December

Visiting: Blenheim Palace to see the rooms decorated, the theme was the story of the Snow Queen this year, magical and so Christmassy on 23rd December. Perfect

Making: Mulled Cider, again

Making: Rainbow salad sprinkled with mixed seeds, a lot of crunch drizzled with a lemony, sesame dressing

Staring: at the beautiful sunsets

Cooking: Spicy rice with mixed peppers, mushrooms and tender-stem broccoli later. I need another meatless meal, it’s come to that point in the week. I found a Facebook memory which said similar on this day a year or two ago. Though I opted for fish pie back then

Visiting: Waddesdon Manor Christmas on 18th. The Manor was decorated nicely, but the weather for the outdoor market and illuminations eeek! It was only 3 degrees with pelting rain for the whole time. I became cold to the bone, brrrr!

Reading: a very promising advance reader copy of a novel to be published next summer. It’s about a heist planned by an all women team, in London in 1905. As I read I keep seeing it as a film, the writing is very cinematic. If the other half is as good I’ll tell you more about it near the publication date. I really hope it continues to be this good, I’m enjoying it so much

Wondering: about joining a book club but unsure I want to read others’ choices, especially as the first of next month is by Matt Haig. I’m not a fan, so far

Looking: at the sparkles on the Christmas tree

Listening: to music

Wishing: for a happy and healthy New Year for me and mine, you and yours too

Enjoying: crocheting by the Christmas tree, my bobble cowl is really growing. I can do around 40 minutes at a sitting, a couple of times a week. It’s slow crochet, but better than no crochet

Appreciating: the texture of this ball of Hayfield Spirit yarn, it’s got a crunchy crispy texture and great stitch definition

Sipping: Twinnings Spicy ginger tea. Tasty and warming while I am

Eating: Artisan du Chocolat salted maple caramels, bliss!

Liking: Crimbo Limbo very much; this chilled out time which is like no other during the rest of the year between Christmas and New Year

Loving: Carols From Kings College Cambridge, such a Christmas Eve tradition, did you watch it too? I know it’s broadcast around the world. Did you join in with Hark the Herald and realise it was pitched too high, for the choir boys? Tee hee

Buying: tea bags, peppers, red and yellow tomatoes, hovering over reduced parcel toppers and eco friendly twine for next Christmas and thinking “Nah! I can’t face it buying it all again.”

Feeling: reflective

Managing: a verbal Gold Star from my excellent physio therapist yesterday, for my “self-mobilisation”. December has been a challenge; full of exercises, walks, hot water bottles, massage, stretches, Sarah Keys Back Block stretches before bed. If you know, you know…

Watching: Ghostbusters, Knives Out, Ghosts Christmas special (made tears roll down my face at the end remembering those who have gone), Mortimer and Whitehouse Gone Fishing Christmas Special, The Snowman, The Snowman and the Snowdog (Someone is always so sad when the dog dies) Mrs Brown’s Boys (terrible, but traditional) The King’s Speech on Christmas Day (not the film, the actual King.) Tonight it might be Detectorists Christmas special or the second Knives Out film or…

Noticing: it’s lighter later, or is that wishful thinking? It’s lighter 2 minutes earlier every day from 21st after all

Hoping: those who have been unwell over Christmas will be much better soon

Wearing: relaxed house clothes, leaning against a hot water bottle. Prob unsafe, but far more comfy than a lumpy wheat bag

Following: our own agenda this week, while calling in to see older relatives regularly, we know we’re lucky to have them

Sorting: out how to use my new Contigo mug

Getting: lots of lovely things to use, drink and cook

Coveting: another year of Spotify Premium, mine ends on Sunday. I’ll miss it

Hearing: Holding onto You by Olivia Broadfield, one of the tracks on my ‘Soothing’ Spotify playlist, but it’s Goal of the Century which still makes my heart lift everytime it begins to play. I’ve been gradually adding to the playlist for years, it’s gorgeous. Perfect for Crimbo Limbo week

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How are you? Have you celebrated Christmas, had time to chill, or is it work as usual? Either way I hope you’re healthy and have escaped the lurgy. I’ve know so many have been affected this week, I’ve sent much love and healing vibes to them.

It’s my blogging birthday on New Year’s Eve on Saturday, eleven years! 11. WOW.

January

Making: my cosy chunky star blanket larger, still. Really it’s the perfect project on a chilly day.

Slipping: on icy roads, they have been like driving on an ice rink quite often this January. I hope for milder weather now.

Reading: another book set in London, this time during the Victorian era. It’s a proof copy. If I think it’s worth recommending I will write a bit more about the story when it nears its publication date in the spring.

Eating: Brunch! Non-stop chat with a friend a couple of weeks ago, cups of tea, full English breakfast with locally sourced everything, then creamy cappuccinos to finish. As you see it was an absolutely HUGE plateful (so glad I went without eating anything since dinner the night before…) I was in a food coma for the rest of the day! I didn’t eat until the evening, and then it was a light meal, but it was so amazing. The best EB I’ve ever had. My friend enjoyed her Egg Florentine, but I think might be going for the full English next time. She looked really envious.

Disliking: Mud! As some fields are beginning to be ploughed and planted there’s such a lot of mud on the road from the tractors. Car wash? Oh yes please. Love them. But…it was rainy the following day and my car is back to grey. Oh it’s not the only thing either; my handbag is splodged with it as I brushed past too closely.

Reading: the latest issue of Inside Crochet and trying to catch up with my Good Housekeeping mags. I’ve now got a pile of January, February and March GH to read. I got a year’s subscription from Nectar points (I think) as I always really like their recipes. But I’m finding it hard to keep up.

Finishing: something at the weekend! Ding-ding first thing of the year made. I’ll show you soon.

Snorting: with laughter at Daisy May Cooper’s audio book: Don’t laugh, it will only encourage her

Singing: along to the Richard Ashcroft and Liam Gallagher version of C’mon People (We’re Making it Now.) It’s the perfect pairing you never knew you needed. It makes me grin. Here on Spotify.

Grateful: for a year’s worth of Spotify.

Listening: to Grace Dent’s Comfort Food podcast. I choose the episodes I fancy. There’s so many; it’s the advantage of coming to a podcast later. The Rafe Spall episode is painfully honest. His comfort food though OH MY, it’s roast chicken smothered in butter, with lots of lemon AND they make homemade chips. Mmmm. My current episode is Dave Myers from The Hairy Bikers. I listen to it in chunks. Some of Dave’s was at 0400 this morning. Groan.

Rewatching: Derry Girls as they’ve just announced there’s to be a new series in March. It’s so good, so funny. (Series 1 is on Netflix so you can miss the adverts, 2 is only on All 4 at the mo.)

Missing: Schitt’s Creek. It really has been my tv programme of the Pandemic. Moira never failed to make me laugh, every single episode. If you’ve been under a rock and haven’t watched it yet, it’s on Netflix. Worth getting Netflix for IMHO.

Laughing: the day after the car wash / mud bath, I had my hair done, then walked my 5 mile loop and it started to pour with rain!

Deserving: after the rainy 5 mile walk I had a big slice of cake and a mug of English Breakfast tea. January involved lots of treats. It was the freezing cold weather…

Forgetting: your nearest and dearest reads your blog “You had cake after the walk?!”

Loving: wholegrain mustard with honey. If I could find white mustard seeds I would make some, I’ve got a good looking recipe. I don’t need a kilo thanks Amazon. I’ll try to buy some locally from an Asian shop.

Cooking: crab linguine, lots of curries and dals, poached pears in red wine and apple juice with blackberries (voted absolutely delicious.)

Drinking: a gin cocktail last night. Well ok, two. A free repeat January box was delivered here yesterday. It was an incredibly generous offer for those who decided to order February’s box, instead of skipping it. It was funny timing; I’d changed my mind anyway, decided to order it and then had the the offer email, but I wasn’t too worried. The timing was just a bit off. Then to my surprise I had an email on Friday saying my repeat January box would be with me on Monday! We never usually have a drink on a Monday, but yesterday it had to be done. I really like the Vietnamese gin. It’s floral, perfumed and really different to any I’ve had before.

Tempting: you… here’s my referral code for Craft Gin Club. If you’re in the UK you can order a half price box for £20 (with free delivery.) There’s no obligation to order any other boxes. I’ve shared this a few times and people have used it. I hope you’ve enjoyed your gin, mixers and snacks.

Spotting: the garden waking up and winter flowers appearing. Then on a walk on Saturday, we saw snowdrops in the wild. So lovely, so lovely.

How was your January? Any patterns, good reads, podcasts, tv shows or recipes you want to share?

“I hope you haven’t done too much!”

I know, me too, but I had to try.

I saw Emma’s Hot Water Bottle Cosy earlier and thought it might be a good thing to try testing my hand out again. I’ve noticed a *slight* improvement this week, so I galloped upstairs to my stash of yarn and dug out my 5.5 mm hook. If I’m going to be honest I tried six places before I found it. I’m usually ‘a place for everything, everything in its place’ type, so when I couldn’t immediately lay my hand on the hook I could feel myself getting almost frantic, tempted to throw everything over my shoulder. Never the wisest choice, is it? Who’s got to pick it all up again at the end?! Deep breaths. And guess what? It was at the bottom of the first bag I looked in. Typical.

I planned to do only 10 minutes crochet, as advised before things got very painful. And so I did. I set an alarm actually, in the style of a sensible adult. It went off and I thought I’d just finish the next row, which I also timed. And then I wiggled my wrist, flexed my elbow and thought I could probably get away with a little bit more…always a risky strategy, isn’t it? Like deciding you’ll read one more chapter before lights out, and finding yourself finishing the whole book at 3 AM.

As you know this is the first craft of any kind I’ve done in weeks and weeks, and before that it was only a few times from April onwards. I’ve felt bereft at times, but I have perfected my Sourdough bread as I can make it one handed!

Last night I was looking for some bits for my sewing machine, as I’ve lent it to someone, and opened up a box full of various crafty things: pom-pom makers, Tunisian crochet hook, DPNs, vintage patterns, the lace tatting shuttle I bought in the sale at John Lewis a long time ago and have never even taken out of the packet, darning needles, stitch holders, spare crochet hooks etc and honestly it was like opening someone else’s kit. It feels like another life now.

I’m going back to see the Hand and Wrist Consultant and a Hand Therapist next week. It’s been so weird being one-handed. Now I’m trying things like picking up fairly lightweight items, opening door handles and taking small items, going carefully testing how it feels.

Anyway, I really enjoyed crocheting with this wool blend aran and a 5.5mm hook. It’s soft and cosy. Because the starting chain is only 20 and it’s aran yarn, it grows exponentially. That’s perfect if you’re limited time-wise or just want to see something grow quickly.

Next week I’ll be back with my monthly Taking Stock post and hopefully after that I can show you a crochet update. That’s almost a magical sentence. A Crochet Update!

Cross fingers and toes for me please.

Oh, the book has a playlist on Spotify if you want to play some of the music featured in the story. That’s pretty cool, huh.

Joining in with Ginny’s October Yarn Along.