Be true to yourself?

It hit the news last week that the Girl Guides (including Brownies) have changed the words of the promise that the girls say at each meeting. The words ‘to serve my Queen and my country’ has been changed to ‘to serve my Queen and my community’, which I think is a helpful change, as it will encourage the girls to think about what/who their community is.

I’m reminded of the man asking Jesus, ‘who is my neighbour?’ – I think that the word ‘community’ more readily expresses this requirement to serve whoever it is who needs it.

However, the major change has been the replacement of ‘to love my God’ with ‘to be true to myself and develop my beliefs.’ I understand that this is to encourage girls of all different faiths to join the Brownies and Guides, and it IS good to encourage youngsters to develop their beliefs, by exploring what is true.

But this is not encouraging the girls to find out the truth, it is encouraging them to ‘be true to myself’, in other words, to do what you think is right. The problem with being true to yourself is that ‘yourself’ is entirely unreliable. Sometimes I feel angry. In order to be true to this, I would have to express that anger, through words or actions. The natural conclusion of the feeling of anger is murder, if you are going to be ‘true’ to the feeling.

If I’m being true to myself, murder is entirely justified. The Bible tells us (as do the newspapers) that human beings are inherently sinful. We just do bad things by default. Think about it – who ever taught their children how to lie? But every toddler can say ‘it wasn’t me’. I think it is very dangerous to teach young people to ‘be true to myself.’

Being true to yourself means that there is no truth outside of yourself, or else your actions could be ‘wrong’. To deny absolute truth is to deny right and wrong, and so morality.

How can you be true to yourself and serve your community? I would say, you can’t.

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(above: me and Gemma and Victoria as Brownies, circa 2000)

Cake

There weren’t really any Holloway adventures this weekend, mostly due to me feeling under the weather, but I did manage to bake a cake for my mum’s birthday/tea party yesterday. Here is a picture of the glorious giant cupcake topped with strawberries and  cream. Oh, and I also managed to give my circle skirt it’s first outing!

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Circle skirt

Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that sewing has taken over my life, because, well let’s face it, I am still excited about plenty of other things, such as food, tea, knitting, more food… But my life has taken rather a turn for the stitchier of late! This is my latest project.

Somewhat more ambitious than the last, this ’50s style circle skirt involved French seams (which I decided to add myself as I fancied having a go at them!), iron on interfacing for the waistband, a concealed zip, working on the bias, gathering, and working with linen, none of which I have done before! This is my first ever French seam:

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The skirt did progress, slowly but surely. For the first time, I think, it really struck me that most of your time dressmaking is not actually spent sewing! That is, if you don’t count the couple of hours it took me to hand stitch the waistband to the skirt!

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Apparently you’re supposed to hang a garment up for 24 hours before hemming it, in order to let the fabric ‘settle’. I’m not sure what good this did, as the skirt looked exactly the same after the 24 hours than it did before. But, I’m a stickler for rules, plus my fingers were quite grateful for 24 hours’ rest. So, here is the almost finished skirt just hanging out.

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And here it is on, once hemmed:

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And here it is with my poofy ’50s petticoat underneath! What do you think?

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Watermelon chilli lollies

Though the summer doesn’t seem to be making much of an appearance this year, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for ice lollies (or lolly ices as Stuart calls them… I think it’s a Northern thing?)

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I stumbled upon this recipe for watermelon, lime chilli ‘popsicles’ which we spiced up a bit! http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2013/eatsy-chili-lime-watermelon-popsicles/

We chopped it up, de-pipped (when I seriously wonder if it was worth it), popped in the salt, limes and some chilli powder (slightly too much, of course) and whizzed it up.

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The kitchen looked like a scene from a fruit-based horror film.

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We poured, we waited… and they were delicious! Still plenty of mixture left, so if you fancy a tangy ‘summer’ time treat, you know where we are!

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Chilli time

If I’ve ever cooked a meal for you, there’s a fair chance it was either Chilli Con Carne or Tai Green Curry. And if you have sampled one of my tongue tingling delicacies, you will know that “if it doesn’t put up a fight, it’s not hot enough”. I like my chilli and I like it HOT!

If you didn’t think I was obsessed enough already, having practically lived off CCC for the past 2 years of my life before getting married, I have now purchased some chilli plants, that I may grow my own fruits and eat the profit.

We were bought many, many food and cooking related books as wedding presents, so I’m farming two types of chilli in order to make use of a couple of them.

Hungarian Hot Wax

With my Hungarian Hot Wax fruits, I will make use of a pickling book we were bought. This is a medium sized, medium heat variety, with thick yellow flesh, ideal for soaking in brine and leaving to ferment, producing, hopefully, a wonderfully crisp fruity, heart warming snack.

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The second variety I’m growing are called Ring of Fire. These are more your typical skinny red super spicy variety, good for adding essential heat to any meal, also good for drying out and using to create chilli powder.

Hopefully the Harvest will be around the end of July/August, which might the ideal time for a chilli cook off…

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Hot Wax bigger

Chim-chiminee

Chim-chiminee, chim-chiminee, chim chim cheroo!

That has certainly been the theme song of our weekend (in my head, at least). We’re very much enjoying our little garden, and have been having some rather delicious BBQs, but of course living in England, we have been getting rather chilly. Even with the huge amount of knitwear in our lives.

So Stuart has been longing for a chiminea to keep us (and our marshmallows) toasty. We managed to hunt one down on eBay that was a massive bargain, but local pick-up only. We had a peek to see where they were based, and it was Saltdean, which is not too far at all. So we set out for an adventure!

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We drove through the Downs (gorgeous) in the bright sunshine, listening to The Carpenters, and having a jolly nice time. We picked the thing up and headed to the beach for a picnic! Delightful! Stuart even got his legs out! We went for a paddle (resulting in brain freeze, and I’m not entirely convinced frostbite wasn’t involved), and had ice cream! Hooray!

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I got a rather shameful farmer’s tan, but that just makes us all the more British! And here is the delightful beast in our garden, alongside our little BBQ and our lovingly tended to plants. (By the by, does anybody know when a lavender bush should flower? We haven’t got a hint of lavender yet, and I want to make cupcakes!)

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Sew there!

You may know that I recently applied for the second series of The Great British Sewing Bee. And you may also know that I (more recently) got a call from one of the producers about my application, which does mean there is a slight possibility that I’ll be on the TV show!

Once it became a possibility it somewhat filled me with dread, but it did spur me on to rapidly improve my sewing. So out came the machine and the dressmaking patterns and I set to work! I started by learning shirring, which is so much fun and looks rather impressive. Over the last couple of nights I made this skirt:

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Stuart decided to see if it would suit him:

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I thought it needed ‘something else’, so I decided to add a pocket. I made this rather cute little gathered patch pocket (after a quick Google!):

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And this is the finished skirt! I have to say, I’m really rather proud of it. Please excuse the glazed expression (Stuart took the photo quite early this morning!). I’m thinking of making some biased binding in the pale blue colour and adding it to the hem… what do you think?

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Wakehurst Place

With the glorious spring weather finally arriving, we thought we’d share some seasonal goodness with you all!

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One of our favourite places to visit is Wakehurst Place, a National Trust property just around the corner from us. We first visited it in March, not long after we were married, and we re-visited it just this weekend, in the glorious warmth of early June – and what a difference it was!

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Back in March, we enjoyed a walk around the lake….

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…admired the spot that encouraged us to kiss…

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…and Stuart enjoyed getting up close with the bees.

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But now, the place is a riot of colour!

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And we even climbed inside a tree! (we’ve been chatting lately about the theology of trees, so maybe we’ll blog about that soon!)

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Up North

Last weekend Stuart and I ventured ‘up north’ to Southport to stay with the rest of the Holloways for the bank holiday.

Liverpool

We got up at hideous-o-clock in the morning on Saturday and drove – and got there remarkably quickly (with only one stop to get some doughnuts for breakfast…) After a good catch up with the in-laws we had to get out and enjoy the beautiful sunshine, so we went to Liverpool! My first ever trip!

Stuart in Liverpool

We saw the battle ships that had been brought in for the bank holiday, had a good old wander along the river and, of course, took a ferry on the Mersey! On the boat we were instructed that in the case of emergency, a whistle would blow seven times… I’m not sure what we would have done had it blown six or eight times!

Us on the ferry

On the Sunday we had a joyful reunion with friends at church in Southport, and were cooed over as ‘the newleyweds’. Afterwards we went back to the Holloway household for a good old British BBQ – delicious!

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I’m not sure I have ever seen Stuart look so content!

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And, of course, on the bank holiday Monday, it rained. But that didn’t stop us eating ice cream! Stuart had one scoop of peppermint flavour, and one scoop of baby flavour. But you can ask him about that…

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