Read 2014 – The Scent of the Night by Andrea Camilleri

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Book number fifteen this year. That’s not so good but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Since I finished the last book I have picked a couple of part read novels but didn’t manage to get to the end of either. So last week I needed to start afresh and picked this from the pile I bought from Barter Books in March.

I’ve read two of the series of novels about Inspector Montalbalno before and thought they were okay.

I think this was my favourite of the three. The story was intriguing and pulled you in, I was now familiar with the recurring characters and I think the book was shorter than the previous ones. His writing seemed different somehow, or the translation? Either way I enjoyed it and if I stumbled on another in a charity shop would definitely buy.

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Bloom 3.0 – White magic

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There is something truly amazing about white flowers. I don’t think they are my all time favourites but in a little arrangement like this they are perfect.

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We have Phlox (from Gav’s white boarder, don’t tell him…..) A few white poppies emerged from the sad looking plants so I picked them quick to enjoy, nicotiana, gaura flower spikes from a plant Gav bought the other week (don’t tell him that either……) a few nigella seed heads and the wonderful cosmos.

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So glad I managed to combine these perfect white flowers together.

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Photo a Day – week twenty four

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I don’t think I’ve introduced Ruby. No, not ours, but my younger nephews new pooch. Cute and naughty about fifteen weeks old.

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Waiting to pick up the holiday makers. I was parked near the airport waiting for the call that they had landed. It’s a tradition (in our family anyway) that in recent years we don’t go into Leeds Bradford airport car park because they charge a fortune even if you are just dropping off. You’ll find cars just hovering about all round the site just waiting for the call from their loved ones.

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We can’t get enough of these frappuccinos, even Gav likes them. Oh, and note the chocolate on my chin, nice……

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Sunshine found.

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My first attempt at quesadillas. More cheese needed next time!

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Work in progress.

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For Agatha fans you’d have thought we would have been to see this play before now. But  The Mousetrap is touring and showing right here in Leeds so it was the perfect excuse for my sister and I to go and see history play out before our very eyes. And it was excellent.

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And that was the week in photos.

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A trip to the seaside

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I couldn’t believe how long ago it was that Gav and I last visited Scarborough.

All this summer I have had wanted to drive out to the coast and last Monday we did just that.

It was Bank Holiday Monday so rather than get caught in traffic jams we set off very late in the afternoon and successfully avoided any queuing cars.

We watched the sea splash.

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Bud felt like climbing walls just because he could.

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Found quaint narrow streets.

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Pondered taking the pooch on the funicular….

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But walked up the steps instead.

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Remembered sitting on these in years gone by.

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And indulged in my very favourite ice cream from here. (Put your sunglasses on before visiting the web site… you have been warned.)

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A whistle stop visit but worth every moment, even the climb up those steps to town.

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30 Vegetarian Pizza’s – Artichoke, Sweetcorn and Black Olive

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First of all apologies for the worst photo ever! But I was loosing the light so it’s all I got.

Anyway this was another success in flavour combination for our fifteenth pizza. All strong but worked very well together. And I adore artichoke, so I devour any dish that includes this treat.

Again the usual sauce and cheese, we will change it up one of these days. The trouble is when we know we have a perfect combination of sauce and cheese (in our opinion anyway) we are reluctant to mess with it!

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Photo a Day – week twenty three

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One of the good things about these photos is capturing the little things in the background of a photo. Most of the time I ‘tidy’ the shot up but sometimes taking real life is a must. Like in the first shot, my cereal bowl just sat there on the edge of the table and in the other one of the coffee table I’ve captured all the stuff that lives there mess and all. Anyway, here we go.

Someone’s been covering up the dog again…

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Any danger these might go red?

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Fried egg sandwich for breakfast and looking through the Sarah Raven catalogue.

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Making pitta bread.

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The ipod plugged in playing Midlake at full blast, wearing my favourite summer shoes and another of those Mocha Fappuccinos waiting for me to enjoy. Just about as happy as I could be to say I was going to work.  (I did pull over to take this shot by the way.)

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Making lemon and herb ‘dressing’ for pasta.

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The sweet peas are reaching for the stars.

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Okay. There goes another week.

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Bloom 3.0 – Calendula and cornflowers (again!)

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I am a big fan of Calendula. Love love love it. Usually I grow ‘Indian prince’ but somehow this year and last the seed packet was a mix of yellow and orange blooms. Yellow is not my favourite colour but since it was there growing away I have been picking it and using it in arrangement’s all summer. I think it goes particularly well in this little vase.

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Also here are sweet peas, salvia and cornflowers, all in shades of lilac and blue. The foliage is Choisya ternata and mint. I needed to cut back the plants we had growing in pots to encourage new growth to keep us supplied in mint for a couple more months and you know I never waste greenery. I thought it would add a little spiky height to this arrangement and it has given me ideas about growing mint specifically to cut for arrangements.

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And above is a close up of a beautiful bud from one of the Vanilla Ice sunflower’s just waiting to open up.

A sunny little bunch for a dreary and cold week here in Leeds.

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Adventures in weaving

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It seems to be everywhere at the moment. Or am I late to the party? Probably. I first saw some weaving over here and she has done a couple more since that one. Then I saw it over on Pinterest but I kept telling myself, no, no, no! I can’t start another hobby.

But the weekend before last, I gave in and made a mini weaving. Crazily I went for a very complicated design.

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I love the silver and the beads but it is a total mess on the back and took hours and hours to finish, in fact I nearly threw it in the garden I was so frustrated trying to get it off my cardboard frame. But I persevered.

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It was inspired by this one. Hmm… not the same at all but a first attempt.It still is sitting there waiting for me to try and make it wearable by neatening all those loose bits. Hmm this one might never get to that stage but I gave it a go and loved doing it and it brought back memories of my childhood when I owned a little loom. Yes, I have done pretty much every crafty thing in my time.

As last week wore on I spent many an hour researching weaving online, watching tutorials and reading some blog posts. I still didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing but I was itching to do another one so got started.

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I cut notches in the top of the little loom and wound the ebroidery floss right around the cardboard loom. I tucked the ends into extra notches to hold the thread in place while I weaved. (I borrowed that great big needle from my Mums sewing tin. It was a joy in itself searing through years and years of sewing stuff.)

Some of the tutorials said to start the thread at the middle string others started at the edge I decided to start in the middle but would try at the edges next time.

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I was going to do simple back and forth, under, over, under, over with no pattern after my first over complicated attempt but I didn’t stick with  my own plan…

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To mix the colours together you weave to the middle with one colour on the right and then weave to the middle with the second colour on the left side. You slot the left colours in between rows of the other colour as you go. (Sorry v.bad explanation!)

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I used some bakers twine after the dark brown embroidery floss and finished the piece off with a length of chunkier twine I had lying about. The twine was harder to handle but I loved the contrasting texture.

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Then came the scary bit. Cutting the weaving off the loom.

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I cut through the middle of the threads on the back side of the weaving and unhooked the top from the nothches.

Now the fiddly part. Getting it all secured and neat. There were so many variations online about how to do this so I gave up looking and just winged it with what felt easiest to do. I won’t lie. This par of the process is time consuming but important because you don’t want it all to fall to bits after your hard work.

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Starting at the top I tied the first and second threads together, then the third and fourth and so on. Then the bottom strings. By knotting the threads together you secure the weft threads in place.

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I found a sturdy piece of thread to use as the ‘chain’ part of the necklace and tied the top strings to it and then added a bead to the bottom strings to help the design and also help it hang better.

And here it is.

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It probably took three hours start to finish but that’s okay because it is sooooo cute! I even got the thumbs up from Gav. I know this weaving thing hasn’t run it’s course with me yet. Maybe a wall hanging next….

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It makes my heart sing

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It makes my heart sing that she want’s to hold my hand. It makes my heart sing that she wants to spend time with us. It makes my heart sing when I hear her practice the piano with Gav or their banter out in the garden. It makes my heart sing when she asks me to read a bedtime story. It makes my heart sing when we laugh till we cry together. It makes my heart sing every second I spend with her.

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Bloom 3.0 – update in August

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We have had a spell of very wet and windy weather in the last 2 weeks which is too depressing for words after the good summer so far. Just before the change in the temperature I had noticed that my little patch was looking rather sad for itself. The poppies had gone brown and stopped flowering and the ammi had given up too. And there I was so pleased with myself for the great flower production so far. It is a learning curve indeed.

The cornflowers are going okay though and the cosmos are just coming into their own and  the lovely sunflower vanilla ice is coming along so production and arranging should last a few more weeks at least.

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A couple of things come to mind as I consider the reasons for this downturn apart from the weather. The first on is that I should have been feeding the plants. It’s taken many long years but I finally accept that feeding plants is a must if you want to increase volume and longevity. The second is why didn’t I stagger the sowing and planting out? If I had sown the self same plants 6 weeks later than the batch in the ground the second lot would just be getting going now.

Things to definitely remember for next year.

I thought I would finish off this post with my best plant this year. For its repeat flowering, good vase life and goes with most of the other colours in the patch the hands down winner is Salvia viridis.

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In past years I have grown the blue but this year got hold of a multi coloured packet. There was pink and white as well as the blue in the mix. The other colours didn’t do as well as the trusty blue but were still good performers.  The blue version has featured in seven arrangements and it still going strong out there.

I can’t pick a runner up because I love all the others equally! But I am so glad I went back to cornflowers or Centaurus this year. They have been great as well.

I have another post planned with ideas of what I will grow next year based on the success, or otherwise, of this years choices and I am excited to start planning. I know, we haven’t even got leaves falling yet (thank goodness) and I’m on to the next thing…..

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