Tuesday, 30 June 2015

An Up and Down day.

Today has been one of those up and down days.  It started with happy things, but then some sadness crept in.
I saw two of my Recycled Teenagers this morning, both of them doing well. One of them had a hydrangea bush in need of a haircut, so I brought a handful of the wonderful blooms home with me. Aren't they lovely!

After lunch Teen One and I went to a fairly new shopping centre. It has been very tastefully designed, with bronze animals around the place....aren't these pair of otters cute! We went there specifically to visit Tiger, which usually has quirky items, and we thought they would be sure to have something for the up and coming Summer party.

We were delighted to find plenty of summery decorations, strawberry plates and beach balls!

Knowing Teen Ones passion for fruit themed items....and strawberry being a particular favourite, it was hard to resist these household items to cheer the  place up with!

Now all this shopping in a heatwave makes for thirsty work, so Teen One and I treated ourselves to an iced drink in Costa....Blackberry and Raspberry cooler with lemon tart for Teen One....
...and the iced coffee I had longed for yesterday, quenched my thirst today.
This random piccie was taken for Teen Two, its his favourite saying at the moment!
Finally, for those who attended Brownies or Guides, you will recognise the above picture as being their trefoil.
Today I had a call from one of my Old Brown Owl's carers to say, if I had intended going in as usual this week, I should go in sooner rather than later. I didn't need to ask why, but my heart was very heavy.
After the shopping trip with Teen One, I called in to Brown Owl. She was sleeping, with very obvious signs she was not expected to live. No phone to hand, no remote control on the bed, no drinks on the tray etc.
I chatted to her a little, telling her how much I had enjoyed our time together and all the wonderful stories she had shared with me, but of course there was no response from her today.
I went into the hall to leave the carers a note, asking that they let me know how things go. I heard Brown Owl crying...I went in...she was still asleep, but crying. I held her hand, sang her hymns  (hoping no one else was around to hear any off key notes or forgotten words!) and she calmed down.
This happened a few times...I would go to leave and she would cry, so I stayed and quoted some comforting Bible verses to her, or sang some Sunday school choruses, and she settled. It was very hard having to leave her in the end, but I had my family to get home for.
I pray she may go to sleep tonight and wake up in a better place, with her Lord.
Its hard to sit here, surrounded by my own family, and know poor Brown Owl is alone,  other than when the carers come in to check on her.

Monday, 29 June 2015

I Love INSET days!

INSET days didn't exist when I was a child....I am sure! However, they are always very welcome in our household, a chance to do something fun with the Teens, and with every chance there will be fewer crowds.
Both Teens are "Despicable Me" fans, and who can't love those adorable Minions! So with the news the new Minion film was out at the weekend, it was perfect timing for us. The drive out to the cinema is a very pleasant one as you can see.
Teen Two went appropriately dressed and Teen One......
had some appropriate  Minion sweets won in her English lesson last week, for a group effort making this rather stunning "Creative Timeline....."
....whoever would have come up with the idea of a Timeline being presented as a Full English Breakfast!! Great aye!
Teen Two loves KFC, but it is a treat we reserve for very special occasions, and today was perfect.
Unusually, for a lad of his age, he always chooses the healthy option of  beans for the side order instead of fries! I had already had a healthy salad at home ( I know...how good am I!) but the drive there was rather hot so I decided to treat myself to a coffee frappe. Unfortunately, the assistant got the order completely wrong ( partly due to a broken machine) and I ended up with a Mocha ( which I had thought was the Latte alternative I went for) and a Kreme Ball. The ice cream was very nice but not really what I was in the mood for, so Teen One finished it off for me, and the mocha has come home to heat up for Hubby later. I contended myself with the bottle of chilled water I had brought from home!
We called into town for a few bits and pieces and for the first time I can recall, Teen Two took an interest in some clothes! We came away with a couple of T shirts, a leather look jacket ( which he thought he looked really cool in!)  a pair of Minion PJ bottoms, some canvas shoes and two pairs of sunglasses....when I tell you we were in Primark, you wont be surprised to hear the bill for all that was less than £30! I did spy these and thought what a lovely colour( and polka dot too!) but managed to leave them on the shelf....but they are rather gorgeous aren't they! And like the cool bags, although usually used to keep drinks hot, they would keep a chilled drink cool!
 Last year Teen One suggested we organise a special activity to end the school year with, for the Friday Club/Sunday school children. This turned out to be a really big hit with the kids so we are planning another one this year.
We have come up with the idea of having a "Summer Quiz night and Indoor BBQ!"
Probably inspired by our own Summer Makeover at home, the evening is going to have some beach themes going on, and with this in mind, we are trying to come up with some ideas for treats the kids can take home with them.
A wander round Poundland today came up trumps! We found these Ice Cream cone shaped lolly makers. Ideal for filling with sweets we thought! We had already thought a stick of rock would be suitable, so were delighted to find small ones in the shop too! Wacky sunglasses were another idea...so these ones will really fit the bill! So good when a plan starts to come together!
We have a bin bag full of unused lolly sticks that never seems to go down no matter how many we use, so Teen One has been researching online some ideas and came up with this rather novel idea!
 It may be something we can do as a group on the night, I don't think they will manage it on their own...great idea though!

If any of you bloggers have any other ideas, do share! As a last resort, we are going to give each child a bundle, with the challenge of making something over the summer holidays and winning a prize if they show us in September!


Sunday, 28 June 2015

I think I must love Polka Dots!

Today, being the fourth Sunday in the month, is our Family Service followed by a bring and share lunch. We are a small congregation these days, and along with about a dozen visitors come to the service , it means I am cooking for about 25 or so.
Thankfully, as a church,  we invested in an aga style cooker a few years ago, so there are plenty of hobs and three ovens. Even with this, the use of three or four slow cookers is needed to ensure the food is kept hot.
Warming the plates before hand is an essential part of ensuring everyone's dinner is as hot as it can be for as long as possible.

I discovered a while ago, that if you heat up a stack of plates in the microwave, and then store them in a cool bag, they stay warm for quite a long time. I had been using our cool bags from home up until this week, but as I seem to have so many things to remember and inevitably end up forgetting something, I wanted to have one less thing to remember to take, so invested in a couple of cool bags to keep at church. These ones took my eye, so bright and cheerful! They did a great job, and at just 99p from the 99p Store they were a good investment!

As I loaded up each bag throughout the lunchtime, I thought how pretty the bags were, and then thought about how many other polka dot items I own. There seems to be a bit of a theme!
Here is a quick glimpse at some of the dotty things in my life!



So if I appear a little dotty at times, you will understand why!

It has become a bit of a tradition that I make "Elijah Bread" for one of the desserts at the family bring and share lunch. This recipe had evolved over time, and has been used many times when telling the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarapheth in I Kings 17. The Friday Kids love making it and their parents often ask how its made. Its one of those "by golly by gosh" recipes that are made by instinct rather than weighing and measuring. You can find your own balance of what you like, but as a rough guide I use

2 cups  self raising flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
enough water to mix to a soft dough

All the ingredients get mixed together and then baked in a moderate oven until golden brown and  knife comes out from the middle clean.

It tastes rather like a sweet crusty scone.
Today for the first time I tried using gluten free flour. We have a coelic come along regularly and she had a taste of last months Elijah bread and was keen to try some out herself. I thought it would be rather nice to make a small loaf just for her. I have never used gluten free flour before, and it is most certainly very different to regular flour, however she said it was delicious and well worth making again.
The  picture shows the bread before it is baked ( forgot to take one afterwards!) and is much smaller than I would usually make.

Teen One loves it for breakfast, supper, snacking!

  So simple and easy to make as well.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Happy Birthday to a special Uncle!

We couldn't let today pass without wishing a very happy birthday to a special Uncle on his special birthday!!
Teen One made a card on one of his favourite themes!

A Hero in the Family!

With the promise of a sunny day, and some free events going on at the seafront, a picnic lunch just had to be the order of the day. The day started early for me, 5.30am, the one day a week I can lie in...and I wake up and can't get back to sleep! However, I rather like waking early, especially when the sun is shining.
So, I set to preparing for the picnic lunch. It occurred to me that what was a regular beach picnic treat for me as a child, wasn't something I had ever given my own children! "Sunshine Sandwiches" were the order of the day whenever a day at the beach was planned....which was fairly regularly as it didn't cost any money and we seemed to manage to occupy ourselves all day! My mum would sit in a deckchair and knit or read a magazine, whilst we swam, dug for some sand and collected pebbles. As a mum myself I was never brave enough to take my eyes of the children for a second when  we went to the beach, so there wasn't any knitting or reading for me!
As an adult I have often wondered if the idea behind the Sunshine Sandwiches was to detract from the inevitable gritty sand that got into sandwiches!  Today, for the first time, my children sat on the same beach that I did so many years ago,  eating Sunshine Sandwiches,with me sitting in a deckchair!   I am sure all those years ago many families enjoyed such sandwiches, I know hubby did, but they weren't called the same name, For the uninitiated its just butter and sugar...has to be REAL butter, no substitutes!

With time on my hands, I was able to get a sausage casserole ready to go in the slow cooker. It meant no matter what time we got home, I didn't have to think about cooking. Later on I was to be very glad of that decision!
I also had time to try out some more Jam Jar Puds.......
Raspberry and blueberry trifle this time. Its  very easy to accommodate all the likes and dislikes making the trifle like this. I don't like chocolate angel delight and Teen Two doesn't like fruit, so this way we could enjoy what we like!
We enjoyed our picnic on the beach, watching one of the free events, a powerboat race. It was quite spectacular to watch, and I was rather surprised at how close to  the shore the boats got!
Everyone enjoyed the Jam Jar puds, they really have livened up our picnics!

After lunch we took a short walk to the next free event. It promised much in the local paper but sadly the main items we had hoped to see weren't there. There were supposed to be classic cars, a martial arts exhibition, dog show, and several other things. There was a live band, which played some good old favourite such from Joseph's Technicolour Dream Coat, and Les Miserables, and several craft stands. I particularly liked the work of Rescue and Revive and will probably make a  purchase when I can think of  a suitable occasion.
Teen Two however was delighted to find a Circus Skills Tent. We have enjoyed these tents at several places and he really enjoys the various activities available...and all free!
Teen One and Hubby took time to do a little sketching....
Whilst I spent almost three hours untangling the kite string from last weeks epic kite flying!
As I was patiently working my through the spaghetti  like string, I thought "if this gets knotted when we fly them later...that's it....I am not untangling it again...we will buy new string!" I had no idea how our kite flying was actually going to end!
In the Old Testament, birds were instructed by God to feed Elijah with bread and meat. This week however, they have obviously been given a different sort of mission...to bring me feathers! As I sat untangling the kite string...look what landed next to me!
To fly our kites, we needed to walk to a larger area, which took us passed this amazing flower bed display. Excellent use of our Council Tax I would say!
Yarn Bombing always brings a smile to my face!
Despite our concerns the wind had died down....Teen Two was able to get his kite out to the full length of the string.
Teen One also had the same pleasure....but found a more comfortable way of doing it....
Sadly...the serenity of this picture was interrupted by Teen Two running passed us at break neck speed shouting..."the string has broken!"
Up jumped Hubby, running off with Teen Two in a bid to catch the string...but sadly the kite just flew and flew, way over the roofs seen here. It was such a sad sight.
Teen Two came back, shoulders low, arms by his side...a very sad lad.
Hubby however did not come back....infact it was about 45minutes before we saw him again!
But when he came back...he came back a Hero!!
Somehow he had managed to follow the line of the string in the sky, through streets, over roofs, quite how I just do not know. He was able to work out the precise garden it eventually came to land in and with the owners help retrieve it! Whoever would have thought it possible!
So.... four hours after I had started to untangle this white ball of chaos...it was back in a worse state than ever...but never was I so glad to see a knotty bundle as I was today!
We are, however, going to treat Teen Two to a new string!
As a result of all the drama, we were home much later than expected....what a welcome aroma greeted us, the slow cooked sausage casserole, all ready to just be dished up and enjoyed!

Friday, 26 June 2015

A Feather in my cap!

As I stepped outside of the house for the first time this morning, I was immediately reminded of  my one of the verses I posted yesterday. A pristine white feather had floated past me, landing on a small patch of grass by our house! Thank you Lord for starting off my day in such an encouraging way. Later in the day I regretted not having taken the time to pick it up so I could show the family. I went out, expecting it to have blown away...but it was still there nestled between the grass, another gentle reminder that our God is still there....keeping us safe from the winds of life!

What a lovely way to start the day, with some encouragement from above!
I decided to shop at Lidls today, for some fresh provisions to carry us through the weekend, and picked up a couple of their crusty rolls, only 15p each. In actual fact they aren't very crusty at all, which I rather like!
I made up a roll each for Teen One and I  of mozzarella cheese, baby plum tomatoes, and the good old faithful basil infused olive oil. I had forgotten to get my usual bag of spinach leaves and whilst the rolls were delicious, I really missed the crunch those delicious leaves add.

Teen One and I had our rolls down on the beach at lunchtime. We took a "quillow" with us, made by the ever talented Young Retiree from Fat Quarters to Fat Free, many moons ago. It has travelled with us to many places that's for sure, today it was ideal as a picnic blanket

We had gone to the beach to collect some stones for tonight's Friday Club. Our story today is from Genesis 28, where Jacob uses a stone as a pillow....I think my above quillow would be more to my liking!
Our local beach is completely stoney, unless the tide is right out, so there is ready supply to choose from!
The children tonight had such fun painting them. I added some PVA glue to the paint so it will adhere better to the stone and should also be a little shiny when it dries. It also meant they could easily add some googly eyes and feathers if they wanted to turn their stone into a little creature.
Teen One usually does an example of our craft projects, for those who need some incentive. Today she painted a star fish, which will go beautifully with our Summer collection at home.
See if you can spot it amongst this glorious array of colour!
If you can't spot it, don't worry, there will be a close up picture of it another time. For the moment all the stones are drying on the window sill at church.
By the way...feathers continued to be a theme today, a church friend who helps at Friday club gave me a carrier bag..." here are some bits given to me but I know I will never use...thought you could find a use for them." The bag had amongst other craft items...two bags of feathers!