Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter!

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Not one for the sunrise services, I am afraid, and I don't know that there were any in the circuit anyway, but the morning has dawned wet and dreary - the light is the Light of the World, who is Risen!

The chicken went into the slow cooker at 4am [you see, I did get up early - and came back to bed again!] ready for lunch with UJ later on.  The FH is pottering around, and the girls are still sleeping....

I hope you have a blessed Easter Day with your friends and family, and that it doesn't rain all day!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Different ideas, different places

I watched the Easter service from King's College Chapel in Cambridge this afternoon whilst I did the ironing, and I thought about how things have changed for me.

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Many years ago, I was part of a church which began to become a little bit more High Church than it had been - the pomp and ceremony was introduced by a new village vicar with grand ideas, and it changed the place a little.  I've been to the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Scotland, the Baptist Chapel, a mixed Baptist/Methodist/URC congregation since I was last a member of a Church of England congregation, and now I am very firmly settled in the Methodist tradition.  I've always worshipped the same God through it all, but the ways of worshipping have changed with the traditions - the Church of England was quite bound to liturgy, and we said the same prayers and responses week in and week out until we didn't really need the books any longer because we could recite it all!

I caught a comment somewhere on Facebook today about the difference between churches which want to get more people into the churches, and ministries which want to get the churches out into the world.  I think that there is a huge need for the churches to minister in the world, because we have to take God out into the world to the people - and services like the one I watched on tv this afternoon would scare a lot of people well away.  The music was beautiful but rather inaccessible for most, and the Bible readings were from very old translations, full of words like "spake unto" which don't  help attract young people today.  The other thing they used which I didn't find encouraging in particular were ancient poems.  They do have their place, I am sure, and they are right to be respectful of historic Christian thought, but to the person in the street today, they are almost unintelligible.

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The people that Jesus called to be his disciples were fishermen, plain and simple men who could communicate with other people, not particularly well-educated, but keen enough to spread his word and follow him.  We don't need a doctorate to preach God's Word and to share His love in the world today, and the manual worker, the farm labourer [UJ], the bus driver [my dad] and the cleaner [my mum] need to hear the Word of God in language they can understand just as much as the scientist, the lawyer and the teacher [the FH] do.  Methodism has always been a grass roots denomination and I am clearer in my mind today than I have been before that it is the right place for me.

We have noticed that our Friday morning group which comes together for our Knit and Natter session is as much a congregation as the group which comes together to worship on a Sunday morning; they care deeply for one another, they contribute to charity work and they are very generous with their time and their resources whenever we are fundraising, and these are the ladies who come together to do the chapel cleaning, too, most often!  They support chapel activities, and their fellowship group is a strong one.  Some profess a faith, others don't.  We welcome them all.

As Easter morning approaches, I remember that Christ died for ALL of us, whoever we are.  The churches need to reflect that, and I need to remember to make my services accessible to the whole congregation, whether I am in a town or a rural village.

Mary's thoughts

I found this late last night, and it was too late to share it with you then, so perhaps some will find time to read it today.  Ann Voskamp posted a meditation yesterday on Jesus' on the Cross from his mother's point of view, which I found incredibly poignant and in fact, very emotional too.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Wolf in Sheep's clothing - beware!


I was pleased to receive a call yesterday afternoon from the company from which I bought the hob and oven on Thursday.  The chap seemed quite pleasant, if a little too chatty, but he was interested in my feedback on the ease of ordering the products, why I chose those products and how I found the website.

All very nice, and I thought I was getting good customer service.

Then he told me that the products had a lifetime guarantee, and my little antennae started wiggling.  A lifetime guarantee on a hob and a cooker?  That sounded a little too good to be true....

He then proceeded to tell me that this "lifetime guarantee" would cost me £8.98 a month to cover the two appliances, and would ensure that I wouldn't have to foot the bill for any repairs or replacements for the products in the event that they wore out or broke down.

And then he asked me to "confirm" my sort code so he could begin to set up the direct debit.

I soon put the brakes on that whole scenario, pointing out that he didn't know the sort code, so I wouldn't be "confirming" it because he was actually asking me to provide it.  I then had a go at him over springing this whole thing on me over the phone, pointing out that this wasn't a "lifetime guarantee" but actually an insurance scheme, which he wasn't too chuffed about.  Then I said that my previous oven and hob had lasted me 10 years, so I would be gambling on this one lasting only half as long at that rate - £8.98 a month over 10 years is over £1000, and the hob and oven together cost half that.  I could keep my cash and just buy another one when I needed them as I have done this time - and the balance of the gamble is in my favour, I hope!

I am afraid that I also told him that what had started off seeming to be a pleasant customer service call had become a fairly hard-sell sales call, and I wasn't very impressed.  He was rather persistent, but he hasn't got my sort code, and I haven't agreed to participate in his scheme.  He has emailed me the details so that I can consider it.  It may take me a while....

Persil pennies

I often blog about how long I can make things last.  I shared back in January about these boxes of Persil washing powder - I made the last box do 78 washes in comparison with the 50 washes that the box promises.  

So when I started on the next box, I used a different measure to scoop up the powder for each load.  I filled this little cup each time - it is an old measure from a liquid detergent bottle but it does the job.

It made the difference!
The box of washing powder lasted three months, almost to the day.

But, best of all, it vastly improved the number of washes I got out of the box of powder - 123 compared to just 78!

And, do you know what, our clothes were just as clean!

These boxes of powder cost me £6 each, just before Christmas, and so I have improved the cost per wash from 8p down to just under 5p - even better!  A lot better than the recommended dosage which would be 12p/wash.  I am not sure that I can improve on 123 washes from a box, but watch this space, and in about another three months, I'll let you know!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Luscious lemon curd

This afternoon, I made six jars of this lovely lemon curd, which I first tried back in 2010 - weirdly also posted then on the 17th April: it must be the time of year for lemon curd!  The FH has had a taste and complained that he didn't get more to taste, but it needs time to cool and set in the jars.  Using our eggs gives it an amazing yellow colour that is completely natural.  The worst part of making it is juicing the lemons and getting lemon juice in the cracks in my hands - it stings!

Unfortunately, I shall have to stick to eating Sainsbury's Value Lemon Curd at 22p/jar myself as that is dairy free and this home made stuff has real butter in it!

Do let us know what you think if you try the recipe - it is really good.....

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Cooking the books

I have spent an awful lot of money today - confession time!  What started out with needing a new oven to replace the dead one has become a bit of a kitchen makeover, and will almost look like a new kitchen.  I have scoured the internet looking for bargains, and managed to save some money on what I thought I was going to have to spend.  The units will be the same, but the worktops are going to be changed, and the sink! Instead of having the range cooker that I had been dreaming of, I am going to spend less money but have more of an impact on the entire room, which pleases me no end.  We have been here ten years, and the house is beginning to look rather tired in places, so along with the refit, I shall also emulsion the ceiling and the walls - they never recovered from the splattering of the crab apple juice a couple of years ago!  It is time that this house began its journey towards becoming more appealing to the housing market, in case it has to go on to that market, and so this is one step in the right direction.

So, what's the lesson in finance for doing this all on a budget?  Top tip number one is to have a stepson who has done time as a kitchen fitter, so that definitely helps, and then have a friend who is a gas fitter!  As for the purchasing of the materials - I have compared lots of places, with the restrictions in mind that I need to fulfil: a slightly shallower oven than most, because it has a gas pipe to fit in behind it! And the existing oven had its own legs and feet, so I needed one that didn't require oven housing units...oh, the joys!  Spending 20 minutes on the phone to this afternoon made me very glad that I had found a geographical phone number for them through the saynoto0870 website so that I didn't get charged a small fortune for the call, whilst the call handler desperately tried to sort out what she thought she knew about the oven I was asking 20 questions about!  Research has definitely been the name of the game this week.

And paying for the actual items?  I have carefully spread three payments to three companies for various items across my credit cards, so that I maximise the time I have to make the payments over the next month.  I have crunched numbers seriously, looked at our income and expenditure patterns, and I know that I can make the payments and clear all the cards when the payments fall due.  I actually have the money in savings already and could have paid straight away but I do hate to pull money out of savings if I can manage not to, and using the card gives me the flexibility and means that we will do this work without touching the savings.  We won't make any payments into the savings pot this month, or next, but we will come out of next month with a "new" kitchen and all the savings we had at the start of this month.

I promise a picture or three when it is all done - a lot of the things I ordered will be here tomorrow, but the taps will be delayed until next week, so the FH's son has just said that we will pencil in the date for the end of next week - that just about gives me time to get some painting and deep cleaning done!