Monday 31 December 2012

Memory Lane

I thought I'd end 2012 with a stroll back through my blog posts, and pick out something memorable from each month of the year.

January saw Archie having lots of baths after insisting on jumping in every puddle he saw. He loves puddles, but isn't so keen on baths.

I finished this pair of socks in February. I really must cast on another pair, it's months since I knit any socks.

Eleanor came first in a local music festival in March, singing in the Girls and Boy Soprano Solo, 14 Years and Under class, and won this cup. She's entering again in 2013.

April brought snow with it. Quite surprising as we'd had some lovely weather in March.

The bluebells were out in May, so we had many walks with Archie in the local woods.

We started looking at universities with Daniel in June. His application is now in and we're just waiting to hear if he's being offered a place.

Eleanor and I went to see Legally Blonde The Musical at Bradford Alhambra in July. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Eleanor recieved tickets to see two shows in her stocking this Christmas, so we've got those to look forward to.

We were in Cornwall on holiday at the beginning of August. There were four fishing lakes at the place where we stayed, which Mick, Daniel and Eleanor enjoyed.

I love the Yorkshire Dales, and in September we visited Malham Cove. We climbed the steps to the top of the cove to see the limestone pavement and take in the view.

We saw the leaves on the trees at Temple Newsam changing colour in October. It wasn't long before the trees has shed all their leaves and were completely bare.

We enjoyed watching Eleanor preforming with her drama group in Peter Pan at the Carriageworks theatre in Leeds in November. It's a hectic couple of weeks when show time comes around, but it's worth it as it's such a professional show.

I enjoyed my Christmas flower arrangements during December, they've really brightened up the house.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by my blog this year, especially those of you who come back to read again, and especially those who leave comments, they're always very much appreciated.

May you all have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2013. Happy New Year, everyone.

Friday 28 December 2012

How Did I Do?

Before setting myself some challenges for 2013, I thought I'd look back to my 2012 Challenges post and see how I did.

My first challenge was to have more cut flowers in the house. I had intended to grow a cutting patch at the allotment which would help with this challenge, but the rainy weather we experienced this year made this a challenge in itself, so I ended up buying nearly all of the flowers for my challenge. Many of the flowers came from the reduced bin in the local supermarket and I managed to get some real bargains, like these gorgeous tulips which have been brightening up the house over Christmas. I got these for the princely sum of £1.25 and they've lasted about a week.

My tulips usually droop as soon as they come in to the house. I've tried putting some copper coins in the bottom of the vase, as I'd read that this would stop them from drooping, but it didn't really work, but this time, after hearing of another tip to keep them standing tall, I pricked the stalk right beneath the flower. It's worked wonders, so this is what I shall do with my tulips from now on.

Another bargain were these roses and carnations which I bought at the beginning of December. These were only £2.00. I liked the colour combination, and they looked beautiful once they'd all opened up.

I've actually managed to have a continual supply of flowers in the house throughout the year, so what has it cost me? The total amount I've spent on flowers this year is £48.69, less than £1.00 per week. This is something which I'll continue with, perhaps not a continual supply, but I shall certainly keep my eyes on the bargain bin in the supermarket for flowers which have been reduced, they really do brighten my day to have them in the house.

My second challenge was to read at least one book per month. I'd got out of the habit of reading, even though it was something I was really keen on before the kids came along. Lack of time meant that I hardly ever picked up a book, so this was a challenge I was eager to succeed with.

During December, I read The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith and The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by the same author. I'd promised to swap this book with Sft from Sft's Life After Mortgage, so it's now winging it's way to her.

I actually managed to read 23 books in 2012, so I very nearly doubled the total figure I'd set myself. Again, this is something I'd like to continue with in to 2013, so I've got a pile of books ready and waiting to be read.

I challenged myself to do more knitting and crochet in 2012 and aimed to have at least one finished project each month. I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge and did manage a finished project each month. My finished item for December was another crocheted cushion, one which was a replica of the one I finished in November, and I just managed to get it done in time to use on Christmas Day, after finishing it late on Christmas Eve.

My mum was thrilled with the lap blanket I crocheted her for Christmas. I'm so pleased that she liked it.

Eating healthily has been the hardest of my challenges. I did manage to lose two stone six pounds, or thirty four pounds, but some of this weight has gone back on. I did really well during the first part of the year, but I went back to my old ways when I went on holiday and it was really hard to get going with it all again. I'm ending the year lighter than when it started though, so it's a success of sorts. I really need to try harder with this challenge.

The last challenge I set myself was to walk more. I did really well with this, and I really enjoy walking and taking in my surroundings, but this is another challenge which dropped off a bit towards the back end of the year as Archie developed a limp at the beginning of September, and it's only now that he's able to walk longer distances again. We think that he pulled something in his leg when he was chased in to a rock pool by a Dalmation on a visit to the seaside.

It's taken a long time to heal, but I'm confident we'll be back to our long walks again in the not too distant future.

All that remains now is to set myself some challenges for 2013. I don't know what they'll be yet, but I want to make them fun like they've been this year. It's so much easier to stick to something you enjoy.

Monday 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

The shopping's been done, the house is decorated and the presents are wrapped. All that's left to do now is sit back and enjoy.

I thought I'd share a poem with you which Eleanor wrote. Her form tutor had asked each class member to write a small story about how the penguin saved Christmas, which would be suitable for him to read to his four year old daughter on Christmas Eve. Eleanor decided that she would do a revamped version of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas, so here it is.

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the zoo
Nothing was stirring, not even a shrew;
The mince pies were placed on a cafe table with care,
In hope that customers would soon be there.
The penguins were warm all huddled together,
When Sugar Plum was woken by a change in the weather.
The wind was blowing wild and fast,
The thunder came down with a bang and a crash.
What Sugar Plum saw next you wouldn't believe,
A cheery, round, fellow stuck up in the trees.
He shouted to Sugar Plum, "Quick, get me down!",
As his cheeky grin turned in to a frown.
Sugar Plum shook the tree, and down Santa fell,
He landed in his sleigh and all was well.
He gave Sugar Plum the once over to check he was alright,
He said thank you to him, and set off on his flight.

I hope you all have a very merry Christmas.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Which Is Your Favourite?

Quality Street, yum yum. My favourite has to be The Purple One, though I'm also rather partial to the Orange Chocolate Crunch and Caramel Swirl too.

I managed to get back on my healthy eating regime for a little while, I don't know if it's because I haven't been very well, first of all suffering with a cold, and then a chest infection, or whether it's the time of year, but I found it hard to keep it up.

I'm not going to go all out to eat healthily over Christmas, I think this is the one time of year when treats are allowed.

So, which is your favourite Quality Street?

If you haven't yet bought a 2013 diary, head over to my other blog, The Good Life, and leave a comment on my giveaway post for a chance to win a lovely illustrated RHS diary.

Friday 14 December 2012

A Festive Cushion

I haven't picked up my knitting needles since I finished the scarf in September, so my finished item for November, again, is crocheted.

I bought the yarn, Kool Kotton by James C Brett, back in June when we called in at Coldspring Mill on our way home from Haworth, but have only just got round to crocheting it up in to a cushion cover.

The front and back are exactly the same, and I've joined them together with double crochet. I think the red edging really adds something to it and just finishes it off.

My sewing skills leave a lot to be desired, so rather than trying to insert a zip, I decided to attach the cover to a ready made cushion cover which already had a zip in place. It will be easy now to remove the cover for washing.

I'm really pleased at how well the colours go together, and having red and green in there makes it quite festive.

I love how this has turned out, and as I've got enough yarn left over, I've decided that my December make will be an exact copy of this one so that I've got a matching pair. I'd like to have it finished in time for Christmas.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Reading Challenge

My reading challenge is still going well. In November, I managed to get through three books, all of them from The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, The Miracle at Speedy Motors and Tea Time for the Traditionally Built.

I'm on with the next book in the series now, The Double Comfort Safari Club, and then I've only got one more to read. There's another one in the series which I haven't come across yet, but I'm watching out for it when I visit the charity shops.

I'm really enjoying this series, but as I'm now nearly at the end, I'm looking forward to having a change and reading something a bit different.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Lady Luck

I was recently lucky enough to win Jill's giveaway over at I Should Have Listened To My Mother blog. Jill was giving away 20 Crafty Makes, a booklet filled with crafty projects aimed at crafters of all levels, which has been put together in aid of Stroke Association.

I was thrilled when Violet, Jill's daughter, pulled out my name and I became the winner of the book. A parcel arrived last week, but it wasn't book shaped, and once opened, I saw that there were some other goodies included in the parcel. They were all wrapped in cute stocking design tissue paper. Very festive.

I opened the card first, a stunning poppy head design, with a lovely note from Jill inside.

The book didn't disappoint. It's filled with some great projects, and there's quite a few I'll definitely have a go at. This Sheep Button Picture designed by Sarah Foster is one of my favourites. I'm sure that even I could manage that.

I love this Cat Cushion too. This one is designed by Alexa Wigfield. I'm not a sewer, but I think I could attempt it.

There's twenty different projects in the book, and if you fancy a copy yourself, you can buy one from Folksy. All proceeds from the sale of the book with go to The Stroke Association, a worthwhile cause, I'm sure you'll agree.

Back to my parcel of goodies. Jill was extremely generous, I was only expecting the book, but look what else arrived. The second parcel I opened contained three gorgeous fat quarters tied with festive ribbon.

I love each design. I've mentioned before that I'm not a sewer, but I've been wanting to try my hand at a few things so I've been building up a small fabric stash. These will add to that stash very nicely. I can't wait to have a go at something now I've got some lovely material.

The last parcel I opened contained some of my favourite chocolates inside a pretty tin. I have a thing about tins, I love them, and this one is so festive that I need to think of something Christmassy to use it for once the chocolates have all gone. I'm having to ration myself otherwise I could easily eat them all in one go, they're so yummy.

Look at the cute little robins on the side of the tin, I just love the detail.

Thank you so much, Jill, I'm over the moon with my prize, you've been most generous, and thank you to Violet too for pulling out my name, I've been very lucky.

Saturday 1 December 2012

A Christmas Arrangement

Mick and I had a trip in to Leeds this morning. I really needed to get on with some Christmas shopping, and there were a few things which I could only get from Leeds, so it was needs must. It was busy, but not quite as bad as I'd expected. Saturdays in Leeds in the run up to Christmas can be horrendous.

It's rare that I'm in Leeds now that I don't work there, so I took advantage and made my way to Kirkgate Market to visit the flower stalls. I picked up this lovely Christmas arrangement made up of red carnations, white chrysanthemums and gypsophila for just £2.50. I think they all go well together.

I do like white chrysanthemums, and earlier last month, treated myself to a bunch of them, also for £2.50. They lasted for ages.

I wonder what flowers I'll choose to have in the house over Christmas.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Countdown To Christmas

Can you believe we'll be in to December on Saturday? I can't. It's sort of crept up on me this year. I used to be so organised but I seem to get worse every year. I've hardly done anything towards Christmas yet, but I'm hoping to make a big dent in the present shopping on Saturday as I'm planning on popping in to Leeds. I don't relish the thought of Leeds on a Saturday in December, it'll be so busy, but there's a few things that I can't get from anywhere else, so I'll have to go.

The advent calendars will be coming out on Saturday as we count down to Christmas. It doesn't matter how old the kids are, Daniel's 17 and Eleanor's 14, I still buy them a chocolate advent calendar. Eleanor looks forward to it, even if Daniel does give me a look as if to say, don't you know how old I am?

Archie gets a calendar too. Behind each window are some doggy chocolate drops.

Only 26 sleeps to Christmas Day.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Busy Busy

I woke up this morning with a sore throat. Not surprising really as I always tend to get them when I'm run down. Sometimes it's prelude to a cold, but other times it goes without developing in to anything else. I'm really hoping that it's the latter this time.

It's been a particularly busy time over the past week, firstly as my dad was taken in to hospital last Friday so we've been backwards and forwards to the hospital visiting him. He's home now, thank goodness, but will have to go in again in the new year for an operation.

We've also felt like a taxi service this week, more so than usual, as Eleanor is performing in Peter Pan at The Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds, and it's an hour round trip to drop her off, and another hour round trip to pick her up. As the theatre is in the centre of Leeds, there's no convenient parking, so it takes two of us, one to drive round waiting whilst the other escorts her to and from the theatre. They rehearse there in the days leading up to opening night, 6pm till 10pm, so that adds to the run of days we're required to make this trip.

I went to see the play last night. Eleanor is taking the part of Tootles, one of the Lost Boys, but she's also understudy for Wendy and Mrs.Darling. It's been no mean feat learning three parts, but Eleanor's enjoyed every minute of it.

Monday 19 November 2012

Diary Love

I've used a diary for as long as I can remember. In the beginning, I would use a pocket diary which was easy to carry around in my bag. I've had many different types over the years from freebies given to Mick at work to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel one I used in 2011. This one was especially cute as it had a picture of a Cavvy on every page.

In 1997, Mick bought me a filofax type organiser, which incorporated a diary. I love all things stationery so I thought this was the bees knees. It was personal size, but I found it a little too big to carry around with me, so he eventually bought me a pocket sized one. I've still got all the pages from the years that I used these.

I eventually went back to using a pocket diary, I can't remember why now. It was only whilst reading Angel Jem's City Cottage, and her posts back in May and June about her filofaxes that my love of them was awakened. I've had some birthday money saved up for ages, so I decided that I would treat myself to a Chameleon in red. It was half price in filofax UK sale, so I got a bargain. I decided on a5 size as I wanted to use it more of a household file, logging finances, addresses and appointments rather than a diary. I absolutely love it, and it's keeping me organised.

It wasn't long after I bought the Chameleon that I decided I wanted to go back to a filofax for every day use, rather than a pocket diary, so I treated myself again. This time I bought a pocket sized filofax, the Malden in vintage pink. I've been using it for quite a while now, and it's working well. I keep lots of notes and lists in there as well as things like Daniel and Eleanor's timetables, it was only last week that I needed to know which lessons Eleanor had on a certain day.

I never knew that filofaxes have such a following. There's whole blogs devoted to them as well as numerous filofax videos on YouTube. A great site for all things filofax, as well as bits and pieces about other stationery, is Philofaxy.

A new year's nearly here now, and all I'll be buying this time round are the inserts to pop in my filofax.

Thursday 15 November 2012

A Little Treat

I've tried to curb my magazine habit this year as spending on them can really mount up. I used to subscribe to Gardeners World Magazine through Tesco Clubcard Deals, which wasn't too bad as it kept the cost down, but I found they weren't getting read as I just didn't have time, and also, the content is much the same from one month in one year to the same month in another year. I don't really read women's magazines, but I do enjoy craft and lifestyle magazines.

I've done really well and can't remember buying any magazines this year. Perhaps I did give in to temptation and bought a couple, but I really don't recall. I decided that I've done so well that a treat was in order, when I went shopping I thought I'd allow myself to pop one in the basket. The problem was, which to choose. I wanted something with a bit of everything in it, and as it's the December issue, I wanted something with some Christmas content. The shelves were stocked full, there was so much choice, but I eventually settled on Prima. The cover seemed to suggest that there's plenty in there about the festive season. At £2.99, it isn't one of the more expensive ones either.

I paid for my shopping, and then on the way out of the supermarket, I noticed a stand which contained a new magazine, Homemaker. It promised 'Creative ideas for your home' and seemed to be targeted at a wide audience - Making - Interiors - Stitching - Baking - Knitting & More. This is the very first issue. Hmmm, I've been good all year, so a quick detour to another till and this magazine was mine. It cost rather more than Prima at £4.99, but I don't know when I'll buy another magazine.

I haven't had chance to sit and have a proper read of it yet, but a quick flick through shows me that there's lots of things in there that I'd like to have a go at. Just look at these Christmas Biscuits, they look fab hanging from the tree with their pretty gingham ribbons, though I wouldn't be able to do that in our house as Archie would eat them all.

This issue of Homemaker came with a free Creative Christmas Source Book. Again, I've only had a quick flick through, but there's more projects in here, as well as fonts, labels, papers and art work to cut out and use for crafty makes.

I took a shine to this Paper Angel, she looks so easy to make, I'll have to give it a go.

So, I'm stocked up with plenty of magazines to read for a while, but I want to also mention Tesco Magazine. This is a free magazine and it's chock a block with all things festive. As you would imagine, there's plenty of advertisements for things you can buy in store, but there's also some interesting articles, lots of recipes and a heap of clever ideas and things to make. Definitely worth popping a copy in with your groceries if you happen to shop at Tesco.

I'm looking forward to putting my feet up, reading the magazines and attempting some of the projects.