Where have I been?

Oh dear. This has been the longest time between blog posts since I started this blog. I just got so damn busy recently. My temp job got extended for another month but won’t last much longer so I’ve been really pushing myself to apply for other jobs. I must say, the temp job is great but the uncertainty about what’s next is quite a worry.

The other day on the way back from work I stopped in Tesco’s car park and observed this glorious rainbow.

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It lit up a most humdrum scene of cars and shoppers. The photo hardly does it justice: it was a complete rainbow with both sides clear as anything, and it cheered my heart.

The weather has been very wet but mild and we still haven’t had any snow this winter. Now the crocuses are out and even my camellia is showing a bit of flower, so it looks like Spring could be here.  I remember the weeks of snow and ice last year – even on Mother’s day it was a whiteout with a good 10 inches of snow and I was relying on my snow grippers to get me out and about for weeks. How ironic that I didn’t fall over once in all that snow and ice, but instead I managed to fall over in July and break my ankle!  You just never know what’s coming.

All for now,
Til next time,
L x

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2013 in review

I just received my blog’s annual report and stats. It was fascinating reading!

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My no 1 commenter is the lovely Jengolightly, who I would like to thank very much! Hugs to you for your support!

Life changed a lot for me in 2013. I broke my ankle and was made redundant. Now I am self-employed and it feels very exciting. I hope I can keep motivated, organised and efficient. That almost sounds like a resolution doesn’t it?

Herbie is a distraction

Herbie is a distraction

Happy New Year to everyone!

Till next time,

L x

 

 

Garden Planting

Now that the weather is warmer, I thought it was high time to put some flowers in my garden. Usually I would do this around Easter, but this year Spring has come late. I went to a garden centre towards the end of April and there was almost nothing there: a few sad herbs and no bedding plants at all. So my garden has been looking quite empty.

Amazingly, this little primrose survived the big freeze and is giving me a perfect splash of colour.

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I bought a cat mint plant, and to give it the best chance of survival, I planted it in my hanging basket.

"Cats adore this plant"

“Cats adore this plant”

My garden is surrounded by tall trees so it doesn’t get much light. I love it because it’s cool and shady and private, but some plants struggle to flower here.  Last year there were no flowers at all on my rhododendron. But this year, wow! I have just one, single, perfect bloom.

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On my Sunday dog-walks I have been checking out the many local footpaths which lead from suburbia into the allotments, woods, fields, and down to the river valley at Rivelin. Last week I noticed that there was going to be a plant sale at the allotment society HQ. That was surely the place to go for stocking my garden: locally-raised plants at good prices. I went along yesterday and did really well. They had a good range including herbs, fruit and veg. I was in the market for nasturtiums: they apparently thrive on poor soil (check) and grow like weeds (check) and give plenty of colour and ground cover (check, and check). Well, there were loads of them for sale at only 50p. I also got some petunia, nicotiana, and some geraniums with this glorious variegated red leaf.

Already pretty, even before the flowers come.

Already pretty, even before the flowers come.

I bought a nice little plant with delicate white flowers called Woodruff. They said it was a perennial so I thought I would buy it and see if it manages to survive for more than one season. Well, as luck would have it, a quick check on Wiki tells me it could hardly be more perfect for my shady plot. ‘Prefers partial to full shade’, ‘ideal as ground cover in woody gardens’, ‘strongly scented’. It is also known as ‘sweet woodruff”, ‘wild baby’s breath’, or ‘master of the woods’. I have high hopes for this one!

Larry has taken over the plant box

Larry has taken over the plant box

As always, Larry and Monty were on hand to observe the planting and to give their advice.

Monty is supervising

Monty is supervising

Till next time,

L x

Walking the Dogs

Sunday is my dog-walking day. I walk Harry and Dixie, a pair of West Highland terriers, for their owner Ken. I like to give them a good 2 hours off the lead, so we take a short drive to where we can have a good run away from any roads. Here we are on a jaunt around Endcliffe Park in Sheffield.

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Just for fun we like to have a game of chase where I run away from them, and they run after me, round in circles.  It’s good for me to have a run as well.  Simple pleasures!

Ken is a very experienced dog owner having had dogs all his life. He’s had Harry and Dixie from puppies and now they are 7 years old. They are extremely well-trained, well-socialised and great company. Ken relies totally on volunteer dog walkers, so sadly  this means that the lads don’t get out every day. They only get walked 3 or 4 times a week, sometimes less. Sometimes it’s only a quick stroll around the block. So on Sundays I give them as much time as possible. It’s wonderful to see them run free in open spaces.

Wyming Brook

Wyming Brook

There’s a nature reserve near us called Wyming Brook. The brook runs down a steep wooded hillside. There’s a wide, winding track which leads through the trees down to the reservoir.  Alternatively there’s a steep rocky footpath running alongside and criss-crossing the brook itself. Here you have to jump from rock to rock and cross rustic wooden bridges as you go, with the constant roar of the water around you, shaded by tall trees. You can go down the rocky footpath, and back up the track, or vice-versa, making a round walk. The footpath is exciting, but the track has its own charms. The trees and their alpine scent make you feel you are up a mountain, with the occasional glimpse of distant Sheffield.

Harry and Dixie are game little dogs who will tackle any terrain. I don’t have to worry about them: they always come back to me when called and they are relaxed around other dogs. However, I do have to watch out for horse or fox manure because Harry is a roller. Dog walkers, you know what I mean. When this happens we divert to the nearest stream or brook to wash the worst off. Harry doesn’t much like getting wet. His brother Dixie jumps straight in, even if he’s not dirty, but Harry needs persuading. Fortunately Ken isn’t in the least bothered if I come back with two filthy dogs. As far as he’s concerned, they should be out all afternoon getting mucky. He gives me a dog blanket for the car and baths them before teatime.

Harry asking ever so nicely for a crisp in the beer garden.

Harry asking ever so nicely for a crisp in the beer garden.

Ken is full of appreciation for his dog-walkers. It was the Cinnamon Trust who put us in touch. They are always looking for new volunteers, particularly for dog-walking and fostering cats. If you live in the UK and if you are a pet lover with a bit of spare time, do get in touch with them.

I am looking forward to this Sunday’s outing, especially now the weather is improving! We might have company, in the form of my friend, her daughter, and their little terrier Daisy. Woof!

Till next time,

L x

A Handmade Gift

It is lovely to receive a gift.  Big or small, it’s the thought and the good intention behind it which warms the soul.   I like to give people gifts that I have made.  I like making things, and at least with a handmade gift I can know for sure that they won’t already have one like it.  Still, I don’t always manage to give people gifts that I’ve made: time is short and I’m not that well-organised.

There is a perception, however, that by giving a handmade gift you are some kind of cheapskate because you probably haven’t spent a lot of money on it.  This implies that the most appreciated gifts are the most expensive.  But I don’t necessarily agree.  By giving an expensive gift you are showing that you have a lot of money and are willing to spend it on the recipient. That’s all very well, and such extravagance is exciting, both for the giver and receiver, especially when the gift is something that they really, really want.  Don’t get me wrong, if someone gave me an iPad or a diamond necklace I’d be over the moon.  But I’d also be a little embarrassed about returning such generosity.

On the other hand, a handmade gift can actually be quite expensive when you consider the cost of the higher end yarns. But whatever the cost of your materials, a handmade gift should be especially appreciated: the time and skill involved really shows you care.

Sparkly slippers handmade by Vicky

Sparkly slippers handmade by Vicky

For Christmas I received these marvellous sparkly knitted slippers from a friend. The design and construction intrigued me. I loved the mad, multicoloured sparkly yarn they were trimmed with; I loved that they stayed securely on my feet; and that they were a perfect fit.  I know my friend is on a tight budget, and I know these slippers would not have cost a lot to make, but that isn’t the point. The fact that they were made by her own fair hands is very special to me. She knows me, and she knew I would love them, wear them and find them interesting. For a gift you can’t ask for more than that.

Last week we caught up with some friends who we hadn’t seen over the holidays because they had been ill. With embarrassment they presented us with this beautiful cake, being modelled here by Herbie.  Seconds later he was trying to lick it.

Happy New Year cake

Happy New Year cake

Our friends felt they had to excuse the absence of bought gifts. They felt they had to explain. They are both working, but with pay freezes, childcare costs and house maintenance they are feeling the pinch, and they hoped we would ‘make do’ with this offering. They further explained that it was a quarter of a large Christmas cake which they had baked but not managed to decorate because of illness. Of course we were delighted with our gift, and the fact it was handmade was all the more special. There was no need to explain. I love how the cake is boldly decorated and placed on a handmade silver foil cake board with extra sugar flowers. It’s just delightful. OH has not allowed me to cut it yet because it’s so special and beautiful and he wants to take a picture of it. We will eat it and enjoy it.

What special handmade item did you give (or receive) this year?

Til next time,

L x

An Award!

I am thrilled that Knitting With Heart has nominated me for the Leibster blog award! I am rather late in posting, because my laptop was only returned to me this week, so I have been busy catching up on all things online.

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Now for the fun bit: I must reveal 11 random facts about myself.  These will have to be more random than the 11 questions which follow.  OK here goes:

I have size 9 feet.  That’s UK size 9, which is just outside of normal range and therefore makes shoe shopping difficult.  I have saved a fortune over the years by not being able to try on most shoes in most shops.

Yellow is my favourite colour but I learned the hard way in teenage years, not to wear it.

I adore Depeche Mode.  But late Mode only, post 1990.

My father was born in 1920, fought in the war, and had me when he was 51.

I really love butter. The more upmarket and salty, the better.

I kill houseplants. Quite easily. There are no plants in my house. Plants are better off taking their chances in the garden.

I am from a little town on the south coast of England called Seaford.

I was an alto in a choir for 9 years.

I am absolutely useless at playing the piano although I can read music.

I love dogs although I have never owned one.

I can make a really good lemon meringue pie.

There are the 11 random facts, off the top of my head, from the trivial to the less trivial.

Now for the proper 11 questions:

1  What are you most proud of?  Staying sane.

2  What makes you happy?  Peace of mind.

3  Your most prized possession?  My mother’s engagement ring.

4  What are you afraid of?  Any of my loved ones coming to harm.

5  Why do you blog?  Self-expression.

6  How would you describe your style?  Bang off-trend.

7 What are you most grateful for?  My ability to cope.

8  Best book you have ever read?  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I have read it many times.

9  What food do you hate?  Beetroot. Horrible. It is not even possible to disguise the flavour with anything.

10  Your favourite ‘guilty pleasure’ song?  Rabbit‘ by Chas ‘n’ Dave.

11  Your favourite holiday?  Christmas, because I get the whole week off and can eat and drink myself silly.

And finally, here are 11 blogs I would like to nominate, because they are all delightful in different ways:

A Knitter’s Notebook – knitting, cats, beauty, upcycling – right up my street!

For the Knit of it – a great knitting blog!

Skyscrapers and String – lovely knitting blog and beautiful white cat just like Herbie.

The Procraftinator – a quality knitting blog!

Lulubella dog blog – a really lovely doggie blog with good advice.

Miss Kitty’s Yarn Creations – you must see the knitted skittle alley!

My Own Made – beautiful crafted items, check out the grey tunic, so elegant.

A Tangled Yarn Knitting Adventure – crafting, recipes, inspiration!

Stitch and Purl – a beautiful knitting blog.

Candleowlknits – hilarious knitting blog!

Knitted Notes – knitting and vintage movies, very stylish blog!

Thanks again to Knitting with Heart for your nomination, and thanks to everyone who has liked and followed my blog so far.  I’m very excited about moving forwards in 2013!

Till next time,

L x

An Award?

I have been nominated for the Super Sweet Blogger award!

Thank you Janinka1 of Age-Defying Recipes for your nomination.

In accordance with the rules, I will answer these five questions:

1. Cookies or cake? Got to be cookies, milk chocolate chip, big and chewy.

2. Chocolate or vanilla? Tough one. Probably chocolate.

3. Favourite sweet treat? Cookies, as above. Or top quality shortbread, all-butter.

4. When do you crave sweet things the most? At around 3pm daily – time for tea and cake/cookie/biscuit etc

5. If you had a sweet nickname what would it be? Cookie!

I am also delighted to nominate a dozen fine blogs for this award:

Being Mrs Crawshaw

Wheezyrider

Agujas

Lanaplantae

Crayons and milk

The Bent Needle

Smell my Paw

All She Wants to Do Is Knit

Knitted Notes

Catshirolife

Orangefaeriedust

Candleowlknits

Thanks again and happy blogging! x