Friday 30 June 2017

365 Day Money Saving Challenge Update

We're exactly half way through the year now so I thought I'd let you know how I'm getting on with my 365 Day Money Saving Challenge.

This challenge was started at the beginning of the year and it runs right until the very last day of 2017. The idea is that you save 1p on day 1, 2p on day 2, 3p on day 3 and so on, until the last few days of the year you're up to £3.63, £3.64 and £3.65. By the end of this challenge you should have saved a total of £667.95.

I decided to do things a little different to this. I didn't want to be left with all the high amounts to save in December when there's lots of other things going on which require me to part with my cash, so instead of starting with the lowest amounts, I've tried to get the larger amounts crossed off and have also crossed off other various amounts.

Daniel's old pocket money jar was the first thing I used to save the coins in but I soon ran out of space in that, I didn't realise just how many coins this saving challenge would generate and I was soon on the lookout for something more spacious.

This tin, which once contained biscuits, is doing the job for now but I daresay I'll need something even bigger than this in time.

I must admit that Mick's the one who puts the most coins in, since I stopped working I just don't spend like I used to so I don't carry the same amount of cash around and I don't have the same amount of change kicking around in my purse.

I'm a bit surprised that we've managed to keep up with it but I'm glad we have as £667.95 will come in very handy at the end of the year.

Has anyone else joined in with this challenge?

Tuesday 27 June 2017

These Are Not Just Yellow Stickers

I used to be really lucky with my bargain shopping, not so much these days as I've changed the times when I shop. We went to a large shopping centre on Saturday with Eleanor as she wanted some new clothes and whilst there, I popped in to Marks and Spencer at just the right time, lots of their ready meals had been reduced in price. I don't usually shop at Marks and Spencer for food, I find it very expensive and, to be honest, I don't think the quality justifies the price. I can find food just as tasty and of the same standard at a lesser price in other supermarkets. I don't mind picking up a bargain though when I see one.

Hunters Chicken & Potato Wedges - £3.70 reduced to £1.60
Linguine with Scallops, Pancetta & Peas - £4.25 reduced to £1.90
Chilli Con Carne - £2.75 reduced to £1.10
Chicken and Parmesan Fettuccine - £3 reduced to £1.20
4 Cornish Pasties - 1.70 reduced to 70p
2 Cumberland Pies - £2.75 each reduced to £1.10 each

That's £20.90 worth of food for £8.70.

I thought these meals would be handy to have in the freezer with Eleanor at home, she's always in and out of the house and often eats meals at different times to us so it's good to have some convenience foods in for these occasions.

The Linguine with Scallops, Pancetta & Peas was for me, I've wanted to try scallops for a long time so I thought this was an ideal opportunity. It can also be included on my 50 Before 50 list as number 18 is try a food I've never tried before, and though I tried black pudding when we were Weekending in Wales, scallops is something else that is new to me. I thought they were very tasty and put me in mind of mussels. I'd like to try some fresh ones now so I'm going to put them on my shopping list.

I didn't share with Archie even though he had his eye on it.

Friday 23 June 2017

Twice As Nice

We've finally got round to booking our holidays. We've spent six of the last eight years down in Cornwall but we decided to have a change this year, not only in destination but also how we take the holiday. Usually, we're away for a fortnight and though we're still having two weeks away this year, we're taking two separate weeks.

The first week, in July, will be spent on the Lincolnshire Coast in a lodge by the edge of a lake. Don't worry, the garden is completely enclosed so Archie won't be able to jump in. Fishing permits are available for the opposite side of the lake, which will please Mick, and it's within walking distance to the beach.

Our second week will be taken in September and we're staying in a cottage by the sea in Norfolk. I've been fancying a holiday in Norfolk for the last few years and it's finally booked.

I wasn't sure whether Eleanor would join us or not this year but she's happy to do so. I'm really pleased as she's such good company. One of the very good friends she's made at university lives in Norfolk so she's going to see if she can meet up with her whilst we're there, which will be nice as the friend has now dropped out of uni and won't be returning in September.

Daniel's taking a holiday further afield this year. He and his girlfriend have booked their airline tickets to Colorado USA where his girlfriend is from. Her sister is getting married in September so they're going for the wedding, and it will give Daniel the opportunity to meet the rest of her family too. He's met her sister before when she came over here a couple of years ago and he met her grandparents when it was their graduation, they came over for the ceremony, but though they've been going out with each other for over three years now, he hasn't met the rest of the family.

How about you, are you going away this year and if so where are you going? I do love hearing about other people's holiday plans.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Raindrops On Roses - June

These are a few of my favourite things.

Golden Wings rose. Mick bought me this rose for Christmas 2013 and I absolutely love it. It's beautifully scented and the simplicity of the single, pale yellow blooms really does it for me. My tastes have changed where roses are concerned, I used to avoid them at all costs but I've got three in my garden now and I can see more in my future.

Home for summer. Eleanor's first year at university has come to an end and she's home now until the middle of September. It's strange at first when she comes home, having someone else in the house again, but we soon get used to it and I shall make the most of the time we spend together. Her year away from home has gone well, she's fitted in to university life without any problems and manages to look after herself without any trouble. She's loving the course she's chosen (biomedical science) and the exams she's just taken seem to have gone okay, we're just waiting on her results now.

Watermelon. My favourite of all the melons, I can't get enough of this at the moment. It's so watery and refreshing, just the thing for warm, summery days. The only downside is the number of seeds they contain but I suppose it's easy enough to remove them.

Poldark. What a surprise, I wasn't expecting to see this programme back on our screens just yet but I'm not complaining. This series has started well and I'm sure it will be just as good as the previous two. It's great to have a favourite back for Sunday evening viewing.

Days at the beach. When the warm weather arrives, I love to spend time at the beach. We headed to Fraisthorpe on the Yorkshire Coast on Sunday and we had a wonderful and relaxing day. Archie enjoyed it too.

What favourites do you have this month? How about joining me and writing a post about them?

Saturday 17 June 2017

Complete Dressmaking

It's no secret that I've been wanting to have a go at sewing for quite some time now, it's a craft which has so far passed me by, so when I was asked if I'd like to review a copy of Complete Dressmaking by Jules Fallon, I jumped at the chance. This book comes with the subtitle Essential skills and techniques for beginners, so I thought it would be ideal for me.

My first impression of the book is that it has all the information a beginner would need to start on their dressmaking journey. It's split in to five chapters with subheadings under each one.

Chapter 1 - Kit

As the author states, "When you start a new hobby, it can be tempting to surround yourself with all the kit you could possibly imagine you'll want to use. But when you start dressmaking, all you really need are a sewing machine, a sharp pair of scissors and an open mind. You can decide on everything else when you have a greater understanding of your way of working and what will help you to sew better". I like that you're not encouraged to go out and spend on a whole host of equipment which you'll never use before understanding what items you'll definitely need and those you won't. This chapter explores some of the essential equipment, needles, cutting equipment, sewing machine and their feet, thread and dressmaking haberdashery.

Chapter 2 - Prep

"To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail". This chapter deals with preparing for the project you're going to work on and includes information on fabrics, understanding the information on the pattern envelope, pattern symbols, measuring and making a toile, amongst many other things.

I've heard many people say how they're in between sizes so learning how to adapt a pattern is essential.

Chapter 3 - Make

For me, this is the scary part, putting it all together. However, this book goes in to each part of the process and demystifies all the terms which have sounded so intimidating:- darts, gathering, pleats and tucks, and shirring, amongst others. It tackles pockets, sleeves, yokes and waistbands and shows how to insert a zip, another thing which seems to worry people, including me.

Chapter 4 - Stretch

My wardrobe is filled with items made from jersey and knit fabric, so many of us wear T-shirts or tops made from stretch fabric these days, so I think this chapter is essential in any dressmaking guide today. This chapter deals with how knit fabric differs from woven fabric and how working with it differs too. It shows that contrary to popular belief, you don't need an overlocker and shows techniques to use when working with this type of fabric.

Chapter 5 - Finish

The finish of a garment is just as important as the rest of the make and this chapter shows how to approach each part from bound edgings to facing, hems to linings. There's information on hand sewing too as this can give a perfect finish to an item allowing a hem to become almost invisible.

I think this is a fabulous book and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone just embarking on a new dressmaking hobby, and it would more than likely assist those who are more advanced in this area too. It's absolutely jam packed with information and will be a fabulous reference when I do begin my sewing adventure.

Complete Dressmaking by Jules Fallon. Published by Quarto Press (£20). Out now. If you fancy treating yourself to a copy of the book you can find it here on Amazon.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Fish Lips Kiss

I think one of the things which puts people off knitting socks is turning the heel. How on earth do you get the shaping you need for a heel to fit snuggly in a sock? It's quite clever actually, and isn't nearly as scary in practice as a novice may think. However, you do have to pick up stitches and that's something which quite a few people aren't so keen on. I don't mind picking stitches up actually, but when I heard about the Fish Lips Kiss Heel, a heel construction which doesn't require any stitches to be picked up at all, I thought I'd give it a go.

The Fish Lips Kiss Heel is a paid for pattern on Ravelry, but I think it's only $1.20, a nominal amount. I have to say that I was flabbergasted when I downloaded the pattern and printed it out, it consists of sixteen pages. SIXTEEN PAGES, yes you read that right, and that's not a sock pattern, that's just the heel pattern. I started to read through it but just found it totally overwhelming so it was put to one side, along with the Lavender Socks I'd started knitting in order to try out this heel pattern.

It was while I was watching Bumble Stitches podcast and discovered that Nicola was going to be hosting a Try Something New Knit Along, where you have a go at a technique that's new to you, that I thought the Fish Lips Kiss Heel would be something I could join in with, so I got out my hibernating project and gave it a go.

I made sure that I had plenty of time on my own when I picked the pattern up again so that I could read it and digest it. In actual fact, it contains a lot of information but you only really need three of those sixteen pages in order to create the heel.

Once I'd sifted through the pattern finding the relevant parts, I had the first heel knit up in no time at all. It's a very easy pattern to follow but I'd say it would be helpful if you knew how to knit an ordinary heel flap and gusset heel first so that you understand the construction of a heel before giving this a go.

My Lavender Socks (named as the yarn's name is Lavender Print) have turned out well, I even managed to match them up perfectly. I knit these using Drops Fabel, a yarn I haven't used before. It's well priced and although it isn't as soft as some of the other yarns I've used, it isn't too scratchy. I think it's a good budget priced yarn.

I like the fit of the Fish Lips Kiss Heel and I'm sure I'll use the pattern again in the future.

These socks were going to be for me but as is often the case, I've found a more worthy cause. You may remember that I gifted a pair of socks a couple of years ago for the Yarndale Sock Line and it's just recently that Christine from Winwick Mum blog has written her Yarndale Sock Line 2017 post asking for hand knitted or hand crocheted socks, once again, to display at Yarndale before being gifted to people in need.

I've printed off a label from Christine's blog and these socks will be winging their way over to Skipton very soon. I hope that they'll bring some much needed comfort to someone less fortunate than myself. If you fancy joining in, you can find all the information on Christine's Yarndale Sock Line 2017 post.

Sunday 11 June 2017

The Invention Of Wings

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is a novel set in the deep South in the early nineteenth century and was inspired by true events. One of the main characters, Sarah Grimke, is one of the Grimke sisters who were the first female advocates of abolition and women's rights. The other main character is Hetty 'Handful' Grimke, a young slave who was given to Sarah on her eleventh birthday.

The book covers thirty five years with alternating chapters narrated by Sarah and Handful. Each woman was born in to different lives, yet they were both looking for a similar thing...freedom. They were both determined, had real strength of character and courage.

I enjoyed this book very much and it was beautifully written. I know many people raved about Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, but in my opinion, this far outdoes it. This is definitely a book I'd recommend you read if you get the chance.

I'd never heard of the Grimke Sisters before, and though the book is a work of fiction, it has inspired me to learn more about their real lives.

If you want to know what else I've been reading lately, you can find a list in the sidebar. This shows all the books I've read this year and there's also lists of the books I've read right back to 2012.

Thursday 8 June 2017

Neville's Socks

I've knit Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder a couple of times, I really enjoy working the pattern and I like how it knits up, so when Helen from Giddy Knits podcast mentioned that she was knitting a pair of Neville's Socks, another pattern by Erica Lueder, I decided I'd quite like to give that pattern a try too. Both patterns are available on Ravelry and they're both free to download.

Inspired by another Harry Potter character, Neville Longbottom, the pattern is another easy one which gives a textured result. I chose some Wharfdale Woolworks Bluefaced Leicester yarn from my stash to knit the socks in but in hindsight, I believe it's another pattern which would show up better in a plain colour.

These socks are for me, for a change. I lived in hand knit socks last winter and to be honest, I haven't given them the care they deserve, throwing them in the washing machine rather than hand washing them, and many of them are not very thankful for it. Some are on their way to being felted whilst others have shrunk a little in size, so I'm on a mission to fill my sock drawer with some new pairs before next winter comes round again.

I notice that Erica Lueder has lots more patterns on Ravelry and as I've enjoyed both of the patterns of hers that I've tried so far, I might give another one a go.

Monday 5 June 2017

You Can Leave Your Hat On

Thank you for all your good wishes in my last post. I'm still struggling on at the moment, it looks like this virus is a tough one to get rid of, though I am starting to feel a little better now so I'm hopefully on the mend.

Out in the garden, I found this poppy bud just bursting, it looks like it's got a hat on.

I was never a lover of poppies in the past but that's changed over recent years, I'm not totally sure why but I think it may be because they're such lovely flowers for brightening up the garden.

This is oriental poppy Brilliant, and it does indeed put on a brilliant display.

They make such good photographic subjects too.

How about you, do you like poppies or not, and which are your favourite varieties?

Thursday 1 June 2017


I've caught that horrible virus that's going round. I started last week with a bad chest, it was really sore whenever I breathed, and that's developed in to a hacking cough. I'm not getting any sleep, I'm coughing all night long and my ribs ache with it.

I'm not very good when I'm ill, I don't make a good patient. It's just as well then that I'm not ill very often. I had an awful cold last December which started at the beginning of the month and returned for the Christmas period, but other than that, the last time I was ill was in May 2014, three years ago, and that was just a cold too.

The bank holiday weekend was a bit of a washout weather wise so it didn't make much difference that I didn't venture out. I haven't been swimming this week, in fact, I'm wondering if that's where I've picked this virus up from. Actually, I know where it's come from, Mick's had it for the last couple of weeks, but he might have picked it up from the swimming baths. He's not like me though, he copes with illness very well, you won't find him complaining that he's got man flu. I can't remember the last time he took any time off work sick, it was definitely over ten years ago, and then he only took the time off because he couldn't drive. I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times he's taken any time off whilst I've known him (thirty years) and still have fingers spare.

I'm just hoping that I'm coming towards the end of it now and that it's not one of those things which hangs around for weeks. Fingers crossed.