Not Six on Saturday

Oh my goodness it’s been a topsy turvy old week! I feel like I’ve had a bit of insight into what it feels like to be bipolar! I hope that’s not disrespectful to anyone who is unfortunate enough to actually suffer from the disorder, it’s certainly not meant that way, but oh boy, I’ve been down as far as I go this week but I’ve also flown pretty high too! More on that another time maybe, but suffice it to say, normal service is resumed for now.

Phew, I was really ready for the weekend.

I spent Friday night with three of the best friends that a girl could want (minus the fourth because she’s poorly sick – get well soon J). We met up at the most supreme Indian restaurant in Birmingham (www.bhujondining.com in case anyone’s interested) in honour of my birthday. I decided to dress up in my favourite jumpsuit for the occasion – I’m starting to enjoy clothes again since I’ve been following the Slimming World plan.

The girls spoilt me with lovely cards and gifts and we enjoyed, as ever, a delicious curry and I came home feeling more relaxed and happy than I’d felt all week.

Today I met up with my best friend at Dobbies garden centre (which used to be Wyevale). One of my favourite people at one of my favourite places. We settled down in the restaurant to put the world to rights over a diet Dr Pepper and a pot of tea before buying half the shop (in my case!)

I bought six items, but they’re not all flora related, hence this is Not Six on Saturday!

I’ll start with the three things that I bought which are garden related.

Two of them are now happily hanging up in our kitchen window.

It’s so hard to take decent photos in this perpetual greyness! This one really doesn’t show my acquisitions at their best.

I picked up a succulent in a sustainable pot first, but then I saw these Cacti in the same pot, and swapped it. I don’t have much success with succulents but I do seem to be able to keep Cacti alive. I hope I haven’t spoken too soon.

Having said that, in the bluey/green pot I did go for a succulent. I decided to take a risk on it because it’s not the normal spiky type which I’ve failed in the past. Keep your fingers crossed!

Here’s the whole window arrangement with the new additions.

The other planty purchase is on the opposite side of the kitchen on our fireplace ledge, and I’m a little bit in love with it.

Apparently it’s a Ginseng Fig. I’ll do my very best to keep it alive.

Here’s the whole ledge.

Moving on to the non garden purchases.

I love giraffes and I love reading so what could be better! I’ve always got a book on the go, but usually I prefer to read on my kindle. The exception to the rule is biographies because they tend to have photos which don’t translate well on the kindle. Hubby bought me two biographies for my birthday, so I thought I’d treat myself to a pretty bookmark for them.

Sticking with the giraffe theme (and adding an elephant) I couldn’t resist these cookie cutters.

The slight sticking point now is Slimming World! Cookies and Slimming World don’t tend to go together remarkably well so I’m either going to have to be inventive, or I’m going to have to bake cookies for other people to eat and enjoy them by proxy!

Finally I got a kilner jar.

This was an absolutely unnecessary purchase but I keep seeing photos of people’s overnight oats creations on Instagram and I want to join in! Yes, I know, I know, they won’t taste any different than they do in an old takeaway container, but look how pretty they look when you can see the layers.

By tomorrow, all that frozen fruit will have melted and the water and juice will have soaked through to the oats at the bottom making a delicious gooey breakfast that will keep me going until lunchtime.

So there we have it, my Not Six on Saturday. I’ll try to do an actual Six next weekend if I can, but it’s getting less and less pleasant to be in the garden by the day (which I hate!)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Happy birthday to me!

It was my birthday this week. I reached the grand old age of 42. According to Douglas Adams I should now have the answer to life, the universe and everything. I’ve been thinking really hard, racking my brain, think, think, think ….

…. but nope! No nearer to having all, or actually any, of the answers! I’m sure when I was small, people in their forties knew exactly where they were headed in life, knew how to behave in every situation and always knew exactly what to say. Turns out, now I’m here, that either I’ve gone horribly wrong somewhere, or my prepubescent self really wasn’t paying proper attention to adults! I do think that my generation has had a whole load of bumps and twists along the road – super competitive job market, ridiculous housing market, major recession and now the dreaded ‘B’ word – all of which have made getting on in life harder and have massively affected confidence, but hey, on the plus side, and in contrast to my Great Grandparents and Grandparents, we haven’t had a war (despite some politicians seemingly best efforts) so it’s not all bad.

Anyhow, I digress ….. birthday talk!

At one point I thought I was headed for a really depressing birthday making the epic trip back home from my work trip in northern Spain, but luckily the trip was shifted forward by a day so I made that tiresome journey on my birthday eve instead.

I was at work on my birthday but it was my first day back after a week’s holiday and three days away for work, so I didn’t mind being there because it was nice to catch up with everyone and I allowed myself a day off Slimming World so we went to Notcutts for lunch and I treated myself to a jacket potato with tuna mayo and salad with pesto dressing. I know that probably doesn’t sound particularly indulgent, but it’s my favourite lunch which I haven’t had since I started Slimming World at the end of May. I really enjoyed it! I let myself have an orange fondant biscuit from the selection of obligatory birthday sweet things that I took in for my colleagues.

I didn’t open any cards or pressies in the morning because time’s of an essence and hubby was still snoring away when I left so they were all waiting for me when I got home. I always open my cards first and leave the presents till last, and this year was no exception.

Didn’t I do well? Notice all the cats? My friends and family know me well.

I got lots of lovely, thoughtful gifts from my loved ones.

I love everything I was given.

Hubby excelled himself!

I ordered the two project bags from him a couple of weeks ago, along with the new Edward’s Menagerie crochet book which I haven’t got yet because it’s not released until next week but he surprised me with the two biographies. I’d looked at them in WHSmiths a few weeks ago, and he was obviously paying attention!

My Mum sent me a home made bag.

Isn’t she clever! I haven’t decided what I’m going to use it for yet.

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed the Apple Watch draped next to the former First Lady.

Dad (in Birmingham) and I went shopping for this yesterday and I love it! We almost didn’t get one! The first shop didn’t have the silver aluminium finish in stock so we headed off to a shopping centre further away, and found they have a reservation system so they don’t run out of stock, and I got the last available slot! I’m still working it out, but I used it to log my workout this morning and it says in an hour of combat I burnt 577 calories and my average heart rate was 140 bpm, and so far today I’ve done 6504 steps.

My Dad (in Worcester) and C contributed towards my swing chair and also sent me garden centre vouchers which I will very much enjoy spending (I’m considering getting a Pampas Grass, they had lots of it in Spain and the plumes were in full bloom and were so pretty).

We’ve sat on the swing chair a lot since we got it, and have really enjoyed the luxury of swinging back and forth forgetting our troubles and strifes, and whilst it’s raining cats and dogs out there at the moment, I’m staying optimistic that we might get an Indian Summer so we can sit out there a bit more this year. If not, it’ll still be there waiting for us next year.

So, that’s almost it for another year. I have a meal out planned with the girls on Friday so there’s still a little bit of celebration left to look forward to.

Have a great week all!

Fantastic Mr Fox

It struck me yesterday that there’s quite a lot of foxy business going on in our house at the moment, but a lot less going on in the garden.

I told you a while ago about our fox pooping problem in the garden. Well that seems to have stopped, which is good for our garden but potentially not good for the fox! I googled the life span of a wild fox, and it doesn’t make for happy reading. Although in captivity foxes have a similar life span to their domestic counterparts, in the wild foxes only live for two to five years. It’s a hard life out there, they have to contend with disease, parasites and predators (which in the UK is pretty much us with our cars and chemicals).

I’ll be quite happy if I see the fox again (even if it does mean picking up fox poo) but if, as I suspect, our fox is one of these cubs that were born in our garden a couple of years ago, then he will have reached the lower end of his life expectancy. I’ll think positive: he didn’t look diseased or parasitic and I never saw him roadside, so maybe he’s just gone to poo elsewhere!

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Inside our house it’s a different story. I have a crochet drumroll moment for you coming up.

I’ve been working on a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law for a few weeks. She has a fox that visits her garden that she feeds every day so when I bought this book by Sarah Zimmerman ….

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….. and saw the fox motif, I knew I had to make it for her. This was my first experience of corner to corner (c2c) crochet, and I have to say, while I love the finished project, I didn’t love the process. In order to get the different colours in the right place you end up having lots of different little balls of yarn attached to your work which get tangled up as you crochet and turn your piece.

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I do love the effect when it’s finished though. I think it makes all the detangling and rude words worth it!

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Here’s the motif finished. I decided to make it into a cushion with a stripy back. The stripy c2c was much less faffy than the fox because the colour changes were much less frequent.

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You can see my lovely new clover hook had arrived by this point. This hook practically glides through my work with no snagged yarn and very few dropped stitches. I’ve since ordered lots more sizes so I’m never without a clover hook.

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Anyway, back to the foxes.

Time for the drumroll moment …….

Whoop! Not even into November and I have one Christmas present sorted already!

Now you may think one fox is enough for one house, but not this one. My Little Box of Crochet for September arrived on my birthday (what impeccable timing). Obviously I opened it straight away to drool over the scrummy contents, but I was very disciplined and didn’t start it until after I’d finished the cushion. Look at the box.

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Gives you a good clue to what the project might be, and I’ve also given you an extra hint with our foxy tray behind. 

Here’s the fox himself on the cover of the pattern booklet.

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As ever, the box is crammed full of everything needed to make Gareth the Sleeping Fox as well as some super cute extra gifts.

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There’s a foxy stitch marker which is needed to keep track of your rounds with this project. This was designed by Beth from Koruclay. You can find Koruclay on Facebook, Etsy and Instagram if you’d like to have a quick peek at the goodies.

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And some gorgeous little chicken buttons by incomparable buttons, who are also on Etsy.

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This beautiful, and so so useful tape measure is in perfect keeping with the theme. I told you about the tape measure before here, but here it is again in all its wonderfulness.

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Little Box of Crochet always includes a postcard. This one is designed by Jennie Maizels.

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I’d love to know what other Little Box of Crochet subscribers do with their postcards. They’re far too lovely to actually send (or is that really selfish of me?) I feel I should display them somehow because they’re sooooo pretty.

This project uses waistcoat stitch which I’ve never done before. I started it last night and, oh my goodness, I found waistcoat stitch difficult. I just couldn’t see where my hook was supposed to go, but after frogging my work a hundred times, I think I cracked it, although it doesn’t look perfect!

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I really like it, it looks like knitting. In fact, one of the tutorials I found on YouTube called it knit stitch.

I should probably explain frogging for non-crochet people. It’s a fairly new word to me, and I have to admit I thought it sounded a tiny bit rude and had to google it to reassure myself that the crochet world hadn’t lost its collective marbles, but I get it now I know what it means. I’m sure it wasn’t around before I took my kitten enforced crochet hiatus. It comes from the frog sound ribbit, ribbit. It sounds like rip it, rip it which is essentially what you do when you undo your crocheting.

Well, I think that’s all I have to say about foxes for now. I’ll be sure to show you all my finished Gareth when I get there.

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of the weekend, rainy and blustery though it may be!