Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!!

At the time of writing, I don't really have many followers(!), but to anyone who has found this blog already I'd just like to wish you a very Happy and Healthy New Year! I hope 2011 is a good one for you!

Have you made any resolutions? I never make any serious ones, because I've never been any good at sticking to them. However, the start of a new year does always make me think about things that I want to do and achieve, which really is just a roundabout way of making a resolution, I guess! So this year it's the usual - lose weight, eat more healthily (just as soon as we finish all the Xmas chocs!), do more exercise - plus one or two new ones, like do an awful lot more crochet and knitting and move beyond trebles and garter stitch, and get out and take more photos with my new(ish) camera (I got it in October). And of course, combine the two, by taking lots of photos of all the projects I do, and posting them on this blog!!

I also need to have a mega tidy-up and sort out of all my 'stuff' - I don't have a massive amount of storage space ie. wardrobes, cupboards, drawers etc, so I feel like having a really good clear out, and trying to be a little bit more 'minimalist'! We'll see if that ever happens though! I want to be more organised, like with bills and paperwork etc, but really I think I'm just using that as an excuse to feed my stationery habit by buying lots of ringbinder folders and box files! Stationery is a serious love of mine - you can never have enough pens and note pads!!

So I feel like there are loads of things I want to do in 2011 - I wonder how or if I'll ever be able to find the time for it all?!

Anyway, once again, if you've made it to here, have a wonderful New Year, and I'll see you in 2011!!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Turkey sandwiches, anyone?

Hello! I hope you've had a wonderful Christmas, however you choose to celebrate it, and that you're not too full from turkey and pudding!

CJ and I are, quite literally, well catered for at this time of year - we spend Christmas Day at my parents' house, and then Boxing Day at his parents'! How lucky are we, enjoying two lovely meals over two days? We certainly don't need to do any cooking, because when we get home we're much too full for an evening meal. Unfortunately there's always room for snacking though. We agreed not to buy each other chocolates this year, which was just as well, because we've had loads bought for us, plus a couple of tins of biscuits too. Yum! We're going to eat some of them, but I think we might split them and take some to our respective places of work to share out too. And then from Jan 1st - diet time! (Not tomorrow, like the title of this blog...)

So I hope Santa brought you what you hoped for! I received lots of lovely presents; I do every year, but this year was exceptionally good - I was so happy with everything.

I got a bit of bling! Only joking, there's nothing of value really, except sentimental. A new watch, a silver necklace with a heart-shaped pendant and amethyst stone, and a silver Medic Alert bracelet (with heart-shaped chains).


I've been thinking about getting one of these for a while, and finally got around to it this year. On the back of the pendant it lists your main health problems/conditions, medication, allergies etc, and you also get a card to keep in your purse/wallet. I have a dicky ticker (have had open-heart surgery twice, plus a pacemaker) so I thought it would be a good idea to have one. And that's why I like heart-shaped things!

I also got lots of books, but they were all ones that I asked for, so I was very happy with them.

Let's see, there are the latest ones from Bill Bryson and Dan Brown. I spotted the Bill Bryson one in a bookshop in Oban, the last time we were in Scotland. I'm not usually a fan of hardbacks, I'd rather wait for them to come out in paperback, but I'm such a fan of his writing that I decided I'd cope with it! I know Dan Brown is a bit of a 'marmite' author to a lot of people, but I read his other books and enjoyed them for what they are, exciting page-turners. I'm not overly worried if they're not historically accurate or whatever, they're just a good read.

There are a couple by Anita Shreve, who is a favourite author, and also books by Dorothy Koomson, Alice Hoffman, Susan Hill and Anne Tyler. Andrew Greig is, I believe, a Scottish novelist - I haven't read anything by him before, but the two books by him seemed to get good reviews, so I'm looking forwards to getting stuck into them. There's also a book called The Turn Of The Screw, which contains that story and four or five others. I think these are kind of Victorian ghost stories, which I enjoy. I don't think it's possible to get a really scary ghost story, because at the end of the day, it's all down to your own imagination, but I do think these Victorian / Gothic ones are some of the best. In fact, I think Susan Hill has written one or two ghost stories which I've enjoyed. Did she do The Woman In White, or The Woman In Black? I get them confused! I think Wilkie Collins is another one. And last year I got a book called The Haunting Of Hill House (I think it's by Shirley Jackson) which was a good 'ghost' story. I later watched the film (the original black and white version) which was also good, and being an old film, didn't rely on any special effects - it was all down to your imagination, as I say, and good acting. Anyway, I'm going to wait for a dark evening when I'm alone in the house, curl up in an armchair with just a lamp on, and read The Turn Of The Screw and try and scare myself witless! Can't wait!

I also got a few books about Scotland and it's history. I briefly mentioned before that I'm kind of obsessed with the Scottish Highlands - almost all of our holidays have been up there (thanks to CJ letting me choose all the time) and my dream is to live there permanently one day. However, during our last holiday (back in October) we visited a little museum in Mallaig which, amongst other things, had some displays about the Highland Clearances. I'd heard of them, and was vaguely aware that it was something of a troubled time in Scotland's history, to put it mildly, but that was about all I knew. So I decided that, if I'm going to claim to be such a devotee of the area, it's only right that I should know something about it's past, and how it came to be the place that I love now. I've obviously thought about reading up on Scotland before though, because I already had these few:

and I've already decided to start reading the one in the top right, called The Sea Kingdoms, which is about the history of Celtic Britain and Ireland. The one underneath that is called Night Falls On Ardnamurchan; it was the Ardnamurchan Peninsula where we were on holiday in October, and where we've been twice before. I'd fully recommend a visit if gorgeous wildlife, stunning views and breathtaking scenery is your thing.

As well as the above, a couple of other presents which I love are:

my new dressing gown (again, with the hearts!) - it's a lovely soft brushed fleece material and I have to touch it every time I walk past it, because it's gorgeous!

My mum bought me this lip balm:

and I can hardly bring myself to throw away the box because it's so lovely (never mind the little tins themselves), and just not something I'd usually buy myself (I'm more of a plain lip-balm-in-a-stick kind of person). The flavours are rose petal and fig and cherry, but I've only tried the rose petal so far (very nice).

My mum also bought me a red-with-white-spots knitting bag, plus a matching ball of wool holder, although I forgot to take photos of them. I will get around to it and upload them later. Mischief has already tried the knitting bag for size, he just about fit in it.

One of the other presents that I was most excited about wasn't even for me, it was for the cats! In fact, I was definitely more impressed than they were! I've treated them to a water fountain. They're both obsessed with drinking from the bath taps, which from what I've read, is quite a common thing amongst most cats. Ours always have a bowl of water down, because they have a dry food diet, but I was aware that they weren't always too keen on drinking from the bowl. When I saw how much they liked drinking from the taps, I wondered if there was something similar that I could buy for them, and after a bit of googling, found that there's actually a huge market for pet fountains. They're suitable for both dogs and cats, although I think cats are a bit more finicky about what they drink and from where, and are therefore more likely to not drink enough, and suffer from kidney problems as a result. So I read all the reviews and made a purchase, and I couldn't wait to see what they made of it on Christmas morning! Mischief was the first to investigate it - he was quite interested, and it didn't take him long to have a drink out of it, but then he wandered off - it's only water, after all. I didn't have my camera handy for him, but later on I managed to entice Millie downstairs and introduce her to it, and get a few photos:

(Excuse the messy floor, they get biscuits everywhere!). (And sorry about the colour, I think I was trying it with and without the flash). As you can see, there are three different levels to drink from, and she was quite interested in the little 'waterfall' part of it. I don't mind if they 'play' with the water, as long as it encourages them to drink from it too. Now that they've got this, I'm going to try and keep them out of the bathroom so that hopefully they'll just drink from here, and leave the taps alone!

So that's just a few of my lovely pressies. The problem I've got now is trying to find the time to read my books, as well as fit in my crochet and knitting! When I'm doing one, I'll be thinking about the other!

Speaking of crochet, I'm up to about 13 squares now, so not far to go till they're finished, then I'll have to make a start on the other side. I'm pretty pleased with how it's coming along, but I'm already thinking about what I want to do next. I've seen a pattern for a knitted cardigan which is supposedly suitable for beginners (that's me!) so I wouldn't mind having a go at that. I'm also thinking that I'd like to make some presents for next Christmas(!), like scarves, hats, gloves etc, so I probably should start on them asap! And it's occurred to me that, because I've only done 'granny squares' so far, I really only know how to do treble crochets, chains and slip stitches, so I really ought to learn some new crochet stitches. Basically, lots of ideas and thoughts in my head, but just not enough time in each day to make them a reality!! I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking like that though!!

Anyway, I've waffled on a lot in this post, so I think I'm going to call it a day for now. Don't forget, however you've stumbled across my blog, if you've read this far I'd love for you to leave a comment, even if it's just to say hello!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas!!

Just a quick post to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!!! Have a great time, whatever (or whoever) you believe in...


Conspiracies - © Loudon Wainwright III

We don’t believe in ‘You Know Who’,

But we don’t let the kids know it,

We’re parents, we’re grown ups,

There’s a line, we have to toe it.

But we’re part of a conspiracy

About this bearded big fat guy,

Who isn’t real, who never lived,

Who’s old, but doesn’t die.

We went to the department store,

We climbed out on that limb,

Told the kids that it was ‘You Know Who’

We said that bum was him.

Then we placed them on his knee

To me, the knee seemed rather bony

Happily they sat there though

Chatting with that phony.

Told the kids we could provide the proof

The deceit, how I hate it

We put out the milk and cookies

Yes I admit I drank and ate it

Then that fib about the North Pole

As if any elves could live there

We helped to write and send that letter

Knowing full well it went nowhere.

‘You Know Who’ comes down the chimney

How could such a fat man fit?

The whole thing is preposterous

Yet we get children to buy it.

We have no shame, the lies pile up

You’d think at least we’d balk

When we sing of red nosed reindeer

And snowmen who dance and talk.

Well it’s just a harmless story

Of fairy tales and Christmas fun

Not unlike that other theory

The one about God’s son.

Where angels talk to shepherds

Wise men troop after a star,

And a virgin has a baby

Boy, that’s fetched pretty far.

But we adults buy that conspiracy

We toe and swallow that old line

Disappearing milk and cookies

What about that bread and wine?

It’s enough to make you hesitate

It’s enough to give you pause

Perhaps it’s just as crucial

Kids believe in… ‘You Know Who’

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Fuddle-bound!

Hello!

Got home from work today and got straight on with making these:


They are chocolate chunk and pecan nut cookies. We've got our Christmas fuddle tomorrow at work, and these are my contribution. I hope everyone likes them, but if not, I'll be more than happy to bring them back home! CJ wouldn't complain about that either!

Unfortunately, baking them has meant that I've not had time to do any crochet this evening, but here's a progress report:

I think Millie approves! She wasn't allowed any more than one paw on them though. I took the photo with my phone and the colours haven't come out well - the 'camel' colour looks yellow here, but it isn't really like that. I had a 'simple maths fail' moment the other night though - I'd got it into my head that I was only doing 12 squares, until CJ said "eight down, eight to go" and I realised that 4 x 4 = 16! Carol Vorderman I am not!! So that may have messed up the pattern (such as it is) that I was planning, but I'm sure I'll work something out. I don't have time to think about it tonight though...

Did you see the lunar eclipse this morning? Myself and a couple of colleagues found ourselves walking around the outside of our place of work, (me in just my shirt sleeves, not even a coat or cardi!) looking for it, but as we're in the middle of town, there were too many tall buildings and we missed the whole thing! I didn't think I'd ever get warm again! Hmm, does the word 'lunatics' come from lunar??

Anyway, I hope you're keeping warm, wherever you are.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Why is it...

... that just when you're about to take a photo of your cat looking all cute, curled up with their nose tucked under their paw or at full stretch in pussycat heaven, they wake up and start washing themselves straight away?

I just managed to get a shot of Millie sprawled out on my pillow, but she was already waking up when I took this:

Good of her to choose the one bit of the bed that wasn't covered by the throw (which we bought to keep cat hairs off the bedding...)

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Getting Into The Christmas Spirit!

Well, I've got my Christmas songs playing on the laptop, with an appropriately wintry desktop background...


... and I'm about to settle down and crochet some more granny squares for my cushion cover.


Unfortunately it's also 'wash day' so I'll have to keep breaking off to put another load in...

We've had a dusting of snow overnight, nothing major.


I like the snow, but I'm kind of hoping that this lot disappears quickly. It can come back on Christmas Eve if it wants, so that we all get a White Christmas! As long as it isn't too disruptive and doesn't stop people getting to where they want to be for the holidays.

I was really chuffed earlier when I went upstairs to find Millie curled up on her blanket:

My mum bought them this wicker bed last Christmas in the hope that one would sleep inside, and one on top. Mischief has pretty much ignored it all year, Millie has been on it only a few times, so I'm always pleased when I see she's gone to sit there of her own accord. By the way, that's a fluffy black cat just peeping out from inside (I think it's actually a pencil case, or something, with a zip down the back). It hasn't always been in there, so I know it's not that that's putting them off going in. Anyway, in the interests of fairness, I thought I'd better get a pic of His Lordship, on the other blanket:

While I've been perusing all these great blogs that I've been finding, I've seen loads of posts where you've been settling down with your current WIP and something yummy like a hot chocolate. However, my stomach is feeling a bit fragile at the moment - it was CJ's birthday on Friday and I made him this lemon and coconut cake:

Plus he also got a box of Mini Heroes from my mum. So I think I've had a bit too much sugar over the last few hours, so instead of a hot chocolate I'm consoling myself with a slightly-less-exciting-but-probably-better-for-me Camomile and Spearmint:

Yum (not).

Friday, 17 December 2010

Blogtastic!

Hello!

I've been spending a lot of time recently reading and discovering new blogs, specifically of the crochet / knitting variety. In fact, I'm finding it quite addictive! There are so many talented people out there making incredibly beautiful things, it's very inspiring. The trouble is, I'm spending so much time reading them, I'm not actually getting on with any crafty stuff myself!

However, I have managed to drag myself away long enough to start what I hope will one day become a crocheted cushion cover! In my mind, I want one side of it to be made up of lots of little granny squares, and the other side to be one big granny square, a bit like the cat blankets that I posted about earlier. Whether or not it will end up like that, remains to be seen! I'm also pondering about what to do with the open end - I don't really fancy a zip, so I'm thinking something with buttons, but I'm not sure what. I probably should have some idea in advance of what I'm going to do, but I know that I'll spend forever looking on the internet for ideas and advice, and never actually get around to doing anything! So I've just kind of dived straight in, and I'm hoping that by the time I get to the final stages, I'll have decided what I'm going to do!

So, the cushion, or rather, the crochet. Well, this is where I was a few hours ago:

They're not the most exciting colours, but they kind of go together, and I think they'll at least compliment the colour of our sofa (which I don't really like, but we're stuck with it for now). Plus they were some of the biggest balls in my stash, so I'm hoping I won't run out (I don't think I'll run out of that brown one for about 4 years!)

My first square! I've actually done one more round of the dark brown wool; I'm going to do that on all the squares so that when they're joined, the brown will (hopefully) form the 'grid lines' of the square, if you see what I mean. I'm going to change the order of the other three colours so that I'll have a bit of a mixture, and (again, hopefully!) won't have two of the same next to each other. Assuming I've got enough wool left, I'll use the same colours in the big square for the other side. That's the plan anyway!!

As for the blogs mentioned above, I'm going to start listing some of my favourites over there on the right hand side. If you've somehow found me through your love of crochet, knitting etc you'll probably know about most of them already; if you want to recommend any to me that would be great, even though I can't get anything done for reading them! And please do leave me a comment, even if it's just to say hi, I'd love to hear from you! If you've got a blog or site, I'll visit you back! I'm a total newbie to the woolly stuff, so I'm completely in awe of all you crafty people and the things you produce. Any tips, advice, words of encouragement will be gratefully received!
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