Saturday, 31 December 2011

Target Practice

As the end of the year approaches there are a few targets I'm trying to reach. I managed to get most of my handmade Christmas presents completed in time, including a second pair of felted slippers for my sister. The pattern is quick and easy to knit, and they are oh so cosy to wear.

I don't really have clown feet - this is prior to felting.

The proto-slippers are currently in the washing machine shrinking to a useable size - I don't want her tripping down the stairs! I also finished leather phone cases for my sister and another friend. I used a free tutorial and some leather offcuts, adapting the pattern to fit both a classic iPhone and my friend's Droid 2.


The other couple of things I am knitting and planned to give as gifts are still on the needles, but they're getting closer to completion every day. However, my big target for the past week has been decluttering 100 items from my home.

Decluttered: items 39-62 await despatch
I've spent some time this afternoon scanning my bookshelves and I am now up to item 97. Only 3 more to find in the next 3 hours!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Window dressing

After the tree went up, the weather started to get warmer here in the northwest of England. Christmas doesn't really feel like Christmas without a few flurries of snow or an icy draft or two, so I've improvised and added tatted snowflakes to the windows of our living room.

I had a little time on Boxing Day to catch up on some blogs, and to discover some new ones. One that really struck a chord was A Thrify Mrs, particularly her series of decluttering posts. Inspired, I decided that I might try a focussed declutter in the New Year - perhaps 100 items in the month of January. However, whilst cooking dinner last evening I thought I might get a little head start by decluttering the kitchen cupboards. Here's what I've managed to get rid of so far...

  1. pestle and mortar - an unwanted gift as we already have one - I'll offer it to my sister, or take it to the charity shop
  2. scales - who needs 2 sets? - this will go to the charity shop
  3. a very grim glass plate - trust me, no-one else will want this - recycle
  4. mixing bowl - again, I have several - charity shop
  5. sparkly red plant pot - charity shop
  6. very beaten up cake tin - bin
  7. victoria sandwich tins that have seen better days - bin
  8. broken bowl that I made in a beginner's pottery class - bin
  9. a tiny hand towel - maybe someone with very small hands will like this - charity shop
  10. holey tea towel - fabric bank
  11. fridge magnet - charity shop
  12. 4 plastic plates - charity shop
  13. 4 plastic tumblers - charity shop
  14. 5 blue glass tea light holders - charity shop
  15. coffee percolator (I don't even know how to use it!) - charity shop
  16. a teacup and saucer - charity shop
  17. 2 shot glasses - charity shop
  18. water carafe - charity shop
  19. salad dressing bottle - charity shop
  20. an old cake plate - charity shop
  21. 3 ramekins - charity shop
  22. white rectangular plate - charity shop
  23. 2 glass tea light holders - charity shop
  24. yet another tea light holder (this one takes 7, yes 7 tea lights) - charity shop
  25. another cup and saucer - charity shop
  26. a unopened packet of incense - charity shop
  27. a tablecloth - charity shop
  28. a tray cloth - charity shop
  29. unopened bag of sparkly heart confetti - free cycle
  30. a bag of foreign coins - charity shop
  31. (-38) 8 cookery books - some have gone on amazon to sell, and the rest, you've guessed it, are going to a charity shop
At this rate, I may well hit 100 items by the end of the year! In fact, in the spirit of optimism, I've decided on a new target - 100 unwanted items will be gone by December 31st. New Year, new start and all that!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Light up my life

I am not the greatest fan of dark winter mornings and short winter days, especially when the days themselves are rather damp and cloudy. Every so often the cloud lifts and we have bright, cold, crisp days which were just made for long walks followed by tea and cake in front of the fire.

Christmas (and the midwinter solstice) provide the perfect excuse for lots of extra light around the house, and it lifts my spirits immeasurably to see Christmas lights in people's houses as I trudge home from the railway station every evening.

Given my love of twinkly lights, you might imagine that our house would be fully lit up from roof to cellar, but you would be wrong. We've always put up our decorations quite late - a legacy from my childhood.  My mother, a teacher, would be fed up with the idea of Christmas long before the school holidays began, and she would delay the decoration for as long as she could. My dad would be chomping at the bit and about a week before Christmas, he and I would scurry down to the local greengrocer to pick out a tree and spend a very happy afternoon decorating it together, choosing from an increasingly large collection of fairy lights and baubles.

This weekend, after some discussion about the environmental impact of Christmas decorations (during which Mr Q threatened to connect the Christmas lights to an exercise bike) we headed off to the nursery to choose the perfect tree. I spent a lovely couple of hours decorating it - far less lights than Dad would have had (with LEDs to keep the power usage down), and a sparser but more colour-coordinated set of decorations. I wonder what he would have made of that!

not a shiny carpet - newspaper covered in wrapping paper to catch falling needles

Monday, 19 December 2011


It's a year ago today since Mr Q and I braved unbelievably icy conditions and an uncomfortably early morning to get to the airport on our way to my first ever Christmas in the southern hemisphere. It was a great trip and I really enjoyed spending Christmas with my Australian family. It was Mr Q's first Christmas at home in 10 years, and he enjoyed catching up with family and friends, and being warm in December.

I particularly liked my mother-in-law's routine of stopping for "morning tea". Whether we were having a lazy day or preparing Christmas lunch for 14, we would stop for tea and something sweet and delicious. So, in tribute to my mother-in-law, today I stopped for "elevenses" (the British version of morning tea). Jasmin tea in my new mug (from Illustrated Living) and homemade Victoria sandwich cake.