Birds in the rain

The birds are back in the garden again, after a long period of eating somewhere else. Has anyone else noticed that the birds are more frequent in the garden when it’s raining? It doesn’t make any sense as you would assume that there are lots of worms and snails about, but maybe they prefer an easy meal when it’s raining.

I took a few photos of the birds as they had their breakfast. I haven’t seen any new species, but my favourites like the tits and robins are back.  The photos aren’t great as they were taken through a window while it was raining, but I wanted to share them anyway.

Song thrush on fence

Song thrush

Blackbird in tree

Blackbird

Dunnock in tree

Dunnock

Great tit in bird feeder

Great tit

Song thrush on fence 2

Song thrush

Song thrush in bird feeder

Song thrush

Great tit in tree

Great tit

Striped glittery top

After the first glittery top I made was too small for me to wear, I decided to make a second one in a larger size.  I’m making this one with a grey glittery yarn, and I’ve decided to add some narrow coloured stripes at equal widths for the fun of it.

Grey and striped knitted top Nov 2014

The first stripe, as you can see from the photo, is green.  The next will be the dark navy yarn I used for the first top (I have a little bit left).  Then pink and teal and I don’t know!

Hopefully this top will fit when it’s finished.  Otherwise I will be very sad!

Orange tree

Hi all.  This is a post about a tree that is orange, not an orange tree.  An orange tree would never grow in this climate!

I’ve been off sick this week, which I don’t want to talk about, but from the windows I can see the ornamental cherry tree in the garden that my Mum planted when we first moved here 14 years ago.  It’s as tall as the upstairs windows now, and the colour in autumn is magnificent.

I gather up the leaves to go in the compost eventually, but this week the garden is littered in yellow and orange leaves.

Cherry tree in autumn

Cherry tree in autumn 2

Autumn leaf

Squirrel cross-stitch

I’ve been trying to revive my cross-stitch a little this year, as I haven’t done much since 2013.  The problem with cross-stitch, I find, is that a) you have to concentrate; b) you need good light and c) you can’t eat snacks at the same time (you need clean fingers so you don’t mark the fabric!).  All of this means I prefer knitting and crochet.

I bought some blank cards and envelopes so I could make a few cross-stitch cards for friends.  They double up as a little present as you can display them afterwards.

Squirrel cross-stitch

One of my lovely colleagues is celebrating her birthday this weekend (23! So young!) and as she’s just moved house I’ve made her a little squirrel.

For little designs like this, there are lots of patterns on the web for free.  I also occasionally get a cross-stitch magazine so I can get some new designs.

In other cross-stitch news, I still haven’t made the final design of my Christmas cross-stitch decorations, which I started in 2012.  Oops. I should probably do that this month so they’re finally a trio!  I’m such a procrastinator!

[Also, I have a blank frame on my wall – literally an empty frame – that will be the Firefly cross-stitch if I ever do it!  I had to hang the frame next to my LOTR cross-stitch and Big Bang Theory cross-stitch so I could work out positions, and I never took it down again!]

Yellow glitter scarf completed

Charity project 20

I finished the yellow glitter scarf I’ve been making for charity.  This is my 20th charity project completed, and 15th scarf (for charity – I’m not including scarves I make for myself or friends in this count).  I’ve been doing this since 2012.

I am running out of creative ways to photograph these scarves.  The length is difficult to capture  and finding somewhere good to photograph them is hard!

The yarn is Sirdar Ella yarn, which I love.  It’s cotton with glitter threads woven through.  It is pretty much the best yarn ever.  To make the scarf I just did a simple crochet pattern.  Nothing complicated!  I used two and a half balls of yarn.

Lego Moleskine week 43 & 44

Lego Moleskine Week 43

Week 43

I tried something new with this week, and stuck a sheet of patterned paper on the notes page.  Originally, I did this because I’d painted the other side of the page and it had bled terribly.  However, I quite like the effect.  Due to the paper I chose, writing on the page is hard though as it’s a very strong pattern!

Lego Moleskine Week 44

Week 44

I painted this week a pale blue.  Moleskines really do not like watercolour paints.  However, having a bit of colour is quite nice.  I might do it again!

Christmas tree mat

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’d started making a patchwork Christmas mat for the Christmas tree.  I sewed the diamonds of fabric together, and then I gave it to my Mum, who wanted to quilt the mat.

This is actually the first time I’ve sewn patchwork diamonds together.  I quite enjoyed it.  Until now, all my patchwork has been squares or rectangles.  I need to get brave enough to try hexagons!

Once passed to my Mum, she quilted it and then sewed the edges of the fabric, and here is the finished article!

Christmas tree mat

If I had been in sole charge of the blanket, I would have straightened the edges and binded them properly with some red fabric, but it’s not a bad little mat.

It won’t get any use yet as it’s a little early to put out the Christmas tree, but the tree will go on it when the time comes, and I’m sure Archie will love it and play on it loads!

One thing this little project has reminded me, is that I really like Christmas fabrics!  I need to make more Christmas things!

What inks I’m using currently

Since I de-cluttered my fountain pen collection, most the fountain pens I own are now in use on a daily basis.  I can’t tell you how satisfying it is not to have pens languishing in drawers!

I thought I’d show you what inks I’m using at the moment, but it wasn’t until I did an ink sample for the blog that I realised how similar the inks are that I’m currently using.

Inks for Nov 2014

My Platinum cherry blossom fountain pen is currently inked with a J.Herbin Vert réséda.  I bought this as a sample and I quite like the ink.  It’s going to be a replacement for my Caran d’ache Caribbean Sea, which is no longer manufactured.

My Pilot Kakuno fountain pen is currently inked with a standard Pilot blue ink cartridge.  I have a pack of these cartridges to use up, so it will be inked like this for a while.  I quite like the ink though, as it’s a much darker blue than you usually get in ink cartridges.

My Lamy Safari, which is the limited edition coral pink, is inked with J.Herbin Violette pensée.  I don’t like purple inks; I don’t know why I keep buying them.  I just think they’re boring!

My Sailor fountain pen is inked with J.Herbin Perle noire, as usual.  I never use anything else in this pen.  It has a really fine nib and is best with a dark ink.

I currently have some of the limited edition J.Herbin Stormy grey on order, but due to stock issues I won’t get it until December.  I’m excited to try it though and I’ll show it to you when it arrives!

My unread book pile is getting bigger…

Unread book pile Nov 2014

My book pile keeps getting bigger and bigger, even though this year I wanted to clear it and made a goal to this affect.  Oops.  Some of the books at the bottom of this pile are actually books that I’ve already read (all the mountaineering ones), but I’ve been sorting through my bookshelves and I want to re-read them before I decide whether to give them to charity.

I also have a virtual pile of unread books on my Kindle, and it’s very unlikely these books will all be read before the end of the year now.  My unread pile gets on my nerves because my to-read list is so long and I feel pressured to read the books I already have rather than getting new ones.

The plan is that once I’ve cleared this pile I will be able to work through my to-read list on a whim and pick whatever I fancy without guilt.  In reality, this won’t happen because if I ever clear this pile, I know I’ll end up buying loads of new books and a new pile will be born.

The trials and tribulations of being a book lover!

October reads (2014)

I didn’t read many books during October.  I’ve had four online courses running at the same time, and so most of my free time has been taken up with that.

Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee – Dee Brown

This book is hard. If you have even tiny smidge of humanity in you, you will be horrified at the way Native Americans were treated by the settlers and U.S Army during the settlement of the United States. They were truly horrible! What makes it even sadder is that there were white men who were sympathetic to the American Indians and tried to treat them as equals, and they usually ended up screwed over by Government as well! As the biographer points out, it was basically the “systematic destruction” of an entire race.  This book is such an eye-opener!  White people have done a lot of stupid things throughout history (one could argue that we’re still doing stupid things!).

Your Money or Your Life – Vicki Robin & Joe Dominquez

This book is a re-read.  It’s the ultimate money advice book, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to change their relationship with money.

Her Ladyship’s Guide to the Queen’s English – Caroline Taggart

This book was a fun little read.  It’s all about how to speak and write British English correctly.  Even as a self-proclaimed English ninja, I learnt some new facts.  The book is aimed at people who never really grasped the rules of English at school, but I think it’s also good just for reviewing and topping up what you already know.  English is a complicated language!

Voluntary Simplicity – Duane Elgin

This book is referenced in lots of simplicity books I read, and as it was on offer on the Kindle I thought I should finally sit down and read it.  To be honest, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the simplicity books I’ve read that reference it.  I found it a bit heavy-going in places, and there was a lot of emphasis on how we’re probably all doomed because of climate change, peak oil, consumerism, etc.  I know all of this already, and I don’t need it drummed in to me.  I can appreciate that some people reading this book might not understand the implications of peak oil, but it’s so depressing reading about these things.

I don’t know what the solution is here, of course.  People ignore issues like climate change and peak oil because they are difficult for human brains to comprehend (our brains have evolved to deal with visible threats, and climate change and other issues are not tangible threats we can compute).  Maybe books do need to be depressing and highlight every bad event in our future in order to get people to make lifestyle changes, but I find it sad.

Anyway, I suppose the book is good for anyone who needs convincing that simplicity is the best lifestyle choice!

Did you read any good books in October?