Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 Reading Challenge Completed!

Woohoo! With only a day to go, I managed to complete my Goodreads Reading Challenge of 2016, by finishing my target of 17 books over the course of the year - I'm really pleased I didn't fail! Here's what my year has looked like:


It's been a bit of an up and down year with my reading, to be honest. I have had quite long periods where I have been more focused on my crochet (like when I was trying to finish my Lilypond CAL) and I've read quite a few smaller books, but all in all it hasn't been a bad one. My total page count for 2016 is 6699 - that's a lot of pages!

My timelines is as follows: Hunted, The Magpies, Because She Loves Me, It, Skellig, Gone Girl, The Night Circus, Holes, The City of Mirrors, The Butterfly Lion, Follow You Home, War Horse, The Girl On The Train, A Wanted Man, The Devil's Work, Behind Closed Doors, and Siege.

I intentionally tried to mix it up a bit this year, and chose to read some of the books that I enjoyed as a child/teenager. The Butterfly Lion was my all time favourite book when I was growing up, and returning to it as an adult did not disappoint - I absolutely adore it. The same goes for Skellig (which is so emotional) and Holes. Sadly I didn't enjoy War Horse as much as I did growing up, but these things happen I guess! I'm also really sorry to say that I didn't particularly enjoy Stephen King's It. I really wanted to love it, but it went on far too long and just didn't do it for me (having read and enjoyed a few other Stephen King books previously, I was even more disappointed). Biggest surprise of the lot for me was Behind Closed Doors, which I just bought on impulse one day when I saw it on offer on Amazon - what a fantastic read! It's also been nominated in the "Best Mystery & Thriller" category on this years Goodreads Choice Awards, so I'd highly recommend it. Mark Edwards was a good discovery this year, from an author point of view, and I ended up reading 4 of his books!

I'm going to be setting myself another target for the New Year! Not sure how many I'm going to go for yet, but I'll definitely be taking part. I have accumulated even more books and have loads ready to start on my Kindle, so I need to make a dent in them all! I want to try and review some of the books I read next year as well, if I have the time.

Anyway, over and out from reading HQ - it's time for bed! Night all xx

Week 52

CHRISTMAS!

23rd - 30th December

From left to right: serious Jenga face, Gizmo snuggling with his ducky, loving our new Christmas tree topper from Paperchase, Dave's festive tshirt, I made chilli chicken, a very happy boy with his Lego Millennium Falcon, my beautiful earrings - real flower earrings from Dave, Bailey kisses, and the lovely decorations in Dave's parents' lounge on Christmas Day

Week 51

Cooking and more prepping!

16th - 23rd December

From left to right: homemade pie for dinner, ice patterns on glass, Dave planted a new laurel hedge, hooray for late night openings, a Christmas elf installing a new headlight bulb on my car, a block of marzipan...just for eating, Dave bought a spice rack!, hate having misty windscreens, and my homemade pate!

Week 50

Christmas prepping!

9th - 16th December

From left to right: wrapping my Secret Santa gift, misty mornings, lots of sparkle, the tree is up!, mini fish and chips at our work Christmas lunch, my awesome gift from my Secret Santa (bridal magazine and garter!), finally got my wreath up in the hall, my Mum's handmade Christmas card of 2016, and a parcel from Sam!

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas Wreath

Do you guys remember the Christmas wreath that I finished back on January 1st? Well, the time has finally arrived to see it up on display in our house! I've only had to wait 12 months for this (my own fault for slacking and finishing it late). Drumroll please!


It now takes pride of place in our bannisters, and is the first thing you see when you enter the house! I've decorated the front bannisters with fairy lights and snow like I do every year, so that makes it look even cuter! I even took a video...


I'm so pleased with how it looks now that it's hung up. I'd love to make some more, maybe as gifts next year but we'll see how it goes (my to-do list is still enormous).

I also put up our Christmas tree yesterday, but didn't get a chance to take any pictures as I had to crack on with gift wrapping. I'll try and take some later though! Saying that, it's the same as it has been in previous years, in turquoise and white.

Jobs for today - go and buy Dad's birthday present, exchange a tshirt, and then try and get over this horrid virus that I've caught at work. Have a lovely Sunday, everyone!

Week 49

Lots of cooking!

2nd - 9th December

From left to right: one of our engagement roses (Comte de Champagne), pulling pork, discovering that an ivy covered tree is about to fall on your sheds..., when you open a parcel expecting to find ribbon but instead see a felted giant Schnauzer, sweet chilli stirfry, the second of our roses (High Hopes), finished pulled pork in a brioche bun (yum!), discovering how apt this rose really is - it's a modern climber and Dave rock climbs!, and my ongoing battle with Hermes couriers continues when I find another load of parcels in the bin...

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Roses

We've had a nice relaxed weekend, but also been pretty productive! Along with getting all of the housework done, I did a little more Christmas gift wrapping (though was gutted to find that my new parcel of ribbon contained someone else's shopping and was sent to me by mistake) and we planted our engagement presents from Mum and Dad - two roses!

Comte de Champagne
High Hopes

We have one climber and one standard bush, both now all potted up! The varieties my parents chose are really relevant - Comte de Champagne as a symbol of celebration, and High Hopes because after getting married, my surname will be Hope! They were such great gifts and I can't wait to see them in bloom next year!

Today I also made pulled pork!


...well, technically I started making it yesterday, and slow cooked it for 18hrs in a blend of paprika, garlic, red wine vinegar, and other herbs and spices! Mixed in with a little BBQ sauce, it's delicious. It's been a good weekend!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Week 48

It definitely feels like Winter has arrived!

25th November - 2nd December

From left to right: sleepy gerbils, details on Jackie's cardigan, a frosty morning, cuddles with Harry, temperatures reach below zero, Harry selfie (featuring me, Kirsty and Dicky), leafy walks to work, the aptly named "bonking mug" at work, and using your windscreen wipers to find that the water you are trying to remove, instantly refreezes...

Baby Cardigan

I've finally found a second to share my finished baby cardigan with you all! I made this using the Jasmine's Sweater pattern by Maria Bittner.

Front

Back

I'm super happy with the outcome! This was a request of my colleague Jackie, for her Granddaughter. She basically let me do what I wanted with it - I sent her a few patterns to choose from, and then Jackie allowed me to choose the colours and yarn. I used Caron Simply Soft in white, fuchsia and watermelon - it's a lovely yarn to work with, and as a first timer using it, I was impressed and will definitely use it again in the future!

Buttons and tags

I tried to make the finished item a bit more personal by adding a "made with love" tag, and a little "handmade" charm (which you can just see the top of, bottom right of the tag). I thought long and hard about what kind of buttons to use on this. After standing and comparing buttons for about 15mins in Hobbycraft, I finally went for these cute fabric covered polkadot ones, which I think was a good choice. I particularly like the fact that they add another shade of pink to the colour palette.

Overall, I really enjoyed making this for Jackie. It was my first time making proper shaped clothing (I am still yet to assemble the cardigan that I am making for Kirsty) so it was a little nerve wracking, but I feel that I pulled it off. Jackie loved it, and that's ultimately what matters!

I still have a few projects lined up to finish before Christmas (eek). Next up is another cat, and then a pair of baby booties...plus, if I have time, a banana for Ruben. I have already been asked to make a jumper for my practice manager's puppy, in the New Year - a lot of my colleagues are really embracing my crochet, and one of the doctors has even asked if I would be able to teach her! Spreading the word!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Christmas Wrapping 2016

I started wrapping my Christmas presents on Thursday, after months of trying to find a look that I liked! I eventually went with this...


Grey and stars! I absolutely love it - simple but effective. All of the goodies came from Cox & Cox, which is a new discovery for me. They have some absolutely gorgeous items on their website, so I'll definitely be back in the future!

I've cut down on Christmas this year, as previously I have spent way too much, and now I have a wedding to think about! Anyway, I have halved my budget so my present pile doesn't look as big as usual, but hopefully people will like what I have bought them. 

The countdown is now officially on! Less than a month to go - I have a little bit of shopping left to do, but I'm pretty confident about being finished in time. We are spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Dave's parents, which is going to make a nice change, and then Boxing Day with my family in Dorchester. So it's going to be hectic! I'd love to hear what you are all doing over the festive season, and also see what your wrapping is looking like! 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Week 47

Starting my wrapping!

18th - 25th November

From left to right: my delicious looking pie crust, cardigan progress, "holidays are coming", not sure what Tesco are thinking with their cocoa and spiced rum crisps?, our beautiful engagement card from Rich and Sarah, the most amazing Christmas soap dispenser, cracking on with my present wrapping, a finished pressie in this years grey paper, and my rant to Hermes couriers for leaving on of my parcels in the bin

Monday, 21 November 2016

Life Update!

I've been so busy recently, so apologies for only posting my weekly update! A mixture of a busy time at work, lots of overtime, and a crazy personal life have contributed to my lack of presence! My first bit of news is that I got engaged on the 13th November!

Dave proposed on Studland Beach

It was an amazingly beautiful day - we went to Studland Beach and everything was perfect. I'm so lucky to have my wonderful man in my life, and can't wait to spend the rest of my life with him!

When I'm not being swept off my feet, I have spent the last 4 Saturday mornings at the flu clinic at work. Those were al super busy, and I made more tea and coffee than you could shake a stick at! It was all good fun though!

Regarding my current projects; Kirsty's cardigan is on hold while I finish smaller projects for colleagues. It's nearly finished and just needs stitching together, so in the mean time I have made a load of remembrance poppies and made a start on a baby cardigan for a colleague. I've only got one sleeve left to add to the cardigan, so that should be finished in the next day or two, with some luck! Here's how it looked at the weekend...


Obviously, it's come quite a way since then! As my first item of clothing, I am quite pleased with how it looks at the moment, and am excited to see the outcome once it's been pressed!

What have you all been up to lately??

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Week 46

An incredible week!

11th - 18th November

From left to right: icy mornings, Herbert the orange has made a transformation into Donald Trump, our invite to Kirsty's wedding arrived, beachy walks, I got engaged!!, the badger dug up our lawn..., something new, my lovely cushion from Liz, and the super moon!

Friday, 11 November 2016

Week 45

A lovely week!

4th - 11th November

From left to right: a little leaf trapped in the ice on my windscreen, walking back to my car after work, I won a Cath Kidston crochet kit from Simply Crochet magazine, one of my finished remembrance poppies, one of Kirsty's fish, sitting and waiting for the Twin Sails bridge to close again, afternoon tea with my bestie, wearing my poppy scarf, and dark skies over Westbourne!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Week 44

It's definitely Autumn!

28th October - 4th November

From left to right: hot chocolate, a lovely family evening, walking in lovely Autumnal leaves, special happy post from Sam, yellow leaves and blue skies, I've added a green flu t-shirt to my collection, Emma's beautiful meringue for my Grandparents, a naughty drawing by Dicky, and the first ice on my windscreen of this cold season!

Friday, 28 October 2016

Week 43

Autumn is definitely here!

21st - 28th October

From left to right: melting butter to make curry, dewy mornings, flu clinics, an almost frosty pansy, mist at 10am, leaving work in the dark, some seriously bad parking, a little more work on Kirsty's cardigan, and some beautiful Autumnal colours!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Week 42

Stitching, hospital and an anniversary!

14th - 21st October

From left to right: an evening rainbow, flu season has begun - my t-shirt says so!, a colleague hid one of the peas so Margaret donated her orange so the others didn't get lonely, hospital with the other half..., wings, doctors waiting room, got my ears syringed today, a card from the Queen (for my Grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary), and rows of the cardigan!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Week 41

More finished projects!

7th - 14th October

From left to right: Henry the cat!, found these two owl cushions...so cute!, tentacles, a night at the movies, paving, the gorgeous card I've bought for my Grandparents' anniversary, parked next to a ferrari at work, finished jellyfish, and my practice manager brought in some amazing Polish cakes for her birthday!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Friendly Jellyfish

Did a nice and simple quick make yesterday, and followed the Friendly Jellyfish pattern from One Dog Woof. I absolutely love the results!


He sparkles, which looks nice! I'm really pleased with the outcome. It's a little pressie for my lovely little friend Ben, whose Mummy requested one a few months ago. I might make it a little buddy at some point, but I do love this blue one! That's 3 finished projects this week now - I'm on fire!

Last night I went to the cinema with Dave's Mum, to see The Girl On The Train. She had previously read the book so had a rough idea of the plot, but I went into the unknown.



It was really good! We both enjoyed it, and I am going to put this book next in line on my to-read list, just so I can compare it to the film. 

Plans for today? Well, Dave has gone out rock climbing. I've woken up with a massive headache for some reason, so not sure what I'll do. I might make a start on Kirsty's cardigan...

Friday, 7 October 2016

Week 40

Week off!

30th September - 7th October

From left to right: woodland walks, a trip to Dorchester, the yarn for Kirsty's cardigan arrived!, little glass flowers, cooking lunch, peas in a pod!, cute ceiling bunting and lights in Re-Loved Dorchester, kitty toes, wandering around Holes Bay.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Amigurumi Fruit & Veg

So you may have noticed some little pics in my weekly collages of the amigurumi bits I've been making for colleagues at work. I've shared pics on Facebook but hadn't thought to add any decent photos on here! So, having just finished my peas in a pod, I thought I'd put them all up at once.

Margaret's orange - "Herbert"

Lesley's strawberry - Sidney

Fiona's bean - as yet, unnamed, because I just finished it

And just for good measure, because I haven't shared this picture here either, here is one of Margaret's orange, complete with some accessories!


I have been well and truly bitten by the amigurumi bug again. I know these are all super basic, but it's been nice to make a couple of short and simple patterns that are finished within a couple of sessions...as opposed to a couple of years! My colleagues have really appreciated these as well, so that's an added bonus.

Next up, is Henry the cat, which hopefully won't take too long either. Time to start him!

Lovely Walk!

I had a really nice start to my week off, yesterday! Sarah came over with Ruben and we went for lunch at the garden centre (which was super yummy) and then followed that with a walk! Our route was a bit of a funny one, but made sense to us...


We followed the blue route, and parked at Upton Country Park, then walked around the bay to B&Q haha! Sarah wanted to look at wallpapers, but in the end we just sat in the café and had a drink before walking back to the car.


The weather was almost perfect (there was a brief shower followed by a rainbow) and it made a nice change to go for a wander...even if we did park somewhere rural and then walk back into town to a retail park haha!


Ruben was on top form yesterday - everything was hilarious and he was really up for playing and messing around! And it meant Sarah and I could have a bit of girl time as well =)

I go back to work on the 10th October, so I have a week ahead of me to chill and get some stuff done around the house. I have a few things planned; lunch with Kelly and visiting my Grandparents tomorrow, and a doctors appointment on Wednesday, but that's it. I'll just take the week as it comes and see what happens! Hoping to try and make a dent in my Christmas shopping if I can!

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Week 39

Little peas, and flowers!

23rd - 30th September

From left to right: my first pea for Fiona's amigurumi bean, huddling under blankets in the evenings now, two happy peas, we decorated the bean at work - it now grows all kinds of fruits, bacon!, lots of single crochets, my new theme on my phone, replanted our front door pots, and Margaret started accessorising Herbert the orange!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Pretty Pots

There's been a job that's been niggling at me for a little while, so this morning I took a trip to the garden centre, and have replanted our front door flower pots! The dahlias have been gorgeous over the summer, but they have finally given up and have been making the front of the house look scruffy. I mean, come on...

Oh the shame!

So now, we have some lovely pansies and cyclamens to brighten up our door. And it looks so much more welcoming (not that that would've been difficult!).


I also gave the step and mat a good sweep down. I do need to buy a new door mat at some point, but that can wait. At least we have pretty pots now! Here's a close up...


That little spruce up only cost £20 as well, which I think is pretty good from a big garden centre! Minimal effort, but maximum impact. I think they look nice! What do you think?

Friday, 23 September 2016

Week 38

A return to amigurumi! And lots of food, of course!

16th - 23rd September

From left to right: hello kitty!, "Herbert" the orange, Emma cracking up playing Cards Against Humanity, steak with creamy spinach sauce, my wonderful Grandmother sitting in the Lotus, a yet unnamed strawberry, it felt very strange working in spirals again, couriers leaving a parcel in a secure location..., and seriously delicious broccoli and asparagus with bacon and poached eggs!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

New Projects

Before I say anything, this cute kitty came and visited us today!


I just wanna cuddle him, and keep him forever!

IN OTHER NEWS, I have been feeling the crochet itch after having a well deserved week off. I finished a 400 page book, and have rested my fingers, but I am now feeling ready to start something new. And what shall that be? I have an ever-growing list of items to make for people!

First up will be an amigurumi orange, for my colleague Margaret. I drew a face on an orange at work and this thing hung around for a few weeks, slowly acquiring accessories...and mould. Unfortunately, it had to be thrown away, so I promised that I would make a new orange for Margaret.

Next, a strawberry and a cat, for another colleague, Lesley. She is our office strawberry fairy, and always leaves them on peoples' desks, so I am going to make her an everlasting strawberry. I also want to make her cat, Henry, for her. Two nice and simple projects!

That will be followed by a bean! Another work project - after finally discovering that the mystery bean at work was infact a Sword Bean, the office lovingly cared for it, until it produced it's single fruit. That now resides at Dave's parents house. Fiona, keeper of the bean, wants to get rid of the original plant because it is now absolutely enormous. So, I intend to make a little bean plant for her to cherish forever haha!

I then need to make a jellyfish, for my lovely little friend Ben! His Mummy has requested one for his room, so that is on my list and will be ready before Christmas.

Once I have tackled those smaller projects (it's been some time since I did any proper amigurumi!), I am hoping to get started on a poncho/cardigan for my best friend, Kirsty. I'll be following this pattern for the Pauwau Poncho, and am just waiting for Kirsty to choose which colour she would like me to work it in. I've never made any item of clothing before, so that'll be a first! It looks relatively simple, judging by the pattern, so what can go wrong (eek!).

THEN, if I have any time remaining before Christmas, I want to make a few bits and bobs as decorations. This year I will be able to display my Christmas wreath for the first time, so that's exciting. It'd be nice to be able to add a few extras though, but we shall see...

Phew! That was quite a rant! Time for bed, and then the start of another week. Toodle pip! xxx

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Week 37

Finished objects!

9th - 16th September

From left to right: my lovely bathroom orchid, Mr Gizmo, out and about in the open top!, the lake that has formed in Westbourne, my lovely finished Lily Pond blanket, making naughty pasta bake, sent a picture of my owl blanket in it's home, dark clouds heading towards work, and adding mozzarella to dinner - yum!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Lilypond CAL!

I have finished my blanket! I'm actually a few days late in posting, but I have had a few things come up that have distracted me since finishing on Saturday morning. So the wait is over, and here is my finished Lilypond!

It matches my sofa, beautifully!

I'm so pleased with the finished outcome! The colours are amazing, the 3D element is gorgeous, and I am super proud of myself for getting it finished in time for Pat's birthday! It was tight though! I only finished weaving in the ends on Saturday morning, and gave it to her in the afternoon!

A rough idea of the size!

Despite my cup-of-tea disaster a few weeks ago, everything has turned out fine. The only parts I am unhappy with are the joins to the inside corner pieces - the corner blocks worked up a lot smaller than intended and it warped the blanket during joining. In hindsight, it would've been beneficial to add an extra round or so to the corner blocks, but I simply didn't have the time. I don't think it's overly noticeable though - I'm just being picky! Another very minor issue is the fact that I didn't add the final cream round to the edging. I did start it but I couldn't get it to look right (for some reason it just straightened the edge, rather than working to the ripple) so I decided to just leave it as it was. I do still think it looks pretty with just the pink rippled edge, so that's fine.

Would I do another CAL? Well, technically I didn't do this to time, so I am still a real-time CAL virgin, but it has definitely made me more interested in having a go. I'm definitely going to have a go at another Jane Crowfoot pattern (I really like her Persian Tiles blanket) in the future - they are all so unusual and different to anything else!

So there you have it - it took me 9 months, though I did take 3 months off because I was reading a couple of really good books. So technically only 6 months to complete. I don't think that's bad! I am now focusing on reading, to keep up with my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge, and am intending to start a couple of small new crochet projects in the next week or so.

If you want to have a go at making your own Lilypond blanket, you can find the pattern here on Ravelry! You can buy yarn packs on Wool Warehouse, which is where I purchased mine - they also have the alternative colourway "Cherry Blossom" available to buy on there. Happy stitching!

Week 36

So much crochet, as my deadline approaches!

2nd - 9th September

From left to right: rice for dinner, a bit of Hannibal Lecter, all of my finished crochet pieces, cup of tea in my Jersey mug!, joining progress, booking dinner with Kirsty and Dicky, vroom vroom, bulk cooking rice to use for packed lunches, and looking into my crochet bag at my almost-finished blanket!

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Week 35

It's been a foodie week!

26th August - 2nd September

From left to right: a new recipe for dinner (chicken, chorizo and spinach with mozzarella!), having my henna tattoo applied, my crochet disaster..., badger prints on our freshly laid weed membrane, more new food (chicken and new potato hash, with a poached egg), chilli chicken at the Dorset Indian Mela, my finished henna, motif #8, and the footprint culprit - a badger caught on camera!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Week 34

Crochet, cooking and family time.

19th - 26th August

From left to right: this years reading progress so far, peace out, my first #7 motif, catching Pokémon in Mum and Dad's dining room, homemade caesar salad, a seriously creepy faceswap with my Grandad, went to watch my brother's new band, black and white flower details, and blagging recipes from one of Pat's cook books.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Motif #7

After a really lovely, relaxing week off, I have a lot of blanket progress to show for it! I have finished my #6 motifs, and started the 7th today. So here is the fruit of today's labours!

Front and back

I wanted to share both the front and back of this square, because I feel the back is equally pretty. I love the lacy appearance to it! I don't think this is my favourite of the flower squares so far, but it is still cute.

My first 4 flower motifs

With my deadline in September looming, I was freaking out a week ago, but I am now feeling a little more confident. The one thing I feel is really holding me back, is yarn - I have almost entirely run out of the light green used in this square. So last night I made an order for more and really hope it arrives in the next day or so, enabling me to try and maintain the speed I have built up in the last week and a bit!

I'm keeping everything crossed!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Week 33

Camping, friends, and adventures!

12th - 19th August

From left to right: hydrangeas, my wonderful "other mother" Nicky, setting fire to things..., gorgeous lily blooms, Cheddar Gorge, a view across Chesil Beach in Abbotsbury, lorikeets at Bristol Zoo, my snazzy new bag from Glastonbury, and a camping selfie!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Camping Trip

Today we returned from our stay at Walnut Tree Farm, in very rural Somerset! We booked to stay for 3 nights, Sunday - Wednesday. The campsite was absolutely gorgeous. There was a lot of space, and some really lovely wildlife! We could hear tawny owls every night, and were joined by a green woodpecker at breakfast this morning!

Our home for 3 nights

We used our time well! On Sunday afternoon/evening, we just relaxed and read our books, before cooking up some burgers and sausages for dinner! The weather was stunning, and we have both browned nicely!

Monday morning, we both woke up really early after a terrible nights sleep. Our sleeping bags were rubbish and we were both absolutely freezing. After a bacon sandwich, we headed over to Bristol Zoo, which was really good fun! Unfortunately, I don't have any photos, as they are all on Dave's camera, but trust me when I say that we had a good time! In the afternoon, we travelled into Bristol in search of better sleeping bags! We succeeded and had a much better sleep that night!


On Tuesday, we opted for a trip to Cheddar Gorge in the morning, before a relaxed afternoon back at the tent to wait out the heat, and the dinner in a restaurant on a nearby lake. Cheddar was great - something really different. We went into both of the caves and enjoyed both, and after a drive up to the top of the gorge, we spent the afternoon under canvas, reading again. I read so much of my book in the last 3 days, it's unreal! We finished the evening by the lake, and then lit our firepit and toasted marshmallows.


We were going to spend an additional night at the campsite, but after a quick check of the weather, we decided to come home today as planned. After unpacking, we finished the day with a BBQ and Finding Nemo! Looking forward to the rest of my week off =)