Saturday 31 January 2015

My Month in Numbers 2015: January

Hello, hello and welcome to the first 'Month in Numbers' of 2015!

Unbelievably this is the start of my 6th year ... and the 61st time I'll have shared my vital monthly statistics!

But, if you're new to this numbery way of doing things then stick around and don't panic ... there's absolutely no long division involved and algebra doesn't even get a look in. And there's plenty of help and inspiration available for any numerical newbies:
  • read the Month in Numbers tutorial I created - it's full of ideas on how and why you might find this a fun thing to do!
  • read a few of my old Month in Numbers posts - you'll quickly see that there's no one single way to do it, no one type of thing to document .... absolutely anything goes!
  • read through posts by the other members of the Month in Numbers community - to do this just visit the  Month in Numbers Pinterest board where I store everyone's contributions, then click through the various images to be directed back to the original posts. There are as many different approaches to it as their are people playing along ... and your unique contribution will be just as welcome!
You'll soon see that it's not really about the numbers at all ... they're just a foundation, a hook, a way-in to documenting those moments that count! It's a great way to keep track of your year ... and to meet new people from around the world along the way.

And, like I say ... it's not all about counting .. because sometimes you can't ...

Countless = the number of times this month I've heard people say they hate January.
  • They say this as they're taking down the Christmas decorations.
  • They say it as they prepare to put down the chocolates and the remote control that have been glued to their hand for the previous fortnight and head back to the world of work.
  • They say it during a snowstorm in the 5 minutes of daylight we get during these post-festive days.
  • They say 'I wish I could go to sleep and wake up in the spring'.
  • They say 'nothing ever happens.' ...
... and it's at that point that I have to call time-out!!!!

Every time = how often that - after someone says 'Nothing happens in January" - I want to reply [maybe while stamping my foot a little]: "What about my birthday?!"
And, as many of you will know, when you have a birthday during one of the darkest, coldest, most deflated months of the year you really do have to hold on to all the festive feeling you can and enjoy your birthday month ... even if no one else does.

And you have to be one of the few people who's left the sanctuary of their cosy home on a snowy day to go somewhere lovely for lunch. [Top tip: January afternoons aren't exactly packed out!]

3 courses = the meal I enjoyed at the restaurant I've visited on my birthday for 2 years in a row. 
Robineau Patisserie [nr Darlington / N.E England] is absolutely my favourite place to eat. Not only is the food completely amazing ... it's only open during the day [apart from the occasional theme night] and, as I'm really not a night bird ... a visit there makes for a lovely long relaxed afternoon eating and talking ... and eating. Then we can go home and get cosy in front of the TV on the evening. A party girl I'm not. But I do like my food ...
It was during the dessert that I reverted to childhood and actually let out a small, deliriously contented, 'Mmmmmm' sound or two at the taste of the warm caramel sauce. I'm not even ashamed to admit that I then used my spoon to scrape out every last drop of it from its chic little jug.

I did some party-hosting of my own this month [again, yes, on an afternoon] where this was my table ...

30 = sheets of paper to make a table-runner
I saw the general idea on Pinterest ages ago and, as goodness knows I have plenty of old books to tear pages from, I decided to take that from inspiration into reality.
 I also made napkin rings from paper too:
They were all pages from dictionaries and encyclopaedias because I thought they'd be a safe option. No one wants to be put off their side salad by a racy scene from a Mills & Boon.. Do they?

Someone did, however, find a diagram of the intestines on their napkin ring ... but that merely seemed an appropriate thing to contemplate when sitting down for a meal ...

8 = the number of days after 'real' Christmas that my friends and I celebrated our traditional fake Christmas. [I've written lots more about fake-Christmasses-past here].
And over 3.5 hours, and 3 pizzas, the 8 of us leisurely exchanged 34 sets of gifts.  [Yes, the maths is correct. I think. It's just complicated as 2 of the group had already exchanged gifts as they're mother and daughter. We can't really expect them to forgo 'real' Christmas and wait for the 'fake' one!].

10 shelves / surfaces / drawers = the areas, so far, I've tackled, sifted through and sorted, in what could be the start of some Spring cleaning. [But, hey, let's not go too crazy just yet. I may have peaked already!]

4 = charity bags filled with the results of my January-tidying-spurt.
And of course ... because I've been so organised ... and created some space by getting rid of a load of old tat ... that means I get to go shopping to fill up the gaps. Right?

£1 each = how much I paid for two old flower arranging frogs:
I know I'm way behind the trend on this one ... but I've always loved how they looked when I've seen them on other people's blogs but, until last weekend, I'd never seen one 'in the flesh' before. So when I saw a box of them in a charity shop I had to have some!

And if you're not sure what it was I planned to do with them then this should explain:
They make lovely, vintage-feeling, holders for when I'm photographing my craft projects and shop products.

49p = how much I paid for this splendid stationery set in [a different]charity shop:
Yes, it was originally a freebie cover-gift from Mollie Makes magazine ... but it worth the price for the black & white stripey washi tape + twine alone! And, of course, as if a sub-50p washi tape wasn't exciting enough, the money goes to charity!

£3.00 = the price of this wonderful vintage duvet cover [from a 3rd charity shop ... my back was aching by the time we got back to the car with this little haul plus the 4 books we bought for 99p!]:
I love old rose prints and I so rarely see nice old bedding in charity shops that I nearly always buy it when I do. This one's in really good condition [nobody wants to find a stain on an old sheet!!] and smell of noting worse than rose scented drawer liners. And while it's not perfect ... it's been altered at some point ... there's even something rather charming about the hand stitching:

4 = the number of books I read. 2 fiction. 2 non-fiction. But I won't go into all the details right now as I'm planning to list them in a new reading-related regular feature I'm planning. I'll try to get that started next week sometime.

1 = how many foxes I spotted, strolling casual-as-you-like along the main road past the steel works.
It was broad daylight, shortly after 10am, and it didn't look anxious or concerned to be out and about and exposed like that. It made me wonder if it had just got off a shift ...

And finally ... if you'll allow me to move seamlessly from a vulpine tale to a lupine one ...

2 = the number of episodes of the BBC's adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall that I've watched ... and revelled in.
If you're a long time Month in Numbers reader then I'll have bored you in 2010 with my progress through the 674 page Wolf Hall novel ... and then again, in 2012 with the 411 page sequel Bring Up the Bodies. And now it's happening all over again with the TV drama! [And after that, at some point, there'll be the final book of Mantel's trilogy ... so don't say you weren't warned!]

I was uncertain about what to expect from the adaptation. For one thing... they've made just 6 hours of drama from over 1000 pages of source material. And for another - I wondered how you could externalise all the necessary action when so much of the feel of the book comes from viewing everything from Thomas Cromwell's perspective; so much so that, while I was reading it I described the feeling as if I was behind his eyes. That I was living there, in Tudor England, rather than just reading about it.

But, fortunately, it's such a sensitive production that they've somehow managed to keep the same atmosphere. Of course there are things missing, time is condensed, events don't unfold quite how they do over the vast expanse of the novel ... but the first episode felt like a visual skim read, a flick-book, a speeded up visual representation of the source material; it may have omitted some of the finer details, but it managed to stay faithful to the essence of the story and characters.

In fact, few minutes into the first episode, when I still didn't know if I was going to love it or not, I turned to James and said 'I hope they do the scenes with the angel wings' [Long story. Literally!]. But really ... what were the chances that - amongst all those scenes, in all those hundreds of pages - they'd have included the fleeting moment that I specifically wanted to see depicted? It was a hope against hope ...

But then ... a few minutes later, Thomas Cromwell's little daughter came into the room wearing her wings made of feathers! And the programme makers found themselves a loyal fan.


So ... that was my January: a wolf, a fox, 2 frogs, lovely food, good company, new gifts, vintage treasures and some appropriate out with the old ... and in with the new.

Now how about yours? Which statistics shaped your month? The temperature? The depth of the snow? The Christmas decorations you realised where still on display after you thought you'd packed everything away?

As always you're welcome to join me with your own memory keeping-by-numbers.
  • Why not share a few with your blog readers, your Facebook friends, Twitter or Instagram  followers? #Monthinnumbers
  • If your post is 'pin-able' I'll save it to the Month in Numbers board, that way other members of the community can drop by, browse the posts, and then swing by your virtual home for a visit!
  • And don't forget to say hello to me too when you drop back here with your link.
Right I'd better step to one side, that there is the sound of a brand new month eager to get started.

Happy February!

Julie :-)


  1. Great post. Maybe this will be the!

    1. Any time at all! And no need whatsoever to commit to a whole year - dip in, out and in again whenever and however! :-)

  2. Gah! Much vintage-sheet envy here. Such a good find. :) And I had no idea those little spiky things were for flower arranging. I've only seen them used in photos like yours before, and t's possible I thought they were like horse hairbrushes, or something. Possible...

    Also, the fox? The ones here are so brazen they don't just stroll around during the day, we quite often find them sunbathing out on the lawn during the warmer months.


    PS. Damian Lewis is starting to make we realise what all six wives saw in Henry VIII (apart from the stacks of cash and palaces, obvs). It's faintly disturbing, if I'm honest.

    1. Glad to have solved the horse / frog mystery for you. And, while we're on an animal theme suppose this was an 'industrial' fox - travelling the cycle route the workers use! [Not on a bike ... sadly].

  3. What a fabulous charity shop haul! I haven't had a good boutique rampage in ages! Must sort that!

    My Dad LOVES that series, he keeps trying to get me to watch it but I would have to wrestle the TV remote off Craig and the kids so... I shall watch it through my Dad's descriptions. His latest rant is that people have complained about the lighting? he's all "Don't they know there was no electricity in those days? IT'S AUTHENTIC for Chrissakes! Candles and torches and fires... blah, blah, moan, moan" And I just have to nod and agree. But he loves it.The programme.

    Happy belated birthday :)

  4. Oh look, I just have to tell you this...I found myself *taking notes* on your post to be able to write a comment that would do it's gloriousness justice.......then I used up all my tiny piece of paper (block of paper-sized paper that I keep on my desk for short notes for work)...then I got to the vintage frog and gave up......this post is *glorious*, wonderful, full of life, full of *you* (in all your 'you-ness'), full of happy-making *stuff*'ve made me so happy (and I only got half way through!)....I'll be back later tonight with my cup of tea and cake to read the half I already read (heart-beating fast, trying not to skip ahead), to read - slowly - the remaining half and to savour all of it.....THANK YOU, you xxxxxx

  5. P.S. (and, yes, I will be back later).....the captcha verification asked me to select images of CAKE - yes, cake......!!
    P.P.S. You're starting a reading-related feature? Be still my beating heart. [Simply couldn't wait til later to write that....!!! "Eek".....!!!!!!!

  6. Yikes, it appears that I've been reading and not commenting for far longer that I thought! Apologies and I will do better in 2015, promise!
    I loved your comments on Wolf Hall ... The Boy Child was only a toddler when it was first published and I swear that I practically ignored him for the length of time it took me to get through it (and I was reading it at every moment, spare or otherwise!).
    You can see my January numbers here:

  7. Belated Birthday Wishes Julie. It's the frogs that jump out at me. I am always on the look out for them and am quite envious that you found some x x

  8. 56 = approx the number of times I've looked at flower frogs on etsy and then winced at the price. You got a total bargain!

    Wolf Hall? Much as I am a Damian Lewis fan ( really quite a lot) I'm not sure about his being a convincing Henry. Ginger isn't enough on its own. And I never thought I'd say that :)

    Great numbers. I like the idea of a restaurant which doesn't open in the evenings. That would suit me down to the ground too

  9. Fantastic post Julie and a very happy January birthday to you. I'm always so envious of your charity shop finds. I'm playing along this year again, I've missed Month in Numbers, my January post is here...
    Claire xx

  10. Oh so much fabulousity in your month Julie. I knew there was something special about January - I must have caught a glimpse of your birthday sparkle! I'm swooning over your duvet cover find - my colors and I love vintage rose prints. And I love your frogs as well. I have a couple vintage finds as well that I tuck papers into, including fragrance strips of essential oil blends I'm working on. I like to think the frogs might find it a fragrant second-best to holding actual flowers. Wishing a most wonderful February!

  11. Every month got there up and down. January wasn't to bad for us.January here in North idaho been pretty mild... Coffee is on

  12. Oh, a LOT has happened in your January indeed!!! Love the frogs and would love to see some "in real life" as well! Actually, you almost make me what to go thrifting with your awesome finds! And last but not least Happy Belated Birthday wishes!!! :)
    I posted my December Numbers today on my blog:

    Looking forward to your new reading posts as I read quite a few books you've recommended the last couple of years (including Wolf Hall ;)

  13. OK....I said, "I'll be back" and here I am! (ooh, I sound like Arnie! [Actually *feel* like Arnie most days]...a restaurant that serves great food that you have to go to during the day? My kind of place (can I dream all us OT-ers will head there when I'm back on mother soil?!).....paper table runner (and napkins)? Genius!......LOL about the intestines! those frogs too - so glad you found a pair (and so cheaply!)......[I'm so missing charity shop hunting]......49p for that stationery pack? BARGAIN!.....that duvet cover? Beautiful (the stitching reminded me of how my Gran used to repair things, as she got older....(sigh with 'hiraeth' (a new word I just discovered - how cool I've already had an opportunity to use it!).....what a cocky fox!........Wolf Hall....I've had them in my Amazon basket for about a year (probably more) loved them? Would I? [BTW...I honestly can't imagine Damian Lewis being Henry, I always find him a bit unconvincing in Homeland, and there's no Kings involved there.....]....and, again, Hurrah, can't wait to see what your 'reading project' will be......(so excited I'm 'eeking' out loud all over again!).....oh, and, so pleased they included the angel bit for you!!!

  14. Happy Birthday! I loved your numbers this month and I can't believe I didn't mention the amazing Wolf Hall in my tv round up. It is a really good adaptation and has me itching to read the books again, I think Damien Lewis is a really good Henry, he has the right touch of menace and charisma. My first month of 2015 has been very francophone they are here:

  15. So much in here to enjoy - I feel as if I've read a chapter of a really good novel! A lovely looking eatery, and you look very young and pretty :). Yes, quite, how can people want to rush through January! I never knew they were called frogs ... and perfect for your blog displays. You spot a bargain like no-one else!

  16. What a fab month, love seeing your charity shop finds and hope you had a fabulous birthday - happy very belated birthday from me!!

    As always I am sneaking in at the very last minute - here's mine -


Thanks for leaving me a comment, asking me a question, sharing your own story or just randomly saying hello.