Wednesday 31 December 2014

Happy New Year

Taken at Roundhay Park on Boxing Day. It was bitterly cold so I wasn't surprised when snow fell later on in the day.

Wishing you all a happy new year and all the very best for 2015.

Saturday 27 December 2014

2014 Challenge Results

My 2014 challenges were:-

1) Knit one hat each week for The Innocent Big Knit.

2) Do something nice for me.

3) Choose a non fiction book from the library.

I had fifty little hats ready in good time to send in to Age UK for The Innocent Big Knit. These hats will adorn Innocent Smoothie bottles which will be in shops in February and every bottle sold will generate a 25p donation from Innocent to support Age UK's Spread the Warmth campaign, helping older people during the colder months. I shall be looking out in the shops in February to see if I can spot any of my own hats perched on the top of any Innocent bottles.

I found it quite hard to think of nice things for me. I suppose this says that I'm already quite content with life as it is. Over the year, they ranged from days out to watching DVDs to spending time with family and eating out. I did enjoy taking time out from the ordinary though and thinking about myself for a change.

I've loaned some really interesting books from the library over the course of the year. I think the book I borrowed in November, This Was Garforth, which was published by Garforth Historical Society was my favourite as I thoroughly enjoy reading about the history of the area in which I live.

I think these fun challenges are much more sensible that making new year's resolutions which tend to get broken fairly quickly. I'm coming up with some new ones for 2015 but they've yet to be finalised.

Monday 22 December 2014

Nib Nibs Review And Giveaway

When I was asked if I'd like to try a selection of baked snacks from a company based in North Yorkshire, I jumped at the chance. As well as being a lover of savoury products, I like to support local businesses.

Nib Nibs are based in Ripon and make premium baked British nibbles using quality British ingredients. I received a selection from the range to try:- Exceptional Cheddar Cheese Straws and three tubs of mininibs, Exceptional Cheddar Cheese Straws, Exceptional Cheddar & Cheeky Onion Straws and Exceptional Cheddar & Spicy Chilli Straws.

The mininibs come in handy sized tubs which are sealed for freshness. Be warned though, once you break that seal you'll feel compelled to eat the lot, they're so moreish.

We started off by sampling the cheese straws and were very pleasantly surprised. They're a pastry straw twice baked for a crunchy texture and I can vouch that they're exceptionally cheesy in flavour.

The mininibs were a huge hit. They're bite sized and it's so easy to keep popping them in your mouth, yum yum. Again, the cheese ones were strongly flavoured. I didn't think the onion flavour in the cheddar and cheeky onion was too overpowering, more a hint of onion and the same with the cheddar and spicy chilli flavour. Mick isn't a lover of anything too spicy but he enjoyed these as the level of chilli flavouring alongside the cheese is just right.

We enjoyed these nib nibs very much. They're good nibbles to have in over Christmas and for the rest of the year too. They'd be great for adding to hampers. The handy tubs also make them ideal when travelling, the fact that they're resealable with their plastic lids ensure that they'll keep fresh too.

I can definitely recommend nib nibs and I'm sure they'll become a regular treat here.

I should just mention that the products were sent to me free of charge but I have not been paid for writing this review.

If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning a selection of products from the nib nibs range, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. On this occasion, I'm afraid the giveaway is open to the UK only. One winner will be chosen at random. Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday 21 December 2014

Unexpected Gifts

I get fed up of going to the letterbox after the postman has been and all that's there are bills or junk mail. Yesterday wasn't a day like that though, I had some fabulous post, I'm so lucky.

I went to pick Eleanor up from school on Friday and while I was gone, a courier had attempted to deliver a parcel. Daniel was in the house but he can't have heard the knock on the door as there was a card left to say they'd attempted to deliver a parcel and would try again the following working day. We decided that instead of another possible missed delivery, we'd collect the parcel from the depot. I had no idea what it could be so imagine my surprise when I found that the parcel contained the following items.

Jayne and Daisy from The View From Bag End has sent both Archie and I some lovely goodies. I was a huge fan of Kendal Mint Cake, a peppermint flavoured confection which originates from Cumbria where Jayne lives, when I was a child so I'm looking forward to breaking in to that and I know the Belgian chocolate will be delicious. It's the WW1 bar from the Sainsbury's Christmas advert, Christmas Is For Sharing. It's manufactured in Ypres, Belgium, and features period packaging. It's being sold by Sainsbury's this Christmas with all profits being donated to The Royal British Legion.

The silky hanger opens out to reveal pockets in which to store jewellery or trinkets. Isn't it lovely, and very unusual.

Thank you, Jayne and Daisy, both Archie and I are thrilled with our gifts.

When we got home from the parcel depot, the postman had been and there was a small pile of post by the letterbox. Amongst the Christmas cards was a Betty's gift voucher which Susan from Granny Smith's Quilting had arranged to be sent. I met Susan and her husband in September when they were visiting the UK. We managed a second meet up before they returned to Australia and this time, Anne from Marmalade And Catmint and her husband joined us. Susan had sent the gift voucher so that the four of us, Mick and I and Anne and her husband, could enjoy another outing together. Isn't that lovely of her. It's just a shame that Susan and her husband live too far away to join us.

Thank you, Susan, I'm sure the four of us will enjoy our treat at Betty's and you will definitely be with us in thought.

I'd just finished opening my post when I saw the Royal Mail van pull up outside. The parcel which the postman brought to the door wasn't totally unexpected. Lisa from Jumble and Jelly is a very good blog pal and we'd arranged just after last Christmas that instead of swapping Christmas gifts this year, we'd do a Twelve Days Of Christmas swap. We've bought each other twelve small gifts, one of which is to be opened on each of the twelve days of Christmas, thus extending the present opening. It's been fun looking for little gifts throughout the year to squirrel away for this swap. Aren't the gifts which Lisa sent wrapped beautifully. Each one is labelled so that I know which one to open on each day.

Lisa also sent me this beautiful little Twelve Days Of Christmas stocking. It's so cute and is now hanging from my tree.

Thank you, Lisa, I'm looking forward to opening each of my gifts.

I'm so grateful to be a part of the blogging community, I've never come across such a kind, thoughtful and generous bunch of people. A huge Thank You to you all.

Friday 19 December 2014

Challenge Update - December 2014

My 2014 challenges are:-

1) Knit one hat each week for The Innocent Big Knit.

2) Do something nice for me.

3) Choose a non fiction book from the library.

I managed my target of fifty hats for The Innocent Big Knit, they had to be in by the 12th of December so I took them to my local Age UK charity shop and handed them in there. I'm looking forward to seeing all the Innocent Smoothie bottles in the shops dressed in their little hats.

Daniel came home from university a week ago so my nice thing for December was to go out for lunch with him. We went to the local pub and it was lovely to spend time, just him and I, chatting about all sorts of things. I'm so lucky that both my children are such good company.

My non fiction book for December is The Garden Bird Year by Roy Beddard. I love having birds visit my garden, I do all I can to attract as wide a variety of birds as I can. This book is more than an identification tool, it's split in to seasons so that you know what to expect from the bird world at different times of the year as well as covering things such as wildlife gardening, eggs, incubation and hatching, water in the garden, migration and pests and predators among many other subjects.

The book is very well illustrated with both drawings and photos.

I've found that providing a variety of foods encourages different birds to visit the garden and the book goes in to detail about different food and feeders available.

I'm now thinking about the challenges I'll be setting myself for 2015. I think fun challenges are much nicer, and easier, to keep up with than new year's resolutions which are usually broken by about the 5th of January. Will any of you be setting yourself any fun challenges?

It's only six sleeps to Christmas now and as I mentioned earlier, Daniel's now home from university. Eleanor breaks up from school today and Mick finishes work at lunchtime on Tuesday. I shall be doing my Christmas food shopping on Tuesday afternoon and then I'm hoping that everything will be done and I can sit back and relax.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Sewing Book Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway to win a copy of Emma Hardy's My First Sewing Machine Book.

A winner has been drawn at random and I'm pleased to announce that Alison from Life At Sylvan House is the lucky winner. Can you please let me have your address so that I can get the book posted out to you.

My own learning to sew plans have been put on hold until after the new year. Daniel came home from university on Friday so the house is full once again and it's very busy in the run up to Christmas. I still haven't finished my gift knitting for Christmas so I shall be concentrating on getting that done in amongst the rest of the chaos this week. At least we trimmed up last week so we're ahead on one thing this year, I've been known to be putting up the tree on Christmas Eve before now.

Monday 8 December 2014

Little House In The Big Woods

Little House In The Big Woods is the first book in the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I used to love watching Little House On The Prairie when I was little and have now started collecting each series on DVD but I'd never read the books so I thought it would be nice to do so.

I've so far read Little House In The Big Woods and Little House On The Prairie and I'm half way through On The Banks Of Plum Creek. I'm enjoying reading them very much.

Before I started reading the Little House books, I read One Day by David Nicholls.

After meeting on the 15th of July 1988, the day of their graduation, One Day tells the story of Emma and Dexter with a snapshot of their lives on the same day each year for the next twenty years.

Eleanor's watched the film version of One Day numerous times so I've caught bits of it, but it didn't spoil the book for me.

I'm hoping to find a Kindle in my Christmas stocking this year. It will be handy to use when I'm awake during the night but I'm sure I'll continue to read proper books too.

Don't forget to enter my Sewing Book Giveaway if you haven't already done so. You've got until twelve noon on Saturday the 13th of December 2014 to leave a comment on the appropriate post.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Sewing Book Giveaway

Do you remember the book I told you about in my Learning To Sew post? I bought myself My First Sewing Machine Book by Emma Hardy as I intend to have a go at learning to sew. It's a book which is really aimed at children, 7 years +, however, I think kids books are great for adults too as everything is usually explained really clearly.

I actually bought two copies of the book as I thought it would make a great giveaway prize, so one for me and the other for one lucky winner.

You can read more about the book itself if you click on the link to my Learning To Sew post.

You might like to learn to sew yourself or have a child or grandchild who would like to learn, or you may already be able to sew and fancy having a go at some of the 35 fun projects which are included in the book.

If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning this lovely book, just leave a comment on this post by twelve noon on Saturday the 13th of December 2014. A name will be drawn at random soon afterwards and I'll endeavour to get the book to the winner before Christmas.

Good luck.

Sunday 30 November 2014


Eleanor has been performing in Scrooge at the Carriageworks Theatre in Leeds this week with her theatre group, it's the musical version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. We went to see it last night and had a lovely evening.

Eleanor had quite a big part, she took the role of Ghost of Christmas Past and Ghost of Christmas Future. Christmas Future didn't have any lines, she just had to point and gesture but she had lots of lines as Christmas Past and a solo too, Love While You Can. She performed beautifully, as did the rest of the cast.

I asked her to to get some photos in her costumes but they haven't turned out very well. Here she is as Christmas Past.

Christmas Future is a Grim Reaper type figure.

Here she is as one of the townsfolk.

It's hard to remember that the youth theatre which stage these shows each year are made up of children, some of them very young. The shows are extremely professional and well rehearsed, but most of all, you can tell that the kids really enjoy themselves and have a brilliant time.

I'm looking forward to hearing what next year's show will be.

Friday 28 November 2014

Challenge Update - November 2014

My 2014 challenges are:-

1) Knit one hat each week for The Innocent Big Knit.

2) Do something nice for me.

3) Choose a non fiction book from the library.

I've reached my target of knitting fifty hats for The Innocent Big Knit. Here they are, all together. They have to be in by the 12th of December so it's time to send them off.

My nice thing for November was a meal out with Mick. Last year, I set myself the challenge of having a date night once a month. It was nice for just the two of us to spend time out somewhere together, but this has rather fallen by the wayside this year so I thought I'd do something about it this month. Eleanor's at the age now where she rarely comes out with us if we're going anywhere and Daniel's away at university, so we do get time together, but it's not often that the time is spent just talking and enjoying each other's company, we're usually quite busy so it's lovely to just pause for a while and talk. We went to the local pub and enjoyed a delicious meal whilst we caught up with each other's news.

I wrote about the non fiction book I chose from the library this month in A Bygone Era post. This Was Garforth was published by the Garforth Historical Society and shows many old photos of the town. It was fascinating to see buildings which are still standing, yet other areas of the town which are now unrecognisable.

It's quite hectic on an evening here at the moment. Eleanor is in a play at the Carriageworks theatre in Leeds so we have to get her there by 6pm for a 7.30pm start, it's no fun in the centre of Leeds during rush hour I can tell you. We're then back around 10pm to pick her up. She had a technical rehearsal and dress rehearsals at the start of the week and the first performance was last night. She's singing a solo so she was a little nervous, but she said it went ok. One performance down, another three to go. We're going to see the show tomorrow evening, I can't wait.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Project Pouch Giveaway Win

Pam from A New Life In Wales recently hosted a giveaway and I was one of the lucky winners. I won this beautiful project pouch which Pam made herself, isn't it beautiful?

I was thrilled to win as I've been looking for something to keep my sock knitting in and this fits the bill perfectly. It's lovely and roomy inside so it's large enough for when I've got a pair of Eleanor's favourite socks on the go which are knit on two needles rather than dpn's.

Thank you, Pam, it's a wonderful prize.

Monday 24 November 2014

Cuteness Overload

Eleanor was messing around with my DSLR camera yesterday and I just had to show you these photos she took.

This is her iPod. It has The Fault In Our Stars case with quotes from the book, but just look at the cute schnozzle in the background.

There's nothing cuter than dog paws.

"Please get that camera out of my face, I'm trying to snooze here".

Eleanor's decided she might like a new camera for Christmas. I wonder if Santa's listening.

Friday 21 November 2014

Christmas Jumper Day

This is the third year in which Save The Children will be running its annual Christmas Jumper Day. It's to be held on Friday the 12th of December and people are encouraged to wear a Christmas jumper for the day and make a donation to this deserving charity.

George at Asda is the official retail sponsor and Christmas jumpers are now on sale in their stores and online with a percentage of each sale going to Save The Children.

Eleanor will be taking part at school, though I think it's just the sixth form which is joining in. She wanted something gaudy and we came across this jumper in the men's section at Matalan. It's a little big but she likes her jumpers to be baggy.

I think this fits the bill perfectly, especially when the lights are turned on and are flashing away.

Other partners besides Asda are supporting this year's Christmas Jumper Day too. If you fancy knitting yourself a jumper, patterns can be downloaded from with selected patterns carrying a donation to Save The Children. How about getting your dog in on the fun? Doggy jumpers are being sold at Pets at Home with a donation going to Save The Children. I'm not sure it's really Archie's thing.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Nice Weather For Ducks

On Sunday, we went for a walk in Golden Acre Park, a public park in North Leeds covering 55 hectares. We'd had some heavy rainfall the previous couple of days and there were lots of puddles. The ducks didn't seem to mind though.

We started off with a stroll around the lake before setting off through the woodland.

There's lots of pathways to follow so it doesn't get too muddy, even after so much rain.

Golden Acre Park runs alongside two nature reserves, though we stayed in the park on this visit.

I think autumn is giving way to winter now, many of the trees have lost their leaves and the intense autumn colours are fading fast.

It was good to get out and about after being cooped up indoors because of the rain. I try to make the most of any good weather we have at this time of year as it surely can't last much longer.

Archie had been to the groomers on Saturday for a trim. I always get him cut very short underneath as he tends to get leaves, twigs and general woodland debris tangled underneath him otherwise. I thought he might be a little chilly so he wore his coat on Sunday.

We veered off the beaten path and took ourselves in amongst the trees.

There's so many things of interest to be found at this time of year and getting away from paths and areas with heavy footfall increases your chances of finding them.

In among the fallen leaves were all different types of fungi. These red ones are my favourites.

Take a look at what else we came across.

As we made our way out of the park, it was nice to see some roses still flowering.

The hydrangeas have now faded, but they're still a thing of beauty.

Dogwoods (cornus) are known for their vivid winter stem colour. They literally glow.

There's so much to see at this time of year. Let's hope for many more nice days before winter really does set in, it's good to be out and about enjoying nature.