Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Fireworks start Christmas celebrations?

We've been busy creating memories rather than spending time writing about them on my blog, so apologies if you've missed me.  The plus side of this I have lots to write about.

Firework (safe indoor decoration!)
I love November as after Bonfire night I can really get organised for Christmas, knowing its just around the corner.  So last weekend Josh and I spent the evening standing in a tent serving burgers and hot dogs to the crowds who attended the annual Scout Bonfire and Firework Display.  We had a great evening and were really busy from the moment the bonfire was lit until everyone had seen the last firework and grabbed a hot drink on their way home.  This is always a great fundraising event for our scout group along with others in the area and a busy night hopefully means more funds to share round, but we won't know until sometime in the New Year just how successful the evening was.

Ready to serve the crowds at Firework display

Jacob and Andy would normally be there as well but this year they were attending the district tennis club dinner and dance which included the trophy presentations for the inter and summer leagues.  Our tennis club won three trophies and two runners up, so the car was much heavier on the way home. Our mantle has become a trophy shelf and a new job needs to be added to my housework box - cleaning trophies!
Division 1 summer league Champions
Thanksgiving spinners
Everlasting flowers
Craft time has seen preparing for two events at church recently.  We have a craft and film day in each school holiday and I led the craft at the October day this year.  We made monster bookmarks, so that as the evenings draw in the children will have bookmarks for all that extra reading.  We also made tissue flowers to brighten up our homes as the fresh flowers fade in the garden.  The final craft was a thanksgiving spinner, listing all the things we are thankful for with a decorated back.
Monster bookmarks

We have also launched a monthly family drop in morning on a Saturday, offering families somewhere to grab breakfast (first or second depending on how long they have already been up!), read the newspapers, chat and join in with a craft or two.  It was a wet rainy morning this Saturday but we had a good turn out and the church smelled gorgeous from the bacon cooking and coffee brewing in the corner while I sat with the children (and some of the adults) and made crafts inspired by fireworks and God as our light.  We also made more bookmarks for those that had missed the craft day or who had enjoyed them so much they wanted to make more for family and friends.

I am currently experimenting with my menu planning and trying out recipes that can be made ahead a stored in freezer ready to pop in the slow cooker.  From the notes I made after last Christmas we planned the Christmas meal plan using post it notes this year hopefully preventing the need to cross things out while working out who is coming for dinner when and when we are out over the Christmas period.  We found this so helpful, we have decided to try this with normal meal planning, so for November we have already planned the majority of the meals for the month, with just details needed each week, like which roast to have on a Sunday and what fish recipe to use.  We are noting on the slow cooker recipes what we think needs changing and then in January we'll repeat the exercise and hopefully I can get ahead with a lot of the preparation.
Monthly menu planning

The Bible verse for this week links with the change in weather around us and reminds us that all things are in God's control, he commands the snow to fall when the time is right.

God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; 
he does great things beyond our understanding. 
He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ 
and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’
Job 37:5-6

 Our prayer as a family this week is for all the Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes being prepared across the country at the moment and for the children around the world who will receive them.  We pray that the love that goes into the boxes will light up a child's life n a country where there is need.  We pray that God's love will bless the senders as much as the recipients.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Post summer transition

After a busy summer of activities and celebrations and with the boys completing their first week at college, it's time to get back into normal routines - so after a short break I'm back!!

This summer we celebrated our Silver Wedding anniversary - 25 years of married life.  We hosted a BBQ, which we combined with a last fund raising effort for Jacob's trip to Japan.  It was great to see family and friends and the weather blessed our occasion (although not as hot as the day we got married) so a BBQ was an excellent choice.

We spent the summer as a family in separate countries.  While Josh traveled Scandinavia, visiting friends in Norway and sight-seeing in Finland, Jacob jetted off to the  23rd World Scout Jamboree in Japan.  With the boys both enjoying scouting activity holidays, we continued the wedding anniversary celebrations with a cruise around the Western Mediterranean.

We sailed from Majorca to Corsica, Citivicia (to visit Rome), Pisa, St Raphael and Barcelona.  We returned to Majorca and had a week on the beach relaxing.  The cruise was a fantastic experience with on the Thomson Dream and something we will do again.

After both boys got fantastic exam results, they are now both at college together, Jacob starting his A-levels and Josh finishing off his.  So we start the UCAS form filling, finish visiting prospective universities for Josh and start the process with Jacob.

And so our year of transition continues.  We now have a different rhythm to the week which each of the boys starting and finishing college at a different time each day.  We are still working out how to fit in Tennis coaching, tournaments and league matches, as well as fitness sessions, guitar lessons, Beavers, Explorers, Bell ringing, supporting Swindon Town and fitting in time for family and friends.  I have found that having a session as a family on a Sunday evening to compare diaries has become invaluable in making sure everyone knows what is happening each week.

Craft has seen me preparing for Christmas.  Using the The Holiday Grand Plan this year I have made my Christmas Planner, ready to fill the lists over the coming weeks to keep me and the house on track for an organised Christmas.

The Bible verses for this week is a reminder that in all things we should be grateful to God for his blessings on our lives:

Rejoice in the Lord always. 
I will say it again: 
Philippians 4:4 NIV

Our prayer this week as a family is for all those facing change at this time.  For those who have started a new school, college, university of job, that they may feel God's peace in their new surroundings.  We also pray for those who have change forced them and find themselves as refugees in a foreign country.  May they find a warm welcome and my we, the countries at peace, find room for these families fleeing conflict.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Rhythms of life

Sometimes in life you have a rhythm and life just flows along.  Then at other times things throw that rhythm out.
Cheney Craft - word of the month Spring
We have had illness in the family which has really thrown us out of our daily rhythm.  Each of us has had a flu-like cold in turn and then caught it a second time round.

On top of that we have had school holidays and now we are moving into exam season.  The normal rhythm of the Vizor household is completely out and in a time of flux.

Swindon Tennis Club Practice
So this post is really a catch up of what have managed to get up to recently.

Both boys are playing for the Swindon Tennis Club this season and they played together in the first match for the Men's C team.
Swindon Tennis Club Practice

The vegetable patch is starting to put up shoots and we have had our first crop of rhubarb already this year.

We took the boys and their revision down to Spring Harvest in Minehead, so we could combine some spiritual refreshment with mental refreshment in the sea air.  We were led in worship by Graham Kendrick each evening and came away revitalised for another year of inspiring God's people.

Fun in the sun at Spring Harvest 2015
I've completed the Bowl full of lemons Home 14 week organisation challenge and the house has really benefited from a top to bottom clean and organisation.

Being the organised sort that I am, I have also managed to make some of my Christmas cards already.  The plan is make 6 per month and I am nearly keeping up with that.

Getting ahead for Christmas 
Jacob has continued with his fundraising for his trip to the world scout jamboree in Japan this summer.  This week he and Josh had the opportunity to be part of democracy and raise funds, by acting as runners at the count for the General Election. They were trained by a team from Sunderland, who hold the record for the fastest announcement of results and the training paid off as Swindon were fourth to announce their first count, behind the three results from Sunderland.  Well done boys!!

Our prayer as a family this week is for all those who work with the poor and the marginalised, that they will be inspired by God in all they do and God's kingdom will come through their work.

This week's Bible verse is
From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, 
which are able to make you wise for salvation 
through faith in Christ Jesus.
—2 Timothy 3:15

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mothering Sunday

Happy Mothering Sunday!

Cheneycraft - Spring decoration

We have had a busy few weeks with Jacob's tennis recently, but this has led to him finishing his qualifications as a tennis coaching assistant and gaining enough wins to  go up a level in the ratings system.

We have had a nice family celebration of Mothering Sunday today and the boys helped me to cook dinner for 8, as my parents, Andy's Mum and Aunt joined us.

Having cleaned, purged and organised my craft storage it has been a pleasure to craft and much easier to get things out and see what is there.  Here are the fruits of my labours:

Cheneycraft - Mothering Sunday cards
We have also had a trip to London to the Good Food Eat Well show, to get ideas for nutrition particularly for Jacob's tennis training and competing.We had a consultation with a nutritionist from Eat and Think and we are starting to implement her recommendations for fuel before training sessions.

Cheneycraft - Pre tennis snack
(bagel & peanut butter & chocolate spread)
Cheneycraft - Pre-tennis snack
(vegetable sticks, pitta bread & dips)

One of the things I do to help save time is to menu plan and so these new snack items have been added to my non-menu shopping list to ensure we keep the cupboard stocked.

The Bible verse for this week is a reminder in times of trouble that our salvation comes from God, and we should not seek to justify ourselves through our own actions or possessions, but we are saved through God alone.

then know this, you and all the people of Israel: 
It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, 
whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, 
that this man stands before you healed. 
Salvation is found in no one else, 
for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind 
by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:10,12

Our prayer as a family is for the work of Comic Relief both here and in Africa, bringing hope to those in poverty and a friend to the lonely.  We pray that the money raised this weekend and in the past 30 years will be spent wisely in places it is needed.

Cheneycraft - Spring decoration for Red Nose Day 15

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

From Cheneycraft...with love

It's half term already and Christmas is well and truly behind us and the promise of Spring is beginning to show in the garden.

Cheneycraft word of the month - February
We have been busy with tennis tournaments and exam revision in recent weeks.  Jacob has his first tournament win of the year and is just one win away from moving up a rating level.  Both boys are deep in revision, Jacob had mocks, or more importantly titled this year "pre-public exams" and Josh is getting ready for his A-levels.

In the post-Christmas tidy up I am following A bowl full of Lemons - 14 week organizing challenge and I am half way through.  I have tackled the master bedroom, kitchen, pantry, utility room, lounge and office area.  The challenge is a great way to focus on one area at a time and deep clean, purge and organize.  The facebook group is supporting and encouraging as well as inspirational.Before and after pictures from those following the challenge are also on Instagram.  Here's my tidy coffee table after the cleaning of the lounge.

Cheneycraft coffee table - #abfolorganizechallenge
This week I'm cleaning the bathroom, which is very small so I will use the time off work to get a head start on the conservatory, which stores all my craft items.

For Valentine's day I crafted using pintrest as inspiration.  Andy's gift of "a few of his favourite things" was wrapped up as a "brown paper package tied up with string"

Cheneycraft Valentine's gift - Brown paper package
Cheneycraft - Valentine butterfly
I also make the boys a Valentine gift each year and this year it was a Malteser Butterfly

Cheneycraft Valentine's gift
I wasn't sure if they would still want a gift from me, but the disappointment on Josh's face that there wasn't one at breakfast told me all I needed to know.  So while he was coaching at tennis I made these.

This week's Bible verse for reflection is also a reminder that God is with us:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution 
or famine or nakedness 
or danger or sword? 
No, in all these things 
we are more than conquerors 
through him who loved us.

Our prayer as a family this week is for God's guidance through Lent. As we and many others give things up, may we be reminded of God's faithfulness to us throughout history and his promise to be with us through the trials of life, having been there before in his son Jesus Christ.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Reflections on life

I started the year with good intentions of blogging weekly, but it hasn't really gone to plan. So this first blog of the year is just a short one with just one theme.

My Brother-in-law passed away suddenly and unexpectedly and so we have been spending time as a family, grieving and reminiscing of times spent with him.  Following his funeral this week, we turn to life without him and so blogging about the mundane aspects of life seemed so wrong.

We have selected a Bible verse as a family this year, that will be our prayer in this year of transformation.  Both the boys have end of key stage exams this year and so will transform in their education.  Our eldest legally became a man at the end of 2014 and so we transform into a family of three adults.  Our youngest will start sixth form college in the summer, following a trip to Japan, and so will transform into an independent student rather than a pupil at school.

I have crafted the verse into a piece of wall art, which I will hang upstairs by our bedrooms, so that it will be a remind as we begin and end each day that we are transformed through God's Holy Spirit into His image.

The Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 3:18 :
And we all, 
who with unveiled faces 
contemplate the Lord’s glory, 
are being transformed 
into his image 
with ever-increasing glory, 
which comes from the Lord, 
who is the Spirit

Our prayer this week is for all those who feel lonely, isolated and unable to reach out.  We pray that they will know that there are people they can reach out to, that love them and want to help.  Above all we pray that in their despair they will reach out and know that God is with them, that he will bless them with strength and courage to share their feelings.  We pray to for those who have lost loved ones, that they too will know God's peace and be able to speak out to prevent others suffering.

With God's blessings from my family to yours,

Jo x