Friday, 5 March 2021

Back To The Rotation

I started My Crafting Rotation back in August last year and it was working really well for me. I chose seven outstanding knitting, crochet and cross stitch projects and worked on each one for a minimum of an hour each week. Some of the projects got finished so I added in new ones, others were more long standing projects but I could see each of them getting some regular attention. In November, I put the rotation on hold whilst I got ready for Christmas, and if truth be told, I lost my crafting mojo from around that time right up to a couple of weeks ago. Now that I'm back in crafting mode I've decided to get back to the rotation.

English paper piecing is a new craft to me. I've never done any sewing before, or very little, either by machine or hand, but I just fancied giving this a go. I chose fabric from the Lewis & Irene Botanic Garden range. I've cut out some hexagons and glue basted them and I'm now at the point where I've just started sewing them together. I'm enjoying it so far but it's still early days.

The scrappy blanket I'm knitting from commercial sock yarn was put on the back burner last year as I'd run out of yarn to add to it. I've actually got plenty of commercial sock yarn but I'm only adding one square of each yarn. A lovely reader of the blog got in touch and sent me a huge parcel of yarn for this blanket so I've started knitting it in. There was so much yarn in the parcel that I won't be running out again any time soon.

I'm really enjoying my cross stitch again. This is the Twelve Days of Christmas which was a stitch along on Plum Street Samplers blog back in 2015. I really like the limited colour palette of this design, I prefer a good amount of straight stitching without having to keep changing colours.

I have lots of yarn waiting to be added to my scrappy blanket which is being knit from hand dyed yarn. As well as the mini skeins I received in last year's yarny advent calendars, I still have some to add from the advent calendars which I had the year before. This blanket seems to have grown quite a bit.

There's now 500 stitches on my Twinkle Twinkle baby blanket and it doesn't look anywhere near big enough to be finished yet. I wonder how many stitches I'll get up to before I have to cast off. This project is quite slow going now that there are so many stitches to knit in each round, it's a good job there's no babies on the horizon at the moment so I'm under no pressure to get this finished for a certain date.

This granny stripe blanket has been on the go now for a long long time, in fact, a couple of years ago I nearly abandoned it and gave what I'd already crocheted to the charity shop. I'm glad I had second thoughts as I'm enjoying working on it and it's grown quite a bit since.

I started this cross stitch about forty years ago. Yes, you read that right. It was started in my early teens and then it got put away for about forty years. This is definitely my longest work in progress. I was in two minds about whether to finish it or not and to be honest, it's not the most enjoyable thing to work on. It's got so many half stitches and it's quite fiddly, but I'm managing an hour a week and it's certainly a lot nearer completion now than it was when I first picked it up again.

I'm glad I'm back into my crafting again. When I lost my mojo before Christmas I knew I shouldn't force it, I've just enjoyed doing other things until I felt the need to pick up a craft project again and now I'm enjoying reacquainting myself with all my projects. It's fun.

Monday, 1 March 2021

Potato Time

Now that Eleanor and Jacob have got their own house, I'm trying to get them involved in growing some of their own food. Eleanor's seen me growing my own and used to come to the allotment when we first took it on. She was quite young then and soon grew out of wanting to help. I'm not sure whether Jacob's family are gardeners or not. I thought the best way to get them interested is to start some things in containers for them to take over the care of once they start growing.

I'd seen that one of the discount stores were selling small packs of potato tubers so I asked Eleanor to call in and choose a variety she liked the sound of, she chose Charlotte, mainly because she fancied a salad potato, one with a waxy texture, and it turns out that I grew the same potatoes last year. I've grown them a few times but last year was the first time I'd grown them in containers. The yield wasn't all that good last year but we'll try them again and see what happens this year.

They're now set out for chitting and will be planted in their containers soon. There were supposed to be eight tubers in the packet but there were actually ten, I thought that a good deal for just £1.49.

Once they've started growing I shall pass them along for Eleanor and Jacob to take over the care of. Who knows, they might decide to grow their own from scratch next year.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Winter In The Woods

We've had some lovely sunny days this week and it's been nice to be able to get outdoors for some walks, unfortunately, the day I decided to take my camera with me wasn't quite so nice. It had been sunny on Tuesday morning but by the afternoon it had clouded over and by 3pm, when we drove to Lotherton to take Archie for a walk, it was threatening rain and was really quite breezy. Luckily, it stayed dry, but we were a bit windswept by the time we got home.

There's such a stark difference in the woods during the winter months to what it's like during summer, it actually looks quite barren when the trees are devoid of their leaves. It's still a nice place to walk though, and since last week, crushed stones have been added to the pathways to dry up some of the muddy puddles.

You can see so much more of the trees and their interesting features during this period. The leaves camouflage their shape and other interesting details but they're fully exposed at this time of year and you're free to see them in all their glory.

Everywhere looks dead at a first glance just now but there are signs of life if you look closely. Look amongst the leaf litter underneath the trees and you'll see the first signs of the wild garlic pushing through the earth. I'd wondered what the shoots were when I saw them last week, dismissing all thoughts of wild garlic as I thought it too early, but I then read Jules post on A Hidden Jem and she confirmed my suspicions of it being just that. It's grown since last week and already there's that tell tale garlic aroma. Another month or so and the woodland floor will be carpeted in large green leaves.

The snowdrops have been flowering for some time now. I do love to see them as it makes me think that spring can't be that far away, though I fear we haven't seen the end of winter quite yet.


Wildlife World is closed to the public at the moment because of lockdown but some of the animals can still be seen at various points around the estate. Here's a Visayan warty pig. He, for one, seems quite happy to see so much mud around.


Some birds seem stranger than others though, here's one we came across in the woods. I'm not sure about those goggly eyes.

I'm enjoying being able to get out for a walk again, I just hope this warmer weather holds, I don't like the cold.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Seed Order

I'm not growing very much this year, I think it will be down to just tomatoes and potatoes again, as it was last year. I missed growing tomatoes one year and regretted it. I've said it before and I'll say it again, nothing you can buy compares to the taste of home grown tomatoes, especially my favourite cherry tomato, Maskotka. 

When I started growing Maskotka tomatoes back in 2014 it wasn't such a popular or well known variety, it was quite hard to find the seed. I've usually ordered the seed from the internet as larger seed suppliers didn't offer it, however, I've noticed this year that companies such as Thompson & Morgan and Mr Fothergill's, amongst others, now sell Maskotka tomato seeds so it must be more popular now than it was back then.

This year, I might have picked them up on a visit to a garden centre but given that we're still in lockdown it's a while since I've visited a garden centre so my seeds have once again been bought from the internet. I ordered from a company I haven't used before, Premier Seeds Direct, and I have to say I was very impressed with them and I wouldn't hesitate in ordering from them again in the future. They offer a good range of seed and their postage prices are very reasonable. I placed my order on Thursday the 4th of February and it was delivered on Monday the 8th of February. Given there was a weekend between these dates, this was quick. Take into account that we're currently in the middle of a global pandemic, this was super quick.

Of course, I couldn't let the Maskotka seeds travel alone. Another cherry tomato variety had caught my eye whilst browsing the site so I also ordered some Sweet Olive seeds, a baby plum looking cherry variety which, like Maskotka, has a bush habit so needs very little staking. I'm looking forward to tasting this one.

Now that Eleanor has her own house I shall be growing a couple of seedlings for her too which she can take over the care of once they've been potted on. She's not a lover of tomatoes but Jacob enjoys them so I'm trying to encourage them to grow their own right from the off. What tastes nicer than something you've grown yourself?

This isn't a sponsored post. I bought the seeds myself but was impressed with the service I received from Premier Seeds Direct so I thought they were worth a mention as I know some seed orders are being delayed at the moment so you may be looking for alternative suppliers.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Queen Of The Night

It's a bit of a tradition now that I put an amaryllis on my Christmas wish list. Many people grow these plants to flower in time for the festive season but I enjoy opening the potted-up bulb on Christmas morning and starting it on its journey to flower in the depths of winter. It's a little pick me up when that first bloom opens during these cold months so early on in the year.

Mick's the one who usually chooses to buy this gift from my wish list and this year he chose Queen of the Night variety. I've grown a red one in the past, Red Lion, but this one is a much deeper colour and it's a beauty.

I've been a bit unlucky in the past and had the odd amaryllis which has only produced one flower stem but on the whole they usually produce two. I'm being spoilt this time though, there's three flower stems on this plant, you can just see the third bud in the photo above. That means there'll be twelve flowers on this plant.

Amaryllises are fascinating plants to watch grow, they start from just a bulb and grow to huge proportions in just a matter of a few weeks. I certainly get a lot of enjoyment from this small Christmas gift.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

First Time Buyers

Mick and I are now back to living on our own. Back in 2013 Daniel left home to go to university and he never came back. In 2016 he finished uni and moved into rented accommodation with Jasmine in York where they'd been studying, before moving to Surrey. They're now living in Essex.

As Daniel finished university, Eleanor was just beginning. We had the following three years living on our own, apart from holidays when Eleanor would grace us with her presence, and when she graduated in 2019 she came back home to live. After three years, we'd got used to it being just the two of us so it took a bit of getting used to her being at home full time again but we've always enjoyed having Eleanor here, she's such good company.

Eleanor and Jacob were looking for a house together last year but as with most things, coronavirus made things more complicated. There were large parts of last year when they were unable to see each other at all, but they managed to get together at the beginning of October when Jacob proposed and She Said Yes. It was only a couple of days later that a house came up for sale that they fell in love with and they put in an offer. It was around this time that the second lockdown came into force so they didn't see each other again after this time until Christmas. During this time, the house sale was going through, but it's been quite a stressful time. Buying a house can be trying at the best of times but when you're not able to see each other during this period, the stress is enhanced.

They were supposed to be completing on the house before Christmas, their buyers wanted a very quick sale as they were expecting a baby in January, so Eleanor and Jacob were all geared up for this. They instructed their solicitor to act swiftly but then the vendors started dragging their feet. Everything on Eleanor and Jacob's part was ready to go in the first part of December but the vendors dragged it out until after Christmas. I don't think anything ever goes to plan when buying or selling a house.

I'm pleased to say that they eventually got their keys and they've now moved in and are busy unpacking and arranging their new home. The house isn't very far away from here but it might as well be at the other side of the world as now they're a separate household we're not able to visit each other's houses. As things stand at the moment, one of us can meet one of them, socially distanced, for exercise so this is how I'm able to see Eleanor just now. Obviously, this could change at any time.

I'm so proud of them. They've only been working for a year since leaving university and they've managed to save enough money to buy their own house. They were hoping for a 90% mortgage but the banks and building societies withdrew these offers wanting a 15% deposit so they've had to put down a bigger deposit than they thought they would, but they've managed it.

We wish them many years of happiness in their new home. I suppose that's another milestone crossed off the list and wedding preparations will be the next thing on the agenda.

Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Daffs

It's daffodil time again. I'm always eager after Christmas to buy my first bunch but it didn't happen until the end of January this year.

Just a few hours after buying them, the first bud unfurled, it doesn't take long.

Twenty four hours later and they were just about all open.

They don't last long but they're such a cheap and cheery flower to brighten up the house in the depths of winter.

Friday, 5 February 2021

The Man In Black

My book review for this month isn't one which everyone will want to read, it's about Wales' worst serial killer, Peter Moore. I'd read about this book on Eileen's Deja Brew II blog and Eileen offered to send me the book after she'd finished reading it.

"The sensational true story of Peter Moore, mild-mannered business man and Wales' worst-ever serial killer. At his trial, the prosecution branded him "the man in black, with black thoughts and the blackest of deeds" and the judge called him "as dangerous a man as it is possible to find".

25 years after he was found guilty of four murders and confessed to more than 20 brutal assaults over two decades, Moore's defence lawyer Dylan Rhys Jones finally tells all. As his brief, they spent hours together, discussing Moore's compulsion for violent sexual assaults, his overwhelming urge to kill, his involvement with a circle of gay men who gained sexual gratification from domination and torture, his plans for further murders, and how it feels to end someone's life.

An in-depth, first-hand account of full and frank dealings with a particularly vicious and sadistic individual who gained pleasure from killing."

I'm fascinated by the minds of serial killers and what makes them commit such horrendous crimes. I'm also fascinated by the police procedure, how they catch these individuals and how they bring them to justice. This book looks at things from another angle, from the point of view of the lawyer who defended Peter Moore. It's an interesting read and though it won't be everyone's cup of tea, I couldn't put it down.

Eileen read this book as she'd known Peter Moore many years ago and thought he was a very nice man. Her post tells of how he was Not A Nice Man. It's funny how many serial killers come across as charming and charismatic and how most people can't see through their facade. I remember my sister had a friend who lived near Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, had chatted to him many times and even walked home from the chip shop with him. She said he was lovely. Hmmmm.

Thank you for sending the book to me, Eileen, it was a great read.

Monday, 1 February 2021

First Walk In A Month

I mentioned briefly in a previous post that I'd been having a few medical issues and hadn't been out of the house since before Christmas. It actually turned out that the last decent walk I had was on the 8th of December when we went Back To The Canal. I didn't go out walking again until Friday the 29th of January. Don't worry though, Mick made sure that Archie had some nice walks whilst I was somewhat incapacitated.

Mick's got quite a lot of holidays to take before the end of March. He didn't take many last year with things as they were, we didn't go away anywhere, so he decided to take Friday off. We decided to go to Temple Newsam. It was mild after days of heavy rain, so although it wasn't cold, it was very muddy.

As we're in our third lockdown at the moment, I thought it would be much busier than it was as we visited during the afternoon but it does seem as though many children are still in school. There's a primary school round the corner from us and it's still busy at drop off and pick up times.

It's unusual for me to get photos at Temple Newsam without people in them. This grassed area is usually very busy during the summer months, it's used for picnics, exercising dogs or family games. Even in winter there's usually many more dog walkers around than there was on this day.

Can you see the pathway through the trees? This is the path we use when we approach Temple Newsam from a different direction and walk through the woods. I wrote about this in my Holiday Week post back in 2019.

The formal gardens look quite desolate during the winter months. The arbours are covered in laburnum which look fabulous when they're flowering.

It's nice to see signs of spring around though, there were snowdrops flowering and daffodils poking their way through the earth which will be blooming before too long.

Archie enjoyed his walk. He's looking very woolly bearish again at the moment as his groomer isn't working during lockdown. I'm hoping he doesn't have to wait too much longer for a trim as it does seem to make him feel better when he's not carrying a fur coat around with him.

We found a painted stone. I know many people leave these in places to brighten people's day but it's the first one we've ever come across. We left it there so that it will bring a smile to someone else's face.

It was so good to get outdoors in the fresh air again. It's been quite hard over the last month or two, but I always find a walk or even a drive out can make me feel a little better.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Journaling In 2021

I thought I'd tell you about my journaling plans for 2021.

I've been keeping a diary for many years now but over the last couple of years I've been using a Hobonichi Techo. It's only a small diary, A6 in size, but its page per day format has worked well for me. It's not too big that I can't fill the page, but large enough to write all that I want to. Being dated with a page per day has also got me into the habit of writing in it every single day, I haven't missed a day since I started. I'm pleased that I've managed to document each day over the last couple of years with so many things changing in my life, and I feel it's also helped me to get my feelings down on paper.

Before I started using the Hobonichi Techo I'd been using a blank A4 notebook. It was started in 2006 but I wasn't very disciplined about writing in it and this is why I had a go at using a dated diary.

Now that I've got into the habit of journaling every day I've decided not to buy a new Hobonichi Techo this year but instead I'm going back to my A4 notebook. I'm hoping that now I'm in the habit of writing every day I won't let it lapse as I have done in the past. I'd like to keep up to writing something two or three times each week.

You may remember me telling you about the Traveller's Notebook which my friend, Nikki, who has the Notes Of Life blog made for me. I absolutely love this little leather binder which holds my notebooks, so much so that I decided I'd add a Midori Traveler's Notebook to my Christmas list this year and Mick bought it for me. I've decided that once we're out of this pandemic that we find ourselves in at the moment, I'm going to journal about holidays and any days out that we might have. I'm really looking forward to starting this new venture.

Mick also surprised me with a new fountain pen for Christmas. I love my red Lamy Safari but it sometimes gets a bit clogged up with ink and I end up having to wash it out and then wait for it to dry out before I can use it again so I'm thrilled to bits with my new limited edition bronze pen.

I absolutely love stationery, I have done all my life. I still use my Filofaxes, I'd be totally lost without them. If you've missed my planning, Filofax and journaling posts in the past I've added a few links in this post to them and there's a few more below. The Crimson Filofax Tour post is one of my most popular posts ever.

Diary Love

It's Here

A Tour Of My Filofax Crimson Malden

A Planning Update

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Year Of Dishcloths

There are always knitalongs, stitchalongs, crochetalongs and makealongs on Instagram, I don't usually join in with them unless it's something linked to a podcast I watch on You Tube, but I saw the Year of Dishcloths which is being hosted by The Kitchen Sink Shop and I've decided to knit along.

A new dishcloth pattern is released each month and it's free to download. I've signed up to the newsletter but I believe Garlene, the lady behind The Kitchen Sink Shop, is releasing them as a free download on Ravelry later on in the month.

January's dishcloth is the Icicles Dishcloth, it's a simple pattern which shouldn't be beyond the capabilities of anyone who can knit and purl. It would be good for someone who is new to knitting who wants to learn how to follow a pattern.

I chose to use this variegated yarn by Sugar 'n' Cream and wondered if I was doing the right thing before I even started, but as I didn't have any plain cotton yarn in an aran weight I pressed ahead. In hindsight I was right, the pattern would have shown up much better on a plain colour, but I don't mind, I'm happy enough with it.

I'm not sure whether I'll join in every month but I do love hand knitted dishcloths and they're good to give as gifts too with a nice bar of handmade soap as they can be used as washcloths instead of dishcloths if you so wish.

Will you be joining in too?

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Strike It Lucky

I follow Mr & Mrs Rabbit Yarns on Instagram and have coveted their yarn for quite some time, though haven't yet tried it. They do such beautiful colours.

Recently, Mr & Mrs Rabbit Yarns had a Giftaway on Instagram, they asked their followers to nominate someone deserving for them to send a little gift to. My friend Maggie, from BlackCountry Wench blog, nominated me and my name was one of five which was picked at random to receive a gift. 

I received five 10g mini skeins, ready wound into 'roses', in the colourway Eloise which is inspired by David Austin roses. The colours are just beautiful and will look perfect added to my scrappy blanket. There was also a sachet of tea and a lavender sachet.

Thank you, Maggie, for nominating me. There were so many entries, I feel very fortunate to have such a lovely friend who thought me deserving.

I've also been lucky with giveaways which I've entered on Flosstube videos I watch on You Tube. Before Christmas, Kim from Barbara's Daughter gave away this Peppermint Pals chart by Brenda Gervais. It's been a popular chart, I've seen quite a few people stitching it over the festive period. I was lucky to have my name picked at random and I shall enjoy stitching it myself.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I entered a giveaway on Megan's Georgia Girl Stitching Flosstube video to win Promise of Spring, part four of Songbird's Garden Series from Cottage Garden Samplings. This design is an American robin and tulips, it's so pretty.

Thank you to everyone for hosting these giveaways, it's always exciting to win something and have it delivered in the post. I've been very lucky just lately.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Village School

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that back in 2015 I set myself the challenge of reading all of Agatha Christie's murder/mystery books in chronological order. That challenge came to an end during 2020 so I've been looking out for another little reading challenge to set myself since. I've heard a lot of people mention the Miss Read books, some have recommended them to me and said they thought I'd enjoy them, so I decided to include the first book from the Fairacre series, Village School, on my Christmas wish list and Mick obliged. There it was, wrapped in beautiful Christmas paper, waiting for me underneath the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

"Fairacre is a pretty village of cottages, church and school - and at the heart of the school is its headmistress, Miss Read.

We meet the young school children with their scraped knees, rosy faces and inevitable mischief. Through the author's discerning eye, we meet the inhabitants of Fairacre and learn of their trials and tribulations, their hopes and dreams.

Miss Read takes us through the school year, beginning with the Christmas term, when the bitterly cold weather challenges the school's ancient heating system, right through to the hot summer day when school is over for another year.

Full of Miss Read's fine humour and astute observations, Village School is an intriguing glimpse into a forgotten world and has become a true classic."

What can I say, I loved it. Not only did I enjoy reading it but I've now found my next reading challenge. There are, I believe, twenty books in the Fairacre series and thirteen books in the Thrush Green series. I shall tackle these first but there are other standalone books too. I averaged one Agatha Christie book a month, in between reading other books, so if I continue at this rate, it should take me just short of three years to complete the two main series of books before I decide if I shall continue with the other books which were written by Miss Read.

Miss Read was the pseudonym of Dora Jessie Saint MBE, an English novelist and schoolmistress who was born in 1913. Her pseudonym was derived from the maiden name of her mother. Her two main series of novels were written between 1955 and 1996 when she retired and in 1998 she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her services to literature. She died in 2012.

I'm hoping that I can get hold of all of the books, it does look as though some of them aren't available to buy new any longer so it will be a case of whether I can get hold of them second hand as the library seem only to stock the odd one or two. I've already ordered the next two in the series from Ebay, fingers crossed I can get the rest.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Twelve Days Of Christmas 2020

I've been swapping twelve little gifts to open on the Twelve Days of Christmas with my friend, Lisa, for seven years now. I met Lisa through blogging and though she doesn't blog now, we're still in regular contact.

These are the gifts I received from Lisa this year.

It's hard to see them all together in this way so here's a closer look.

Lisa knows I've got a bit of a thing for pigs so this 'You make me smile' pig mug is just perfect for me. I love the Merry Christmas plate, I'd actually been looking for one this Christmas but couldn't find one I liked so I'm pleased I'll have this one ready for next Christmas. I've never seen An Affair to Remember so I shall enjoy watching this DVD, and who doesn't love Caramel Crunch, and by Thorntons too, yum.

I love the heart-shaped bauble, it opens up and inside I found the cute candy cane earrings. I'm all set for Easter with the bunny paper cups, bowls and serviettes. There's some notecards and postcards and hand cream and lip balm.

Another piggy gift, how I love these socks, aren't they cute. The sticker book and pretty washi tape will come in very handy in my journal and planner. Another yummy treat, Guylian dark raspberry chocolate, and a cute panda spoon to use in my hot chocolate.

Thank you, Lisa. Once again, I love everything you've sent. I enjoy this Twelve Days of Christmas swap so much, it's become a Christmas tradition.

These are the gifts I sent to Lisa.

A closer look.

I know that Lisa and her family have fun and games at the Christmas dinner table so I thought these Festive Face Mats would be a laugh. They're drinking mats that you can wear, twenty mats and forty different faces. I think I've included a Christmas book in the parcel every year, this year it's a Debbie Macomber book, There's Something About Christmas. I saw this tealight holder and thought it was so pretty, in fact I loved it so much that I bought one for myself too. A Bellini bath fizzer, how indulgent.

I always like to include some treats in the parcel. This year I've gone for Godiva salted caramel flavour chocolate and some spiced almond biscuits, they sound delicious. The Merry Christmas tin contains some sachets of hot drinks. A reusable bamboo mug in a butterfly design.

I saw these measuring cups and thought they were so cute. They're hard to photograph but they're cats and their tails are the handles. A set of two pens. A shopping list pad, to do list pad and some sticky notes, I use a lot of pads of this kind so I hope Lisa does too. A hand knitted washcloth and some Moringa soap from The Body Shop, it smells gorgeous.

So that's it for another year. It was such a fun swap again, thank you, Lisa.