Monday 30 January 2023

Making sense of all the brown threads

There hasn't been a lot happening this past week, although I do seem to have been busy, just nothing really to show for it, some weeks are like that aren't they?
 I thought I'd pop in with a quick stitching progress update on my bunny stitching.

I'm alternating between a week stitching on this project and a week on my Stick6in23 project, that way each gets a decent amount of time.

Not massive progress but I'm getting more used to changing all the colours now, although I did have to stitch the eye twice as I miss-read the symbols.  I've stitched on this a total of 12 times now.  In the past I've not been very good at keeping a record of when I start and finish a project, so this year I'm making notes and keeping track of when I work on something, hopefully I can carry it on through the year and not just through January 😉

Bunny has been put away for another week now while I work on my Stick6in23 project, which I will work on until Sunday night.   I'm on nanny duty for the rest of the but hopefully I can find a few hours here and there to get some stitching in.

Apologies if I haven't commented on your blog posts this week, It's been one of those weeks when I've been in and out the house almost every day.   I plan on setting aside some time in the morning to read your news.

Have a good week All


Monday 23 January 2023

First finish of 2023

 I want to try and use up some odd balls of acrylic yarn that I have, In most cases I have just one or two balls of a colour, not enough to make a garment, even a small one so I will make a few small blankets to use them up.  This one is a small pram/pushchair size, I had one ball of the blue so worked until that had gone.  It's for no one in particular, I might donate it or ask one of the girls if they know anyone who could use it.

I have more grey and white so I will see what else I can team that with to make another one soon.

I've enjoyed working on this simple granny square and remembered that I have another crochet blanket that I started a few years ago and didn't finish. 

This is the Crofter Blanket and it's been a good few years since it's seen the light of day, but now it's out I'm going to try and do a bit each week until it's finished.

All the squares are made, some are even joined into rows so it's just a matter of joining the rest of the squares then joining them all together.

I think I put it away because I wasn't too keen on the colour, and it's still not my favourite colourway but It's better finished than sitting in a box, and if i don't like it once it's finished I can always give it away.
One of my doctors appointments last week got cancelled, twice, my smear test is now Feb 7th, unless it gets cancelled again.  Physio wants me to go to do rehabilitation, that will entail a weekly session at one of the local hospitals,  but first she wanted to do some blood tests and will make me an appointment a once those have come back.  I've had achilles tendinitis for years on and off, it was particularly bad all summer last year, I've been doing the recommended exercises for over twelve months and it's never gone away completely, I just have days when it's not as bad as others.  The rehabilitation work will, so I'm told, work on strengthening the leg muscles so that there is less strain on the tendon.   I'd just like to walk a decent distance without limping and being in pain, sometimes for days afterwards.

Saturday was such a horrible day, it barely got light all day, the weather grey and foggy, not a day for going out but I wanted to do something, so we opted for an afternoon trip to the cinema.   We went to see A Man Called Otto, based on the book A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  I had read the book in 2018 and loved it, we have also watched the Swedish film.  This new version, which is set in America rather than Sweden and has Tom Hanks as the cantankerous Otto is good, we both really enjoyed it, It is somewhat different to the Swedish film, but I think that's probably to make it appeal to a wider audience, but well worth it.  If you haven't read A Man Called Ove I can highly recommend it, I'd put it in my top 10 books.

Have a lovely week


Monday 16 January 2023

Monday Stitching update

For my birthday in December 2020 my eldest daughter bought me The Meadow by Bothy Threads.  I didn't do much stitching last year but, since Christmas I seem to have got my enthusiasm back for it and made a start on Boxing Day

After that I didn't pick it up again until last week when I worked a little every day.  I found it slow going at first because I don't usually stitch things that require lots of colour changes, the bunny section has different shades of browns and I found myself getting confused over which symbol matched which brown once they were stitched.  I think I'm getting the hang of it now but it takes a bit more concentration than my normal stitching.  The flowers are much easier and I'm sure will be quicker to stitch.

This one will be put to one side this week while I work on my Stick6in2023 SAL.  We have January and February to work on the first number chosen, (N0. 4), mine will probably take most of those two months as I'm alternating weekly with The Meadow, plus, I have chosen a medium sized chart to stitch.

That's all for now, I have a busy week this week, picking the boys up two days and I've two doctors appointments, (one is for a smear test, ugh, but it's got to be done hasn't it), one is for a medication check-up and I also have a physio appointment about my ankle.

Hope you all have a good week


Wednesday 11 January 2023

Granola - how I make it

When I posted about the granola I made at Christmas some people expressed an interest to know how I made it so I thought I would share that today as I made up a batch today.

There are no precise weights and measures for how I make mine, the more ingredients you use the bigger the batch.  This was a smaller batch because It was just for me.

As well as the items below, oats, coconut oil, cinnamon and maple syrup, you will also need a selection of nuts and seeds and either raisins sultans or dried cranberries, or a mixture of all three, if that's what you like.

 I always use these organic oats from Aldi, they are nice and big and not powdery like some others can be.

For this batch I had a mixture of nuts left over from when I'd made it at Christmas,  walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts, and I also added some almonds and pumpkin seeds and a handful of mixed seeds too. 
 You can use whatever nuts and seeds that you prefer.

I line the baking tray with foil, (because it's easier to transfer to a container once cooled), and arrange the oats nuts and seeds as shown.*

 I then add 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil, (adjust the amount of coconut oil you use to how large a batch you are making, I would suggest you put less rather than more at this stage because you can always add a bit more)
Sprinkle with a generous amount of cinnamon and drizzle maple syrup all over.  You can add a pinch of salt if you wish to, (sometimes I do, sometimes I forget, I don't think there is any difference) 

I set my oven at 180°C and leave it in there until the coconut oil has melted, then I take it out and mix everything together.  At this point you will be able to see if you need to add more coconut oil, you don't want the ingredients too dry, but neither do you want them swimming oil.  

I turned my oven down to 165°C and put it back in to cook for about 20-25 minutes.  Of course your's may take longer or cook quicker, depending on your oven.

You will easily see when it is ready as it will looks lightly toasted and sound crunchy when you stir it.

Once it's cooled for a while add your sultanas/raisins/cranberries, (or all three) and mix those in.   
 leave it to completely cool before jarring it up.  That's it, it's so easy to make up a batch while your'e cooking something.

If you wanted to make the gingerbread granola which I did at Christmas just add the following.
  zest of 1 orange plus 1 tablespoon of the juice.   
2 tablespoons of black treacle 
2 balls stem ginger
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

I added all the above to my Christmas batch except for the stem ginger and cloves as that doesn't appeal to everyone.  It turned out great and everyone was happy to receive a jar again this year.

I can guarantee that once you try home made granola you will never want shop bought again!

Let me know if you try it

*I like to arrange the ingredients like this, because I'm slightly ocd and like to see everything in little piles, you can totally just chuck everything on that tray if that's the way you prefer to work, 🤣

I'll also copy this page to the recipies tab at the top of the page for future reference 


Sunday 8 January 2023

Book topic

 I joined a book lovers group on fb a few months ago, mainly to get book recommendations but also to connect with people who also share a love of reading and books in general.  However, I've had a change of heart about the group.  Since the New Year some people have been posting their Goodreads 2022 reading challenge results on there, along with what they have set their reading challenge to be for 2023.  I was shocked at all the nasty comments from people, most saying that reading was not a competition and that people were showing off saying how many books they had read and they couldn't understand why anyone would want to keep a record/track of what they read, I even read one comment that said they thought it was inappropriate to put what you're reading challenge was for the coming year as it might offend those that did not read that many books....What!  Some of the things being said were just ridiculous.  I set a challenge for myself every year, It's a personal challenge, It never crossed my mind that someone would think it was showing off.  I also like to keep lists so keeping a list of books I've read is just another list to me.  I just couldn't understand the objections.

Audio books was another topic that got a lot of negative comments, with many people saying that if you listened to audio books it didn't count as reading, neither should it be counted in the number of books you've read!

 I'm just giving you the gist of what was said, some comments where quite nasty and I gave up reading any comments on posts that were about reading challenges, I've since left the group, I can do without those sort of negative feelings.   I think there is a  lot of snobbery associated with books, but does it really matter what anyone else reads?  We are all different and like different things, not everyone will enjoy the same books and people will take different things from the same book, and that's ok.

All that made me wonder if I should do an end of year book post, but then I thought, why shouldn't I?  I like seeing what other people have been reading, there may be something hasn't been on my radar, plus this blog is about my life and hobbies, reading and books are a big part of my life, so, here are my end of year reading stats.

My views on audio books are the complete opposite to that person on the fb group. Studies have been carried out and the findings were that there is no significant difference in comprehension between reading and listening.  I can visualize the scene whether I'm reading a physical book or listening to an audio book, for me there is no difference, infact, in some cases an audio book may be better than the physical equivalent as a good narrator will bring interest, enthusiasm and atmosphere to the story.

It took me a long time to get into audio books but for the last couple of years I almost always have one on the go alongside a physical book.  I listen while I'm walking, doing chores or while I'm crafting, I spend a lot of time on my own so they fill the silence at times.   Granted some are better than others, the narration has to be good otherwise it will spoil a good book.

My total for audio books in 2022 was 24

The best by far was Lesson in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.  Wonderful writing, sad and funny and great narration

The best series was the Middle Fall Time Travel series by Shaun Inmon.  There are 17 books in this series and I've finished 8 so far.  They are good escapism.

I think The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was the most overrated, I was expecting good things and it didn't deliver

I've been making more use of my local library recently too and read 13 library books in 2022.

The best of these are the Detective Washington Poe series by M.W Craven, extremely well researched and written.  (If you read any of his books make sure to read the about the book section at the end)

I read 6 books from my shelves.

Really enjoyed The Woman in the Window and The Child, The Animals at Lockwood Manor was really boring and the most overrated, in my opinion was Where The Crawdads Sing.

This last selection were my Reading Group books, there were others but they were ones I'd already read so chose not to re-read them.  As a group we are all agreed that the book choice this year haven't been great,
The most disliked book was Normal People, I was the only one that liked it but I do think its a book that would probably mean more if it were read more than once.  I really didn't like The Gustav Sonata although lots of others liked it and strangely the book that none of us enjoyed at all, All Among The Barley was the one that sparked the most discussion.  

My Goodreads challenge for the year was 50 books, I'm happy that I reached that goal.  

According to goodreads that equates to 17,865 pages
My longest book was True Colours by Kristen Hannah with 544 pages
My shortest book was A Bachelor Establishment with 206 pages

Of the books I read, the most shelved on Goodreads was Where the Crawdads Sing,  which was shelved 3,942,045 times

The least shelved book, of my books, was A Christmas Carol, 11 times.

The highest rated (star rating) on Goodreads was A Christmas Carol

The average rating I gave to books in 2022 was 3.3 stars 
Lessons in Chemistry I think was the best book for me last year,  I will continue to read the Washington Poe series as he releases them, they are so well written, and I will carry on with the Middle Falls Time Travel books, they are easy listening and entertaining.

I can't remember a time when I haven't read, from when I was very small I can remember having a book with me, but it's not only reading I love, I love books, the smell, the feel even just flicking through pages, there is just something about them that brings me joy.  As a child I would spend hours in our local library and as an adult there is nothing better than finding a new book shop to explore.

So what about you?  what books do you enjoy?  Do you think it's cheating to count audio books in the number of books read? Do you also like to keep count?


Wednesday 4 January 2023

A brand new month

Happy New Year!   I hope that 2023 has started out well for you and that It will continue to be a good year for everyone.  New Years Eve for us was much the same as any other has been over the Christmas period, we did enjoy the London fireworks, I say every year that I'd like to go next year, perhaps 2023 will be the one, who knows.

I do have a new piece to display for January.  This is January by Waxing Moon Designs

It's not a new finish, I stitched through December 2020 and finished January 2021.  This was one of the three pieces I took to be framed over the Summer, and the last one to come back to me.

Framing was again done by Mark at Betty Stitchkit and as usual he did an excellent job.  I'm really pleased with this one, I love how that little red house pops in amongst all that white, yes there was a lot of white stitching but I'm not one of those people who have a problem stitching white so I found it fine.

Last year I didn't do a lot of stitching, this year I'm quite enthusiastic about stitching all the things and looking forward to more finishes, lets hope that enthusiasm doesn't wain in the coming months, ha ha.

What I'm enjoying today, the weather is very mild and I'm sitting in the conservatory, usually in December it's like stepping into Narnia and you half expect to see Alsan sitting at the table, but not today.  Also, I looked out the window and I saw this.

A flower on my Camellia!  A lovely little pink spot my garden which is mostly a drab brown.
It won't last long if we have another cold snap but it is a reminder that very soon things will be popping through the ground giving more colour.  
Our woodpecker has come for his dinner while I've been sat here too, (sorry for the photo quality, I snapped quickly with my phone)

He (she?) comes most days, I was so excited when he first started coming and It still makes me grin when I see him at the feeder.

I've enjoyed a slice of my Christmas cake while sitting here.  I gave half of it to my sister and brother in law and took some to my elderly neighbour, both said how lovely it was, so that was good and means it didn't get wasted.

I hope you are enjoying whatever you are doing today.