Monday 28 May 2012

One More To Go

This is the penultimate square for my granny square blanket, there's only one more left to make after this one and then I can start putting it all together.

I started making these squares about a year ago, not long after I learnt to crochet. I know it's taken a long time but I've been knitting in between and I've taken it in my own time.

I now have to decide how I'm going to assemble it. I think I shall choose to crochet it together, it seems an easier option than sewing, for me anyway.

Let's hope it doesn't take me another year to put it all together.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Spotty Dotty Sockies

Aren't these socks just delightful? Bright, fun, colourful, cheerful, happy, they're all these things and more.

I came across them in Primark whilst on a shopping trip in Leeds with Eleanor at the weekend. At the bargainous price of £1.00 for three pairs, they had to go in the basket.

Of course, it's not sock wearing weather at the moment, summer has finally arrived, but they're in waiting for when the weather turns cold again.

I should add that these socks were the extent of my purchases, though Eleanor did considerably better. Well, doesn't she always?

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Pretty In Pink

I'm a little late in showing you my finished item for April, but here it is.

I love knitting baby clothes, so when I found out that a neighbour was expecting, I was only too glad to cast on, and cast on I did, 243 stitches! The jacket is knit in one piece up to the armholes, so there's a lot of stitches. It saves on sewing up though, which is my pet hate.

Matinee jackets don't seem to be very fashionable these days. This pattern is from Sirdar and I remember knitting it when I was in my teens for various members of the family when they had their babies. I still think it's pretty.

I hope the neighbour likes it. She's only sixteen and it was only a couple of years ago that she used to come and call to play with Eleanor, and now she's a mum herself.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Ladies Who Lunch

I always used to have a sandwich for my lunch, and I wasn't very adventurous when it came to the fillings either. Since January when I embarked on my healthy eating plan, I haven't eaten one sandwich at lunch time. Instead, I've been eating a variety of things, most of which are already in the cupboard or fridge, and it's made a real change.

I love tuna and sweetcorn mixed together. If I wasn't trying to lose weight, I would have added mayonaise, but to be honest it really doesn't need it, it's just adding extra calories. A little salad added to the plate made it a tasty lunch.

When I think about trying to lose weight, I imagine living on a diet of crispbreads. This really doesn't have to be the case, though I've found that crispbreads can be rather tasty. I eat the dark rye variety and they taste really good. I usually have three for lunch which are topped with cream cheese. I use The Laughing Cow Light triangles, and there's enough in two to spread on three crispbreads. There are only twenty five calories in each triangle, and again, I add some salad to the plate.

I love eggs so I sometimes have scrambled egg on toast. I don't butter the toast but have it dry and I find that one egg is enough to eat with two slices of toast. I hate sloppy scrambled egg so I always make sure that mine is really well done, though sometimes I change the scrambled egg for a poached egg, but I then make sure that the yolk is lovely and runny. Yum.

We're not really a soup eating family, so I don't make my own soups but I do love Heinz Cream Of Tomato Soup. Half a tin is filling enough when eaten with a slice of dry bread, and it's a lovely warming lunch for the cold days we've been experiencing.

A really filling lunch is jacket potatoes with baked beans and salad. I usually have this if I'm going to be having a not so filling dinner.

I'm sure you'll agree that my lunch repertoire has greatly improved. Not only that but my sandwich was usually consumed on the go, or perched on the sofa in between doing a hundred and one other things. Nowadays. time is put aside for lunch and I eat it sat at the table, it really makes a difference and I feel like I've eaten a proper meal which makes me avoid snacking throughout the afternoon.

I've now lost two stones and six pounds, or thirty four pounds, so I must be doing something right.

Thursday 17 May 2012


The book I'm reading this month is Sister by Rosamund Lupton. It's a psychological thriller and quite different from the books I usually read, but I'm really enjoying it. It's definitely a page turner, I can't wait to find out what happens next.

I finished The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. It took a while for me to get in to this, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. The second book from this series in in my reading pile and I'm looking forward to reading it.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Tired Out

It's a hard life having to revise for exams. Just one look at Daniel's Chemistry revision book and Archie was tired out.

Daniel's now on three weeks study leave. He was in school as usual last week, but fifteen hours ICT work under exam conditions were scheduled, and he's now completed that. The rest of his exams are to take place over this week and next, though he doesn't return to school until after the half term holiday, on 11th of June.

The exams he's taking are AS levels which count towards his A levels so we're hoping he does well. He's taking ICT, Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemisty, though he'll probably drop one and just continue on to A level with four chosen subjects as well as the compulsory General Studies.

I know that many of you have children taking GCSE's, AS levels and A levels at the moment, so I wish them all the very best of luck.

Sunday 13 May 2012

A Musical Weekend

This weekend has been jam packed with music. First of all, on Friday night we went to see Eleanor and her drama group perform in High School Musical 2. The show was staged at the local secondary school, which has recently been refurbished. The hall now has seats which pull down from the wall in to a tiered arrangement, and with a proper stage it's just like being in a theatre.

She was supposed to be performing in the show on Saturday night too, but a few weeks ago we had a phone call from her singing teacher. The organisers of the musical festival which Eleanor performed in in March had asked if she would sing at their winner's concert. What a good job our High School Musical 2 tickets were for Friday night and not Saturday.

Eleanor didn't have a main part in High School Musical 2, so we spoke to the director who agreed that she should perform in the concert on Saturday, though she realised that she'd made a commitment to her drama group and wouldn't have taken part in the winner's concert if there'd been any problem in her dropping out of High School Musical 2.

The winner's concert, or Festival Showcase, featured not only singers but lots of different kinds of musicians. There were violinists, a pianist, a string quartet, tenor horn and even a harp, as well as a folk singer and choirs. Eleanor had been asked to perform one of the songs she had sung at the festival in March, so she chose Feed The Birds, but in the programme it showed that she was to sing both songs which she had performed. Unfortunately, her accompanist had only brought the music for Feed The Birds so that's what she performed.

There were lots of people there, probably more than she's ever performed to before, but she was a star, it didn't faze her in the least.

Eleanor's next performances will be with school. She's practicing at the moment with her music class for a concert celebrating the Diamond Jubilee, and with her after school singing group for a performance in the local arts festival. It's all go.

Friday 11 May 2012

A Little Bit Of Me Time

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to win Jan's lovely giveaway which she was hosting on her Stand And Stare blog. Jan had called the giveaway A Little Bit Of Me Time. I should just say that Jan posted the parcel to me very promptly and I've been meaning to blog about it for quite a while, so I thought I would tell you all about it today before another week has passed by.

There are eight tea lights, some from The Yankee Candle Company and some from Party-Lite, a company I haven't heard of before, but I've since googled them and they sell some wonderful things. These were sent in a really pretty little box, adorned with flowers and butterflies, but which I omitted to photograph, sorry about that.

There's also a tea light holder in a crackle glass design. It's so pretty and unusual in that it has a bead string which it can be hung up with. I've just got to decide where to hang it now.

Last but not least, Jan also sent some La Maison de Senteurs hand cream from Marks and Spencer. I've been using this regularly since it arrived and it's absolutely gorgeous. It has a light lemon and green floral fragrance, and really has made a difference to the state of my hands already.

Thank you, Jan, I'm thrilled with everything you included. Anyone who knows me knows that I love candles, I burn them nearly every day, and my hands are always in need of some nourishment after a day in the garden or at the allotment so this really is a wonderful prize.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Dirty Dog

Why does Archie feel the need to jump in every muddy puddle he sees?

There's so many muddy puddles around after all the rain we've had that he's having a whale of a time at the moment.

This is what he looked like after our walk yesterday.

Needless to say, he had to have a bath, something he's not very keen on.

Monday 7 May 2012

In And Out The Shady Bluebells

Do you remember the game In And Out The Shady Bluebells? We used to play it in the playground at school. All the children stand in a circle holding hands in the air to make arches whilst one child skips around the circle and through the arches whilst everyone sings:-

In and out the shady bluebells
In and out the shady bluebells
In and out the shady bluebells
Who shall be the leader?

The child doing the skipping then chooses a child in the circle and stands behind her tapping her on the shoulders whilst everyone sings:-

Tap a rap a rap her on the shoulders
Tap a rap a rap her on the shoulders
Tap a rap a rap her on the shoulders
She shall be the leader.

The child who has been tapped on the shoulders then joins the front of the line skipping round the circle, whilst the rest of the skippers follow behind her and so it goes on until there's a long line of skippers and not enough children to form a circle anymore.

We had a lovely evening walk last week in the local woods where all the bluebells are now in flower.

Archie loves walking in these woods, which are only a few minutes away from where we live, as there's lots of lovely smells for him to sniff out.

As well as bluebells, there's also ramsons, or wild garlic in flower at the moment. I've seen quite a few recipes on blogs which use wild garlic in them, though I've never tried it myself.

The forecast over the bank holiday weekend wasn't up to much, but I'm pleased to say that it turned out to be a lovely sunny, warm day yesterday, and it's started off much the same today.

I think I'll take Archie back to the woods whilst the weather holds up.

Saturday 5 May 2012


Eleanor took her grade four singing exam back in March and she's just been sent her certificate. To gain a distinction she needed to gain at least 87 marks out of 100, so with a score of 93 she was well within this.

The exam is split in to six parts, marks being given for each one. There are three songs, a vaccai voice exercise which is a short song in Italian, an aural test and musical knowledge. The first song Eleanor performed was Scarborough Fair and she gained full marks for this. There was only one mark dropped on each of the other two songs, Feed The Birds and I Don't Know How To Love Him. She's really enjoying learing to sing in Italian for her vaccai exercises, only one mark was dropped on this. She got full marks for her aural test but dropped four marks on her musical knowledge. It was only one small slip which she made, but at least it didn't cost her a distinction.

As you can see, she got some lovely comments from the examiner.

She's already started work on her grade five pieces, I hope she does just as well with that.

Thursday 3 May 2012


The timing for my supermarket shop on Sunday was spot on, I arrived just in time to coincide with the meat being reduced.

I came home with lots of bargains, three pieces of brisket at £3.86, £2.97 and £2.96, two packs of chicken breasts at £2.68 each, a pork joint at £1.41, pork fillet at £2.84 and two pork chops at £1.72. The total cost was £21.12 but should have been £34.65, so I saved £13.53.

We had the least expensive piece of brisket for tea on Monday and there was plenty enough for all four of us, with some left over. Brisket is one of the least tender cuts of beef, so it's important to cook it slowly, but cooked properly it's one of the most tastiest cuts. I remember watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cooking a piece of brisket on River Cottage alongside a more expensive cut of beef. I remember him saying that if he could only taste one, it would be the brisket as the flavour is so much better.

We've only recently started eating pork as a family as Mick has never been very keen on it. I did a pork casserole a couple of weeks ago which he really enjoyed so he's happy to have it more often now.

I'll see if I can get the timing for my shop just right again this week, who knows what I'll come home with.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Welcome To May

After the wet April we've experienced, I'm hoping that May brings with it some better weather. It's not looking hopeful yet, another grey, drizzly day here in Yorkshire, and the weather forecast tells us that it's going to be the coldest May for a hundred years, but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.

The flowers brightening up my house at the moment are these gorgeous yellow sunny chrysanthemums. I can't help but smile whenever I glance at them. They were a bargain too, only £2.50 from Tesco and there were an extra 50% included too, so I've managed to split them and they're cheering up two rooms. They last such a long time as well.

Earlier on in the month I visited Ikea and saw this pot of crocus for the princely sum of 49p. They don't last long once they bloom, but I don't care at that price. The bulbs are dying down in the greenhouse at the moment, but I'll plant them out in the garden so they'll hopefully bloom again next year.

I've managed to have flowers in the house ever since the beginning of the year so far, so I'm doing well with the challenge I set myself.