Sunday, 3 November 2013

Putting the garden to bed

With the arrival of November and Bonfire Night almost upon us, we have turned our thoughts to Autumn and Winter this week.

Celebrating autumn
The hanging baskets have been dismantled and put away, we will replace them with lanterns for evening entertaining, but only put them out when needed.

We also had the first predicted storm of the season last weekend, which didn't turn out to be as bad in our part of the country.  However it did prompt us to put away the garden furniture.

We have also planted a green manure for the first time this year, hoping to put back some of the nutrients into the soil ready for next year's vegetables.

We held our first big Messy Church last Sunday so most of our crafting has been around preparing for that.  We had a great time looking at "Things that go Bump in the night". Rather than ignoring Halloween, which we tend to do as Christians, we looked at the things used to frighten us and what part they have to play in God's world.  We made sparkly spider's webs, night-time pictures, pumpkin masks, moon mobiles and had a messy bat challenge.

The house make-over continued this week as it was half term and we had plenty of time at home.  Andy finished off the lounge and Josh and I gave it all a good clean (although the dust is still settling!!).

This week's Bible verse reminds that as Christians we live in the world and need to live under the rules of the land as well as those given to us by God:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established.
The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Romans 13:1 

Our prayer this week as a family is for those who find this time of year frightening, whether it's the trick or treaters or the fireworks, we pray that they may know God's presence.  We also pray that people will be thoughtful of those around them and understand that not everyone finds scaring a fun activity.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

It's never to early to start preparing for Christmas

One of the things I wanted to share when I started this blog was how I manage to fit everything in.  As a busy family we don't have much spare time, between tennis training, Explorer Scouts, church and family activities, keeping the house clean and tidy and prepared for celebrations just gets squeezed in somehow.

Word of the month - Autumn
However this year I am trying something new.  I've never really enjoyed that whole "Spring Clean" approach to cleaning especially as you have to do it more than just once at Spring.

I was therefore very grateful when I came across some other wonderful ladies who are sharing how they organise their homes.  In my last blog I talked about Fabulously Organized Home, this time I want to share preparations for Christmas, which have been inspired by Organized Christmas.

I am following the House and Holiday plan, which started in September (there's a plan for how ever much time you leave to plan for Christmas!).  The early tasks are all about getting ready to get organized, and those who know me well will know that I have a Christmas planner where I keep all my lists and to do activities.  Organized Christmas has a set of printable checklists and to-do lists, which I have adapted for a British Christmas and past experience.

Christmas planner and checklists
As I try to make all my own Christmas cards (with help from the family) I have also tried to make a few each month, which means that I have been able to write nearly half of my Christmas cards already.  We will plan to make the remainder during half term (which starts next week!!).

This week we are working on The Family Room, which we have designated as the conservatory.  The timing was brilliant as we had friends over for dinner last night and so we were able to send the boys out to tidy so they could to play on the play-station.

Josh is continuing to extend his bread repertoire and this week made baguettes.

Our prayer this week as a family is for all involved in education, that they may make the right decisions and teach our children well, preparing them for the world that waits them outside the school and college walls.

This week's Bible verse is a reminder that we need to take time out from our busy lives to reconnect with God:
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
 and grant me a willing spirit,
to sustain me.
Psalm 51:12 
With God's blessing from my family to yours,

Jo x

Back to school

It's a bit late, but here is our back to school preparation blog.

The boys and I had a great day out to LEGOLAND, Windsor, on Monday, before Josh had his induction day at college.

Jacob and I spent a day together getting ready for school and work.  We have set up a homework box so that all the useful bits and pieces for homework can be found in one place and not "borrowed" from or for other tasks.  The idea came from a wonderful website/blog fabulously organized home, it is full of aspirational ideas for an organised home, if only I had the time and space to recreate them.  I am however adapting some of the ideas to fit my modest UK home and I'll share some more in later posts.

Homework box - useful equipment!

Our prayer as a family is for all those starting out on a new part of their life (school/college/work).  We pray that they will feel settled in their new surroundings and make new friends.  We pray that they will work hard and achieve all that they have set their minds upon.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Robots Holiday Club 2013

We have just finished our church holiday club for this year with a great Sunday celebration service.  Our theme this year was Razzamatazz Robots using John Hardwick's wonderful resource.  We looked at the creation story and Noah and thought about how we are not God's robots, but unique individuals created in His image.

Razzamatazz Robots
We made lots of robot based crafts this week, but we also decorated wooden money boxes on the day we looked at temptation.  The money boxes remind us that when we are saving for something, there can be a temptation to spend some of the money, but placing it in the box keeps it safer.

Temptation craft - money boxes
We also did some cooking, making animal shaped biscuits, remembering Noah and his ark.  On the final day we had the usual gunging of the winning team's chosen leader.

Holiday Club Gunging

The Bible verse for this week's inspiration is the memory verse from the last day of holiday club and good reminder to us all:
 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your mind.’ 
Matthew 22:37
Our prayer as a family is for all those who received their exam results and for their plans for the future.  May God guide them along the right path.  We rejoice with those who are rejoicing and we pray that those who did not receive what they were expecting will find the right next step.
With God's blessings from our family to yours,
Jo x

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Summer Holidays

The school holidays are underway and unlike the theme tune to a children's cartoon, we don't have "104 days of summer vacation" but we do have the whole of August stretching out before us.

Souda Bay
We have just returned from two weeks in beautiful Crete, soaking up the sunshine, history and geography.  We also enjoyed the sunshine here in the UK before we went away and treated ourselves to a pool in the garden, very welcome in the heat.

We are busy preparing for our Church Holiday club next week and will have lots of news about that in the next blog.

In the meantime we have drawn up a list of things to do this summer in a "summer bucket list".  We draw out one activity each day to fill up those moments where I think the boys have spent enough time in front of the TV.  This week's craft was decorating the bucket, so that it looked "summery".

Drinks bottle waterfall - summer bucket list

This week's Bible verse is from Corinthians, and is a timely reminder that we need to be careful what goes into our bodies, including our minds:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,
 who is in you, whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honour God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Our prayer as a family this week is for all those preparing to bring God's word to their community over the summer, through their mission activity.  We pray that people will be ready to hear God's message for his broken world and will want to know more about living His way.

With God's blessings from our family to yours,

Jo x

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Spring is sprung

Well  I didn't mean to leave it so long between blogs.

Word of the month for June

Spring has finally sprung and summer is on its way.  Garden preparations have begun and in door jobs have been put on hold.  We have even managed to eat outdoors a couple of times.

Potatoes beginning to grow

A sheltered sunny corner

Josh is into his final week of exams next week and then secondary school is finished.  I can't believe where those years have gone since I took him to school for the first time 12 years ago.  In between his revision session, Josh has taken up bread making and this week I bought him Paul Hollywood's "Bread" book.  We have been enjoying a white bloomer, which is very nice and goes well with dips on these warm evenings.

A white bloomer by Josh

I have found a new approach to spring cleaning.  I have developed a card file from organized home where you list all the jobs that need doing to run the house and then divide them up over the month/year accordingly.  It means no matter how busy I am I know what jobs need doing and can keep track of them.  It also means the boys can help by looking at the cards for the day and choosing what they want to help with.

SHE cards - sidetracked home executive -
Mission Control for the Vizor household

Craft has been enhanced with a new gadget and we have been preparing a welcome bunting for this year's summer holiday club.  More details about holiday club in a later blog.

Cricut Robotz for Holiday club bunting

The Bible verse selected for today is :
Go in through the narrow gate.
The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow.
A lot of people go through that gate.
But the gate to life is very narrow.
The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people find it.
Matthew 7:13-14

This reminds us that as follows of Jesus Christ, we are not promised an easy ride, that it is hard to follow in his footsteps but the journey's end leads to our Fathers house, where he has prepared a place for us in eternity.

Our prayers as a family are with all those taking exams at the moment and for their families supporting them through this stressful time.  May they know God's peace in their revision and strength in their exams.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Easter Holidays

It would appear that Spring has finally arrived.  Not that winter gave up its grip on Britain too easily.

We have spent a very cold week in Minehead celebrating Easter with over 5000 other Christians at Spring Harvest.  We have been looking at what it means to "Be, Say and Do"  the Gospel, that is the good news that Christ died for our sins and reconcile us with God.  We also spent the week studying 1 John in detail and reminding ourselves through the words of this book, that God loves us and therefore we should love others.

I have felt challenged to explore how we bring the message of Jesus to the children I work with during holiday club through out the year.  Currently I am talking to our congregation about how we extend our messy church service to the wider community.  I'll keep you updated!

My main craft this week has been Easter cards:

This week's Bible verse follows the theme we were looking at while at Spring Harvest and is:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, 
but Christ lives in me.  
The life I now live in the body, 
I live in the Son of God, 
who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2: 20

Our prayer as a family this week is that God's word placed on hearts over Easter will find fruition at this time of new beginnings.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Friday, 29 March 2013

Crafting God's love

I can't believe I have not posted for over a month.  Life is as busy as ever in our household and it is amazing how easy you can fall into new habits.  With all the snow and cold weather we had in January and February, Sunday evenings became a time for curling up with a movie.

With the arrival of spring, (even if it is only marked by an entry on the calendar and more snow forecast!) I thought it was a good time to get back in the habit of updating the blog.

We have led a craft morning at church in half term, with the theme being God's love.

The boys and I set up four craft areas for the children and their parents to work round.

Shaker style heart hanger

Stuffed hearts

Heart picture frames

Homemade crayons (some heart shaped)

I have also led my first Messy Church service.  The reading was from John 14 and we set up a prayer labyrinth to explore the passage.

We made Holy Spirit doves to remind us God is with us every day

And we had a prayer area where we drew round our hands and wrote prayers on the cut out shape, before sticking them together to form a flame shape.

Decorating the house is coming on again now we have Christmas and birthdays celebrated and packed away.

We have nearly removed all of the wall paper from the hall.

We are preparing the walls of the lounge for the new wallpaper to go opposite the feature wall of the chimney breast.

May this Easter bring you blessings for a renewed faith in Christ who died for our sins.

With love from my family to yours,

Jo x

Sunday, 3 February 2013


Even though there is no snow on the ground this week, I haven't blogged recently as we have been curled up in the sofa on a Sunday night watching films as the snow fell outside.

snow in the garden - January 2013

Andy and Jacob decided against the traditional snowman and built an igloo this year.

Igloo building

Then Andy found a winter use for an Autumn garden tool - the leaf blower.  It cleared the snow from the path and conservatory roof, making more available for igloo building.

leaf blower becomes snow blower
Josh and I however stuck with tradition and built a snowman.  We tried the three ball approach this year, finding that as we rolled the snow we cleared right down to grass.

Snowman Vizor
We have finally tidied away the last of the Christmas items from the house and we have used one of the new lounge cupboards as an advent cupboard, meaning we can access the items for the start of December easily without having to go up to the loft to early and dig through all the decorations.

The Bible verse for this week is from Psalms:

But I will sing about your strength,
 my God, and I will celebrate because of your love. 
You are my fortress, 
 my place of protection in times of trouble. 

Psalm 59:16

Our prayer as a family this week are for those making difficult plans for the year ahead, that with God's strength they will face times of trouble knowing the God is with them as their fortress.

With God's blessing from my family to yours,

Jo x

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Busy as ever

With the boys starting back at school and me returning to work this week, the normal routine has descended upon the Vizor household.  In keeping with my new year's resolution though I have got back in to an old good habit of baking my own bread and our fourth home baked loaf is cooking as I type.

Jacob is back at tennis training and both boys were involved in coaching sessions for younger players this week and this has meant I can get back to the gym or swimming.  Scouting events don't start back till next week but we did have bell ringing practice and rang our first plain hunt on seven bells following the repair of the seventh bell in our eight bell tower.  Josh was, as he predicted, the first in our family to ring the new seventh bell.

The weather reports are talking of a turn in the mild start we have had to 2013 and snow could be on its way.  With this in mind I have crafted a new word of the month for January, which will take pride of place back in the cupboard now that the nativity scene has been packed away.  The snowflake was an extra one I had made for the garland at Christmas, but looks at home here.

January's word of the month
I have also managed to go out for a hen night, for which I am crafting something for a scrapbook of the night.  We are also preparing for my cousin's 40th birthday next weekend so I have made a card for her.  I discovered I had a template for making rosettes and thought it would look great as a birthday card for those that end in a zero!

40th birthday card
In our busy week we also managed to fit in a trip to the cinema as a family and made a last minute booking and then realised we were off to see Les Miserables on opening night!  It was an amazing film, Andy & I had seen the stage version but it was a first for the boys.  We have now been listening to the sound track all weekend.

Another resolution started with Josh and I sorting through all the bits and pieces we collected during the Olympics and Paralympics and choosing our first pictures to scrapbook.  We are pleased with our efforts and just need to find some time and friendly help to create the page titles (a friend has a machine that cuts out letters).

Olympic Hockey scrapbook page
The only resolution not to have started is to study the Bible more and as our service today started by looking at resolutions people make and why they fail, I think I need to do more to ensure I make a start on this.  The reason we fail, we decided is that we don't address the issue at the core, which is how do I spend more time with God to be the person he wants me to be?

This week's Bible passage echoes that thought:

I have died, 
but Christ lives in me. 
And I now live by faith in the Son of God, 
 who loved me and gave his life for me.
Galatians 2 verse 20

 Our prayer as a family this week comes from our service today and we pray that those caught in circle of the past will find the strength they need in God to break free and face the uncertainty that a fresh start brings.  May God guide them closer to encouraging friends and away from past repeating actions.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Wise gifts for a New Year

We have just returned from church where we have looked at the arrival of the Magi following Jesus' birth.  We discussed the gifts they brought and how we can respond in a similar way.  The gifts were lavish (gold), from the heart (frankincense) and sacrificial (myrrh).  My response is to prepare holiday club for the children of Highworth (lavish gift), to help with the food at our local night shelter (from the heart) and to spend more time reading my Bible (sacrificial).  To help us remember these promises we were making we had crafts to bring home.
Promises for the new year
With resolutions for the new year in mind I have made a few more.  I intend to get back into the habit of making our own bread, to craft more scrapbook pages and to spend more time exercising.

We have taken down the Christmas decorations and the lounge now feels very bare.  Which has reminded us that we still have the lounge to decorate, but before we do I thought I would share our Christmas tree with you.

We start the year with a Bible passage from Psalms:

You are my mighty rock,
    my fortress, my protector,
    the rock where I am safe,
my shield,
    my powerful weapon,
    and my place of shelter.

Psalms 18:2

Our prayer as a family is for the promises we are making to ourselves and to God at the start of a new year, that with God's strength and guidance we can keep to these promises and become the people God intended us to be.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Vizor Christmas - Part two

So having celebrated Christmas early with family that weren't in Swindon on Christmas Day, we celebrated Christmas a second time with the rest of the family.

As Josh's birthday is in December we don't decorate the house until after we have celebrated and this year he was 16.  Not sure where that time has gone, but we start on major GCSE revision in the New Year and arranging college courses for September.

The only exception to Christmas decorations before Josh's birthday are the Advent calendars.  We have three reusable versions and then have a fair trade chocolate one as well.

Advent Calendar & bunting - counting down to Christmas
We did decorate a tree on Josh's birthday, but as it was part of the church Christmas Tree Festival we didn't think this broke our rules.  Each of the trees was decorated for a charity or local group and was on the thee of a Christmas Carol.  We decorated ours for Compassion, the charity we sponsor two children through.  Their charity colour is blue and so we decorated the tree with only blue decorations and made the word Compassion in yellow funky foam to hang on the tree.

Christmas tree festival
And so to decorating the house for Christmas and new decorations I have been making recently to incorporate into our scheme.

The hall, with snowflake garland
Josh adapted some baubles, a vase and some LED lights to make a table decorations that we are very impressed with.

Table decoration
Last year I made a rag wreath, which this year we hung above the kitchen door (no pins allowed in the new doors!).
Rag wreath with fair trade bell heart
I love laying the table with all the glitz of Christmas and this was this year's table:

Happy Christmas from the Vizor Family
The bible verse for today sums up the Christmas message:

I told you the most important part of the message 
exactly as it was told to me. 
That part is:
Christ died for our sins,
    as the Scriptures say.

1 Corinthians 15:3

Our family prayer at the start of a new year is for all those who lost loved ones in 2012, in particular the children shot in America.  May 2013 be filled with memories and the love of God draw close to them.

With Christmas blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x