To a Perfect Bank Holiday Weekend

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I am a little late in writing this up, but I had a lovely Bank Holiday Weekend with the family last week and I want to write it up now so that I remember it. Here is what happened:

Friday Night

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Orla has finally got a proper bedtime! After months of her staying awake till 10 -11 o’clock, she now is asleep by 8pm most nights. Hallelujah!

This means that Rob and I can have some relaxed time together in the evening again so this Friday night we watched a film and drank fireball whisky. Yum! We watched Victor Frankenstein with James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe.To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much but actually I really enjoyed it, and it was great to have a Movie Night again.

Saturday

Cathy and Orla

In the morning I left Orla with Rob and went to see my friend Beth, who I hadn’t seen in ages. She was de-cluttering in preparation of starting a new course and wanted rid of a load of crafting/scrap booking supplies. I was happy to relieve her of some choice items!

Not only did I get a bag full of stationery swag I had a really good catch up with her. I got to see her gorgeous cottage for the first time and she has it decked out like a Geek Girl’s heaven. We had a great chat about all of our overlapping interests; Disney, Blogging, Comic Con, Bronze furniture accessories….It was lovely! And then as I was leaving I spotted we even have the same red polka dot lunch bag!

Then in the afternoon Orla and I went to a bridal shower and indulged in a wonderful afternoon tea whilst hanging out with some fantastic ladies.

Sunday

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Sunday we did Church in the morning  and then invited friends over for a BBQ. We had just enough sunshine and far too much meat to make the most of our fire pit!

It was great to spend the day out in the garden and have a long natter with friends.

By the end of the day Orla had really warmed up to the company and spent a good twenty minutes ‘walking’ from one person to the next. It’s her new favourite activity,to hold on to our hands and walk around for a bit! I

Monday

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Monday started with Rob making a quick trip to Curry’s to pick up a Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner in the Bank Holiday Sale. I know this sounds boring but I am really excited about it. Needed a new one for a long time!

Then we went out to Skipton for lunch with my parents. We went to Herriots Hotel for lunch and then walked into the centre along the canal. We went to a wedding at Herriots a couple of weeks ago and were so impressed with their courtyard and food that I think this will be one of our favourite food spots from now on.We had a good wander around the perimeter of the castle, enjoyed ice cream and stopped for coffee before heading home with a pooped out little girl.

It has been a packed and fabulous weekend. I feel like we have made the most of the last Bank Holiday for the year now.

Bring on September!

 

 

 

Memory Verse: Light of the World

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My weekly memory verse continues with these words of Jesus:

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Last year I did a little bit of research into what happened between the events of the Old Testament and the start of the New Testament. It was a period of around 400 years during which the Greek Empire rose and fell, and the Roman empire emerged.

I discovered it was also a time where two opposing schools of Jewish faith developed. Whilst the Greek influence became a dominate force in Israel a number of Jews adopted the philosophy of Greek Rationalism and stopped believing in anything supernatural altogether. They were called the Hellenists, and later the Sadducees mentioned in the New Testament. To counter this another group of Jews went to the other extreme, they became very nationalist and strict in following the law, and resisting foreign influences. This second group became known as the Pharisees. The word Pharisee means ‘to separate’ and that is what these people did – they separated themselves from other races, religions and then even separated themselves from other Jews who did not follow the Law as strictly as they did.

Throughout the history of Christianity that urge to separate from the world has resurfaced from time to time. That is why we have monks and nuns living in isolated communities, and why hypocrisy and judgy pants can become common problems in Churches.

But Jesus is saying here that people of faith are the light of the world and they need to be visible and present in the wider community. Jesus doesn’t want His people to draw away from other people, He wants them to draw closer.

Why? Well, I think of it like this. If a light is far away from me and I look towards it all I can see is the light it self. I might be able to make my way towards it but everything around me is still in darkness. If a light is close to me, I can not only see the light, I can see my surroundings for what they truly are and I can even see myself. Light makes reality visible, so we need it close by.

In our culture we often see light as meaning fame, ‘My name in lights’, but in the Bible light often represents truth. Jesus wants His people to be people of wisdom and truth, because as He says ‘the truth will set you free.’ Jesus isn’t calling people light so that they can puff themselves up and feel proud, He is calling them light and reminding them that the purpose of being light is to help people in darkness. Being the light of the world is not about making yourself look good like the Pharisees ended up doing, but it is about sharing the truth about Jesus, that will make people’s lives brighter.

Her Ladyship’s Notebook: September Starts

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wp-1470946730382.pngWorking in a College for nearly ten years has caused me to still see September as a month of new starts. It will be strange this year to not be joining in with the mayhem of enrolment days, the bustle of new students, or most importantly, ordering in the new stationery for the office! Ah, Admin heaven!

September is also the start of my favourite season: Autumn. Bring on the boots and jumpers!

Whether you are in education or not here are some ways you can make September a month of New Starts:

  • Sort through your shoes – the end of summer is a great time to throw out any trainers that have been wrecked by festivals or flip flops that really aren’t going to survive another summer on the beach. Get rid now, enjoy shopping for new shoes in the Spring! Also get the polish out ready to buff up those black boots that will soon be your staple for the coming months.
  • Buy stationery – The shops are filled with new stationery designs for the Back to School crowd so it is a great time to have a little desk make over!
  • Make a reading pile – Students get reading lists at the start of the academic year. I don’t know about you but the books I want to read are currently scattered throughout the house. I am going to collect them all up and put them by my bed – otherwise it will get to January and I will realise I never read that book I bought in July! Plus for me, reading is the best way to unwind so anything that encourages me to put my phone down and pick a book up is a good thing.
  • Plan some Parties! – We all need cheering up as the days get darker and colder, and wetter! Autumn offers lots of chances for lifting the gloom with social events but you have to actually plan it in. Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas Carol services – research local events now, plan the costume party now, and then you will actually make it to a bonfire this year instead of craning your neck out of the attic window to see the firework display of the people in the street behind you!
  • Review your New Year Resolutions – Can you even remember what they were? Never mind – you still have four months of 2016 to make some changes and accomplish a big goal – Go for it!

 

My Rules on Celebrity Photographs

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This last week Stacey Solomon has been in the News after The Sun snapped some photos of her on holiday in a bikini and said that she had saggy breasts. Stacey hit back against the criticism and said that her boobs were a result of her being pregnant and breastfeeding and that she loved them as they are. Good on her!

This kind of mean-spirited journalism drives me nutty. I hate the thought of women being harassed on the streets or whilst on holiday for how they look and dress. And I don’t think being famous is a reason to hound women (or indeed, men) in this way.

And this is an issue that impacts non-famous women too. If celebrities are ridiculed for having boobs that comply with the law of gravity, or stomachs that are curved, or faces that blemish…then the message is going out there that all women should be ridiculed for not meeting a beauty standard enforced by the media. My blood boils even as I type this sentence.

So what can I do about it?

Well, I can’t stop the photographers or file lawsuits against the newspapers that pour out bile like this, but what I can do, is make sure that I don’t engage with the rubbish they publish. If people stopped reading, clicking and looking at these women-hating photos then the media would stop taking them.

That being said, I do like fashion; I like women in ballgowns, I like style, I like creativity and expression, so I don’t boycott all celebrity images, instead I follow my rules of what I will and will not look at, which are….

I will not buy magazines/click on articles that have celebrity photos where:

  • The women have been photographed on holiday, out on the street, whilst shopping, on a date… etc. That is called stalking and I won’t fund it.
  • Women are pitted against one another in a ‘Who wore it best?’ article or a ‘Winners and Losers of the Red Carpet’ article…. it’s mean-spirited and tells women that we are in competition with each other, which we are not.
  • People speculate about whether a celebrity is putting on or losing weight or if they are pregnant. It is none of my business.

But I will buy magazines/click on articles that have celebrity photos where:

  • There is a proper fashion shoot with a model or celebrity
  • Celebrities are photographed on the red carpet for an event – that is part of the fun
  • Celebrities have self-published photos on their websites or social media.

It’s not that I intentionally seek out a lot of celebrity photographs but they do often pop up in my Facebook trending list and I find that having my rules helps me to decide whether or not to abate my curiosity when I come to clicking on links.

Those are my rules on celebrity photographs. Do you have any rules of your own?

Dining Room Chair Makeovers

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Years ago Rob and I bought a table and dining room table set from a second hand furniture shop for a whopping £75! Score!

Although, maybe we got such a good deal because the chairs looked like this:

dsc_0965.jpgYeah, there are a few problems here.

dsc_0966.jpgFirstly, I hate the fabric, and those huge big tacks, not a fan.

dsc_0967.jpgThen there were some hole issues! Basically these chairs were in need of some tender loving care, and it may have taken four years but I finally got round to sorting them out (with a little help from my friends!)

This project was a team effort with me, Mum, Mary and Joanne working together….and Orla helpfully cheered us on!
dsc_0980.jpgFirst we had to dismantle the chairs which took a lot of work. They were absolutely full of staples! We used screwdrivers, pliers and hammers to prise out each tack and staple one by one. Luckily it was a sunny day so we got to do the work outside in the garden. My hand was aching by the time we were finished!

dsc_0987.jpgEventually we had four empty chairs lined up on the grass, which my mum gave a good clean as I nipped out to the fabric shop with my sewing-fairy-Godmother Mary to pick up wadding. I’ve talked about Mary a lot on this blog, she is my wonderful friend and teacher, and finally here is a picture of her at work!
20160826_104817.jpgWe then recovered the seat with a layer of wadding and the new fabric. All the fabric came from Immanuel Fabrics in Burnley. The new covers were £12 for two meters and the felt was £2 for two meters. I had to do some hunting in the back rooms to find the fabric that I liked. I wanted a classic design in either blue or green, and it had to be strong enough to be used on chairs. Luckily Immanuel has nearly any kind of fabric you can imagine…you just have to find it! I love that shop!

Mary and her daughter-in-law Jo stapled the seats together – Jo had the strongest hands for both staple removing and for staple fastening, she went twice as fast as the rest of us!

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dsc_1026.jpgWe attached the backs of the chairs with more staples and then added a braiding (£1 per meter from Nelson Market) with a glue gun. Four upholstery tacks secured it all in place and we were done!

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Finally, the chairs have had the makeover that they so desperately needed and our dining room looks a lot tidier and prettier as a result! That’s another house job ticked off the list!

 

Book Bag: Comic Crossovers and Breakout Churches

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Here is what I have been reading this last month:

Fables Vol 13. The Great Fables Crossover

When Jack discovers the existence of The Literals and their leader, he must leave his own adventures behind to warn Fabletown.

This installment of Fables crossovers with the parallel series of Jack the Giant Slayer. Jack is a regular character in the Fables universe but I haven’t read any of his spin off adventures. It is a bit tricky reading a crossover episode when you only know one half of the story. Like the crossover Buffy/Angel episodes I always felt like I was missing out on some of the info because I didn’t follow the Angel series.

In this crossover the threat, villain and hero all come from the Jack series and as the concept of the Literals, who can rewrite the universe at any whim, was also new to me I felt like I spent a lot of the time playing catch up to understand what is going on.

That being said this installment had some great moments. I loved the literary Genre’s battling it out and laughed a lot at their antics. It was also very amusing to see Bigby as a little girl and still owning the battlefield.

I just need Rose Red to stop moping about and to learn a bit more about Mr Dark. I am looking forward to seeing how the Fables story progresses, and for Jack to return to his own misadventures.

Breakout Churches by Thom S. Rainer

Breakout Churches- what does it take for your church to break out of mediocrity? In search of answers, Thom Rainer and his research team conducted a landmark study on the church. Unfolding the findings of that study, Breakout Churches furnishes both principles and examples to show how you as a pastor or church leader can help your church break out of the status quo into unprecedented fruitfulness. Of the thousands of churches examined in the study, thirteen met the criteria for a breakout church. All of them experienced both a period of struggle and a time of sustained breakout growth under the same pastor s leadership. Transitioning from mediocrity to excellence over several years, they grew to have an impact on the entire community. Breakout Churches tells the story of these churches and their pastors. And, using a statistical approach, it identifies key patterns and characteristics common to churches that experienced turnarounds.

As you can see, I am continuing with my goal of reading one piece of non-fiction for every two fiction books. This month I read another book by Thom S. Rainer and it was another challenging read. The trouble is that a lot of what he says makes sense and seems reasonably clear, so much so that you get that itchy feeling of ‘I am going to have to do something about this’.

The book is all about how churches can recover and move on from a period of decline into a period of growth and it’s very closely based on the Business book; from Good to Great. It is interesting to see how far ideas from the business world can be applied to church organisations. There is more overlap than you would think!

Mostly, what I love about this book is it’s heart and honesty. The author obviously cares about local churches of all sizes and he wants to lift up it’s leaders, not beat them up. Also he is frank and open about the troubles that breakout churches experience. He offers a very realistic and at the same time, faith-filled, picture of the journey churches take to break out of decline.

Definitely one to read if you are involved in churches!

My Reading List:

Next on my reading list:

  • Off to the Lakes – Jessica Lofthouse
  • Babies in waiting – Rosie Fiore
  • Stay – Sophia Barrett

Parenting Geek Goals

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Rob and I are both happily geeky. By that, I mean that we have unbridled enthusiasm for a number of TV shows, films, games, comics and stories. We like Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Action and Adventure. We collect Lego mini-figures, transformers and we quote Adventure Time at one another all the time. (You have poo brain, I diagnosed it like five minutes ago!)

Now that our duo has become a trio one of the things I am looking forward to is sharing our geeky love with our little one. Here are my top ten parenting geek goals that I one day hope to fulfill:

 

  1. Read The Hobbit to Orla as a bed time story. My Dad read the Hobbit to me when I was a little girl and it is what started my journey with the epic Lord of the Rings. Surely, by the time that Orla is old enough to read it there will be a reboot of the movies?
  2. Give Orla our extensive Lego collection as a Christmas present. Rob and I Lego heroeshave collected a substantial amount of Lego sets over the years. It is all now in a big box in the loft, complete with a ring binder full of instructions. When Orla is old enough not to eat the pieces I want to give the set to her as a big present one Christmas.
  3. Support her in a toy collection. Collecting is a staple part of Geekdom. When I was little I collected a set of little crocodiles from Kinder Surprise Eggs. Mum would let me buy one chocolate egg a week with pocket money. I can’t wait to see what toys Orla falls in love with when she is older!
  4. Watch Star Wars together for the first time. Starting with A New Hope of course. She will be much older before we have The Talk about the prequels.
  5. Watch her play her own make believe games. Imagination and story telling are central to geek culture, I am so excited to find out what games Orla will want to play when she is older, and where her imagination will lead her.
  6. Do comic con as a family. The one in Manchester is great, just need her to be big DSC_1141enough not to be overwhelmed by the crowds.
  7. Do comic con as a family in group costume! Am thinking Han, Leia and a little Wookie! Or maybe Jake, Marcelene and baby Princess Bubblegum! So many options!
  8. Buy her books. Lots of books. 
  9. Play Mario Karts with her. And let her win at least once!
  10. Encourage her passions whatever they turn out to be. Seriously, Orla might not be interested in any of my geeky hobbies, and that is OK. But whatever she likes, I want her to know that it is cool to be passionate about things, whether that is sport, stories, gardening, cooking, or making mud pies. I want her to know that enthusiasm is good and that she should run with whatever makes her happy. That, my friends, is the true geek spirit!

 

Disney Rewatch: Sleeping Beauty

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Sleeping Beauty has been on my Amazon Prime to rent list for over a year and last week it finally landed through the letterbox. Here is what flitted through my head as I revisited this Disney classic:

  • Hey! Maleficent’s voice is the same as Cinderella’s Evil Stepmother! That lady must have had children cowering wherever she went!
  • So because of the fairies plan the poor King and Queen have to send away their baby girl until she is 16? That is horrific! Sleeping Beauty is one of the few princesses with both parents alive and she still ends up an orphan.
  • The artwork for Sleeping Beauty is done in the style of medieval tapestries, it is kind of weird as the backgrounds look kind of flat and then people move through them. But it does give the film an epic tale type of feel.
  • Now Aurora is wandering through the forest chatting to animals. This is a talent that again nearly all Disney princesses have. Seems like a fair deal; no parents but able to talk to animals!
  • Aw! I love how when the animals make a ‘prince’ for Aurora by stealing Philip’s clothes, the bunny boots can’t keep up with the dancing! Very cute!
  • And then the lovebirds meet and it is extremely romantic – singing and dancing in a forest.
  • The good fairies trying to bake a cake, make a dress and clean the house are exactly like me trying out things I find on Pinterest.
  • Oh no, now everyone is telling Aurora and Philip that they can’t marry the beautiful stranger they just met because they are already betrothed to unknown royalty. You know, a lot of the conflict in this story could have been avoided if formal introductions had been made.
  • The butler serving the Kings looks exactly like the Lannister squire that led King Robert to his downfall in Game of Thrones.
  • As Philip picks his Dad up for an impromptu waltz I realise that Philip has the most personality out of all the Disney princes.
  • Maleficent appearing in the fireplace is so very disturbing. She is a magnificent villain!
  • With the Princess cursed and everyone about to be very disappointed the fairies put everyone to sleep. Are the fairies the actual protagonists in this story? They are the ones who are coming up with the plans and pitching themselves against Maleficent. In fact if you look at this film with the fairies as the main characters does Sleeping Beauty become a feminist movie?
  • Love Prince Philip’s escape from the dungeons, actual sword fighting!
  • I also have equal love the little shimmy Merryweather does when ever she is building herself up to do something.
  • Ah, the original dragon transformation. Without this sequence would Jafar ever have turned himself into a giant snake?
  • And once again, it is Flora’s spell that save the day, not really Prince Philip, although he is still a top Prince.
  • And now I can’t help but feel that is a bit ignorant of Aurora and Philip to dance in the ballroom when poor Aurora’s parents have not seen their daughter for 16 years! Shouldn’t catching up and hugging them be more of a priority than dancing with the Prince, no matter how dishy he may be?
  • But then again, without the dance we wouldn’t have the ‘make it blue / make it pink’ animation, which is spectacular!

The End.

Memory Verse: Salt of the Earth

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Jesus said

I think that when Jesus says this he is reminding his listeners of a promise made to Abraham the founding father of Israel that through him and his offspring ‘all nations will be blessed.’

I can’t think of another nation that was built for the purpose of not only securing peace and prosperity for it’s own people, but to be a blessing to the rest of the world.

How were the Jews supposed to be a blessing? Well, they illustrated that the Creator God loved His creation, that He could be found by people who seek Him, and by birthing the Messiah; Jesus.

God made it clear from the beginning that His people are there to bless other people. Jesus is doing the same in this verse, if His people are not fulfilling their purpose, if they are not being a blessing, then they are as useless as unsalty-salt.

Jesus said you are the salt of the earth. That means that God’s people need to be outward looking, our purpose isn’t to just look after one another, to enjoy the company of other Christians or pat ourselves smugly on the back. We exist to be a blessing to everyone else. Every good thing we receive we are meant to pass on for the benefit of others.

That is what I am going to be thinking about this week!

 

Currently… August 2016

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Yay, the sun has reappeared, and it is actually so hot that I’ve come inside for a little shade! Here is what is happening in my life at the moment.

Currently I am….

dsc_0959.jpgPotting food at every opportunity. I am well underway with weaning Orla. She is turning out to be a great eater and so far will take anything we give her. I am having to get more organised to keep up with her. I’ve found the easiest way so far is to fill ice cube trays with portions of things like sweet potato and carrot and then pop a couple of cubes into a tupperwear tub in the morning. Works for frozen fruit as well! All those years of saving takeaway sauce pots is about to pay off!

Sporting a new look! Last week I took the plunge and had about 2 inches of hair chopped off and had it coloured an auburn shade. I’ve wanted to go red for years and it feels like now is the right time to do it. No photos yet, as not had time to ask Rob to get a good one, and I am atrocious at taking selfies! But I do love it, and will do a separate post on it later.

dsc_0945.jpgProgressing with the decorating at last. After a six month delay we finally decided to just hire someone to come and finish off the spare room. Our decorator did a great job and we uncovered this fireplace behind some built in wardrobes and decided to leave it exposed. We have moved into this room now so that we can start the decorating in our own bedroom, so there is still furniture in all the wrong places and it’s a bit of a muddle. But, once our room is done that will be all the bedrooms decorated and the house will feel a bit more in order.

Eating hog roast sandwiches with stuffing and apple sauce at the Clitheroe Food Festival last week. I have been meaning to go for years and this year we actually made it! It was worth the wait. The High Street and Market Square were packed with tents each selling delicious treats. We could easily have spent a fortune, but we held back and only bought…hog roast sandwiches, coffee, Irish Cream Ice Cream, Chocolate Orange Brownies and a big pork pie! Next year I am going to get fudge, Sangria and macaroons. I have it all planned out in my head!

dsc_0950.jpgTransforming our front door. It was brown, it is now covered in grey primer and filler, and it is going to be bright red! I am so excited. Rob and I have always wanted a pillar box red front door. Just think of how good it will look at Christmas with a Holly Wreath on it!

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