The Random Reader (or Reading Roulette)

I don’t know about you, but one of the hardest questions I ever ask myself is “What should I read next?”

This is often a difficult question for me for many reasons, but mostly because I have a LOT of books. I have books that have sat, neglected, on my shelves for years as they no longer hold the appeal that they obviously had when I bought them. I have hard back books that I haven’t touched, because I always carry my ‘current read’ everywhere with me and the idea of doing that with a hardback makes my back cringe.

So as you can imagine, not long after venturing into my spare room/library to pick my next read i’m either wandering out again a few minutes later with an armful of books, hoping that through the course of the day they will somehow fight amongst themselves and the victor shall become my current read. Or, I end up a sobbing wreck on the floor when faced with the magnitude of such a decision.

Until that is, Fate stepped in (with the assistance of a book) and presented me with a solution!

After reading ‘The Dice Man’ by Luke Rhinehart, I was inspired!! Not to live my life as a Dice woman, good lord no, I’m far too much of a wuss to live my life that way. However, one decision I was willing to let the dice handle though was that ever troubling “What shall I read next?” one. So I adapted the decision making format, and found a way to take the pain and strain out an otherwise delightful venture. It’s like a lucky dip, where you win every time, and the prize is a book!!

This has actually been quite fun for me, and I also find that I’m more inclined to finish reading books that I find a little dull, as the ‘Pot’ has challenged me to read it, so I MUST!!

(and maybe one day, for the tech savvy amongst you, I or somebody with a bit more skill than me, will develop an app that can randomly pick from your ebooks too!)

Craft Challenge – February

This months ‘Craft Challenge’ has a bit of uniqueness about it, as it’s one of my few craft items that I’ve actually made for myself. It’s also some thing I made a couple of months ago, as I haven’t had much time for the project I intended for my February Craft Challenge and it’s now going to be my March one.

Last year I got a Fitbit Charge , for those of you unfamiliar with it I’ll explain. Fitbit Charge is essentially a digital pedometer, which is also a watch, and a gadget geeks dream!. It also (once you’ve set up your profile and inputted your data) tells you how many calories you’ve burnt that day, including whilst resting, how many miles you’ve walked and how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed. It tracks your sleep pattern and has a silent alarm which wakes you up with gentle vibrations. Basically, for me, it’s the perfect watch full of geeky technology and an inoffensive wake up system.

I do actually really love my Fitbit, which is why when the strap started to peel off I was slightly alarmed, but not too worried as a friend of mine had a Fitbit flex which she had a number of different bands for, so I knew I could just buy a replacement band when it came to it.IMG_0559 It wasn’t until about a month later when the band actually came apart I found out that Fitbit don’t actually do replacement bands for the charge. So after about a week of walking around with a watch held together with sellotape I did what any self respecting crafter would do . . . . and made my own band!

*Note, these aren’t actually instructions on ‘How To Make a Fitbit band’ but just illustrated steps on how I did it. If anyone is interested, I’m planning on making this into a ‘How To . . ‘ and posting it at a later date.

I basically used the same concept as a hair scrunchie, so measured my wrist, and added about a third of the length (for the ‘schrunching’ bit) then cut a bit of fabric that length, and because I was only using thin cotton and this band would be taking some pressure I needed to re-inforce the thickness of the fabric, so cut it with a width four times that of the Fitbit. The main difference between this and a scrunchie would be that the elastic wouldn’t be going all the way around, as the actual Fitbit itself is a couple of inches in length the elastic would just be covering the bit of my wrist that the Fitbit didn’t, so I measured that, pulled the elastic a little taut (but not too much, just a little to be comfortable enough when it pulls back) and cut it that length. So I now had the bits I needed to start creating.


(Note the poor Fitbit held together with Sellotape)

Then joining the two ends together I stitched around only half, leaving the other half open creating a gap that I could slip my Fitbit into.

and voilà . . .

It may just be me, but I actually prefer this style of band. It’s much more snug, and can come in whichever design you wish. Maybe I need to have a little chat with Fitbit!
As mentioned earlier, these aren’t designed to be instructions, just to give you an idea of how I made mine, but I will be making them into instructions and posting them soon.

Is your Puppy your Baby?

As I sat down to write this post I was planning on talking about Poppy.


Poppy is our 8 month old collie cross, and what motivated the post was the fact that the other week, for the first time since we got her, I had a full night’s sleep as I didn’t have to get up during the night to let her pee. This may sound a little exaggerated but trust me although dear husband (or ‘Daddy’ as we now refer to him) does do his doggy duties, daddy does sleep the sleep of the righteous and so all the nocturnal activities do generally fall to me. Now this marked a milestone as ever since then she’s slept through the whole night and so have I, and I’m not as knackered as I once was. So I started to wonder if this was the same feeling that new mummy’s get when their little one starts sleeping through the night.

Just as I started doing a little research I was shocked to find the amount of intense and passionate (to put it politely) articles and blog posts by mothers about how dogs are most definitely NOT anything like children, and how offended they are when people make comparisons.

So my post then took on a different hue, was I becoming one of those ‘weirdoes’ that these articles referred to that couldn’t discern between the love of a child and the trusting dependency of a dog? Was I offending biological mothers the world over by deigning to believe that Poppy and I had a similar bond? But as I read through these articles a funny thing happened, I not only started to question my relationship with Poppy but I was starting to feel a little inadequate as a human being, and more specifically a woman! That’s when I noticed it. One of the main defining points these articles were bringing up were how just “going to a kennel and pointing at ‘that one’ “ (which every dog owner will no doubt admit it wasn’t THAT easy!) doesn’t compare to the 9 months of growing and nurturing a baby, then the agony and elation of birth. Which is a little harsh as I can’t actually have children and so was left feeling bad about something which is a biological impossibility for me!

Then I looked at my little Poppy, curled up on the floor next to me as she always likes to be in the same room as me, and I remembered the day we got her from a farm. How timid and shy she was, and the two hours we spent on the floor of the farmhouse kitchen getting to know her. Her heart-breaking cries the first time we left her alone, and how proud we were the first time she peed outside.


Poppy on her first day, the one and only day she was ever shy and timid.

How my heart was in my mouth the first time I let her off her lead to play with other dogs, how she runs to me when ‘daddy’ tells her off, or how she looks genuinely heartbroken when I tell her off, and I thought “bugger it! She IS our baby!”

So I do apologise if anybody finds this offensive as my post is not intended to inflame, but I find it a little unfair when people get on their high horse about the difference between having a puppy and a baby and in the process invalidating the feelings of the dog owners. Especially when one of their main points is the ‘9 months of carrying and nurturing a baby and the agonising birth’ but the joy and elation of having a child at the end of it. Well you know what? I did not have any of that, what I did have was 9 months of physical and emotional recovery after 3 months of carrying around a 2 ½ stone lump and a 4 hour operation to remove it, and the end of which I had the inability to EVER have children. So yes! Poppy is our baby. Yes! we do spoil her and arrange our lives around her, and yes! we do refer to each other as Mummy and Daddy around her, we find it fun and if we wish to believe it reinforces the idea that the bond between us is similar to that of a parent and child, so be it!

Craft Challenge – January

So, some of you may have noticed that when it comes to my crafts, especially my knitting, I’m a little bit ‘quirky’ and if I can’t find a pattern for what I want I’ll just make one up. This has led to a few interesting creations, and some eye-catching ones, to the point where at least once a month somebody that has seen one of my creations says those magic words to me “Can you make . . . ?”For example; my sister-in-law sees a hat she likes in a magazine, she sends me the picture with that magic question . . .

“Can you make one of these?”1424360_738667856162720_1562443955_n1459811_738667876162718_1824423503_nand after some experimenting the answer is “yes!

. . . and some gloves to match!”




So I thought I’d make a feature out of it, it might also keep me on the blog a bit more regularly. So welcome to my first ‘Craft Challenge’

This months one was a little different to start of with as a work colleague asked me “Can you crochet?” I’m always a little hesitant to answer this question as technically I can crochet but being a late bloomer I only really know the basics, and half of that I make up as I go along!

You see, I was knitting from a young age as I was taught to knit by my grandmother, my mother was the crocheter of the family but she was left handed so it was tricky to follow her when she showed me. Then in 2008 I went to a festival where a lady in a tent was showing people how to crochet and I picked up a few basic stitches, but never went any further with it as crochet patterns confused me a little and besides, I had my mother to crochet stuff. Then in 2012 my mother passed away, and I wanted to honour her by crocheting a little baby outfit she had wanted to make for my brothers new arrival. Again I found myself absolutely baffled by the instructions and terms and without anyone to show me what to do (I tried googling, but I learn a lot better by watching than reading), and the pattern just got shoved to the back of the craft cupboard, and I carried on getting by on just basics which suited me well, as I was able to incorporate a few crochet bits into my knitting (as you can see from the hat above) and even made a whole crocheted tea cosy, by just making it all up as I went along . . .1466254_10152357251456901_8438894568209531443_n








So when I was asked “Can you crochet?” after a little hesitation I answered “Yes, but mostly basic stuff” the next question  was “Can you crochet a giraffe?” never one to shy away from a challenge I said I’d give it a go, and waited in abject fear for her to send the link for the pattern to me, this is what she wanted ‘Crochet Giraffe’ and I was more than a little daunted but thought, hey why not!

Now I didn’t do the stripe effect as I didn’t want to over complicate myself first time out so just stuck with variegated yarn, with the idea of making an ‘experimental’ one before making one in the colours my colleague wanted, and you know what? It was bloody easy!!

I’m so chuffed with my crochet giraffes, and even showed my colleague both of them so she could pick for herself as even the experimental one didn’t turn out as funny looking as I thought it would, what do you think?

IMG_0756 (2) - Copy

So now when asked “Can you crochet?” with a little more confidence I can say “yes” which is good because I have a feeling I’ve got a challenge coming from my brother!




Wicked Books!

Huzzah, have found a new favourite author!

It`s been a while since I read a book and thought “Wow, I must have MORE!” and I have to admit I started to miss that feeling. Now usually I would condense my stories down over fears of boring my audience, but seeing as this is MY blog and everybody has the option to click away from this page if they so choose, im going with the long version.

Actually it’s not that long a story.

Basically amongst the masses of inane posts and useless bits of advertising I get on my Facebook news feed I saw a quiz from Bookbub entitled “which new book should you read?” So this was a quiz about BOOKS, and with the potential for buying a new book at the end of it . . . . I just had to take it.

So I waded through the handful of questions, and my book suggestion was . . . . `Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich` ooooh! The title was enticing and I`d actually heard of the author too (I used to have a work colleague that got rather excited about pre-ordering her new releases) So I did a little research and discovered that ‘Wicked Charms’ is actually the third in a series.

I’ve made the mistake before of reading books out of sequence, I actually read the whole of Elizabeth Haydon’s ‘Prophecy’ really enjoyed it, then found out that it was the second book in a series and, as you can imagine, after reading the first book ‘Rhapsody some bits ofProphecy’ did make a lot more sense. Anyway, I digress.

So yes, I discovered that ‘Wicked Charms’ was the third in the series which was a little disappointing until upon looking at the rest of the series I found that ‘Wicked Appetite’ the first in the series was 99p to download to Kindle. Yippee! Now don’t get mad at me all you purists out there, I know you can’t beat the feel of a good paperback but there’s something exciting about having instant access to a book, and for that I do love my Kindle.

So downloaded ‘Wicked Appetite’ and instantly started reading . . . . and just kept on reading. This book had so many key points for me.

  • Set in Salem – I love books with a slight mystical aspect
  • Kooky and not quite with it main character. You know the kind of person, she may have a life that you wish you had but deep down she’s as confused and slightly crazy as the rest of us.
  • even kookier side characters. The nuts and slightly quirky side kicks. better known as ‘the comic relief’
  • lots of madcap antics.
  • a potential love interest that the main character ISN’T fawning over for most of the book

I wont ruin it for anybody and spoil the plot, but this book had me chuckling to myself quite a lot, and if this is that standard of work Janet Evanovich usually kicks out she’s got a keen follower in me now.

The times they are a changing

Have you ever looked back at something you’ve written and either wondered “Who is that person?” or possibly like me “What happened to that person?” I know they say we do change as we grow older, but some things I’ve been looking at are from as little as 5 years ago. Can a person really change that much in such little time, and is it possible to get back to who you once were, or is that the point of growth, there is no going back?

Through the power of ‘Timehop’, a time travelling Apple app that shows you what you posted on facebook on the same date in previous years, I’ve been reading a lot about who I once was, well the last 7 years of who I once was at least. Now whilst i’m glad that a certain part of me has moved on (the part that stayed out partying til 4 in the morning had a couple of hours sleep then went to work, knackered and a little hungover) I do miss certain other things and wonder where they went, or if they’ll ever come back. This part of me is particularly apparent in things I used to write, I was quite articulate and word creative, and as my mother used to say “She never uses just one word where ten will do”

This past me always carried a notebook in her pocket and would frequently scribble down thoughts and ideas even in the middle of work. I even have shoeboxes filled with old notebooks. The current me still does carry a notebook, but mostly for working out what we’ve spent, reminding me to do things I know i’ll forget, or making a note on who’s been toileted (that last ones for work, that’s not a general day to day musing) And the amount of notebooks I’ve used in the last 5 years couldn’t fill a matchbox let alone a shoebox. (ridiculous comparison I know but THIS IS WHAT I MEAN!!)

I don’t know what to call that part of me that’s lost, it’s not my creativity I still have that in abundance, although mostly in physical crafts now.

Is it just a simple case of ‘use it or lose it’? Five years ago I had my dream job at Waterstones, became reaquainted with a very good friend, we started seeing each other and shortly thereafter moved in together and got married. Did I reach the pinnacle of my bliss at that point and just stop trying? To quote the eagles “Did she get tired or did she just get lazy” Did I become the human equivalent of a contented house cat? I no longer hunted for my words, I just lay back and waited for the words to come to me.

Maybe it’s my inspiration that I’ve lost, my muse. Maybe she’s not even lost, maybe even as I write this is she sitting in the back of my mind giggling to herself, thinking ‘just a little longer’ lOST

Hug my Mug!

I am, I believe, quintessentially English. There is not much I love more than coming home at the end of a long day and settling in with a nice cup of tea. In fact it has been scientifically proven through a series of experiments (totally involuntary I may add) that I am an absolute nightmare if I don’t have my cup of tea after work.
So yes that’s me, the epitome of a cliché hot beverage advert, snuggling down with my oversized mug . . . ah but here’s where I frequently encounter a problem, because the adverts have lied to me! I know, absolute shocker isn’t it, but yes as I said the adverts have lied and my snuggling down with a cup of tea is not forthcoming as this sort of behaviour . . . .
. . . is liable to cause third degree burns.

So unfortunately due to the fact that i’m not an advert actress and, as a consequence, not in possession of a pair of asbestos hands I am unable to hug my mug and have to wait until it has cooled to a sufficient temperature, which takes half the fun out of it.
That was until some genius came up with the idea of ‘MUG HUGS’ (or Mug Cozy as they’re sometimes called, but I think Mug Hug is much more fun) a simple piece of knitwear designed especially for the mug of your choice enabling you to cosy up to your desired hot beverage without the risk of permanent skin damage.
I love them, and have designed and knitted several of my own (very quick and easy to do)

My own Mug Hugs 'inspired by nature'

My own Mug Hugs ‘inspired by nature’

Google mug hug and you’ll find all sorts of weird and wonderful hugs for your mugs, just . . be careful what you google . .

Batchelors hug in a Mug

Batchelors hug in a Mug

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