Monday, 25 February 2013

40acts - loving where I live

I've been diligently following the 40acts Lent challenge this past week - I've been diligently logging on to the website and reading the daily challenges - and that is about as far as it has got! The theme was "loving where you live". Some of the challenges were easy, such as reading the local newspaper, but others will take some thought and work. One of them was to "become a mentor", which isn't something you can do overnight, and will take a lot of thought and prayer. Another difficult one is "visit your local" which is about using your local shops and community venues. Unfortunately this is a little late for where I live, our local shop is a T*sco Express and our local coffee shop is a C*sta in a T*sco Extra!

Today's challenge is much easier for me; to buy Fairtrade. Much more my cup of tea, (literally)! One of the main reasons I shop in the supermarket I do is that is so much easier to buy Fairtrade. They manage to provide Fairtrade "value" bananas at 14p each; the equivalent (non-Fairtrade) banana at their nearest rival is also 14p. So why don't they switch to Fairtrade?! I can feel a rant coming on, so will desist for the sake of my blood pressure!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Feed the birds...

Tuppence a bag! It might have been cheap to feed the birds in Mary Poppins' Edwardian London, but it can work out quite expensive in today's England.

DH and I had a "How much?!" moment when looking at bird tables in the garden centre the other day, followed by "I could make that!". So yesterday DH got out his saw and put together a hanging bird table from some left over fibre-board and bamboo canes. He did have to pay for the chain so all together it came to £7.50.  It won't last forever, but it will do the job! The local robins found it very quickly.

Inspired by their father, DD and DS decided to make some bird feeders from oranges, lard, wool, seeds and mealworms. They used the instructions on the Blue Peter website here. They were very brave and got completely stuck in, mealworms and all.

Mealtimes are now turning into bird-watching sessions, and the children are learning to tell their sparrows from chaffinches.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A first ripple

DD has decided that her room decor needs some attention. She has a point - it's a long time since she has been into pink. Her room is overwhelmingly pink; definitely not the look for a near teenager. At the moment she is thinking of a career in something vaguely design based, so she is coming up with her own ideas. I'm pretty sure this will not extend to wielding a paint brush; she sees herself more in a supervisory role!

She chose some very cheap duvet covers as a starting point. They combine owls, her current favourite, with lots of colours. Next on the list was a cushion cover. Could I oblige with my new found but limited crochet skills? 

Fortunately I had just the pattern from a fabulous book "Cute and Easy Crochet" which Angela recommended. I bought it with some birthday money and have been admiring it ever since.

The pattern is a wavy ripple pattern which seems to be relatively simple. I had to adapt it a little as I bought cheap DK yarn rather than the chunky yarn recommended. 

DD and I spent quite a while matching up the colours with the pillowcase. In the end I was really pleased that we managed to get budget yarn brands for nearly all the colours. After all, she's not going to be wearing it!

Although I enjoy crochet I haven't got to the stage where I don't have to think about it. It is still a slow process for me; hopefully it will be finished before she leaves home!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Being thankful

So far I have had a nice gentle start to the 40acts "Do Lent Generously" Challenge. The first day's challenge was to put together a "generosity kit" so that I can be generous when out and about. Now, my handbag is known as my Mary Poppins bag as it contains everything I need (although not, sadly, an aspidistra!). I have been known to dispense plasters to commuters on the Paris metro and witch hazel to mothers of bumped and bruised toddlers in playgrounds. So I felt I had challenge one well and truly covered.

Mary Poppins reveals her generosity kit!
The second day's challenge was to make something for someone I love, so I made a card for a friend who has been really supportive over the past few weeks. Today's challenge was to make a list of things I am thankful for, so here goes:

  • I am very grateful for DH, who supports and loves all the family even though his health is not great.
  • I am thankful for my kids. (I don't always feel it when my house sounds like a cross between a monkey enclosure and a wrestling arena, but I am thankful. Honest.)
  • The community I live in. I live in a new town in the crowded South East of England. It is not a rural idyll, nor particularly beautiful. However I have fantastic neighbours!
  • My health! I rarely get ill, and usually bounce back when I do. I know that I am very fortunate in this.
  • My friends, both real and virtual, "the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom". (Proust)
  • My local library. They probably keep me solvent!
  • My church as we journey with God together.

I could go on, but I suspect you would get bored!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Doing Lent Generously

I come from a church tradition which doesn't really follow Lent, and the thought of giving up chocolate for a month brings me out in a cold sweat. (Maybe that is the idea!) However, this year I have decided to be a bit more intentional about Lent and have signed up for the 40acts: Do Lent Generously challenge. 

The main idea, according to the website, is to make Lent a "preparation for a lifetime of big-heartedness". Sounds good to me! There are daily challenges to be more generous, ranging from "Have a car-free day" to "Smile". I don't intend to blog about each one, but there may be the occasional update!

Friday, 8 February 2013

A timely parcel!

For various reasons I have been feeling a little down for the last few weeks - not helped by an old fashioned cold. DD has been very generous and shared hers with the entire household. I have the immune system of an ox but this one makes me wish I'd taken out shares in Kleenex! So I was very happy to receive my first parcel from The Great Tea Swap started by Lucy at Lucy 'In the sky'. Joan from Just Joan had put together a lovely package for me. It was a great surprise because I was honestly only expecting some tea.

Joan is very talented at crochet - just look at this doily!

The package really cheered me up. The sweets have been eaten, (children in the house), but the tea will be savoured. Especially the camomile and spiced apple, which I had forgotten I liked so much! So, thank you very much Joan!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A chubby chirp

Back in the autumn my neighbours gave me some lavender. Unsure what to do with it, but inspired by vague ideas of cottage kitchens I hung it up to dry. The fact that I live in a three-bed semi didn't deter me at all!

I had no idea how long to dry it for so there it stayed. Then during the Christmas holidays I started knitting this little guy. I had some lavender/lilac/violet wool in my stash which needed using up, and I had found a cheerful pattern on Rebecca Danger's blog.

He was pretty quick to knit; it took me a while because I kept getting distracted! He is stuffed with a mixture of toy stuffing and dried lavender and smells lovely. He is destined for my linen drawer but just for now I can't bear to hide him away.