Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bookish - Come Sundown

'Sup Peeps,

So I may be exposing myself here a little but I think Come Sundown is the first novel I've read by Nora Roberts. I have heard of her, of course, but not read her. I came to this novel expecting it to be along a similar vein to other big name female authors whom I have read. I was surprised.

The novel is set in West Montana and revolves around ranch and resort owners the Bodine-Longbow family and especially manager/boss/ daughter/granddaughter Bodine Longbow.

The novel initially, after a shocking first chapter, was what I thought it would be in terms of 'chic lit' style. (I'm never sure what term I should use instead of that?!). However it quickly becomes much darker and much more of a 'thriller' in terms of style. The novel is not for the faint of heart - it features rape and domestic violence. By the end of the novel the threads of both stories have woven together and I spent a good part of the novel anticipating the worst for the central characters... I won't point out if I was right or wrong on that.

On the whole, this novel was probably too 'gritty' for me. I appreciate that Roberts has a massive following and I think she has cleverly woven the thriller and chic lit styles together in this novel which is an impressive undertaking. If you are a fan of both genre then this novel will really appeal.

Hitting the shelves in NZ at the end of May.

Details - Hachette NZ, May 2017 RRP $37.99 also available as an ebook.

love you more than a pair of cowboy boots xxx

Monday, June 12, 2017

The 100 Days Project

Hey Hey friends,

I've been trying to keep up with the 100 days project this year. I tried to do the project a few years ago (when I was a lot less busy) and I didn't finish but I do feel like I generally do better on things when I am busy.

The link to my project with all my commentaries is here but here are the first 15 days for your viewing pleasure. My project is all about exploring blindspots, being courageous and beautiful friendships.

Have you ever attempted this kind of project?

love you more than an unlimited supply of embroidery thread xxx

Friday, June 9, 2017

Bookish - One of Us is Lying

Heya Peeps,

Lately I binge read, you know when you keep reading the book you started until you finish it at midnight?, One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus.

I really enjoyed reading this book it has some nice character and relationship developments and moves at such a pace that you keep reading 'just another chapter'. It's a YA novel and covers a lot of 'the' topics - drug use, parents, cheating, homosexuality, friendships, controlling relationships, being yourself...

Five students walk into a detention maintaining it was a set-up. One student dies and then it all unravels from there. Who did it and why and what will the leaked information do to all of them as the case builds?

Initially the characters appear as the typical American teen stereotypes but as the book unfolds they become more than who they appear to be. The book is told from 4 perspectives and transitions between each without unveiling the whodunit until the very end. There are clues along the way but you may or may not interpret them.

Mainly I enjoyed this because it was a mystery and as things became less and less clear cut the characters became more entwined and interesting.

Details - One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus, Penguin Random House, June 2017 RRP $21.00

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Nga mihi o te ra,

Doing the 100 days challenge has been meaning I'm being creative but not in a 'completed projects' kind of way.

However I did find a morning to whip up a cute little DIY purse pack I bought a while ago from The Make Company. (When they closed the shop I may have also spent rather a lot of money on... 'this and that'!)

It was very quick to put together and I really like the final result. The friend I made them with said I should do one with embroidery on it - I love that idea so I'm going to have to order some more purse clasps.

Sometimes it's good just to get something made to scratch an itch.

what are you working on at present?

love you more than pink and yellow xxx

Friday, June 2, 2017

Bookish - Option B

Kia ora Peeps,

When I read the blurb to Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant I requested it right away.
Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.

Then when it arrived I thought, 'oh gosh I actually have to read this book and reflect on it and it could be a hard slog.' Thankfully I was completely wrong about the slog. What Sandberg and Grant have achieved is the perfect mix of narrative with good psychological research and information.

I underlined so many sections in the book and I read it fast. Then I started recommending it in conversations which is always a good sign that it is in fact a book you really, really think is worthwhile.

Essentially I feel like this book is a great read for anyone doing life. We are all faced with challenges and each of us needs the tools to both develop resilience in ourselves but also to be able to respond with compassion and intelligence to the people around us who are facing trauma. Intelligence may seem a strange choice of word but what I mean is to have actual real tools to journey with people we love who are in trauma, rather than just feeling the feels with them. This book provides both of these.

Personally I also felt there was a lot in the book for me to challenge me about my own attitudes to failing and making mistakes and what I can learn from them.

Straight after I finished reading this book a colleague from my work died unexpectedly and we were launched into an incredibly draining and difficult week (and season). Dealing with this as a teacher is a strange thing, there is the sadness, shock and grief that the staff have experienced and then you are also still dealing with children, their responses and their learning needs in the midst of it.

All this to say that this book is such a worthwhile read and it is very readable. I think that the challenge of a well researched book that is grounded in science is to hold the reader. Sandberg and Grant have also really made a wide net - the book could have been one woman's journey through her own grief and related only to losing a spouse but they have stretched the horizon so much broader than that.

Super highly recommend.

Details - Option B, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. Penguin Random House, May 2017 RRP $45.00 (or ask your local library to order it in and place a hold.)

love you more than knowing more than I knew yesterday xxx

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Simple Makeovers

Hey, hey lovelies,

So ages ago I picked up some very 'nana sneakers' in an op-shop for $4. I figured I'd play around with painting them and see how it all unfolded.

Gold acrylic paint + new blue shoelaces = done.

Overall pretty pleased with the results for $4 and about 20 minutes (or less).

What are you making this winter?

I've also joined the 100 day project this year which will hopefully be interesting. This is my project description:
I am going to explore the concepts of 'blind spots', the fear of them, the courage to confront them and the friends who love us enough to journey with us as we expose them and change. To do this I have made a garment from gifted fabric but not sewn the last few seams together. As the 100 days unfold I will add some stitches every day and as they draw to an end I will complete the jacket. A collection of tiny stitches each day and maybe a sentence to go with them... a meditation on courage, surrender and rich relationships. A declaration that I will be more than I am right now. Phil 1v6

love you more than instant projects xxx

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Bookish - That's Not The Monster We Ordered

Hiya Big-Little Readers,

That's Not the Monster We Ordered by Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones arrived at our place recently. It's a great story about wanting what someone else has and then getting your own and it not living up to expectations.

The illustrations perfectly compliment the narrative of the book - cartoon/ comic stripe style.

It's a fun story, with plenty of laughs but it's also poignantly about realising what you have is actually probably what you really need and everyone else's grass might be greener but it isn't yours.

Delightful. Great story for primary level and above.

Details - That's Not the Monster We Ordered by Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones, Penguin Random House, May 2017 RRP $19.99

love you more than loving the monster you have xxx

Friday, May 26, 2017

Bookish - The Suicide Club

Hi friends,

I'm  really enjoying a year that is including so much more reading. The latest novel I've finished is called The Suicide Club by Sarah Quigley. This was probably an unusual request for me given the title of the book.

At the moment there seems to be some groundswell around how we best deal with what is definitely an issue - is it the final taboo? I'm not sure, but there are certainly difficulties around it. How do we address the issue of suicide without glorifying it, pointing fingers or making those with serious issues like depression feel worse? What are the answers for the 'average joe' (is there such a thing?) when journeying along side someone who is feeling suicidal?

The book is a fictional novel about 3 brilliant young people who are all struggling with covert and overt issues. Through the story their paths cross and become entwined, whilst each of them face their own fears, their own battles, and their developing love for each other.

Quigley states that the novel is for her and attempt to open the suicide discussion more and she has lost a friend to suicide.

In the novel she has created a world of 3 very beautiful young lives, she has brought them to life and then takes us inside what it is to walk in their shoes. In doing this she certainly creates an atmosphere of compassion and empathy towards what is a real and massive struggle for many people.

I found the book to be very moving and the emotional weight of the characters brought me to tears in the end.

I would add it isn't a 'hopeful' book in terms of journeying with a suicidal person. It doesn't offer any sense of hope or strategies for helping a person who is or has attempted suicide... maybe the author didn't want to do any of these things. Because of this I would be very hesitant to recommend it to young people (it's billed for adults) and I would hold back making judgement on who else it may or may not be helpful/hopeful for... I would be interested to see how people who have journeyed through suicidal tendencies or attempts respond to this book - theirs is probably the best voice to make a thoughtful or meaningful statement in that regard.

Quigley is an excellent writer, the narrative is engaging and there are some beautiful visual moments in the book.

I leave you with one of the quotes I loved from the book:
It may seem a lot but Lace knows every one of the books intimately: their covers, pages, pencil markings, turned-down corners. They're the only things that have stayed the same: words never change, no matter how long you're out of the room, and she loves them for this.

Details - The Suicide Club by Sarah Quigley. Penguin Random House May 2017 RRP $38.00

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Retreat Sewing - Simplicity 9626 again

Hey, hey

So I think this is the end of retreat show n tell which is pretty good going really! This top is another Simplicity 9626 but this time the cowl neck version. I made this one from SUPER stretchy fabric I have had for quite a while.

I really like cowl neck tops and I love this colour but I've since given this top away. :-( It was just too tight on me (I see you back rolls and I do not love you!) and it rolled up.

I think if I'd gone up at least one size the problem might have sorted itself... I made the same size as the last Simplicity one which is fine but this fabric just clings to me like a five year old clinging to their mother after they've realised going to school wasn't just a once-off trip it's a for-life kind of arrangement.

I have quite a bit of the turquoise fabric left so I may make another top from it... but not yet. Currently I'm trying not to fall off the wagon with my 100 day challenge.

Two ticks but not enough to overshadow the misses.

love you more than an-all tick make xxx

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bookish - Slow Cooked

Hey foodie lovers,

I always dream that my winter cooking will be filled with slow-cooked meals prepared the night before and delivered with a sweet relaxed atmosphere. We can all dream right?! I do love the concept though of the night before prep or the first thing in the morning activity. Dinner times are so much more enjoyable when all the work has been done prior.

So, I was quick to request a copy of Allyson Gofton's latest book Slow Cooked featuring slow cooker recipes that can also be created with slow cooking in a regular oven.

The book includes a very comprehensive basics section which looks at meat types, cuts, thickening and rescuing disasters (another feature to appreciate). Recipes are divided into meat types or vegetarian, there is a section on stocks and soups and a very large collection of recipes for slow oven cooking as well.

The recipes I've tried so far have been a success, and although I've needed to source some new-to-me ingredients, I have loved the fact that there isn't a long process to go through before the ingredients are doing their own thing in the slow cooker. For me the charm and magic of the slow cooker is that you can throw it together in 20 minutes in the morning and eat it when you all roll in cold on a winter's evening.

What are you eating over autumn and winter?

Details - Slow Cooked by Alison Gofton, Penguin Random House, April 2017 $50.00

love you more than a stress free dinner xxx

Monday, May 15, 2017

Retreat Sewing - Simplicity 9626

Hey, Hey,

I'm still going on the retreat sewing which has to be a win right? This top was whipped up (2 pattern pieces, thank you!) from Simplicity 9626 a pattern I've had for ages.

The fabric was a smallish piece from an op-shop score and I has enough to get this little stretch top from. I love the navy and red print and the fit is pretty good (so long as I don't have a ridiculously indulgent lunch!)

Being a soft cottony stretch it's very easy to wear and I'm always in need of 'decent' sleeveless tops in my wardrobe.

Because it's stretch this top is a cinch to throw together and requires no more than the fabric and thread - it's self-facing which means from go to wear in less than an hour I think.

Outfit details:
Skirt - op-shop with re-done waistband
Top - made with second hand fabric
Shoes - white Dr Marten boots - which I love and The Atlas feels questionable about!
Jewellery - Necklace handmade in Wtgn, rings handmade in Palmerston North (engagement and wedding ring) and hand made in Napier (measuring tape ring), watch - Dr Suess a gift for my 21st.

What tops work hardest in your wardrobe?

love you more than a red, white and navy combo xxx

Friday, May 12, 2017

Bookish - Gastrophysics

Hi, hi,

Truth be told I've never been much of a science lover - people are more my jam and I just don't really geek out on science the way I do on art history.

Surprisingly, my eldest one is a complete science and maths lover.... seems the apple did fall far from the tree. Lately though I've been really getting into the amazingness of neuroscience and the incredible plasticity of the human brain. (There's a geek in my head trying to get out!)

So when I saw the title Gastrophysics and some of the fun facts I thought, yeah I'll give that a whirl. Written by Professor Charles Spence my main trepidation in requesting the book was how readable it would be. Fears allayed it's a totally readable book. The chapters are short and the book is very well researched. Almost a third of the book is given over to notes!

The book is full to bursting with interesting facts like the fact that what we smell while eating is interpreted as taste on our tastebuds, the decor of a room can influence the sweetness or woodiness ... of what we eat or drink, that even when people know they are being experimented on in regards to taste their brains will still fool them with tastes/sensations, one of the problems with airline food is actually the sounds of the aircraft - so you should sit as far away from the engines as possible and take some noise cancelling headphones with you to help!, coloured plates help hospital and dementia patients to eat more ... and so much more.

A perfect book for foodies, science nerds, people who love to entertain and restaurant or cafe owners who are all about enhancing their guests experiences and any intersection of those.

Details - Gastrophysics by Prof Charles Spence, Penguin Random House, April 2017 RRP $38.00

love you more than a retro- experience xxx

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Retreat Sewing - peg pinnies


If you don't own a peg pinny may I sit you down for a moment and give you a strong recommendation? Peg pinnies are a game changer - no more chasing the peg basket along the washing line or constantly bending down to grab pegs from an icecream container. All pegs at hip height and a hand grab away. Even The Atlas loves our peg pinny. (Though he ties it backwards - I'm not sure if it's for ergonomics or street cred?!)

I used a couple of fat quarters and some spare strips of fabric along with some bias binding to whip these up for my flat mates of many moons ago (like 19 years) whom I caught up with recently. I also velcroed the pocket in the centre so the pegs are unlikely to fall out when bending for washing.

In truth I used fat quarters I didn't like, do you ever find yourself looking at fabric you purchased and asking yourself what you were thinking? But I feel better about using them up and not having to look at them in the sewing room so that's something right?

I think it would be worth my while using up some more languishing fat quarters on these some rainy day, so that I may pass the peg pinny love on to my friends as they celebrate birthdays.

What do you make for gifts?

love you more than a weird fat-quarter used with a purpose xxx

ps - said flat mates - I haven't actually posted these to you yet, but I am thinking about it!!!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bookish - King Flashypants a review by Bounce

Kia ora everyone it's Bounce (8) here,

I'm reviewing a book we got sent recently that I really enjoyed reading. The book is called King Flashypants and the Creature From Crong by Andy Riley.

In the book King Edwin is ruling over the land and then Minister Jill says everyone should eat vegetables but all the people like lollies instead. Megan the Jester and King Edwin are forced to eat their vegetables but they don't want to do it. Then Baxter the Hermit came and told them there was a voolith coming.

So, King Edwin said he will defeat the voolith. To do this he has to do single combat with the voolith but he has another enemy too, Emperor Nurbison of Nurbisonia. EN wants to get the voolith to destroy Edwinland.

Things I liked about this book were when the voolith trampled all over the sweet shops in Edwinland and when the voolith's eye got hit with a windmill.

The pictures in the book are really good. My favourite one is when the rabbit is watching him shout at the golf ball.

This book would be able to read by 7 year olds and maybe 6 year olds if they are good readers.

Overall I thought this was a really great and funny book.

love you more than a fluffy rabbit picture xxx

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Bookish - The Giant Jumperee

Kia ora lovelies,

When I saw that Julia Donaldson had a new picture book I was really keen to read it. Donaldson is a great storyteller and has such a skill with rhyme. (One of my pet hates in rhyming books is when the story is weakened to make the words rhyme or when the words aren't phrased properly or the rhymes are weak or clearly an 'only option').

The Giant Jumperee is clearly a story for the toddlers in the bunch. It gorgeously captures the stage of life when one-up-man-ship is a natural state of being and mama knows all. I can see it being a great family book that will encourage rhyming together and imaginative play. As a departure the book is not only in rhyme but switches between.

Helen Oxenbury is the illustrator and I think her style is a perfect choice for this book. Donaldson's books have been paired with various illustrators and I think it's a really important element in terms of their overall success.

A gorgeous, funny, happy text that will be a firm favourites with little 'giant' jumperees everywhere.

Details - The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson, Penguin Random House April 2017, $30.00HB

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Retreat Sewing - simple replacements

Heya lovelies,

One of my retreat sewing projects was simply removing the waistband from a skirt that I bought in an op-shop that had a waistband that was too tight.

All I needed to do was take off the waistband completely and then replace it with a bias binding facing. I love this skirt and it's one of those moments when you realise that being a sew-er opens up the world of op-shopping to you. (and thereby your wardrobe expands without adding guilt!)

I think the skirt cost me about $10 plus a couple of dollars worth of bias binding. So good!

What quick transformations are happening in your world right now?

love you more than a super easy skirt that's perfect for wearing on 'hairy leg days' xxx

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bookish - Helper and Helper


I was recently sent the gorgeous Helper and Helper from Gecko Press. With Joy Cowley as the author and Gavin Bishop as the illustrator I was really excited to receive this offering.

The book functions a little like Aesop's fables in that it is a series of short stories that invite a little 'moral' in each. The 'morals' aren't stated in the stories it is more that the reader is invited to learn what Snake and Lizard are discovering in their own experiences and relationship.

Each story stands alone but they also unfold and build on each other throughout the book.

Snake and Lizard are 'helpers' they help other animals to solve their dilemmas for a payment. Meanwhile their own relationship is sometimes fraught with the things that beset many close friendships - sharing credit, personality types and eating family members for instance!

The stories are lovely - Bounce (8) read them and loved them and talked to me about them while I was reading it. The stories have an absolutely timeless charm and would also perform well as read aloud and talk about stories. Bishop's illustrations are a lovely accompaniment to them have the same timeless feel as the text.

A beautiful book simply bursting with nuggets of wisdom.

Details - Helper and Helper by Joy Cowley Gecko Press, 2017 $22.99 PB

love you more than Aunty Lizard 49 xxx

Friday, April 21, 2017

Simplicity 3688 - Retreat Sewing Pants

Hey y'all,

So I decided I wanted to have another go at the Simplicity 3688 pants. I have really been enjoying my 'kimono fabric' pair and I picked up some gorgeous soft, wool?, fabric at a major op-shop haul a while ago.

Although I love the colour and print I wasn't going to make a dress or a top so these pants seemed like the right way to go. Having made the pattern before they are a fairly standard construction, although both times the waistband has ended up way too small - I'm not sure if it's my body or the wrong piece of pattern in the envelope... either way there isn't an overlap for a button.

Super pleased with these pants - they are comfortable and stylish without feeling like clown pants. (which is a problem I sometimes feel with patterned pants).

What kind of pants/ trousers do the most work for you in winter?

love you more than floaty pants with a good fit xxx 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bookish - The Changeover

Hi readers,

I really enjoy a good YA and tween/teen novel. Margaret Mahy's The Changeover definitely fits into this category. First published in 1984 and republished this year by Hachette NZ it passes the test of still feeling relevant and not coming across as dated.

I also appreciate that Mahy and other authors like Joy Cowley use completely New Zealand settings.

As the blurb for the book suggests The Changeover is a supernatural novel. My first introduction to Mahy as a child was The Witch in the Cherry Tree, (how I loved the cherry tree on the cover) and this book is witchy too. Personally I'm not massively into witch books and I wouldn't usually pick them up but I was keen to read a non-picture book offering from Mahy and I think the book delivers.

The story uses a strong natural setting with the main character Laura, her mother and little brother Jacko being highly relatable which I think is very effective for the narrative. The novel maintains a good pace and delivers some twists along the way. There is a developing relationship between 2 of the main characters which includes some sexual behaviours (fairly mild in comparison to many novels for this age group) which makes it less appropriate for a younger reader, in my mind.

The novel also explores some of the key teen issues in terms of independence, secrets, crushes, the tension between parents and teens all dealt with without becoming caricatured versions of this stage of life.

A very readable offering for this age level. Mahy is a strong writer who develops sincere and believable characters even when dealing in a supernatural setting. She also spins a great tale.

Details - The Changeover by Margaret Mahy, April 2017 Hachette NZ $19.99. Also available as an ebook.

love you more than a cheeky smile from a little brother xxx

Monday, April 17, 2017

Screen Printing

Hey hey you gorgeous person!

Recently I took a course in screen printing through the Make Company. I love crafty courses and I've been keen to have a go at screen printing for ages. (I last did it when I was about 11!)

It was super fun. The course was run over 2 nights and you made 2 screens.

This is the printing I did on night 2. The little prints will become bean bags for playing with and gifts and the lighthouse has been printed onto some organic cotton bags my sister and I bought last year.

I'm really pleased with the prints. I looked at images of light houses for the lighthouse but just free hand drew it from some of the ideas I liked best. I tend to think of myself as creative but not artistic but I'm learning to embrace my own 'naive' style of drawing.

Now I have the screens and paint I am planning to do some more of these and maybe get my boys to make some screens of their own. Much fun to be had!

What new thing have you tried lately?

love you more than a lighthouse xxx