Monday 29 January 2018

Maybe This Christmas

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan is the third book in the Snow Crystal trilogy. I read the first two books, Sleigh Bells In The Snow and Suddenly Last Summer, back in 2016. The first book was a free download on my Kindle, I doubt I'd have read the book otherwise, but after reading it I knew I wanted to read the other two and I've really enjoyed each of the three books.

The stories are set at the Snow Crystal ski resort in Vermont, which is owned and run by the O'Neill family. Each book tells the story of one of the three O'Neill brothers, Jackson in Sleigh Bells In The Snow, Sean in Suddenly Last Summer and this time it was the turn of Tyler.

Okay, it's a bit of a trashy love story, but it's a quick, easy read and I enjoyed it and anyway, who can resist a bit of Christmas romance? Not me!

Wednesday 24 January 2018

On The Needles

I wanted to start off the new year with all my knitting projects finished, and I managed it. I wrote about the Cowardly Cowl which I cast on to see me through the Christmas period and this was finished on the last day of 2017. It meant that I was free to cast on some new projects ready for 2018.

The first thing I cast on in the new year was Boxy by Joji Locatelli, a lightweight sweater which I'd promised to knit for Eleanor. I bought some Drops Baby Merino when Wool Warehouse was having a sale and this yarn was earmarked for this project. Boxy is an oversized sweater which is knit in the round, there's nearly 400 stitches on the needle, so I don't expect to have this finished any time soon, but as it's knit in plain stocking stitch it will be a good project to pick up when I'm watching TV.

After all the sock knitting I did for other people last year, I intend to spoil myself a little this year and knit some lovely socks for myself. I recently came across a photo of some socks which I liked the look of on The Woolly Adventures Of A Knitting Kitty blog. Helen had written a post, The Socks Have It, about the hand knitted socks she has in her sock drawer and the photo of the socks I liked was in this post. As I read on, it came to light that Helen had designed the pattern for these socks herself and called the pattern Kali Kardia after a favourite taverna in Greece where the idea for these socks was born. The textured pattern is offered in a chequerboard or ribbed version, I've decided to go for the latter. I'm using yarn from Laughing Yaffle in the Fantasia colourway which has been in my stash for six years now so it's time it was used.

I decided that I'd like a plain pair of socks on the needles too so I decided to get a head start and knit up a pair of socks ready for the Yarndale Sock Line. Yes, I know Yarndale isn't until September but what can I say, I like to be organised. I'm using Grundl Hot Socks Rubin in the 05 colourway. I'm thoroughly enjoying knitting these socks, the yarn is so soft being 50% superwash merino, 25% bamboo and 25% polyamide and I'm loving how the colour is working up.

I used to be a monogamous knitter but I enjoy having different projects on the go at any one time now, I doubt it will be long before some more projects make their way onto my needles.

Sunday 21 January 2018

Waiting On The Bookshelf

The number of books I've got in my 'Waiting To Be Read' pile is growing steadily.

Read all the Harry Potter books is number 32 on my 50 Before 50 list and I've only read the first four so far, I've still got another three to read. This challenge finishes at the beginning of September so I've still got quite a few months in which to read them.

I'm currently reading all the Agatha Christie murder/mystery books in chronological order. I started this in my 2015 Challenges and since then I've read thirty seven of the sixty six which she wrote. I'm reading one each month and if I continue in this way I should complete this challenge in June 2020.

I didn't get round to reading as many Christmas themed books as I'd hoped over the festive period so I've decided that I shall work my way through them over the course of the year. There's a few on my Kindle as well as the two shown here. I've grown to enjoy reading Christmas books at Christmas time, however, I just never have as much time to read when there's so much going on.

I've got a number of books which I've been bought for birthdays or Christmas, some over a year old now, so I'd like to get those read. They've been on my wish list so they're books that I've asked for and which I'm looking forward to reading.

My Kindle holds books which I've downloaded but haven't yet read, there's nine in total. I'm a big fan of my Kindle. Even though I enjoy proper books, I love my Kindle because it means that I'm able to read during the night when I can't sleep. The light on the device means that I don't have to disturb Mick by putting on the bedroom light.

I'm certainly not short of reading material. I'd like to get some of these books read before I think about buying any more, though I do still look out for some titles which are on my wish list whenever I visit the charity shops.

Do you have a pile of books waiting to be read?

Thursday 18 January 2018

Knitty Gifts

I was a very lucky girl at Christmas, I received lots of wonderful gifts from my family and friends. I thought I'd show you a few of the gifts I received from Mick which are related to knitting.

I got four beautiful skeins of yarn, they're from Beehive Yarns, Paper Stories, Norah George Yarns and Elm Tree Yarns. I'm thrilled to bits with them all, such gorgeous colours.

I'm always happy to support small businesses and you usually get a great buying experience from them. Each of the dyers popped a little extra in the parcel, whether it be a chocolate, a sachet of tea or a stitch marker, however, Elm Tree Yarns really did exceed expectations. I've never bought from this dyer before, though I've had my eye on her wares as she dyes up some beautiful colourways. The one Mick bought me is called Peter Rabbit, inspired by Beatrix Potter's creation. In with the yarn, Dianne, the dyer behind Elm Tree Yarns, included an extra little parcel containing a hand made Peter Rabbit card, a sachet of tea, a chocolate coin and a candy cane. How lovely.

Mick also bought me my first set of interchangeable needles, these are KnitPro Zings and I'm so happy with them. I love how each needle size is a different colour, not only does it make them easier to distinguish from each other, it makes them pretty too.

This cute little chap is hiding a secret. These are HiyaHiya Puppy Snips.

When you pull off his head he turns into a tiny pair of snippy scissors, ideal for popping in your project bag when you're on the go.

These book ends are perfect to keep my craft books in place. I was surprised when I opened this gift as I had no idea that Mick had bought them. He comes up with some great ideas for me and usually buys a mixture of things I've asked for and surprises too.

Here they are in action.

I'm sure you'll agree that I received some wonderful knitty gifts this year.

Monday 15 January 2018

A Woodland Walk

It was a dismal day on Saturday, the sun never shined once, though it wasn't as cold as it has been so I wanted to get outdoors for a good walk. I fancied going somewhere different for a change and I came up with the idea of Middleton Park. We only discovered this wonderful green space back in 2013 and I think we've only been once since then so I thought this was an ideal destination.

Everywhere is quite muddy at the moment but even Archie managed to keep himself clean on this walk thanks to the paths which have been constructed through the woods.

I was really surprised by the number of dog walkers out and about here, though it was a dry day so I suppose everyone had the same idea as us. It's good to make the most of any fine weather during the winter months and get out when you can.

I treated myself to a new phone before Christmas, one which has a better camera than my previous phone, and as I hadn't taken any photos with it before I thought I'd leave my camera at home and use the one on the phone. Most of the photos I took came out blurry so I think I need a bit of practice with it, either that or the settings are all wrong. It was rather dark though so perhaps that's something to do with it. I intended to have another go with it on our walk at Temple Newsam on Sunday but it was so cold that I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm and my phone stayed in my bag. Never mind, I'll give it another go soon.

It was good to get out and I shall definitely visit Middleton Park more often. I don't live close by but we're only a drive away and it's a lovely park with all sorts of things going on and a great place to walk dogs too.

Friday 12 January 2018

Archie's Collar

Thank you to everyone who sent get well wishes for Archie. I wrote about how we were ending 2017 and starting the new year with a poorly doggy in my Here's to 2018 post. Archie was a very poorly doggy indeed, he was out of sorts for a full week, but his cheeky, mischievous nature soon returned and I'm pleased to say that he's now back to normal. He's had a check up at the vet's and been given a clean bill of health where this latest illness is concerned. Unfortunately, his heart murmur has got worse, though thankfully he isn't yet showing any sign of heart failure, so it's been decided to start him on some medication which could, hopefully, delay the onset of heart failure by up to fifteen months. It's so sad that Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are prone to heart problems.

I wanted to show you a beautiful gift that Archie received for Christmas. You may remember reading my #stitchingsanta Reveal 2017 post where I showed all the lovely gifts I received from my swap partner, Lynn, who blogs at Tialys, well, when she realised that I have a pooch she offered to pop one of the lovely collars she makes in the post for him. I was asked which colour I'd prefer and I went for blue as Archie is often mistaken for a girl dog, which does nothing for his self esteem. I thought a blue collar might make him look a little more macho.

I'm absolutely delighted with this collar. It's got a sturdy clasp and a D ring to hang his ID tag from, and it's adjustable too for a perfect fit. It's so well made and very smart too, it makes Archie look like a very handsome boy indeed.

Lynn has an Etsy shop, ouafouaf, or woofwoof in English, where she sells these beautiful collars and a percentage of all profits she makes goes to Twilight, a retirement home for dogs. It's run by a couple who take elderly or disabled dogs who are lost, abandoned or bereaved of their owners, into their own home to live out the rest of their lives with love and comfort.

I know that lots of my readers have dogs, I'd love it if you'd take a look at Lynn's Etsy shop, I'm sure there's a collar there that your furry friend would love to be seen in, and even if you don't have a dog, one of Lynn's collars would make a fabulous gift for the furry companion of a family member or friend. Lynn's very kindly offering a discount on any purchases, if you enter the code JOSFRIEND in the coupon code section at checkout, you will automatically receive a 20% discount.

Thank you, Lynn, for the thoughtful gift. Archie loves his collar and is only too happy to recommend your shop to others.

Tuesday 9 January 2018

Twelve Days Of Christmas 2017

My good bloggy friend, Lisa from Jumble and Jelly, and myself have been swapping Twelve Days of Christmas gifts each year now since 2014. We send each other twelve small gifts, one to be opened on each of the twelve days of Christmas and it's something which I've grown to enjoy more and more with each passing year. It extends the jollities right into January.

These are the gifts which Lisa sent to me this year.

A box of yummy biscuits, I'm looking forward to tucking into these now I've shown them to you, a cookie stamp set, something I've never used before so it will be fun giving this a go, a felt star kit and a tin 'If friends were flowers I'd pick you!' which contained a lindor chocolate. The tin will come in handy for storing buttons or pins in.

PD James The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories, I don't usually read short stories but I'm looking forward to starting this, some pretty paper party straws which I know Eleanor will want to use, she likes drinking through straws, a cute squirrel candle and a Home Is Where The Yarn Is tin, very appropriate for me, and this contained a Kinder chocolate and some needles, very handy.

A gorgeous sheepy scarf, so cute, some Green & Blacks raspberry & hazelnut chocolate, I've never tried this flavour before but I love Green & Blacks so I'm sure I'll enjoy it, a box of pretty colourful clothes pegs, these will make pegging out the washing enjoyable, and a lovely daffodil brooch, I'll definitely have to wear this on St David's Day.

Thank you, Lisa, I'm really pleased with everything I received.

This is what I sent to Lisa.

A 'Just Stuff' tin to fill with spare keys, pens & pencils, scissors & other random things, though I put the Cadbury's Curlywurly Squirlies inside, a hyacinth growing kit with vase, a box of bath fizzers and a weekly planner and pen.

Once Upon A Christmas by Sarah Morgan, a cherry print scarf (it's in a cellophane bag so it hasn't photographed very well, some daffodil and tulip bulbs and a bar of Green & Black's chocolate.

A sweetie selection box, an owl lavender scented sachet, some cute measuring spoons and a retro baking recipe book.

Last year, Lisa included a book, Christmas Wishes by Katie Flynn, in my Twelve Days of Christmas gifts. I read it in the run up to Christmas this year and really enjoyed it so I popped it in with the parcel so that Lisa could read it too.

Thank you Lisa, it's been such fun again this year.

Saturday 6 January 2018

Cowardly Cowl

I finished my Aunt Petunia's Christmas Socks just before Christmas and I was in that rare position where I didn't have a thing on the needles. I decided that I wanted to cast on something which would see me though the Christmas period but didn't need much concentration, so that I could knit in those few spare moments where there wasn't much going on.

I've never used handspun yarn before but Natalie from the Knatters Knits podcast kindly sent me a skein to try. I wrote all about it in my Handspun post. I've been looking forward to giving it a go so I decided to look for a pattern with this yarn in mind.

You'll have heard me mention Erica Lueder's sock patterns many times, I've knit quite a few of them, some more than once, and I came across a cowl pattern by this same designer which I liked the look of. Cowardly Cowl is a nice simple textured pattern and I decided that this would be the one I'd cast on.

I wasn't quite sure that the pattern was doing the yarn justice as I was knitting it but I'm actually quite pleased with the end result. The yarn was lovely to knit with, quite different from anything I've used before as there are some thicker bits and then thinner bits, but it gives a lovely overall effect.

This cowl is just the thing I need when I'm dog walking in winter, it's so snuggly and soft around my neck and will keep me nice and warm as the yarn consists of 70% Bluefaced Leicester and 30% Sparkle.

Thank you, Natalie, I've enjoyed using the yarn and I'm now a convert to handspun, I'll be looking out for more.

Wednesday 3 January 2018


Do you remember my 365 Day Money Saving Challenge post which I wrote back in January 2017? It was a savings challenge whereby 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. This is what the total savings looks like at the end of the year.

Instead of saving all the small amounts at the beginning of the year and the larger amounts in December, I decided to mix it up and instead of saving the amounts in order, I saved various amounts throughout the year. This meant that I didn't have to save all the larger amounts in December when it's an expensive time of year.

I had a lot of help from Mick with this challenge. Now that I'm not working, there are many days when I don't visit any shops and I don't get much change in my purse, so Mick took on the responsibility of making sure that something was saved each day and crossing off the amount on the charts I printed out.

He did a great job as we've ended up with the £667.95 which we should have ended up with at the end of this challenge.

Some of this money will take us on a little trip to see Daniel. He lives down in Surrey now, over 200 miles away from us here in Leeds. Last year, we went to see him in March but then I didn't see him again until Christmas, over nine months later. Mick did see him between those times as he was working down that way so managed to meet up with him for a catch up, but I don't want to leave it so long until I see him again. We booked a hotel last time for Mick and I, Daniel and his girlfriend and I wrote about it in my Visiting The Offspring post. It would be nice to do something similar again so these savings will come in very handy for that.

I'm not going to do this same challenge again this year but if you fancy doing it, there's some free printables on the Skint Dad website.

All the coins have now been bagged up and taken to the bank, afterall, I might as well be earning a bit of interest on what I've saved.