Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Things I Loved this Month, December 2014.

December 2014

This month I've loved,

* vegan chocolate advent calendar * taking stuff to the charity shop * broccoli pasta * buying plates with my boyfriend for our new home * Wetherspoons chips and onion bhajis * seeing a live screening of the Crucible at the cinema * new (from the charity shop) shoes and dresses * having my tea cooked for me * watching Torchwood, Agents of SHIELD, Sabrina the Teenage Witch DVD box sets * visit to Sunnycroft to see the Christmas decorations and hear Mum sing carols * Carols in the Square in Shrewsbury * Christmas sleepover at Mum's, complete with a visit from 'Santa' (who looks suspiciously like mum, wearing a red dressing gown and a Santa hat!), lovely presents, spending Christmas morning with my boyfriend, Christmas dinner at my Brothers to play with my nieces, and Christmas night snoozing on Mums sofa in between watching Muppets Christmas Carol, Doctor Who, Miranda, Call the Midwives and Downton Abbey * chocolate hedgehog cake * pringles * Christmas tree shaped crumpets * lots of visits with my nieces, the littlest baby smiles lots and is lovely and cuddly and giggly, the biggest baby is so clever, she has so many words now, I looked after her for a whole morning and she pretty much followed me round the whole time saying 'Hi Zizzy, Hi Zizzy, Hi Zizzy, Hi Zizzy', I love being Auntie Zizzy * a relaxing New Years Eve, all alone, with plans for an early night and to finish off my book *

Hope you've had a great month too!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

What do Vegans Eat? December 2014.

People always ask me 'What do you eat?', so here are a few of the vegan meals I've eaten this month.

What do Vegans Eat?

What do Vegans Eat?

What do Vegans Eat?

These three meals were all eaten when I was at the German Christmas Market in Birmingham.  The top photo shows fried potatoes and mushrooms, which are absolutely delicious.  Then I had a pretzel, also delicious.  Then I had an onion bhaji wrap with balti chips.  The guy at the Indian food stall saw we had bought veggie food, and asked us if we wanted him to change his gloves, then he noticed the bread had a dot of red sauce from the tikka chicken they were also selling, and got us a new one, without us even having to ask.  Very impressed.  It was also delicious.  In fact, I ate the same food from the same stalls last year and couldn't wait to go back and eat them all again this year!

What do Vegans Eat?

Sometimes only a supernoodle will do.  Or an Aldi, 20p, curry noodle in this case.  

What do Vegans Eat?

I live on Aldi dark chocolate reindeer in December.  And I'm not ashamed!

What do Vegans Eat?

What do Vegans Eat?

I tried Violife vegan cheese this month.  I'm not a fan of it melted, it got all stuck to my teeth, but I like it to nibble on or with crackers.  I'm so happy to find vegan cheese that I actually like the taste and texture of! 

What do Vegans Eat?

This is one of my Christmas dinners, I had one cooked by my sister in law, and one by my mum.  Mum made me Linda McCartney Sausages, roast potatoes, stuffing balls, broccoli and cauliflower.  Yum!

Vegans, What did you eat this month?  What did you have for your Christmas dinner?

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Manly Mens Ribbed Crochet Hat.

I crocheted this hat for my boyfriend for Christmas.

Mens ribbed crochet hat free pattern ravelry

It's from the free pattern found here on Ravelry from the blog Eating Out Loud.  I used a 5mm crochet hook and aran weight yarn, the brand is Tivoli and it's a tweedy, wool/acrylic mix.   I used 1 and a bit balls of wool for this. 

Mens ribbed crochet hat free pattern ravelry

Typically, I started crocheting this on the 23rd of December, and finished on Christmas Eve!  The pattern made my brain hurt to read (what do you meean you skip 4 stitches, at one end, every 4 rows?!), but once I'd started it made perfect sense and was a quick and easy pattern to follow.

Mens ribbed crochet hat free pattern ravelry

I've never done a ribbing stitch in crochet before, this one is really easy.  The ribs are made by crocheting into the back loop of each stitch, and it makes a lovely warm, stretchy fabric.

Mens ribbed crochet hat free pattern ravelry

It was funny to make something so black and manly, I love colour and stripes and flowers and pompoms, but I don't think my boy would be very pleased with that!   It was nice to try a new stitch and a new style for once, but I'm back to finishing off my mustard shawl now!

What are you crocheting at the moment?

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Handmade Christmas Cards with Salt Dough Tags.

I made just a few Christmas cards this year, and I'm quite pleased with how they turned out!


I made the salt dough tags with little cutters and pressed in letter stamps for the initials.  I drew the dots on the salt dough with fineliner pens.  The paper in the background is from the Usbourne book 'Christmas Decorations to Cut, Fold and Stick' and I had the cards in my stash (in fact, I didn't buy anything new to make these, I had everything already). 


Then I used a needle to pop a hole where I wanted each salt dough tag to hang, and threaded it through with embroidery thread.


This one with 4 tags on is a little heavy, I don't know how good it's chances are of staying standing up!


Did you make your Christmas cards this year? 

Linking up with Flaunt it Friday

Sunday, 21 December 2014

What I Love about Vegan Life Magazine, Issues 1 and 2. (Review)

Recently I was contacted by Vegan Life magazine, who asked if I would like join in with their blogger community.  I didn't need to be asked twice if I wanted to read a new UK based vegan magazine!

Vegan Life Magazine review Issue 1 and 2

I was surprised by how big and pretty and shiny the magazine is.  There's so much to read and it's really modern and interesting.  I always expect vegan magazines to be like the photocopied pamphlets handed out at the animal rights rallies I used to go to as a teenager, but judging from Vegan Life magazine things have moved on a loooong way since then!  Each issue has over 100 pages of vegan goodness, I squee-d when I read it!

Issue 3 is out soon, but I wanted to share some of my favourite bits from issues 1 and 2

Vegan Life Magazine review Issue 1 and 2

Each issue starts with 'Vegan News', where you can find out all the latest vegan developments (I'm most interested in vegan Quorn products, and the campaign to get IKEA to sell vegan meatballs!).

Vegan Life Magazine review Issue 1 and 2

'How Veganism Changed my Life' seems to be another regular feature, this one is about a vegan personal trainer.

Vegan Life Magazine review Issue 1 and 2

I'd discovered by myself that the Las Iguanas chain of restaurants do a pretty killer vegan menu, so it's nice to read more in depth about the company.

Vegan Life Magazine review Issue 1 and 2

I love a bit of gardening, so I found this article about veganic farming really interesting.

Vegan Life Magazine review Issue 1 and 2

'Vegan Life in...' seems to be another regular feature.  I particularly wanted to read this Birmingham version as I live only a 45 minute train journey away.

Vegan Life Magazine review Issue 1 and 2
 Mmmmmmmm, vegan cupcakes!

Vegan Life Magazine review Issue 1 and 2

This article about raising vegan children was thought provoking.

Vegan Life Magazine review Issue 1 and 2

Vegan Christmas recipes, they all look yummy!

I really think no matter what your interests, so long as they had a vegan-ish slant, you would find something you want to read in this magazine.  There are articles on animals, pets, beauty, recipes, ethical issues, vegan chefs and businesses, travel, foraging, art and loads more. 

Have you tried Vegan Life Magazine?  I'd love to know what you think?  Look out for my review of issue 3 soon!

Disclosure - I have been provided with a free digital subscription to Vegan Life Magazine in return for reviewing this publication.  All opinions are, of course, my own. 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Library Love, Longbourn, Stone Mattress, Virginia Woolf in Manhattan, Chole Tells you how to Sew.

Library Love, Longbourn, Stone Mattress, Virginia Woolf in Manhattan, Chole Tells you how to Sew.  Book reviews.

This month I've been reading, 

Longbourn - Jo Baker
I LOVED this book soo much.  The action takes place in the Bennett household during the same time frame as Pride and Prejudice, but focusing on the experiences of the servants.  It follows the storyline of P & P in the background (which, as a big Jane Austen geek I really liked) but the main focus is on the servants lives, especially as a handsome and mysterious new footman joins the household.

Stone Mattress - Margaret Atwood
This wasn't my favourite Margaret Atwood book, but I think her writing style is so gorgeous I don't think it really matters too much what subject she writes about!  There are 9 short stories in this book, I found some of them quite disturbing, but I think that was the point.

Virginia Woolf in Manhattan - Maggie Gee
I liked the premise of this book, but I found it dragged on a bit, I think it could have easily lost 100 pages and been the better for it.  I liked the three main characters, especially the daughter and I liked imagining what would happen if other famous authors suddenly rematerialised in the modern world. 

Chloe Tells you how to Sew - Chloe Owens
This book is soo pretty, it's lovely to look at.  There are only a couple of projects I would actually want to make, and I think the child's magazine annual style makes it more suitable for children than adults, but it's cute all the same.

What have you been reading?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Winter Balcony, December 2014.

Even though it's December, I still have a few summer flowers on my balcony, as well as the purple, winter flowering pansies I planted.

Winter balcony garden.

Winter balcony garden.

Winter balcony garden.

Winter balcony garden.
I even have some rainbow chard growing.  I sowed it from seed about 6 weeks ago, I hope it won't suffer if we get a frost.

Winter balcony garden.

How do your gardens grow?

Sunday, 7 December 2014

My Frugal, Penny Jar Challenge. The end.

Do you remember my penny jar from here (and here)? 

My frugal, penny jar challenge.

I counted out all my pennies and I have £41.37.

It's not quite the £70 I was aiming for, but who can complain about having £40 extra just from clearing out your purse every day!

I will split it in two, and take half of the pennies to the supermarket this month and half next, to help pay for my festive shopping.

I will definitely save my pennies up next year too.

Have you been saving for Christmas?  How has it gone?

Friday, 5 December 2014

Easy Eco Actions, December 2014.

Here's my round up of easy, eco friendly actions for this month, 

Add your name to WWF's campaign to stop the use of illegally supplied wood, that damages forests.

Sign Friends of the Earth's petition for a strong 'Robin Hood Tax', for big businesses to pay more taxes to go towards tackling poverty and climate change. 

Use the RSPB's online form to email your MP to ask them to support the 'Nature and Wellbeing Act'

Sign this petition to prevent Shell drilling in the Arctic

If you have any causes or actions to add then let me know in the comments and if I like it I'll add it in.  And feel free to share any of this info (or the whole post) wherever and with whoever you like - if you sign any of the petitions and use social media then please consider using the share on facebook or twitter options that pop up, it increases the reach of these actions and awareness of these issues even further.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Snowman Swap Yarnbomb.

This year I took part in a snowman swap! 

crochet snowman yarnbomb #snowmanswap

We each had to crochet or knit a snowman, were paired up with a partner from around the world, then posted our snowmen to each other.  We then yarnbombed our swapped snowmen somewhere around our towns on the 1st of December.

crochet snowman yarnbomb #snowmanswap

As well as being fun, the snowmen are all wearing a red ribbon for World Aids Day.

crochet snowman yarnbomb #snowmanswap

I made my snowman from 2 strands of yarn held together, and crocheted with a 4mm hook.  I made him freehand, and stuffed him with some old plastic packaging to give him shape. 

This is the snowman I received, from Vanessa in Essex.  I think he is very spiffing.    

crochet snowman yarnbomb #snowmanswap

I put my snowman in Wellington Peace Garden, a community garden outside the library where I work.  The little white sign I put him in front of says 'May all beings everywhere be happy, peaceful and free', which I think is lovely.  I did take a cable tie with me to attach my snowman to the wooden sign, but the ground was all muddy so I chickened out!

crochet snowman yarnbomb #snowmanswap

You can check out all the other swapped snowmen on The Craft Club's Facebook page.