Thursday 28 January 2021

Journaling In 2021

I thought I'd tell you about my journaling plans for 2021.

I've been keeping a diary for many years now but over the last couple of years I've been using a Hobonichi Techo. It's only a small diary, A6 in size, but its page per day format has worked well for me. It's not too big that I can't fill the page, but large enough to write all that I want to. Being dated with a page per day has also got me into the habit of writing in it every single day, I haven't missed a day since I started. I'm pleased that I've managed to document each day over the last couple of years with so many things changing in my life, and I feel it's also helped me to get my feelings down on paper.

Before I started using the Hobonichi Techo I'd been using a blank A4 notebook. It was started in 2006 but I wasn't very disciplined about writing in it and this is why I had a go at using a dated diary.

Now that I've got into the habit of journaling every day I've decided not to buy a new Hobonichi Techo this year but instead I'm going back to my A4 notebook. I'm hoping that now I'm in the habit of writing every day I won't let it lapse as I have done in the past. I'd like to keep up to writing something two or three times each week.

You may remember me telling you about the Traveller's Notebook which my friend, Nikki, who has the Notes Of Life blog made for me. I absolutely love this little leather binder which holds my notebooks, so much so that I decided I'd add a Midori Traveler's Notebook to my Christmas list this year and Mick bought it for me. I've decided that once we're out of this pandemic that we find ourselves in at the moment, I'm going to journal about holidays and any days out that we might have. I'm really looking forward to starting this new venture.

Mick also surprised me with a new fountain pen for Christmas. I love my red Lamy Safari but it sometimes gets a bit clogged up with ink and I end up having to wash it out and then wait for it to dry out before I can use it again so I'm thrilled to bits with my new limited edition bronze pen.

I absolutely love stationery, I have done all my life. I still use my Filofaxes, I'd be totally lost without them. If you've missed my planning, Filofax and journaling posts in the past I've added a few links in this post to them and there's a few more below. The Crimson Filofax Tour post is one of my most popular posts ever.

Diary Love

It's Here

A Tour Of My Filofax Crimson Malden

A Planning Update

Sunday 24 January 2021

Year Of Dishcloths

There are always knitalongs, stitchalongs, crochetalongs and makealongs on Instagram, I don't usually join in with them unless it's something linked to a podcast I watch on You Tube, but I saw the Year of Dishcloths which is being hosted by The Kitchen Sink Shop and I've decided to knit along.

A new dishcloth pattern is released each month and it's free to download. I've signed up to the newsletter but I believe Garlene, the lady behind The Kitchen Sink Shop, is releasing them as a free download on Ravelry later on in the month.

January's dishcloth is the Icicles Dishcloth, it's a simple pattern which shouldn't be beyond the capabilities of anyone who can knit and purl. It would be good for someone who is new to knitting who wants to learn how to follow a pattern.

I chose to use this variegated yarn by Sugar 'n' Cream and wondered if I was doing the right thing before I even started, but as I didn't have any plain cotton yarn in an aran weight I pressed ahead. In hindsight I was right, the pattern would have shown up much better on a plain colour, but I don't mind, I'm happy enough with it.

I'm not sure whether I'll join in every month but I do love hand knitted dishcloths and they're good to give as gifts too with a nice bar of handmade soap as they can be used as washcloths instead of dishcloths if you so wish.

Will you be joining in too?

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Strike It Lucky

I follow Mr & Mrs Rabbit Yarns on Instagram and have coveted their yarn for quite some time, though haven't yet tried it. They do such beautiful colours.

Recently, Mr & Mrs Rabbit Yarns had a Giftaway on Instagram, they asked their followers to nominate someone deserving for them to send a little gift to. My friend Maggie, from BlackCountry Wench blog, nominated me and my name was one of five which was picked at random to receive a gift. 

I received five 10g mini skeins, ready wound into 'roses', in the colourway Eloise which is inspired by David Austin roses. The colours are just beautiful and will look perfect added to my scrappy blanket. There was also a sachet of tea and a lavender sachet.

Thank you, Maggie, for nominating me. There were so many entries, I feel very fortunate to have such a lovely friend who thought me deserving.

I've also been lucky with giveaways which I've entered on Flosstube videos I watch on You Tube. Before Christmas, Kim from Barbara's Daughter gave away this Peppermint Pals chart by Brenda Gervais. It's been a popular chart, I've seen quite a few people stitching it over the festive period. I was lucky to have my name picked at random and I shall enjoy stitching it myself.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I entered a giveaway on Megan's Georgia Girl Stitching Flosstube video to win Promise of Spring, part four of Songbird's Garden Series from Cottage Garden Samplings. This design is an American robin and tulips, it's so pretty.

Thank you to everyone for hosting these giveaways, it's always exciting to win something and have it delivered in the post. I've been very lucky just lately.

Saturday 16 January 2021

Village School

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that back in 2015 I set myself the challenge of reading all of Agatha Christie's murder/mystery books in chronological order. That challenge came to an end during 2020 so I've been looking out for another little reading challenge to set myself since. I've heard a lot of people mention the Miss Read books, some have recommended them to me and said they thought I'd enjoy them, so I decided to include the first book from the Fairacre series, Village School, on my Christmas wish list and Mick obliged. There it was, wrapped in beautiful Christmas paper, waiting for me underneath the Christmas tree on Christmas morning.

"Fairacre is a pretty village of cottages, church and school - and at the heart of the school is its headmistress, Miss Read.

We meet the young school children with their scraped knees, rosy faces and inevitable mischief. Through the author's discerning eye, we meet the inhabitants of Fairacre and learn of their trials and tribulations, their hopes and dreams.

Miss Read takes us through the school year, beginning with the Christmas term, when the bitterly cold weather challenges the school's ancient heating system, right through to the hot summer day when school is over for another year.

Full of Miss Read's fine humour and astute observations, Village School is an intriguing glimpse into a forgotten world and has become a true classic."

What can I say, I loved it. Not only did I enjoy reading it but I've now found my next reading challenge. There are, I believe, twenty books in the Fairacre series and thirteen books in the Thrush Green series. I shall tackle these first but there are other standalone books too. I averaged one Agatha Christie book a month, in between reading other books, so if I continue at this rate, it should take me just short of three years to complete the two main series of books before I decide if I shall continue with the other books which were written by Miss Read.

Miss Read was the pseudonym of Dora Jessie Saint MBE, an English novelist and schoolmistress who was born in 1913. Her pseudonym was derived from the maiden name of her mother. Her two main series of novels were written between 1955 and 1996 when she retired and in 1998 she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her services to literature. She died in 2012.

I'm hoping that I can get hold of all of the books, it does look as though some of them aren't available to buy new any longer so it will be a case of whether I can get hold of them second hand as the library seem only to stock the odd one or two. I've already ordered the next two in the series from Ebay, fingers crossed I can get the rest.

Tuesday 12 January 2021

Twelve Days Of Christmas 2020

I've been swapping twelve little gifts to open on the Twelve Days of Christmas with my friend, Lisa, for seven years now. I met Lisa through blogging and though she doesn't blog now, we're still in regular contact.

These are the gifts I received from Lisa this year.

It's hard to see them all together in this way so here's a closer look.

Lisa knows I've got a bit of a thing for pigs so this 'You make me smile' pig mug is just perfect for me. I love the Merry Christmas plate, I'd actually been looking for one this Christmas but couldn't find one I liked so I'm pleased I'll have this one ready for next Christmas. I've never seen An Affair to Remember so I shall enjoy watching this DVD, and who doesn't love Caramel Crunch, and by Thorntons too, yum.

I love the heart-shaped bauble, it opens up and inside I found the cute candy cane earrings. I'm all set for Easter with the bunny paper cups, bowls and serviettes. There's some notecards and postcards and hand cream and lip balm.

Another piggy gift, how I love these socks, aren't they cute. The sticker book and pretty washi tape will come in very handy in my journal and planner. Another yummy treat, Guylian dark raspberry chocolate, and a cute panda spoon to use in my hot chocolate.

Thank you, Lisa. Once again, I love everything you've sent. I enjoy this Twelve Days of Christmas swap so much, it's become a Christmas tradition.

These are the gifts I sent to Lisa.

A closer look.

I know that Lisa and her family have fun and games at the Christmas dinner table so I thought these Festive Face Mats would be a laugh. They're drinking mats that you can wear, twenty mats and forty different faces. I think I've included a Christmas book in the parcel every year, this year it's a Debbie Macomber book, There's Something About Christmas. I saw this tealight holder and thought it was so pretty, in fact I loved it so much that I bought one for myself too. A Bellini bath fizzer, how indulgent.

I always like to include some treats in the parcel. This year I've gone for Godiva salted caramel flavour chocolate and some spiced almond biscuits, they sound delicious. The Merry Christmas tin contains some sachets of hot drinks. A reusable bamboo mug in a butterfly design.

I saw these measuring cups and thought they were so cute. They're hard to photograph but they're cats and their tails are the handles. A set of two pens. A shopping list pad, to do list pad and some sticky notes, I use a lot of pads of this kind so I hope Lisa does too. A hand knitted washcloth and some Moringa soap from The Body Shop, it smells gorgeous.

So that's it for another year. It was such a fun swap again, thank you, Lisa.

Friday 8 January 2021

Advent Calendars 2020

First off, I just want to say thank you for all the lovely comments you left on my last post. I try not to get down about things but I suppose it's to be expected after the last couple of years.

I mentioned My Advent Calendars back at the end of November and I thought I'd show you now what I received in them.

My main advent calendar was purchased from Beaches and Birdsong. I'd heard good things about their yarn but had never tried it for myself so it was a leap of faith really as purchasing a yarny advent calendar isn't cheap. I'm so glad I went for this one though, I'm so thrilled with the quality of the yarn, it's so soft and squishy, and I absolutely love the colourways of each of the 10g mini skeins. There were also a few sweet treats, two progress keepers and a stitch marker included.

I also purchased a 12 Days of Christmas Charity Selection Box which Helen from Giddy Yarns organised. It's the same idea as an advent calendar except each of the packages were opened during the twelve days of Christmas. These were 20g minis from twelve different indie yarn dyers. I must admit that some of these colourways aren't ones I'd choose myself but it's been fun having a taste of what each of these dyers offer.

There was also the advent swap which I did with my friend Maggie from BlackCountry Wench blog. I was thoroughly spoilt as in addition to the beautiful yarns included in each package there was a delicious chocolate, and two of the packages contained a beautifully scented lavender sachet and a relaxing bath bomb.

But that's not all. In addition to our daily packages, Maggie and I decided we'd swap a skein of yarn on Christmas Day too and I received this beautiful yarn from Dandelion & Dogwood, a dyer I haven't tried before. It's absolutely beautiful in such a pretty colourway. There was more goodies for Christmas Day too, Thornton's chocolate, Body Shop smellies, a scented candle, a sachet of tea, and the cutest bunny soap. Thank you so much Maggie, it was such a fun swap and I love everything.

This is the second year I've had yarny advent calendars and I really enjoy opening all the little packages, I think it's probably going to become one of my Christmas traditions.

Monday 4 January 2021

Auntie Beryl

I was hoping that 2021 was going to be a better year after what's turned out to be a very difficult couple of years for me but we've started the year off with more sad news. I got a phone call a couple of days ago from my cousin telling me that my Auntie Beryl had died. She was my mum's elder sister, a particular favourite auntie of mine and my mum and her were always very close.

So here's the weird thing. On New Years Eve I went to bed and dreamt about my mum and my Auntie Beryl. I woke up on New Year's Day with the feeling that my Auntie Beryl had died. It wasn't until the following day that my cousin rang and told me she'd died before the new year.

This photo is of my mum and her five sisters. My mum is second on the right with my Auntie Beryl sitting next to her on the end of the row. Sadly, my Auntie Janet, sitting on the other side of my mum, is the only sister left living, and none of their husbands are with us any longer either. It was very rare that all six sisters got together so my mum always cherished this photo.

I try to keep upbeat. It's been quite hard over the last couple of years with my parent's illnesses and their subsequent deaths. The coronavirus and all the associated restrictions last year have been very trying but I've still put a brave face on everything. I have to admit though that I'm finding it very tough at the moment. It just seems that it's bad news after bad news. Obviously, family deaths are hard to deal with at the best of times, but we're back under new coronavirus restrictions again with the threat of more restrictions to come and it's all beginning to take it's toll. 

I miss Daniel and Jasmine. They live 200 miles away, which doesn't seem that far, but they may as well be at the other side of the world at the moment because the restrictions mean that we can't travel away from our immediate area, and even if we could, they're having to be extra cautious because Jasmine's classed as high risk so they're being very careful. I just wish they lived closer.

My mum and dad's deaths have hit me hard this Christmas, they've never been out of my thoughts. The grieving process is an ongoing thing and I suppose it will take a very long time until I come to the end of it.

When I'm feeling a bit down I try to get myself out for a walk as I truly believe that a change of scenery and some fresh air does wonders. It may not be a cure all but it can definitely lift the spirits. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to leave the house since before Christmas as I'm having some medical issues and this really hasn't helped my mood. I was supposed to be having an investigative procedure at the hospital today but that hasn't been possible which is making me feel even more down in the dumps. I should say here that it's nothing to worry about but I don't want to go into detail about it due to the personal nature.

I won't be able to attend my Auntie Beryl's funeral because there's still restrictions on numbers. It really is a sorry state of affairs.

Goodness, this really is a woe is me post, though I know that many of you have felt, or are still feeling, this way. I suppose it's only natural with the way things are. Who knows how long all this is going to go on for. I really need to start feeling more positive but that's easier said than done with everything that's going on at present. I'm never usually so downbeat but I suppose the saying 'at the end of your tether' really is true and I've just about reached mine. I do try to keep my blog positive but life isn't always a bed of roses and I suppose this post just reflects that.