Tuesday 29 November 2016

Reading - November 2016

My reading seems to have slowed down a little this month, I'm not sure why, but I managed to get through three books.

I haven't read anything by Jenny Colgan before but when Amy over at Love Made My Home recently wrote a post, Irked....... or offended actually, I was a bit unsure whether to start Welcome To Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop Of Dreams which I'd got in a pile of books waiting to be read. I'm glad I did as I really enjoyed it. The book follows the stories of two women, the modern day tale of Rosie, and that set back in the 1940s of her Great Aunt Lilian. Being set in an old fashioned sweet shop, it brought back lots of memories of the sweeties I used to buy as a child and even includes some recipes too. A very enjoyable read.

My Agatha Christie read this month was Appointment With Death. I thought I was on a roll having guessed the identity of the murderer in some of the recent Agatha Christie books I've read but I didn't guess the ending of this one at all, it kept me guessing the whole way through. There were lots of red herrings which threw me off the scent. Another good book.

I read Sleigh Bells In The Snow by Sarah Morgan back in August, it was the first book in a trilogy and this month I've read the second book, Suddenly Last Summer. The setting is the same as the first book, the beautiful Snow Crystal resort in Vermont and it includes the same characters too but this time, it's centred around a different couple. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I shall be looking out for the last book in the trilogy as I really want to read that now.

I don't usually read books with a specific Christmas theme around Christmas time but I thought it might be fun this year so I've got a few lined up for my December reads. I'll tell you about them next time.

Sunday 27 November 2016

Christmas Lights Switch On

It's years since I've been to watch the Christmas lights switch on in our little town. We used to take Daniel and Eleanor when they were little but when Eleanor joined the youth theatre group, their big show of the year, which they performed in one of the Leeds theatres, always coincided with the event so we stopped going. The switch on for this year was last night and Mick and I decided that we'd go to see if it had changed at all.

We're lucky that we have some wonderful, independent shops here and most of them go out of their way to be involved in community events. The shop windows are looking very festive at the moment. This is the Post Office window, they won 1st prize in the Christmas window display competition.

This is the display in the window of our local flower shop.

A fabulous coffee shop and delicatessen, they've got baubles in their window.

This is the local undertakers, I just love what they've done with their windows.

There was a small funfair with a big thrill ride and hook a duck stall etc.

Many of the shops stayed open and some of them set up stalls selling their wares from there. I love this American school bus which was selling pizza and hot beverages.

No event would be complete at this time of year without the main man in red dropping by in his sleigh.

Our local radio station, Radio Aire, was there and there was entertainment throughout which was provided by the community choir, the local dance school, the secondary school band and one of the primary schools, amongst others. The special guests were the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Leeds, the Olympic bronze medalist, Katy Marchant, who's a local girl, and Leeds Rhinos mascot, Ronnie the Rhino.

Unfortunately, the switch on didn't go to plan and only half the lights worked, Blackpool Illuminations it was not.

There used to be fireworks after the switch on in previous years but many people were disappointed to find there were none this year. Instead, funding was given for a two day market to make it in to a weekend event. There were some lovely craft stalls and I may have made a small purchase. I couldn't resist this hand-painted mug.

How cute are the cats, linking their tails in to a heart.

It was a shame that there was a mishap with the lights and that lots of people missed the fireworks this year but it's a lovely event for the community to come together and nice to see local businesses making an effort to be part of it.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

You Are So Loved

Mick had to take a trip to Birmingham yesterday so he decided that he'd make a small detour on the way home to see Eleanor and take her out for her tea. She's in no rush to come home to see us, preferring to spend her free time revising for the exams she'll have at the end of term. She's working so hard. She was excited though when I told her that her dad was going to call and see her.

Since I sent her the Happy Mail last month, I've been putting a few bits and pieces together in another parcel, so I said he could drop that off while he was there.

Most of this parcel contained food and edible treats but there was one hand made item, the secret cross stitch project that I was working on a little while ago, which I can now show you.

You Are So Loved is a beautiful design by Maja who writes The Snowflower Diaries blog, the same designer of the Joyful World Stitch Along which I'm currently working on. I'd originally intended to stitch this up for Eleanor for her 18th birthday but I just never got chance, better late than never.

Maja writes "It is dedicated to the strongest and deepest love between human beings: the love between mother and child." Perfect then as a gift for Eleanor.

The fabric I used is so different from the 28 count DMC linen I'm using for the Joyful World Stitch Along, this is 28 count evenweave which I bought from Hobbycraft and I find it a much nicer fabric to work with. It's softer for a start which makes it more pliable and I find it much easier to work with. It was white but I tea dyed it to give it an aged look.

I bought an antique looking frame, which I think sets it off well. It's free standing as Eleanor isn't allowed to hammer nails in her walls, but it's only a small piece so that's fine.

I'm so pleased with how it's turned out and Eleanor was thrilled with it. Not everyone appreciates hand made gifts but it gives me such a warm, fuzzy feeling to make gifts for those who do, Eleanor's one of them.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Hermione's Everyday Socks

I'm so thankful for my lovely hand knitted socks at the moment, they keep my feet so warm and toasty, just the thing for the cold weather we're now experiencing. I've knitted quite a few pairs of socks, many for other people, but I've got a new pair to add to my own sock drawer.

These are Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder, inspired by the Harry Potter character. I really like the pattern, both to knit and to look at, and it's available free on Ravelry.

I shall definitely be knitting these socks again, however, I'd like to knit them in a plain coloured yarn. I don't think a variegated yarn shows off the pattern as well. I've used Laughing Yaffle yarn in Mango Tango colourway on this occasion.

I've got another pair of socks on my needles at the moment and this time they're for Mick, they'll be the first pair of hand knitted socks I've made for him.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Joyful World - November

I'm very nearly finished with the Joyful World March design, there's just the lettering to stitch now.

I found there was a lot of stopping and starting with this design with all the different flowers and bits of stitching, it was quite time consuming. I did have a good tip though on a previous post, pre threading a number of needles with the coloured thread you're going to be using can save a lot of time.

I'm hoping that there will be a finish to show you next month.

Sunday 13 November 2016

Moving Home

You'd think we were moving house ourselves the way our house has been looking over the past week, there's been bags, boxes and suitcases everywhere.

Daniel and his girlfriend have been living in York since they finished at university earlier this year but they're both starting new jobs tomorrow so they've been packing everything up and it's all been making its way here ready for the big move.

Daniel's going to be working in Surrey, it took Mick the best part of five hours to drive down there yesterday when he took Daniel and dropped him off at his new house with all his belongings. Mick then had the same drive home again, alone this time.

His girlfriend is American and she was running out of time on her student visa, it was touch and go whether she'd have to return home. The visa allows a period of four months after the end of their course to find a job otherwise they face deportation. Luckily, she has now found a job and she'll be living and working in Essex. She was hoping that she could start a week after Daniel so that Mick could move her in too, however, her company need her to travel to Germany in a couple of weeks and to allow enough time for them to arrange the necessary visa she'll need, they require her to start tomorrow. She hasn't found anywhere to live yet so her employers are paying all her travel expenses and footing the bill for hotel accommodation and once she's found somewhere to live, Mick will take her belongings down for her.

Obviously, being apart isn't what they'd hoped for but it could have been so much worse, there'll be seventy miles between them, which is better than the four thousand seven hundred miles which would separate them had she had to return to Colorado. They're quite a way from us now too. We're hoping that we'll see them at Christmas but nothing's certain yet.

They've both done really well for themselves and landed good jobs with good salaries and benefits, all the hard work they put in at university has been worth it. I'm really proud of them and just hope that they're both happy in their chosen careers.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Wollaton Hall

We had a trip to Nottingham on Saturday to see Eleanor, it's the first time we'd seen her since we dropped her off at university over six weeks before. She's absolutely loving her course and has settled in to university life really well. She won't be coming home until she breaks up for Christmas, though she's travelling to Sheffield to stay with her boyfriend this weekend.

Archie was with us and as the weather was fine we decided to go somewhere for a walk. We don't know Nottingham at all but I remember visiting some friends of the family when I was in my teens and we had a trip to Wollaton Hall. It's not far from the university so we made the decision to head there. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten to take my camera with me so the photos included in this post were taken on Mick's phone.

Wollaton Hall is an Elizabethan country house of the 1580s which stands in Wollaton Park.

We couldn't go in the hall itself as we had Archie with us, but since it opened to the public in 1926, it has been home to the city's natural history museum.

There are a couple of suggested walking routes through the park but we just sort of ambled around taking in the changing season. The trees were stunning, all different colours, though they're now dropping their leaves and they're littering the ground.

Archie had great fun running through them.

There are formal gardens in the park, and The Camellia House, the oldest cast iron glasshouse in Europe. Wollaton's Botanic Garden, which has been developed and cared for by volunteers from the Nottingham branch of the Hardy Plant Society, is also here but we didn't visit any of these. I'm sure we'll take a trip here again on one of our visits to see Eleanor so we'll explore further then.

About 80 Red deer and 120 Fallow deer roam freely in Wollaton Park. We approached with care but they don't seem timid at all. Archie was nonplussed and just wanted to get back to the leaves.

Wollaton Hall is a lovely place for a walk but it was rather chilly so we didn't stay too long. Afterwards, we took Eleanor shopping, her cupboards are well stocked again.

All too soon it was time to leave, but when we got home we found that our door key had been left in Eleanor's room and we couldn't get in the house. We had to take a trip to York so that we could borrow Daniel's key. Oh well, at least I got to see both my children on the same day, something that doesn't happen very often these days.

Monday 7 November 2016

No-Fuss Shade-Loving Shawl

Happy 82nd birthday to my lovely mum. I've been to see her this morning, in fact, she had an appointment at the doctors so I took her there. It's no fun at all having doctors appointments on your birthday, is it? Never mind, I took her cards and presents so that's made up for it.

One of her presents is the No-Fuss Shade-Loving Shawl by Susan Ashcroft. I started this on the very last day of May and though it was finished a while ago, it's been waiting to be blocked for ages. I used James C Brett Woodlander double knitting yarn which is 80% acrylic and 20% wool. As there was a small percentage of natural fibre I decided to wet block the shawl. This means that the garment is rinsed through then pinned out and laid flat to dry.

Here it is laid out on the bed. It's blocked in to shape, however, the edges were starting to roll.

I did what I should have really done at the start and steam blocked it. A squirt of steam from the iron is the best way to block garments made from acrylic yarn and as you can see, it sorted out those curly edges.

I really like the colour, blues mixed in with beige and cream, and my mum liked it too, she said it will go with lots of things.

It has a nice drape to it, I wasn't sure it would have as it's quite a thick shawl being knit with double knitting yarn, It sits nicely on my mum's shoulders and will keep her nice and warm through the winter months. She always feels the cold so it will be handy to grab when she feels a draught.

I've been wanting to have a go at a shawl for ages and now I've tackled my first one, I feel much more inclined to have a go at a lighter version and perhaps choose a more lacy design.

Friday 4 November 2016

Home Is Where The Heart Is - Framed

It's only taken me a year but here is the very first cross stitch I've ever completed, finally framed. There's a little bit of glare on the glass but you get the gist.

I haven't had it done professionally, I've just bought a frame and done it myself. I know it's not perfect but I do think the frame adds something.

I wrote all about the cross stitch in my Home Is Where The Heart Is post back in November last year. I think I'll hang it in the porch so that everyone can see it as they come through the door.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Dishcloth Swap 2016

Back in June, I signed up for the Dishcloth Swap 2016 which is run by Kimberley from Creative Chaos. The rules were to knit a dishcloth or sew a mug rug, choose another couple of kitchen items and something sweet to send to your partner. The parcels were to be sent off late July.

I was paired up with Tracy from Mad About Bags and so much more.......... Tracy has had a busy time over summer so she was a little delayed in putting a parcel together but I received it recently so I thought I'd show you what I received.

First of all, two fabulous dishcloths, aren't they pretty? I don't think I'll be able to bring myself to use them so I might just have to display them for decoration. The same goes for the lovely tea towel. I also received a pretty card adorned with a rose.

Tracy told me she'd sent extra goodies for the parcel being a little late, they were all things I love. A fabulous writing set, always handy as I still love hand writing letters even in this age of technology, a lovely diary which has a great layout as there's lots of space for writing, some cute note cards, these will be very handy for when I want to drop someone a line or two, a bath bomb which smells divine and some Toffifees, yum.

As you can probably guess from the name of Tracy's blog, she's Mad About Bags and actually makes them herself. She sent me the most gorgeous shoulder bag which I'm thrilled with. The fabric is fabulous, especially for me who loves gardening.

It's lined with even more pretty fabric which coordinates perfectly.

Thank you so much Tracy, it was a wonderful parcel and well worth waiting for.

Would you like to see what I sent to Tracy? I thought so.

First of all, the dishcloths.

Here you can see the two different patterns.

A pretty tea bag rest, an egg cup, a shopping list pad and some sachets of Taylors rose lemonade tea.

The swap was posted just after I got back from Cornwall so it was on my mind whilst I was there. I thought it would be nice to include some yummy hand made fudge so I picked some up whilst I was on holiday.

Thank you for organising the swap, Kimberley, it was great fun, and thank you, once again, for my gifts, Tracy, you're a great swap partner.