Wednesday 30 March 2016

Reading - March 2016

March has been another good month for reading, I've managed four books in total.

Why Didn't They Ask Evans? was the Agatha Christie book I read this month. It was a bit different in that it didn't have any people in it which we'd met before, no Poirot or Miss Marple, however, I enjoyed getting to know some new characters. I really enjoyed the story which had lots of twists and turns in it, and I was glad to eventually find out who Evans was as I'd been wondering right the way through the book.

I'm still working my way through Amanda Prowse's books and this month I read Perfect Daughter. I've mentioned before that I find her books quite hit and miss, some I really love and some, not so much, so I was pleased to find that this was one of her best, in my opinion. I think a lot of women will identify with Jacks, the main character, as she goes about her day to day life looking after her family and her mother who is suffering from dementia, trying to do her best by them all and wishing for a good future for her children.

One of the best books I've read for a long time is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, I absolutely loved this book and it's one of those which stays with you after it's finished. I downloaded it to my Kindle after Jennifer from Thistlebear recommended it last September, had I known how much I'd love it, I would have read it long before now. A film which is based on the book is due out in June, do have a look at the Official Trailer for it. I rarely go to the cinema but I think I'll make an exception for this film, I'd better take plenty of tissues with me. If you haven't yet read the book, I'd definitely recommend doing so before seeing the film as I'm not sure it will do the book justice. The trailer looks like your run of the mill chick flick film but the book is so much more than that.

I'm quite particular when it comes to choosing books to read so I don't often come across books which I haven't enjoyed. I picked up Grey by E L James in a charity shop purely because I'd read the other three books in the Fifty Shades of Grey series, but I really wish I hadn't. I know the other three books got a real slating but I thought they were okay for what they were. Grey is the same story as the first book but told from Christian's perspective. Knowing the story already, I found this book really boring and I don't think it adds anything to the story which has been already told, I couldn't wait to get to the end.

I've had a problem with my Kindle, as you know I got it for Christmas 2014 so I've only had it for about fifteen months. The battery was draining within a matter of hours, even when not in use, but as the Kindle was out of it's twelve month warranty, the only thing which Amazon were prepared to do was offer me a discount on a new one. Hmmm, I don't think so, there's a little known EU law which allows faulty goods to be returned up to two years after purchase, though it is a little ambiguous. One mention of this though and Amazon decided that they would replace my Kindle, not only that but as the faulty one is no longer available, I've been given an upgrade. It was here with me the following day so I'm good to go with my reading again.

Monday 28 March 2016

On The Menu

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter. Our Easter Sunday was filled with family, good food, chocolate and lots of laughter. What more can you ask for?

I cooked beef and turkey with all the trimmings for dinner and it looks like turkey is going to be on the menu for quite some time. I'd already bought what I needed for our Easter meal but when Mick popped in to Tesco on Saturday evening for something I'd forgotten, he came across these turkeys which had been reduced by just over a half. He rang me and asked if he should buy them. "Definitely", was my reply.

I decided that instead of cooking the turkey crown I'd already bought for dinner yesterday, I'd freeze that and cook the largest of these two turkeys instead, along with the joint of beef I'd bought. As you can imagine, there's lots of leftovers. It won't go to waste though, I usually buy more than we need for dinner so that there's plenty left to use in other meals.

Our family gathering is continuing today, Daniel and his girlfriend are still here and Eleanor's boyfriend is joining us this afternoon. At least they won't go hungry!

Saturday 26 March 2016


What does 28p buy you nowadays? Not a lot, does it. That's why I was pleased to find lots of veg available for this price when I visited Morrisons today.

A bag of onions, a bag of carrots, a head of broccoli and a swede all at 28p each. There were bags of potatoes at this price too but I didn't bother with those as I always buy mine from my local greengrocer unless I'm harvesting my own.

Another few things to note from my shopping today, melon, Magnums and cavolo nero.

The melon had been reduced from £1.08 to 35p, worth having. The magnums are a box of eight which cost £3, a box of four usually costs this price. It's not something I eat myself but I know Eleanor's boyfriend is particularly fond of them so it's handy to have some in the freezer. Cavolo nero is one of our favourite veggies, I'm very keen on dark leafy vegetables. Not all supermarkets sell it but Morrisons do so I usually pick some up when I visit. It's very easy to grow too. I thought I'd mention this as Jan over at The Low Carb Diabetic blog wrote a post about it recently in which she asks Cavolo nero have you discovered it yet? It's worth reading if you haven't already, it tells you all about this delicious vegetable.

Daniel and his girlfriend arrived home from university yesterday to spend Easter here, they're staying until Tuesday. It's wonderful spending some treasured family time together. They've popped in to Leeds to do a bit of shopping this afternoon so I thought I'd grab the chance to write this post and also to wish everyone a very happy, peaceful and fun Easter weekend, I hope you're able to spend it with your loved ones.

Monday 21 March 2016

Spring's Arrived

Yesterday was the Vernal Equinox which marks the first day of spring and I must say that it is very spring like at the moment. It's lovely to see some blue skies and sunshine, though we've been very lucky this year, it's been a mild winter.

The foliage I left on the sedum over winter has totally died off.

It's ready for pruning now as there's lots of new growth at the base of the old stems.

There was no trace of the tulips I planted in a container a couple of weeks ago, I thought they might have rotted but they've started to poke through the soil. These are Queen of the Night, a very deep purple tulip. I had every intention of buying some white tulips, or perhaps some orange ones, to grow with them, I think it would have made a lovely display but I never got round to it so I ended up planting the Queen of the Night on their own. They should still brighten the garden up.

I bought this little heather plant, Jack H Brummage, back in February last year. It didn't do much over summer but it's a lovely plant for the winter months and it's still going strong now. Can you see my little ladybird house next to it? I wonder if there's any hibernating bugs inside.

One of my favourite spring plants is the native primrose, it has such beautiful, pale yellow flowers and is very understated. I've got a few good clumps around the garden now. They will go on flowering for quite a while yet.

My patio plum tree, Czar, has lots of buds on it. I bought this tiny tree back in 2012 and I grew it in a container until I decided to plant it out in to the garden last Easter. I didn't get any fruit from it last year but I'm hoping it will reward me for allowing it to spread its roots this year. Time will tell.

There's lots of buds on my Stella cherry tree too. This tree is quite a bit bigger than the plum tree but it's still quite small in the grand scheme of things. I had this growing in a half barrel but as I've only had one decent harvest from it in the eight years I've had it, I thought I'd see if it does any better being planted in the garden. I hope it does as I love cherries.

One of the best things about spring though is that I can start drying washing on the line again. I hate having washing hung around the house to dry but apart from that, I just love the scent you get when it's been dried outdoors.

Blue skies with wispy clouds.

I hope they're here to stay.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Joyful World - March

A big thank you to everyone who offered help and advice on my Joyful World - February post. All your hints and tips have been very helpful and as you can see, I pulled out my first attempt and started again, a little further in from the edges.

Excuse all the creases in the fabric, this is what becomes of having so much extra material to work around, I'm finding it rather tricky actually, it's being folded and rolled but I can't seem to position it in a way which makes it easy to stitch. In fact, I'm beginning to think that I've bitten off more than I can chew. This is only my second cross stitch project and I've gone for something quite challenging for me. One saving grace is that it's worked in twelve smaller sections so it's not quite so overwhelming. I shall proceed as I usually do with any large project and work on it in my own time and take it at my own speed, that way I don't start feeling bogged down on what should be an enjoyable activity.

I haven't got very far but I haven't had very much time for crafting this past month or so. I'm trying to find a little extra time as it gives me a lot of pleasure when I do work on it. With two or three large projects on the go at the moment, I've decided that I shall work on some smaller things in between. I've seen the You Are So Loved cross stitch design on quite a few blogs and I think it's delightful. It's another free design from The Snowflower Diaries. I've printed off the chart and bought the threads I need so I'm good to go.

Talking of threads, the storage box which Mick bought me for Christmas is filling up nicely, I've bought all the threads I'll need to complete the first three months of Joyful World and You Are So Loved.

I'm going to have to search out a local or localish craft shop which stocks cross stitch supplies. There's a local shop which is great for DMC thread as it's only 50p, compared to Hobbycraft which sells it at 90p, it's very cheap. I haven't found anywhere yet which stocks a good range of fabric, I know it can be bought online but I do like to see before I buy, one of the downsides to shopping on the internet.

I've got a little bit of spare time this afternoon so I think a stitchy hour or two is in order, I just need to decide whether to plough on with Joyful World or make a start on You Are So Loved, decisions decisions.

Friday 11 March 2016

Whittled Down To Two

It's this time of year when I'm usually thinking about starting off some seeds, my fingers are always itching to get the seed packets opened and kick off the growing season, however, having given up my allotment at the end of last year, there truthfully isn't all that much to do this year. I do still want to grow things in the garden but until I've given it a bit of an overhaul and decided how and where I'm going to grow everything, I'm keeping things simple. There really needs to be some planning done but having given the allotment up due to lack of time, it's going to have to wait. Instead, my growing plans for this year have been cut down to the bare minimum.

I usually grow a selection of tomatoes but even if I wasn't looking to simplify things because of lack of time, I'd already decided that I would whittle down my selection to the two varieties I'm most impressed by at the moment and those are Bloody Butcher and Maskotka.

I grew Bloody Butcher for the first time last year, I'd come across some young plants in a local garden centre and though I usually grow my tomatoes from seed, I just couldn't resist this name so a plant ended up coming home with me. It's an heirloom variety and produces tomatoes in a range of sizes from very small to beefsteak size, though the ones on my plant last year were mostly a decent salad size.

They have good firm flesh and I was very impressed with the taste.

I think you can tell how juicy they are by this next photo.

Instead of buying a plant as I did last year, I've bought a packet of seed from Simply Seed, an online company which I haven't used before, but I have to say that I was very impressed with their service, the seeds were delivered with superfast speed. It's more economical buying seeds than buying plants, but I find it more fun to grow things from seeds anyway.

The second variety of tomato I'll be growing this year can't, in my opinion, be beaten. I discovered Maskotka two years ago and I think it will be a tomato which I always grow from now on.

They're a bush type plant but not compact by any stretch of the imagination, they still need staking and they tend to sprawl all over the place but they're heavy cropping and taste absolutely delicious so I'm inclined to forgive them their untidy habit.

The fruit is cherry size and has a wonderful taste, sweet and thin skinned. I usually keep them in a bowl on the worktop in the kitchen so that I can snack on them throughout the day, it's like popping sweeties in your mouth.

I wrote an earlier post about the potato varieties I'm growing and apart from them, the only other thing I shall be growing this year is cucumbers. I've gone for my favourite snack sized variety, Mini Munch. It's going to be very different this year without the allotment.

Sunday 6 March 2016

Yummy Mummy

I've never yet been called a yummy mummy but at least I've got the badge. It was pinned to the wonderful Mother's Day card which Eleanor bought me.

I've been thoroughly spoilt with beautiful flowers.

There's no chance of starting my healthy eating regime just yet, I've got a mountain of chocolate to get through. Everyone knows that Ferrero Rocher are my favourite.

I love that Eleanor still calls me mummy. She even had the little chocolate plaque she bought me from Thornton's engraved with it.

Wishing all you mums a Happy Mother's Day, I hope you're being spoilt too and that you're having a lovely day with those you love.

Friday 4 March 2016

Taking My Time

I can't be accused of not taking my time over my Spice Of Life Crochet Along blanket, I think it was last September when I started it, though I ended up pulling that first attempt out and starting it again as my tension was all to pot.

February has been a funny sort of month with quite a few things going on so I haven't really got to grips with much crafting at all. A couple of rows have been added to the blanket but that's it.

I thought I may run out of yarn before completing the blanket and it looks as though this is now a certainty. As far as I can tell, I will need at least another five balls of yarn in colours which I've run very low on. I wonder if many people have found that the yarn stated isn't sufficient or if I use more yarn than most. It's a bit annoying that I'm going to have to buy extra but I don't want to use an alternative and spoil it after spending so much time working on it.

I really want to spend some time working on it this month so that I can see some progress when I next do an update post.

I'm joining in with Jennifer's Winter Project Link Party over on her Thistlebear blog. Do pop over and take a look what it's all about, and how about joining in with the fun? I'm sure many of you have projects on the go for winter.

Tuesday 1 March 2016


Our nearest supermarket is Tesco so that's where we do the majority of our shopping, however, I do like Morrisons so if we're passing one of their stores, I'll do my shopping there if I can.

On Saturday we popped to Wetherby, mainly to get some meat. There's a butcher there who does 2lb of stewing steak for £5 and it's so lean that there's never any waste. I bought 4lb, it will make lots of meals and I also bought five pork chops for £5. That may sound a tad expensive but each chop will serve two people, I kid you not, they're huge. Anyway, whilst we were in Wetherby, I decided that I'd do a shop in Morrisons. There were some things I didn't manage to get there, some things which we can only get from Tesco or things we knew were cheaper at Tesco (not many, I hasten to add), and there will be bits and pieces I still need to pick up throughout the week. My bill came to £29.99. I had to laugh when the cashier gave me a coupon, spend £110 or more and save £13.

£110! Even if I were stocking up or I were buying some things in bulk, I doubt I'd spend this much. I've had coupons for £5 off a £40 shop or a fiver off a £60 shop but they're having a laugh now. I know it's a good saving, over 10% but it's a lot of money to shell out in one go to make that saving. I can't even pass it on to someone who would spend it as it has to be used with the Match & More card which was swiped when the coupon was printed.

They call this rewarding us for our custom.