Monday, June 29, 2015

Author Interview and Giveaway


It feels like the longest time since I've done a giveaway so I am super happy to include a giveaway in this author interview. A while ago you may remember that I reviewed Pieces of Sky in a round up of children and YA fiction I've been reading.

I also had the opportunity to interview Trinity Doyle and I leapt at the opportunity, having really enjoyed the book. It is really nice to be able to connect with an author whose work you have enjoyed and ask them questions. I hope you enjoy the questions I posed.

I sent through the following questions to Trinity and these were her responses:

How has Pieces of Sky changed from the very first sentence you wrote to the finished book you now have?

I think the easiest way to answer this is to say how it hasnt changed. Well, Lucy, Evan, Steffi and Cam are still there. Pieces of Sky underwent extensive rewrites as I, essentially, learnt to write. It always began from the same place: fear of the water, but spun out in so many different directions. With each draft I felt it getting closer to the actual story but I had to sacrifice a lot to end up with the final book.

Who is your favourite character in the book and why?

No! I love them all. Last time I answered this question I said Steffi but this time Ill go with Cam. Cam was the big brother I always wanted and I cruelly took away from Lucy. I love stories where an absent character still has so much weight, and I hoped I achieved this here. Cam, to me, is a bottomless wella place where I can just keep falling. Hes a fantastic muddle of contradictions from the leader to the layabout to the obsessive. Hes the kind of person you dont think values anything but in truth values things fiercely. I wish everyone couldve known him.

What is your favourite line/s from the book?

*fetches book* This is one of my favourite moments

            The Sunbird hits the freeway and its just us and the road for the next four hours. The day is hot and we drive with the windows down, the wind whipping in at us, and the stereo up. Despite the heat, Evans wearing jeansblack jeans and a dark green T-shirtbut hes kicked off his shoes, bare feet on the pedals.
            I stick my feet on the dash and lean back in my seat. I get a surge of something: freedom, independence, growing upit sings in my bones.

Which character gave you the most difficulty to capture in words?

Alix. Alix was a side character I had no idea what to do with. She started off as Steffis friend but was too similar to her, so I made her a swimmer but then I couldnt work out why she was friends with Steffi. Then I made her Lucys friend and a swimmer and she began to make sense to me. Once she felt real the story just seemed to jump into this other more realistic space.

You have had a lot of different jobs, how have they influenced you as a writer?

This is a tough one! I think in my different creative endeavours Ive always been hunting for my voice, something that felt true to me. Many things Ive done felt like an imitation of something else. I always had the hope that through exploring different styles Id find mine but when that didnt happen I struggled to continue. Writing is the closest Ive come so far.

What book do you wish you had written? or What book do you read again and again?

I reread a bunch of books this year and one of the standouts was Hunting and Gathering by Anna Galvada. The story is essentially about a bunch of lonely people finding each other and becoming a familyand I just love that. I finished it and thought I want to do that! And thats pretty much what Im trying to accomplish in my current project.

Can you share a standout moment for you in the process of writing Pieces of Sky?

When I was trying to figure Evan out. I was listening to the radio at work and Polaris by Jimmy Eat World came on. I stopped whatever I was doing and just sat there because that song was him. Even though it was nothing to do with himand he has mixed feelings about Jimmy Eat Worldhe was just completely in it. I listened to that track on repeat for a long time after that.

At what point of the process did you start to think that the published book would become a reality? Do you call yourself a writer when people ask you what you do, when did you start doing that?

I always hoped for this story to be published but it didnt start looking like it could actually happen until Id gotten to the querying agent stagethats when I believed I had something publishable.

I read an interview with a writer, cant recall who, where they said to stop calling yourself an aspiring writer, if you write then youre a writer. I tried to own it after that. Its something thats very personal for me though so I struggle to talk about it, I tend to crack a few jokes then turn the conversation back on them.

As a writer and an aspiring writer what were the things that kept/keep you going on the days when it feels like an impossible dream?

Other writers. Ive been lucky to have found some wonderful writing partners and we all just care about each others work so much. Having someone else take what youre doing seriously is a massive motivator.

What practise has most influenced the development of your own unique voice as a writer?

Good writing is all about honesty and honesty of self is the hardest thing to put on the page. Something thats laughable but I think had a great baring on my writing was the years I spent on livejournal. In what I call my vague emo poetry I was learning to name what I was feeling and to put those feelings into a public space. That practice meant that I was a lot closer to my emotional self when I came to my manuscript and Id already dealt, to a degree, with that fear of being seen.

I loved reading these answers, I would love to sit down and have a face to face talk to Trinity! Thanks so much Trinity for answering these questions, your humility as an author and person really shine through and I look forward to reading your next book.

If you enjoy YA fiction I'm sure this will be a book you will like. If you want a chance to win your own copy (NZ and Aus readers only, sorry) then please leave a comment below - how about you tell me: a favourite line from a book, the title you'd chose for a book if you wrote one or what you are reading at the moment.

Entries close Monday 6th of July and I'll email the winner after that.

love you more than a parcel in the post xxx

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Yeah I Made It... 26/52 Rats and Mice

Hey Gorgeous,

Here are some little projects of late... remember those 100 cards I abandoned making last year?

Here is one I whipped up the other day - it was B for Barnacle

and I had a go at crochet again too with a magazine (Mollie Makes, thanks Kimberly!) to guide me.

Sometimes a quick and easy make is just what the doctor ordered!

love you more than a new brooch xxx

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Learning Together - savings goals

Hey beautiful people,

Can you believe another one so soon??? I've written about how we do pocket money before. Today is about a new thing I've introduced to help the boys. They tend to get all excited about saving for a big ticket item then they see something smaller and cheaper and quicker to have and forget what they were saving for. (I think I'm a bit like that too!)

Recently at a friends house Flip discovered iPod nanos. Our boys listen to a lot of audio books and some music and Flip does love his technology! so he decided he wanted one of them. We looked up new ones and second hand ones and figured he could probably get one for around $150 - being his father's son ;-) he's only interested in the 7th or 8th generation!

Bounce wants roller skates so we had a look and found that $80 would be plenty for him to get a pair.

I helped them make a temperature gauge.

Having a goal and saving towards it is so much easier when you can see it coming and if I get really organised I'll print them both a picture so they can see it coming. It will take them quite a while to save up but I know they will really value them when they get there.

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

What keeps you on track when you are saving up for something special?

love you more than a savings goal achieved xxxx

Monday, June 22, 2015

26/52 - The Parklands

Happy Monday y'all,

The thing about living in the city is the lack of outside space at home, however Adelaide City is surrounded by green parklands (they are actually brown in the summer but let's not be too picky).

So these parklands which are about a 3 minute walk away become our play space.

There is an area we have been introduced to that is the 'hut area'. 

On Sunday afternoon with another lovely family, we headed out and discovered a half hut. Over the next hour and a half the littles and dads built the other half, while the mamas watched on and chatted.

As the sun sank we wandered back home to dinner. Such a lovely afternoon - all outdoors and technology free. No resources other than what we could find. These are the days when it all seems right.

Does the final result remind anyone else of Eeyore's house in Winnie-the-Pooh?

love you more than a 3 metre stick xxx

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yeah I Made It... 25/52 Skirt Re-Make

Hi Y'all,

It makes me smile and nod when I come across an almost complete handmade item in an op-shop. I tried on this skirt in my local which was too small. I suspect it was too small for the original owner too because it was complete except for the final hook and eye/button and button hole required to make it complete. Don't you hate when that happens?

I'm pretty sure it's Dupion Silk. Originally my plan was to take off the waistband and just insert an elastic waist, then I decided that might not be the most flattering choice....

So, I took off the waistband, sketched in some darts and cut the right size from the top of a skirt pattern, bias bound the waist facing and stitched it back together - sort of.

I left all the volume from the hips down. Then I scrunched and pinned all over the skirt to get the desired level of puffy. Once that was done I did a stitch and re-stitch over the line (on the machine) and it was done!

Side note - I took it to school to collect the boys in the afternoon so I could trim the threads and gathered quite a little entourage asking what it was and exclaiming how pretty it was. Kids do love to see craft in public it would seem, and I guess many of them don't see their parents making stuff.

I'm stoked with the final result. This is how I wore it.
Top - opshop,
Tights - hand-me-down from my sister,
Skirt - remake from a $8 op-shop purchase,
Cardi - throw out from a friend,
Boots bought on sale for $75 down from $250 a couple of years ago

The Atlas and I joked about the ensemble looking a little like Santa's Little Helper - so he said he was going to get a t-shirt made that said "I'm with Sanat's little helper". I do love that he thinks this is a great outfit, I know there's many a partner who wouldn't!!

love you more than an outfit that turns heads xxx

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Double Shot of Happiness

Hi, hi lovelies,

Billed as a book about the wonderful and inspiring journey of Tim Sharp from his autism diagnosis to his career as a renowned artist I found this book was more of Judy's journey.

Judy is Tim's mother and the writer of the book. This is her story - it is the story of a mother who has journeyed with great commitment to her 2 sons through the heartbreak of Tim's diagnosis, as a survivor of an abusive relationship and as a solo mother.

I so enjoyed this book. It was different from what I was expecting. It does cover Tim's journey and I was certainly captured by the humour and talent Tim obviously has but it is much more.

I loved the honesty with which Judy writes - she talks about her own insecurities, her guilt and struggles. I found myself thinking of the mamas I know who are going solo, the mamas I know who have children who don't fit the box, and the conversations and dreams that all mamas have for their children.

I think this book is a wonderfully uplifting read and it will give hope to anyone who has been treated with a lack of dignity or given a diagnosis without grace or humanity. I also think it would be great reading for any professionals - teachers, doctors, psychologists, case workers..... who journey with autism.

Tim's artistic triumph is not his alone; it is a triumph for a mother, a family and for all those in the community who have been told they can never amount to anything. I applaud Judy and Tim for the wonderful and inspiring lives they are living and for the massive generosity that they lavish on those around them.

A beautiful read.

Details - Allen & Unwin May 2015, RRP $32.99 also available as an ebook.

love you more than a cheeky cartoon xxx

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Learning Together - Screen Time

Hello mamas (and papas?),

It's been a while since I've shared one of these posts. Recently I've been thinking about our screen time policy. For those who don't know me personally I'm very strict about screen time. We had a fairly strong 'no screens before 2' kind of thing and after that very limited screen time. I know we fall well outside the 'norm' when it comes to access and time on screens and we are happy with our family approach.

Like any family we have considered reasons around how and why we decide on how much time is spent looking at a screen and I'm sharing our system in the hope it might work for other families even if they have different amounts of time allowances/access.

I do have one son in particular who loves technology and I tend to have a default no setting generally but I want the boys to have some access and I also want to teach them about managing their own timetables as they get older. (They are currently 6.5 and 9).

So we have decided to use a voucher system. The boys will both get a collection of 10 minute tickets weekly. They will then have autonomy, within reason, about how they use these over the course of a week. This will include all screens - Wii time, iPad, Computer and TV/DVD.

There will be some exceptions if we decide to watch a family movie that won't count, weekly family check-in on the Wii doesn't count either. At least 20 minutes have to be spent on an educational thing like study ladder or maths games etc.

The boys are so excited about the new system and it has a number of benefits for us:

  • no nagging - the boys don't have to ask and hope every day that maybe I will say yes
  • time management - how will you spend your time, how does it feel when you use it all up on one day? do you like a little every day? 
  • motivation - if jobs are done quickly there may be time for some screen
  • responsibility - they will need to be responsible for using the vouchers and telling me
  • time concepts - especially for the little one how much is 10 minutes, how many minutes in an hour etc
  • sharing - we will allow them to pool time to use technology together for some things, if they want to
  • anticipation - for my oldest especially knowing he will get some screen time and being able to look forward to it and anticipate it will make him feel very happy
  • clear boundaries - I find this takes stress out of things - we all know what the rules are and we all feel happy because everyone is getting what they want

I know this isn't a learning/homework thing but I hope it gives some ideas and I know there are skills that the boys will get out of this. 

In terms of management I am going to print and laminate the tickets and they will get given them each week at pocket money time. As they spend them they will go into a box - unused ones will go on a magnetic clip on the fridge. At the end of the week empty and repeat! 

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

How do you manage screen time in your house?

love you more than laminated tickets xxx

Monday, June 15, 2015

25/52 Brothers

Another Saturday on the sideline.

My favourite part of the day was finding these two reading Beano together while the little one was subbed off. Big brother giving little brother a massage and reading aloud to him from Beano and the two of them laughing together.

I am so grateful for the relationship they have.

love you more than 'vintage' (2005) Beano xxx

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Yeah I Made It.... 24/52 Weaving

Life and health lovelies,

Last week I had the joy of attending a 2 hour weaving workshop as part of reconciliation week here in Australia. Three beautiful women came and taught us traditional style basket weaving with contemporary (raffia - I do remember raffia from the 80s!) material.

I started this little basket - it sits in my palm - and finished it when I got home.

I love it.

I may be on a basket making craze now. You may receive one for Christmas.

love you more than pop-pink and acid green xxxx

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

24/52 In The Riverlands

Happy Wednesday beautiful ones,

We were invited for a beautiful long-weekend away camping/glamping and river boating. The boys wore the same clothes everyday, I didn't shower at all while we were there and we came home covered in happy.

It was so gorgeous and the weather was amazing too. So nice to see the boys out of doors all weekend enjoying friendships.

love you more than a bush-egg cooked on a campfire xxx

Friday, June 5, 2015


You know that time when you just pop in to grab binding and thread for a project you've already cut out?

Then when you arrive the fabric is all 40% off,

and you spot some really cute lace for 99c a metre,

you leave with more than thread and binding,

you my friend are not alone.

love you more than a little bit of impulse shopping xxx

Thursday, June 4, 2015

23/52 Yeah I Made It.... Deer and Doe Belladone

Well hello there

When my sister came over at Christmas time she went through my stash with me and helped me put together a list of projects - matching patterns with fabrics (it was FUN!).

This was one of them, and then when The Monthly Stitch announced Indie Pattern Month on the blog, with prizes!, I knew it was time to have a go.

I have made some changes to it - I lengthened the bodice pieces by 3cm - I just plucked that number from the air because the other one was too short in the bodice and the darts sat way too high. Once I was finished I had to take a couple of pinches of fabric out of the back at the top because it was a bit gapey.

I also left off the keyhole back. I do love the keyhole back but I wanted to make the lengthening thing work first in case I couldn't manage it with the keyhole pieces - also I didn't really have enough fabric to include those bits.

I love this fabric very much. I picked it up on sale, and impulse, one day. It's Belle and Boo design called 'Come Fly With Me'.

I also went down a size from last time because I felt it was too large over all and cut the lowest neckline possible as well as narrowing the shoulders slightly. So there it is!

If you want to have a look at other indie makes pop over to TMS. Each week in June there is a different theme so you will get a really good variety of independent pattern companies on show - if that's your jam.

I tried using the tripod and taking photos in the front garden - in our defence we are waiting on the landlord to give us the go-ahead on a landscaping option.... and the hand mower that was provided was so rusty the handle has completely come off.... just so you know we aren't completely hopeless.

love you more than a person on a paper plane xxx

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Yummy Reading

Greetings gourmet lovers,

The plus side of being sent a recipe book to review is always in the making. You can't honestly review a recipe book if you haven't eaten its produce wouldn't you say?

The downside is that dinners are rarely able to be photographed because a) it's night time when they are served and lighting is not a strength in our rental, b) I'm not much for serving anything too beautifully and c) we're hungry already!

Nadia Lim's (of NZ masterchef fame) book Easy Weeknight Meals has proven a winner thus far.

I have made:
Crispy Fish Sliders with Fennel Apple Slaw and Piri Piri Aioli
Thyme-Stuffed Chicken, Butternut and Spinach with Mushroom Sauce
Italian Beef Ragu with Parsley Pasta
Sticky Hoisin and Ginger Pork with Rice and Bok Choy
Herb Chicken Wrapped in Bacon with Balsamic Vegetables
Laksa Chicken, Onion Sambal and Coconut Rice
Korma, Butternut and Kumara Soup

All of them have been super tasty, made from ingredients I know and liked by all I have served them to, including guests. My favourite part of the book is that it is organised into seasons. For this reason I have only tried the Autumn chapter but I have faith in the other seasons from the pictures! The great thing about a book arranged by season is that you end up buying in season which makes it cheaper and fresher - double win.

I love that all the recipes are photographed too - I need the visual inspiration to make me want to make and eat a recipe... anyone else like that?

The recipes are quite meat heavy, like a chicken breast per person in some cases - I often cook for four from only one. I also found I take longer to get through the recipes than suggested but I think this is typical for me when I am doing a recipe for the first time because there is so much re-reading. Aside from those I really love this recipe book and am looking forward to making more recipes from the winter section now we are in winter!

These recipes are born out of the business My Food Bag which delivers ingredients and recipes for weekly meals to people who buy into the system in NZ and Australia.

love you more than a menu plan with 3 new recipes xxx

Monday, June 1, 2015

Yeah I Made It - 22/52 Another Kimono Top

Yes it is another 2 piece kimono style top, it's this pattern - so quick and simple - that brings me back for more.

I had cut this out a while ago and so including french seaming and adding binding it was a forty minute make.

I rather like the wee fluro bindings. I bought the binding especially. The front fabric is an offcast from a friend and the grey stretch is now on its 3rd project.

What do you make again and again?

love you more than fluro yellow xxx