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..... We make
..... We explore
..... We nuture

Three children *** Two dogs *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That's us!

We've been blogging since January 2010.

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Just a thought….

"A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe."

Photobucket

Life

Thank you….

  • Notmyyearoff Love that photo - the bee actually looks like he's opening the rose up to get into it! 28 Jun
  • Val We have a strong affection for 'humbly bumbles' and the poppies look gorgeous. A lovely post! 27 Jun
  • Neesie Busy busy bee...I watched and photographed a busy bee visiting a peony in my garden and it went into the petals around the outside. Until... 27 Jun
  • S.L.O.A.H. I always love poppies - beautiful and poignant in equal measure; perfect for a Sunday photo. #MMBC 27 Jun
  • Meals and Makes Lovely photos. The poppy is beautiful, its nice to capture them on camera, I don't take enough photos of our garden.#MMBC 26 Jun
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Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane

Debs Random Writings

I’ve been featured by

education

Recharge

Have you ever noticed how a tech gadget recharges faster if you don’t use it at the same time? Or software downloads in no time, if you’re not googling cookie recipes? A page loads in seconds, if you’re not flicking to other apps? It’s the same with us humans. We recharge so much quicker if we’re not multi-tasking. This week, I’ve done just that. Apart from an hour sending out emails, I’ve switched off work.

A chance to rediscover how much I love to pin and cut out fabric ready for sewing. Using my hands to make something real. Using my old, hand cranked, Singer, sewing machine to stitch up pyjamas. Slow, but that is good. It’s easy to concentrate on the finishing line and forget to enjoy the journey.

There have been walks and bike rides. Spotting the changing season. Books read. Games played. Eggs hunted.

A visit to a church. After a busy day in the garden, we had lunch at a pub near Cheddar, to recharge. Followed by picking up strawberries from our favourite roadside stall. We were happily munching the strawberries, overlooking the Somerset Levels, when we spotted a church.

Making a model of a church is on the list of homework to complete, so we decided to do a bit of research. Wrong era, as it turned out. When we went in, we found a team of lovely, friendly people getting the church ready for the Easter service. First time I’ve ever been offered a broom on entering a church!

We were so lucky, as one of the busy helpers took us on a tour of the church. Pointing out features we would have overlooked and telling us the history. The children loved it. Soaking in all the information. They discussed so many points on the way home in the car.

We were really struck at how the scene in the church would have been repeated for the last five hundred years. Cleaning the church before the Easter service.

It may have been the wrong era, but it gave a boost of energy to her history homework.

Wednesday we headed to Wells for school essentials. I popped into my favourite charity shop (OK, I have several favourites.) I’m on a hunt for interesting egg cups at the moment. While there, I spotted a clutch of biscuit cutters. There is one here that really caught my attention. Not quite showing, but I’m sure I’ll be posting up the results soon.

I’ve not baked biscuits for a while. Finding the cutters refired my enthusiasm.

The coming week and next is going to be very busy. I’m really glad I had time to recharge. Not just me. I know the children have too. They have busy terms ahead of them.

It’s not quite over yet. Still time to stock up on a bit more fun. I’d say “make hay while the sun shines”, but slightly too early for that.

The Reading Residence
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Dear Daughter: About running the wrong race

Dear Daughter

This quilt block (Contrary Wife) very nearly escaped being made. After the last block, I had enough patchwork pieces to make up your Dear Daughter quilt. Albeit, as a square, but a chance to finish the quilt. Hooray, I thought. Then I remembered a letter I wanted to include, which meant another block had to be made.

My square quilt no longer worked, with this plus one. I need to sew more blocks to make the quilt into a rectangle shape.  Six more required after this one. It would have been even more if I’d wanted to make it square again.

The upside is that I can choose more patterns to include in your quilt. Play with more combinations of fabric. Maybe dig out a few bits of advice to share, in the form of letters, which brings me nicely onto the subject of this latest Dear Daughter letter.

(Contrary Wife quilt block no 21 and harp tuning key)

I’ve told you this story many times. You even join in on the punch line, but it seems amiss to not include it as one of my Dear Daughter letters. It is a lesson I learnt too late. If I could send a letter to my younger self, this is the one I would choose. Without a doubt.

I’ll start at the beginning. In secondary school, at the stage they now call KS3, I found school work relatively easy. With a little bit of work, I could get good marks. I’d be one of those students that everyone automatically assumed would be in the group, getting the top test scores, each time. It was great. I liked it. It opened doors to other learning opportunities. I was in top sets. Before long, this meant that the work I was set was challenging and that was spot on for keeping me interested and focused.

There was, however, one fly in the ointment. I could never reach the accolade of first. Leader boards were posted up on classroom walls, telling us who came first, second, third, etc. Awful when I think back to it. I don’t want to think about the long term effect of these lists on the students that tussled for last place each time.

In reality, it really didn’t matter if it was posted up on the wall or not. We all compared scores and places among ourselves. We all knew who was doing better than us or who we were beating. I know it’s the same for you. You tell me who did better than you. Sometimes adding an “of course, X got a higher score than me”.

I’m jumping ahead. In my story, the fly in the ointment was one particular person. We’ll call him D. I could never beat him. It got to a stage when even fellow classmates were aware and would joke as test marks were handed out. I didn’t always come second. There were a group of us that jostled around to get the top positions, but none of us broke through to the top spot. There may have been the odd occassion, but there was always a good reason, such as D hadn’t taken the test, which would mean I still hadn’t beaten him.

I was competitive. I wanted to beat him.

To such an extent that my actual score became unimportant. What was the point of getting 89%, let’s say in the test, if I only ranked 2nd or 3rd?  Getting the first position was all that mattered. Now this is not a good mindset, to say the least. It is unsustainable. To run a race everytime for first place and, at best, achieve second each time, eventually something had to give in my young mind. It took me years, but eventually I gave up. I stopped caring. I was never going to win. I was beat. I no longer cared if I did well.

I dropped. Not to the bottom, but I left that top group, scrabbling for first place. It was easier and less pressured. I did enough to stay off the radar. I wish someone had noticed. Given me a guiding hand. Instead I just cruised along. Distracted by other aspects of being a teenager. Not entirely happy. Not achieving my full potential.

It wasn’t until years later, as I flicked through a magazine, that I realised that I had been running the wrong race all those years ago. How did I not realise? This is the message I would love to go back and tell my former self. Oh, for a time machine. Who knows what I’d be doing if only I had known. Maybe I’d be inventing the time machine. One thing I’m pretty sure about is that I would have been happier at school.

So as I flicked through that magazine, a photo caught my eye. It was of D. Older now and smiling out of the pages. Face tanned. He had his arm round a girlfriend. Judging by the background and their clothes, they were on holiday. Maybe in the far east. Wherever it was, it was hot. He had chosen to send in a holiday snap to our school Alumni magazine. I was curious. Of course I was. Here was the person that I could never beat. What had he done with all my that success?

He was now a surgeon.

At that moment, the great, big, proverbial penny dropped. Oh my goodness. Why had I not realised? I had been running a race against a future surgeon. What was I thinking? Why did no one tell me? Of course, no one could have told me the future, but if I had known, I would never have tried. I had been running the wrong race, and the funny thing was that the race track I was on, I had been the winner. I had been winning all the time.

thunk

You see, I came top in the race of future programmers, my future career. All that time, my eyes had been on the wrong race track. I didn’t know it, but that was the one for the future medic. I was me. Not him. There was only one person on my particular race track that I had to beat, and that was me. I shouldn’t have been comparing myself to anyone else but me.

If I was to go back in time, I would give one piece of advise. Beat your own personal best. That’s it. It’s OK to see how others are doing. Not to wish to beat them necessarily. More to spur yourself on in your study and keep you on the right track. Check you are putting everything of yourself into doing your best. If they are beating their own scores by studying in a certain way, maybe you should try that too.

I wish I had known.

I wish I had tackled every test or homework with the attitude that I wanted to get a better score than my last one. I wish the league table on the classroom wall had shown how I was beating my personal best rather than showing I had beaten so many other people in my class. It could have been a graph, where I would have willed it to get higher as the line went from left to right. That should have been my race. To beat my personal best.

Yes, there are exams approaching. You have a year until you sit your GCSEs. Yes, your score will be compared with others. Thousands and thousands of others. Most of those people, you will never know. They may have all sorts of advantages that give them a better chance. It will be the one and only time you will run a race against them. How do you prepare for that? How do you prepare for a test against future surgeons/astro-physists/aero-engineers/professors and goodness only knows who else?

You don’t. You can’t and you shouldn’t. That would be the wrong race. You need to beat your personal best on the day. You need to beat your personal best on all the tests and homeworks running up to that ultimate exam, so that when you take the exam, you are doing your best. To reach your full potential. Reach for your sky.

Like they say, if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves.

If you take care of your personal bests, then the grades will look after themselves.

I hope D is doing well. He was a nice person. It would be good to know that he has become top of his profession. If for nothing else, and partly because it is such an ingrained attitude, I find myself thinking that it wasn’t so bad to come second to a future, first class surgeon, all those years ago. Turns out I wasn’t in the same race.

Hindsight. Would be a wonderful thing.

As ever

Your loving mother

This is part of my Dear Daughter quilt project. One quilt block. One letter. For my eldest daughter. To see more blocks, and letters, and the background to the project click here.

PoCoLo
After the Playground
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Winter turns to spring

I love this time of year. Here in the northern hemisphere, the days are noticeably getting longer. Everything is beginning to spring. Lambs in the fields. Snowdrops in the hedgerow. More light. Still muddy, but slowly, everything becomes easier. Today marks the mid point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Winter turns to spring

It’s no accident that so many different societies choose to celebrate this time of year. Let’s face it. Who doesn’t like an excuse to celebrate? Especially after dark days and wintery weather. Brr.

Imbolc was yesterday. Candlemas and Groundhog Day are today. There is also the Chinese New Year that started on 28th January. Each one celebrates light and the new growing season, in their own way. So many traditions and myths. I’ve had a word with our local badger sett and they would prefer if I didn’t haul them out to check for their shadow.

We love to celebrate. We’ve made candles, cakes and lanterns in past years. How could we resist a craft project to celebrate the season? This year, we are making hand cranked storytelling craft. This is how we did it.

We used a small box, such as one that held tea or matches, or even a toilet tube, and cut out a window in the front.

Next we cut a strip of paper, which is as tall as the window in the box. Drawing a series of pictures, adding words and anything else that helped to tell our story.

Made four holes. Two in the top and two in the bottom, to put the rods through, which the paper strip rolls around. We used old felt tips, that had run dry, and pushed them through the holes as shown above.

With the pens in place, and using sticky tape, we attached one end of the picture strip to one of the pens. Rolled the paper around the pen, before sticking the other end of the strip to the second pen. Bit fiddly, but we got there in the end.

Carefully twisting the second pen to pull and wrap the paper strip around it. Transferring the paper from one pen to the other. And back again.

So many stories to tell and share. Encouraging children to tell stories. Voicing the tales as well as sharing the pictures.

I made a quick version to show the children, before we started. Not polished, but they got the idea.

Whether you light a candle or make a cake, I hope you find some way to celebrate the change of the season. Where ever you live.

Happy Candlemas/ Imbolc

Linking up to Fiona’s #Trash2Treasure linky. Have you been upcycling this month?


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Photos

There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

Copyright notice:

All my words and photos are copyrighted to me. They cannot be used for commercial benefit by anyone else. If you would like to use any of them, then please ask me first and don't just take. Written permission only. Don't pass my words, photos or ideas off as your own. It's not nice.