Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Down at the waterhole...

I had a mild flirtation with Amigurumi a couple of years ago but I haven't revisited it since, despite the fact that I've managed to accumulate about three books with patterns in.

I know two people who are pregnant at the moment and due within a month of each other. I contemplated making blankets for both of them but decided against it because,

a) It would be too much stress getting both done in time, and, 
b) I couldn't be arsed

I decided I would dust off this book and see what was in there and after a lot of umming and aahing settled on a zebra. I wasn't sure if it was going to be more complicated choosing something with colour changes in, but it was actually a pretty good decision as it made it much more simple to count which round I was on when I lost track of where I was.

Things I have learned about Amigurumi:

1. Concentration is wicked important - you can't really just let your hook do what it wants to do, you need to keep one part of your brain counting at all times.

2. Stitch markers are massively helpful - I don't have any but have just stuck a scrap of wool through so I know where I am.

3. Photograph the different stages or when it comes to doing some kind of ta-dah post the first photo you'll be able to show people is this...

...a headless zebra.

Apologies. Clearly I can add Not Being Good at Craft Blogging to the list as well as Not Being a Fashion Blogger.

Words cannot express how excited I was taking this photo - I had just successfully made a non-blanket/scarf related crochet object and it bloody stood up on its own. I've never been prouder.

I did however remember to take a picture of the head before I attached it - although that's probably a case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

See what I did there? I made a horse joke in a post about a crocheted zebra.

I'm here all week folks.

Anyway where were we?

4. Amigurumi is really not that bloody hard.

Seriously, why have I been scared of it for so long? This bad boy was whipped up in really not that short a space of time at all. I got the head and muzzle stuffed and sewn together, the mouth embroidered on, the ears and neck made, everything joined to the body and a mane produced in about 2/3 hours on a Sunday evening. To some people that may seem like an age but in Crafting Years that's really not that much time at all.

5. The weirder it looks the better it is.

This guy's smile is lopsided and his head is kind of at a jaunty angle - this makes him look like an inquisitive little chappy - none of it was done on purpose - it was all down to be general ineptitude.

6. You can fudge it and no-one will know.

I couldn't tell you what way this zebra's extremities were attached to each other - I just started sewing and kept going until it was firmly in place. I probably used several stitches, including some not known to mankind, but you'll never know because you totally can't tell.

 Look at that cheeky little face

7. Amigurumi has the potential to become something you get obsessed about.

For reals. I've already started on my next one - which is fine because this zebra is for one person and the other person needs an animal too - but in my head I'm already trying to think of reasons to make each and every other item in the book.

8. I have discovered my new favourite technique -  the magic circle.

I do apologise, I'm about to do a bit of crochet-speak so some people may not follow...

So you know how you normally start your granny squares by chaining however many, joining to make a ring and then crocheting into that ring? It's all good and well, but no matter how tight you pull it, there's always a little gap there and you can always see where you started. The magic circle is a technique which allows you to completely close off the centre so you can't see where anything begins, and more importantly, there's no weak spot that can be pulled apart.

I did not find it easy to master the magic circle at first, but once I'd found a You Tube video which helped explain it (I found one especially for lefties, hurray internet) I was off and away and it never ceases to amaze me just how magic that magic circle is.

I don't know why but photos of the back of this fella really amused me. I'm not a perv.

You must excuse me. I have important crochet business to attend to.

Sunday, 28 April 2013


The same battle is waged every single evening at my sister's house...

The Battle of the Dishwasher

A.k.a. The only real chore my 17 and 13 year old nephews have to do round the house (why yes this does bug me, how could you tell?) 

Despite it being a task they can absolutely rely on to happen every day, they repeatedly have to be asked to empty and refill the dishwasher after every meal and the same amount of sighing and general slothness of movement is acted out each time.

They've managed to turn this relatively simple task into the most complicated dance around the kitchen you've ever seen. It takes 5 times longer than anyone else would take to empty it and results in 5 times the damage done to the crockery.

Every so often the eldest nephew trots out the same old sob story, pointing at his younger brother, "He owes me. I had to unload the dishwasher by myself for 6 weeks when he broke his arm"

 My usual response is something along the lines of "And pray tell how did you make it through such a trying time in your life?" But the other day I tried another tack...

"Well in a year's time you will leave to go to uni and your brother will have 4 long years of unloading the dishwasher ahead of him."

"No no it won't even it out," snorted my nephew derisively in that manner that teenagers have that makes you want to beat them round the head with a wet sponge, "because I'll be unloading my own dishwasher at uni."

I never heard if he said anything else, I was too busy cackling and repeating "A dishwasher at uni?!" and rolling around on the floor...

Friday, 26 April 2013

Not Really Resolutions 2013: Q1 update

After last year's terrible performance when it came to updating everyone on my Not Really Resolutions (number of update posts in 2012 - none) I figured I should probably make more of an effort this year, if only to make sure I stay on track and actually try to get things done.

Seeing as we're nearly at the end of April with well over a quarter of the year gone *starts hyperventilating* I thought it seemed an appropriate time to update.

1. Get behind the wheel of a car again
I have an official license again! After pretty much over a year of procrastination I sent off for my license to be re-newed. After expecting a letter to come back saying "No you need to re-new it and replace it" or some such other nonsense, I was very surprised when after 3 weeks a brand new license flopped through the door with no questions asked.

So no more excuses - time to book some refresher lessons...

2. Project 365
This is ticking over quite nicely and has been much aided by the fact that I have a new phone which has a really good camera. I haven't even used my actual camera in goodness knows when, and because my phone is a Windows phone, everything is very handily backed up to my Skydrive, meaning that when I switch my computer on I just need to log in and download the photos and put them on Flickr. Easy peasy lemon squeezey.

I've been surprised that I've lasted this long because I'm living in the back end of nowhere with basically no friends, but I've managed. Ok, these photos are not going to set your world on fire, but guess what? My life wouldn't set your world on fire, rendering my Project 365 an accurate representation of my life.

The monthly round-ups are fun to do (see January, February and March) and the only thing I am bad at doing is actually uploading the photos to my photostream, which tends to easily be a week or two behind in time. Just like my blogging activities!

3. Read 12 Classics
It's been a good start to the year with my Classics and there hasn't been one I've read so far that I haven't really, genuinely enjoyed.

So far I've read;
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskill (probably the least easiest read out of the lot)

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (can't believe I haven't read this before, I usually think children are made to read inappropriate Classics at school, therefore putting them off for life, but anyone who gets to read this at school I think is genuinely lucky. It was brilliant - not difficult and yet not condescending - it should be a must for all children to read this.)

Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (probably the only one that's made me raise an eyebrow and wonder if I've really understand what I've read and the one that's made me go "Really? This is a Classic?" but a good read nonetheless and one that I think would make a good Book Group read as there could be plenty of interpretations to be made.)

The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford (hilarious. I have no other words. The only one so far that I insist you go out and read immediately.)

4. Crochet an Elmer Blanket
As you may have guessed, this has been put on hold now that I have the Tetris blanket firmly within my sights and underway. I do still want to crochet an Elmer Blanket but mostly I wanted to make a blanket just for me and the Tetris Blanket is definitely fulfilling that need at the moment.

5. Learn to knit
No progress on this one as of yet.

6. Bake once a month
This has been ticking along quietly (why do I always forget to blog about things?!) although I think it's safe to say that Mary Berry has nothing to fear at the moment. In fact I haven't been impressed with anything I've made so far this year. Here's hoping that April gives me my first triumph...

Gingerbread biscuits; The infamous Cookie Monster cupcakes; Chocolate & Peanut butter cookies 

7. Go abroad
Very exciting news on this one. American Girl and American Boy are coming over from the USA in July and seeing as they're here and seeing as we all turned 30 this year (with the exception of The Person who will be almost 31 by the time they get here. Ha. OLD.) we decided to take a little trip to another part of Europe and will be spending the first week of July in Corfu. In sunshine. Sun and The Americans? I don't think my brain can take the excitement.

8. Makeover a chest of drawers
No progress on this one yet.

9. Cross stitch a big picture just for me
No progress on this one yet either. I think my brain can only take one craft per year. 2012 was the Year of the Stitching and it's looking like 2013 might be the Year of the Crochet...

10. Only buy 12 books throughout the year.
HA. If I stick to this I will be shocked and amazed at my willpower. I will be able to do anything.

Unfortunately I think it's unlikely I'm going to stick to it. I am trying, I swear it, but after a year of not buying books, I have a lot of pent-up book buying going on in my system and I am finding it tricky to succumb, especially when in charity shops and faced with such cheapness. I am being very good and tracking what I buy though so I can't cheat and "forget" about a book that has made its way on to my shelves. The current total stands at 6 and we're not even at the end of the April.

And I'm not even counting the three books that I bought with a voucher for my birthday because that wasn't my money and those books don't count.

I love loopholes.


So there we have it. Have just realised there isn't an awful lot on there that can be ticked off the list easily and that's a shame because there's nothing like crossing things off a list to make you feel like you're getting somewhere, but I shall keep on plugging away.

See you at the end of June for the Q2 update...

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Curing The Stressies and The Blahs

I'm pretty sure I've told you this before, but long distance relationships suck pretty much a lot. You get on with it and you do the best you can do but it's tiring when most of your weekends are spent on trains.

You get caught in a trap because on one hand you don't want to waste the time you have together and feel like you should be doing things and going out exploring and being wildly exciting and on the other hand you just want a normal weekend, like you would have had if you'd been living together, just bumming around the flat where the major event of the day is going to Morrisons to get more food.

This weekend I was feeling the strain of it all a bit. A need to get out and do something but not really any idea of what to do - not helped when you have no car to hop into to go on a little jaunt.

I was feeling a bit stressy this weekend, awake at 4am with thoughts of work buzzing around my head, getting frustrated that most of my stuff lives in Preston when I don't, and that the flat is a mess (which I can't really complain about because hey I don't live there anymore but still drives me crazy).

I was suffering from a case of The Stressies - where you spend your time fretting about things you can't really do anything about - and a case of The Blahs - where you want to do something but don't really know what you want to do.

The Person came to my rescue with some pancakes - a much greater success than his previous baking attempt and a suggestion that we enjoy the blue skies and sunshine and go for a little walk. 

I shrugged my shoulders but I couldn't really say no as this walk starts literally at the end of the road, a hop a skip and a run across the railway tracks (totally legal crossing by the way) to the side of the River Ribble.


We ambled along at a leisurely pace, something which The Person struggles with despite the fact that we had a whole day with nothing else planned and nowhere in particular to be.

He contented himself with stopping to throw sticks in to the River for no other reason than that the sound they make when they hit water is a good sound and because I can only assume throwing things is some kind of primeval urge lying dormant within his masculine conscience.

I took pictures of trees to amuse myself...

...as well as pictures of steps with dandelions on...

We came to a wooden platform which it is entirely possible that we shouldn't have been standing on. I let it pass because there wasn't a sign saying we couldn't stand on it which therefore means we weren't technically breaking any rules.

We looked one way down the River...

...and then the other....

...and then I was persuaded to partake in some stick throwing, luckily managing not to completely embarrass myself with my girlish throwing action.

We walked along to the swing bridge, and had a look at the Locks and the boatyard, which I always think looks like a boat graveyard because the boats are all out of water and being worked on and looking a little forlorn as if all they want is to get in the water and sail out to sea.

(But that's because I have mental problems.)

And then it was pretty much business as usual. A walk to Morrisons to get food (preceded by a stop off at Homebase to buy some nuts and seeds for The Person's latest obsession - trying to attract birds to the balcony - current birds include some blue tits and some massively scary looking pigeons) before another stroll around the Docks to the flat - whilst I complained that there isn't a boat crossing for people like us who live on the opposite side of the Docks to Morrisons - the same thing I say every single time we walk to Morrisons.

But before I knew it, we were at the other side and ready to go home and do nothing for the rest of the weekend except watch Hull KR beat Wigan on the TV, watch Finding Nemo and The Breakfast Club, and eat inordinate amounts of noodles...

...Putting The Blahs and The Stressies to bed for one weekend at least...

Monday, 22 April 2013

Crazy Cat Lady Part 25: Fred & Lily update

Who cares that I've been back from Hull for 2 weeks and haven't even blogged about the cats?

Not I.

I could always just deprive you of a Fred and Lily post but that would be a cruel punishment as I think we all know that of all the internet cats out of there, these guys are your favourites.

Gazing adoringly at The Person

Fred was especially happy to have me home when I came back for my birthday. Not because he loves me and misses me, but because I came with his favourite person of all time, my Person. Fred doesn't get a lot of male company and this has meant that The Person has become his all-time best bro. The second he's in the room, Fred makes a beeline, ignoring me, ignoring Mum, and taking up pride of place on The Person's knee - purring so loudly his head could fall off.

Telly addict

We also put on the DVD that Mum's Crazy Cat Lady friend got for the cats for Christmas. Other than The Person, this DVD is also Fred's favourite and best. Within a few seconds of putting it on he'll be up at the TV, despite my exhortations that if he sat on the floor he'd be able to see more of the screen. There he will stay until it eventually gets turned off for fear that he's going to throw himself through the screen as he chases the toy that's waving about.

He was a fan of my new Cambridge Satchel Company bag - he's a classy fella like that - and tried to persuade me that he should have it because it suits his colouring but I politely declined.

I took a photo which comes very close to portraying just how much Fred loves The Person this weekend. After a Saturday night out celebrating my birthday and drinking more than our fair share of units of alcohol, The Person wasn't feeling too chipper in the morning. Fred came upstairs after he'd eaten his breakfast and jumped on the bed to commence his usual morning routine of shoving his wet nose as far inside your nose as is humanly possible, whilst needling you to death.

However, he immediately sensed that his Best Bud wasn't in good shape and instead just lay very still and very quietly on his arm, keeping an eye on him.

Unfortunately the picture has The Person's face in it and he's keen to keep his secret identity so I've had to do a bit of touch-up on the below picture...


And yes I mean the pair of them. A girl can't get a look in with either of them.

"But what about Lily?" I hear you say

Well Lily spent a weekend doing what she does best, which is acting mental and lying asleep like a beached whale (see below picture).

She may seem all innocence and light but she is a fiend. Whilst sitting at the dinner table on Friday evening, enjoying a takeaway from our local Chinese, Lily stole a prawn cracker out of my hand - swooping in from over my shoulder as I apparently took too long to get the cracker up to my mouth.

And we wonder why she's such a fatty.

She's not a hugely cuddly person is our Lily and the only person that she really likes to sit with is Mum, but on Sunday morning, out of the blue, I came into favour and she joined me in a little reclining action. Unfortunately taking photos of her in black and white does not appear to make her ears look any smaller.

Bat cat

It was, as always, a shame to have to leave them. Especially in the knowledge that the only cat I was coming home to is one who barely tolerates my existence. But I had a new friend to come home to in the shape of a birthday present from Char who got me my very own cat who will not pluck at my clothes, leave hairs all over everything I own and shows about as much emotion as Blinky does.

What you can't see from this picture is that his head and tail move and nod slowly up and down, much to Rowan and Rosie's consternation. Unfortunately he's nameless at the moment - it's not like me to not be able to name inanimate objects but for some reason a name just isn't coming to me at the moment - any suggestions would be welcomed.

Although knowing my luck he'll probably end up liking The Person more than me anyway...

*mutters bitterly*

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Lessons learned in baking

So The Person baked me a cake for my birthday.

Here are the lessons that he said he learned;

1) Use the right equipment. When it asks for 2 sandwich tins, using 1 springform tin which is bigger isn't a suitable substitute

2) When you do put your mixture in the tin, ensure it is evenly spread across the bottom or you will end up with what we affectionately called the Slope Cake

3) When making your icing and you run out of icing sugar, do not try and substitute it for caster sugar

4) If the icing is supposed to be pink/red, keep adding the food colouring until you get the desired colour, don't be stingy and end up with flesh/raw sausagemeat coloured icing

No need to thank me, go forth and bake.

Thursday, 11 April 2013


I did a birthday.

And turning 30 really wasn't that bad you know. In fact, you could almost say it was just like any other birthday. In fact, it was just like any other day, except for the fact that you get presents and you get to do everything that you want to do all day long.

The celebrations started a little early, a couple of days before when Best Friend came over from Hull and we went to Ribby Hall Spa for the day. See, that's what's good about turning 30, when you're younger you don't have the money to spend on getting poked and prodded and quite pummelled violently at times by a much younger girl.

I could totally be a lady who lunches by the way. I would quite happily, if I had the money to spend, just hang around in spas all day. The pair of us were so relaxed by the end that we were unable to hold a coherent conversation with one another, but we managed to pull it together to go out for tapas at my favourite place in Preston, Pond, where we ordered far too much food and had to bring most of it home in a doggy bag.

The day itself was just me and The Person and once all the presents had been opened he ran out of the room  saying he was going to get my final present. 

He came in proudly holding before him his very first cake;

The cake is a blog post in itself and I think I will save it for another day, but I don't think he's ever been prouder of himself.

We spent the day in Manchester where we ate lunch in Wagamamas and mooched around the shops, hoping to find something to wear for Saturday night, but discovering that fashion is not for the Thirty - it is for pre-pubescent girls with a penchant for neon. Only I could go to a major city in the North and walk away with a top for £13 form H&M which I bought in sheer desperation because I refused to go away empty handed.

The highlight of the trip however was a visit to Cloud 23 which was all that I'd requested we do for the day. For those not in the know, this is the bar in the Hilton Hotel which resides in Beetham Tower on the 23rd floor, offering some rather splendid views of the city and far far beyond.

I've been before at night to have some cocktails and admired the city all lit up and orange but really wanted to see what it was like before the sun went down and we weren't disappointed as the day was lovely and clear.

The photos don't do it justice - I have somehow taken photos which just look as if I've taken them out of the 5th floor office window and I can't convey just how far you can see when you're up there. You can the planes taking off from Manchester Airport for freaks sake. You can see Jodrell Bank!

You will just have to take my word for it. It was high up. The views were awesome. The End.

We shovelled a cream tea in our faces and then made our merry little way back home where we had planned to eat but discovered that lunch at Wagamamas and a cream tea at Cloud 23 goes a long way.

It doesn't sound like much I know but it was a happy day for me, with my favourite Person, in my favourite city, doing my favourite thing - eating.

A birthday in food: Tapas at Pond; the birthday cake; demolished cream tea; Wagamamas

And then it was back to the Motherland for the weekend where we did more eating. We had Chinese with Mumsie and galettes with my Dad (plus more cake) and finally much drinking with my special friends on the Saturday night where I surprisingly managed to get off pretty lightly hangover-wise considering the amount of money I spent and the number of shots that kept appearing in my hands.

I wrote a post previously about how I was feeling about Turning 30 (in case you were wondering, it wasn't a good  feeling) and I'd be lying if I said I'm now totally over it and feeling fine and breezy. But you know what? I know people who are 30 and have the kids and the house and the job etc etc and quite a few of them are basically complete dicks. 

I may not have a house. I may not have children. I may not even have a fancy career. But I'm definitely not a dick. So 30 can suck it, I'm off to get me some more food.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Easter Read-a-thon: The Reviews

I feel it would be cheating almost to take part in the Easter Read-a-thon and then not actually review any of the books that I read during it.

The truth is I find book reviews hard to do, although I actually used to really enjoy doing them when I did them for my Classics each month. It's a fine line between reviewing a book and just telling people what the plot is though and it's a wobbly tightrope to navigate at times.

Plus it's brave to review a book I think. To say in black and white "this is what this book made me think" or "this is what I think this book is about" - the written word is open to all kinds of interpretation and whilst it should be a pleasure that there is no right or wrong answer, it's a big leap to put your opinion out there.

But I felt I couldn't really shy away from this one. An Easter Read-a-thon is about reading and therefore I should honour the books that took part in it with a little review.

Plus I actually only finished two books during the Read-a-thon so it's not like it's going to be hard.

My Easter Read-a-thon in photos - Thursday-Saturday update & Easter Sunday - Easter Monday update

Dominion; CJ Sansom
Dominion imagines a world where the 2nd World War never really happened. Churchill never got into power. England made a peace deal with the Nazis and the world isn't as we know it.

The book takes place in 1952 and Britain is essentially a Nazi outpost, retaining independence in mostly name whilst kowtowing to the Nazi regime in reality.

Churchill's followers are a resistance movement who recruit David Fitzgerald, a civil servant and secretly half-Jewisih, to act on their behalf, photographing documents. David is drawn further in when an old university friend, Frank, becomes of importance to the Resistance.

David is drawn into a rescue mission to get Frank out of the country and into safety in America and when his cover is blown the rescue mission becomes one for his own life, along with that of his wife, Sarah - who has been unaware of David's secret life as a spy.

The major part of the action occurs in the middle of The Great Smog in London - a real-life air pollution event which cloaked London in thick smog for days. David, Sarah and Frank have to try and escape from London in the middle of this whilst being chased by the Gestapo officer, Hoth.

It was an enjoyable book although I just couldn't connect with it like I do Sansom's Shardlake series for some reason. It felt heavy going at times and I was a little disappointed with the ending.

A pretty good understanding of British politics in the period leading up to and during the 2nd World War would also be an advantage, I think there were some points, especially the Epilogue, which were completely lost on me because I didn't get references to particular politicians and the roles that they played in real life in the same period.

It was a scary concept however, and it didn't feel totally fantastical. It was actually fairly easy to imagine events unfolding in the way that they do in the novel - with people in Britain falling in to various categories - Resistance fighters, Nazi supporters and those whose refusal to commit to either side allowed the deportation of Jews from the country.

Toby's Room; Pat Barker
Oooh I do love a bit of Pat Barker. 

Toby's Room revisits some of the characters we met in Life Class - fortunately for me reading the first isn't essential because I can never remember what happens in books once I read them.

The name is almost misleading as Toby isn't always the centre of attention in the book. Instead the focus is on those around him, Elinor, Kit Neville and Paul Tarrant and how they are left to deal with the hand that they have been dealt by World War I.

Guilt seems to be a major theme running through the book - Elinor feels guilty for not helping out with her Mum when they learn of Toby's death, she feels guilty for using Kit and Paul, feels guilty for how the disfigured soliders in Queen's Hospital make her feel. Paul feels guilty because he loves Catherine Stein but can't let go of Elinor, guilty because he sleeps with Elinor even though he knows she's still mourning the loss of her brother. 

In many ways the real protagnist of the novel is Kit Neville as we go inside his brain during his morphine fuelled recovery after his operations to rebuild his face. Does he feel guilty that he didn't stop Toby from killing himself? Or does he feel guilty for not possibly teling the truth about how Toby died?

And then there's Toby - we never really know how he feels, never see behind his eyes - does he feel guilty about his actions towards his sister? Does he feel guilty for getting caught in the stables by Kit Neville?

Barker excels at her descriptions of World War I life. The recollections of Kit Neville whilst he is recovering from his operation are vivid and evocative and manage to avoid banging home the same old story that it was horrible and grim and awful in the trenches, whilst at the same time not trying to gloss over what life must have been like for those serving.


A massive thanks to Kate for hosting the Easter Read-a-thon - I urge you to go and visit her blog and drink in all the booky goodness.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Easter 2013

I feel it only fair to warn you that this post contains photos of flowers.

I know. I've become that which I rage against.

I'm still having an internal battle as to what I want this blog to be. I'm a person who actually quite enjoys a label and I find it difficult that I don't have an identifiable "thing" but at the same time I also quite enjoy just talking about a load of old bollocks and committing events to the everlasting memory that is the interwebs.

Easter wasn't just about taking part in the Easter Read-a-thon I'll have you know. I was busy doing all kinds of things apart from taking photos of me reading books and giving blood. This was a family weekend, with my Mum and The Person coming over to stay at my sister's for the Easter weekend.

It was also a kind of pre-birthday celebration for most of the people in the house. As I've mentioned in blog posts gone past there are a lot of birthdays in the last weeks of March/first week of April. Easter Monday was my nephew's birthday, the 4th is my and my brother-in-law's birthday and the 5th is my other nephew's birthday. Quite the birthday week.

My sister and all her lot are in Center Parcs this week (damn them!) and I will be with The Person on my birthday so this was a chance to have a little pre-birthday excitement.

This meant that I was allowed to do one of my favourite things ever - open presents early. Hurrah!

My Mum, sister, brother-in-law, brother and sister-in-law had all clubbed together to get me a present and I was allowed to open it up on Saturday night. I was beside myself to discover that it was my most coveted precious of all time. A Cambridge Satchel Company satchel, in my most beloved green with my initials embossed on it.

 Please note I am following one of my Fashion Blogger rules: Don't look directly at the camera. I'm learning!

I have squealed and stuck my head in it and breathed in deeply and generally been in a trance with it ever since. I love it I love it I love it. Although I feel that now I own one I need to seriously think about becoming a Fashion Blogger.

Just kidding.

I would show you better pictures of it but I don't have any so you'll just have to deal with it.

It was a weekend of not a great deal though - a couple of dog walks - which aren't the most stressless of activities given that neither dog is particularly good on a lead (totally my family's fault, they haven't made the effort with training them) - some wandering into the town centre, an awful lot of eating and just having some generally good times.

The collage below nicely sums it up - dogs, food, presents, flowers, nature. BOOM.

Easter L-R: Rosie looking longingly outside; birthday bruschetta; PRESENTS; birthday pavlova; flower alert; Nigella's Spring Chicken; Duck spotting on our Easter Sunday walk; pretty stream; Rowan having a paddle.

And finally I will leave you with this photo of Blinky.

This is not a photo where I just happen to have captured her and she looks like she's pulling an angry face, this is just how she looks all of the time. See what I'm up against?

And yes this post is late. But I think we know by know that they're always late when it comes to me. Please, feel free to re-live your own Easter.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Tetris blanket: Progress Update 1

"Yeah I know I'll crochet myself a Tetris blanket, what a brilliant idea."

So here we are about a month later and I feel like a progress post is due.

I stand by that it is an awesome idea but I massively underestimated what a fiddly little pain in the arse it was going to be.

The joining. OH the joining. So much joining. So many weaving in of ends.

It is never-ending joining and weaving.

I have intense phases on this blanket. I'll do nothing for ages and then go into some kind of crochet frenzy, usually on a weekend, where I crochet up my squares and can see the blanket coming alive in my minds eye.

And then I remember about the weaving and the joining and I go into a decline.

I don't know why I procrastinate so bleeding much because when I force myself to sit down and get a wriggle on it never takes as long as I think it's going to. There's about 20 squares of each colour and weaving in the ends of the middle and the edge of all of them probably only takes an hour or so, if that. I just bang on an episode of something and before I know it, it's all finished.

I made some excellent progress during my stay at Norbury Manor where I actually didn't do as much crochet as I thought I would be still managed to weave in all the ends of my red squares, join them all together and whip up all my green squares. However, I have now done very little since I came back from the Manor and have been struck down by Weaving and Joining Doom.

My plan was to do all the Tetronimos and then begin on what will literally be the Black Phase of the blanket. There will be much crocheting of black squares and I really think I'll struggle with that one, although we'll see, I may be inspired.

As it stands at the time of writing I have crocheted up 5 out of the 7 Tetronimos and am just about to start the squares for my next.

I should have made some excellent progress given that I was off Easter and this week for my birthday celebrations (by the way it's today - happy birthday to me and god bless the power of scheduled posting.) but given the Easter Read-a-thon and...you know....my birthday celebrations, there hasn't been a lot of time for crocheting.

I think part of my reticence is that I am dreading the joining of everything together. This is not going to be an easy, joining some lines together and then joining  those lines together, I'm going to have to break it all down into sections and go at it very slowly and probably swear and have a little cry along the way.

 Those pesky ends

But I will soldier on through because it is an awesome idea and after finally plucking up the courage to Google "Tetris crochet" I firmly believe my blanket is going to be the shizz.

Now where was I?

Oh yes, joining and weaving...

For those who wanted to know, I have decided to go with Layout 2 from my previous blog post)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Easter Read-a-thon - Easter Sunday & Easter Monday update

We have reached the end of the Easter Read-a-thon and I feel a little sad.

As I mentioned in my first post above, sometimes I feel guilty for reading. And I know that's silly but in this day and age where there's more of a constant pressure to be 'switched on' and 'doing' in some way, reading feels like the ultimate luxury.

The Read-a-thon has in a way given me permission to sit back and relax and do the thing that I like doing.

I know there'll be people out there shaking their heads in bemusement at that notion but that is how it is for me and I've enjoyed it.

So Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.

Much like my Thursday-Saturday update, I enlisted the help of my trusty camera to record the moments I had to myself to have a little read.

Easter Sunday saw me having a little read of Toby's Room by Pat Barker at the dining room table with the tulips and my chocolate Easter bunny. The reason for this? My brother-in-law enjoys watching all TV at approximately 12 billion decibels and it literally hurts my ears.

I also gave blood on Easter Sunday, which seems like a strange day to hold a donating session but I don't make the rules. I hopped on to my bed and managed to read a couple of pages until I was done - I'm a fast donater which doesn't leave much time for reading. I also thought it best not to take a picture of my book with the needle in my arm so as not to offend the squeamish - you'll have to take my word for it that there was a needle in my left arm!

 The only downside of giving blood for me (and for those how haven't donated before let me stress that everyone reacts differently and this isn't necessarily what will happen to you) is that it really wipes me out. I am knackered for the rest of the day until I've had a good night's sleep so I had to retire to bed fairly early doors on Easter Sunday night where I grabbed the opportunity to finally finish Toby's Room.

 Easter Monday saw the beginning of a new book and I have made a long overdue to Stephen King who I love but have not read enough of lately. The last few books I've read of his have been his latest ones so I've made a return to some of his earlier work and I'm giving Needful Things a bit of a bash.

The Person and I were making a return to Preston, plus it was my nephew's 13th birthday on Easter Monday so there wasn't a lot of time for reading in the morning. But it did mean that I managed to squeeze in some lovely train reading which is one of my favourites.

And then I was home and reunited with my favourite crochet blanket and I did a little more reading...

And that brought the Easter Read-a-thon to an end.

As predicted it wasn't a massive headcount in terms of books - I managed to get two finished and have made a dent in my third which is alright by me. I had an Easter weekend of family and boyfriend to fit in around my reading.

But this Read-a-thon wasn't really about that for me. It was more about giving myself permission to relax and re-discovering what it felt like to settle down and reading a book just for the love of reading, instead of cramming it into the hour before I fall asleep.

And that has made it all worth it.

(A review post of the books I read would be lovely wouldn't it? Maybe I'll do one in a few posts time. Or maybe I won't. Who knows?!)

Monday, 1 April 2013

March Project 365 Round-up

I can hear the groans.

"Oh god didn't we just have one of these?" I hear you cry. Well yes, yes you did, but that's because there was nothing in January and February and now we are nicely caught up. You won't have to feast your eyes on another of these until the end of April.

Clockwise L-R: The castle, Lily's close up, a wintry scene, sheepy sheepy sheep sheep, the Tetris blanket grows, SNAKE

2nd March - I live near a ruined castle and it's brilliant. It doesn't look that impressive but you can actually go up to the top of one of the towers, as long as you don't mind heights or narrow stone spiral staircases. If I walk into work (instead of getting a lift from my sister) I walk past it and it never. gets. old.

9th March - I went back to Hull for Mother's Day and Best Friend's birthday. This is a close up of Lily. You're welcome.

26th March - Oh hai snow, you're here again, aren't you fun? No actually you're not you total twat. Although you do make for lovely wintry scene photographs of churchyards. 

18th March - These sheep lived outside our Manor when I was away for my Bloggers Weekend and I was a woman possessed trying to get a good photo of them. Persistence paid off in the end and I got them all lined up and looking at me. Winner.

19th March - The Tetris blanket is veeeeeeery slowly taking form and it is exciting.

23rd March - Every time I go back to Preston, The Person and I take a mooch around Pets at Home because it's opposite the flat. We look at the rabbits and guinea pigs and try and stroke random dogs and it's awesome. Going in every time I'm over sometimes makes me feel like a loser but it paid off because today we went in and there was a man there with many creepy crawlies including a SNAKE and I totally got to hold it. What do snakes feel like? Well, they feel like a handbag actually. Not slimy and actually nice and smooth. This old gal mostly felt heavy, she was about 4 stone.


March was a good month you know, I struggled to pick just 6 photos and thought about adding more but then figured that I'm struggling to hold your attention as it is and probably shouldn't make it worse.

Let's be having you April.


If you were interested - all the other photos from Project 365 can be found on my photostream HERE