Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A Quick Hello and Resolutions

A belated Merry Christmas to all :) I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas time, I'm looking forward to a bloggy catchup to see what you've all been up to! We've had a lovely Christmas, peaceful but lovely. We had some time with my family and then went to visit Chris's family and have enjoyed our time catching up and hanging out with various family members, Christmas always has been and always will be about family for me. Lots of lovely presents as well, we've been spoilt! Several were crafty related of course which I will share at some point.

I didn't manage to photograph all of my Christmas makes in the end as I was rather short on time before wrapping them up but I will aim to in the future, I was particularly pleased with the hot-water bottle cover I made my Mum (so fiddly - I've already resolved not to make another one for a while!) I did however manage to make one more thing over the holiday, a new hat for C. He wanted a thick comfy hat so I used Drops Andes (one of the best yarns I've ever used, so soft and so nice to work with) and based it on this pattern here. It's quite slouchy and he is rather pleased with it

 Waiting on our doorstep when we got back was a rather exciting parcel from deramores with yarn for new year projects

This little lot is going straight to Mum who has promised me a new jumper, she is just finishing off a cardigan at the moment for me, much to Dad's disdain (she has had a jumper on the needles intended for him for the last 15 years, she keeps interrupting it to make me stuff!)

 And this little lot is going to be my first item of clothing I crochet! Watch this space.... :) The whole lot of yarn was £26, not bad for two items of clothing!

And before I go I just wanted to write down my New Years Resolutions....

1. Read more for pleasure: I think I'm going to integrate this into blogging, but I intend to read at least two books a month, Reading relaxes me and distracts me most wonderfully when I need a break.

2. Finish things. I am great at starting projects/PhDs/clearing out and just never quite finishing them. I am going to try and have less things on the go and be more productive. First on the list is obviously my thesis, but I also need to finish that blanket for the camper I've been promising C for nearly a year now! ... and many other things

3. Stop worrying about things I can't change. C came up with this one. I am a terrible worrier, I hate it about myself yet just seem to end up doing it. 2015 will see a less worried me! (I hope)

4. Stop Biting My Nails. This has been on the list for the last 20 years, but hey maybe this time?!

5. Enjoy the present. Linked very much to the last one...

6. Be more tidy. I seem to exist in perpetual clutter. I want to have a good clear out, sort out and tidy up so home is more of a relaxing place to be. I think it will help me work more effectively at home, as well as keep on top of the housework!

Are you making New Years Resolutions this year? Wishing everyone a very happy 2015, full of happiness, peace and good health.

Until next time,


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Checking In: December

Making : A garland of crochet stars to add to my parents' Christmas decoration collection

Cooking : Not much recently, I've been rather spoilt by C who is a wonderful chef

Drinking : Mulled wine, just one of my many favourite Christmas smells and tastes

Reading: Finally something for pleasure, Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan - it's very gripping! I'm thinking about starting book review blog posts next year as a way to keep up the reading, so maybe watch this space for more info :)

Wanting: To finish editing a certain chapter of my thesis before Xmas

Looking: At jobs, or starting to, I need motivation to finish this thing

Playing: Cheesy Christmas music non-stop

Deciding: What to wear for a Christmas meal with friends 

Wishing: Everyone a very peaceful and content holiday season

Waiting: For Christmas :)

Wondering: What will 2015 bring?

Loving: These crochet Christmas baubles

Watching: The Good Wife, actually a really enjoyable TV series

Smelling: My lovely Yankee Candle 'Christmas Eve' it's beautifully festive

Wearing: My Christmas Jumper. It's got a big robin and balls of snow on it

Feeling: Cold - it's gone rather chilly here again

Admiring: These stars, so much to admire, so little time ;)

Sorting: and wrapping Christmas presents

Buying: Some sneaky wool for new years projects... shhh...

Opening: A nice bottle of wine bought in Oz last year, happy memories :) 

Feeling: A little bit more festive than last week :)

Snacking: Mince Pies and Panettone 

Coveting: An open log fire

Hearing: Michael Buble's Christmas album

Photos from a lovely afternoon at Barnsdale Gardens 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas Card Swap and a Lovely Weekend

About a month ago Amy amazingly organised a Christmas card swap, which I signed up for straightaway! I was delighted to be paired with the lovely Lil who has a really gorgeous blog you should definitely visit, House With Hearts. Above you can see the wonderful card I received from Lil, who is very talented. Isn't it gorgeous! The snowman is so cool, and I love the ribbon and button detail, Lil said she didn't have a crochet pattern for the snowman but made it up so I am in absolute awe! I'm going to work out a way to frame him so he becomes a permanent part of our decorations :)

Thank you Lil, I love him!!

This weekend my lovely Mother-in-Law came to visit and we had a wonderful relaxing weekend. Last night we watched a film, she knitted, I crocheted, we both nattered and C played football manager... all happy campers! Today we went on a little outing to a National Trust property in nearby Northamptonshire, Lyveden New Bield. It's an unfinished Elizabethan garden lodge, built by Sir Thomas Tresham who as a Catholic was under close surveillance in Elizabethan times, fined for his faith and often imprisoned. He died heavily in debt and when he died the workmen working on the lodge simply downed their tools and left. It's in a really isolated spot and remained pretty much untouched until the National Trust took it over in the 1920s. I just wanted to share some pictures with you as it is quite simply stunning.

The graffiti you can see was left from the eighteenth century onwards, which I think is wonderful!

In other news this week... I made some mince pies (made me very popular)

I also made another flannel, these two are for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law for Christmas, I bought some nice handmade soap to go with them

And I've got some more Christmas makes finished, more on that in another post :)

Thank you for all of the lovely comments on my first 'Five on Friday' post, it was wonderful writing it and wonderful reading the comments. Have a lovely week whereever you may be :)

Until next time


Friday, 12 December 2014

Five on Friday

I'm very pleased to be writing my first 'Five on Friday' post this week. The lovely Amy has been writing these posts for a while now, which I have always enjoyed reading, and when she asked whether anyone else wanted to join her I jumped at the chance! There is now a group of us joining in each week with Amy, so every second Friday each month I will be contributing. Every Friday Amy takes time to share 5 things she enjoys with her readers. It's such a lovely idea to link up, a great way to find new blogs and read lots of varied posts - the five things can literally be anything!! Do check out the other bloggers joining in this week: links at the end :)

So what am I going to choose for my first five?


Well I thought there had to be a bit of a Christmas theme, given that it is what is keeping me cheerful at the moment! I've decided to be a bit indulgent and share five happy Christmas memories with you...

1. The first snow in Goerlitz, Germany. December 2008

I was incredibly lucky and had a 'year abroad' as part of my undergraduate degree. I was a language assistant in a primary school, and got sent all the way to the German-Polish border - Goerlitz is actually half German half Polish! (The Polish half is called Zgorgelec) An amazing year and one of my favourite moments was the first smattering of snow in December, the week before I flew home for Christmas. Goerlitz has the most wonderful architecture, this is a street around the corner from where I lived and you can just see the double spire of the Peterskirche poking out from the rooftops. Being English I hadn't experienced many white Christmases and that first coat of snow was magical.

2. Family Christmas in Suffolk, Christmas 2009 

So this is a bit of a recurring memory. This is a small snapshot of the dinner table being laid for Christmas lunch, we always have homemade crackers, and the Santa wine-cover is definitely an intregal part... I wanted to take a picture of the table laden with yummy food but I don't seem to have any... I am clearly too busy eating to take photos once dinner is served!

3. Cologne Christmas Market, Christmas 2012

Hmmm I sense a theme... for me Christmas is a great opportunity to indulge in my major  slight German obsession. This was a super special trip - the picture shows the Harbour Market which is just on the river, it's slightly less busy than the bigger ones and we liked it best. C proposed underneath one of those canopies on the right, next to the tower, he could not have asked me in a more perfect place or time. 

4. Sydney, Christmas 2013

A slight contrast now, last year we were incredibly lucky and had 4 weeks in Oz over Christmas. C's best friend and uncle live over there so we travelled around a bit and had the most thoroughly wonderful time. This picture was taken the day we landed, after a nearly 40 hour journey and minimal sleep on the plane, we headed straight out to experience Sydney and boy it was amazing. These are the floating Santas at Darwin Harbour - it was mesmerising to see all these decorations in over 30 degrees!

5. Jervis Bay, Christmas 2013

Another Oz one, but one of my favourite memories!! We drove down to Currarong from Sydney which is on the most beautiful bay and hired a flat. We'd imagined Christmas day barbecuing on the beach in bright sunshine etc etc but the weather had other ideas, it was actually quite cold and raining! C and his best friend, another C, were absolutely determined to fish on Xmas Day and being English the weather did not deter them (the Aussies were very sensibly all in their flats). I gave them their Santa hats and off they went. Us girls sensibly drank wine on the (sheltered) balcony. We had a glorious Christmas Eve and Boxing Day so no complaints at all, it was just wonderful being there. Needless to say they didn't catch anything.... I think the fish saw them a mile off!

I am joining in Five on Friday, taking five minutes from our day to enjoy five things.  Please go and visit the other people who are also blogging about Five on Friday this week.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The Woes of an Over Ambitious Crafter...

I had so many Christmas plans, schemes and ideas, yet now it's December and only one has been realised (Dad's scarf!) I've accepted that now is the time to just focus on the realistic, and start planning even earlier next year ;) And of course hopefully next year will be a bit quieter anyway ...

I ordered my first batch of Stylecraft wool from Wool warehouse, I loved the little bag it came in and overall am pleased with the yarn - I ordered the Special Aran as it was for a scarf  (and I'm lazy) and I love the soft feel of it, but it's a bit thinner than other aran wool I've used and there are a couple of splits in one ball. Oh well I shall just have to try some more to make sure it was just a one off! The balls in the picture are for my brother's xmas scarf, hopefully to be finished this weekend.

I went to Ashbourne with my Mum to visit my grandmother whose house is on top of a hill overlooking the town and the start of the peak district. The above picture is a not particularly great shot on my phone of her wonderful view. I've known that view my whole life and it always feels very comforting to be there looking out. Nana is now out of hospital which is wonderful, but has had to go in a care home for the time being as after 6 weeks in hospital she's not very mobile. She's not particularly happy about it (I don't blame her) but as it's only around the corner from her actual home she can see herself getting out one day. And she is very determined. 

The last picture is a WIP with the MOST ends I've ever had to deal with. I wanted to play with the seed stitch and whilst I like the effect I am not liking the ends.... 

Tonight I am making mincemeat and our tree will go up on Friday, earlier than usual because our annual gathering with a certain group of friends is this weekend due to the fact they're off to Mexico for xmas leaving next week - we are going to see them off with some British Christmas charm ;)

I hope you're all well and enjoying the first week of December, has anyone else been over ambitious?!

Until Next Time,