Day #5 – Black Friday or UK Sales Weekend

Let’s be honest: I hadn’t heard of Black Friday until three years ago. It just wasn’t a thing here in the UK, not until decided they were going to introduce this load of codswallop to their UK online store. Then, of course, the high street stores picked up on it two years ago. There was mayhem. There was a video on the news about some woman in an Asda in Manchester punching a security guard in the face over a TV that was an eighth of the price.

The rest of the country, meanwhile, adopted the national motto: “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

Black Friday came back again last year, but thankfully the fad had ended here in the UK. People went on as normal; shops were disappointed. It was as though the whole thing had never happened.

This year, most stores just haven’t bothered. Only the biggest chains and the supermarkets have some sort of offer advertised by the main door, while the rest of the retail stores have put the sales in the most sensible place – online.

Because Black Friday just doesn’t work here in the UK. Here’s why:

The American Thanksgiving usually falls on the fourth Thursday of November and, for most Americans, the Friday is a public holiday as well. The schools are out all week. Adults have the Thursday-through-Sunday off work. It’s the end of the month, people are available, and are getting their salary and are willing to spend it on the Black Friday sales.

However, here in the UK Black Friday is just a normal day. Arguably, it’s the last pay day before Christmas, but there’s no public holiday here. People are in work, kids are in school, there’s no one around to spend money. After three failed years, the shops have finally cottoned on to this. They’ve extended the sales to maximise their potential. Now, they’re Black Friday disguised as “The last payday before Christmas weekend sale”.

But that sounds rather silly, doesn’t it?

Perhaps Black Friday sounds better after all.

Day #4 – Duvet Day

I’m only human and I work from home. That means, occasionally, I get to take a duvet day, or as much of one as possible with a toddler in the house.

Between sicknesses, sleepless nights, and just plain busy life I’ve been feeling fried all week. And with my husband taking a long, four-day weekend starting tomorrow — with plenty of shopping and days out booked over the next few days — I needed to shut down and unwind.

Except I didn’t, because I was too busy cleaning and getting everything out of the way for the weekend.

But still. I managed ten minutes of shut eye while my daughter watched some of The Lion King, so I guess that’s a small victory, eh?

This entry was posted in Updates.

Day #3 – If at first you don’t succeed…

I had another go at crocheting a granny square to start off the log cabin blanket today, because I just wasn’t happy with moving forward with yesterday’s attempt as it was. I’m glad I tried again – my round bits turned out to be actually round:

And my square was much squarer, and the pattern more visible:

I was too tired to do much today. I haven’t slept well the last couple of nights, so I put the crochet aside quite early and spent the night in front of the TV with my Country Companions cross stitch. He’s coming along quite well – there’s only the ground and then backstitch to go!

Day #2 – Crochet Crimes

I picked up a pair of knitting needles in January and we didn’t get along. So I tried making friends with their cousin, the crochet hook, and we got along a little better. I could make a long chain, do a turn, and double crochet a row back to where I started. But my lines weren’t straight and my tension was off and I hated the way my rows looked, no matter how much I unravelled the work and tried again.

In the end, the seventeen balls of yarn I’d bought, my knitting needles and crochet hook all parted ways – they went in the cupboard and I stuck to what I was good at.

However, over the months those balls of yarn and those tools in cupboard have eaten away at me. I knew they were there. I knew they were destined for more than just being shut up in the dark and left to collected dust. The fact that they could be turned into cushion covers and blankets and those little doilie things burned at me from the inside until yesterday I took the darned things (excuse the pun!) out of the cupboard and looked at them…and then put them back. I had to think on it again another night. I had to put to rest all the ill will I’d felt towards these soft, squidgy inanimate objects earlier this year. It took me another day to quell the fire of anger I’d felt earlier this year. And here’s all my yarn again, basking in the glorious light of potential:

This morning I opened the cupboard and took them back out. Not the knitting needles. Nope, there’s just too many bad feeling between me and my knitting needles. But the crochet hook and I stared one another down from either end of the living room, snorted at one another, nodded, grunted and decided to do the do.

I’ve been looking at this pattern for a Log Cabin Blanket for a couple weeks thinking how much I’d like to give it a go but thinking it was just too hard. But today was the day. I only had time for the central granny square today, but as you can see for someone who couldn’t even master a straight line the last time she picked up a crochet hook, I don’t think I did too badly. I’m more proud of my perseverance than anything else. You will see that one of the petals has broken on my flower and my corners aren’t exactly square and one of them is too tight. But for a first attempt I’m really happy with this.

I’m going to make the complete blanket square from the tutorial above with the yarn I have available and hope that on my next attempt my granny square middle is a lot neater.

In the world of cross stitching, I completed a huge lump of the background of my Country Companions project last night. With any luck I’ll finish all the background today!

Day #1 – Cold coffee kisses and cookies…

This blog is technically brand new, and I’m making the half-heart promise to blog about my crafts and cross stitch every day.We’ll see how that goes.

It’s been really cold the past few days. We had a little snowfall on Friday, but that quickly melted away, leaving us with lots of cold, high winds and frosty, icy mornings. How I wish the snow would have stayed with us for a little while, but there’s still time…

I love this time of year; when it’s cold and not worth being outside, I like to hunker down in the kitchen and bake lots of tasty treats that I’ll spend all of spring and summer walking off! This year, my two-and-a-half year old daughter has caught the baking bug and she made a lovely batch of chocolate chip cookies – she did everything but the weighing and touching the oven. They might not all have been the same size and shape, but they were still yummy, which is more important that aesthetics anytime!  

I also made a batch of coffee kisses that I’m yet to ice. I’m really lucky to have a creative kid who loves making things as much as I do (when she’s not watching Tinkerbell or Frozen). This last weekend my husband cut her out a few paper snowflakes and I helped her glitter glue them because her dad and glitter? Nope, they just don’t go together. Not at all.

Here’s our collaborative creations:


My daughter and I made some #glitter #snowflakes 😋

A photo posted by Natalie Allan (@nallanwriterart) on

I finished a 5-month long cross stitch project on Sunday, the Thomas Kinkade Mountain Retreat Cabin, an Anchor Maia kit that my husband bought me for my birthday. I started it on May 20th, stitched the first half over the course of 12 weeks, put it down to finish this, then got three-quarters through and put it aside for a fortnight to finish this and this for my daughter, for Christmas. I hope she likes them. I loved stitching Mountain retreat (here’s the original painting by the artist). I love the autumn and it’s colours. I love nature and the feeling of being alone in the countryside. I told my husband if we ever built a house it would be a little cabin like this far off the beaten track. I finished this project on Sunday afternoon and moved straight on to my next one: a Country Companions mouse character in the woods with his little wheelbarrow. I should have him finished soon and then it’s onto Christmas makes. Here he is so far: