Sunday, 21 January 2018

Waiting On The Bookshelf

The number of books I've got in my 'Waiting To Be Read' pile is growing steadily.


Read all the Harry Potter books is number 32 on my 50 Before 50 list and I've only read the first four so far, I've still got another three to read. This challenge finishes at the beginning of September so I've still got quite a few months in which to read them.


I'm currently reading all the Agatha Christie murder/mystery books in chronological order. I started this in my 2015 Challenges and since then I've read thirty seven of the sixty six which she wrote. I'm reading one each month and if I continue in this way I should complete this challenge in June 2020.


I didn't get round to reading as many Christmas themed books as I'd hoped over the festive period so I've decided that I shall work my way through them over the course of the year. There's a few on my Kindle as well as the two shown here. I've grown to enjoy reading Christmas books at Christmas time, however, I just never have as much time to read when there's so much going on.


I've got a number of books which I've been bought for birthdays or Christmas, some over a year old now, so I'd like to get those read. They've been on my wish list so they're books that I've asked for and which I'm looking forward to reading.


My Kindle holds books which I've downloaded but haven't yet read, there's nine in total. I'm a big fan of my Kindle. Even though I enjoy proper books, I love my Kindle because it means that I'm able to read during the night when I can't sleep. The light on the device means that I don't have to disturb Mick by putting on the bedroom light.

I'm certainly not short of reading material. I'd like to get some of these books read before I think about buying any more, though I do still look out for some titles which are on my wish list whenever I visit the charity shops.

Do you have a pile of books waiting to be read?

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Knitty Gifts

I was a very lucky girl at Christmas, I received lots of wonderful gifts from my family and friends. I thought I'd show you a few of the gifts I received from Mick which are related to knitting.


I got four beautiful skeins of yarn, they're from Beehive Yarns, Paper Stories, Norah George Yarns and Elm Tree Yarns. I'm thrilled to bits with them all, such gorgeous colours.


I'm always happy to support small businesses and you usually get a great buying experience from them. Each of the dyers popped a little extra in the parcel, whether it be a chocolate, a sachet of tea or a stitch marker, however, Elm Tree Yarns really did exceed expectations. I've never bought from this dyer before, though I've had my eye on her wares as she dyes up some beautiful colourways. The one Mick bought me is called Peter Rabbit, inspired by Beatrix Potter's creation. In with the yarn, Dianne, the dyer behind Elm Tree Yarns, included an extra little parcel containing a hand made Peter Rabbit card, a sachet of tea, a chocolate coin and a candy cane. How lovely.


Mick also bought me my first set of interchangeable needles, these are KnitPro Zings and I'm so happy with them. I love how each needle size is a different colour, not only does it make them easier to distinguish from each other, it makes them pretty too.


This cute little chap is hiding a secret. These are HiyaHiya Puppy Snips.


When you pull off his head he turns into a tiny pair of snippy scissors, ideal for popping in your project bag when you're on the go.


These book ends are perfect to keep my craft books in place. I was surprised when I opened this gift as I had no idea that Mick had bought them. He comes up with some great ideas for me and usually buys a mixture of things I've asked for and surprises too.


Here they are in action.

I'm sure you'll agree that I received some wonderful knitty gifts this year.

Monday, 15 January 2018

A Woodland Walk

It was a dismal day on Saturday, the sun never shined once, though it wasn't as cold as it has been so I wanted to get outdoors for a good walk. I fancied going somewhere different for a change and I came up with the idea of Middleton Park. We only discovered this wonderful green space back in 2013 and I think we've only been once since then so I thought this was an ideal destination.


Everywhere is quite muddy at the moment but even Archie managed to keep himself clean on this walk thanks to the paths which have been constructed through the woods.


I was really surprised by the number of dog walkers out and about here, though it was a dry day so I suppose everyone had the same idea as us. It's good to make the most of any fine weather during the winter months and get out when you can.


I treated myself to a new phone before Christmas, one which has a better camera than my previous phone, and as I hadn't taken any photos with it before I thought I'd leave my camera at home and use the one on the phone. Most of the photos I took came out blurry so I think I need a bit of practice with it, either that or the settings are all wrong. It was rather dark though so perhaps that's something to do with it. I intended to have another go with it on our walk at Temple Newsam on Sunday but it was so cold that I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm and my phone stayed in my bag. Never mind, I'll give it another go soon.


It was good to get out and I shall definitely visit Middleton Park more often. I don't live close by but we're only a drive away and it's a lovely park with all sorts of things going on and a great place to walk dogs too.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Archie's Collar

Thank you to everyone who sent get well wishes for Archie. I wrote about how we were ending 2017 and starting the new year with a poorly doggy in my Here's to 2018 post. Archie was a very poorly doggy indeed, he was out of sorts for a full week, but his cheeky, mischievous nature soon returned and I'm pleased to say that he's now back to normal. He's had a check up at the vet's and been given a clean bill of health where this latest illness is concerned. Unfortunately, his heart murmur has got worse, though thankfully he isn't yet showing any sign of heart failure, so it's been decided to start him on some medication which could, hopefully, delay the onset of heart failure by up to fifteen months. It's so sad that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to heart problems.

I wanted to show you a beautiful gift that Archie received for Christmas. You may remember reading my #stitchingsanta Reveal 2017 post where I showed all the lovely gifts I received from my swap partner, Lynn, who blogs at Tialys, well, when she realised that I have a pooch she offered to pop one of the lovely collars she makes in the post for him. I was asked which colour I'd prefer and I went for blue as Archie is often mistaken for a girl dog, which does nothing for his self esteem. I thought a blue collar might make him look a little more macho.


I'm absolutely delighted with this collar. It's got a sturdy clasp and a D ring to hang his ID tag from, and it's adjustable too for a perfect fit. It's so well made and very smart too, it makes Archie look like a very handsome boy indeed.


Lynn has an Etsy shop, ouafouaf, or woofwoof in English, where she sells these beautiful collars and a percentage of all profits she makes goes to Twilight, a retirement home for dogs. It's run by a couple who take elderly or disabled dogs who are lost, abandoned or bereaved of their owners, into their own home to live out the rest of their lives with love and comfort.

I know that lots of my readers have dogs, I'd love it if you'd take a look at Lynn's Etsy shop, I'm sure there's a collar there that your furry friend would love to be seen in, and even if you don't have a dog, one of Lynn's collars would make a fabulous gift for the furry companion of a family member or friend. Lynn's very kindly offering a discount on any purchases, if you enter the code JOSFRIEND in the coupon code section at checkout, you will automatically receive a 20% discount.

Thank you, Lynn, for the thoughtful gift. Archie loves his collar and is only too happy to recommend your shop to others.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Twelve Days Of Christmas 2017

My good bloggy friend, Lisa from Jumble and Jelly, and myself have been swapping Twelve Days of Christmas gifts each year now since 2014. We send each other twelve small gifts, one to be opened on each of the twelve days of Christmas and it's something which I've grown to enjoy more and more with each passing year. It extends the jollities right into January.

These are the gifts which Lisa sent to me this year.



A box of yummy biscuits, I'm looking forward to tucking into these now I've shown them to you, a cookie stamp set, something I've never used before so it will be fun giving this a go, a felt star kit and a tin 'If friends were flowers I'd pick you!' which contained a lindor chocolate. The tin will come in handy for storing buttons or pins in.


PD James The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories, I don't usually read short stories but I'm looking forward to starting this, some pretty paper party straws which I know Eleanor will want to use, she likes drinking through straws, a cute squirrel candle and a Home Is Where The Yarn Is tin, very appropriate for me, and this contained a Kinder chocolate and some needles, very handy.


A gorgeous sheepy scarf, so cute, some Green & Blacks raspberry & hazelnut chocolate, I've never tried this flavour before but I love Green & Blacks so I'm sure I'll enjoy it, a box of pretty colourful clothes pegs, these will make pegging out the washing enjoyable, and a lovely daffodil brooch, I'll definitely have to wear this on St David's Day.

Thank you, Lisa, I'm really pleased with everything I received.

This is what I sent to Lisa.


A 'Just Stuff' tin to fill with spare keys, pens & pencils, scissors & other random things, though I put the Cadbury's Curlywurly Squirlies inside, a hyacinth growing kit with vase, a box of bath fizzers and a weekly planner and pen.


Once Upon A Christmas by Sarah Morgan, a cherry print scarf (it's in a cellophane bag so it hasn't photographed very well, some daffodil and tulip bulbs and a bar of Green & Black's chocolate.


A sweetie selection box, an owl lavender scented sachet, some cute measuring spoons and a retro baking recipe book.

Last year, Lisa included a book, Christmas Wishes by Katie Flynn, in my Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. I read it in the run up to Christmas this year and really enjoyed it so I popped it in with the parcel so that Lisa could read it too.


Thank you Lisa, it's been such fun again this year.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Cowardly Cowl

I finished my Aunt Petunia's Christmas Socks just before Christmas and I was in that rare position where I didn't have a thing on the needles. I decided that I wanted to cast on something which would see me though the Christmas period but didn't need much concentration, so that I could knit in those few spare moments where there wasn't much going on.

I've never used handspun yarn before but Natalie from the Knatters Knits podcast kindly sent me a skein to try. I wrote all about it in my Handspun post. I've been looking forward to giving it a go so I decided to look for a pattern with this yarn in mind.


You'll have heard me mention Erica Lueder's sock patterns many times, I've knit quite a few of them, some more than once, and I came across a cowl pattern by this same designer which I liked the look of. Cowardly Cowl is a nice simple textured pattern and I decided that this would be the one I'd cast on.

I wasn't quite sure that the pattern was doing the yarn justice as I was knitting it but I'm actually quite pleased with the end result. The yarn was lovely to knit with, quite different from anything I've used before as there are some thicker bits and then thinner bits, but it gives a lovely overall effect.


This cowl is just the thing I need when I'm dog walking in winter, it's so snuggly and soft around my neck and will keep me nice and warm as the yarn consists of 70% Bluefaced Leicester and 30% Sparkle.


Thank you, Natalie, I've enjoyed using the yarn and I'm now a convert to handspun, I'll be looking out for more.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

£667.95

Do you remember my 365 Day Money Saving Challenge post which I wrote back in January 2017? It was a savings challenge whereby you save 1p on day 1, 2p on day 2, 3p on day 3 and so on, until the last few days of the year you're up to £3.63, £3.64 and £3.65. This is what the total savings looks like at the end of the year.


Instead of saving all the small amounts at the beginning of the year and the larger amounts in December, I decided to mix it up and instead of saving the amounts in order, I saved various amounts throughout the year. This meant that I didn't have to save all the larger amounts in December when it's an expensive time of year.

I had a lot of help from Mick with this challenge. Now that I'm not working, there are many days when I don't visit any shops and I don't get much change in my purse, so Mick took on the responsibility of making sure that something was saved each day and crossing off the amount on the charts I printed out.


He did a great job as we've ended up with the £667.95 which we should have ended up with at the end of this challenge.


Some of this money will take us on a little trip to see Daniel. He lives down in Surrey now, over 200 miles away from us here in Leeds. Last year, we went to see him in March but then I didn't see him again until Christmas, over nine months later. Mick did see him between those times as he was working down that way so managed to meet up with him for a catch up, but I don't want to leave it so long until I see him again. We booked a hotel last time for Mick and I, Daniel and his girlfriend and I wrote about it in my Visiting The Offspring post. It would be nice to do something similar again so these savings will come in very handy for that.

I'm not going to do this same challenge again this year but if you fancy doing it, there's some free printables on the Skint Dad website.

All the coins have now been bagged up and taken to the bank, afterall, I might as well be earning a bit of interest on what I've saved.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Here's To 2018

Here we are at the end of another year with illness in the family. This time it's poor Archie. We had to take him to see the out of hours emergency vet on Thursday night as he started being violently sick, so much so that the sick turned into blood. He was kept in overnight on a drip, blood tests were done which didn't show anything untoward, and drugs were given to stop the sickness, however, then the runs started. We collected him late on Friday afternoon and we had a check up appointment with our own vet yesterday morning. He's still got the runs, but the vet said it could take quite a few days for that to stop, but he's otherwise happy in himself, he's got a good appetite, though we're only giving him chicken and white fish, and he's lively enough.


Before all this started, he'd licked out a plastic pot which had contained lemon mousse. There was no quantity of the food in the pot, just a trace around the sides. The vet said that shouldn't have caused such symptoms but perhaps he's had an allergic reaction to it for some reason. She said that these things sometimes happen and they never fully realise the cause.

So far, the visits to the vet have cost us in excess of £600, that's the most expensive lemon mousse I've ever bought. I don't care what it costs us though, I just want Archie to be okay. We'll definitely be more vigilant where human food is concerned in future though, it's scary how an animal can react to something, even in such a minute quantity.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's visited my blog this year and for all the wonderful, encouraging comments you continue to leave, every single one is very much appreciated.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year.

I hope 2018 brings you health, happiness and anything else you might wish for.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

#stitchingsanta Reveal 2017

This is the third time that I've taken part in the #stitchingsanta swap which Sheila hosts on her Sewchet blog. It's a swap for crafters, a choice is made between a knitting/crochet swap or a sewing swap, so I opted for the first.

It's done as a secret swap instead of it being a straight swap between two people, so I knew who I was sending my swap parcel to but I didn't know who would be sending a parcel to me. It turned out that my parcel came from Lynn at Tialys and I received some wonderful gifts.



Two skeins of Rowan Summer Tweed in a lovely lilac colourway, a beautifully knitted neck warmer which will keep me warm and cosy whilst walking Archie, a cute drawstring bag which contained some lovely charms and stitch markers, buttons, a purse clasp, and an enamel pin badge, and two glass coasters covered in a beautiful crochet design. All these gifts have been photographed on some Christmas fabric which they were wrapped inside. Thank you, Lynn, I'm really pleased with everything.

The person who I sent my parcel to was Hannah from Quirky Hannah blog. One of the great things about any swap is making new blog friends and as I hadn't come across Hannah's lovely blog before, I had a good time reading through her previous posts and finding out what she likes.

This is what I included in my swap parcel.


I wasn't sure whether Hannah knits socks or not but I figured the yarn could be used for things other than socks if she's not keen. There's a skein of Knitglobal Sock Yarn and two 50g balls of Drops Fabel, enough to make two pairs of socks if Hannah so wishes. There's two small kits which came from magazines, one to make a crochet flower garland and one to make a fairy tree topper, two boxes of chocolate novelties, some sachets of flavoured tea and in the bottom corner you might just be able to make out some 'made with love' charms to sew on to finished items.

You may remember the Antarktis Shawl which I finished back in May. This was the first thing I completed for Christmas this year, well in advance, and it was knit with this swap in mind.


Last year, I sent my #stitchingsanta parcel to Kim at The Material Lady blog. I included a book, The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown, in the parcel and after reading it, Kim returned the book to me so that I could read it myself, which I've done. I thought that Hannah might enjoy reading this book too so I popped it in the parcel.


I've thoroughly enjoyed taking part in this Christmas swap again this year so thank you, Sheila, for organising it and thank you to Lynn and Hannah for being great swap partners.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas 2017

Daniel and his girlfriend arrived home, safely, late on Friday night, I hadn't seen them since March so it's lovely having all the family back together again. I will be cherishing the time I'll be spending with family over the festive season.


Wishing you all and your families a very merry Christmas, and I hope it brings everything you wish for.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Aunt Petunia's Christmas Socks

Once I'd finished my Christmas knitting and the Dragon Scales Shawl, which I'd had on my needles for a number of months, I decided I needed some socks that I could wear myself on Christmas Day. I've knitted socks for all my family, which they'll find underneath the Christmas tree on Christmas morning, but I fancied knitting a festive pair for myself.

I'd bought some West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply from Nottingham Yarn Expo in the Candy Cane and Cayenne Pepper colourways and I thought this would fit the bill nicely.

I've been wanting to knit Petunia Dursley's Double Eyelet Socks by Erica Lueder again since I used this pattern for the socks I've knit for Eleanor for Christmas, so this was my opportunity.


It's a lovely pattern, an eight row repeat which consists of six rows of stocking stitch and two rows of pattern, so nothing complicated there, but it's such a pretty design.


I'm pleased with how these socks have turned out and I think my feet will look very festive on Christmas Day.

I seem to have done nothing but knit socks just lately, and I know many of my posts have been about each pair of Christmas socks as I've finished them, so it's time for something different now. When I finished these socks I actually had nothing at all on my needles so I've cast on a cowl, a nice easy knit for TV knitting, but now that the rest of my needles are empty it's a good excuse to cast on some new things. It'll be fun choosing which projects to start.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Raindrops On Roses - December

These are a few of my favourite things.


It's a Wonderful Life. My favourite Christmas film, I wouldn't like to say how many times I've seen this now but I never grow tired of it. 'Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings'.This is the only Christmas film I've watched so far this year but other favourites are National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Love Actually.


Hyacinths. I know that some people can't tolerate the heady scent of hyacinths but I love it. I think these are a pink variety and I'm looking forward to seeing them bloom. I don't really go in for houseplants but I have bought myself a Christmas cactus this year, it's got lots of buds so I'm hoping that it blooms in time for Christmas.


Family. Eleanor arrived home from university on the 9th of December and we're expecting Daniel and his girlfriend on Friday. They were supposed to be staying into the new year but it seems that Daniel's wanted back into the office in the period between Christmas and the new year so he'll have to return to Surrey after Boxing Day. It's a bit of a disappointment but at least we'll all be together for Christmas.


This Is Us. Eleanor watched this series when it was first on TV but I didn't bother. It was only later that I heard other people saying how good it was and by this time it was only being shown on Amazon. I was offered a free trial on Amazon Prime and wasn't going to take it up but I accidentally clicked on the icon to start the trial so I thought I might as well take advantage and start watching series 1. I've nearly finished it now and I have to say that I've loved it. Series 2 is also available so Eleanor and I are going to try and get it watched before she goes back to university.


Christmas music. I do love hearing all the traditional Christmas songs, but not until December. They were being played on the radio weeks before the big day, in fact there's stations which play nothing other than Christmas music, but I refuse to listen to anything Christmassy until December, by then I'm in full Christmas mode and I don't care how many times I hear any particular song. One of my favourites is Fairytale of New York by The Pogues & Kirsty McColl, another is Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, but Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a blast of Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade.

What favourites do you have this month? How about joining me and writing a post about them?

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Hermione's Shortie Socks

I've just realised that I never showed you the second pair of socks I've knit for Daniel's girlfriend for Christmas. In fact, I must have popped them straight in the gift drawer as I had no photos of them and hadn't even set up a project page on Ravelry for them.

They were knit from the yarn I had left over from Eleanor's Sugar Frost Socks and I used an old favourite when it came to patterns, Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder.


It's good to be able to get a couple of pairs of socks out of one ball of yarn, knitting shortie socks enables me to do this.


All the socks I've knit for Christmas are waiting to be wrapped up, I've got some lovely gift boxes for them. I hope everyone likes what they open on Christmas morning.

Friday, 8 December 2017

The Great Christmas Knit Off

I included The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown in my #stitchingsanta parcel last year which I sent to Kim at The Material Lady blog. Kim emailed me to let me know that she'd read and enjoyed it over the Christmas period and asked if I'd like her to post it back to me so that I could read it too. How kind and thoughtful of her. Unfortunately, I didn't get round to reading it last year as my book time was cut short as I was ill myself leading up to the festive period and then my dad ended up in hospital so I kept it to read in the run up to Christmas this year.


I really enjoyed this book, there wasn't much substance to it, you certainly didn't have to think much, but it was just what I needed to come home to when my mum was in hospital. I don't think my brain would have coped with much more. It's a touching, feel good story with lovely characters which is perfect for reading during the festive season and having knitting as a theme appealed to me too.

Incidentally, my mum is now home from hospital and much better in herself, though a district nurse is visiting daily as she developed a DVT in her leg whilst in hospital so she'll need a daily injection for at least the next twelve weeks.

It would be a shame to just send this book off to the charity shop so I've decided to add it to this years #stitchingsanta parcel. I hope my partner enjoys it as much as Kim and I have.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Dragon Scales Shawl

Now that I've finished all my Christmas knitting, I can concentrate on other things. First of all, I thought I'd better get the Dragon Scales Shawl, which I started back in July, finished.


The pattern is the Oaklet Shawl by Megan Goodacre, a free pattern on Ravelry, and it's a simple design with a little extra decoration for the border.


I used yarn which I'd purchased at Spring Into Wool earlier this year, it's the Dragon Scales colourway by Third Vault Yarns in their Companion 4ply base, a 100% Superwash Merino. These photos don't do the yarn justice, it's a beautiful mix of greens, greys, blues and purples and it's iridescent so the colours seem to change when you look at it from different angles. The shawl's lovely and drapey.


This photo shows the size a little better, it's not a huge shawl being knit from just one skein but it blocks out to a decent size to wrap well around the neck. Just what I need now that the weather's turned much cooler.


Next project - Christmas socks for me. Well, it's only fair. I've knit socks for the rest of my family which they'll open up on Christmas Day so I'd like a pair to wear myself. I just hope I get them finished in time.