31 Dec 2015

I Hereby Solemnly Resolve

Two years on a trot I made a promise to myself to change things around in my life. Some worked, most didn't. So why am I doing it again? I've heard third time's a charm. Hence a stronger likelihood that the resolutions, all of them, will stick this year. And I will get that lifestyle change that has eluded me for so long.

Happy New Year 2016

Here goes. I hereby solemnly resolve to:

22 Dec 2015

I'm an Official Ambassador for Geronimo 2016!

Then there was that day earlier this year when I came face to face with Mr. Bloom from CBeebies. The setting was the first ever Geronimo Festival.

If you missed being there, fret not. Geronimo is set to return in 2016 and it promises to be bigger and better. For a start, it is not only returning to Tatton Park in Cheshire for a second year on 29 and 30 May, but it also has a new second home at Harewood House, just outside Leeds, where it runs over the weekend of 1 – 2 May.

I am extremely delighted to announce that I have been selected to be an official blogger ambassador for Geronimo 2016. This means I can bring you all the Geronimo gossip as it happens, when it happens.

I'm an Official Ambassador for Geronimo 2016!

21 Dec 2015

Planning My Sky Blanket 2016

Remember how I revived my dormant crochet skills last month at the Black Sheep Wools Learn to Crochet workshop? Well, it is time to take the crocheting a step further in the New Year.

I will be doing a Sky Blanket in 2016 along with a large group of like-minded yarn lovers, a brainchild of the lovely Bug Bird Bee, The Boy And Me and You Little Sew And Sew. It is a sort of mood blanket designed to capture the colour of the sky above, on each day in 2016. There is the option to knit, crochet or quilt. I, as said, will be crocheting it.

I have been on a mission these last few weeks, gathering up all sorts of yarn for my Sky Blanket 2016. I have ended up with 15 balls of wool mainly in different shades of blue. There is light blue, sky blue, baby blue, royal blue, midnight blue and turquoise. And then there are a couple of exotic ones – bluebell and aster.

Planning My Sky Blanket 2016

Am I being overly optimistic in thinking that the sky in the North West of England will be predominantly blue this year? Perhaps, but I have also packed in a couple of greys just in case.

Then there is the red, orange, yellow and lilac for those vivid dawn and dusk skies. And I bought a bunch of multi-coloured yarn for when I shall see a rainbow. Or when the heavens are ablaze with colour like an artist’s palette.

The colours of the rainbow

I could not resist the idea of sparkle in my Sky Blanket. So I chose a deep blue and black with a thread of silver running through to capture the starry sky at night. The sparkling white will be for those silver linings on bleak, gloomy days. And the sunshine yellow is for the bright, sunny days that, every so often, brighten up and make our year special.

Glitter and sparkle - the starry sky at night

I haven’t decided on a specific time of day to base my choice of colours on. I will go with what I see when I look up at the sky, whenever I fancy it.  It will serve as a wonderful opportunity to actually stand and gaze at the sky, something that I don't do often enough.

As for the pattern, I am still toying with ideas at the moment. I want my Sky Blanket to be large enough for J, M and me to snuggle up under on the sofa. So I am thinking of a chain length between 150 and 200, building up with rows of double or half treble crochet, one row for every day in 2016.

On the other hand, I am tempted to use this as a marvellous opportunity to hone my crochet skills and learn new stitches. So as the blanket progresses, I might stray into unknown territory with puffs, popcorns, shells or something even more testing. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I have been practicing in anticipation of the mammoth task on hand. I have crocheted this sparkly scarf, all in half treble crochet, as a Christmas present for my son. It’s not finished yet, but it’s four more sleeps till the big day, and I am sure it will find it’s way under our Christmas tree in time for the Big Unwrap.

A scarf for Christmas

19 Dec 2015

The Sound of Music at The Lowry

I have lost count of the number of times I have watched the film version of The Sound of Music. I have never had the privilege to watch it on stage at the theatre. Until now, that is.

A brand new production of The Sound of Music is currently on tour and I was lucky enough to catch the show at The Lowry where it is currently playing.

And so for the second time this week, the C-household headed over to Salford Quays to watch musical theatre

It takes something special to fill Julie Andrews' shoes. Lucy O'Byrne managed it with aplomb. The runner-up of The Voice UK has an endearing stage presence and exquisite vocals that had even my 4 year old son spell-bound. She has that cheeky innocence about her that we have come to associate with the character of Maria. 

17 Dec 2015

Mr Popper's Penguins at The Lowry

We have always enjoyed going to the Salford Quays as a family. From The Imperial War Museum and Beefeater restaurant to the Lowry shopping centre, there is always something to see or do by the quayside. My favourite spot has to be The Lowry Theatre. I enjoy theatre and it is a love I hope to pass on to my son.

J made his debut as audience at The Lowry earlier this year, and I was delighted to take him on his second theatre outing this weekend. The weather was distinctly miserable as we made our way to watch Mr Popper's Penguins.
Mr Popper's Penguins at The Lowry

15 Dec 2015

A Toblerone Fondue for Christmas

What is better than Toblerone at Christmas? A mountain of Toblerone at Christmas! That's precisely what I thought as I stood staring at a large mound of Switzerland's legendary milk chocolate resting in my kitchen.

Toblerone - milk chocolate with honey and almond nougat

I could have just eaten it all, of course. But it is the season of giving and I am trying really hard to give up chocolate. So I roped in the family to help polish off some of the Toblerone. 

Rather than munch on the divine honey and almond nougat studded chocolate triangles as is, we decided to get creative with it. "Let's do a chocolate fondue," went the cry. "Fun-do! Fun-do!" chimed in J. 

11 Dec 2015

Bake Box: The Subscription Box for Bakers

I do enjoy watching The Great British Bake-Off as much as the next person. But the fact remains that I am no great baker. Occasional muffins, biscuits and cakes, yes. Kouign Amann, Schichttorte, Religieuse a l’ancienne, I'll have to start by learning to pronounce those first!

So what am I doing writing about The Bake Box, you might wonder? Well, it is the season of giving, and I am revealing the secrets of this brand new subscription box for the benefit of my readers. Especially those who like to bake, are good at it or simply want to get started with it. Or if you, like me, know a couple of fantastic people who would appreciate a Bake Box subscription as a Christmas present.

Bake Box: The Subscription Box for Bakers
Image copyright: The Bake Box

9 Dec 2015

Moving Eyes Rudolph Christmas Jumper by MorphCostumes

We are not necessarily a Christmas Jumper family. We do Santa hats and reindeer antlers and tinsel, but not jumpers. This year however, I have decided to buck tradition and kit the entire C- household in new Christmas jumpers. Reason being I am singing in a choir on Christmas Jumper Day, and can’t do so without a Christmas jumper.

Having seen my bright red festive jumper, J insisted on having one too. So now he has a bright red jumper that, coupled with his hat, transforms him into a mini Father Christmas.

That leaves M. Not one to don Christmas jumpers with the requisite festive fervour, it will take something more than Rudolph's red nose to get him into a piece of bright red clothing.

Moving Eyes Rudolph Christmas Jumper by MorphCostumes

1 Dec 2015

Itty Bittys by Hallmark: review and giveaway

They are cute, cuddly and collectable. They are the Itty Bittys - a fantastic new range of plush toys by Hallmark. They are all the rage stateside and have crossed the pond this autumn, just in time for Christmas.

Itty Bittys by Hallmark UK

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