Saturday, 26 January 2013

Birthdays

Morning / Afternoon / Evening!

I was just sorting through my photo folders, and I realised I never showed you the cupcakes that I secretly bought for Chris' birthday in December. Somebody at work makes them (not a colleague of mine, just someone in the Trust) and when I saw her advertising her wares with a photo of these, I thought "they're perfect!" As I mentioned before, he's a beekeeper :-)

Beautifully presented
Cute little sugar paste bees!
 They were caremel flavoured sponge with vanilla buttercream icing, and they were delicious!!

Speaking of birthdays, it was mine on Thursday. We'd both got the day off (and Friday too) so after a quick visit to my mum, we went for the 1pm showing of Les Miserables. The good thing about going at that time, and when the film has been out for a couple of weeks already, was that there was hardly anyone else in the cinema, and they were all pensioners - we were the youngest ones there! And when there's a quiet bit in the film, everyone is completely silent. No silly giggling schoolgirls. No boys messing about on the back row. Just a respectful audience, completely enthralled. Anyway, Les Mis. Wow. It broke me. Completely broke me. I cried. I wept! I sobbed! I worried about how red and blotchy my face would be when I got out into the daylight. I've never really fancied going to see it at the theatre before, and I didn't even know what it was about really. I'll admit, I've probably always let the title put me off. But crikey! I loved it! I found the 'sing-every-line-even-the-ones-that-should-really-be-a-talking-part' a bit strange to get used to, but I did get used to it, and then it seemed odd when there were a few (albeit brief) spoken words. I don't like Russell Crowe, in anything, so he was never going to win me over in this. Hugh Jackman is great, I thought Anne Hathaway was brilliant and I kind of missed her for most of the film, and I really enjoyed the bits with Eddie Redmayne and his mates. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were fantastic at providing a bit of light relief! All in all I was very impressed. Loved it!

On Wednesday night, Chris made me a Victoria sponge for my birthday, as is tradition (I made him one for his too, didn't want him to think getting the cupcakes was a cop-out).

23rd Jan (I forgot to take a photo on the 22nd)
We didn't tuck in until Thursday. It's all gone now.

My main birthday present was this:

24th Jan
My new compact digital camera, a Samsung ST200F. My phone (which is also a Samsung) has got a good camera on it, but I find it a bit awkward to hold. My other camera is a big Canon DSLR which is a fantastic piece of kit, but very bulky for your everyday kind of photography. I just wanted something I can slip in my pocket or handbag which will take decent photos. And this is it. I'm still getting the hang of it, I haven't really played around with all the different functions; in fact, I'll probably never use some of them, but so far I'm very pleased with it. It's a nice size and it takes good photos, or it would do if the photographer was any good!

We had another final flourish of snow overnight - several inches fell, but it's starting to thaw very quickly today, and I think rain is forecast for the rest of the weekend.

25th Jan
Taken last night, with new camera! It had just started snowing maybe an hour earlier...

26th Jan
We were up quite early this morning, so we decided to go for a walk, from our house. We live in a fairly built-up area, so most of it was just walking along the streets, and then Chris suggested a bit of a shortcut through an industrial estate. It was a bit slushy and mucky with all the lorries trundling past - not quite the wintry walk I'd had in mind! But eventually we turned off the estate onto this lane, which was lovely and quiet. The sun was shining on the trees, thawing the snow which was dripping as though we'd just had a downpour of rain. Walking along here was lovely, and it brought us back a couple of streets away from home. We were back here for about 10am; I hadn't taken notice of the time when we left so I was quite surprised to see it was still fairly early.

So there we are - another birthday has been and gone.

I think I've finished my latest bit of crochet, but I'm debating whether to have a go at blocking it. I don't have enough pins though! So probably no photo of that just yet. It does mean that I can get on with my next project, which I think is going to be another blanket for the bed, but this time with granny squares (or some kind of variation on that theme) so I can judge the width/length of it better and try and get a full-size blanket. Exciting!!

Bye for now...
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[Edit] I'm back, because I wanted to show you this which you'll enjoy if you like cats. I think I might watch it on repeat forever.

I also wanted to share with you my Spam Email Subject Title Of The Week... wait for it... "Hemorrhoid No More"




Monday, 21 January 2013

I Spoke Too Soon...

... It snowed last night. Quite a lot.

The cars this morning

White trees

I think I'll make this my photo of the day for the 21st Jan!

More white trees



I couldn't get my car off the drive this morning, it was getting stuck on a bit of a wedge of snow. So I got out, thinking I might be able to just scoop it away with my foot. I stood in a deep mound of snow at the side of the car, and did what felt like a fairly graceful, slow-motion fall (but in reality was probably a quick crumple) and kind of ended up down on one knee at the side of the car. I will say, falling into snow is definitely a soft landing! I got up, swearing under my breath and brushing the snow off my trousers, and then turned off the car engine and went back in the house to tell Chris I was stuck. I thought he was going to come out with a shovel and move the snow, but instead he took my keys and moved my car onto the road, making it look very easy. You know that feeling you get when you spend ages trying to open a jar, and then someone else has a go and they do it straight away? And you stand there thinking, "humph, I must've loosened it for you"? I felt a bit like that!

Anyway, once I was on the road I was ok, although I had a couple of slightly hairy moments when I stopped but the car kept going! And the main road was really bad. It's a bus route and is usually gritted, and we always think, oh I'll be ok once I get onto the main road. Not this morning though. So it was a very slow and steady drive to work, but I got there, and even more importantly, I got home again!




Sunday, 20 January 2013

It's snow joke...

Well, we've not seen too much of the white stuff here in our little corner of West Yorkshire, but I know other parts of the country are literally snowed under - if that's you, I hope you're managing ok with it all.

I've been trying to do my photo-a-day thing, but alas, I only made it to the 18th Jan before failing to take a pic on the 19th!! I don't know, it was just one of those not very interesting days. I was in the house all day doing the washing, and only went outside a few times to the dryer in the garage. In between that, I was working on my latest crochet project, but I don't want to take any photos of that until it's finished. So, as before, I was feeling a bit unimaginative I guess, and I just didn't get around to taking a photo on Saturday.

To make up for missing one, I'm slipping in a few extra ones for the other days!

15th Jan
16th Jan
The white frosty trees - the photo doesn't really show it as well as I'd have liked...

17th Jan
Another cold morning, just about to set off to work after de-icing the car...

18th Jan
I don't think it shows very well, but the snow was so sparkly on our patio...

And since I missed out yesterday, here are a few extra bonus 'action' shots of the welcome return (by me, but not Chris) of a garden visitor

20th Jan









I can't say I'm looking forwards to getting to work this week, but I shouldn't complain really as I know we haven't got it anywhere near as bad as some places. I'm lucky too that I'm only working three days this week - I've got Thursday and Friday as annual leave, because it's my birthday on Thursday. I'm trying to decide whether to go and see Les Miserables at the cinema - Chris has said he'll treat me if I want to go. Have you seen it, and if so, would you recommend it?


Monday, 14 January 2013

Well It Had To Be, Didn't It?

14th Jan
Our pretty poor showing of snow, taken when I got home... If you're in the UK, I hope you haven't been too badly affected by the white stuff...

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A few months ago I was just having a wander around Hobbycraft, as you do, when I noticed they had a few balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto at a reduced price. There weren't many left, so I just picked up these four (as you do!):


And I think these are going to be my next project! I'm a little bit unsure about having two very dark colours, but I'm going to try and spread them out a bit. As much as you can spread out four colours! This yarn feels lovely and soft to touch, which is just as well because I think it's going to become something very snuggly!





Sunday, 13 January 2013

P.S...

I've still got yesterday's photo of the day to post, and I've decided to cheat and use one of my ripple photos for today, since I haven't managed to take a picture of anything else!

12th Jan
So this is me doing the 'rabbit ears' behind Millie, who was very happily settled on my lap, until I stuck a camera in front of her!

13th Jan
And of course you've already seen this, but I like it, so I'm using it again!

Finally Finished: Ripple Blanket

So, as I mentioned yesterday, I've finally finished my ripple blanket. I've really enjoyed making it - it's a nice easy pattern, it's very therapeutic, I was happy with the colours and yarn that I chose - overall it's been a very pleasant project to work on. I never felt bored with it, although as 'the end' approached, I found that I was feeling quite excited to finish it, so that I could start something else.

I don't think I'm very good at the big 'ta-dah' blog post, and you've already seen a few sneaky peeks over the last few months, so I'll just get on with it, shall I?






As you can see, it's ended up not quite big enough to cover the bed, as was the original plan. If you remember, I started again because my first attempt was just over 9 feet wide! For the second try, I measured the foundation chain so that it was just the right width to cover the bed, with a bit of overhang. However, once you start your ripples, it obviously 'springs back' a bit and tightens up, so lesson learned there. If I make another ripple blanket and I want it to be a certain width, allow a bit extra. But not an extra four feet, like the first time!



I didn't really have any trouble with making my ripply ends straight, I was surprised at how smoothly that went actually. I did have quite a long debate with myself about what colours to use for the border, and although I'm happy with the ones I chose, I think I could've easily chosen two or three different ones and been just as pleased with them. I did bodge the corners a little bit, but I think they look ok, and then I finished it with a shell edging.

All the time I've been making it, Mischief has been desperate to get on it; he'd creep onto my lap and start 'kneading' on all the lovely yarny squishiness, but I'd have to gently shoo him away. When taking the photos earlier, I finally relented and let the cats go on it - Millie decided to be awkward and stand at the edge, but Mischief couldn't believe his luck!







So there you have it - a finally finished ripple!!

Just a few facts and figures:
Originally started in October 2011(!), but frogged on the 15th July 2012. Started Ripple V.2 the same day, and finished 12th Jan 2013.
Hook: 4.5mm
Yarn: Stylecraft Special DK in the following colours, repeated three times in total (but one extra row of turquoise to start and finish on same colour):-
1.Turquoise
2. Fondant
3. Aspen
4. Plum
5. Sunshine
6. Bright Pink
7. Pale Rose
8. Aster
9. Royal
10. Spring Green
11. Shrimp
12. Pomegranate
13. Magenta
14. Green
15. Candyfloss
16. Clematis
17. Cloud Blue
18. Meadow
19. Raspberry
20. Saffron
Border: Turquoise, Saffron and Fondant, then turquoise shell edging.
My favourite colour combination: Shrimp, pomegranate and magenta


The big question now is - what on earth shall I make next??!! I seemed to think of loads of things I wanted to try while I was making this, but I didn't write them down and now I can't remember. I think I'd like to make a matching hat and scarf, but by the time I've done that it'll probably be summer! Chris wants me to make another blanket for the bed - I'm tempted, but this time I think I'd do granny squares and I'd probably join them all up at the end. I've thought about cushion covers, but Chris thinks we've got too many cushions, and I'm hoping to get a new suite this year, in which case we'll probably get rid of some of the cushions, so I might as well wait and see what we end up with. So if you have any suggestions for what I could have a go at next, I'd love to hear them!

On the other hand, perhaps I should have a break from crochet, and get on with reading some of my book mountain...

Anyway, Sunday dinner is almost ready so I better go.

Bye for now!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Lacking Imagination...

Hmm, I must admit, I'm finding this 'take a photo every day' idea a bit tricky at times! I think I'm probably just not trying hard enough - I need to really look for things, see past all the obvious stuff, I guess.

But for now, here's the next couple of (not very imaginative) pics:

10th Jan
Thursday evening, and one of my favourite programmes is back on tv. I missed Harry though, and the new guy hasn't grown on me yet, although I think he will. I still have a bit of a girl-crush on Emilia Fox too...

11th Jan
 Mischief relaxing. I did say there would be lots of photos of the cats, when I was stuck for inspiration!! Not that you can ever have too many cat photos, in my opinion!!



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In other news - I'VE FINISHED MY RIPPLE BLANKET!!!

Sorry for shouting, I'm just a little bit excited! I need to take some photos, so I will hopefully be back soon for my Ta-Dah moment!!

Bye for now!











Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Dinner...

9th Jan
Lasagne with chips and garlic bread for me, fish and chips for Chris. Well, we are fasting again tomorrow... ;-)

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Lit...

8th Jan
Leeds Civic Hall, nicely lit around 7am.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Photo Of The Day

5th Jan
About to start on the second layer of the massive box of chocolates that Chris bought me for Christmas!! Which one's your favourite?? I'll give you a clue as to mine: it starts with 'E...' and ends in '...very one of them!'

6th Jan
Very excited to notice these hyacinths starting to show. They were dotted all over my mum's garden at her previous house, and I decided that it would be a shame to leave them there, so a few days before she moved, we went round and dug them up, and then Chris replanted them in a couple of pots, and also in the ground, in our garden.

7th Jan
 Today's 'gratitude' moment - I was very thankful for my first cup of tea of the day when I got to work. I was a bit peckish as it's a fasting day, so no breakfast, and I was also quite cold, despite the office radiator being turned up as far as it will go! (This radiator is right next to my desk too, but sometimes I just can't feel the heat from it).


7th Jan


It was also my mum's birthday today. I bought her a couple of bottles of her favourite perfume, and a box of chocolates, and I'm afraid we did break our fast to sample a couple. Well, it'd be rude not to!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Happy New Year!!

Hello and Happy New Year!!

I've really missed blogging over the past few months. There have been lots of things I've wanted to write about, but I just never seemed to have the time, or I wasn't in the right frame of mind, I'm sure you know how it is. Now I can hardly remember what those things were, so I might as well just start afresh.

First though, I'm just going to have a little recap on my last couple of posts (going back to September). So far, I haven't managed to go back to the Craft Club, and I'm not sure that I will. I did enjoy it, but it's a bit of a trek to get there and when it's only once a month, I don't know if it's worth it. I was going to go in October but I was full of cold, then I think Chris was borrowing my car in November (because he 'broke' his whilst tinkering under the bonnet) and then in December, I had something very important happening at work the next day (more on that in a minute), so I didn't go to the craft club because it means getting home quite late and I wanted an early night. So by the time I'd missed those three months, I decided that maybe my heart's not in it. I just wish there was something similar a lot closer to home...

The other thing I'd started back in September was a low-carb diet. I stuck to it really well at first, and lost almost a stone. Then I kind of fell off the wagon for a couple of weeks, although I didn't put all the weight back on. Chris had been doing something called 'intermittent fasting' for a few weeks, and he was steadily losing weight on that, so I decided to try it too, along with still trying to reduce my carbs. Basically, for two days a week (we do Mondays and Thursdays) we don't eat anything all day, but we can have unlimited drinks (and I still have sugar in my tea). The rest of the time you just eat normally, so it's not really a diet where anything is banned. (Obviously I'm trying to avoid carbs, but that's a seperate thing just for me). The last time I got weighed was about a week before Christmas and overall I'd lost about a stone and a half. Obviously Christmas is not a good time of year to be trying to lose weight, and I wasn't going to deprive myself of all the lovely food and chocolates, so I haven't stuck to it too well, and I had a break from the fasting, although I've started that again now. I still haven't been weighed yet, but I'm hoping that I managed to avoid putting much weight back on over the holidays. The trick with the fasting is to not use it as an excuse to 'pig out' on the days in between. I went through a phase of 'treating myself' to two or three bars of chocolate a day, because I'd 'been good' and not eaten anything the day before. That isn't really the way to do it though. You can eat whatever you want on your in between days, but it's like with anything else, just keep it in moderation and still try and eat healthy meals. As well as helping you lose weight, there are apparently lots of other health benefits to intermittent fasting, but I'll let you google them if you're interested in finding out!

The biggest thing that happened towards the end of last year was of course my mum moving house. I'm pleased to say that she's settled in really well, and seems very happy there. She's been a woman on a mission and has had the whole place redecorated, new carpets, fitted wardrobes, new gas fire, garden tidied up etc. It looks really lovely and cosy now. Possibly one of the reasons I've been quite busy over the last few months is because I've spent a lot of time there, helping her get things sorted, or going shopping to DIY stores and carpet shops. But I'm glad that she's settled in so well.

So! January 2013! Last year I wrote out some resolutions, but I haven't done any this year - not yet anyway. I'm not going to go over them all here, but I'd say it was about 50/50. I seem to stick to them for the first half of the year, and then gradually forget about them! I've been thinking about this year though, and what I want to do/achieve. Obviously I want to get back into blogging, and taking photos too. I've decided to get a compact digital camera - Chris has said he'll buy me one for my birthday, which is later this month. I love my SLR, but it's too big and bulky to carry around in my handbag, for instance. I got a new phone a couple of months ago (a Samsung Galaxy S3) which has got a good camera on it, but it's still not the same as using a neat little compact. So if you have any recommendations for a camera, I'd love to hear them! At the moment I think I'm leaning towards a Canon IXUS, but I really need to read some reviews and make a decision so that I can let Chris know.

My mum got me a little pocket diary for Christmas. I used to write a diary when I was younger, but I haven't done for several years, and when people have bought me pocket diaries in the past, they tend to remain unused. However, I've decided to try and start as I mean to go on, and I'm going to make use of this one. I want to try and take a photo every day - either of something that makes me smile, something funny, something cute (there will probably be lots of photos of the cats!), anything really. I'm going to write in the diary each day what the photo is, because if I don't I'll forget when I took it, and maybe even why! I also thought it might be nice to try and write about something that I'm grateful for each day, or as often as possible. I know there are similar things like this going around on other blogs, such as the Project365 and 52 Weeks Of Happy. I don't think I want to commit to one of those, but, inspired by them, I thought I'd try and do my own version.

So I've only got four days to show for it so far, and a couple of them have two photos, rather than just one, but here goes:

1st Jan
The sun was reflecting on something, the edge of a mirror I think, and made a lovely little rainbow appear on the bathroom door

1st Jan
 My mum came to us for dinner on New Year's Day (we went to her on Xmas Day). Mischief loves having visitors because he gets lots of attention (while Millie hides under the duvet upstairs). My mum picked him up for a cuddle, but she hates having her photo taken, so I intentionally focussed on him instead.

2nd Jan

Millie was just sitting on the bed, looking very prim and proper, and I couldn't resist taking a photo! Also, todays 'gratitude' moment was that, as I walked through town this morning on my way to work, a blackbird was singing it's little heart out somewhere! It was still dark, so I couldn't see it, but it's song was so cheerful and it made me smile.

3rd Jan

3rd Jan
I still haven't finished my ripple blanket, and I needed to buy some more yarn to be able to do so (to be fair, I probably didn't need to buy that much!), and this bag of gorgeousness arrived on the 3rd! (I may have bought a few 'new' colours too).

4th Jan
The home straight! That second row of turquoise that I've nearly finished is the last row of the ripple! I've finished on the same colour I started with, and my next task is the border. I will be using the advice of Heather and Lucy on how to make my ripple edges straight, and then deciding which colours to use, and how many times I'm going to go around before it's completely finished! I've really enjoyed making this blanket, especially after I started it all again at a more manageable size, but it'll be nice to finish it and get on with something else. I've made one or two small projects over the past few months, as a break from the ripple. I made myself a pair of fingerless gloves to wear at work because our office was so cold! I attempted to crochet a poppy for Remembrance Day, and the other night I crocheted a dishcloth whilst watching The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King!

So that's as far as I've got so far. I need to find something to take a photo of today. Like I said, if I can't think of anything else, there's always the cats!

Just a couple of 'admin' messages before I go. Firstly, I've added a 'Books I've Read' page at the top there. I kept a record of the books I read last year, and I'm going to try and do it again this year. I might have a go at reviewing them, but I'm not very good at that, so I'll see. I've got a mountain of books to read, so I really need to try and get through more this year. I just wish I could read and crochet at the same time!

Secondly, I had a slight 'senior moment' a few days ago. I received some email notifications that people had commented on my previous post, but I couldn't understand why the comments weren't showing up on the blog. I assumed it was a fault with Blogger. I've also been getting loads of spam comments, and when one of those also arrived in my inbox, it suddenly dawned on me that I'd set up comment moderation a while ago. So the nice comments that I'd received weren't appearing because I hadn't clicked 'publish'!! Doh! Silly me! Oh well, I think I'll remember that in future now!

Oh, I've just remembered, I said I was going to tell you about the important thing that happened at the beginning of December at work. Briefly, I work in a hospital and my job involves working closely with clinicians. Our manager is very keen for us to build on this, and she managed to arrange for us to actually go into the operating theatre to watch a procedure. It isn't compulsory, just for those who are interested. I jumped at the chance, and I was lucky enough to be able to watch a patient undergo a coronary artery bypass and an aortic valve replacement. I had to wear the theatre blues, cover my hair and wear a mask, and I stood at the 'head' end of the bed, with the anaesthetists, while the surgery was performed right in front of me. I watched them open the patient's chest, and I could see the heart beating - I could've reached over and touched it, although I think I might've got into a bit of trouble for that! They put the patient on bypass and stopped the heart, and the surgeon then anastamosed the artery, and implanted the artificial heart valve. Slowly they took the patient off the bypass machine and restarted the heart, and then closed the chest. It lasted about 5 hours, but it seemed to go really quickly - there was a clock on the wall behind me but I never looked at it once, I was completely engrossed in the operation. I had my aortic valve replaced 6 years ago, so to be able to see the same procedure taking place on someone else was so interesting to me, on a personal as well as a professional level, and such a privilege. Ever since I started working in my current job, myself and my colleagues have always said we'd love to watch an operation, but we never thought it would happen, so I was so excited to finally get a chance to do it. I'm due to go into the labs in a couple of months to watch a non-invasive procedure, so I'm looking forwards to that too. Oh and happily, the above patient made an excellent recovery and went home a few days later.

Anyway, I think that's all for now. I'm going to have a bite to eat, and then I've got a ripple to straighten!!








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