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...

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!