Saturday, 30 March 2013

A Happy McPhee Easter weekend

There has been much God activity in the house, as would be only right and proper. But please let me just show you McPhee!  All her squares are joined up, and I am now sewing in lots of ends and starting to work the edging.

Prince Charming facilitated the final stages with breakfast in bed and photo shoot.

McPhee might just as well be called the Polyfilla Blanket, so great has been the need for improvising blocks and joins!

This was the final chunk, joining the penultimate square to the last custom-sized trio, referred to affectionately as the shamrock set.

And here for those of you who like the Strawberry Scale of |Measurement are those for whom I really must tear myself away and hide eggs...

Have a super rest of your Easter weekend. I would highly recommend a Lenten blanket project for the quiet perusal of important things. Especially if it happens to be the coldest Lent in many years!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Holidays, apparently

To mark the end of term this afternoon, we had some Bun Fun and all our kind friends put lots of money, more than just the suggested coin, into the tin, and we have £145 for Allergy NI.  Thank-you, all...

It feels curiously unlike the start of a school holiday.  We have done all the usual things. Found enough clean clothes for a non-uniform day. Happily thrown school bags in a dim and dusty corner. Taken in home-made teacher presents that were decidedly wonky, but filled with chocolate in a compensation attempt. I will confess myself happy with this level of wonk- so much so that I am going to put the pattern I used on Hookery right after I finish drinking tea with you here!

And after that I am going to devote myself entirely to McPhee. I suppose that too means it's the holidays- no homework, uniforms or lunch-boxes to consider. Maybe the suns will even be sunny, and not fight. Not fight all the time. Not fight before lunchtime tomorrow....

Monday, 25 March 2013

A Feast in Lent

We live in East Antrim. This means that we seem to avoid the worst excesses of harsh winter weather. We are close to the sea, and our snow melts quickly; we are not too high, so we have not been cut off; we have thankfully hitherto been spared all power cuts; everything we need is within plodding distance.

We've just been watching the News and it's a bleak world out there for our farmers, and our elderly (my parents remain housebound on the top of their hill), and our businesses. So I hesitate to tell you what I am thinking increasingly this week, on my journey to Easter.

What doesn't quite manage to loosen its grip is a glimmer of joy, unashamed and unabashed, that has been growing here. It's the experience of letting go within the momentum of a great and sure hope. It's all the Feasts that we've been thinking about this year. Feasting like gluttons, devouring. Gobbling up all these good things that we can learn now in Lent and beyond.

I can't remember the last time I have enjoyed anything as much as the puzzle piecing of McPhee. I love it. I absolutely adore it with a passion. It's wholly tasteless, and will mean nothing to anyone who looks at it, unless they're us, but it fills me with chuckling delight. I thought about that yesterday in church. All that joy at seeing Jesus arrive in Jerusalem; joy that would sour. I thought how it would be to welcome Jesus everyday into here, and not have it sour. To feast wholly on Him, and fast from all that would interrupt the gluttony. To enjoy and savour and live, live, live!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Making tracks

We're having the most lovely nearly snowed in weekend. I think Jo was genuinely disappointed that we didn't lose power. He spent the whole of Friday evening putting candles in candlesticks in every room. And yes. We did have a very firm fire safety talk!

I spent last night putting Prince Charming's Christmas present to good use, making tracks around McPhee. You really can't beat Attic 24 for tutorials. I must put some coffee money in her kitty soon. 

I'm mostly using the Wise Craft link for joining with granny rows. Though it looks very different from the joining that Queen Niqi and Heather Boss do, so I should investigate the latter.

It has very quickly taken on a blanket feel. I only have the three out of the four inner rectangle rows joined, but it sits cosily and heavily on the lap, and is the perfect accompaniment to a nearly snowed in weekend!

You could all be seeing it in the flesh yarn sooner than you might have imagined, should this stormy weather not subside...

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Views from the Land

Oh Jane, I am the most awful contributor to Views from my Window. I'm a day late, again, and I have no views. I was at work all day yesterday and this morning, and all sorts of everyone's ailments and homeworks (interchangeable though they might as well have been) proved too large a set of obstacles!

I would only have had your blah, blah, blah to show anyway. Instead of your blah blah beautiful snow, however, it would have been blah blah grey, cold, windy sky from bedroom window, blah blah gey, cold, windy sky from dining room, with all early blossom whipped from tree, blah blah (but monetheless still tidy) cold and windy back garden, and blah blah estate agent sign in garden with mysterious planks of wood strewn everywhere.

I can offer you in meagre recompense the view of my fridge. Note the two apparently insignificant swimming certificates, ink barely dry. This is not just another small strawberry achievement. This is not even another small strawberry achievement. This is the end, culmination, terminus, full stop, never to be repeated proof that I will no longer be spending whole afternoons in the sauna of a viewing gallery that overlooks Newtownabbey's swimming pool.

Praise be!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Dear Lyndelou

Dear Lyndelou,

You're on. I pick up the gauntlet thrown into my comment box! But you will win! I think you should call in here on your way past for your Easter Sunday afternoon stroll, with your completed blanket in hand. We can sit under our respective results and share the huge chunk of Easter Egg. The winner can take the rest of the chocolate home!

Mags McPheedy x

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Ongoing adventures with Nanny McPhee

I never got around to showing you our snowy Mother's Day picnic. Suffice to say that I had packed everyone's coats and hats and gloves, except mine. Happily, Jo is a hardy soul and lent me his eight-year old's coat/forty-four year old's cape.

The (blanket you need after a marathon ripple is) Nanny McPhee has all its squares, I think, and these have all been blocked. Now to the joining stage. This is a completely new experience for me, so today I spent some time reading thereon, and steeled myself for the arranging process. There were six photos, but I have decided to inflict you with one only. The comic-reading sun is there for scale. While I want this to be a (significantly quicker than the ripple) blanket for outdoors and adventures as well as cosy home trysts*, I did also want it to be big enough to give some degree of coverage!

So this is it- I think! The squares on the sheet will be the inner rectangle, and they will have maybe two rows of border, and then the same again with the outer squares. For the joining and the borders I am going to go on using up the stash balls of wool that I have been using hitherto. The plan is to do the same for the gaps that will, hopefully, fill up with granny rows.

Lots of grannies for one Nanny. I'm thinking of adopting the pseudonym Mags McPheedy. I should also say that all constructive criticism on the arrangement will be most welcome...

*I've just discovered, pleasingly, that a tryst is not just an appointed meeting, especially a secret one for lovers. It can also be an appointed place of meeting. Time: Easter Day, just after big family lunch. Place: under the Nanny McPhee Lenten blanket with a cup of tea and a huge chunk of Easter Egg.

Monday, 18 March 2013

A Pause in Lent

We spent St Patrick's weekend in Wexford with the wonderful Steven. It made me wonder which of the Lenten fasts and feasts would apply on a societal level as well as a personal one. It's interesting that Gretchen's celebration of Forgiveness Sunday coincided with St Patrick's day this year.

Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light. 
It's certainly a whole different thing being in the South at such a time. There's none of the political demonry hanging about the colours and the images.

Fast from the shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.

We were all looking forward to the Parade yesterday afternoon. Jo decided they needed hats. We explained that, given the flags situation at home, we wouldn't be buying anything with flag colours as we couldn't really wear them back in the North (without placing ourselves firmly on one side of the fence we're trying in our small way to work down).

Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.

What I loved about the Parade was that it was an unbridled celebration of all the ways in which community was working together in the town and beyond. All the clubs and sports folk and businesses and schools and charities were represented. It was a very long parade! Even with the rain pouring down the strawberries stood and jigged and clapped and waved, and then drove happily home to the Frozen North!

Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Friday, 15 March 2013


It's been a quiet week in Strawberry Land, probably because I have succombed to lurgy and my throat is too sore to shout. Mattman got back from his trip safe, sound and happy last week and is still full of tales and excitement.
 Jo finally got to go to football club as an unashamed bribe to keep up his music.
Prince Charming continues to be patient and charming and has not uttered one word of protest when I have woken him in the middle of the night for painkillers and orange juice. I think I may have milked this cold quite well enough now.
And all the squares of Nanny McPhee seem suddenly and wonderfully to be completed. Next week will see the journey into joining, but for now it's a little daily ceremony of pinning and steaming.
Bon weekend, fine bloggistes. I trust you have your Guinness in, or at least some stew on the go, for Sunday x

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Views from my Land

Oh Jane, I am most sorry- I'm just about sneaking in with this week's window views! Not much to see out there tonight.
Another late night project. I decided at Jo's bedtime that it was high time that Farmer Duck got the pyjamas promised to Mattman for too long. And since tomorrow will be Mattman's much awaited homecoming, it all seemed like such a good idea three hours ago!
So I've been thinking and cutting and thinking and sewing to the background noise of stormy rain. And K T Tunstall and the ubiquitous Rend.
Tomorrow morning we'll fling wide all the curtains and be on a countdown to lunchtime. Jo wanted to know if he should stay home from school so as not to miss Mattman getting off the bus. I'm afraid I said no!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A Spring Thing

I've been very busy, busy, deliberately busy all morning. We saw him off- confession coming soon- I went home for a cuppa with another mum, I called quickly with another another mum, I made soup, I prepared my French class and I will now clean the bathroom. My first-born son is as I type somewhere on the North Coast and spent his last several hours before departure telling us all, with relish, that he wouldn't see any of us until Friday.

So I Googled March in Images. Just in the need of seeing something pretty and now and interesting. I found this project on Joy's Hope. It seems to be a 365 photo project and I'm not at all good enough at photography for those, but when I looked at the words for April I was completely hooked, in the non-crochet sense.

We have some serious parties coming up in April so I'm excited about the 8th, 13th, 19th and 20th. And 7 is hilariously appropriate. So I'm going to have a go at Joy's April Photo-a-Day. It gives me something else to think about, when utter amazement threatens to take over.

The Confession- it was all a bit of a muddle in front of the school, waiting for the medical person teacher to arrive and hand over a little bag and check that she was taking two necessary kits. And I was concerned about Jo and how upset he is, so I sent Matt off to give Jo a big hug in the playground, and then he was gone! And that was it. And I didn't even say, "Bye-bye; have a great time!" He was already having it!

Monday, 4 March 2013

A Pause in Lent

Fast from judging others; Feast on the Christ dwelling within them.

Fast from anger; Feast on patience.

Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from lethargy; Feast on enthusiasm.

I'm nipping onto the keyboard between all sorts of jobs, and before going upstairs to see if we can still squeeze in a story. Matt goes on his first ever away-from-home-without-us -for-two-nights school trip on Wednesday and Icannot find any of his vests, and Jo has clearly lost 66.6% of his school sweatshirts. I wanted to grab as relevant a handful of these wonderful Lenten lines as I could while it's still today, but actually I'm going upstairs now with the last one ringing in my head like a gong.  It's good to be joining Floss' Pauses in Lent.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Wind in the Willows Grand Tour of the Whole World Return Celebration Worldwide Tea-Party (and this week's Views!)

This time last year the Willows Boys were actually here in the Frozen North of Ireland. Little did Mole know when I took this photo in a very charming coffee shop that he was forty-five minutes away from being left all alone in the rainy street. Until after dusk...

Hopefully all bad memories will have been long eclipsed by the myriad adventures since! And today here we all are- see the list to your right- eating cake and drinking tea and smiling happily at the thought of three little characters travelling the world with their book. Circumnavigating the globe in a way that most of us will only dream of!

This morning the most fabuous four-month old Hannah came to Strawberry Land for its Tea-Party. Obviously she stole the show on the frock front! Red spots and stripes and cosy dress. I did not even compare!

We gave her a copy of the Wind in the Willows to read with Mummy when she gets a bit older. I am delighted to hear from Mummy that she started to devour it as soon as she got back home. For her first birthday I think we'll give her this for her library...

And for the marvellous mapley Jane here are some belated views from The Land.

I would like you to note one very significant difference in the environment.

And no, it has nothing to do with the still slightly forlorn For Sale sign!

Happy St Patrick's Day!

  I hope you've had a lovely 17th March! The weather was glorious here today, and legend tells us that this must be because St Patrick h...