Random photographs from around here lately

I’ve mentioned on here before that I have a tendency to accumulate photos for blog posts that then never materialise.  I end up doing random catch-up posts, like I’m doing right now!  So here are a few photos that never made it in to individual blog posts recently!

Icing snowmen

One of my Mum’s friends makes sugar decorations, and my Mum bought this snowmen scene for our Christmas cake. We aren’t icing the cake this year because we’ve followed a Caribbean recipe – this is a source of much contention because my sister and I are big icing fans. These snowmen will be the compromise!

Garlic 30.11.2014

The garlic plants are growing well. They don’t care about the weather much. Their biggest danger is being dug up by the cat.

Archie and a snack

Sometimes when I’m trying to photograph Archie, I have to bribe her in order to get her to look at the camera. Here she is licking her lips when I hold out a snack for her!

Archie staring

Bribing her works though!

Morning dew

I love looking at dew on the flowers. It’s so pretty. Like frost, it makes everything look like it’s covered in glitter.

Ring-a-ling, hear them ring

The Christmas decorations are up and it’s now officially Christmas!  If I had my way, the decorations would go up on the 1st December, when I get out the Christmas music.  Sadly though I live with a scrooge who doesn’t like Christmas decorations, so I have to wait until at least mid-December!

Swarovski snowflakes

We have a white tree decorations this year, and we have five Swarovski snowflakes for the tree.  They are really hard to photograph, but you get the idea!

Millie snowman

I don’t care about tackiness at Christmas, and I found a snowman snow globe with my name in it!  So he is on the tree too!  (My sis as one too!)

Father Christmas cross-stitch

This is the cross-stitch that started off my obsession with Christmas cross-stitches.  My Mum made it years ago and I love it.

Swarovski Father Christmas

The Swarovski Father Christmas and sleigh.  He had a Rudolph, but sadly he has died.

Christmas tree

TREE!!!

CHRISTMAS!!

The perfect lip balm – Hurraw balm

Hurraw lip balm

My quest for the perfect lip balm is over. It has taken many years, and I have tried many products along the way, but I’ve finally found a balm I can use forever! That balm is called Hurraw.

You’re probably wondering why this quest took so long, but that is mostly because I am fussy. I stopped using petroleum-based lip balms (e.g. Vaseline, Carmex, etc.) and as most the balms on the high street are petroleum-based there was an immediate hurdle to be overcome.

Secondly, not all natural balms are created equal. Lots of natural lip balms have loads of preservatives and chemicals added, and I was looking for a balm that only had a few ingredients that I could recognise. There really is no need for extra chemicals in lip balms – we use them daily and most natural oils and butters (the base for these lip balms) have a long shelf life to start off with (12 months).

The third issue is that some natural lip balms just aren’t good, despite their pedigree. Lush, for example, are great at making shampoos, soaps and creams, but are apparently crap at making lip balms. I’ve tried three over the years and all are rock hard and difficult to first get out of the pot and then to rub on to your lips. Lip balm should be soft, easy to apply and last for ages.

In my quest for the perfect lip balm, I have reviewed many brands and deviated into chemical products along the way, but Hurraw balms are wonderful so I think my journey is over. They’re rich and moisturising, smell delicious, have simple ingredients, are vegan (and raw!), aren’t ridiculously expensive and come in a range of scents. I really recommend you try the brand. I bought my stick from Naturisimo (free postage!). It is the only lip balm you’ll ever need, and speaking as someone who has tried pretty much every natural balm on the market that costs less than £10, I know you won’t find a better one!

I wasn’t sponsored to write this post.  Just spreading the lippy love!

November reads (2014)

I read nine books this month, which is very satisfying.  Nine!  I’m finally catching up with my 2014 reading challenge!  I need to read 15 books in December to finally finish the challenge (haha, not very likely but I’ll try!).

Rules of Life – Richard Templar

This book was an interesting read, and easy to dip into. It’s basically a guide to life written in short rules (with explanations), and some of the rules are very sensible! It’s worth a read. The world would probably be a better place if we all adopted some of these rules!

Eat Move Sleep – Tom Rath

I found this book really fascinating. The author is a scientist who has a genetic disorder which means he has lived with cancer his entire life. He has lived beyond his life expectancy, and he’s made a hobby out of researching ways to improve his health. This book is the result of this, and it’s really good. In fact, I would go as far as to say this is probably the only healthy living book you’ll ever need.

The Year of Reading Dangerously – Andy Miller

I love reading books about reading, and I haven’t done it for a while. However, I found this in my local e-library when I was having a browse, so I checked it out and devoured it in a couple of days. The author (very snarky and amusing!) is feeling depressed and fed up with life, and decides to embark on a reading challenge to read all the books he always pretends he’s read. He is a writer and editor for a London publishing house, so as you can imagine there are quite a few books he’s pretended to have read over the years!

I really enjoyed this book, but as I said I do love books about reading. I like finding new books through the reviews of other authors, and it’s interesting to see what other authors think of books I have read. (I read One hundred years of solitude while reading this and the author wasn’t impressed with the book – I’m not either, see below.) Anyone who likes reading about reading should add this book to their list.

A King’s Story – Edward Windsor

Edward Windsor is the King that abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson.  This is his autobiography, and it’s really interesting.  He covers the whole of his life, not just the affairs that lead to his abdication, and he seems like he was a genuinely nice bloke who would have been a good King. The Prime Minister was a bully who forced him to choose between the throne or the woman he loved, and I think the country was worse off because of it.  He would have been good for the country.

The 100 thing challenge – Dave Bruno

I realise every minimalism blogger in the world has probably read this book by now, but my reading list is so long I nearly never read books when everyone else is reading them!  The book was ok, but it wasn’t anything that I haven’t read in other minimalism and simplicity books.

Minding My Peas and Cucumbers – Kay Sexton

A book about allotments!  This I can get enthused about!  Kay Sexton writes about her experiences keeping allotments for over 20 years.  It’s a mix of gossip, gardening advice, stories and recipes.  I loved it!  Anyone who has an allotment will be able to relate to the experiences she shares, and anyone who wants an allotment will get an idea of what it’s like.

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez

This book has been on my reading list since I was a teenager.  It would be better if I could go back in time and tell my teenage self not to bother adding it to the list.  I just didn’t get the appeal at all.  It’s supposed to be a classic of Colombian literature, and South American literature, but I really just thought it was a bit odd and not much happened.  Which according to Wikipedia, where I went after I finished the book to find out what the hell it was I’d read, is sort of the point.  I’m going to try not to judge an entire continent’s contribution to literature based on one book, but for now I am not impressed!

Moses the kitten – James Herriot

This is a children’s book, and has about 10 pages, which might be why I managed to finish so many books this month!  However, I was having a tidy up and sorting through some of the things for future nieces and nephews, so I got to read this.  It’s basically about a kitten that’s left out in the cold and is rescued by a vet.  It then adopts a strange mother, and I won’t tell you any more.  It’s a good little read for children, and I used to love the illustrations when I was a child.

Snowy – Berlie Doherty and Keith Bowen

This is another children’s book, this time about a shire horse that pulls a canal boat along a canal.  The horse is called Snowy, and he can’t go to the pet day at school because he is not a pet.  He has to work pulling the boat up and down the canal for tourists.  I didn’t really enjoy this book as an adult as it’s a bit boring, but I remember liking it as a child.

Have you read any good books this month?

Leaves on the roof

With the last of the autumn leaves dropping some have inevitably landed on the conservatory roof, where they make small shadows that occasionally flutter in the wind.  Archie absolutely hates this, because she thinks they are alive and wants to hunt them.  She stares at the roof making little mewing noises and trying to reach them.  It’s funny because she’s actually a rubbish hunter and a big coward, so were they actually alive and if she could reach them she would probably run away and hide!

In the first picture, she’s on the piano and working out how to get on to the window ledge next to the roof.  In the final two pictures she’s managed to get up there and is trying to work out how to get through the roof to the leaves.

Archie hunting

Archie hunting leaves on the roof

Cat staring at roof

Cat staring at roof 2

Lego Moleskine week 45 & 46

Lego Moleskine Week 45

Week 45

During this week I watched Braveheart – can you tell?!  I also watched Tomorrow when the war began, which isn’t as good as the Red Dawn remake.  So, watch that instead.   I also saw Winter’s Bones, just because it has Jennifer Lawrence in it and she is awesome.  The film was quite dark, but oddly satisfying at the end (seriously, it’s really depressing so don’t say I didn’t warn you!).

Lego Moleskine Week 46

Week 46

S Club 7 were on Children in Need and this is all we need.

Christmas cross-stitch bunting

In the Christmas issue of Cross Stitcher magazine there was a free guide to making cross-stitch present tags and the materials to do it.  I don’t need any present tags as I have awesome retro glittery present labels that I love, so I decided to make bunting with the tags instead.

Cross-stitch bunting 1

Firstly I made all of the tags (except the dove, which I don’t like) – there were 12 designs in all so I completed 11.  Then I used the twine that came with the magazine to hang the tags over the fireplace.

Cross-stitch bunting 2

It looks cute, doesn’t it!  We haven’t been using the fire much this winter (yet!), but I would assume that were I to turn it on while the bunting is in place it will dry the glue on the cross-stitches and they might fall off the tags.  Alternatively I might cause a fire and burn the house down, so I will move them if it gets seriously cold!

We haven’t put many decorations out yet, because my Mother thinks it’s too early for Christmas (Bah, humbug!).  I’ve managed to sneak out my two framed Christmas cross-stitches, as I’m currently doing the third one and I needed the first two out for comparison.  I have also put my advent calendar up so there is a little bit of Christmas around, even if the real decorations aren’t up yet!

A clump of moss

I had to google what the collective noun for moss is, and now you have learnt something new (unless you already knew it was clump, in which case well done!).

It has been so damp and grey for the last few weeks that the moss is thriving on our little patio. I decided to see what different types I could find.  I found three, which doesn’t sound like a lot, except that our patio is only about 2m x 2m!

Sometimes when I go outside the mosses have been scattered all over the path, which usually means that a little bird has been digging for worms and bugs.  I usually put the moss back between the crack so it can carry on growing!

I don’t know my mosses, so I have no idea what these are.

Moss 1

Moss 2

Moss 3