Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Mum's List



I hadn't heard of Mum's List by St John Greene until I saw something about the film adaptation on TV. I thought it sounded interesting, though very sad, and I decided to read the book.

Mum's List is a true story about Kate Greene, a woman dying of cancer, who decided to write a kind of wish list for her husband, Singe, and two young sons. The list was actually things which Kate wanted the family to do, some things she'd intended doing with them herself, mixed in with things she didn't want them to forget and life lessons.

Having my own life threatened by cancer when my own children were very young, I find myself drawn to these type of books, however, this one didn't turn out to be the weepy I expected it to be. Yes, it's a true story and it's extremely sad, I feel terrible when anyone loses their life to this horrible disease, especially when they're leaving young children behind, and Kate's illness wasn't the first time the family had been touched by cancer, one of the children had gone through it too, but there were things which just didn't sit well with me at all and I must admit that I nearly abandoned the book on more than one occasion.

I know that people deal with grief in different ways but I found Singe to be quite disrespectful after Kate's death. He removed his wedding ring within days of Kate dying as he now thought of himself as a single man and he seemed eager to find a new partner. Even when one of the boys asked him when they were going to get a new mummy he didn't put him right and tell him that Kate was their mummy and always would be. Singe may be a lovely chap, he obviously idolised his wife, however, the way the book is written doesn't show him in a very good light, in my opinion.

I thought the book was going to go in to more detail about the list itself, which seemed to get lost amongst the gloating about the new house extension, new boat, holidays and even appearing in a Steven Spielberg film. I feel terribly sad at Kate's death but it certainly hasn't held Singe back.

I thought the best part of the book was the inclusion of Kate's mum's diary. This one chapter told me more about Kate's illness and what was happening at the time than all the other chapters put together.

Has anyone else read this book or have you seen the film, I wonder if that's any better. I'm afraid it's a film I won't be rushing to see if the book's anything to go by.

I've decided that the Christmas books that I didn't get round to reading last month will be put away now until next Christmas. There's quite a few so I'll be all set in December without having to buy any more.

If you want to know what else I've been reading lately, you can find a list in the sidebar. This shows all the books I've read this year and there's also lists of the books I've read right back to 2012.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Crafty Gifts

I was very blessed to received some wonderful gifts this Christmas, my friends and family know me very well and know the things I like and they always get things exactly right. I think I'm quite easy to buy for, I enjoy a lot of different hobbies and like lots of different things so people can always think of things to buy for me.

I got some lovely craft gifts this year so I thought I'd show you some of them. First of all, yarn. These three skeins came from two different Etsy shops, the one on the left is from Little French Meadow. I've been wanting to try some of their yarn for some time now. This is their Saint Savin Sock base, a 75% superwash merino/25% nylon yarn and the colourway is Hall of Prophecy, part of their Harry Potter inspired range. The other two skeins are from Felt Fusion and dyed under the name of Den of Yarniquity. The middle skein is superwash Blue Faced Leicester/nylon sock yarn in Meandering colourway and the skein on the right is alpaca/merino/nylon sock yarn in Hot Stuff colourway. This one is much plumper than the other two and consequently, there's only 333 metres in the skein. There's 425 metres in the other two so I hope I'll still get a pair of socks out of it. They're all so beautiful, I can't stop stroking them.


I've been really pleased with the stitch markers I've bought previously from Little French Meadow so I put some more on my wish list. Mick chose to buy me some Harry Potter inspired ones, a broomstick, a lightening bolt, a wizard hat with pumpkin and the Whomping Willow. The ladies at Little French Meadow also included a cute sunflower stitch marker and a fruit tea sachet in with the parcel.


The project bag I bought from Sam at Betsy Makes earlier this year is being well used so I thought I'd like more bags to keep other projects in. This time I fancied a bag which gathers around the top and after looking on Etsy I came across Quince Pie. Elaine has some lovely bags in her shop, as well as other craft related items, and Mick chose this drawstring bag for me in a lovely owl design fabric.


He didn't stop there though, once I'd seen this set of two project bags and DPN holder from Fondant Fibre I knew I had to have them. They really are lovely and the attention to detail is fabulous. Even the zip pulls have pretty little flowers attached to them. Deb popped a little snowflake stitch marker in the parcel too.


Who could resist this charming fabric?


Of course, I showed you in my Twelve Days Of Christmas 2016 Reveal post the wonderful crafty gifts made especially for me by my swap partners, a project bag and ultra cute pea pod stitch marker and progress keeper from Kim at This Happy Homemade Life and the hand painted yarn and notions pouch from Cath at Clicky Needles, here they are again.


I'm sure you'll agree that I've done very well indeed for crafty gifts this year. Now I just need to decide which projects I'm going to cast on, I think this year is going to be a busy one craft wise.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Twelve Days Of Christmas 2016 Reveal

This Christmas was the worst I've ever had, called in to the hospital late on Christmas Eve as my dad wasn't expected to live and not getting home until the early hours of Christmas Day morning, visiting throughout the festive season not knowing what was going to be and on top of that, feeling ill myself, it hasn't been the best Christmas. My Twelve Days Of Christmas swap gifts were a little light relief in each day.

The swap came about as my lovely blog friend, Lisa from Jumble And Jelly, asked if I'd like to do a swap with her back in 2014. We each really enjoyed it and so last year I hosted a swap on my blog for other people to join in too. It was such a success that I decided I'd host it again this year.

Lisa and I decided we'd still do the swap between ourselves as well so I thought I'd show you the things which we swapped first of all. These are all the gifts which Lisa sent to me.


I've never read anything by Katie Flynn before so I'm looking forward to starting this book and when I do, I might have used the paper cake cups and cake toppers and made myself some buns to eat whilst I'm reading, how cute are they? Those little snowmen are adorable. Lisa knows how I love my old films, especially musicals and White Christmas is a lovely one to add to my collection. One of my favourite gifts was the piggy foldaway bag and piggy sticky notes, I'm such a huge fan of pigs. I'm always scrabbling about for a bag and this one is great because it can just be clipped to the outside of my handbag and doesn't take up any space.


I took these photos in the conservatory to give me a little more light in these dull days and I'm not sure you can read what's on the mug, it says If Friends Were Flowers I'd Pick You, isn't that lovely? It came with two hot drink sachets which I'm itching to try. The cute cupcake tin will come in very handy, I do love a tin, and it was filled with a packet of Snow Bites, yum yum. I remember Holly Hobbie well from my childhood and I just love these notecards, they so pretty. I've been itching to open the cinnamon & hazelnut mini stars all Christmas but I've been saving them until I did the photoshoot, I shall be opening them very soon.


I love these Cosy Footlets, they're so pretty and very toasty. Lisa knows that Green & Blacks is my favourite chocolate, it's very rich though so these miniatures are just the right size for when I fancy a taste. The stocking plate is really lovely, it's something I'll be able to use each Christmas and it came with Ferrero Rochers, another of my favourite choccies. The table games have already been in use and I can give them a big thumbs up, we all enjoyed playing them and they'll be brought out again when we have another family gathering.


Thank you so much, Lisa, you've got my tastes off to a tee now, I love everything I received.

Here are the things I sent to Lisa.


A Santa filled with Dairy Milk chocolates, paper straws and ice cream tubs & spoons, I thought they would be nice to use on a summers day, an egg cup with a chicken shaped cover to keep the egg warm and some cute girly notelets.


A spotty dotty mug with some flavoured tea sachets, two pairs of cosy socks, a shopping list pad which is magnetic to stick to the fridge and a pretty butterfly coaster which I saw when I was on holiday in Cornwall and couldn't resist buying.


Twelve Days of Christmas book by Trisha Ashley, I thought this was quite appropriate to add to the swap parcel, a silver tealight holder, packets of Snow Bites and Malteaser Reindeers and a notebook and red spotty pen.


I thoroughly enjoyed our third swap and we've already decided that we'll do it again next year.

My swap partner from the swap I hosted on the blog was Kim from This Happy Homemade Life. I received some wonderful gifts from Kim and she definitely knows the things I like as they were all themed to my likes and my hobbies.


A set of three Botanica notebooks, I love stationery and these little notebooks are so pretty, a butterfly writing set, again pretty, I just love this design, a craft paper pack, now I don't know whether Kim knows this or not but I used to enjoy scrapbooking and it's a hobby I'm keen to take up again so these will come in very handy, and a mini cross stitch kit which will be a nice little project to do in between some of the larger things I've got on the go at the moment.


I've never read anything by M. C. Beaton but I do like this genre as I'm sure you know with me working my way through the Agatha Christie books so I'm sure this will be a good one, the orange & cinnamon scented tealights smell divine, I love anything with a tangy scent so these will be lovely, such a cute gingerbread man bath bomb, it will be a shame to melt him but it will be nice to take a relaxing bath after the stresses I've been under lately, and the cutest cross stitched Rudolph, how I love this little tree ornament and it will take pride of place on my tree in the years to come.


A pack of adhesive fabric sheets, how clever, I'm thinking up projects that I can use these for, a Baileys truffle bar, yum yum, a pack of gel pens which I'm thrilled with as mine always seem to go walkabout so these will replace them and the most beautiful project bag. The fabric used is just so me with my love of gardening and growing veggies, and can you see those cute little pea pods? One of them is a stitch marker and the other is a progress keeper, how fabulous.


Thank you so much, Kim, you've done so well choosing these gifts, they're all things I'd have chosen myself.

Here are the things I sent to Kim.


Twelve Days of Christmas book by Trisha Ashley, yes, you saw this in Lisa's swap parcel too, too appropriate for the swap to pass it by, a manicure set, French manicure nail varnish and a couple of mini cross stitch kits.


A row counter for knitting and some Made With Love charms and in with these I popped some pins and a crochet heart kit which had come free with magazines, I thought Kim might be able to make use of them, a tin of Whittard's afternoon tea, some pretty tealights and a set of lip balms.


I'm afraid I mixed up the gifts here, oops! This photo shows some bath bombs which were actually popped in a different parcel, in their place I sent Kim some Drops cotton yarn, a writing set, a Peter Rabbit notes & lists pad and some Dairy Milk and Smarties chocolate.


Thank you for taking part in the swap, Kim, you were a brilliant swap partner.

I took on another swap this year. Cath from Clicky Needles was left without a partner after the one I allocated her pulled out so I said I'd swap with her instead. Here are the gifts I received.


A giant Toblerone triangle, we're all fans of Toblerone in our house so I've been careful to stash it away, some cute t-shirt shaped sticky notes, they'll be very handy in my Filofax, some pretty ribbon, always handy and the cutest little Rudolph brooch and flower covered button badge.


Cath didn't leave Archie out of the swap, he got a bag of treats, a torch which will be very handy for his night time walks and a safety ID tag, such a good idea. I'd listed some Etsy shops on my Christmas wish list and said that I wouldn't mind a notions pouch but I didn't receive one so I was thrilled to bits with the one Cath sent, it's just lovely and will be very useful, some pretty covered buttons, I need to find just the right project for them and some more pretty ribbon.


A tealight holder and three glitzy gold tea lights, they'll jazz the place up, three spools of decorative tape which will look great in my Filofax and a sparkly notebook which will be handy to pop in my handbag, I don't always carry my Filofax around with me these days so it's handy to be able to jot things down when I'm out and about. I also received a chocolate treat with each day's gift.


Those were my Twelve Days Of Christmas swap gifts but Cath had put an extra special gift in the parcel for me, a beautiful skein of yarn which Cath had hand painted herself. This colourway is called Bazaar. I just love all the different colours and I know I'm going to love using this. Thank you so much.


Thank you, Cath, I'm really happy with the gifts I received and I'm glad I could step in when you were left without a partner.

Here are the things I sent to Cath.


A pair of cosy footlets, a ha, there are those bath bombs that I mentioned earlier again, this is the parcel they were destined for, a lip balm set and some Whittard's truffle praline tea pyramids.


A row counter for knitting, a thimble and some Made With Love charms and I popped them all in a little notions pouch which had come free with a magazine and also included a heart brooches kit which was also a free magazine gift. A Yankee Candle votive and holder, two bottles of nail varnish and some Green & Black's miniatures.


Another Twelve Days of Christmas book by Trisha Ashley, I added one of these books to each of my swap parcels, a cute owl writing set, a to do list pad and two balls of Drops Love You yarn.


Thank you for taking part in the swap, Cath, you were a great swap partner.

I had such a lot of fun with each of the swaps I took part in this year and I hope that everyone else who took part did too. Thank you so much, it does add to the excitement of it all when there are lots of swappers joining in.

As I mentioned earlier in the post, when I hosted the swap last year it all seemed to run very smoothly without any hitches at all that I know of. Unfortunately, this year, there's been a few problems. I've had people pulling out after they've been allocated a partner, miscommunication and others who have simply ignored all posts, comments and emails which have been sent to them. I know there may be hiccups along the way and that some people may sign up and then something unforeseen happens which means they can't fulfil their commitment, I totally understand that, but this wasn't the case and I've had swappers left disappointed after being left without a partner and, to be honest, it's taken away some of the enjoyment for me. I don't get anything for hosting the swap, I just thought it would be a nice thing to do but there's always people who will put a downer on these things and spoil them. I'd like to apologise to those people who were left without a partner this year, I certainly never foresaw this happening.

To this end, I've decided that I won't be hosting this swap again next year. I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank all the lovely people who have taken part over the last two years and hope you've all enjoyed joining in. It's been nice to get to know you and I hope you all had a lot of fun with the swaps. If you write a blog post about the gifts you sent or received I'd love to see them, do please leave me a comment so that I know.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Planning The Year

As most of you know, I'm a bit of a Filofax fanatic. I'm not one of those people who have loads of binders but I love the ones I do have and I'm one of those rare people who has found the exact style of planning which works for them and who are happy with their set up and the binder they use. The Filofax I have for everyday use is a Malden in crimson which is a personal size and I also use a red A5 Chameleon for household planning and finances. I do have two or three other binders but I don't actually use them.

I was looking at the Filofax website not long before Christmas and I came across the Illustrated Diary Packs. I hadn't seen them before so I think they're fairly new. They come in Stripes, Geometric and Floral designs and I thought how lovely one of those would look in my Filofax. I duly wrote it on my Christmas wish list and I was lucky enough to receive the Floral pack, the one I preferred, as a Christmas gift.


I usually spend a lovely time between the Christmas and New Year period putting new pages in my Filofax and setting them up ready for the year ahead but owing to everything which was going on with my dad being in hospital at this time and feeling ill myself, I didn't get round to setting everything up until after 2017 began. I found an hour or two on Wednesday to get everything sorted out.


I'm very impressed with the diary pack, the diary pages themselves are adorned with a pretty floral design and they're lined too which I much prefer to plain pages.


Included in the pack are monthly dividers and on the back of each one is a monthly planner.


The pack also contains ruled notepaper, plain notepaper and to do pages.


I'm really pleased with the pack and how attractive it's made my Filofax look.

If you'd like to read more about how I use my Filofax, I did A Tour Of My Filofax Crimson Malden post back in 2014 and though I've changed a few things round since then, removing some sections and adding others as things change, it's still essentially the same. That's the great thing about a Filofax, it's so versatile so as things change in your life, you can swap things around in your planner.

How about you? Do you use a planner? Have you ever used a Filofax? I'd love to hear what style of planning works for you.

Monday, 2 January 2017

#stitchingsanta Reveal 2016

This Christmas, I once again took part in the #stitchingsanta swap which Sheila hosts on her Sewchet blog. It's a great swap for crafters as the gifts are to be, mainly, craft related. There's two categories, knitting/crochet and sewing and I opted for the first.

Instead of Sheila allocating swap partners, it's done as a secret swap, so I knew who I was to send a gift to but didn't know who was sending one to me. It turned out that Rosina at Zeens And Roger blog was to send me a gift and I received a lovely parcel of squishiness.

I've never used Paintbox Yarns before so I'm looking forward to trying out this lovely yarn. Rosina has chosen three colours which compliment each other so I'll have to think of a special project for it.


Rosina had also made me some wonderful tree ornaments, a crochet bauble, two sparkly felt Christmas trees and a toadstool, very cute.


Along with the above I received this cute cherry brooch.


Thank you so much, Rosina, I love everything you sent.

The person I was to send a gift to was Kim at The Material Lady blog. I hadn't come across this blog before so it was great fun looking through Kim's past posts to find out more about her and the things she likes and enjoys.

These are most of the gifts I sent.


I saw from Kim's blog that she enjoys knitting socks so I chose a skein of Knitglobal sock yarn and two balls of Drops Fabel for Kim to knit herself a couple of pairs of socks.


Kim isn't just a knitter, she enjoys sewing too, so I thought she might enjoy Mollie Makes magazine which showcases lots of different crafts. There was also a cute dachshund brooch kit with this month's issue.


I popped another kit in Kim's parcel, this time for a knitted purse.


When I saw The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown on the shelf in the bookshop I knew I had to include this in the parcel. Kim's emailed me to let me know that she's read and enjoyed it over the Christmas period and she's offered to send it back to me so that I can read it myself. How lovely is that?


Eleanor bought me one of these row counters for my birthday and they're so handy so I thought I'd include one, as well as a spool of ribbon and some Made With Love charms.


I wrote about the shawl I'd made in my Nurmilintu post but I didn't mention who it was for just in case my #stitchingsanta recipient was reading. I can now reveal that this is who the Nurmilintu shawl was for.


No parcel would be complete without a little chocolate so some Green & Black's Miniatures were also popped in the parcel, and some flavoured tea too, though I forgot to take a photo of that.


Kim sent me a lovely email letting me know how much she liked everything and she also thanked me in her Yucky/Lovely December post too. If you haven't discovered Kim's blog I can recommend you go and take a look.

So that's the #stitchingsanta swap over for another year, it's been great fun again, thank you for organising it, Sheila.

I'm still opening the wonderful gifts I'm receiving in the Twelve Days Of Christmas swap so I'll show you those later in January. I've thoroughly enjoyed taking part in some Christmas swaps again this year.


Friday, 30 December 2016

Reading - December 2016

The books I've read this month have all had a festive theme.


The first book I read this month was Hercule Poirot's Christmas. I started reading all Agatha Christie's murder mystery novels in chronological order back in January 2015, one a month. It just so happens that this book is the twenty fourth that she wrote and therefore, even though I hadn't chosen it specifically to be read around Christmas time, it just fell right that it was to be read in December. Though the book had Christmas in the title and the events which occurred were over the Christmas period, I wouldn't say it was Christmassy at all. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and didn't guess the ending at all, it was one of the most surprising endings I've read from Agatha Christie yet.


I picked up Christmas At Battersea a couple of months ago and I've been itching to read it since then but I thought I'd wait and read it around Christmas time. I read a great book previously called Rescue Me by Melissa Wareham about the fifteen years that the author had spent working at Battersea Dogs And Cats Home and I'd really enjoyed that. Christmas At Battersea is made up of lots of individual stories about dogs and cats, because remember Battersea rescues and rehomes cats as well as dogs, which had been taken in by Battersea before finding their forever homes. There's some wonderful stories and I enjoyed this book very much. It's now been passed on to someone else who I'm sure will enjoy it too.


My third Christmas read was Christmas At Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop by Jenny Colgan. This book follows on from Welcome To Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop Of Dreams which I read last month and which I actually preffered. This book was rather predictable, I thought more could have been made from the story but it was okay as an easy read.

I had bought lots more Christmas themed books to read this month but this is as far as I got. I love Christmas but I'm actually rather relieved that it's all over this year, to say it's been a disaster is an understatement.

I mentioned in my last post how my dad had been taken to hospital by ambulance on the 21st of December. Thank you for all your good wishes for him. It was found that he had internal bleeding from a duodenal ulcer so he was taken to theatre to have it repaired. Unfortunately, quite late on Christmas Eve we got a phone call telling us to get to the hospital as quickly as we could, the repair hadn't held and the bleeding was severe, my dad wasn't expected to live. To cut a long story short, they took him back to theatre to have another go at repairing it whilst we waited in the family room. We were warned that it didn't look good but they were surprised by how hard my dad was fighting it and a few hours later we heard that he was out of theatre and he was holding his own. We eventually got home at about 5am on Christmas morning and by the time we'd got my mum sorted out and had a drink, it was 6am when we went to bed. We were up again at 9.15am, picked up my mum and got back to the hospital. We've been at the hospital every day since then and I'm pleased to say that my dad is really picking up now.

Whilst all this with my dad has been happening, I've been ill myself. I started with a cold before Christmas but it travelled on to my chest and I've been feeling really rubbish all through the festive period. All the stress with my dad hasn't helped and I just haven't been able to get any rest. I'm hoping that it will all start settling down now.

I'm a real Christmas lover but I've never experienced one like this before. All the jollity and festivities have gone out of the window this year, we swapped gifts late afternoon on Christmas Day and we were going to postpone Christmas dinner until Boxing Day but in the end I decided to get the meat in the oven and we ate it early evening on Christmas Day. It's been a case of making the most of things.

Back to the subject of this post, I'd bought lots of Christmas themed books to read this month but I haven't had time for anything since my dad's been in hospital. I'm not sure if I'll read them in to January or whether I'll save them for next year now, we'll see.

The books I've read this month have brought the tally for this year to forty eight, that's four a month on average. I'm pleased with that. My favourite read this year was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes but I've read a good variety of books and there's plenty more I've got lined up yet to read too.

I'm so far behind with everything at the moment that blog reading hasn't happened at all so I do hope you'll bear with me. I will try and catch up with a few blogs here and there as I get the chance but I doubt I'll be back on top of everything until things settle down again.

I hope that all my readers have had a very merry Christmas spent with loved ones and I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, healthy and peaceful new year. I hope that 2017 brings everything you wish for.