Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Blanket for Lee

So way back in September I was reading one of my favourite crochet blogs and saw the author Sandra write about her new crochet-a-long, called A Spicier Life. I have seen some of the original Spice of Life blankets and want to make one, so I thought this crochet-a-long would be perfect for me. I decided to make Lee a blanket for Christmas. I looked at the yarn packs put together by Sandra and chose the Taj Mahal colour way. I think they're all gorgeous, but I thought Lee would like this one. The yarn arrived around the beginning of October.

I started in the first week of the crochet-a-long, round the 4th of October. I stitched my long starting chain, and put stitch markers in at every tenth interval. The pattern is in repeats of 12, so if I did it again I would maybe put the markers in at every twelfth stitch. There are so many different kinds of stitch which really stretched my skills, but the instructions are really clear and concise, and there's lots of photos to help you. I worked on it for quite a few hours every week, although I fell behind on the crochet-a-long, which finished around the end of November. I kept it totally secret from Lee, although he did know I was making *something*. This cut down on the time I could do it in, though, especially as the blanket grew bigger and less easy to hide.

I eventually finished the border on the 22nd of December, about an hour before Lee came home from work! The border was a hard slog as it was quite a difficult few stitches and I made a few mistakes which I had to keep pulling back. But I was so glad and so proud, and I knew Lee would love it.

And he did! He was really overcome. I calculated that there are over 22,000 stitches in it in total, so it is a real labour of love. It is now living on the couch to wrap up with when it's cold.

I've volunteered to make another one but in different colours for my mum's birthday next year, when she'll turn sixty. I need to start it soon!

I'm so proud of myself, usually when I start big projects it takes me ages to see them through, but I guess the deadline of Christmas spurred me on. I knew Lee would appreciate it, which is the main thing!

There is almost nothing I like more than squidgy balls of wall all ready to be used! The colours are all Stylecraft DK in, from the top: parma violet, parchment, gold, copper, saffron, peach, vintage peach, mocha, petrol, buttermilk, apricot, dark brown, sherbet, and storm blue. 

Here is the full thing when finished. It's almost five feet long!

A close up of the border and the bottom of the blanket. Yes it has a definite top and bottom and front and back, since some stitches only really work from one side. 

Draped artfully on a table

Here's Lee holding it up on Christmas Day. Aren't the colours just beautiful?

And here's Lee using it for its intended use!

If you'd like to make a blanket like this of your own, the information you need is right here!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Trip to the Turkish Baths

You may remember that my friend Sam and I went to the baths in Harrogate way back in January, well we decided to go again and booked tickets. We'd had to cancel a couple of times so it's now almost a year since our last visit. But it was still great!

We went to Betty's first for lunch. It was busy but not too packed, and the food was, as always, really lovely. We went into the baths and spent over three and a half happy hours getting hot in the hot rooms and cooling down in the plunge pool. At one point when I got out of the plunge pool I felt quite dizzy, so I laid down in the rest area for a while - I think I even fell asleep there. I read a couple of magazines and started on a new book. I had a lovely hot shower and we left by 5, again into the Wetherspoons next door.

I was wearing this Asos dress which is one of my favourites, and I bought some macarons from Betty's, as well as some sourdough bread for Lee. He really likes bread so I knew he'd appreciate it.

I hope Sam and I get to the baths again next year, it is lovely.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Festive lunch out

In the middle of December Lee and I went out to meet up with some friends. It had snowed a bit overnight but we didn't get anything like the amount people had got in the Midlands and in London, so driving was okay. It was just as well as the pub we were headed to, The Sovereign in Shepley, is on pretty high ground and you could easily get snowed in there.

We had the festive menu and it was pretty good. Portions weren't huge but definitely enough and that meant we had room for three courses, which I think was £19.95 so good value. I had prawn and lobster cocktail, a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and chocolate and orange torte.

I like the Sovereign pub. I know it's a chain but that does mean you always know what you'll get, I like it. I've been ill so it was good to go somewhere relatively close to home, it is about twenty minutes away from our house. I took a few photos:

I changed my lightbox to a Christmas message and we've put it in the living room for now.

A very light smattering of snow - more came down after this though

Mulled wine which was really nice, very blackcurranty

My chocolate and orange torte

And finally my festive jumper. I bought it last year I think from Evans and have been wearing it quite a lot as it's so warm. I love the cute reindeer!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Queen in Leeds

At the beginning of December I went to see Queen with Adam Lambert  in Leeds. It was amazing, a real once in a lifetime experience, and I got a few photos even though they're not amazing. It was at Leeds arena, the second time I'd been there inside a month. I do like it for an arena, it has decent views wherever you're sitting and it's really easy to manoeuvre around outside. I parked in the Merrion Centre and then met Sam for tea in Smoke Barbecue. It was delicious, I'll have to go back when I'm not in such a rush. I had a mac and cheese burger and a delicious vanilla milkshake.

Sam and I went over to the arena about 7.45 and met up with Stacey and her mum Julie. The show started around 8.15 and they played for two hours. The setlist was huge and was everything I wanted to hear!

Now, I'm a fan of Adam Lambert anyway. I got into him a few years ago and really like his debut album For Your Entertainment. He has such a fantastic voice and I love his look. A couple of years ago he sang with Queen on a New Year's thing and I liked it. I'm also a huge Queen fan - I was raised on them and both my parents loved them. I love Freddie, of course I do. I know that Adam is no Freddie - but neither does he try to be. He spoke on stage about how much of a fan he is and how it's basically a dream come true to sing with Queen, and how there's only one Freddie Mercury. He sings a lot like Freddie, but not exactly the same, and the effect is brilliant. I really, really enjoyed it.

About five songs in, Adam and drummer Roger Taylor went offtsage and Brian May came right to the front of the stage. I knew from the opening chords that he was going to sing Love of My Life and well, I was finished. It is a song that is so closely linked to my dad, and I haven't listened to it on purpose since he died 9 and a half years ago. I burst into tears, because the song is so emotionally fraught for me. Stacey very nicely cuddled me throughout the whole song. Afterwards I said I hadn't listened to it in nearly a decade and she pointed out that if there was ever a place, this was it: Brian singing it live on stage! She's right, and I'm so glad she was so nice to me - I know she misses my dad too. He was an important figure in her teenaged life, something which really means a lot to me. It was amazing.

Highlights for me were Killer Queen, Love of My Life, and Radio Ga Ga, but the whole setlist was pretty fab.

The crowd was great, singing along to every word. I had such a great time, I think Adam is a really amazing singer and did Queen proud.

Just a few photos:

Before the show started

Lights in A Kind of Magic, I think 

You can see Brian on the right here

And here, too. Adam is there I promise, on the left

Gorgeous rainbow lights 

I particularly liked this outfit of Adam's, nearish to the end

The screen was at the back, and it sometimes had footage of Freddie and sometimes of Queen symbols, it was really good

He's so good, I love him

Coming out on to the walkway at the front of the stage

Getting out of the car park took me about 50 minutes. It's directly across from the arena so it fills up quickly and obviously you're all trying to get out at the same time. But, once I'm safe in my car with water and music, I don't really care how long it takes me to get out. These kit vans were just after I escaped!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Books of the Month - November

I read 7 books in November, all of which I reviewed over on my book blog. I especially liked Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert and The Last Days of Archie Maxwell by Annabel Pitcher. Here's what I read:

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Films of the Month - November

I watched 17 films in November which is just loopy, I'm not sure where I found the time! I went to the cinema twice, too, which was lovely. I really ought to make the time for it more. Here's what I saw:

I had never seen this adaptation of the book, and although I really like Sam Riley I didn't feel he was right for the part. He's too old for one thing. Still, it looks pretty

Sam said to Jacqui and I that we should see this with her before we went to see comedian Mae Martin later in the evening, she had already seen it and said it was great. And it IS. It's about a sheep farmer in Yorkshire who spends his evenings drinking too much and having sex with passing men, until Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker, arrives. The two of them start a relationship. The whole thing is gorgeous and it looks stunning. And it has a happy ending! Too often queer films don't have a happy ending so I think it's important to spoil it a bit and let you know that it does. Absolutely see this film if you can, it is gorgeous. 

Sam had mentioned she was seeing the live show of Cabaret which reminded me that I haven't seen the film in forever, so I watched it. I love it, Liza Minelli is just so good.

I dunno why Lee wanted to watch Scream but he did, so we did. It's one of the only slasher films I can watch. Drew Barrymore is so good

I had been meaning to watch this for ages and finally got round to it. I have to say I didn't feel it lived up to the hype. I felt not enough happened. 

This is a really good film and I'd recommend it! It's about the day and immediate aftermath of the JFK assassination, it focuses on the medical personnel who worked on him in the hospital, about the FBI agents who had to investigate, and about Zapruder, who videoed the now infamous footage of JFK being shot. It's really interesting. 

I love Mary Poppins, it's one of my feel good movies and I still love it

Since we'd watched the first one, we watched Scream 2. We will probably watch Scream 3 in December

I watched this for my online film club, it was nice to watch a Christmas film even though it was a bit early. Sarah Jessica Parker is good in this, as are Luke Wilson and Diane Keaton. It's pretty funny, my film club all liked it. 

This is again one of my favourite films, I think it's the best Disney film of recent years. I love Amy Adams in it. 

Lee and I put the Christmas tree up really early because Sam and Jacqui were coming the following weekend, but we felt it was too early to watch Die Hard so we compromised with this. It is so funny, I like it. 

Sam and Jacqui and I went to the cinema to see this. I liked it, but I didn't feel like Kenneth Branagh was right as Poirot, and I also didn't think there were enough shots of the train!

I also nearly saw a trailer for The Last Jedi which I'm avoiding, so I had to stick my fingers in my ears while it was on. I've gone into the last two Star Wars films without seeing the trailers so I'm not ruining it now! I don't want spoilers!

Sam and Jac and Lee and I watched this on Saturday night of our weekend, just chilling out

I hadn't seen the live action film of this so I watched it. Emma Watson was good, but I didn't love it overall. 

I spent the last week of November really ill so Lee and I watched this one afternoon while I curled up on the sofa and dozed. I missed part of it but I know it so well anyway

While browsing for something else on Netflix I realised I hadn't seen this in years so I watched it. I know practically every word of the beginning but I'd forgotten the ending!

And finally, Netflix recommended this to me after I'd watched Annie so I watched it. I LOVED the book as a kid, but the film changes quite a lot and lost a lot of the charm I felt. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Weekend with friends

At the end of November my best friends Jacqui and Sam came to mine for the weekend for our Christmas get together. It was the only weekend we could do so even though it was early we still tried to get into the Christmas spirit. Lee and I had put our Christmas tree up the weekend before in preparation. We decided to do a bunch of lovely things.

On Friday evening we went to Las Iguanas because we always appreciate two for one on cocktails, and then to the cinema. Lee and I met Sam and Jac at Meadowhall about 6pm. I had pornstar martinis, which are my new favourite cocktail, and Long Island Iced Teas, which I really like even though they're so strong. They've revamped the menu in Las Iguanas and it's really nice, it's a lot like the menu at Turtle Bay now. I had Xinxim, which is a chicken and crayfish curry in a lime and peanut sauce. It's really yummy, I would recommend it!

Lee left us to go see his friend and we went into the cinema for 8.20pm for Murder on the Orient Express. It's an okay film, I'm glad I had read the book earlier in the year. It looks stunning in parts, but there weren't enough shots of the train for me. I'm also not sure how I feel about Kenneth Branagh as Poirot. Lee picked us up and we came back to mine to chill out for a bit before bed.

On Saturday we went into Barnsley, which isn't something I do very often even though I live here! We went to Funky Buddha for cocktails and food. We ended up getting loads of tapas which was delicious! We went down to Wetherspoons to drink more there, which was fine except Barnsley had been playing football so the pub was a bit full of fans. Oh well. Lee picked us up about half past five and we went to the cake takeaway for dessert. We spent Saturday evening in our pyjamas watching films and TV. It was lovely!

On Sunday we went for brunch at Yummy Yorkshire near Penistone. They do really fantastic food in general but the brunch is really yummy. Afterwards we took Sam and Jac for the train and I spent the afternoon relaxing as I'd caught a cold! I didn't take many pictures but here we go anyway:

Tapas, it was really cheap but surprisingly good. I would definitely go again

More tapas - the chips on the right were salt and pepper chips and they were so good

Drinking Blue Lagoon in Wetherspoons

Chocolate fudge cake from the cake takeaway

Ivy has taken to sitting behind Lee's computer like this, I dunno why but she's very cute

Hot chocolate in Yummy Yorkshire 

My brunch - this is what I always get. Poached eggs, smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce on rostis. So delicious!