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Building Easter brick by brickApril 18, 2017

Every Easter, bar one, for the last 17 years of my life I’ve been able to walk into Sunnyside church and proclaim Christs resurrection surrounded by faces who have journeyed alongside me. It changed this year. It was the first Easter we didn’t travel and I’d be lying if I said the prospect didn’t feel like heartbreak back in December when we bid England goodbye. Even back then my heart already longed for the red chairs of Sunnyside and the mice in blankets breakfast.

This year more than ever I knew that I’d need to create a sense of Easter. I needed to find a way of building the season, intentionally, purposefully and concretely both for my head and my heart. Traditions, however weak, ground us, anchor our seasons and when they evaporate into plane trails we get a chance to evaluate them, reject, assume or develop them.

To make life a touch easier orthodox Easter was on the same day so at least it wouldn’t be a random Sunday when everything went on as usual. It promised a day of family and cracking hard boiled eggs while presents were uncovered the Easter bunny had left behind. Beyond that my canvass was scratched with biblical trails and liturgical clues. I love the spin of the church year so I decided that my Easter preparations must start with lent.

LentLent

It’s really easy to skip lent. To arrive on Palm Sunday with all the joy and try and cram all the deep and often dark stuff into that tiny week which ends in the greatest darkness being broken by the purest light… but those wiser than me thought perhaps it needed a bit more time to approach the cross and tomb, I’m inclined to agree. I scratched together a lent walk from half a pizza box and hole punch. I like tangible things, they focus me and help me see a journey to the end. It’s heavily based on the wooden cradle to cross spiral wreaths. Every day I moved that little figure and imagined that cross, those dusty streets, that long walk. By the time Easter Saturday came it felt like I’d almost always carried it, always been so close to the one who shared my load.

As holy week approached my mind started to travel back then though Easter traditions I’d known – Simnel cake, Easter bonnets, Egg hunts, yellow and white decorations, little lambs, chicks and bunnies, eggs and more eggs, blown eggs, painted eggs, hard boiled eggs rolled down hills, chocolate, oh the chocolate, Passover meals and hot cross buns, dawn services and Easter gardens, fresh cut flowers in baskets and bouquet, holy week services and the long pause of Easter Saturday. I picked them up and examined them in my mind. What would prepare me spiritually and physically for this season?

Holy WeekHoly Week

A Holy week journey is something I’ve done a few years now. I use the JWL resource and always seem to receive a lot from following and adapting it’s childlike biblical simplicity. I was eager to keep the spiritual side rather than overindulge in chocolate eggs or toilet roll bunnies, both of which we managed to do anyway. Monday starts with a simple felt coin purse into which we count coins then fling them on the ground. It is such a low key and simple way to start and yet somehow my heart jumped at items I could grip in my hands. I looked on the weeks familiar symbols and started to see how they could become my stepping stones to lead me on. Tuesday we made oil lamps out of play dough, pushing the candles deep and watching them flicker before blowing out foolish maids candles, they were not prepared, but suddenly I felt I was beginning to be. Even when Wednesday fell by the wayside my footing did not falter.

Holy ThursdayHoly Thursday

I’d struggled with Thursday, the original focus was Eucharistic but how could I do something like that with a toddler? Then Passover dawned in my head, the original meal. For the first time, in a long time, I roasted meat and tried to make unleavened bread. It was lovely and so poignant to tear that flat bread and wrap it round the meat, and quite too tasty for my expanding waistline! Friday I upper my game and went big with homemade sweet hot cross buns. I’m storing the recipes, treasuring the photos. We added in cardboard eggs dabbed in paint, Easter nests and coloured parchment paper cut into delicate chicks and bunnies and lambs.

Saturday my Lent journey sat complete, nothing more than an empty cross in the centre. A huge bunch of beautiful fresh flowers sat centre on the table and as Adam fell asleep I strung up the words ‘He is risen’ and laid the table with a candle and basket of Easter treats – a few chocolate eggs and bunnies. I’d found myself a chocolate egg too, well something don’t need to change.

Easter decorationsEaster decorations

I stood in Vera’s kitchen on Easter afternoon after we’d played the game of cracking eggs and eaten our feast. She told me how it was the first day of Easter for her and I realised that for me Easter day is the grand finale, it’s the fireworks at the end of the long and often gruelling show, a finale this year I’d dreaded but believe I may come to treasure.

Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19

The Car WashMarch 1, 2017

“Oh no, it’s mucky, needs to go Carls car wash!”

The phrase is as familiar in our house as can be, and even though Carl’s car wash is only one of many videos including car washes Adam has watched, somehow every car wash is Carl’s in his head!

So we become resourceful, we drape fabric and grab train tunnels and everything else that can be a car wash until we get a spare nappy box for mummy to make into Adam’s own car-wash.

Nappy box to Car wash 1Nappy box to Car wash 1 Nappy box to Car wash 2Nappy box to Car wash 2 Nappy box to Car wash 3Nappy box to Car wash 3

We’ve been having lots of fun playing with it. I don’t know how long it will last but there isn’t anything precious about it. I like that the handles are still intact for carrying it about and the section at the back is perfect for storing vehicles in. It was also a quick project that I could work on while Adam was about.

Basic instructions are as follows :
1. Gather materials – nappy box, scissors, craft knife, double sided tape, suerglue, acetate, bubblewrap – for extra decorations see number 12.
2. Open up flaps on both sides and break the glue line to flatten
3. Use superglue to reseal so the box is now inside out
4. Refold base then cut off the flaps on the top side (I left half a long flap behind)
5. Use a ruler and pencil to mark 2 opening flaps on the ends of the box
6. Mark 3 windows on the front
7. Cut windows
8. Cut 3 sides of the openings on the ends – leave the side furthest away from windows intact
9. fold back flaps and attach to the long flap piece you removed from the top of the box
10. Outline the inside of the widows with double sided tape.
11. Cut and stick windows, 2 from acetate and one from bubble wrap.
12. Extra decorations were made from straws and pipe-cleaners (water-jets), a toothpick and spring (air drier) cardboard (floor) and printout of words (sign)

The summer projectSeptember 23, 2016

I have a pinterest board of quiet books. They always look so inviting as sewing projects.
This summer I tried to do my first quiet book specifically designed for my brothers wedding.

I wanted to make a book suitable for Adam’s experience of the event.
I chose to start with a pattern for the airport. Next came the special clothes, the brides bouquet, things to spot during the day, and lastly the bride and groom together.

I deviated and modified the patterns from the get go, finding them beautiful but much too time consuming for my deadline. T-shirt transfer paper saved me a lot of time on the match game. I bound the book in a complete rush without finding any bias binding and making do with ribbon and a blanket stitch. I had hoped for a more professional finish but fell in love with it’s hand-made-ness!

If I try again I’d do single not double pages and be a bit more determined to only use non-fray materials. Perhaps a bible one though patterns are surprisingly thin on the ground beyond Noah… I’d also continue to avoid the patterns that contain a whole wealth of mini loose pieces that will easily get lost.

Links to the inspirations / patterns below.

wedding-quietbook-1wedding-quietbook-1wedding-quietbook-3wedding-quietbook-3wedding-quietbook-4wedding-quietbook-4wedding-quietbook-5wedding-quietbook-5wedding-quietbook-6wedding-quietbook-6wedding-quietbook-7wedding-quietbook-7wedding-quietbook-8wedding-quietbook-8wedding-quietbook-9wedding-quietbook-9wedding-quietbook-10wedding-quietbook-10wedding-quietbook-11wedding-quietbook-11

Patterns and inspirations:
Airport (didn’t use helicopter but followed otherwise)

Wedding clothes (very modified, furniture not included)

Memory game (inspiration only)