Sunday, 23 April 2017

A Quick Reading Update!

My Goodreads Reading Challenge was off to such an incredible start in January, but has since dropped off of the radar due to crochet commitments! It has taken me 3 months to finish one book (which was about 400 pages long) which is sooo long for me!

I finally finished The Book Thief a few days ago, and I bloody loved it. The first quarter really didn't do much for me, but it really picked up after that and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even shed a little tear at the end! Definitely one I would recommend to everyone, and advise them to persevere! I have since moved onto something a little different, and not the kind of book that I would usually opt for - So You've Been Publicly Shamed.

I first heard about this book a couple of years ago on Radio 2, during an interview with the author. I thought it sounded interesting, so downloaded it onto my Kindle and it's sat there since. Whilst scrolling through my "to-read" list the other day, looking for something shorter and not too challenging (after my epic 3 months with The Book Thief) I chose to give it a go, and was not disappointed! I have just reached the halfway mark, and am absolutely loving it! I'll let you know what I think in detail, once I have finished.

I am currently 1,168 pages into my 2017 challenge, which isn't too bad. My all-time page record for one year goes to 2013 though, with 7,065 pages read. Hoping to try and get past that this year, but we shall see what happens. I am 3 (excellent) books into my year, and halfway through my 4th.

From a crochet perspective, I have just two more large flags to make for my 12m of bunting! Then I will start on the rest of the small flags, before the small task of assembling it all. I'm feeling really positive about it all, to be honest! I think it'll look fab on the day. As always, I am constantly adding to my crochet to-do's absolutely never ending. I'm hoping to crack on with some amigurumi again once I get my bunting out of the way though. Watch this space!

That's all for now; had a busy weekend and am back to work tomorrow. Will catch up again soon!

Week 16

Birthday baking!

16th - 23rd April

From left to right: Beauty & The Beast on my birthday, apple blossom in the garden, watching the local steakhouse go up in flames, one of the lovely gerberas in my birthday bouquet from Sarah, clean sheets, making brownies for work colleagues, little bro treated me to breakfast, filling up my bird feeders, and raspberry traybake - yummy!

Week 15

Frodo, food and fragrance!

9th - 16th April

From left to right: the My Little Pony that I gave my brother for his birthday, green cooking, dissecting a hot cross bun (raisins are disgusting), my fritillary is still going strong, received a card identical to our lounge art, one of Mum's bumblebees (for the wedding bunting), the start of an epic Lord Of The Rings (extended edition!!) marathon, Kelly's birthday presents all wrapped and ready to go, and a lovely Candleberry candle from my colleague Kara!

Week 14

Lovely friend time!

2nd - 9th April

From left to right: daffodils from my lovely colleague Helen, Dave has put my birds up in the garden, stained glass biscuits, pretty melted wax reflections, transplanting primroses, yummy Indian sweets from one of the doctors at work, Kirsty's hen party, our new Aloe Vera work pet - "Arfa", and my best friend and I!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Cluck Cluck!

After months and months of preparation, yesterday was the day of Kirsty's hen party! Right from the start of planning, Kat (a bridesmaid and amazing helper) and I wanted to make it really special. We came up with lists of things that Kirsty enjoys, and eventually settled on a Mad Hatter's Tea Party (she loves Disney and afternoon tea) and a crafting session (she loves to cross stitch).

I arrived at our venue, Holton Lee, really early to start setting up. Faith House doesn't need much doing to it, and there are stunning views out across the fields and Poole Harbour - we were super lucky to have amazing weather as well!

Party bags!

I came loaded with decorations and the party bags I have been assembling over the last few months. I wanted to go for a balance between tacky stuff you'd receive in a kids party bag, and grown up. I think the balance worked out ok!

I purchased the bags from The Favour Factory, after lots of searching! I love the customised labels! Each party bag then contained sweets (love hearts, lollies, Haribo etc), customised "Kirsty's Hen Party" chocolates, miniature wands and tiaras, bubbles, wish bracelets, balloons, and straws. Kirsty's had a large tiara and wand (pictured), a "grow your own male stripper" and a "bride to be" sash. I am really pleased with how these turned out!

On the decorations front, I had a load of paper bunting, giant Alice in Wonderland card props, honeycomb baubles, a "bride to be" banner, and a ton of balloons. Once Kat arrived, she brought more bits and bobs, and we got the venue looking pretty good inside and out.

Our Mad Hatters Tea Party took a lot of work - I baked some (rubbish) biscuits, Kat bought lots and we had some amazing baking help from Kirsty's mother-in-law-to-be Ilse. We set up the tea in the room adjoining our crafting room (I'll share pics of that later!).

For our jewellery making session, we had a lady named Cara from Crafts & Giggles come to us. All of the supplies are included and we got to make a few different items! Kirsty made earrings to match her dress, which looked fab. We all got a little bag and box to put our finished jewellery into as well, so people got to go home with 2 party bags in the end!

My finished earrings and bracelet

After our crafting session, we moved on to our tea party. The room looked awesome. It's usually used as a quiet room for kids with autism and is totally decked out in silver birch trunks - it's really unusual! The second Kat and I saw it when we visited the venue, we knew we needed to use it for the food.

Kat and her friend supplied all of the crockery and cake stands (except the tall one, which was card and bought online), along with the table cloths and champagne flutes.

The overall effect looked so good, and it definitely had a wow factor as you entered the room. The cakes were all absolutely delicious as well (Ilse did us proud).

After our tea, we cracked out some hen party games - lots of rudeness and silly things! I'm not 100% on my reading audience here so I'll refrain from pictures, but rest assured we had a really good laugh - willy hoopla was my personal favourite! We got to lounge outside in the sun a bit as well, so that's always a bonus.

My beautiful best friend and I

Next up was a trip to the pub for refreshments! A few of us went for some drinks, before disbanding for a little while and meeting up again for a much needed curry at Taj in Corfe Mullen! Indian food is always a winner in my books, and the food was absolutely fantastic. Only Kirsty was actually drinking as the rest of us had to drive, but the staff supplied us with two bottles of wine and some shots to end the night with - it was a lovely gesture!

All in all it has been a thoroughly exhausting, but very rewarding process. I've put countless hours into the planning of it, and everything ran pretty smoothly! I think everyone had a good time - Kirsty says she did, so that's all that really matters to me really. So now we begin the countdown to her big day on the 13th May! Only a few weeks to go before she becomes Mrs Kelly! So exciting!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Week 13

Unlucky for some!

26th March - 2nd April

From left to right: a foxy visitor, blossom in the garden, pepperoni pizza, discovered the real use for car cup holders, my bleeding heart is blooming!, our first RSVP for the wedding - thanks Karen and Mark!, dark skies overhead, quiet reading time, and a robin at the garden centre =)

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Springing To Life

Happy April! I can't believe this year is flying by so quickly!

Had a quick mooch around the garden this afternoon and am so thrilled with how some of our plants are coming along. Just look!

I'm absolutely beaming about my bleeding hearts having come back so well. It's the first time I've grown them, and when they died down for Winter, I was so worried they wouldn't come back. But a few weeks ago I noticed some shoots, and the plant is already flowering like mad! It adds such a gorgeous splash of colour, to what otherwise is a pretty dark and dreary corner under our camillia bush. Speaking of which, look top right and check out one of the beefy blooms we have on that at the moment! Our camillia never fails to impress me each year (the only annoyance is all the petals it throws everywhere when it's done flowering!). Surprise of the day is an appearance made by my snakes head fritillary! I thought this plant had died after I transplanted it to the "wild" garden, as it didn't show it's face last year. Low and behold, there it is! I adore these flowers - they're so unusual. Definitely going to buy some more fritillary plants now that I know they do ok up there. And last, but not least, our plum tree has started blossoming. There is something so gorgeous about fruit tree blossoms! I'm impressed that the camera on my phone picked up the detail here, actually!

So everything is coming along swimmingly! Dave mowed the lawn for the first time of the year last weekend, so that is looking loads better as well (though he did nearly chop his toes off in doing so!). The weather is improving each week and I'm loving being able to sit out in the garden with my books again.

Speaking of books, I am way behind with my 2017 reading challenge! It started so well, but then I got distracted with making my bunting, and lost the thread of what I was reading. However, I am now finding a bit more time for reading so will hopefully manage to catch up with my challenge again. Currently open on my kindle is The Book Thief, which I am about 50% of the way through at the moment. I didn't really enjoy the start, which is why I think I have put it down a lot, but it's definitely grown on me. Not sure what will be next on my list (perhaps an actual physical book?) but I'm hoping I get my reading mojo back soon.

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend, and a good start to April! My brother is coming over for breakfast in the morning, so I'm looking forward to seeing him. Then some more chilling out - I've been stressing over Kirsty's hen do (which is next weekend - aaaaahhhh) so I really need some quiet "me time". Also hoping to have another BBQ tomorrow afternoon, with some luck!