Sunday, 2 November 2014


It's been half term this week and we have enjoyed time off from work, school and college.

We helped staff the local Scout firework display, with Josh directing traffic in the car park.  Andy & I stayed warm in the refreshments tent serving burgers and hot drinks. This is always a great event and the same parents generally help year after year, so we have become a well oiled team.  This year we had some new faces, so it was good to meet and form new friendships.

Scout Fireworks, Lydiard Park - The calm before the crowds

Bonfire Night always marks the start of feeling festive for me and I have already watched my first Christmas Movie of this season -  The Santa Clause.  Its become a family tradition to watch all the Christmas movies we have in the time between October half term and Christmas Eve.

Christmas Movies - Cheneycraft selection
Christmas preparations have continued at a pace this week and my to do lists in my Christmas Planner have started.  These started out from a blog I read, handmade-holiday-organizer, about to do lists for Christmas.  I have refined mine over the years and although I have used the blank ones provided in the past I have now designed my own with headers that fit our family.

Craft this week has been for our activity day at church.  I used the harvest theme and majored on pumpkins.  We played "Beetle" but drew pumpkins as we rolled the appropriate number on the dice.  We then sent the children outside on a scavenger hunt, finding a list of articles to fit in a small drinking yoghurt bottle.  The children also collected fallen leaves ready for the craft options.  One craft used the leaves to make a hedgehog picture.  Another craft was designing paper aeroplanes to turn into balloon rockets, to be raced down the length of the church.  The final craft was "prayer pumpkins", using strips of paper with prayers written on (or drawn depending on age of child) and then held together with pipe cleaners.  We hung them on our prayer tree in church, which had flowers on from a previous messy church session.  The day finished with a movie on the large screen while the children ate toasted sandwiches.

Prayer pumpkins
This week's Bible verse reminds that we are God's people, called out of the darkness of our lives to live in, and through, His glorious light:

But you are a chosen people, 
a royal priesthood, a holy nation, 
God’s special possession, 
that you may declare the praises of him 
who called you out of darkness 
into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9 NIV

Our prayer as a family this week is for those around the world suffering from the Ebola outbreak and for all those who are caring for them.  May they know God's love and protection and healing spirit.

With God's blessing from my family to yours,

Jo x

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A crafty getaway

I've been away, without the family.  It was a ladies' retreat weekend with my friend Carole in Devon.

The theme was prepare for Christmas, and in past years had been in November.  This year though,  Lee Abbey, were more prepared than even I am and held it in October!

We spent all day on the Saturday making crafts for Christmas and thinking about God as our Father, a loving caring Father.  It is good to take some time for the normal things we do and concentrate on the meaning of Christmas, away from distractions and in beautiful surroundings.  The Devon countryside and coastline is a great reminder of God's amazing creative powers and that in each of us is a little bit of the creativity which we can use to express His love for us and the world.  Mine comes out, I hope, through the cards and crafts I make.

This panel will go on some calico to make a cushion cover:
Christmas Cushion cover
Felt Decoration - Christmas Pudding
Felt Decoration - Reindeer

These gorgeous decorations will probably hang on my fireplace this year.

I just loved the lamp in the lounge at Lee Abbey and thought it set off this card I made. It almost made up for the fact, that being earlier in the year, the log fire was not lit in there:

Christmas Card - Cheneycraft

I am following the Christmas Organized - House and Holiday Grand plan, and each week I am making and writing one fifth of my Christmas Cards so by the end of October they are all written and ready for posting later on.  Here are this week's:
Christmas cards - Cheneycraft
One last craft from the weekend - cake toppers.  We don't have a traditional fruit Christmas as no-one in our house, except me, would eat it.  However, this year we thought we might make cup cakes and decorate with some of these toppers:
Fondant Icing Cake toppers
This week's Bible verse we are studying is from Psalms and I think I will use it in a craft this week as a reminder:

Take delight in the Lord
and he will give you
 the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 NIV

Our prayer as a family this week is for all the children who are sponsored through Compassion, throughout the world.  Especially Neomi and Wildjino who we sponsor and for the preparations that are taking place for their Christmases.  We pray for all churches who are taking part in Compassion Sunday today (19 October) and we pray that more families in the UK will be moved to share their love with those less foortunate and through the letters and sponsorship, God's love will be spread around the world.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Film Premier

There has been great excitement in our house this week.  Josh and friends made a film over the summer.

As director and camera man, Josh has been arranging a premier night to share their hard work with his Explorer Scout unit and other units in our area.

The dress code was formal (as it should be for a premier) and they even had a red carpet.

Ready for the premier of "The kettle is on its way"
It also gave Jacob an opportunity to raise some more funds for his Japan Jamboree trip.  Jacob sold popcorn and pix & mix before and during the interval.

A great evening was had by all and Jacob raised £50 for his trip.  Here's a link to the film trailer if you would like a sneak peak, before its BAFTA nomination!! The Kettle is on its way

In other activity at Cheneycraft base camp, I have been making Christmas cards to ensure I can send a handmade card to each of my Christmas Card list friends.  I have 27 more to make, which I have spread out over the next three weeks.  Here's a sneak peak at the ones from this week.

Homemade Christmas Cards 2014 
I have also been preparing for the start of Autumn and the first thing was to change my seasonal decoration.

Autumn vignette
Andy has been harvesting the late crop from the vegetable patch and we have a great stock of potatoes, onions and beetroot.  We even have runner beans still growing, as it is still very mild here.

Beetroot crop 2014
This week's bible verse for inspiration is a good reminder in all the business that follows the return to school and the approach of Christmas and all its festivities. (I know that's twice I've mentioned Christmas in October):

It is the Lord your God you must follow, 
and him you must revere. 
Keep his commands and obey him; 
serve him and hold fast to him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

Our prayer as a family this week is for all those who find themselves without the warmth and comfort of a secure roof over their heads as the weather turns.  

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Holiday Club 2014 - Jungle Jamboree

This year's Holiday Club for the Highworth Inter Churches Committee was Jungle Jamboree.

We looked at four of the parables Jesus told to help us understand how we can survive the jungle of life.

Jungle Jamboree 2014 - Highworth
Our craft sessions helped us to remember each of the stories.

Jungle in a jar - Cake, coconut and icing - Jungle Jamboree Day 1
Jungle Tea light holders - Jungle Jamboree day 1
Jungle Jars as party food for the Parable of the great feast or tea light holders for the younger members.

Good Samaritan pictures, with a person on a stick that you can move using a magnet.

Good Samaritan Pictures - Jungle Jamboree Day 2

Prodigal Son T-Shirts, reminding us that when the son returned home his father sent for new clothes.

Prodigal Son T-shirts - Jungle Jamboree Day 3
Lost Sheep, we made woolly sheep or quilled sheep pictures, reminding us that God sent Jesus to look for us and save us.

Quilled Sheep - Parable of Lost Sheep - Jungle Jamboree day 4
We made jungle crafts each morning as the groups gathered, making animal masks, bookmarks and animal finger puppets.

As we looked at each of the Bible stories we had our Puppet friends to help us understand the theme of the day.

Tim T Timtim helps us understand the Bible story
The snack shack is open! - Jungle Jamboree
When we stopped for refreshments each day, Josh opened the Snack Shack so we could get to know the leaders a bit better and give them the opportunity to win immunity from the gunging at the end of the week.

Jungle Jamboree Snack Shack - Gunging Immunity
The blue team won this year, our youngest team members and Sarah was nominated by the children to receive the gunging.

Jungle Jamboree - Gunging Begins

We pray that as the children return to school they will share with their friends what they learnt over the summer and their teachers and parents see a difference in them as Christ works in their lives.  We also pray that they will have a personal relationship with Jesus and will attend other events the churches put on this year to deepen their faith.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Child Free Holiday

After spending time as a family at the Commonwealth Games, we then spent time on holiday without the boys.  They returned home on their own to go on Explorer Scout Camp at the international camp WINGS2014 in Windsor.  We packed them off on a plane at Glasgow to be met at Heathrow by  their Explorer leaders to join the rest of the unit and friends from Norway for a week's camp.

Boys setting off for Wings2014
We drove from Glasgow to Edinburgh for a weekend break.  We had no particular plans for the weekend but when we arrived in Edinburgh we discovered it was Fringe and Tattoo season, so the city was packed and vibrant.
Edinburgh (castle just in the background)
We wandered through the acts advertising their Fringe events and dodged collecting a mountain of flyers.  We listened to a jazz band play in the cathedral and caught the sightseeing bus around the city.

We had a table booked at The Tower restaurant, which located at the top of the Edinburgh museum.  Had the weather been better we could have eaten outside but as it was we had a great view of the tattoo viewing area filling up.

Dinner at the Tower Edinburgh
We then left Scotland and had a short break in Yorkshire.  It was very strange wandering along the coast line without having to go on the beach and play football, or build sandcastles, or body board.
The Holderness Coastline
We loved our little lake side cottage with its own hot tub and lake view.
And then it was time to come home and meet the boys after their week away.  It was lovely to all be back together and have lots tom talk about and different experiences to share.  I guess this is just preparation for the future as they grow and start to live their own lives, but maybe not too soon.
With God's blessings from my family to yours,
Jo x

Friday, 29 August 2014

A UK summer vacation

Well I didn't mean to be away from the blog for so long! I hope you didn't miss me too much.

With thoughts turning to back to school (and work for me), now is a good time to reflect on the summer and get back into good habits of writing the blog.

Our summer holiday this year was a trip to Glasgow to watch the Commonwealth Games.  If you've read my previous posts, you'll know we are sporting mad in our house (generally watching!).  This summer was an opportunity not to be missed.  We applied for tickets based on events we hadn't seen at the Olympics and were fortunate enough to be able to buy tickets for the Athletics, Gymnastics, Netball, Hockey and Badminton.

We drove up to Scotland, breaking the journey at Warrington and stayed outside Glasgow at Ayr.  We spent the Sunday getting to know the area we were staying in and how we would get into Glasgow each day on the train and where to park the car.

Monday saw us off to the Gymnastics, something we have never really watched.  It was an interesting spectacle, with multiple events taking place and different countries entering the arena in batches to compete.  Ever on the look out for visuals for Holiday Club, Josh was taken by the Rotation part of the event, where the Gymnasts move round the arena to the next piece of equipment.

We had three sessions in the Athletics Stadium, one morning session and two evenings.  Again these brought us multiple events happening at the same time and a great opportunity to cheer on the English Athletes (and event some of the Scottish ones).  Our highlights were Gregg Rutherford winning Gold in the Long Jump and David Weir winning Gold in the 1500m wheelchair.

Gregg Rutherford after qualification for CWG2014
After a wet morning at the Hockey Centre watching some brilliant hockey, we were filling time before the evening Athletics and found that the cycling time trial course was passing the hockey centre.  We found space on the railings and split the family in two places for some good viewing opportunities.  It was amazing to see the speed they came passed at.

Hoping you and your family have had a good summer,

God's blessings

Jo x

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Putting the house back together

I don't want to sound too dramatic with my title but we have had a bit of upheaval at home in the past few weeks.

Welcoming Spring
We started to smell gas when the heating came on, so the gas board cut our gas off for safety.  No heating or hot water while they investigated.

The weather was just getting better so having no heating was too bad and we have a dishwasher and electric shower so we could do the essentials!

The weather turning to Spring
The essential loaf of bread
Then the dishwasher went bang one evening!  So we had to wash up by hand boiling the kettle to get hot water.  A first world problem I know but actually it has been a small blessing in disguise.

As the kitchen is not set up for washing up as a general rule, we don't have a lot of room to drain the clean items and we certainly don't have a draining rack to help create more space.  This has meant that washing up has had to be a family activity, the boys drying up while I wash.  

Two weeks later we now have a new boiler, an empty fireplace, a space in the airing cupboard (where the hot water tank used to be), a new radiator in Jacob's room (who had always had the hot water tank to keep his bedroom warm) and a new dishwasher on order.

The empty fireplace
Having had to empty the utility room while the boiler was fitted, we have taken the opportunity to complete some of the remodelling we had planned for the utility and kitchen (for those who have read the blog for a while these are items on the grand plan spreadsheet!!).

The new boiler waiting for installation
They are all works in progress at the moment but I will share photos soon as we finish off each job.  We both have the next week off work as it is half term holidays for the boys.  So around the tennis tournament duties and supervising revision we will be working on the house.

The Bible passage for this week's inspiration is a reminder to listen and not judge or too quickly pass on our opinion.  We need to understand where those around us are before we can offer the right words.  We are preparing for a year of witness as a church and we will need to remember this as we seek to spread Jesus love: With God's

My dear brothers and sisters, 
take note of this: 
Everyone should be quick to listen, 
slow to speak 
and slow to become angry
James 1 verse 19

Our prayer as a family this week is for those who find themselves without a safe and warm place to call home.  We pray that God's peace will fall on this war ravished earth and people can live safely in the place they call home, free from fear.

With God's blessing from my family to yours,

Jo x

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Garden round up

I know it might be a bit later but......Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from
We celebrated Christ rising from the tomb with a joint Easter Sunday service, followed by a lovely roast lamb lunch.

Easter weekend fell at the end of the school holidays this year and this year the new term brings exams for all us!!  Josh has AS exams this year, Jacob is taking some of his GCSEs a year early and Andy & I are both sitting the first exam for a diploma in Business Analysis.

Apple blossom at Easter weekend
At times, over the holidays, our dining room took on the appearance of an internet café as we all revised for our relevant exams.

However, we also found time to declutter/clean the house and spend time in the garden.  I'll cover some of the house tasks in another blog soon, but this one is all about the garden. garden border
Andy's raised vegetable patch is starting to show promise of goods to come.  We have potatoes, French beans, radishes, beetroot, carrots, broad beans and herbs growing.

Raised vegetable bed
Following the changes to the lounge decoration last year, we have had the old kitchen doors laying around, looking for a new purpose.  When Andy tidied up the garden and moved the roof box, he found that the lid had become brittle, but the bottom was still sound.  Inspiration hit and as we don't yet have a greenhouse, Andy has constructed his own recycled cold frame.

Roof box and doors recycled = cold frame
We have a problem with slugs in the garden and we had hoped the raised bed would deter them, but it would seem a bit of mountaineering is not beyond their talents!  So I found a tip somewhere on the internet that said to put down a plank near the vegetables and then after the slugs had come out at night to feed they would find the plank a comfy, cosy place to hide for the day.  All  we have to do is to turn the plank over in the morning and the slugs are exposed.  Andy wasn't sure, but he dutifully placed the plank down.  The next morning he wandered down to the vegetables and came exclaiming "It worked", there on the plank were lots of slugs ready to be disposed of, or left for the birds to eat (away from the vegetables).

Slug catching plank
One other tip to share with you is our homemade cloches.  We have been using the lids from the seed trays over the seedlings when transplanted out, but we didn't have enough.  This week when I was putting out the plastic recycling Andy noticed that the meat trays were almost the same size as the tray lids.  So we had new cloches to use to protect our seedlings.

Meat tray "cloches"
The Bible passage we are looking at this week is a reminder that God is pleased with us, just as we are, not for what we do. Believe and receive.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, 
because anyone who comes to him 
must believe that he exists 
and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 
Hebrews 11:6 

Our prayer as family this week is for all those who rely on their own grown goods to survive.  We pray that this year's harvest will provide and that those of us with plenty will learn to share in better ways, to pay a fair price and realise the good things we have been given and not to take things for granted.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

40 Games of Lent - part 1

When thinking what to give up for Lent I more recently thought about that having a positive impact.  With that in mind, and having been inspired by handsfreemama to try and being really present when the boys get home from school and college and want to engage with me (they soon wander off to study or game or attend an activity) I have decided to give up time to play games with them.

Our pile of games
I am all too aware that soon they won't be at home or have time to spend with me, so while I can still get them to sit down and play a board games or its like I am going to make the most of it.  The agreement is no electronic gadgets during the game (except my phone as a camera!).

We have a pile of games we have played a few times and then put away, so I am also using the time to declutter the games pile.  Anything we play that we find we have grown out of, or has missing pieces or we no longer enjoy will go at the end of the process.

My aim is to play 40 different games through out Lent, not sure we have that many but there is always the card games book I bought to work through.

So here is the first week's update (there is no sponsorship of the games, but I have made sure where possible to include the packaging in the photo incase you want to try the game out).

Bananagrams in progress

Our latest game - Perudo
One of many variations - Monopoly Millionaire
So we are a little behind but I am sure we can make up for that at weekends or the Easter Holidays!.

What have you given up for Lent?  How do you make time for the children without distractions?

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x