2015 Reading Challenge

Hello!

As you might remember from my 23 Before 23 Review, I mentioned that I had committed myself to a reading challenge with some of my colleagues from work. My colleague Marie spotted the Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge on Pinterest before the new year and decided that she was taking part, and from then on the number has grown across our office of people getting involved. I wanted to sign up to the challenge initially because I had got out of the habit of reading. I have a pretty reasonable commute to work (averaging around 45 minutes each way but can be well over an hour depending on traffic) and shortly after I started work I put this time to good use by reading. I got so into reading on the bus that I managed to fly through 7 books in 2 weeks but then as the mornings and nights grew ever darker I just felt sleepy on the journey and couldn’t really pick myself up enough to read. Since taking on the challenge though, I am getting back into the routine of reading on the bus once again and I am (slowly) making a dent in the massive backlog of books that I have to read!

Here is the list of criteria for the challenge, and I have highlighted those that I have been successful in fulfilling so far:

Reading Challenge update 1

Click image for source

I have made the decision to only count one book for each of the criteria (meaning that I have 50 books to read to complete the challenge!) whereas some people have opted to tick off all of the criteria that their book meets. To me this feels a little like cheating myself to do it this way, so I’m playing hard and fast by my rule! I have allowed myself to relax a little bit about the seriousness of the challenge though. Usually, if I set myself a goal I will work at it no end until I achieve it, but I fear that this may take the fun out of the challenge so I am approaching it with a relaxed plan, and my challenge is not to cross all of the books of in 2015, but to see how many I can cross off in 2015. I don’t want to force myself to read books for the sake of them, so I am using this as a checklist to manage my attack on the book collection that I already own as an excuse to get some reading done! And any that I don’t cross off in 2015? They’ll simply roll over into 2016 instead!

As you can see from the image above, so far I have managed to tick two of the criteria off the list and I am working my way through my third. The first book that I read was The Winter Book by Tove Jansson, meeting the criteria of ‘A book that was originally written in a different language’ as it was first published in Swedish. It is a collection of short stories for adults spanning the whole of her adult fiction writing career, from her first collection The Sculptor’s Daughter, published in 1968 to seven of her later short stories, the latest dated 1996.  Continue reading

February Incoming and Outgoing Mail

Hello!

Many of you know that I am an avid snail-mailer and I love receiving letters and postcards in the post. Having recently posted about my New Year Pen Pal Boxes, you already know that I am involved with #Postcircle and if you look waaaay back to June 2013, you will also find my post about Postcrossing!  I’ll let you read the previous posts if you want an overview of what Postcrossing and #Postcircle are, but I thought I would share my incoming and outgoing mail from February with you!

Outgoing:

This butterfly postcard is on its way to Spain making a 981 mile journey to Menorca!

Postcard 2

 

I loved this ‘London Town’ postcard from Paperchase so much that I sent out two of them. One of them took 8 days to reach New Jersey in the US, 3,438 miles away, and the other one took 12 days to travel 1,143 miles to Belarus! Continue reading

Recent Projects – A Catch Up!

Hello!

So, while I was on my unintended lengthy break from blogging, I did succeed in putting my time to good use by doing an excessive amount of crafting! I have recently been on a bit of a run in working my way through the projects that I have had lying around for a long time. Many of them were small craft kits that have been building up in my stash that I really wanted to complete and cross off my list. They have been a really good way to pass winter weekends when it has been cold and wet outside, plus it has seriously cut down my backlog of craft projects in my stash – which is always a good thing! I’m still on a purging spree and I’m trying to refrain from buying too many new craft supplies until I have put the ones that I have got to good use! So anyway, here is a summary of what I have been up to for the last few months while I have been out of blogging!

Christmas:

One of my very quick but favourite crafts over Christmas was this adorable Christmas bunting. It was a kit that I picked up on a trip to Rose Apothecary the year before and I finally got round to making it for Christmas 2014! It was really quick and easy to do because the fabric squares were already pre-cut, so I just had to pin and sew them to the binding. It was a project that only took a matter of minutes but the finished project looks really adorable and I’m so pleased with it!

Christmas Bunting

 

While we’re on the subject of Christmas, how do you like my paperchains? Probably not fully qualifying as a craft project, me and James still had a lot of fun putting these together! When I was younger I used to spend hours stringing together miles and miles of paperchains at Christmas, and I had bought a couple of packs of these waiting to put them to good use. It was fun to spend our first Christmas in our new house doing a project like this together in the run up to Christmas and I swear you are never too old to make paperchains! Continue reading

23 Before 23 – The Review

For those of you who have been with my blog for a while, you will know that for the last few years I have done a challenge every year, setting the same number of goals as the age I will be on my next birthday. Last year I turned 23, so after my 22nd birthday, I set my 23 before 23 goals. As we all know, 2014 was absolute chaos for me, so I didn’t end up dedicating any time to my goals at all! However, I am going to review them all the same, but I’m not expecting any spectacular results!

1. Make a dress – This one is still on the list! I’m ashamed to think of how long I have had the supplies ready and just not made any progress with it! It is a little more tricky now, as never having made clothes before, I want my Mum to help me through the steps to make sure I’m doing everything right (Mum’s know best of course!) but now that I have moved out, we haven’t yet managed to arrange a day when she can come over and help me through it! I’m hoping to get a day arranged soon though so I can make a start on all of the dressmaking projects I have in mind!

2. Complete 10 cross stitch projects – Looking back at this, ten projects was probably rather ambitious! At the beginning of the year I was on a bit of a roll and manage to complete 4 projects, which you can see in my 2014 Project Gallery, and at the end of the year I went on to finish my Once Upon A Time Sampler and my Liberty kit, which can be seen in my 2015 Cross Stitch Projects post. I don’t think I completed anything in between that I haven’t included, so I’m going to say that I managed 6, which I don’t actually think is that bad! This year there is no way I will achieve 10 as the projects I am working on are so big. However, if I can finish all of the projects that I have got planned for this year, I will be very happy to call that an achievement.

mothers-day-card

Continue reading

A Crafty-What-Nots Catch Up!

Hello! You might remember from my post back in October, that I was lucky enough to be asked to review the first ever Crafty What Nots Subscription Box. I absolutely adored the first box and, as you can see from my post, it made an absolute tonne of projects! I still have some supplies from that first one left now! I was so in love with that first box that I immediately bought myself a three month subscription. Then, when that ran out…I bought myself another one! There have now been 4 further boxes since my first review, and I wanted to post a quick catch up post showing you what I have made from the last 4 boxes!

Each box comes with some instructions for a couple of projects, plus you also receive an inspiration sheet with some further ideas on, suggesting ways that you can use the supplies in your box. I have always stuck to the safety of the projects with instructions, or the ones on the inspiration sheet as I haven’t got much experience with papercrafts, but that certainly doesn’t make it any less fun!

The first box after the ‘Floral Pavilion’ was a Christmas box! It was ‘Winter Wonderland’ and it has a wonderful  elegant feel with a strong cream and grey colour scheme. As soon as I got home from work I was rummaging around the box and even completed my first project in an hour before my dance class. It was this lovely wire heart with bells and beads; not only does it look really impressive, but it was also really quick and easy to make! My heart is slightly wonky, but it just adds to the handmade feel and it hangs in pride of place in our living room.

Heart

The ‘Winter Wonderland’ box also had the instructions and supplies to make 25 beautiful origami pouches to hang on the tree and use as an advent calendar. Each little pouch will hold a sweet or chocolate and again, they were really straight forward to make but have a wonderful finished look. Me and James made these together and it was so much fun! We didn’t manage to make them before Christmas 2014 but we can’t wait to put them on the tree this year!

Advent Calendar 2

Here is a close-up of one of the pouches…how cute do they look?! Continue reading

Handmade Mother’s Day Presents

I know that Mother’s Day is still a while away (15th March here in the UK) but this year I have decided that I want to make as many gifts as possible, so I made a head start on Mother’s Day back in January! I decided to use Mother’s Day this year as an excuse to try out some new crafts, and the first one that I have been wanting to try for ages was soap making!

Ever since I saw some handmade soaps in one of my craft books I have been meaning to give it a go, and James gave me the perfect chance to try it when it bought me a Kirsty Allsopp soap making kit for Christmas. As soon as we were into the new year and had a free weekend I got out the box, eager to give it a try. The box made a large block of lavender and lemongrass soap, which we were able to cut into 8 bars.

Soap Unwrapped

Making the soap was fun but in the future I may use a pre-made soap base, rather than the chemicals for ease. I know it is cheating but our dining-room table and my skin would probably thank me! It is definitely a craft that I want to explore some more though! I picked out some lovely purple handmade tissue paper to wrap the soaps, tying it with a piece of string. I’m really pleased with how they turned out and I’m sure my Mum will be too! Plus I have plenty of bars to give away for other occasions such as birthdays that we have coming up. Continue reading

Our Valentine’s Weekend!

Hello! Did you all have a lovely Valentine’s weekend?

Because Valentine’s Day was on a Saturday, me and James decided to make the most of it by having a relaxing Valentine’s weekend!

I kicked off my weekend plans by taking a sneaky half day holiday on Friday afternoon to go home and bake James a Valentine’s cake. I bought a wonderful Wilton Heart Tasty Fill Tin Pan Cake Non-Stick Baking Tins Create Filled Cakes to bake a cake with a filled heart shape running round the cake. I opted to make an angel cake, as it is mine and James’s favourite, and filled it with a strawberry marshmallow mousse and covered it in white chocolate butter cream and white chocolate ganache. As I was pushed for time, I didn’t manage to get it looking quite as neat as I wanted, but for what it lacks in presentation, it definitely makes up for in taste! James was really surprised to find a cake waiting for him when he got in!

Cake

The next stage of operation Valentine’s Weekend was to have James’s presents ready and waiting when he got up on Saturday morning. This phase didn’t quite go to plan, as on Friday evening I was exhausted and ended up having an early night, meaning that I had to sneakily (and unsuccessfully) get the presents out of the wardrobe and downstairs at 6:30 on Saturday morning before James woke up. My sneaking skills weren’t up to scratch though and I just ended up waking him up! I did tell him not to look though so that I could still get the presents downstairs without him seeing. This is what he came down to find: Continue reading