Friday, 23 January 2015

Clear Skies

 The clear skies over recent nights have been ideal for star-gazing.  We were on the look out for Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2.
I took these photos on 19th January when the comet was between Pleiades and Aries.
 Jupiter was also visible.
 We moved from our back garden, to get away from the street light that shines way too bright at the back of our garden, to an area nearby.  The Orion Nebula was visible to the naked eye.
 Using binoculars we could just see the comet as a fuzzy white object; too faint for my camera, but I am still happy with these photos that show the main constellations.
 The clear January skies have meant cold, frosty mornings.
 This morning was just such a time and I decided to wrap up warm, grab my camera and go for a short walk to the village pond.

 I love to see the leaves and
  seed heads covered in ice crystals.

 A few rose hips are still brightening up the hedgerows.
 It was so glorious out there that I decided to walk further afield.

 I left the village and climbed over this stile
 to walk along the footpath beside the old park pale.
 No sign of deer in the fields this morning, just a frozen hoof print in the mud.

 The footpath leads through into a second field.
 Sadly this field may well be built on it the near future, as plans for housing have been proposed.
 I left the fields and walked through the neighbouring village, past some lovely thatched cottages and headed home.
Time for a hot coffee and some knitting/crochet.  I have finally settled on a pattern for my 7th blogiversary giveaway.  The giveaway is still open, until 29th January, so please feel free to join in by adding a comment to the blogiversary post.  I'm looking forward to announcing the winner on 30th January.
Best wishes, Pj x

Friday, 16 January 2015

Resolutions, Changes and Living Simply

Well our babies are back at uni again and we are missing them.  This year could see some changes for our family as M is in her final year and J is looking for a work placement for the next year, before his final year at uni.
The new year started for us last Sunday, the first day of our normal routine once the children were back at uni.  My Husband and I went for our first nature walk of the year to see if the snowdrops were in bloom.
 We enjoyed taking the time to absorb the little details
 and watched this Red Kite circling overhead.
 Some seeds were still clinging to their seed heads.

We discovered a few fungi in the woodland.

In the evening we tried to spot the planets that were in alignment just after sunset, but it was too cloudy.  Last night we did manage to see Venus, Mercury and Mars.  Recently I also spotted Jupiter, but missed Saturn as I didn't get up early enough! :)  A couple of years ago my Husband had a telescope for his birthday and this year we are hoping to get involved with a local astronomy group.  I have always enjoyed gazing at the stars and want to learn more about them.
 This week I have started catching up with a few podcasts and blogs and have been interested to hear about everyone's new year's resolutions.  I don't really make any resolutions myself.  I am continuing with my plans to lose weight (including the 2lbs I put on over the holidays!) and to get fitter, but they aren't new year resolutions, just a lifestyle plan.  My Husband and I are trying out tai chi and yoga together this coming week as part of our ongoing fitness plan.  Simplify seems to be a keyword in many resolutions and that is a word we try to live by and we will be looking at ways to improve upon this again this year.  I'm not someone who needs to change things around in the house often, but I do have a tendency to hang onto things, so a general sort out of the cupboards is required this year.  I have bought a few new clothes this winter and so I shall be having a sort through my wardrobe this weekend and filling this bag for charity.
 One thing I am guilty of is buying lots of craft supplies!  This year I want to catch up with some of the projects that I have already bought supplies for, but I'm not putting a limit on my wool purchases!  Let's be honest, I'm a lost cause in that department! :)
My Husband and I enjoy reading a lot and get most of our books from the library. Long ago we realised that we couldn't possibly buy all the books we wanted to read, so we only buy the occasional book nowadays.  Over the past year I have also stopped buying most magazines.  Our local libraries loan a lot of magazines, so I borrow any knitting and crochet ones that catch my eye.  
 Food wise we also live simply.  We grow a lot of our vegetables on our two allotments and I make most meals from scratch.  Food wastage has always bothered me, throwing away unwanted food is simply something that we have never done.  Why buy it if you don't need it?!  I was somewhat bemused by a friend last week telling me about the amount of food that they threw away after Christmas!  Hands up, I threw out half a head of celery that was past its best, but that went on the compost heap, not in the bin.  I'll get off my soap box now! ;) I'm not criticising other people's choices, just stating that we prefer to life more simply.  Or maybe we are just getting old! :)
Back onto the subject of books and I have joined in with this reading challenge that I first saw on the lovely Deb's blog.
This week I finished the book I started reading in December, "The Long Mars" by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, so I am now ready to start the challenge.
This is the first book I shall be reading as Book 1 of the challenge:-
A Book That You Own But Haven't Read Before
This book was given to me by a work colleague a few years ago and I hadn't gotten around to reading it.  I started reading the first few pages last night.  A good intro, but as yet I'm undecided as to whether it is going to grab me or not.
Something I am also still undecided upon is the pattern for my giveaway mitts.  I have nearly completed one pair and I'm not too sure about them, so I will be casting on another pattern this weekend.
The giveaway is still open, so please join in by leaving a comment on my 7th Blogiversary post.
Best wishes, Pj x

Friday, 9 January 2015

My 7th Blogiversary

Tomorrow is my 7th Blogiversary.

I can't quite believe that I have been blogging for so long.  I started this blog as a memory keeper and as a way to meet new people and make friends.  I have been lucky to actually meet some lovely people along the way and I have enjoyed reading many of your blogs and podcasts.  As a thank you to you all I like to have a little giveaway each blogiversary.  This morning I have been pouring over knitting and crochet patterns trying to decide what to make.  There are so many gorgeous patterns out there that I still haven't quite decided on one! :)
 I have decided that the giveaway will include a pair of handmade mitts, but the final design will be a surprise.  They may be the pair I started knitting this morning or maybe I will crochet another design I rather like! :)
So if you would like to take part in celebrating my blogiversary, please leave a comment on this post before January 30th and I will then enter your name into the draw.
Please make sure that you have a way that I can contact you, preferably a blog, podcast, an Instagram profile or such-like.
I hope you will join in.
Best wishes, Pj x

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Our Christmas and New Year

 Finally I have found the time to go through all the photos that I took over the festive period and to get around to blogging them!  I'm afraid that when life is busy my blog suffers and sadly I don't always have the time to catch up with you all in Blogland.  I'm hoping to get back to normal over the next couple of weeks and visit your blogs to see what you have been up to over the holidays.  I have managed to keep up to date with my IG friends and if I am ever absent on my blog you can find me on Instagram.
So this is what we have been up to since my last post:-
Out for a walk in our favourite woodland, just the boy, husband and myself.

 I was looking for fir cones to mend our wreath (my husband accidentally dropped it out of the loft!), but we also found some amazing fungi
 and played peek-a-boo with some deer.
 I used some of the cones for the wreath and the rest I used for our table decoration with some greenery and twigs.
 This year I decorated the living-room in green, white and silver.

 I found another silvered-glass tree (on the right).  This one was half price! :)

I forgot to take photos of some of our decorations this year! This ceramic tree sat on our kitchen window sill with some candles
and posies of mistletoe and holly.

 It only starts to feel like Christmas to me once the children are home and when I am in my kitchen baking mince pies with the candles lit and the fairy lights on over the top of the cabinets.
 With the children home I baked a few sweet treats including Krispie squares using my Nana's recipe.
 Gingerbread muffins
Millionaire's shortbread
 Sausage rolls
 Stilton and walnut puffs
Christmas Eve I decorated the Christmas Cake.

Before Christmas I took part in a swap organised by Tracy of Mad About Bags.  This is the cracker that I sent to Melanie my swap partner. 

Christmas morning I opened up my cracker from Melanie.  It was filled with all of these goodies.  Thank you Melanie.  xxx
I also took part in a Secret Santa Swap and I received these treats.
 My children knew what their gifts were this year - J chose a suit and M chose some DM's.  They had lots of other gifts from us and I still fill their Christmas Stockings and lay them outside their bedroom doors.  Nowadays I do this Christmas morning as they stay up later than me! :)
I also knitted gifts for my family.  Checkerboard Mitts for S, Eden Fells Hat and Scarf for J and Hitchhiker for M.  I was rather excited to learn before Christmas that I had won a prize on Ravelry from the lovely Helen of Curious Handmade for the mitts, so I am eagerly awaiting the postie.
 I did manage to have a break on Christmas morning, whilst the pudding was steaming and the turkey was roasting and enjoyed a hot toddy of Winter Jack and a few choccies! :)
 Sadly my parents were too ill to celebrate Christmas so there were only four of us at the table on Christmas Day.
M's face lit up when I brought in the Brandy butter as she loves it ... and no she didn't eat it all! :)
 My Nana H's pudding was a success.  I will post the recipe on My Recipe blog soon.
The best cracker novelty ever was this frog.  Ella loved it!

 Also a hit were these Christmas crackers in the evening!  

 Then it was time for our Christmas tradition of a family photo.
The official photos:-

 and the unofficial ones!

 We don't take ourselves very seriously! :)
J had a new helicopter for Christmas and enjoyed terrorising his sister with it!

Maurice just wanted to catch it!
After Christmas:-
M went to her boyfriend's and then he came back to stay.
I made a no-bake chocolate pudding with a white chocolate cream sauce.
 We watched Puss in Boots.  I love him!  We also watched How to Train your Dragon and Tintin over the holidays. 
We went to the cinema to see final Hobbit film.  I saw this Mini in the car park and the window sticker made me smile.
I enjoyed the film, but I'm a bit of a purist and preferred the original story.
Before the end of 2014 I managed to finish one last knitting project - My Version of Lind Cowl by Curious Handmade.  This one is for me.
M went out with friends for New Year's Eve and the rest of us stayed at home.  I'm such a party animal ... I did my ironing! :)
 New Year's Day and my parents were well and able to travel, so we had a second Christmas.  Lots of presents
and another Christmas pudding.  It was a trip down Memory Lane for my Dad as this was his Mum's recipe and it was the first time he had eaten it in decades as I only recently discovered that a cousin had the recipe.
They stayed for a few days and we played cards each evening.  Please excuse the kids in their pjs!
Ella was happy to have J home and spent a lot of time on his lap.
In case you were wondering, those aren't tattoos on his arm; we had just been shopping and he discovered some stampers in the stationery department and proceeded to stamp his arm! Boys!!
We were shopping for this:-
Inspired by photos on Instagram and Pinterest, I am going to fill out an art journal this year.  I'm not very good at drawing or painting, but I have decided that that doesn't matter, I'm just going to play and not be precious about it.  I've also decided that each page isn't necessarily complete and I can go back and add things when new ideas come to me.
So far I have covered the outside of the front and back of the journal.  I will add to these later.
 I have inked the insides and yesterday I started on my first page.
Yesterday I also took down the Christmas cards, having put away the decorations on Sunday.
My children are still at home this week.  We nothing planned, just a relaxing time together before they return to uni.  So that is me finally up-to-date! :)
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and wish you a Happy New Year and I look forward to catching up with all of your blogs and podcasts soon.
Best wishes, Pj x