Saturday, 28 April 2012

10 years and Tuddenham Mill

10 years - wow! How they have flown by! We were so young!

7 houses, 2 children, countless cars, many laughs, meals and tears. 10 fantastically fun years with my best friend...I feel very blessed to be able to live with him, have children with him and enjoy life together.
We had our anniversary night away last week, a bit of quality time just the two of us. Much appreciated and much needed. It was great to reflect back on all that has been - it's been quite a journey - and to give thanks for everything we've been through cos it's made us who we are today.
We enjoyed a fantastic meal at the Tuddenham Mill restaurant, cooked for us by Paul Foster who is currently featuring on the Great British Menu on BBC 1.
So, now for the next 10 years...who knows where that will take us but we're up for it! Better together!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Friday Mums

A rather impromptu conversation at the school gates with a school mum friend who I met through work (you following?!) has led to a rather exciting new Bible/prayer/discussion group meeting each week. I met Lisa through a training course I led a couple of years ago and it's been lovely to have her round the corner and her kids at the same school since we moved here. Obviously, she's known a lot of the mums at the school gate for a few years now as she has children in the older classes and many of them know of her infectious faith and her connection with the local church next to our house.
Anyway, a text message Lisa received from one of her friends asking for prayer led to a suggestion that meeting to pray, talk, ask questions and learn more about God would be a good idea that was greeted with massive enthusiasm! We started last Friday, just 90 minutes before the school pick up and there were 12 women there! There are 4 or 5 of us who are connected to a local church, all different ones too which is brilliant! But many of the others in the group are not sure what they believe or are being asked questions by their kids which they can't, as yet, answer. Such a variety of journeys and stories...
In that first week, we talked about whether we would call ourselves Christians, shared a bit of our stories and agreed that we would start reading Mark's Gospel and discussing things that came up as well as praying for one another.
It's really very exciting - God is already working and I get to join in. Such a privilege to get beyond the superficial conversations at the school gate that are so fleeting and be able to really deepen our relationships with one another. It's confirmation again for me that our move here was not random or last minute but that God knew what He was doing.
Please pray for us!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Jubilee Cushion class - Beautiful Things with Claire Mackaness

As you'll know, I do enjoy a few crafty activities! Mostly paper craft in recent years as I've discovered the joys of recording family life and crazy kids through photos and journalling.

Recently I was invited (through the amazing connection of Twitter) to try some new crafting with Claire Mackaness of Beautiful Things who lives just down the road from me. She offered me a place on her Jubilee Cushion making class last week...if I blogged about it! So here I am.

Let me say first that I am a right clumsy clot when it comes to gadgets and machinery. I've used a sewing machine at primary school (broke it..) and have dabbled with one at some recent scrapbooking crops but usually someone rescued me so I didn't completely bodge up my layout. But sewing, properly, on fabric with a machine which I might break or blow up....I was a bit nervous!

But I needn't have worried! Claire welcomed me into her home like an old friend and I met Ann and Leandra my fellow crafters. Being in Claire's home for the class was very relaxed and a lot of fun - complete with a cuppa in a Cath Kidston mug and a table with a gorgeous Kidston oil cloth - so I knew I was going to enjoy this! Claire gave really helpful and reassuring instructions on how easy the cushion was going to be to make and she was right. 

I had a shaky and wobbly start with my stitching - using the sewing machine was a bit like getting to know a clutch on a new or unfamiliar car - but with a few tips from Claire and being able to watch the other ladies skills, I soon got over my nerves and was in the 'zone'!!

We had great chatter as we worked - I love meeting new people and hearing about their lives and a class with 3 students and 1 teacher was a great place to do that.

Gradually, we measured out our cushion covers, back and front; pressed them; stitched the various layers of ribbon on (a technique called ribbon appliqué; then finished it off by tacking together back and front and stuffing (this took some effort) the cushion inner inside. And voila!!

What an achievement! Really proud of myself...a new skill, great fun and a beautiful item to take home. Claire and the other students were so patient with me and I was thrilled to have made such a beautiful cushion in just 3 hours!

I can't wait to go back to another of Claire's classes and recommend them to you if you live anywhere in Essex. She can turn her hand to so many things (she is teaching a fabric flowers class this morning for example!) and will do one to one sessions as well as group classes in your own venue. I'm already thinking of investing in a sewing machine and havng Claire show me the ropes!
 In my line of work, I can imagine that youth groups would really get a lot out of a few hours with Claire and her creativity... @clairemackaness on Twitter