Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Bullet Points

Yeah so I don't really know what happened. One minute it was the beginning of December and Christmas seemed like it was an age away and the next minute it's the 20th December and I haven't posted really all month and I'm starting to wonder if I've just lost my blogging mojo a little bit.

Anyway, I can't be thinking about that now. I have actually had loads of posts lined up about things this month but time has got away from me so I'm forced to condense it all in to one lovely bullet  pointed Christmas list.
  • Christmas has come to my little house. The Scot and I really wanted a Christmas tree so took a trip to Asda and found this tiny little beauty for the princely sum of £15. It's weird though, it doesn't smell like a Christmas tree which has perturbed us a little.
I was left to my own devices to decorate it which excited me greatly. As it's only a small one there was only really room for all my Christmas ornaments, rather than normal baubles but I kind of liked that.

I wouldn't normally have tinsel  on my tree but The Scot couldn't imagine one without it so we compromised. Actually I guess it doesn't look too bad.

  • I do have someone to look up to when it comes to Christmas decorating though. My Mum....

This is her tree and mantlepiece. I learned everything I know from her. Actually when I was little I wasn't really allowed to decorate the tree because it was in the front window and was very classy and beautiful and I didn't understand the ways of bauble placement, but I absorbed it all in and now I think I'm pretty good at it.

(Just in case you think my Mum is terrible she wouldn't really not let me decorate it, she would let me do it and then move whatever I'd put on the tree. And then I was allowed a tree in the back of the house that I was allowed to cover in tat however I so chose.)

  • I was lucky enough to win Hazel's giveaway and the most beautiful pair of earrings I've ever had the pleasure of sticking in my lobes. They are my official Christmas earrings and have already been on a couple of nights out where they have been complimented accordingly. I really wanted to do a whole post about these but time went away from me and I couldn't take pictures of my own ears so please go and see this post on Hazel's blog to see the earrings.
  • I held the Annual Stitchette Christmas Party at Mum's house. This consists of cheese based party food, Secret Santa presents and fun cupcakes.

Normally Secret Santa fills me with dread but these ladies have broken the bad run of Secret Santa experiences that I had and my presents each year are amazing. We also played the post-it note game, you know the one - you  write a celebrity's name on a post-it and stick it to someone else's forehead and they have to guess who it is? It's not often that you attend a party with Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, Pippa Middleton, Winnie the Pooh, Colonel Gadaffi, Pat Butcher, Matt Cardle and Prince Phillip.
  • My work's Christmas party was this Friday. This is a rather infamous affair because the drinks are available for £1. All drinks. All £1. Bottle of Bulmers? £1. Glass of wine? £1. It tends to be messy and hilarious in equal measure. Last year was rather horrific for me and I had a terrible time because I suffered a rather major black out which has actually changed the way in which I drink since then.
This year however was very different. People were asked to volunteer to work shifts behind the bar and I put my name down for the 7-8pm shift. It was actually really good fun. But then people unfortuantely took advantage of my good nature and I was roped in to working behind the bar 10-11.30pm. And then I was a complete mug and ended up going behind the bar about 9.30pm. I don't know. Some people are just selfish. But I have to say that given that I only had an hour and a half to enjoy myself I still had a pretty good time. But next year my good nature will not be making an appearance. Some other mug can do it thank you very much. (And if you wanted to read about what happened last time then please don't judge me.)
  • I have finally finished all my Christmas making and crafting. I was officially bored of doing it by the end and I don't think that I'll do as much next year to be honest because it was too stressful. Plus I think that the people who I know would really appreciate hand-made stuff I have now showered with gifts and they might be a little sick of it. But that's something to think about in 2012.
In the meantime I have begun making a little something for myself. I really wanted it to be finished by Christmas but isn't going to be. Booooooo. But it is nice to do a selfish make.

  • I'm leaving to go to Preston this afternoon to see The Person. We will be spending Wednesday and Thursday in Manchester for a little Christmas celebration of our own. Doing a bit of Christmas market shopping, mooching round the shops and being festive little creatures. I'm coming back in time for Friday and the last day of work. I was going to take that off as well but we usually get sent home at lunchtime so I decided I wasn't going to waste a day's holiday when I'll get most of it off for free!
So I think that's me done for now. I won't be blogging until the New Year because I'm going to be a busy little bee over the Christmas period.

Thanks for reading this year. I promise to be a better blogger next year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

New man

Have I told you about the new man in my life?

His name is Max and he’s got blonde hair and is pretty burly and is ultimately loveable and soft in the head.

He is of course a dog. Aren’t I hilarious? Did you see what I did there? I pretended I was talking about a human when actually it’s a dog. I know, I know. I’m totally mad.

When Jess died it left a hole in my life, never mind my Dad and Step-Mum’s. She was about 14/15 years old so really she’d been around forever for my Step-Mum. Add to this the fact that she was recently retired and she was left feeling pretty lonely in the house all day with no doglet padding around after her.

Unfortunately the timing wasn’t right for them to get a new dog because they were going to stay at the house in France for a few months over Summer so they decided to wait until they were back and settled before beginning to have a look for a new canine friend.

They had decided they would want an older dog because they weren’t really up for training a puppy again, so they thought that they might get a dog from a rescue site or something. But not long after they were back, they were flicking through the local paper and happened upon an advert looking for a good home for a 6 year old Golden Retriever.

Max’s old family was a lady who lived not too far away from them and had recently been diagnosed with an illness meaning that she wasn’t really in a position to be looking after a somewhat boisterous dog anymore. She came with Max to visit my Dad and Step-Mum and to see the house and having decided that they were good people the deal was done.


He is obviously very different to Jess and that’s weird sometimes. I expect him to do things that Jess liked to do and then it feels weird but I just need more time with him to get to know him better and accept him for Max instead of thinking of him as a Jess-replacement.

One huge difference between Max and Jess is the barking. Oh the barking. Pre-Max I would go to the door, ring the doorbell, Jess would come padding through the hall and sit and wait for someone to open the door and then she’d stick her head forward for a pat. Post-Max I go to the door, ring the doorbell and see and hear Max come hurtling at the door barking his massively large head off, non-stop, until Dad comes and tells him to be quiet and sit down (which he does because he is a good boy) and opens the door. Max shows a little bit of interest in you but then runs into the kitchen ahead of you and by the time you get in there, he’s stood with a toy in his mouth wagging his tail at you.

One night a while ago I spent the night at Dad and Caroline’s. Dad had already left for work and when he goes, Max is allowed upstairs to go and sit in their bedroom until my Step-Mum gets up. I got myself ready for work and came out of my bedroom to see Max lying outside their bedroom door. He watched me walk all the way along the landing. Not making a sound. I put one toe on the stairs to go down them and he erupted into a barking frenzy. I stood there going “It’s me! It’s me you idiot! You’ve just watched me walk towards you you maniac!” But nothing shut him up until he inevitably woke my Step-Mum up and she told him to pipe down.

He is much bouncier in some ways than Jess which I guess is down to his age. And trust me you know about it when a Golden Retriever tries to launch themselves at you. You’ll be sat down, stroking him and decide to stop. WHAM a very large paw lands on your lap to “encourage” you to continue your duty.

The best thing about Max though is the way in which he lies. At first I was a little concerned that he was going to have some kind of hip dysplasia but they’ve had him checked out and all his joints are in working order, he just must be incredibly flexible. His favourite position is to lie with his back legs out behind him like so...

It looks so funny. We call him Spatchcock Dog when he does that.

I’m yet to take him out for a walk but I’ve seen my Step-Mum out with him and he appears impeccably behaved and doesn’t have to be on a lead. Although if he spies a squirrel in the park he’s off like a shot and has come pretty close a couple of times to catching one. And one of his dog friends in the park is actually his Mum. I’m pretty sure dogs don’t really care about stuff like that but I think it’s pretty cute.

So everyone Max, Max, this is everyone.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Meet the housemates

I’ve just realised that I haven’t told you all about my housemates. And obviously you’ll be wanting to hear all about them.

So I live in a 4 bedroom house. (Actually it’s a 3 bedroom, but what would be the downstairs living room is a bedroom as landlords are wont to do to get more cashola in.) I live in what would be the Master bedroom and I’ve treated you to a little view in this post.

I currently live with 2 housemates. There were 3 but one moved out a few weeks after I moved in (totally a coincidence I would like to add) and the downstairs bedroom has had some building and redecorating work done on it since then so it’s just been the 3 of us for the past month or so.

It’s kind of cool actually because we’ve all moved in at pretty much the same time, meaning that we’ve been able to set up our own way of living and our own routines, rather than having to awkwardly fit in with someone else....like the poor 4th housemate is going to have to do when they move in mwhahahahaha.

So anyway I have 2 housemates. One boy and one girl.

The girl is Scottish so let’s be imaginative and call her The Scot. (I know. Don’t be jealous of my creativity people.) The Scot is actually kind of like me only about half my size and blonde. And Scottish. She is certainly the only person that I’ve met that gets as excited about cleaning products as I do and has an almost borderline obsession with Cillit Bang. This is good though because it means that there are at least two of us that are maniacally clean people.

The Scot is very straight-forward and has a pretty dry sense of humour so we get on very well. We’re still getting to know each other but I think we’ve had kind of similar upbringings and kind of similar views on life. She is single but does have a list of things she’s looking for in a man which is added to on an almost daily basis.

Then there is the male housemate. He is 31 and a trainee teacher but seems to be totally unprepared to actually grow up and face the harsh realities of life. We shall call him Peter Pan. I sometimes struggle to get my head around Peter Pan because I find it almost too difficult to comprehend how someone can actually revel in their immaturity as much as he does. He thinks it’s hilarious.

He’s terribly easy-going and although he’s not naturally clean and tidy he’s happy to do as he’s told and works well under direction. The Scot and I can set him the task of hoovering and he will quite happily do it but under no circumstances would he think to do it himself. But then I think that’s most men if you will allow me to generalise.

To be fair he doesn’t make that much mess. Particularly in the kitchen, although this is mainly because he doesn’t appear to eat. I’ve never known anyone go on a food jag quite like Peter Pan. Now I’m all for making a big massive pot of chilli in one go, it just makes sense, and then I will freeze portions and have a nice little stockpile in the freezer for days when I can’t be bothered to cook. Peter Pan will do the same but will then eat the same meal every. single. day. Not even I could do that.

Pizzas are his latest jag. He will make his own dough which is all very impressive and then will eat pizza every day for a week. Think I’m exaggerating? Last week Peter Pan had pizza on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, an omelette on Sunday and t hen pizza again on Monday and Tuesday. I kid you not.

I could write many a blog post about Peter Pan and I suspect he will feature on this blog pretty heavily because I will need to share more about him just so you can sit and stare at your screen in incredulity.

So there you have it. Those are The Housemates as they stand. I wonder who our next victim will be...

Monday, 5 December 2011

Christmas Wreaths

So I mentioned a bit ago that I had made a couple of Christmas wreaths like the one I'd made last year and I thought that in the spirit of sharing I would show you guys how to go about it.

Please be aware that there is no way that I could come up with this idea on my own, I am in no way vaguely creative enough to have these kinds of ideas by myself. This is all the work of one of The Stitchettes, who showed us how to do this last year and sat with me, telling me what to do.

So first of all you need some wreaths like so;

This guy has a diameter of about 20cm/8ins. You can find them online at gardening websites and the like. They can sometimes be kind of pricey - the good thing about having fellow Stitchettes is that you can buy in bulk, which makes it cheaper, and then split the cost. Hurrah.

You also need fabric. Christmassy fabric, if that floats your boat. But any kind of fabric will do.

I've been getting mine from Doughty's which is a brilliant website. You can get fabric by the fat quarter, which is useful if you're trying to save pennies, and they are very quick at getting your fabric sent out to you and if there's something you've ordered that they don't have, they'll call you right away with other suggestions or refund you your money straight away.

You then need to cut your fabric into strips. The beauty about this is that you don't have to be super precise with your cutting, everything's cool, everything's all a bit rough and ready.

For a ring that size I used 4 fat quarters. Those of you who are maths whizzes will have astutely observed that that is 1m of fabric. These guys are approximately 3cm/1in by 15.5cm/6in.

(And speaking of Doughty's they sell Christmas themed fat quarter packs which include 8 fat quarters for £10.99)

And then you just start tying them to the wreath. Fold each strip lengthways in half and then knot it. Easy peasy right?

Now. Beware. When you start this endeavour, you will go through a period where you want to cry and you will sit there going "It looks rubbish! It's no good, it's not working!" Believe me I went through it and had to be cajoled and encouraged by my Stitchettes to stick with it and eventually it would reveal itself to be awesome.

And they're right, you have to keep going and most importantly, keep bunching your strips up together. Now you might think that everything is good and everything is placed nicely but trust me those strips are minxy. You will think that you've filled one section of your ring and then you squish them up and suddenly you realise that actually you've only filled half of one section of your ring.

So you keep going and you keep going and you keep squishing and you fluff and primp and preen it as you go along and you will end up with a fluffy side, with the other side of it much flatter and you will keep going and going and then suddenly, 2.5 hours later*, you will have one finished wreath. (And I actually had a few strips spare.)

Then you just need to get some ribbon to tie round it and you're done. (I still need to buy some ribbon so you'll just have to use your imagination.)

These are the easiest gifts ever to make and work out not too expensive as long as you get a good deal on your fabric and your wreaths. These wreaths work out at about £5/6 each. Obviously not taking your labour into account - because when do you ever when you make home-made gifts?

And what I love is that each wreath is different. No 2 will ever be the same and just a slight change in fabric will make the wreath look totally different. This guy is much lighter, thanks to the cream fabric, but the last wreath I made was much more traditional looking thanks to the golden tones in some of the fabrics which made the overall effect much darker.

So I guess you'd better get making. Go on. Less blog reading, more wreath making.

*I kind of timed it and this was how long it took to make from cutting up the fabric to finishing the fluffing and taking photos. Don't blame me if you're a slow coach.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Ripply Beast - Done and Done

I. am. done.

And I don't really have the words to be honest. I'm just relieved that it's finished to be honest.

It was odd really because at the beginning it was so exciting seeing it grow and it seemed to come on leaps and bounds but once it got to a certain size it just felt like it really wasn't getting any bigger and it was as if no matter how many stripes I kept adding it wasn't getting any bigger, which meant I started to get sick of it.

I still don't know how I feel about it. I mentioned before that I had started to fall out of love with it and I'm still not sure. I mean I do like it myself and think it's awesome but I'm just not sure if my Dad and his wife will love it. I guess we will see, but it's an important lesson for me to learn - that I have to remember who is getting the blanket, rather than just pleasing myself. Or at least think a little more carefully about how the colours are going to go together.

But either way, hurrah, it is done. And in plenty of time for Christmas, so that's two names to knock off my Christmas list which always makes me happy.

He has now been folded up nicely and stored away for the day when I sit down and wrap all my presents (which is always an exciting day by the way) and now? Well now I could maybe, possibly, think about doing something for myself. Shocking idea I know.

Some stats for you? Oh go on then;

Yarn used: Mighty mighty Stylecraft Special DK

Amount of yarn used: Erm....I dunno. Each ball is 100g and I reckon I used about one and a quarter or one and a half balls of each. So I guess anywhere between 1375g - 1650g of yarn

Colours used:
Wisteria (1432)
Saffron (1081)
Claret (1123)
Bluebell (1082)
Magenta (1084)
Grey (1099)
Raspberry (1023)
Turquoise (1068)
Plum (1061)
Teal (1062)
Cream (1005)

Number of stripes: 66

Time taken: Started on 13th October - finished 2nd December = 51 days