it will prove a good  arrangement  [nb the remainder of Pile 1 clothes are packed, in case the capsule needs revising!]  

So they now hang in the wardrobe, taking up a fraction of the space. Laid out on the bed you get a better idea of what's there [oops - just spotted that my lovely Mondrian jumper never made it onto the bed photograph!] There are 26 items - 

  • 5 outer tops [2 jackets, 2 cardis, I heavy sweater]
  • 12 other tops [1 jumper, 6 long sleeve Ts, 3 s/s Ts, 2 regular shirts
  • 5 bottoms [2 trousers, 1 jeans, 2 skirts]
  • 2 dresses [one is a pinafore I can also wear over other tops]
  • 2 scarves.

My capsule includes a grey suit which is jacket/skirt/trousers - and all the items will go with most of the other garments. Technically I should have more than 400 basic different outfits. FAQ

  • no, I do not count underwear, nightwear or my coat and waterproofs in the capsule
  • I am just wearing my red and black shoes and boots
  • I have yet to organise my jewellery and declutter the earrings
I am taking a photo each day to see how it works out. I plan to review this seriously just before Christmas - after all, I will need to add my favourite Christmas jumper then!
Have you tried doing Capsule Wardrobes? Has it worked for you?