Sunday, 28 December 2014


Some of you will know I'm a fan of craft in all its forms. Being a child of the 90s, primarily things involving cardboard and PVA glue (and obviously cardboard tubes, leftover yoghurt pots and egg cartons) but also knitting and occasional sewing, plus I got quilting supplies last Christmas that I have yet to use. In pursuit of developing all the things I want to make into things I've actually made, I discovered the #yearofmaking hashtag on twitter and decided to jump in!

The original idea for #yearofmaking came from Miriam Felton back in 2013. Since then she's been joined by a fair amount of other people, all of whom have committed to making something every day for 365 days. It doesn't have to be a big thing or even a complete one but I'm hoping it will inspire me to buy less stuff and make the most of what I have already, as well as finally completing some of the beautiful projects in my Ravelry library or on any of my (many many) Pinterest boards!

Because I am generally excitable and have to start things the minute I think of them, I've already begun my year, making today the first day. I haven't yet decided if that means I will finish on December 28th 2015 or go until New Years Eve next year. I suspect that I might just carry on for the forseeable future! Technically I've made two things today, but one of them will be finished tomorrow so I'll tweet it then. If you'd like to keep up with my projects for this (and all the other participants!) check out the hashtag or follow me on twitter

Today's make came about due to the fact that I was tidying the house after getting back from my parents for Christmas, and came across a stray shoebox from Rhys' new shoes. Of course, as a Pinterest addict, this led to me searching for 'things to make from a shoebox' and discovering the genius concept of glueing a load of toilet paper rolls inside the shoebox and using it as storage for all the boys pens, pencils, crayons, paint etc. Honestly, trying to fit in all the new crafty bits Ben got this Christmas I discovered just how many pots of art supplies we have, so this was necessary! 

Due to phone failure and twitter not letting me steal my own photos, you'll have to go over there to see a picture of my first make. I will update this post tomorrow with an actual photo of it finished though, as when I tweeted I hadn't found the other bag of cardboard tubes and at the moment the glue is still drying, so once it's fully functional I will photograph it in all its' cardboard-and-decorated-by-a-two-year-old beauty and post it here for the world to see! 

If you're interested in taking part, you can get an ebook with loads of ideas and event printable worksheets here, or you can just geek out with me about it!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

A Santa who Loves Books Is The Best Kind

I am lucky enough to have made a few very good friends in the world of book blogging and generally a lovely side effect of that is receiving lots of awesome bookish presents throughout the year and especially at Christmas. However, the downside of that is having to buy lots of awesome bookish presents too! In itself the buying is not a problem as I love making parcels and especially love shopping people's wishlists. The only problem is that with four or five people to shop for I can all too easily end up spending a fortune! This year some clever people came up with the idea of doing a Secret Santa and I just received my parcel this morning. I won't say who it's from as I know not everybody has received theirs yet, but it's amazing and thank you again! :-) Here's what I got: 

Yes, the notebook is upside down but in my defence I was taking the photo on my phone with one hand, balancing Sam on my other arm and trying to stop Benji from smearing spaghetti and sauce all over everything including me! Seriously, amazing parcel! The wrapping paper was also really cool and I may have saved it to do something crafty with Benji. Not sure what yet, but it will be good! In case you can't see here's what I have:

- Chocolate from Hotel Chocolat. I've already consumed Ho Ho of the Ho Ho Hos. I'm saving the final one for Rhys because I'm nice, but I am definitely eating the massive slab of reindeer chocolate myself!
- a pretty little notebook which is exactly the right size to put in my handbag :-) 
- The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton which was from my wishlist. I think starting with this will be less intimidating than The Luminaries which is absolutely gigantic! 
- The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell was an entirely unexpected gift but one that I'm super excited about reading. It sounds really quirky and interesting and from my quick flip through it there are some gorgeous pictures of bookshops in it! It's coming with me to London for some Christmas reading.

Much as I love receiving presents, there's definitely something to be said for doing it this way rather than everybody buying for everybody. I also feel like it made us use our knowledge of each other's personalities rather than just our book wishlists which was nice, and kind of surprising how well we know each other despite only having physically met a handful of times! Ah the power of the internet :-) 

I loved my secret santa parcel and loved shopping for my recipient as well. Let's make sure we organise another meet up in 2015 please? (If you're interested in seeing what my other blogger friends got from their secret santas, I know Katie has posted about her parcel. I guess everybody else is too busy to blog at the moment, or they're saving their parcels until Christmas!) 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Currently 21/12/2014

Briefly  I'm writing this on Saturday night because I'm hopefully going to be out Sunday evening at a Christmas dinner thing so it won't get done otherwise! I've been very absent on the blog this week and hopefully this post will explain why a bit!
Time and Place | 7:42pm Saturday night, again in the armchair, my usual blogging place. 
Eating and Drinking | Spaghetti with veg sauce and leftover beef followed by some of the chocolate from my amazing secret santa parcel!
Reading | About to finish Enough: Breaking Free From the World of More by John Naish. It's given me so much to think about. I'm just reading the penultimate chapter which is a lot about gratitude and relearning to be grateful for things. It's incredibly thought provoking actually, because I know I go through a lot of days bitching and moaning about all the tiny things which go wrong and forgetting to think about all the hundreds of things which go right! I also finished Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock this week and quite enjoyed it. I've not got much to say about it so I don't think it will be getting a full review though! I'm back on my reread of Waylander by David Gemmell as of last night and I still love it. It's been far too long since I read any Gemmell. 
Watching | Nothing right now but I'm thinking about Gilmore Girls...I just finished watching The Road to El Dorado with the boys so now I have 'El Dorado! El Dorado! El Doraaaaaado!' in my head. Hopefully somebody reading this will have seen the film and have some clue what I'm talking about. If you are that person, I apologise for getting the song in your head. 
Listening | Again, nothing right now but we've been listening to the Muppet Christmas Carol soundtrack all day pretty much. Did you know that wherever you find love it feels like Christmas? 
Making | All the things! I finally finished the name blocks I mentioned last week:
photography is a skill I aim to get a lot better at next year...

Also a scarf for Rhys' stocking, which he has seen so I can put a picture here as I'm secretly pretty proud of it. 

Obviously it's not finished yet but it should be finished tonight and then I've got blocks to make for Sam as I've already made some for Ben and the plan is that they will be the boys' presents to each other. Suffice to say I'm probably not going to be blogging much this week either! Also we decided since none of us actually have proper stockings and we've been making do with mums spares the past four years, we'd actually make our own this year! I say make, what I really mean is do this:
Yes, that is a pillowcase with fabric letters (made from scraps of fabric from our rag bag, how Little Women am I?!) sewn onto it. So far this is the only one of the four that is finished. Obviously we have our priorities straight! 

Cooking | I cooked spaghetti with sauce earlier, but really the cooking was minimal as the sauce was from a jar (supplemented with an extra can of chopped tomatoes so there will be enough to freeze for that time between Christmas and New Year where nobody really wants to get dressed let alone go food shopping) and the beef was just leftover so all I had to do was cut it up. 
Blogging | Absolutely nothing. I will be blogging about the awesome Secret Santa parcel I've received though!
Hating | Trying not to hate anything at the moment. See previous comments about gratitude. 
Loving | That the contracts for our house finally arrived from the solicitors! We have to get everything signed and take it in to them on Monday and hoooooopefully we'll be able to get stuff exchanged before Christmas *crosses fingers and holds breath*
Avoiding | The kitchen. I've been washing up all damn day and I swear every time I go in there more dirty dishes have just grown from somewhere. Urgh. 
Anticipating | I'm stupidly excited for Christmas now, especially Christmas eve. My parents have a big meal at their house and everybody gets dressed up and eats three courses and sets up the nativity scene and then afterwards we have a little concert where my mum makes us each sing/play/perform something. This year Benji and I are singing 'Oh Christmas Tree' (he sings it 'o ismas ee'). Oh and then we eat loads of after eights and watch Miracle on 34th Street and argue about whether or not to go to midnight mass. Serious excitement. 
Who's excited about Christmas? Has anybody else had a bookish Secret Santa? 

Sunday, 14 December 2014


Briefly  I've borrowed this format from Kim over at Sophisticated Dorkiness because I wanted a weekly update that was a little less book-centric than the Books on my Bedside Table I am going to write later in the week! We've been counting down Advent with an 'advent box' (a shoebox wrapped in Christmas paper with a little clear pouch in the front where we put a number each day) filled with an advent task, a bit of the nativity story and a Christmas book or film. Benji is absolutely loving it, and has perfected his 'ho ho ho'. Scarily deep voice coming out of my two year old at the moment!
Time and Place | 7:48pm in my armchair (the one which is by the sea) freezing my bum off as our heating broke late last night and can't be fixed until tomorrow so we have one tiny little standing heater trying desperately to heat our whole front room....
Eating and Drinking | Just finished eating roast dinner (beef and yorkshire pudding. yum) and chocolate orange ice cream. Once the boys are both asleep I shall probably be drinking some tea and eating honeycomb chocolate with Rhys, as well as drinking a lot of water. Last night was the work Christmas party and I've basically stopped breastfeeding so I can drink again. Plus they pay for the wine. Enough said, I think!
Reading | I'm still reading Enough: Breaking Free From the World of More by John Naish and loving it! We have so much stuff and I'm so often overwhelmed by the constant urge to buy more, especially around this time of year. This book is really refreshing and really appeals to my self-sufficiency loving side. I also started Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick the other day and I'm really liking it so far. It's quirky and although at first I thought the footnotes would really annoy me, I actually quite like them now!
Watching | If iPlayer will work, catching up on the Strictly semifinals. If not, probably more of season 4 of The Big Bang Theory. Since we quit live TV over a year ago I'm really really behind on Big Bang but we've been picking up the box sets as we see them cheap in exchange shops and we're up to 4 at the moment. What season is everyone else on,now? I think we're about halfway through? :-p 
Listening | Ooh lots and lots of Christmas music, especially my CD of Ella Fitzgerald (one of my all time favourites) singing Christmassy things and a CD my siblings and their (awesome) choir made a few years ago. 
Making | Name blocks for my sisters boyfriend's nephew for Christmas. Six to be finished by tomorrow and I've currently nearly finished the first one... Hmm. 
Cooking | Just finished cooking beef roast dinner and I'm also making chicken stock to freeze for future soups. 
Blogging | This week I blogged about how I'm giving up on The Pickwick Papers (as is everybody else in the readalong I think!) and also about diversifying my reading!
Hating | That our heating is broken and also our car seems to have developed a hole in its exhaust which makes us sound like those idiots who do all kinds of crazy stuff to their cars and then drive around our neighbourhood way too fast shouting stuff you can't hear out of their windows while listening to loud drum and bass. Eurgh. 
Loving | We watched The Polar Express for the first time today. It was in the box, and it is incredible! I really really have to get over my irrational Tom Hanks hatred. Number of Tom Hanks films I like (off the top of my head) is six, the number I don't like is one (Castaway and I'm not all that keen on Forrest Gump). Seriously, even the statistics don't back me up here!
Avoiding | Finishing the christmas letter we put in with our cards. We decided to make a border of photos of all the stuff that's happened this year and cute pictures of the boys but neither of us can really be bothered to actually do it, we kind of just want it to magically... be done? 
Anticipating | Decorating the house for Christmas and also Christmas itself! I always kind of hate the journey back to London as we have to go on Christmas Eve and the weather is usually bad (80mph winds last year) and I'm a pretty nervous driver, but as soon as we get there I will freak out with Christmas excitement! It's even more exciting this year as Ben and Rhys are also both excited!
What have you all been up to?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Pickwick Papers Week...?

I think the title probably gives you some indicator of what I'm about to say. Fellow sufferers, I have given up on The Pickwick Papers. After much deliberation I've decided that life is just too short and full of books I want to read more than I want to force myself to struggle through twenty more chapters of the same old same old with Pickwick & co.

I'm sad. It started off so well and at times I'm still enjoying it. There's a lot I like about Dickens' writing - he's funny at intervals, and his description is fantastic, plus I love all the little quirks of the period which he throws in so I feel like I'm learning a bit of history at the same time, but what I don't like is how I feel like I'm just going around in circles. Because of the lack of plot it just feels like pointless reading. I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere with it and it's depressing me! I think I would have loved it in weekly installments but I honestly just don't think it was meant to be published as a novel.

I will continue to post the weekly link ups for those who are continuing and I will happily cheer you on from the other side. I realise it's super lame to give up on your own readalong, but I just can't deal with it anymore! Big thanks to Charlotte and Hanna for validating my decision, and on Ellie's suggestion, ideas are now being taken for a replacement for #dickensindecember for next year. Alliterative if possible please!

Good luck to those continuing!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Reading Diversely: Some Book I Want to Read

I've talked a bit about wanting to read more diversely during Nonfiction November and also in my list of Bookish Resolutions for 2015. I also know I have a fair amount of diverse authors on my shelves, just never get around to them, so I though as a way to help myself I'd make a list here of a few that I already own which I'm excited to get around to!

Drown is the only one of Junot Diaz's books I've not yet read and as it features the same character as The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her, which is one of my favourite books of this year, there's no excuse not to read it. Plus, it's tiny. Diaz is a Dominican born Dominican-American author and thus fulfills the criteria of not being from the US or UK. Also, he's awesome.

I read Zadie Smith's debut, White Teeth waaaay back when I was in uni and taking a course on literature and London. I remember really enjoying her vivid descriptions and the way she brought the city to life. I have two of her other books - On Beauty and NW but for some reason the latter just calls to me more. Although she is British born, she has Jamaican heritage and if White Teeth is anything to go by that comes out in her writing.

I've actually already started reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami and was really enjoying it before Nonfiction November snuck up on my reading and made it all educational (and awesome!). Despite its length I'm really excited to get back to this as it was really fast paced. So far this is the only translated novel on my list. Murakami is, probably obviously, a Japanese author.

I have a couple of Amy Tan novels and The Joy Luck Club has been following me around since secondary school, despite which I've managed to not yet actually read it. This will be remedied asap as the premise sounds really interesting and right up my street. Amy Tan is an American whose parents are Chinese immigrants.

I read Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw during my first year of blogging as part of the Geographical Reading Challenge and I really enjoyed the experience of reading about a country and experiences so far from my own. I've had The Harmony Silk Factory for way longer though, since my very early days on ReaditSwapit (we're talking at least six years ago now) and I honestly have no idea why I haven't yet read it. I suck. Tash Aw is a Malaysian writer.

And finally, The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen was a book I had previously never heard of which I unearthed in the 'Holiday Book Swap' box in our local (and amazing) ice cream parlour. It sounds so interesting and full of mystery and intrigue, plus it has a really pretty cover. I will be getting to this sooner rather than later! Jakobsen is Danish.

I know I have a lot more than this and there's a lot more I want to read that I haven't put on this list (Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for example) because I don't actually own it, although I can get hold of it from the library easily. Looking at this, it really shouldn't be difficult to fulfill my one in three quota for next year, and I'm not as woman-heavy as I thought! There's a sentence I never thought I'd write...

Does anybody have any recommendations for me?