Thursday, 29 September 2016

Blogger, why are you messing with my head?

I keep writing posts at blogger, and changing them, and having multiple posts show up in my post shelf, some of which are on the blog and some of which aren't. I am not a happy bunny. And it's not just this blog; I run Peter's blog on Blogger as well, and Sarah has started a blog to run alongside her business GCSE project. And they are all playing the same game with me; every blinking draft I write gets stored on the post index. I need to take a closer look at the settings. There must be something I've fiddled with.

Anyhoo. On to business. How are you all? I am well, thank you, and working hard. We have a case management system which I haven't been able to use until today... and now I have a log in and all of a sudden Peter's come over all efficient and telling me to do stuff like payment letters and requests for medical records. Honestly, you'd think he pays me to do his donkey work...... oh, wait... yes, actually he does. And the promise of a cut of any profits at some undefined future date. This time next year, my son....

But for now I'm still safe squeezing out a minute or ten to write my own stuff. I'm enjoying writing about hygge and there are a few posts up on my hygge blog that I shall draw your attention to later. But it strikes me that this big fuss about hygge has passed craft bloggers by mostly, and for good reason. Many of the blogs I read and follow instinctively practise hygge anyway. Y'all keep house with the idea that the family come first, and that the little things in life are worth a million. You celebrate having cosy houses and cosy crafts and there is so much calm chilled-ness in my corner of the blogosphere that it is wonderful. I'm enjoying experiencing the feeling that although we never had a name for it, it's something we already do.

How's my week? Well, I'm stuck on my crochet. I had a sore hand a couple of weeks ago that was really painful, and my joints were aching, so I stopped for a while, which is a real pity because my daughter has asked me to make something especially for her. It is a.... (wait for it....)

Mermaid's Tail. They're big at the moment. And we had the wool because the blanket for her bed that I started last year was so boring, I never did more than 10 rows. I frogged it and started again. It's not much further on than this photo which was taken back at the start of September, but when it's finished it will look like this;

The mermaid's tail pattern is from Yarnutopia, who also has a handy Youtube video that you can watch for more hints. I'm using stylecraft DK, instead of aran weight mostly because I didn't have the cash to splash on aran and I did have a pile of DK wool sitting around in all sorts of fishy sea sort of colours. I'm using two strands together and a nice thick hook, so it's really warm and cosy. Very hyggeligt!

And that's actually really about it. I never realised that full time work was so full time! I still have a couple of tuition lessons to do as well, and with a house to ignore it's just work, work, work. Still really enjoying it, though. It's never boring.

If you'd like to read more about hygge and the hygge sensation that's sweeping the nation, then please head over to How To Hygge the British Way. I tend to be a little more regular there (while it's new and I'm building it up). Recent posts have been;

A review of The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

Why every town needs a Hygge Ambassador (and why we'd be perfect for the job!)

I write this with my woolly tights on... about how hygge doesn't cost megabucks. It's not a shopping list to buy, it's a life list to be.

And Season of Mists and Mellow Hyggeness about Autumn and how good Autumn hygge can be. I'm looking forward to writing the posts about Winter hygge, Christmas hygge and all the other hygges that you will nod and go, "Yes, we do that already" to. Please pop by and read, and comment here or there if you like, and comment if you don't. I don't mind criticism. It's part of my world.

And please do find me on social media;
Instagram as britishhyggejem
Twitter as @AngelKneale
Pinterest as Jo Kneale or angeljem5
It would be lovely to hear from you all over the place!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The theme for my Yarndale this year was...

It's funny how you can have waves of shopping, isn't it? There was a year when everything I got was black... or red... or had squares or circles on it. I took Sarah off to Yarndale again this year, so I suppose it shouldn't have been too surprising when the shopping ended up having a common theme to it.

But first... Yarndale.

Sarah and I were both shattered after a week in school/work (and following on from a weekend away last week) so we cancelled the planned weekend away. We were due to Yarndale (that's a verb, it means spending time browsing yarn and stroking a lot of alpaca) yesterday, but had a pootling day at home instead. My living room is clean and smells nice again now. That only lasts until tomorrow, when the guineas will do their worst.

So we decided that today was the day. We were up and out at 10.30, and at Skipton for 12.30. Last year we went on the Saturday and it was packed, like standing room only packed. The fact that we drove straight into the Skipton building society and got parked really close to the bus should have told me that today was different.

Please don't go to Yarndale on  the Sunday ever, ever, ever. It's quieter, has a nicer feel and demands less elbows and shoving to get to where you want. Also, the roads are clearer and we can get there and back within the three hours and a half it takes to watch Muppets' Christmas Carol and The Holiday. We borrowed Peter's car and my phone connected to his car via Bluetooth so I could listen to the films as we travelled. I have to say, the Muppets' Christmas Carol works in the audio version as well, which might be a sign of watching it too much.

I have had a lovely time, I have hugged The Lucy of Attic 24 fame, hugged Christine of Winwick Mum (who only actually lives 10 miles away from me!)

and seen Janie Crowfoot who RECOGNISED ME!!! I have been recognised by a crochet Goddess, people; I am nearly famous! Woohoo!

And I have spent all my money (again) on blue wool and owls. I had Sarah with me, so the owls were a given and most of the purchases were for her anyway, so the blue wool made sense as well. I apologise for the quality of some of the photos but I'm keen to get them on the interweb.

So, top row from the top left we have;
L: Blue wool 80% superfine merino and 20% alpaca Plump DK in Bonbon from Mrs Moon. This is so soft and destined to be a pair of fingerless owl mittens for Sarah.
M:  Handmade buttons from Injabulo. They stock handmade baskets and ceramic buttons, and we (The Sarah and I) couldn't resist these owl buttons. We don't even know what we're going to do with them.
R: A random Yarndale shot. You can see from this that it was much quieter today, because you can see the stalls.
Middle row L to R
L: The cards and business cards we collected.
M: Drops Nepal from a random yarn stall... that sounds terrible; we saw, we bought and we never looked to see who we were buying from, so this link is to Wool Warehouse!
R: Stitch Markers from Watercolours and Lace. These are actually destined to become earrings, since Sarah and I both have pierced ears and a need for more earrings.
Bottom row L to R
L: Lucy and me. She smiled all day long. Her feet must have been killing her, and all she did was smile. It was lovely to see. She well deserves a rest for a week and a lot of praise for a good event.
M: More stitch markers (again destined to be earrings)
R; 70% wool, 20% silk, 10% cashmere yarn from Triskellion Yarns in Wales. This colourways is called Cove, but I can't see it on their website. I want to make a scarf for me, but I only got one skein and I hope I can find a simple, effective and fast pattern that hooks up fast.

We parked for £2.50 for the day, which goes to charity via Rotary which is excellent value and good to feel that the cash goes to a good cause. With £3 meal deals from Morrisons, we had a really good, cheap day with all the spare cash spent on wool etc. I'm looking forward to next year already, and planning what I need and what I'll want. And a massive thank you goes out to my handsome husband who let me take his car for the day. Not only did it have diesel in the tank, but it connects to my phone via Bluetooth so Sarah was happily occupied there and back again with Christmas movies, giving me the excuse to pop in a gratuitous Christmas picture just because I can.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

I spent my pocket money. All of it. And it was good.

At the Handmade Fair there were lots of small, contagious objects that caught my fancy. If I could have, I would have bought loads of trinkets and doo-dahs, but neither my purse nor my house will support uninhibited spending.

So I set a limit and did my best to walk around and see everything before I bought; with the exception of Sally's Shed. I'd looked at these on t'internet before and loved them. In reality they were even cuter than I thought and I couldn't resist a couple... or it may have been three. They look lovely lined up on my mantelpiece, but they are destined to go on my dresser which is getting quite a homey theme going on.

I love pinning inspirational quotes on Pinterest so I loved the range of cards by Rachel Seymour. I love this quote. We should all take time to do this.

It was a Handmade Fair and I knew I wanted to bring something to do home. When I saw these kits from Corinne Lapierre I just had to have the owls for Sarah and then the angels for me (there was an offer on for 2 kits; it was a bargain)

And more felty goodness fell into my bag at Amica Accessories, where I had a really good chat with the stall holders about the relative merits of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This felty little fellow will have to be the representative of out holidays this year, since this is actually as far as we're likely to get. We didn't even make it to Wales this year! So I'll sew the year onto his chest and remember the summer when  I had no holiday, but plenty to do.

And I couldn't resist the redwork decorations on Dandelion Designs. I'll be making them before the day itself, but whether that's 2016 or 2017 I can't say. Is that enough? I can't think I got anything else. I had, after all, to save some spends for Yarndale next week.

And, completely off topic, can I send you Through the Keyhole, where Jo is running the 12 Days of Christmas Swap again. I know I loved taking part last year, although my posting after Christmas was so bad I don't think I even put the pictures of the box up. It was a fun experience and I am signed up already.

Monday, 19 September 2016

London is the Place for Me; Handmade fair, Kirstie Allsopp and Hygge.

This weekend Mr Angel Jem (OK, Peter of Peter Kneale Solicitor. Let's not pretend anymore) had a day's training to do in London of all places. Would I like to go to? It would mean I was all alone.... in London... all Saturday.
Would I like to go???? I don't think I have said YES!! quite as quickly or enthusiastically as since he proposed, and I'm ashamed to say I may have been a little more emphatic about it. I was absolutely happy about the idea of a day alone in London anyway since my little jaunt for The Chase last June which I very naughtily never blogged about! I was quite happy with the idea of just sauntering around and watching the world when I found out that The Handmade Fair was on just the weekend I was there.

I like Kirstie Allsopp anyway. Her programmes are fun to watch, and what she can do with a junk pile is nobody's business. I signed up, dressed up and went.

On the advice of my husband, I wore a summer dress. Big mistake. Although on the Thursday I would have fried in my dress, by the Saturday when I went it was freezing down at Hampton Court so my first purchase made at Kings Cross was a rather cute Lily Ribbed Scarf from Accessorize. That's about the last sensible thing I bought all day.

I don't mind being alone at events like this, it means I'm not constantly deferring to somebody else's ideas or wants. I can be completely selfish and just do what suits me. I know what crafts I like, and I can just head straight for the sewing/crochet/painting/dollmaking/christmas/christmas/christmas without someone else wanting to go anywhere else.

It also means that at dinner and break times (I still think too like a teacher at the moment, don't I?) I can talk to other people. I spoke to several nice ladies all different ages, jobs and roles in life, all of whom were happy to talk to the mad, fat lady on her own. A smile is the best thing to wear at all times.

What's that you say? What did I buy? Later... possibly tomorrow. I need to unpack it and photograph it. Let me tell you the rest of my story.

I paid for the Full Experience ticket, at around £30. It included a Super Theatre event, and two workshops. You could choose which events to go to, so when I booked there was a lot of umming and ahhing as I decided.

My Super Theatre Event was Kirstie talking to Amelia Freer, a supernutritionist. I had her book already, but I am more convinced than ever to give it a go, having seen how much better Kirstie is looking on the plan. It's a healthy, gluten free, sugar free plan. I've been writing the shopping list today and it's doable, especially with a spiraliser and a Nuitribullet. This was my one chance to see Kirstie all day, but since I was the third person in and sat on the second row (first row was reserved for VIP people only) I did get a very good look at her!

She talks on stage just the way she does on TV and I think that's probably how she talks in real life. I do know she answers her tweets quickly and is very polite, even when people are rude about her. (I wasn't, of course!)

I had paella for lunch and a liquid afternoon tea, in the form of a French 77 cocktail. It has pomegranate syrup in it and was very yummy!

There were two workshops, one before and one after Afternoon Fizz. I made a brooch and a tasselled necklace. You can see the brooch above, with the cocktail. It's very pretty and will just go well with my jade coat, once I get it cleaned. I'm after wool from Yarndale for a scarf as well, but that's next week's adventure.
Click on the picture to visit Amica Accessories; cute felt Christmas wonderfulness!

I spent any spending money I had in two great big shopping marquees. I could have wandered for hours, looking at all the things. I took a couple of photographs, but other stalls were just too busy later in the day to get near.

Sally's Shed does beautiful painted houses; again, click the picture to go through!

The makers were mostly very nice and welcoming. I'm on a promise to Joe's Toes to take my cash and get felt slippers from Yarndale next week, but I need to raid a few piggy banks first! I browsed felt makers, glass painters... every craft going. I stayed away from the yarn stalls, mostly, because next week is Yarndale and I will be going again. But it was a cracking day out.

Would I go again? Yes, if it were part of something. I don't think I'd go just for the event, but if it was a weekend away with Sarah or Peter's training, then yes I would.

Was the Full Experience Ticket worth it? I think so; the fact that you had three experiences pre-booked and ready to do meant that the day had a shape to it. I also booked my programme in advance, which was fun. And the Super Theatre was the only chance to see Kirstie close up. I don't know what she spent the rest of her days doing, but I never saw her again.

The rest of my weekend was brilliant as well, but that's my lunch hour gone. I'll have to tell you more next time. Only enough time now to say pop on over to How to Hygge the British Way where I have a new post, Hygge in the Big City about finding hygge in London. What do you think of Kirstie? Is she like Marmite in your house? And would you travel far for a craft event? What's the furtherest event you've been to? (either accidentally or on purpose)

Monday, 12 September 2016

Hygge. I eat, sleep and read hygge.

I am loving the slew of hygge books that fell through my postbox last week. From the first day of September onwards I have been busy reading about and thinking through how to make my home hyggelig and ready for the A word and the W word before the C word strikes.

Do you hygge? 

I love it. It's like the fanciest comfy-cosy-safe-together idea I know. And untranslatable. But then, they said the same of pyjamas and bungalow, and all we Brits did was use the word and eventually just think they were our idea in the first place. 

I am a big hygge fan (you'd never guess) and since everyone else will now understand what I mean when I say let's hygge, I am going to use the word as much as possible as many times as possible as many places as possible.

Let's Hygge the British way

How to Hygge the British way
Click on the picture to go to the site.

My new baby. I haven't had a thing I feel so positive about since last week, when I did the SEO for Peter Kneale Solicitor and he jumped from page 8 for 'no win no fee solicitor Liverpool' to page 4. It's a start.
The new blog is going well, three posts already and I still haven't established what I want to do with the blog for the year. I suppose I really want to take the elements of hygge that are most Danish and find an equivalent in British culture. So, for example, the beautiful snowy white Danish throws would be handmade crochet blankets.... coffee becomes tea; that's the idea. And on the way I'll talk about how creating a hyggelig life is actually a search for contentment and we Brits have been doing it all along, just never given it a name.

The Little Book of Hygge

I'm still heavily into the research element at the moment. That means a lot of reading. I finished this little baby of a book at the weekend;

and loved it. Meik Wiking was on Saturday Live on Radio 4 last Saturday (10th September) and I still have to go back and listen to it. The book is very well written, a combination of  manifesto and method. It goes into the why of hygge, why people need it and why it's so big in Denmark, and then the how. How nature helps, how candles are a must and how different places can lead to different styles of hygge. The quality of the paper (yes, I know that sounds weird) is excellent, a really beautiful texture and scent, while the illustrations in the blue, gold and yellow strike a beautiful balance of modern and traditional. I really want the manifesto in poster form on my wall. I must photograph it and share it; you'll see what I mean.

And the week begins....

So, there's my week planned, reading and living hyggelig. What are you up to? Are you crafting? Working? Sleeping? Let me know, and I'll be popping over to have a hyggelig time with you x

Friday, 9 September 2016

Film on Friday; The Relaunch

Golly! I haven't had a regular system (again!) for ages. Work, it's the bane of the working classes.
Anyhoo, I'm working in an office with a computer and plenty of time between clients to be able to spend some time doing stuff for me. I'm only paid part time at the moment and working full time, so we came to an agreement; rather than me feel ill used, I could work on a side hustle. Don't worry, Angel Jem's City Cottage is not my side hustle, but my retreat. My side hustle is or will be a new blog called How to Hygge The British Way. It'll be a more polished, monetised, affiliate linked blog when it's up and running; and it's specifically about trying to get a lot more hygge and Danish style living into my life. I know I like a lot of Danish things and I may be the only person who looks at the 10th circle of hell that is Ikea with pleasure, so why not spend a year of my life living Danishly... in Britain. Is it possible? Can we really hygge the life out of Life? I don't know! But I'm going to try.

But back to today. Film on Friday. After all this time. Hello, how are you all? I have watched loads of movies and never ever ever posted about them. Well, I am doing now. Today's film is an oldie but a goody from the mid nineties. No surprise, it's about lawyers and was first published on the firm blog in a slightly different form. You can read that review at Peter Kneale Solicitor's review of A Time To Kill.

When John Grisham published his first book, A Time to Kill, in 1988 he was working 60 or 70 hour weeks as a criminal and personal injury lawyer in Mississippi. He was inspired to write his first book after witnessing the testimony of a twelve-year old rape victim and wondering what would have happened if her father had set out to murder her attackers in revenge. He wrote before work and during lunchtimes and, after several rejections, A Time to Kill was published in the USA in 1988 and in the UK a year later. His second book, The Firm, set him on the path to global stardom, being made into a film with Tom Cruise. I love The Firm, but I'll talk about that another day.

Jake Brigance is a 32 year old lawyer, happily married with a 4 year old daughter and a beautiful old house he is fixing up. At the start of the story he is a real, down to earth character, a lawyer who mixes with the ordinary folk, rather than seeking out and sticking with high-falutin' professionals. I think there's a lot of John Grisham in him, since this character, the accessible and human lawyer who has great sympathy with his fellow man, surfaces again and again and again.

When the young black girl is raped by white supremacists and her father seeks out Jake to ask if there would be any chance of the men getting off due to the area they live in, Jake knows his first duty is to warn the father, Carl Lee, not to do anything stupid, although his own, instinctive response would be to go after them himself. When Carl Lee does shoot them outside the court house, Jake knows he has to represent him. The film is about how making that decision puts Jake and his family in real trouble.

Jake faces setback after setback, with warnings and towns people refusing to talk to him, attacks on his car and dog and the burning down of his home. His family have to move out, and he has to work on through all the pressure.

The characters in the film are interesting, and there are a host of good actors in it. Kevin Spacey in an early film role as the District Attorney stands out as one, but there are many more.

Jake's silent partner, Lucius Willbanks is a disbarred alcoholic lawyer who could have done so much better.... but never found the strength to deny the bottle long enough. He's played by Donald Sutherland, who has to be one of my favourite actors. No matter if the film is bad, he always seems to pull out a scene stealing performance (see Pride and Prejudice 2005 to see what I mean!)

Samuel L Jackson as the accused, Carl Lee, is another barnstorming actor. He makes Carl Lee's actions perfectly understandable and even condonable given the acts committed on his daughter.

Matthew McConaughey's nickname is Mr Mahogany, but he is far from wooden here.

I won't spoil the story by giving out the ending. The book is really good, and one I like to listen to on Audible over and over. A Time to Kill, the film, made in 1996 and directed by Joel Schumacher, is an enjoyable watch. Starring Samuel L Jackson as Carl Lee and Matthew McConaughey as Jake, it shows the tensions and plot twists well. I expect you can actually guess the ending anyway. The plot has lots to say about racial tension, about injustices due to race, and about how some parts of America had (have?) massive problems with how different races are kept apart even without official apartheid and can't seem to just get along. It got a fair degree of discussion going in our house, about what we would do in any situation like this, and whether revenge is better than justice, or should The Law be trusted to be fair.

Jake makes an interesting hero for a lawyer because he is so patently not the city slicker, sharp suited lawyer type, not out to make money or a name for himself, and not out to be top dog in a large firm. He works with the small people of the town, and is happy to live a small life. His aim is to get by, without making so much that he looks grand and without making so little that he can't survive. He has a great affinity for the other inhabitants of town, and does what he can to help them out. In many ways he is the archetypal small town lawyer that sits at the side of other crime novels while the heroes go about their business, but moved to centre stage and kept as the focus. It's the only Grisham (I think) to have a central character that he re-introduces in a second novel, Sycamore Row, set 3 years later although surprisingly written 25 years later.

Click here to  read Den of Geeks' review of A Time to Kill, the movie.
The DVD of A Time To Kill is available from Amazon if you click on the name.
The paperback is available at most bookstores  and a Kindle version is available from Amazon here;

Thursday, 8 September 2016

My House- Matilda the Musical

Today is my second payday as an Office Ninja, so time for a Payday Treat. This month's was easy; for 99p at Amazon you can have this little beauty. Listen, cry and love what must surely be a totally hyggelig song. This is my house. It isn't much, but it is enough for me.