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.

Monday 12 November 2012

Cutting Down

It's no secret that my healthy eating challenge has been extra challenging of late. I started off the year really well, losing a total of two stone six pounds, or thirty four pounds, but I've gone to pot in the latter part of the year. The weight I lost is slowly creeping back on, so it really is time that I do something about it.

It's been very hard getting motivated again, especially when Mick brings treats home like this chocolate that I found in the fridge this morning. I really do need an extra push now before Christmas though, so I'm trying to stay focused.

The thing I really need to work on is snacking between meals. I need to make sure that the fruit bowl is well stocked so that I can snack on something healthy rather than a biscuit or a packet of crisps. I do love to chomp on a home grown tomato, but sadly, these are all I've got left of this year's harvest. Don't worry, the dark ones aren't bad, they're a variety called Black Cherry and are supposed to be that colour.

As well as cutting out snacks, I need to refocus on exercise. Before Archie was ill, he had been suffering with a limp, so the vet advised complete rest. That certainly didn't help, as my main exercise is walking him. His limp is still there, though it's much better now, so we went for a lovely long walk this morning down The Lines. I feel much better for exercise and fresh air already, and Archie is conked out.

Friday 9 November 2012


When everyone is at home, our house is always filled with music, whether it's Daniel watching the music channels on television, Eleanor in the playroom on the keyboard or guitar, not to mention her singing, or Mick listening to the radio.

When ParamountZone asked me to try the Tap Shower Radio, I jumped at the chance, I thought it would be something which would get used often in our bathroom.

It's designed like a tap, which you turn to turn the radio on and adjust the volume. It has dials for am or fm and for tuning.

It's so easy to install with the large suction cup, it just clings to the bathroom tiles, and being waterproof, it's safe to have in the shower cubicle or right beside you in the bath.

I have to say that the sound is really good, I've come across radios where the sound is crackly, but this is very clear. That may be down to the fact that it has an antena for fine tuning which many radios of this kind don't have.

The radio takes two AA batteries which aren't included.

It's already been used by everyone in our household, and I can see that it will be a permanent fixture in our bathroom.

At the moment, ParamountZone are offering the Tap Shower Radio at half price, a bargain at £4.99.

I was also asked by ParamountZone to try the Keyfinder Keyring. This is a nifty little gadget which helps you remember where you put your keys.

Simply attach your keys to the keyring and the next time you forget where you put them, give a whistle and the keyring beeps and flashes to tell you where they are. I have to say that the Keyfinder Keyring does sometimes go off with other noises too, such as the clink of a glass or a clatter of dishes.

There's also a built in torch, which is very handy when you're trying to find the keyhole in the dark. This is easily activated with the touch of a button.

The price of the Keyfinder Keyring is £2.99.

With Christmas looming, there's lots of gift ideas on the ParamountZone website. I find it easy to think of things to buy for Eleanor, it's the men in my life that I get stuck on, but I shall be getting many ideas from this site. I shall be checking out the Gadgets catagory and also Toys For Boys. Hopefully, I won't have such a hard time this year thinking of things to put in their stockings.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Christmas Blanket

My finished item for October is a blanket which I've made for my mum for Christmas.

My mum was a really good knitter, though she hasn't picked up her needles for many years now. She never learnt to crochet though, and she's really impressed with how I've taught myself. She's admired the other blankets I've made, so I thought I would make her a lap blanket for Christmas.

It's a nice size, ten squares by eight, so it should keep her nice and toasty. The other blankets I've made have been a hotch potch of colours, so it was strange just working in three shades and I wondered if I would get bored with it, but I didn't. I'm pleased with how it's turned out.

I did two rows of edging in cream. I was going to do a row of each colour, but I think I prefer the one colour.

My mum and dad play bowls, and those bowling greens can be draughty places, so I'm sure it will be put in to good use there. I've used Stylecraft Special DK, which is washable, a must when something is going to be used often.

As well as crocheting the blanket, I've been busy knitting a stash of dishcloths. I use Pegasus craft cotton and Grandmother's Favourite Dishcloth pattern.

That lot should keep me going for a while.

Saturday 3 November 2012

On With The Challenge

At the start of the year, I set myself the challenge of reading at least one book per month. I'd got out of the habit of reading books, and as I used to be an avid reader, it was a habit I was eager to reestablish.

Last month, I read Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith, the seventh book in The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series.

I mentioned that I'd picked up The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party at a charity shop, and Sft from Sft's Life After Mortgage -  Frugal Fun, Travel & Retirement asked if I would like to swap this book, once I had read it, for The Double Comfort Safari Club, another book from the series which I was missing. The book arrived through the post, thank you Sft, so I'm trying to get through the rest of the series now so that I can fulfil my part of the bargain and post the book which I've promised back.

At the moment, I'm reading The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, then I've got another three in the series to read before I get to the one I've promised Sft.

I'm sure I can manage that before the end of the year.

Archie went back to the vets yesterday for a check up and I'm pleased to report that his infection has now cleared up. It's such a relief after the worry I've had over the past couple of weeks.

Thursday 1 November 2012

November Already

I can't believe how fast this year is whizzing by, or that we're in to November already. Two months and another year will have passed by.

This morning, I popped to the local shops and treated myself to these gorgeous yellow roses which I've popped in to a jug. I thought they were good value at £3 for thirteen stems.

Yellow roses were my sister's favourite flowers, so I shall think of her each time I look at them.