Wednesday, January 30, 2013


This purple yarn is waiting patiently for me to start knitting a poncho. I am waiting less patiently to start it! Several people in my craft group have knitted this pattern, and I finally succumbed after trying one on last week.  I am using James C Brett Marble Chunky. It is gorgeously soft, and only cost me about £20 for 4 200g balls, which will be more than enough to knit the poncho. It is knitted on large needles, in squares that are then sewn together. 

The baby blanket is still progressing. I knit a little each evening, and have taken to taking it out with me in case there is an opportunity to knit a few rows. One thing I often do with my knitting, is attach a small safety pin at the start of a session, as I like to see how much I have done on that occasion. Is that weird? I'm looking forward to starting the lace border, as it grows so quickly and is more fun to knit. The baby is due in March, so I have plenty of time, but I'd rather have it done. I made the mistake last time of putting one aside and starting something else, and then before I knew it the baby arrived and I was knitting like the clappers for a week.

I have given up on While I'm Falling and started Still Missing, by Beth Gutcheon,  a Persephone book. It's about a six year old boy who goes missing, and is gripping me so far, though I really won't like it if it doesn't have a happy ending, and I am beginning to worry that it might not. 

Joining Ginny's Yarn Along 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Outside my window...grey skies

I am thinking...I hope it doesn't rain. Again. 

I am thankful...for the central heating this cold weather and for Options 40 calorie hot chocolate, with half a teaspoon of expensive vanilla...

In the kitchen...leftover veg mince curry from last night

I am wearing...jeans, favourite warm jumper, fluffy socks and my black suede boots

I am creating... a baby blanket as per my last post. I am restraining myself from starting the poncho  I want to knit next. The wool arrived Saturday, it's purple and lovely and soft and I can't wait to get started on it 

I am spend the day with my Mum and Auntie, looking at old photographs

I am wondering...if I have time to finish this post before I have to dash for the bus

I am reading...Still Missing, by Beth Gutcheon

I am hoping...for sunshine

I am looking forward to...a talk on Victorian Workhouses that the  Prof and I are going to this evening

I am learning...more stitches and knitting techniques, after years of only knitting scarves and dishcloths

Around the house...clutter and laundry, as ever

I am lovely it will be when we have our bedroom decorated and the Prof has built the fitted wardrobes he is designing

One of my favourite things...surprisingly, All Bran. Only when accompanied by a chopped apple, and perhaps some berries

A few plans for the rest of the week: book club on Wednesday, and more knitting

A favourite quote for today...

Rules for Happiness: 
Something to do 
Someone to love
Something to hope for 

- Immanuel Kant

Joining in with the Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, January 28, 2013

This was the weekend

My weekend begins on Friday evening, does yours? This weekend started, as they mostly do, with the Prof arriving home from work bearing the traditional Friday fish and chips (although in these dieting healthy eating days, we share one portion). Nothing beats haddock and chips with a large gherkin (commonly known locally as a wally) and a bit of tartare sauce. We watched and thoroughly enjoyed The Bourne Legacy, and I continued working on the baby blanket, which is becoming quite boring. I'm looking forward to starting on the lace edging.

On Saturday we slept in, then went off to the Local Studies Centre. We had a bit of lunch there and looked at the old bomb maps from the second World War. It was fascinating, looking up the houses in which I have lived over the years and seeing where the bombs were dropped. The house in which I live now is listed one night as 'severely damaged but still habitable', which made me wonder how something damaged 'severely' can be 'habitable' and feel sorry for the family who lived here, the son of whom, then in his seventies, I met when we moved here.

When the centre closed, we popped home to pick  up the Young Philosopher and went out for dinner to a local carvery. Carveries work well for us at the moment, as the help-yourself option means we can take less starchy veg and more cabbage and cauliflower etc. Yum. (yes, you can hear a slight note of sarcasm).

On Sunday we went to the cinema to see Quartet, which was very funny and also quite poignant. Definitely recommended. Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins in particular played very good parts. The cinema is next to the vast Cathedral to the Great God of  Shopping, which I visit as little as possible, but needs must, so we went in there to leave my bracelet at the jeweller to have two new charms soldered on (a J and a P, present from the Prof, and his and the YP's initials). We also managed to use an HMV voucher that we were worried the YP would lose, now the company are in administration, and of course we found time for a cup of tea and the Telegraph crossword.

In the evening we watched television. I am liking Sunday nights, with Call the Midwife, Ripper Street, Mr Selfridge (love!) and also Brian Cox's Wonders of Life, and the return of Person of Interest, both of  which we are having to tape on other nights as repeats as everything seems to be on at the same time and the machine can only cope with so much. What is going on? There are normally about three programmes a week at the most that I am interested in, and I get five in one night!

Oh, I almost forgot! I spent Saturday and Sunday evenings sewing on buttons and making pom poms (NEVER ask me to make a pom pom again. I had forgotten how endlessly boring it is, and it made my hands itchy for some reason) and the Battenberg Tea Cosy in officially FINISHED! Now I just need a cup of tea and a piece of Battenberg cake to christen it with.

Joining Amanda

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Knitting and Reading

I'm starting slowly with reading this year, it seems. I am only on my second book of the year, and am only reading in bed at the moment, ten minutes or so before I go to sleep most nights. I'm reading While I'm Falling, by Laura Moriarty, and whilst I am quite enjoying it, it isn't gripping me so far.

I am knitting a baby blanket, the same as this one I knitted last year, for a family friend's baby due in March. The main part is white, and I am going to knit the lace edging in mint green this time. I might make a little green cardigan too. The pattern is extremely easy, garter stitch only, knitted diagonally, and is so mindless I can knit in front of the TV and barely have to look at my needles. even the lace border is just a ten row repeat and quite simple, but the finished object looks really pretty. I like things that look good, but are nice and easy! I will post a photo when the border is done.

I started the Battenburg Tea Cosy last May, from this pattern. I knitted the two sides of it and then something else woolly took my eye and I wandered off. It's so easy to do isn't it? This year I am determined to complete my unfinished projects, so yesterday I sewed the cosy up and made this banner to attach to it, my first attempt at knitting from a chart, which I found surprisingly easy. I avoid all sorts of things on knitting patterns that I don't think I can do, I should have more faith in myself! I still need to make two pompoms for the top,  and this afternoon I have enjoyed sorting through my button tin and my dear Auntie's to find little buttons to sew around the bottom.

Joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

44 things update

Remember my '44 things to do while I am 44' list?  Well, time's up! I turned 45 on January 1st,  and have been reviewing my list.  Here's how it went: 

44 things to do while I am 44
  1. Write a small stone every day in January - Done - well, every weekday :)
  2. Take the  Blogging from the Heart e-course - Done
  3. Take the Photo Meditations e-course thanks to a special offer, I have the ebook and will be working through it. 
  4. Learn to crochet. I tried and failed years ago, then again last year. Third time lucky? - still working on it. A friend has volunteered to teach me a different way this year, so looking forward to that.
  5. Become healthier. I won't bore you or myself with the details here, but I have a plan involving poundage to lose, exercise to enjoy force myself into, sleep to get proper amounts of and fresh air to breathe occasionally... about all I managed was eating a low GI diet, on and off, which helps a bit with the CFS. I lost a few pounds too, but only a few. 
  6. Write more letters - Done, but Could Do Better.
  7. Work on the To Be read pile, actually more of a small bookcase than a pile - read a few, and used the library almost exclusively this year, so not many books added to the TBR bookcase
  8. Fill my moleskin sketchbook with drawings - nope, not even started. I took part in an online drawing course, which got me briefly enthusiastic, and then it got a bit more difficult and my enthusiasm fizzled out.
  9. Write. I find so many excuses not to. As a start I am working my way through 'Old Friend from Far Away', by Natalie Goldberg, one of my birthday presents - just writing here as usual, and on my joint blog with Jennifer, Notes Across the Sea
  10. Learn more about my fabulous new camera - nope. I love it, but then I hate learning how to use new gadgets. When I got my first smartphone the Prof had to work out to use it and ten explain it to me....
  11. Choose and print our wedding photos, put in albums/frame - some albums done! 
  12. Organise all my old photos into albums - nope. Given up and packed them back away in the loft.
  13. Organise all my digital photographs, print some and put in albums - nope. Backed them up though, which I'd not done before. It's a start!
  14. Learn how to back up the computer and do it regularly (I know) - Does getting the Prof to do it count?
  15. Paint the garden bench again - as it has more or less rained for 365 days and 365 nights in the last year, no.
  16. Paint the doorsteps - see above.
  17. Make a birthday cake, in fact, bake in general. I don't know why I never have, really, as I enjoy cooking. This may be incompatible with aspects of number 5, we will see how it goes! - no. Still don't even possess a cake tin. I got a rolling pin for Christmas, but then we have just started a diet healthy eating plan, so I don't see baking in my immediate future. I might make a birthday cake later in the year, though, if I get those cake tins. 
  18. Renew my passport - on hold until I manage to remember where I have put my birth certificate.
  19. Go out with the Prof for proper London pie, mash and liquor - yes!
  20. Grow sweet peas from seed my mini greenhouse broke, due to a combination or being flung around the garden by weather of biblical proportions, and next door's huge cat jumping on it. Bought some plants instead.
  21. Grow vegetables see above 
  22. Keep a list of all the books I read this year - Yes!
  23. Make some presents - a few knitted things, yes. 
  24. Keep a record of what meals we have and new recipes we try, for inspiration when it’s lacking - started a list a couple of times and lost them. I still think it would be a great idea to do this, maybe I will get to it eventually.
  25. Declutter every room in the house - hah
  26. Declutter the loft and the shed - made a good start on the loft
  27. Sell some unwanted things on ebay - no...
  28. Have a boot sale -  and again, no...
  29. Put the proceeds aside for a few days away - well, we had a few days away a few times, so can I have half a point even though I didn't raise the money myself? 
  30. Learn how to put eyeliner on - I can put it on, but then I can't really leave the house for fear of frightening small children. 
  31. Go to London more - hospital appointments don't count, right?
  32. Visit Kew Gardens - see number 15
  33. Go on a London Walk - ditto
  34. Go on a picnic - ditto
  35. Go out for a drive through Kent to see the bluebells yes
  36. Visit this restaurant again - it's quite a way from where we live, so not yet.
  37. Establish a routine for dealing with house stuff and prevent me from getting overwhelmed - of course not.
  38. Create a comfort drawer - no
  39. Visit the Isle of Wight We visited Hay-on-Wye instead. IOW another time. 
  40. Streamline wardrobe, work out what I need to fill gaps and get those items - made a start
  41. Buy some dresses and skirts - I hate shopping. I did get a few things, mostly online.
  42. Grow my hair colour out (hello grey!) Not quite sure I have the courage, we will see - Decided I am definitely not ready for this yet.
  43. Find and buy some non-stretch jeans if any still exist in the world in my size - found some jeans that I like, finally. I think they have a little stretch, but they are ok. 
  44. Personalise our 3 new red felt Christmas stockings BEFORE next year’s Christmas frenzy - no, and I stuffed the Prof's one so full this Christmas it got holes in, so I need to buy at least one new one. 
I don't think I will ever complete all the items on whatever list I write. There are things that appear on both my lists that I still haven't done (43 things list from 2011 here), and other things that I change my mind about within weeks of writing them. Sometimes I have a great idea for a project in the morning and have gone off the idea by the afternoon! It's been fun having a list of things to inspire me though, and I enjoy checking in through the year to see how I am doing. I'm still thinking about what I'd like to do this year. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

That was the weekend: snowy days

After our light dusting of snow a few days ago, we had Proper Snow for a couple of days this weekend. I saw these large bird tracks which I think must be one of the ever present pigeons - all I seem to get on my bird table these days are pigeons. We have a very small garden, and I think since two of my neighbours' shrubs have grown much taller, where they used to be below our dividing fence  the smaller birds are too timid to fly down when they can't see a clear exit. It makes me sad, as I used to love watching the little birds on the bird table, and it's so rare that one ventures on to it these days. I might have to think my way round the problem. Any suggestions? 

It was an uneventful weekend. On Saturday we did the rounds of a few garden centres looking for a birthday present for my Grandad, and finally found one in the last place we went to, of course. We had a very bland, dry and expensive jacket potato in the cafĂ© of one. I think perhaps we should start taking sandwiches when we go out shopping, I am fed up with paying over the odds for mediocre food, when I could make something myself much cheaper and more tasty. I really don't mind spending money on something wonderful; but so often it is mediocre at best. We popped into the supermarket for a few bits before going home, and I bought myself some daffodils and red tulips which are looking wonderfully springlike on the bookcase and the kitchen windowsill. 

On Sunday we stayed home. The Prof restored my laptop, which thankfully worked, and worked on his design for fitted wardrobes in our bedroom. I did a major clean of the bathroom and kitchen - you know when you get halfway through and you're exhausted and it's nearly dinnertime and you have to put everything away before you can do dinner? That. I am very tired because of it today too, and slept much later than I like to. I am really glad I got so much done though. Living room next, just as soon as I get my energy back! The evening was spent watching TV - new series of Call the Midwife and Ripper Street, which seems to be a strange kind of Victorian version of CSI, drinking hot chocolate with vanilla, and of course, knitting. 

Linking up with Amanda 

Monday, January 14, 2013

This was the weekend

So it's the 14th January, I haven't posted since 11th November last year, and somehow the longer I go without saying anything here, the less I have to say and the more I don't know where to start. So I am joining in with Amanda at Habit of Being. This was my weekend...

I ate:  
  • a serendipitiously yummy use-everything-that-is-lurking-in-the-fridge curry 
  • a childish Saturday breakfast of Lucky Charms
  • a naughty Sunday breakfast in the home of the yellow arches
  • a gorgeous avocado/olives/roasted veg bloomer sandwich in Pret a Manger
  • an unexpected roast dinner (fanTASTIC idea to just turn up at Mum and Dad's at Sunday dinner time!)
  • the last of the raspberry jam

I enjoyed:
  • The 1900 House on DVD 
  • finally finishing the present I have been knitting for a friend (can't say too much here....)
  • the knowledge that I already have my next two or three knitting/sewing projects lined up. I love that feeling!
  • a talk on the history of tea
  • an exhibition about grave robbing and dissection in the 19th century at the Museum of London (where we spotted the unusual sculpture in the photo, must find out what that is all  about)
  • the book I am reading, Alice Bliss, which was my Secret Santa gift from a book group friend

I thought about:
  • how lovely it would be to have sweet peas in the garden again this year, how long it is until I can order my plants
  • restraining myself from getting books out of the library until I have read all the books on my to-be-read shelf bookcase
  • some plans for 2013, about which I will write more soon

A belated Happy New Year to you! It's good to be back.