Friday, January 30, 2015

Books That Hurt Your Head

I feel like I've managed some good reading over the holidays which is so satisfying. I've read some nice 'light' books that are good to sigh and giggle through (I'll review those next week) and I've read a couple that have really stayed with me and made me think.

Recently I was sent these couple to read and I have really done a lot of reflection after reading them.

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

For a debut novel Oakley hasn't shied away from the big topics. The novel follows 27 year old Daisy who has been given a terminal diagnosis and a very short time frame. As she slides all over the feelings it brings up she decides the one legacy she wants to leave for her husband is to find him a new wife. Daisy can't bear to think of him alone and lonely. For such a depressing premise this book is actually a nice read - yes I shed some tears but not all the way through. Oakley manages to write in such a way that you aren't left a shuddering wreck at the end of each chapter - in fact I only cried in the last chapter and I am an open book weeper.

What this book left with me most was actually about the dynamics of being a couple. How we act to protect the one we love, the decisions we make without consultation that are motivated by love but lack wisdom. Mostly it left me with the thought that honesty, in the bearing-my-whole-soul kind of way, is the only way we can truly connect and build real love, even if it feels scary and risky and hard.

Don't be scared off by the sadness of the topic this is not a hard read but it has left me thinking in all the right ways.
Details - Allen & Unwin, Jan 2015 RRP$29.99. Also available as an ebook.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by Emily Lockhart

Despite the fact that the title is so long it takes up the whole cover of the book I loved this book. I actually found it really hard to engage with for the first part of the book. It is told from an 'eye of God' kind of voice. Sometimes it reads like an essay or a character file from a psychologist and initially I found that hard to get past, or into, or something!

The novel follows Frankie, a highly intelligent young woman as a junior at a privileged school, who finds herself projected up the ranks of popularity and recognition by the boy who chooses her as a girlfriend. The problem is that Frankie begins to realise that she has more to offer than just being the girlfriend at the same time she realises that the boys club will always be just that. And in this quandary Frankie and her superior abilities come to life with consequences that she doesn't see coming.

This book is one I have thought about and talked about and ruminated on quite a lot since I finished reading it. It is confronting in a way I didn't expect it to be. It makes me think about my femininity and the ways in which it defines or limits me - it makes me realise I have been blessed with some very good men in my life (personally and professionally) who have allowed me to shine but I also mourn this lack of being able to be a comrade with some of the great guys I know. I friend yes but a comrade no.... if that makes no sense I think it will after you read the novel.

Reading this book I wonder if Lockhart's own significant intelligence has at times not been acknowledged because of people not being able to see past her youth and beauty. Perhaps I am getting too Freud on it it's certainly not a Lady Macbeth "come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here" piece of writing but it examines gender boundaries in a way I haven't thought about for some time, if ever in some instances.

It is an YA novel and I have also read Lockhart's novel We Were Liars last year. The writing is incredibly strong. Lockhart is clearly a lover of words and she weaves them with real skill. For the word geeks there will be sections of this novel that may make you feel like drooling. I would certainly be open to reading other things she writes she certainly has a talent for telling a story.

Details - Allen & Unwin, Jan 2015 RRP$14.99. Also available as an ebook.

love you more than a book recommendation at the water cooler xxx

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Yeah I *finished* it... 5/52

So technically when I received this dress all the hard work was done the sleeves were open and the hem wasn't done but everything else was there.....

except that it was for rather a smaller person.


I adore, truly it makes me girlishly happy, the fabric of this dress but I had consigned myself to picking it apart and using it for another project because there wouldn't be enough room for the ladies inside it.

My sister got me to try it on (and it did up with some holding of breath) and convinced me to re think.

So a tuxedo stripe was added on both sides, the armholes were bound with bias (which my sister made) and it was hemmed. Ta-da!

Very comfy, loose even! new dress.

So I'm not sure I can actually say I made it but I did renew it and turn it from being someone's off cast to a wearable piece of joy. That's a success right?

I love the back detail and the neck tie and the raglan style darts - so much to love and all the tricky bits done for me. Hooray.

What are you making at the moment?

love you more than a super easy finish from an almost discard xxx

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On New Starts

It's just over a year since we moved to Adelaide. A year of new starts.

Yesterday was the first day of school in Australia and we find ourselves at a new school again,

and we find ourselves as the new parents at the new school.

Our children are in classes where the others know each other and my boys don't know any names.

I scan the playground for friendly faces.

I hope for children to include my boys - knowing how hard it is to risk rejection and ask if you can join a game with children who seem to have known each other forever.

As an adult I find myself standing on the edges, watching, having those laboured new conversations where you are trying to be a combination of witty and engaging as well as interested and appealing (however you do that), which are so much less fun than the thoughtless conversations where the words tumble out and fly about like they do with a proper friend.

I am an extrovert, happy in the company of many, energised by people and conversation and friends and yet I stand on the edges and try to work out the appropriate level of forward friendliness without coming across like a desperate stalker who will dominate your life and call you every day.... and I think sheesh! this must be so much more difficult for the introvert, the newly arrived from another country, the second language speaker, the nervous one, the exhausted and harried one..... 

I think to myself how often do we wear and invisible badge that shouts in neon - like me! like my children! - as we silently smile and nod and make appropriate responses to awkward sort-of-checking-you-out-in-a-non-romantic-way-conversations.

It's amazing how much of a difference someone inviting you in to a conversation can make.

That's one of the things I want to take away from these new starts - inclusion is a powerful and delightful gift.

I actually like changes and I love the excitement of new situations and opportunities to meet new people and all those things and yet it is tiring.

Before long I am confident we will find our groove and have new people to add to our wee collection of friends but for now we perform that complicated dance of advancing in friendship and hoping for reciprocation.

Is there someone you could include today?

love you more than being right in the centre where the noise is xxxx

(the photos are something we have started doing on the first day of school - what job I want to do when I grow up)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Learning Together - Holiday Activities

School starts in Australia today and all my plans for extra reading and writing over the summer have been shaky to say the least...

One of the things we did do though was make peele bead creations (small beads put together on boards and ironed to make them stick together).

The time and effort these require as well as the fine motor skills makes them a perfect highly concentrated activity.

It's also good for creative ideas and making things that silt their interests - one went for owls and the other mine craft!

I also drew the patterns out for my boys from the pictures they wanted to create (took me right back to my cross-stitch days!). Using graph paper and following the colours is really another form of close reading - sorting out information visually without the need to de-code the text.

Now we have hundreds and thousands of the beads for the next time the mood hits us!

Learning Together a series for primary aged children and their parents - activities that break up homework monotony, promote skills and create positive experiences together.

love you more than a transfer to the ironing board without losing a bead xxx

Monday, January 26, 2015

Week Four of Fifty Two - Biking Down Under

Just up the road in Prospect they had a street party for part of the tour down under (a massive bike race held around Adelaide).

There was a children's 'race' which was free to enter and they all got t-shirts. The race consisted of constant biking around a track for a number of minutes in age group heats - 4-6, 7-9, 10-12. There were no prizes or places given just the thrill of the ride. It was really sweet to see some littles on tricycles in the 4-6 event.

My boys biked like there was no tomorrow - not stopping or resting the whole time.

My favourite snap is the one with little brother cheering on big brother.

Here is a selection of my favs.

love you more than a well organised event xxx

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Yeah I Made It ... 4/52 Peanut butter and strawberry kiss

This is the other stretch wrap over top I decided to make from the Simplicity 9626 pattern. I like the ruches on the side and the little detail on the shoulders.

It's all grey which makes it kind of a boring make but one that will probably get a lot of use because there aren't that many non-colourful, non-printed things in my wardrobe (surprise!). Because I couldn't go totally without a little bit of Miriam I've 'tattooed' the back....

with a strawberry made from sequins. I bought it from a shop that sells buttons in Adelaide - walls of buttons (and sequinned strawberries!). It's a dangerous place to go for a girl that has a thing about buttons.

I also whipped up some peanut butter this morning. It probably works out the same cost as a cheap jar of peanut butter but it only contains dry roasted (by me) peanuts both skin on and off and it's a lot cheaper than the fancy ones that are just peanuts.

Modelled next to a sweet little tray/basket I picked up at the Vinnies the other day for $2 and the perfect size to fit cookies in for afternoon tea - I know because I used it the very next day.

What are you making?

I actually find school holidays less conducive to making because I'm hanging out with these 2 gorgeous boys I know. How about you?

love you more than warm peanut butter on the end of my finger xxxx

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This Week Remember

Just as you are. Right in this moment.

wear it, declare it, hope for it, name it, try it, risk it....

because this is life right now, right here 

this is my thought for you today

love you more than a deep breath xxx

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Learning Together - Holiday Activities

I showed the boys some of the amazing photos that people have made with props and children lying on the ground and we decided to do some of our own.

  • Brainstorming - we loosely sketched all the ideas we had
  • organising - we got props and worked together on the set up
  • negotiation - everyone had their own ideas and I tried to let each person have a lead sometimes
  • editing - I showed them how I edited them on pic monkey and then we did a strawberry picking photo together - this was also a nice opportunity to talk about how photos can be airbrushed and not tell the real story of a person or scenario
  • creative thinking - need water or a zoo or clouds.... what objects can you find around the house?

We only managed 2 photo shoots but we got some sweet results and the boys were pretty pleased with the final photos.

Obviously we won't be up for any major accolades but we worked with their ideas and it was a fun way to kill some time on an overcast (yay!) summer day. As an activity this is a great one for creative thinking, problem solving and having fun together.

Learning Together a series for primary aged children and their parents - activities that break up homework monotony, promote skills and create positive experiences together.

love you more than a teddy trip to the zoo xxx

Monday, January 19, 2015


Strawberry picking with special friends in Hanhndorf

a very tasty activity

love you more than a read and shiny strawberry xxx

Friday, January 16, 2015

Flip's Summer Reading Reviews

Hi There - It's Flip again with some more books I have been reading that you might enjoy.

Diary of a Basketball Hero by Shamini Flint

2 funny things about this book were when he said he would die if he had to play on the girls team and they think he has a girlfriend.
The illustrations are made out of just texta and they are really funny.
I think 6 and older will be able to read this on their own and children from 3-6 will enjoy having it read to them. You will like this book if you are a fan of The Wimpy Kid's books.
Bounce adds: I liked the picture of the hole down, down to the middle of the earth.
Details - Allen&Unwin - Jan 2015, RRP $9.99

Diary of a Golf Pro by Shamini Flint

2 funny things about this book are that he has 272 shots to get 2 holes! Also they have to pay a $5000 apology when they lose.
I like Marcus because he doesn't want to play sport but I like sport. He always gets messed up.
I would be happy to read these stories again.
Details - Allen&Unwin - Jan 2015, RRP $9.99

* Mama was very excited to discover that these books were illustrated by the wonderful author illustrator who taught her class at the WEA last year * She also adds that these books were very well pawed over and read by Flip. He laughed aloud at the funny bits and could easily handle them independently.

The Cryptic Casebook: The Talkative Tombstone by Ursula Dubosarsky

In this story it is mainly about a tombstone that can talk! In Argentina (where the books are set) their tombs are like little houses. I really like the challenges in this book because in one you had to work out how Coco figured out a card trick - I worked it out and Mum got it wrong.
When I read this book on my own there are a few Spanish words (I leant Spanish in 2014) that are quite hard at points - but I can read this on my own.
I love the series of Cryptic Casebooks.

Mama adds: these are very readable books both to share and as an independent read. The small and solvable puzzles add a nice element and the mystery is a good opportunity for making predictions together. I like the use of Spanish in the books.
Details - Allen&Unwin - Oct 2014, RRP $9.99

The Secret Seven Books by Enid Blyton

We got the complete set of these for Christmas and mama has read us four of them already. The best bit about these books is in the short story collection 'the secret of the old mill.' I like that one because Jack thought the spirit of the mill had provided spoons but it was actually robbers hiding their treasure. My favourite character is Scamper because he goes on almost every adventure.

Bounce adds: The secret seven always work out the problem. The books are cool because the secret seven work together. I liked the story where they found Jeff and in the end they found him again.

Mama adds: If your children like the famous five they will like these a lot too and they are quicker and easier to read both solo and aloud. I think we will be nearly through all 15! of the adventures by the end of the holidays. I would point out there is some old fashioned gender roles but generally these are probably fairly forward thinking for the time. The Secret Seven consists of 3 girls and 4 boys and although the boys tend to get to do all the nighttime and 'dangerous' bits both genders are equally valued members of the 7.
Details - Hodder Children's Books - March 2012 RRP (difficult to find a full set online)

Anders and Comet by Gregory Mackay

This book is about when Anders finds a comet. They get blown away on a bouncy castle and their friend helps them. This book is a comic book but it has chapters! There is some writing but it is only speech bubbles. I liked that Anders found the comet - the pictures are black and white and really nice.   I liked this book and I would like to read another one about Anders.
Details - Allen&Unwin - Jan 2015, $12.99

Thank you very much to Allen and Unwin for sending me some of these books to review. They made me laugh a lot.

from Flip.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Yeah I Made It - laundry liquid 3/52

This isn't a tricky (or impressive make) but I wanted to share it because I've just got back into it and it's so simple I think some of you might like to make it.

When we were in NZ I made our bench spray, laundry liquid and dishwasher powder but here in Aus last year I dropped the ball. In our new place we don't have a dishwasher so I don't need to think about that but I have been meaning to get back into making laundry liquid.

If you haven't done it before or considered it here are my top reasons:
1. Cheap - it is so economical to make your own I would say less than $2-3 for 56 washes

2. Quick and Easy - I know that sometimes these 'make your own' routes or cloth nappies or whatever can seem very time consuming for output but this is literally a 10 minute make and for me it means more than 10 weeks worth of washing. I can manage 10 minutes 5 times in a year.

3. Easy to get the stuff - sometimes I want to make some cleaning products/soaps etc but they have ingredients that are hard to find. All the things you need for this will be at your local supermarket (unless it's completely rubbish!).

4. Environmentally better - the ingredients in this are very simple and few which means less impact on the environment. I'm pretty sure (but you should check) that all are fine for grey water systems too.

So there it is :o) Are you convinced?

The recipe I use is Wendyl Nissen's one and she has a heap of wonderful recipes on her site if you want to make more of your own products or buy her ready made ones in NZ. 

Here it is:
  • ½ bar  Sunlight soap, grated
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • ½ cup washing soda
  • 50 g borax (a scant 1/4 c)
  • 6 litres hot water - hot from the tap is fine
  1. Place grated soap in a saucepan with the first quantity of water and heat on low until soap is dissolved. I stir while I'm doing this but it doesn't take long at all. Stir in washing soda and borax. 
  2. Stir for a few minutes until thickened and remove from heat. 
  3.  Add 1 litre of hot water to a bucket. Add soap mixture and mix well. 
  4. Fill bucket with another 5 litres of hot water and mix well. I use a large lidded bucket and leave it in this but you can also transfer it to empty milk bottles or the like.
  5. Add about 20 drops of essential oil like lavender or eucalyptus. Use 1/2c per wash

This makes enough for about 56 washes so it goes for ages. It is kind of gluggy but it leaves no powdery marks on your clothes and should be fine if you just give it a stir now and again.

* Sunlight soap comes in a box of 5 for a few dollars and is in the laundry section - as is washing soda. You can also use sunlight soap on laundry stains.

Do you make any of your own cleaners? Would you?

love you more than feeling virtuous! xxx