Keeping My Hands Out of the Biscuit Tin – Book Review: A Man Called Ove

I am not paid for any of the reviews I write and products that I review are paid for with my own money. Read more on my disclaimer page.

October’s Big Comfy Book Club read was Fredrick Backman’s A Man Called Ove. It was nominated by my sister, and following her previous disastrous nomination of the weirdest book most of us had ever come across, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The Premise:

Ove is a grumpy old man who is bitter towards his neighbours and fed-up with the stupidity and ineptitude of pretty much everyone he meets. But behind his hostile exterior, is there a softer side to this solitary, unsociable old curmudgeon?

My thoughts:

Beware of spoilers from this point on.

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Keeping My Hands Out of the Biscuit Tin – Sewing Projects: Knitting Needle Case

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’ve taken up crafting over the last couple of years (although Mr FFF says I’ve always been crafty!). I started with painting before investing in a sewing machine and beginning to explore the world of needlecraft.

I started last November after buying myself a sewing machine for my birthday. At that time of the year, it was easy to practise my skills by making a variety of Christmas-themed decorations for myself and my nearest and dearest. But once the festive season had passed, I was a bit stuck for what to make.

Imagine my delight then when my mum decided to take up knitting once again and requested a knitting needle case.

I found a pattern online, had a very enjoyable trip to Hobbycraft to pick some appropriate fabric and trimmings and got to work. It was a tricky little project and I considered giving up on it at one point, but I persevered and managed to get it finished in time for Mother’s Day. My mum was delighted with it and I’d honed my skills, learnt new techniques and enjoyed myself in the process.

Keeping My Hands Out of the Biscuit Tin – Learning to Crochet

As I’ve written about previously, I’ve been keen to try new hobbies and develop new skills over the last couple of years. Having made some very simple sashes for costumes for a school play last summer and being reminded of how much I enjoyed sewing on the few occasions that we did it in Home Ec at school, I invested in a basic sewing machine and have been completing some simple projects to improve my skills (more to come on these in future posts).

But, having very limited time to fit crafting into my already busy weeks, I decided I wanted to try something that I could do in front of the TV in the evenings. So, inspired by the clever creations of a couple of friends, I’ve been learning to crochet.

I had a little one-to-one workshop with my extremely patient cousin who showed me how to get started (apparently this is called casting on) and how to do some basic stitches – chaining, single- and double-crochet. I kept practising the basics until I was able to cast on independently without looking online for a video to remind me how, but I still couldn’t count the stitches properly. It’s sometimes harder than you think to count to 10 which is a bit embarrassing to admit when you’re a teacher!

Then I had a friend visiting from the US who is also into crafts and wanted to re-learn to crochet. She’d found a local crochet and knitting company who sell everything you need to get you started that she wanted to visit and so off we went. With her encouragement, I bought a beginner’s Octopus Kit and gave it a go. I actually completed it using my ‘practise’ yarn rather than the stuff that came in the kit because I’m a bit of a perfectionist and wanted to make sure I could do it before I used the kit (yes, I am aware this is ever so slightly bonkers but hey-ho!).

I’m pleased to say that, with the help of my friend in teaching me to read the pattern, my mum who helped me to count stitches and several YouTube videos, I eventually completed the pattern. Now, there are some mistakes (a couple of the legs are back-to-front but that doesn’t make him any less of an octopus) but I’m really proud that I managed to complete it. I can even count the stitches fairly reliably now. Well, I’m getting there anyway.

The best thing was though, it’s definitely not something that you can do whilst eating biscuits and chocolates. Although Mr FFF says the best thing about it is that he doesn’t have to spend the evening listening to the whirring of my sewing machine!

I’m looking forward to completing my next octopus using the actual yarn from the kit – if I ever get a minute to sit down and start it!

Do you crochet? What are your top tips for a beginner? Let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for reading,


Keeping my hands out of the biscuit tin – Book Review: Songs of the Humpback Whale

Having fallen in love with Jodi Picoult’s writing by accident a couple of years ago, I now pick up copies of her books whenever I spot them in book exchanges or charity shops. This one was a book swap find and I was looking forward to reading it over the summer.

The Premise:

Jane Jones and her husband, Oliver have drifted apart. Oliver takes no interest in family life which always come in second place to his high-flying oceanography career tracking and studying humpback whales. One day, Jane reaches breaking point and leaves. The story follows Jane as she and her daughter drive from California to Massachusetts to stay with her brother while Oliver tries to track them down.

My thoughts:

Beware of spoilers from this point on

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Keeping my hands out of the biscuit tin – Book Review: The Girls

To kick off the first in my series about things I’ve been doing to replace habitual eating, I thought I’d share my views on last month’s book club* choice – The Girls by Emma Cline.

*The book club I attend is held at the amazing Big Comfy Book Shop. For more details visit their website or to join the online version of the book club, visit their Facebook page.

The Premise:

It’s San Francisco, 1969 and for 14 year old Evie, a long, lonely summer stretches ahead of her before she’s shipped off to boarding school. But then she meets the intoxicating Suzanne and is soon caught up in her heady world of free love, drugs and communal living. But what at first appears to be a whimsical life of freedom soon reveals itself to be one of control and darkness.

My thoughts:

Beware of spoilers from this point on

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Keeping My Hands Out of the Biscuit Tin

One of the recommendations for helping to break a habit is to replace that habit with something else. So, for example, people who are trying to stop smoking are encouraged to make a list of little tasks they can do to distract themselves when they’re craving a cigarette.

In the same vein, I’ve been engaging in a number of different activities to help me avoid binge eating or emotional eating. In this series, I’m going to share with you some of the things I’ve been doing to ‘keep my hands out of the biscuit tin’. After all, I wouldn’t want to get chocolatey smudges all over everything would I?!

Watch out for the first of these posts coming soon…