Category Archives: 52 Books

Here I will post a bit more about the books I find really interesting and noteworthy in my 52 books this year challenge.

Book Challenge Update

This year I set myself the challenge of reading what I had left unread on my shelf (as well as whatever new books may appear from time to time).

I had a small list of 13 (although some are REALLY long books like War and Peace or Vanity Fair). So far I have managed 6, so that’s roughly half. I have been knitting and crocheting like mad, started a new job and what not, so reading has taken a bit of a back burner, although it does come in fits and starts (3 books one week and then none for a month).

I have read the following:

  • The Return of the Native   JANUARY 2017
  • Women in Love   JANUARY 2017
  • The Riddle of the Sands JANUARY 2017
  • 20000 Leagues Under the Sea FEBRUARY 2017
  • Daniel Deronda   APRIL 2017
  • Cross Stitch   MAY 2017
  • Anna Karenina
  • Ivanhoe
  • War and Peace
  • Rob Roy
  • Vanity Fair
  • The Woman in White
  • The Mill on the Floss

(As well as 84 Charing Cross Road, Goodbye Things and a re-read of The Gunslinger).

Cross Stitch (Outlander in the US) by Diana Gabaldon was finished today, it has taken me almost 2 years to read (sorry Lizzie!). It’s about a 1940’s nurse who time travels in Scotland by about 200 years. I liked it, but I didn’t love it, I don’t know why. Maybe because there was so much left unexplained, like what happened to her husband in the present. Maybe there could have been more focus on how she got there and how she gets back and other women who it had happened to (yes, I know you see Geillie but who else?). It was well written and in an easy to read style, but still, I felt something was missing. Maybe I am being overly fussy and pedantic – who me?!!

I think I might read Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood next, yes it’s not on the list, but at only 7 to go, I think I have time for this challenge to be completed this year!

Hmm, need another trip to the library soon I think! Have a Happy Thursday, Ellen x


Knits and Bits

Now that I have all that technical wisdom stuff out of my system, I can get back to what I have been up to.

Making Mozzarella Cheese

Christmas 2015 – my parents bought me a cheese making set to make either mozzarella or ricotta (you provide the milk and there’s enough rennet and citric acid to make 10 batches). I think they got it from Steamer Trading which sells kitchen stuff in the UK but here is a link to the actual cheese company’s website.

The kit has lain around the house in various places and it’s only now I got the oomph to make it (with a little help from my lovely assistant aka mum). It was quite easy to do too although I didn’t really take a lot of pics and document the whole process as a lot of it is literally looking at milk! In the picture below my balls of cheese are in ice water cooling down and the white stripe across the pic is the reflection of the light above! Just in case you were wondering…don’t think you were, but anyway. I also added a few chilli flakes to a few balls so we will see how they turn out.


Knitted Spring Bunting

Just got one more triangle to do, weave in ends and make a long strip to attach them to and hang up, also they are quite twisted so will need blocking first. I think I am going to go down the edge them with crochet route so that should help them stop curling too. I changed my mind slightly on colours, sticking with 4 triangles of 3 colours – pink, yellow and green. I was going to do light blue as well but decided it just didn’t fit. Also I may do the strip in blue to denote the sky! And since I had to throw 3 triangles away after realising I had done them in 4mm needles and not 5mm ones….this project has taken longer than it should have!


New stuff

Yesterday bought Let’s Knit magazine and a few more stitch holders since mine has gone walkabouts. The knitting mag came with a free crochet pattern mag and I actually like a few patterns from here, so not a bad buy I think!

The stitch holders were from Wilkos which I never think about for knitting supplies.



Mollie Makes

Magazine through the post today, will look at later. 🙂



I am reading Daniel Deronda at the moment, tried to get into it a couple of years ago but lost the will, so am trying again. Of the 13 books in my Read What You Have Challenge in the pages above I have now read 4 so only 9 to go! Most are classics which as we all know are never a quick read, especially when, with some of them it’s a case of here is a paragraph. Three pages later the paragraph has ended. The style of the writing itself can make a book very hard to read, even though the story may be fantastic.

I am also having a look at the ones below. Coz I have a whole shelf of crafty books. And sometimes we just need pictures!


Using up my stash

The only problem with knitting magazines is that a lot of the time for me the free gifts are either naff or just what I wouldn’t make. So I had LOADS of leftover yarn and nothing to do with them. Finally decided to make a few knitted squares as I think I showed you in a previous post somewhere and some crochet granny squares which are a heck of a lot quicker to make. Will darn in the ends and maybe find a charity to donate to or make something simple, don’t know yet, just wanted the pile of tiny balls gone!



And it has suddenly got REALLY dark and rainy now. I’m British, so a dark overcast afternoon means only one thing – time for a brew! 🙂

Book Challenge Update

Hello there!

Things have been really busy here the last two weeks but I am pleased to say I am on the way to completing this year’s book challenge (which is to read all outstanding books on my shelf).

I wrote my goals for this year in a previous post

And out of the 12 or so books listed I have managed to get through 3, as well as a re-reading of The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett which was small and light to carry around with me last week.

The 3 I have finished are:

  • Women in Love by DH Lawrence
  • The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
  • The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy

I was not at all impressed with Women in Love, I believe it was written in the 1920’s and I’m not struck on books of that era generally, although I will give anything a go when it comes to books. Apparently this book was banned for obscenity for 11 years in England and so had to be published in America first. I didn’t like the characters, they weren’t personable, they didn’t make you want to root for them, and I was left with a question at the end…so is Birkin gay or not?!

The Return of the Native I really enjoyed, it seemed a quick read in a day compared to a week and a half reading Women in Love. I have mixed feelings about Hardy’s books generally but this one was alright, I was waiting for at least one of the characters to die, which, lets face it, was the only way anyone was going to get a happy ending here. The villain I didn’t find too villainous, not my favourite classic but worth a read.

The Riddle of the Sands was written in 1902 and is scary in it’s predictions in a way. 2 amateur British spies realise Germany was practising / planning an invasion. The two of them get to grips with the boat they are in and with trying to lie to the locals, figure out who is on their side and decide what is best for England, whilst getting the girl on the way. A good adventure story, I enjoyed it, but the end was a bit rushed, it felt like a lot of lead up to a very quick finish.

So, that’s a good start to my reading this year. I can cross off a few books on my list on the books page above finally.

Hopefully I will continue with this eager reading momentum!

Ellen xx

Bye Bye 2016 and Hello 2017!

Hello and Happy New Year!

It’s been a while since I last posted but you know…Christmas and all that! Who wants to blog and be online at this time of year? There is such a thing as focusing on what is happening in the moment and if you can’t do that at Christmas then when can you?

I’ve just looked back and the last post was December 13th…eek! So, to briefly summarise the last month or so…

– Making mince pies and yummy rum fruit cakes (keep meaning to put up recipe for those)

– Rogue One with Angela and Dan – because for the next few years Christmas won’t be Christmas without Star Wars! Or Angela and Dan – yay! (You two are NOT allowed to see the films with anyone else!)

– Knitting like a crazy person!

– Job Interview preparation – bleurgh

– Moaning about how bad the TV is this year – seriously the only good film on was Zathura!

– Reading the Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking whilst drinking tea out of my new big mug and with the fire on and a mince pie close at hand

And pics? I have to get some in quick before the festive times are forgotten and fed up with…





That’s the stocking Lizzie made me a few years ago btw – it comes out every year now! 🙂

And as for 2016?

Once again, I didn’t meet the 52 books in a year target, although after August I kind of drifted off reading. Only managed 28 I’m afraid but on the plus side there were lots of library books. If you don’t use your local library, local authorities will see no reason to keep them so I try to borrow one set of books a month (I can get up to 10 at a time…just have to write it on my calendar otherwise I forget and have big late fees).

This is what I managed last year (2016)r:-

  1. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  2. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
  3. The Story of English by
  4. Allain Quartermain by H. Rider Haggard
  5. The Sty’s the Limit by Simon Dawson
  6. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne
  7. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  8. Easy Knitting: Country
  9. Easy Knitting: Vintage and Retro
  10. Easy Knitting: Weekend
  11. Arm and Finger Knitting by Laura Strutt
  12. Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done by Adrian Tannock
  13. Country Skills and Crafts by Maureen Little and Craig Hughes
  14. Just the Job by John Lees
  15. 201 Knitting Motifs, Blocks, Projects and Ideas by Nicki Trench
  16. The Knitter’s Bible: Knitted Throws and Cushions by Claire Crompton
  17. Selling Online 2.0 by Michael Miller
  18. A Woman’s Guide to Working for Herself by Sandra Hewett
  19. The Crafter’s Year
  20. Knitting in the Details by Louisa Harding
  21. 100 Colourful Ripple Stitches to Crochet by Leonie Morgan
  22. Knitting Basics by Tracey Lord
  23. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  24. Knitting Smitten by Jessica Biscoe
  25. Learn to Knit Block by Block by Che Lam
  26. How to be a complete and utter failure in life, work and everything by Steve McDermott
  27. Yoga for runners by Lexie Williamson
  28. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

I have a shelf with books which I have had for years and not got round to reading so I think my reading challenge for this year would be a more attainable goal of reading what I have rather than aiming for a number. That means that the books still to be read are:

  • War and Peace
  • Anna Karenina
  • Ivanhoe
  • The Mill on the Floss
  • Cross Stitch
  • 20000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • Rob Roy
  • The Return of the Native
  • Women in Love
  • The Riddle of the Sands
  • Vanity Fair
  • The Woman in White

Only 12 but 12 LONG ones! We shall see…

As for 2017?

I am starting the new year as I mean to go on…

Yesterday I had a job interview so fingers crossed for that.

As for resolutions…I think too many and you won’t keep them. So here are 6 (sort of) resolutions for this year.

  1. Publish a pattern on Ravelry – free or paid
  2. Crafty goals – knit a hat and a pair of socks, crochet a corner to corner blanket, sew an item of clothing – Use up my crafty stash – fabric, wool etc.
  3. Start doing Yoga again
  4. Write 500- 1000 words every day
  5. Keep up with technology (those who know me are shouting HA! right now) and learn to use EXCEL and ACCESS properly
  6. Blog more often and take better photos and learn how to edit them

A little random and a mixture but personal ones for sure.

And this post is a whopper so I will sign off and say Happy New Year and wish you lots of good stuff and goodness to come!

Ellen x

Books to read

In the past year and a half I have managed to get my reading list down to about half of what it was. I haven’t read much since January but I am getting back in the swing of things now.

I have come across a challenge online which is to read what you have. I have been doing this already as I went through a period about a decade ago of buying up classics when they only cost about £1 or £1.50 each. Penguin used to do them really cheap…not any more alas!

So here is what I have left to do…

  9. ROB ROY

As you can see some quite thick volumes here so I wont be narrowing down the list anytime soon. But I have managed a few big ones recently.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens – quite good although there could have been just a little more excitement and more of the romance between Esther and Mr Wood-something (Woodcourt? Woodhouse?) and now I understand the reference to the ‘growlery’ that my friend Lizzie used to talk about years ago

Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne – ok again could have been more excitement…and maybe a bit more courage from the narrator

Moby Dick by Herman Melville – for an adventure story there is surprisingly little adventure…it reads more like a textbook in some parts and the ending is rushed. In fact the most exciting part is at the beginning when the hero and the savage share a bed together!! – no funny business except smoking a pipe – not a euphemism there either!

So the last three classics read recently were average in my opinion. But at least I can say I have read them and can tick them off my list – and because I am still on a decluttering drive, once I have enough books to fill a bag I will donate them to a charity shop in a few months. I have already cleared out another shelf on my bookcase although the danger with that is that it becomes a dumping ground for all sorts of crap!

Till next time

Ellen x

52 Books 2015

Last year I set myself a goal to read 52 books…here’s how I did…


The only two conditions are: that they be books in print (not e-books etc.) and first time reads (if I re-read a book it won’t be put on the list). And since I completed a degree in German some years ago, not all books will be in English.

Books read so far:

  1. We have always lived in the castle By Shirley Jackson
  2. Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen (number 1 in German) by JK Rowling
  3. Alphabetical By Michael Rosen
  4. Finding your element by Ken Robinson
  5. I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson
  6. Ohne Netz By Alex Ruehle
  7. Is that a fish in your ear? By David Bellos
  8. Through the language glass By Guy Deutscher
  9. The mystery of Edwin Drood By Charles Dickens
  10. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  11. The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg
  12. Die Schmetterlingsfalle by Dennis Jon
  13. Bury my heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
  14. 1Q84: Book 1 by Murakami
  15. 1Q84: Book 2 by Murakami
  16. 1Q84: Book 3 by Murakami
  17. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  18. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  19. Chocolat by Joanne Harris
  20. Queen of Crafts by Jazz Domino Holly
  21. Material World: The Modern Craft Bible by Perri Lewis
  22. Starting Up an Online Business by Heather Morris
  23. How to Knit and Crochet: Blocks, Blankets and Throws by Luise Roberts
  24. On Writing by Stephen King
  25. 30 Minute Crochet by Carol Meldrum
  26. 30 Minute Knits by Carol Meldrum
  27. Learn to Crochet: Love to Crochet by Anna Wilkinson
  28. Make your first million by Martin Webb
  29. The Interview Question Answer Book by James Innes
  30. Screw Business as Usual by Richard Branson
  31. How to get that job by Malcolm Hornby
  32. How to start your own business by Robert Ashton
  33. The Martian by Andy Weir
  34. A slip of the Keyboard by Terry Pratchett
  35. Pigs in Clover by Simon Dawson

As you can see I only managed 35, although I did only start around March / April time and I had other things on my mind like crochet, craft and that other thing, what was it? Oh yes, horrible hospital! But all in all, not a bad effort. Some non-fiction, some German, quite a few library books in there.

This year has mostly been about reading non-fiction library books. Will add them up later.

Ellen x

How many books?

Several years ago The Guardian created a list of the 1000 books you must read. Here is the link:

I have read 84 which isn’t bad!

Although there would be more as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Discworld Series were listed as just that and not individual books…

I own about another 10 on that list and they are on my to-read list!

How many have you read?