The Big Plan

The Big PlanI need a plan.

Working from home is wonderful, but having all of my life based from home means that work, kids, the business, volunteering, housework and down time all merge into one.   If I switch the laptop on to update a record on the Guiding database, I end up also writing the agenda for the next WI meeting, seeing what is happening in Twitter, writing press releases to try and attract leaders for the local Brownie unit, checking another unit’s records to see if they managed to move Rainbow Maisy to the Brownie waiting list and looking up a random person on Wikipedia which leads to another person, and another and another.   I’ll go into the Craftyguidelets’ bedrooms to quickly collect their washing and I’ll put their library books back in their bags, arrange the teddies on the bed, sort through the wardrobes for hangers, dig out all the used tissues, empty their bins, which in turn leads to emptying all the bins, sorting the recycling and so on.

Right now I’m supposed to be tidying up the office, but going downstairs to fetch the stepladder, I also collected my diary and to do list, and brought my laptop upstairs to check on my planner which has led to me thinking of a couple of blog ideas to note down, and I’d better check my emails, and there are a couple of corrections to do on the WI newsletter and eldest will be a Guide after Christmas so I wonder if she’s done enough to be awarded her Music Group badge as soon as she joins…   See, I’m hopeless!

I’ve recently started investigating bullet lists and planners to try and get more focused, and with the extended Easter holidays ending next Tuesday, and therefore all my Guiding starting up again, a plan is needed.

Are there any methods that have worked for you?

Here’s to 2016

Goodbye 2015 (1)At the beginning of 2015, I resolved not to have any resolutions, not to sign up to any social media obligations like photo-a-day or blog-a-week, not to join in with quilt a month, crochet along etc. and not to heap too much pressure on myself to join in and fit in with the crowd.

To some extent I’ve succeeded in this (especially the not blogging regularly part – oops!) but I’m not quite there.

My aim for 2016 is to get organised.   I want to declutter and put systems in place to get my life, head and home in order.   I want to complete ‘to do lists’ rather than keep putting things off.   I want a crafting area that is inspirational, rather than a pile of work in progress.   I want to minimise food waste by planning meals better and shopping smarter.   I want to put my health higher up in my priorities.

But for now, I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year and I hope 2016 is everything you want it to be.

Science with Sherbert

Sherbert experimentHow to mix science with lollipops to appeal to Guides!   This came from a leader training I attended several years ago.

To prepare, you need to boil a red cabbage in water and leave it to stand for 30 minutes.   Then drain the liquid into a container to use as indicator solution i.e. something that will distinguish between acids and alkalines.

equipment: 3 clean glasses/jars, teaspoons, small plastic bags (one per person), indicator solution (cabbage water), 3 containers

ingredients: icing sugar, bicarbonate of soda, citric acid (available from your chemist), lollipops

The experiment relies on the fact that citric acid is an acid and turns the indicator solution red, the bicarb is alkaline and turns it blue and the icing sugar is neutral and leaves it unchanged.   You don’t need much powder and indicator solution to do this experiment, and please make sure the Guides don’t drink the cabbage water – I suppose it’s edible but it would taste foul!

I found that the older Guides had some concept of this type of experiment from school, however the younger ones hadn’t covered it yet.   It might require a bit of leader/young leader supervision.

The printable sheet to hand to the Guides is on the link below.

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I have also done this experiment with my Brownie and Rainbow daughters.   They didn’t quite grasp the concept of acids and alkalines, but did enjoy the way the different substances changed the colour of the solution and asked questions along the way such as what would happen if all three substances were added at the same time.

The Great Girlguiding Anglia Bake Off

Girlguiding Anglia Bake Off badgesI am a fan of the Great British Bake Off.   I love baking and come from a long line of bakers.   When I heard that Girlguiding Anglia, the Guiding Region I belong to, was doing a Bake Off badge, I knew I had to look into it.

As well as the badge, Girlguiding Anglia is running a baking competition for Guides (aged 10-14), Senior Section (Rangers and Young Leaders aged 14-25), and adult leaders (aged 18+).   The idea was to have units find their own star bakers, send them up to the next level to find their local area (District) champion, and then to their wider area (Division), County and finally the Anglia Region final.Girlguiding Anglia Bake Off UnitOur unit competition resulted in 4 cakes coming in from the Guides.   They were asked to bake a Victoria sponge at home, and the leader team had the task of tasting them.   Sometimes, being a leader is tough.   We selected 2 Guides to go through to the next round.Girlguiding Anglia Bake Off judgesFor the District round, I was asked to help organise a bake sale to run alongside the bake off to raise money for local Guiding.   Our local tea room hosted us one evening and all the Guides, Senior Section members and adults were invited to bake something to sell to parents and friends.

The Guide winners from the two local units had their Victoria sponges judged by 2 members of the WI, the owner of the tea room and Henry the Mercury Newshound from the local paper (the reason why there is a 6ft dog in the background of the photo!).   Senior Section and leaders were also invited to enter scones for the Senior Section and a ‘light fruit cake’ for the leaders.   I did my duty and several fruit cakes later in a quest to find a qualifying recipe, produced probably the worst thing I have baked in a while for the competition.   As the only adult entrant, I progressed to the next round.Girlguiding Anglia Bake Off Division finalistsAt the Division bake off round, I was up against 2 other leaders to try and make amends for my earlier failure.   One of the leaders was unable to finish, so my new recipe cake was up against this lovely, bunting festooned fruit loaf.Girlguiding Anglia Bake Off Division prizesSomehow I managed to win by 1 point and fruit cake number 8 (yes, I took this competition seriously!) got me to the County semi finals.Girlguiding Anglia Bake Off County finalsAt the Hertfordshire County semi finals, I needed to bake Religieuses.   For those who are up on their Great British Bake Off trivia, they were Mary Berry’s technical challenge in pastry week of series 4.   Do you remember the ugly nuns?

I practised a couple of times as choux pastry is something I’ve only ever baked once before.   I asked for hints and tips and managed to get my little practice choux buns to rise into something resembling the cakes they make on the Bake Off (yes, I did watch the episode on YouTube!).Girlguiding Anglia Bake Off County semi finalsThree Guides, Senior Section members and adult leaders competed with apple pies (Guides), chocolate fruit tarts (Senior Section) and Religieuses (adult leaders) following the same recipe.

When the County team gave out comments after judging and included the word ‘dainty’, I knew I hadn’t won.   My effort to get a choux bun to rise as much as possible worked against me, and I think they were a bit soft once filled.   I also had a few nuns who were a bit wayward so choosing my best ones for judging was tricky.Girlguiding Anglia Bake Off ReligieusesI took the remaining cakes home with me to be enjoyed by the gluten eating side of the family.   This cake was my lunch and I really enjoyed it.   The Craftyguidelets have said lovely things about my cakes, and they are the only judges I want to impress (well, apart from my Master Baker dad who I have impressed about 4 times in my lifetime with my bakes).

I will now go back to baking for fun and baking lots of gluten free cakes so husband can share in the calorie intake.

The Bake Off is only one of the many varied activities open to girls, young women and adults in Guiding.   Come and get involved in the largest youth organisation for girls in the UK today during Volunteer’s week.

National Volunteer’s Week 1-7 June 2015

Volunteer's Week 2015It’s the NCVO Volunteer’s Week which wants to celebrate the contribution of the 23 million community volunteers in the UK.

If you know a volunteer, say thank you to them.   Parent helpers at school, your son’s cub leader, the President of your WI, the person behind the counter of the local charity shop.   There are 23 million of them to thank!

And if you want to volunteer with GirlGuiding, just click here and tell them Craftyguider sent you!

Girlguiding UK Big Gig 2014

Girlguiding Big Gig WembleyWem-ber-leee, Wem-ber-leee, Wem-ber-leee!   No, sorry.   It’s not football, it should be “HELLO WEMBLEY.   GIVE ME A SCREAM!!!!!”   Cue 10,000 Guides and their leaders at Girlguiding UK’s Big Gig to raise the roof of Wembley Arena for the biggest event of the Guiding calendar in the eyes of my Guides.   A real pop concert with real chart names.

On Saturday 4th October, 13 Guides, one Guide mum and 2 leaders left a train station in Hertfordshire to go down to Wembley Arena to join 10,000 other Guiding types for the second Big Gig of the day.   The Guides were excited.   The mum was excited.   The 2 leaders, let’s face it, were doing their duty to their Guides and going along so the Guides didn’t miss out on the trip.   I’ve heard of Union J and Little Mix but couldn’t (and still can’t) identify any of their songs.   I think I’ve seen Diversity do their thing.   Kingsland Road?   Mike Dignam?   Neon Jungle?   I don’t think I’ve ever heard Ken Bruce play any of their songs on Radio 2 so there’s no hope for me there!

I tweeted about the event in the morning and after one of my tweets, Mike Dignam followed me on Twitter!   “Wow!” I thought, “This will impress the Guides!”.   Nope.   They’d never heard of him either!

After a bit of Google and Wikipedia revision, I felt prepared for the trip (one member of Union J has strange eyebrows so I’m sure to recognise them, therefore Kingsland Road will be the ones without the eyebrows).Girlguiding Big Gig before

A completely smooth trip by train and tube and we took our seats.   As you can see from the picture, we were quite a way back, but as tickets are allocated by lottery, you don’t get to choose.Girlguiding Big Gig Ear PlugsThese were a great find thanks to the #BigGig2014 hashtag on twitter.   They hand them out for free at the information counters and someone had tweeted about it.   They came in handy for the Little Mix set at the end!Girlguiding Big Gig Lights10,000 Guides with their phones lit up is a fantastic sight.   Add to that the flashing bunny ears, freaky hair and illuminated squid heads and it looked brilliant.Girlguiding Big Gig Mike DignamAnd then I became a cool Guide leader.   Mike Dignam came up on stage.   “He’s WELL fit!” came the cry from the Guides.   “Is he the one that follows you on twitter?”.   Kimberly Wyatt (ex-Pussycat Dolls and Got To Dance judge – I’ve heard of her!) was hosting and posted a selfie on Instagram which I liked and commented on on behalf of my Guides.   I was a social media queen for them.

Stooshe was a surprise, and were a hit with the Guides.   Ken Bruce has played them so I was able to show my knowledge there too!   And I’d heard of Stacey Solomon too.

Once Little Mix had finished, we managed to dash to the train station before the rush and got home before I turned into a pumpkin.   I even got some thank yous from the Guides without them being nudged to do it by their mums!

The Big Gig is a fabulous event organised by Girlguiding UK twice a year all over the UK.   I’ve been going fairly regularly since they started more than 10 years ago.   I’ve seen Ed Sheeran (before he was a megastar, absolutely brilliant with just a guitar and some pedals), Orson, Shayne Ward (Google him if you don’t remember), Pixie Lott, Eliza Doolittle, Lawson, Conor Maynard, Dionne Bromfield, Katy B, Olly Murs, Amelia Lily, JLS, Scouting for Girls, Lil’ Chris, Sugababes, Aleesha Dixon, McFly, The Saturdays and loads more.

The only way Guides can enjoy events like this is if more people volunteer.   We were only able to go because of the Guide mum who was willing to step in and be an extra adult.   You don’t have to be a leader to support Guiding.   We need people to test badges, do accounts, help once a term in meetings, or even come to pop concerts.

And by the way, Mike Dignam has since unfollowed me on twitter.   Obviously handmade cards and news on the Craftyguidelet’s broken arm weren’t his thing.   His loss!

Calling all Brownies

 

Right-click to download high-res image

2014 is the year that Brownies celebrate their Centenary.   All members of Girlguiding from Rainbows to Adults have a Big Brownie Birthday Challenge badge that they can work towards so we can join in with the celebrations, even if we aren’t Brownies.   Challenges take inspiration from various milestone years in the last 100 years in the Brownie programme.
All Section Challenge Woven Badge1957 was Baden-Powell Centenary year (being 100 years since the birth of Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting and Guiding) and Brownies did six World Good Turns on the theme of Houses of Today and Tomorrow.   On the evening of World Thinking Day (22nd February), all members put lights in their window to celebrate the joint birthdays of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell.
In this Brownie Centenary year, and also Hertfordshire County’s Centenary year, Girlguiding is challenging as many members and former members of Guiding to put a light in their window on the evening of 22nd February.   It doesn’t matter if you were thrown out of the Brownies (if I had a pound for every time…) or if you have your 40 year service award, put a light in your window to remember Robert and Olave Baden-Powell’s birthday and the contribution they made to the lives of millions of people around the world.

Time to dig out those Christmas lights again and think of something imaginative for my window.

What are your memories of Guiding?

Because you said yes…

Because you said yes…

A young girl will feel the pride of being someone special as she carefully puts on her uniform for the very first time.

A girl can move to a new town and have “instant friendships” with girls she might never have met.

Parents will experience that special pride when they listen to their daughter say the Guide Promise for the first time.

Bright eyes will become a little brighter with excitement as the kindling finally catches on the first camp fire.

Nervous giggles will emit from tents as girls try to fall asleep their first night of camp.

The community, and yes, the world will be richer because a girl has learned the importance of caring for her environment and the warm feeling that comes from giving service to someone less fortunate than herself.

A parent will find a Promise Badge carefully tucked away in a drawer as their daughter packs to leave home for her first adventures as a young adult.

A young woman will contact the Guides one day and say, “I had so much fun when I was a Guide, I’d like to try being a Leader.”

…and the circle will continue – because you said yes!

source and author unknown

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When I was about 8 or 9, I moved from Highgate to Enfield, changed school and just started to make friends.   I used to play outside with my siblings, and my sister and I were spotted by one of the neighbours.  Mrs Cockaday lived a few doors down and was just about to open a new Brownie and Guide unit.   My mum was happy for us to make new friends and try something new so we were amongst the first batch of girls to join.   Because of my age, I was only a Brownie for about a year and gained my Agility and Road badges.   I then flew up to Guides and my Guidey swottiness began.

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I loved being a Guide.   I went to all the camps, got all the collective badge emblems, over 50 interest badges, my service flash, patrol pennants, patrol purpose patches, Queens Guide award, Baden Powell Trefoil award – and then I was old enough to be a Ranger Guide.   Captain retired and I moved on.

I joined Rangers with a friend.   We went to a Youth Hostel, painted the hut, did our swimming trial for kayaking, and I made plans to do the new Queens Guide award.   But then it all went wrong.   The Venture Scouts were going to close, probably due to lack of leaders or members, so the Rangers were going to convert to Venture Scouts to combine the two units.   This would have been OK if the boys in the Venture Unit hadn’t have been my little brother’s mates.   No way was I giving up my evening to spend time with boys, especially them.   Unfortunately I hadn’t been told about becoming a Young Leader so I left Guiding.

A few years later, after I’d been to University (oblivious to SSAGO too as I commuted in 2 hours each way every day so couldn’t be in any of the clubs), I spotted an article in the local paper.   “Guide unit to close unless they find a new leader” sort of thing.   Much to the surprise of the District Commissioner, I answered the ad saying I’d help.   I ended up becoming leader, much to my surprise as I imagined Guide leaders all being older women.

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I’ve done most of the volunteer jobs in Guiding – leader of Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Rangers, Young Leaders, District and Division Commissioner, I hold my camp, holiday, first aid and music licences, I can still tie my knots and I can light a fire using just one Cub Scout and some kindling.   Almost 19 years later and I am still here.   I tell people I had two daughters so they can take over my unit when I’m too doddery to carry on.   My blood is Guiding blue.

But the most important thing is that I’ve been part of the lives of hundreds of girls and young women because Mrs Cockaday, my Guide Captain, said yes.

If you want to say yes, just click here to find out more.   You don’t have to have been a Guidey swot, women who were “kicked out of the Brownies” as a child can still apply, men can help out in various ways.   Even if you have never been in Guiding at all, you can be trained up.   It looks great on a CV and a UCAS form, and as I sit here blurry eyed thinking of all those circles I’ve been part of, there are girls all over the UK who won’t get the chance to join in due to lack of leaders.

Unless you say yes.