Wednesday 27 November 2013

Challenge Update - November

My 2013 challenges are:-

1) Watch one old film each month.

2) List five items on Ebay each month.

3) Have a date night with Mick each month.

I chose The Big Sleep with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall as my film to watch for November. It's fast paced so it keeps you watching, otherwise you're likely to miss an important part of the quite complicated plot. It's a good film but it won't rank in the top half of the films I've watched this year, I've seen better.

I'll be glad when I've finished my Ebay challenge. I'm enjoying watching the bidding on my auctions but not the actual listing of the items. I'm only listing five items each month, yet it's so time consuming, and Ebay are now charging a final value fee on postage, which I think is absolutely ridiculous. I'm wondering what else they'll find to add a fee to, afterall, there's already a fee to list, a fee on the final value of the item, then there's a Paypal fee and now a final value fee on postage. All these fees certainly cut in to any profits.

My date night with Mick this month was in a recently refurbished local pub. I noticed an offer on Groupon for two two-course meals for £12, which I thought was good value, especially as the main courses here are usually in the region of this price for one. It's many years since we've been to this particular pub so it made a change, though I have to say that the atmosphere left a lot to be desired. We were seated at one of only four tables in use, there were another two couples and a table of four, though there were plenty of unoccupied tables, yet when we rang to make the booking, we were told that they were quite busy and we may have to wait. I'd hate to see them if they had a rush on. As it happened, the food was delicious and the staff couldn't have been more friendly, so that made up for the lack of ambience.

We've got a quiet house for a couple of days now. Eleanor's headed off this morning on a school trip to London and won't be home until tomorrow night. It's a trip which has been organised for her GCSE Music class. It's really so that they can attend some workshops with the London Symphony Orchestra, but there's lots of fun things going on too, such as a meal at the Rainforest Cafe before a visit to the big budget production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the West End tonight. They're also going for a tour of London with a flight on the London Eye. I wish she'd had room in her suitcase for me.

Monday 25 November 2013

Owl Fingerless Mitts

I got the Owl Fingerless Mitts knitted up in no time at all.

I used Sirdar Supersoft Aran in Kingfisher, a colour which Eleanor chose herself. It took less than half a ball so there's plenty left for another pair.

I actually got a bit stuck on the pattern, it had abbreviations which I hadn't come across before, T4Bpk and T4Fpk, but I found their meanings after doing a search online. It's not that the stitches are hard, I think if you know how to knit and purl you're well away, it's just learning the meanings of all the terms.

Eleanor's pleased with them and I might even knit a pair for myself seeing as I have plenty of yarn left over.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Hello, Old Friend

It was back in March when I completed my last knitting project, the Humanity fingerless mitts for Eleanor. I can't believe it was so long ago, though I have to admit that I've got a bit hooked on crochet so I've been concentrating on that this year. I have picked up my knitting needles to knit a few dishcloths at various times, but I don't count those as a project, I could knit them in my sleep.

I thought it was about time that I cast on for the project I'd planned eight months ago, Owl fingerless mitts by Amanda Jones. I'd seen Gail post about this pattern on her Amongst The Wool blog and I really liked the owl pattern so I thought I'd give them a go myself.

It's like catching up with an old friend again. It's only now that I've picked up my needles that I realise how much I've missed my knitting. Sometimes I get so absorbed in something that other things fall by the wayside, I really need to make time for a bit of everything, afterall, variety is the spice of life.

Monday 18 November 2013

Changing Colours

Archie's walk on Saturday was in the grounds of Temple Newsam. As you know, we often visit this stately home and its 1500 acres of parkland.

It was a lovely morning for a walk, quite mild and only a small breeze.

The trees are looking glorious at the moment in their autumn colour, though it won't be long now until they've completely dropped their leaves.

The beech walk looks a little sad, there aren't many leaves left here.

There's still quite a few flowers blooming though.

Hydrangeas look so pretty if their blooms are left to fade, so much nicer than cutting them off when they've finished flowering.

There's lots of berries this year too, a sign of a harsh winter to come, I wonder.

The rhododendrons have already formed their flower buds ready for spring.

Archie loves autumn, the fallen leaves are too much to resist. He loves to hear the noise they make as he runs through them.

Here he is just ready to start rolling around in all the leaves.

The ducks on the lake were enjoying the beautiful morning just as much as all the visitors were.

The grounds of Temple Newsam were landscaped by Capability Brown. I think he did a marvelous job around the lake, I just love all the different planting which gives a palette of such different colours.

I'm making the most of all the autumn colour as it won't last much longer.

The weather is set to become much colder over the next couple of days and snow has even been mentioned, I hope it passes us by, I'm not ready for that quite yet.

Friday 15 November 2013

The Sunshine Award

I was thrilled to bits to receive this award from Tammy over at My Journey blog. These November days are quite dull and dreary so it was lovely that she thought of me and added a bit of Sunshine to my days.

The Sunshine Award is an award given to those who inspire us and bring sunshine in to our lives.

Thank you, Tammy, I'm honoured to accept this award.

There are a few simple rules:-

1) Include the award logo in your blog post.

2) Link to the person who nominated you.

3) Answer 10 questions about yourself.

4) Nominate other bloggers.

Tammy's questions for me are as follows:-

1) Why do you blog?

I blog as a kind of online diary. It's fun to look back on and see what I was doing this time last year, two years ago or three years ago.

2) Why do you follow the blogs that you follow?

I follow the blogs that I do because I connected with them in some way. They may inspire me, I may have made a friendship with the blogger or we may share a common interest.

3) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I don't really look to the future or make plans. I think that may come from the fact that I suffered from a serious illness a while ago and I now realise that you never know what's around the corner, so I try to live my life for today and don't make too many plans.

4) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

As above.

5) If you could relive one day in your life...would you?

I certainly would. I'd like to relive a day when my sister was still living.

6) What thoughts pop into your head when I say the word "America"?

I think the first thing which pops into my head is Disney. Perhaps that's because I've been to America twice and both times were on trips to Disneyland, I haven't seen anything else of the country at all. Also, the friendly people. I don't know if it was just because we were in Disneyland but everyone was so chatty and welcoming, especially in shops and restaurants, you don't often get service with a smile here anymore.

7) City? Country? Mountains? Beach? Where do you prefer to live?

Well, I've only ever lived on the outskirts of a city so I don't have experience of the others, but I'd love to live in a village in the country, though a coastal village would be good too.

8) Do you have a bucket list?

No, I don't have a bucket list. I'm quite happy with my lot in life and don't really yearn to experience or achieve anything other than what I already have.

9) If you could do any job in the world, what would it be? (It's your world so your kids get to be with you).

I think the best job in the world is being a mum. It's all I ever wanted to be when I was young so I achieved that dream.

10) What is your most favourite way to relax?

My favourite way to relax is spending time with my family. It doesn't matter what we're doing, but I love it when we're all together.

Now I shall nominate some people to pass this award on to.

Mitzi from Lazy Days & Sundays at The Willows
Cheryl from My Little Piece of England
Susan from Granny Smith's Quilting
Mum from Mum's Simply Living Blog
Amy from Love Made My Home
Denise from Mrs Nesbitt's Space
Kim from Little White Sewing Shed
Karen from Chelmarsh Chunterings
Jenny from The Urban Cottage
Jan from Stand and Stare

I know that not everyone accepts awards so please don't feel under pressure to accept this one if you don't want to, I just want you to know that I enjoy reading your blog.

If you do decide to accept, here are the questions I'd like you to answer. As it's now less than six weeks to Christmas, I thought I'd give my questions a Christmas theme.

1) Do you have any Christmas traditions?
2) Do you eat turkey on Christmas day?
3) Christmas pudding, Christmas cake or mince pie, which is your favourite?
4) Where do you spend Christmas day?
5) Approximately, how many people to you buy or make presents for?
6) What is your favourite Christmas song?
7) What is your favourite Christmas film?
8) Do you have a real or fake tree?
9) What's the best and worst presents you've ever received?
10) What are you looking forward to most this Christmas?

Do pop over and visit the blogs I've nominated, I'm sure you'll find some new favourites amongst them. Thank you, once again, Tammy.

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Another Ripple

It wasn't long after I started Daniel's Ripple Blanket earlier in the year that Eleanor decided that she'd like one too. I was still crocheting Daniel's when we were on holiday in Cornwall, but Eleanor chose the colours she'd like from the yarn shop there and has been waiting patiently ever since.

This time, I decided that I'd do an interlocking pattern, similar to the way Lucy from Attic24 did hers.

I started this blanket off with more chains than Daniel's as I've now realised that the ripple pattern tends to pull it in a bit. I made 213 chains (15 X 14 + 3) and it looks to be a better size this time. I really liked how the interlocking pattern was working out when I first started the blanket.

I've got a little bit further on now and I'm loving it even more with all the colours now being used. The colours Eleanor chose are Khaki, Meadow, Spring Green, Pomegranate, Fondant and Candyfloss, all from the Stylecraft Special DK range. I like how the pink and green work together, and also the light and dark shades of each.

The ripple is such a relaxing pattern, I enjoy the rhythm of it, rippling up and down, back and forth while I watch tv or chat.

There's quite a way to go yet but it's a project which will keep me warm and cosy through winter.

Sunday 10 November 2013

A Pear Of Crumbles

I made a start using up some of the pears which I mentioned a couple of posts back. It was my mum's birthday on Thursday, 79 years young, so I made a couple of pear crumbles, one for us and one to take round for my mum and dad, makes a change from birthday cake, and my mum loves a good pudding with custard. I've never used pears in cooking before, but they were very good in a crumble.

I had every intention of making an apple streusel cake this weekend, substituting the apples for pears, but time has run away with me. Yesterday, I got up and cleaned the house, then we took Archie to be trimmed, visited the garden centre and had a trip to the allotment before being summoned to York to take a letter to Daniel which had been delivered here and which he was waiting on. Whilst there, we took pity on the poor student that he's become and took him shopping, before doing our own shopping, so a full on day all in all.

Today, I got up and did my washing and ironing, then I spent the best part of the day shopping with Eleanor for things she needs to take with her on a school trip to London. She goes in a couple of weeks so I wanted to get that out of the way. We also had a look for some bits she needs for the play she's in at the end of the month. Her theatre company is staging a production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, and she needs some bright coloured clothing to wear in one of the scenes, not the easiest things to find at this time of year, and she doesn't have anything at all suitable in her wardrobe. Of course she doesn't, why would I think otherwise? So another day has run away from me.

We've eaten some of the pears through the week, so there aren't that many left now. Thank you for all your suggestions of what to make with them, I've filed all the recipes you've given me, but I probably won't get round to making anything else with them now, but we've enjoyed them all the same.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Sunrise On The Beach

I was thrilled to recently win Natasha's giveaway on her Vintage Pretty blog. Natasha was offering a print of her own photography to one lucky winner to celebrate her 1000th post. I was able to choose the image I so desired from the many photos on her blog, and to say that I was spoilt for choice would be an understatement. If you have visited Natasha's blog you'll know exactly what I mean, she takes some fabulous photos.

With Mick and Eleanor's help, we finally decided on the above from Natasha's Going Home post back in May. Natasha had got up at 4am to go and watch the sun rise on a Northumberland beach and this stunning photo was the result. Take a look at the photo on Natasha's blog as my photo of the photo really doesn't do it justice, it's absolutely beautiful.

Thank you, Natasha, this print will have pride of place just as soon as I get a suitable frame for it.

If you haven't visited Natasha before, I would urge you to do so, you'll see some beautiful photography on her blog.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

A Windfall

My next door neighbour knocked on our door at the weekend with a bag full of pears for us. His tree has produced a bumper crop this year and he wondered if we'd like some. Yes please!

There were just under four pounds of pears in the bag, they should keep us going for a while.

I'd like to use some of them to make a pear cake and a pear tart. I've been looking for recipes and wondered if anyone had any favourites that they'd like to share. I'd be very grateful.

Sunday 3 November 2013

On The Go

Back in August whilst we were on holiday in Cornwall, I had a bit of a spending spree on yarn. I mentioned it in a blog post at the time, however, as well as the yarn I blogged about, I also bought more for a new project.

Cute & Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench is a book I've had for a while now. Although I haven't made any of the projects in it, it's provided lots of inspiration.

I've lusted after this Springtime Throw for a long time, the colours go together so beautifully, and it's this photo which has inspired my current project, my On The Go Blanket.

My budget won't stretch to the suggested yarn so I'm using Stylecraft Special DK in similar shades, Meadow, Grape, Pomegranate, Soft Peach, Lemon, Cloud Blue and Cream. I'm not following the pattern of the Springtime Throw, I'm making granny squares in three rounds, two different colours separated with cream and they'll eventually be joined with cream too. I've worked out that I can make thirty different squares with these colours, though I'm not yet sure how big I want the blanket to ultimately be. Suffice to say, I'll need a few squares of each.

So why is it called my On The Go Blanket? Well, when I was on holiday, I was crocheting Daniel's Ripple Blanket. It was quite a size by then and wasn't very convenient to drag around with me on outings so I decided I needed something more portable. I don't think there's anything more convenient to carry around than granny squares, and so the idea was born. This isn't a blanket I'll work on at home, it's something that's portable enough to take with me away from home, so it's something I'll be working on when I'm On The Go.

Another long term project.