Saturday, September 26, 2015

Book Week - A Compendium of Collective Nouns

Wordy wordsmiths prepare to be ear tickled,

A Compendium of Collective Nouns by Jennifer Skelly is one of those books I picked up on 20 different occasions in the store, went to buy it but discovered it was out of stock and eagerly snatched up the next time we were both in store at the same time.

This a self published title and there is a book 2 as well. I adore this book, it is a kids title but, as with many kids titles, I purchased it for me. (I do share these books with my children and other people's children too, obviously!).

What is really cool is that Skelly crowd-funded this book which is a win for every wannabe author and illustrator who has felt like publishing will never happen for them. And, given that she is ready to publish her fourth title, I think it would like a successful journey too.

Each page contains a gorgeous illustration of a group of animals and their collective noun underneath. Some favourites are 'a flamboyance of flamingos' with 'a charm of finches' and 'a bouquet of hummingbirds'... but really every page is a treat for this word loving lady.

This is one of those books that makes me happy every time I look at it. If you love words and meanings and pictures this is a book to make you smile too. You can purchase her book directly from her website. It is a really nice sized book (between A5 and A4) with a hard cover and I think well worth the money, plus you get all the joy of the indie experience.

It is for sale on her website for $24.95 (plus postage). In Adelaide you can also purchase a copy from E for Ethel's cafe on Melbourne St.

love you more than wisdom of wombats xxx

Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Week - What My Daughters Taught Me

Bookish types pull up an old leather chair and donn your slippers!

What My Daughters Taught Me by Joseph Wakim is an autobiography or memoir (I confess I am unsure if there is a difference. Does an autobiography cover a whole life? How is a memoir different and should it contain things to remember like shopping lists??).

In 2003 Joseph lost his wife Nadia to breast cancer and found himself the solo dad to three amazing girls aged 4, 9 and 11. This book tells the story of their next 12 years together and the ways in which he learnt to both hold on to the important bits and let go of the bits that needed to be let go of.

As he worked, parented, grieved and tried to create a safe haven he garnered all sorts of insights.

This book has laugh out loud moments, cry moments and a whole lot of information that a solo father of girls has to discover along the way. I loved the way that Wakim writes with self-deprocation and honesty and I think there is lots to learn for anyone, as well as an insight into a beautiful and healthy relationship forged in the hardest of circumstances.

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

love you more than a family band xxx

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Yeah I Made it 39/52... for the Ladies


Our church is participating over the year in an anti trafficking fundraiser for women in Nepal. You can find out more here.

Saturday is a women's breakfast, because you know us ladies we like food and we ain't gonna lie. Tickets are sold for the breakfast with all profits going to the charity but then they also have stuff you can buy on the day like merino infinity scarves and baking on vintage plates, and let's face it baking done by someone else is always more tasty! (or, contains almond essence and glace cherries - blurk! Don't you hate it when that happens??!).

So a non-crafty friend and I whipped up 18 polymer clay necklaces to sell. When I say whipped up what I really mean is ate chocolate and chatted while doing damage to our thumbs. Evidence below:

I always find it supremely rewarding when people's practical gifting can be used to bring real and meaningful difference to other people. We spent just below $50 and will possibly make nearly $200 for the cause. That's a good return on a blistered thumb in my books.

It's a little thing/philosophy of mine that rather than thinking we can't make a difference perhaps we could all just start with what talents we have and see how those pan out for us.

love you more than spending frenzy at a charity event xxx

Book Week - Stay With Me

Readers don't you love the smell of a new book?

So it's book week here - 3 days in, you may be forgiven for not getting the message yet!

Stay With Me by Maureen McCarthy is a great read.

I reviewed her book The Convent earlier in the year, which I really enjoyed. I shied away from this title for a while because it is centred around escaping from domestic violence and one has to feel robust to dive into such a topic.

McCarthy handles the subject matter with sensitivity and strength. She reveals enough but not so much that you're left quivering in a corner and things are done in layers throughout the novel. The novel opens with the escape, and because of your personal investment in Tess's success right from the first page there is a lot of heart racing. You might want to make sure you've got a bit of time so you can cope getting through the first bit and into the story.

There is some sexual imagery in the book but it is very early on and not dwelt on. There are also descriptions of domestic violence so that might also be an important warning for some readers.

What I adore about this book is the way in which the relationship between the 2 main characters, who are strangers at the beginning of the book, unfolds. It feels real and McCarthy avoids the temptation to put it on high speed. I also love that the potential hot guy/love interest of the book is disabled and scarred. It's a nice change to fall in love with a non-ideal looking character.

This is a moving, pacey and well written read. It is easy to see why McCarthy has so many great titles under her belt. She's a writer to love.

Details - Allen & Unwin, April 2015, RRP $22.99

love you more than finding beauty in unexpected places xxx

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Book Week - Graeme Clark + Giveaway

Sup' Book Lovers?

So I know you have felt the presence of tumbleweed blowing through here on and off a little, oh you didn't miss me - hmm, so cue awkward pause.... now here's another book review for book week. 'K?

Graeme Clark by Mark Worthing

Released to celebrate the 80th birthday of this Australian and World legend.

Graeme Clark - for those not in the know, is the Australian doctor who invented the cochlear (yes I had to check how to spell that) implant. This means that people who have complete hearing loss/ are deaf can receive the gift of sound in their lives.

I loved this biography. It had a real sense of authenticity about it. From the beginning you realise that Graeme himself is an incredibly humble and dedicated man and his wife is too. The struggles he had, the slights from other colleagues, the balance of faith and science and even the negative reactions he received from some of the deaf community are documented without hype.

Mark Worthing has written a very readable book which goes into great detail but maintains a sense of flow and engaged me as a reader. I read this within a week, which is very fast for me with a biography or memoir style book.

As much as the subject matter was really interesting to me what I think this book really achieved for me was an encouragement that you don't need people to approve of what you want to accomplish or even believe it can be done. What you (I) need is integrity, commitment to doing due diligence and an unwavering work ethic. I really think this would be an inspirational read for many people.

Allen and Unwin have also agreed to give away a copy of this book which excites me immensely because I have had the joy of having deaf friends and being involved with the deaf community at my church in New Zealand and I am thrilled to see the deaf community and its issues and journey highlighted.

Details - Allen & Unwin, August 2015 RRP$29.99 also available as an ebook.

Leave a comment below for your chance to win! (NZ and Aus only)

love you more than a song sung in sign language xxx

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Book Week - Remarkably Rexy

Welcome back bibliophiles,

It's my book week so I'm bringing you all sorts of titles for a week of marvelling over the words of the world.

Remarkably Rexy by Craig Smith is a great picture book. Craig Smith has the enviable combo of being both an experienced author and illustrator (yes, I may envy this combo more than I should). This book is the first time, however, that he has done both in one book.

Rex is a cat to love, sure he's a little narcissistic, but it's for the children that he maintains his general awesomeness. It's another typical day as he prepares for his performance but this day is going to include a visitor that just might steal his thunder.....

The illustrations are full of style and movement and any little cat lover will be sure to fall in love with Rex. The drama of the narrative is perfectly captured by the pictures.

Plus there is a link to a free audio reading of the book too - audio books for the win!

Details - Allen & Unwin, August 2015, RRP $24.99 (HB)

love you more than a performance where no one steals my thunder xxx

Monday, September 21, 2015

Book Week - Sheila

Hey Team,

So it's been a little quiet here, it's not that I'm not thinking a lot of awesomeness to blog, I just keep having other boring things to do like working and washing and making food for people who seem to want dinner every night!

So I thought this week to get the proverbial ball on the move I'd share a book every day, because books!

Sheila by Robert Wainwright

I got this book ages ago and started reading it then I got distracted and it disappeared in a pile of competing titles - no one argues more than the book pile in our house! Sheila is the biography of a young Australian woman who set off to London with her mother for a holiday in March 1914 and ended up working in Egypt as a nurse for soldiers in the first world war. By the time the war was over she was married to an Earl and living the life of a socialite in London.

Sheila lived a remarkable life she was in the very tight circle of the princes, married three times to an earl, baron and prince. Her circles were full of names that would be familiar to any reader. (Like Cecil Beaton, Noel Coward, King George, Winston Churchill, Lord Mountbatten... it goes on) This biography is a fascinating view into the world of the rich, glamorous and famous during the first half of the 1900s.

If you like history particularly the stories of the names of the day and the descriptions of their social lives and parties then this will be a book you really enjoy. I couldn't get over how much bed hopping was considered quite normal at the time and the strong ties to America and the availability of the royals to those in their circles.

A great read about an Australian girl from a sheep station in NSW who made it into the circle of the day and made waves while she was there.

Details - Allen & Unwin April 2015, RRP $22.99

love you more than a perfectly stylish hat xxx

Sunday, September 20, 2015

37/52 - Computer Geekery

Our city library has a free science club on Tuesdays from 4-5pm. We bus into town after school and last week it was just us!

At the moment they are doing robotics - I know right? So there were two teachers, plus me, plus my two children. They had so much fun.

Sometimes it's worth the effort to discover things and give them a go. My boys love it.

love you more than a ratio that means you get all the attention xxx

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Yeah I Made It - The Extras Addition

So you're here to find out what the extras are?

Extras are those bits and pieces I make that I don't feel like really count as proper makes - maybe because they aren't clothes or possibly because they are simple to make or probably because they are a little yawnsville.... if you know what I mean.

Here's some extras that have popped out of my craft room lately. More than one, you know to keep your attention span! I think you can work out what they are from the pictures - you're clever like that!

love you more than completed requirements xxx

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Cat At The Wall

Did I not tell you I had been reading?

Deborah Ellis is a familiar author to me. I have reviewed her book Moon At Nine and I'm sure many of you would be familiar with her Pavana series.

The Cat At The Wall is another power packed read. Using the premise of an American adolescent girl who discovers herself as a cat in Bethlehem, the story unfolds. What I think is really clever about this book is how unlikeable I found the main character of the cat. That may sound like a criticism but to me it is a testament to the power of Ellis' writing skills. I managed to stick with the cat and maybe even start to like it. And along the way so much more than just an 'ancient conflict far away', is discussed, uncovered and explored.

If I were still teaching at middle school level I would recommend this as a book for all the children in my class, especially the girls, to read. There is so much about growing up, being mean, being a victim as well as humanity and conflict told with a powerful narrative that stops the book from feeling teachy.

Ellis is a writer who deals with big topics well and who opens up a world away for a modern young reader in a brilliant way. We need these kind of storytellers in the world. She is also incredibly generous - more than a million dollars in royalties from her books have been donated to organisations supporting health and education in Afghanistan.

Details  - Allen and Unwin, September 2015 - hitting a shelf near you now. RRP $16.99.

love you more than an annoying cat who steals batteries xxx

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Girl's Guide to Survival

Sup wahines?

This little treasure landed on my doorstep care of the author Sarah Johannsen, a beautiful, crafty and gregarious Adelaidian. I really enjoyed this book it's an explosion of great, practical, sassy, aunty -slash - bestie advice.

Image from Sarah's website.

This book covers all the advice a young (or older - I learnt some new tricks) lady might need when she's striking out alone. It's sort of like a modern etiquette book that combines actual practical advice as well. So alongside deco ideas and making sense of dress codes there is also heaps of advice on changing tyres, working out a budget and using natural cleaners.

I would have loved this book when I left home and I think it would be a great gift for any girl heading out of home to uni, work or flatting. Sarah has a lovely chatty writing style and the book is a great read. The advice is well written and succinct which means she covers a huge range of topics.

To get your hands on a copy you can head over here or you can buy it direct from the lovely author herself.

you can also check out Sarah's blog (I want to make some of those whipped cream cherry shoes!!) here.

love you more than being an old-dog who learnt a new trick xxx

Monday, September 7, 2015

Yeah I Made It... part 3 of the pledge 37/52

People I'm getting all up on my pledge. You knew I could do it, didn't you?

This dress is another of the Ruby Dress by Sew Simple. Yes another banged out (and maybe more in the pipeline....). I love this fabric.

But I may have needed to think a little about how a diagonal stripe might work when making a dress like this, or nay dress. Hmmm.... thinking in retrospect, kind of tiring.

So here it is. Favourite part is the full zipper down the back - a little risky some may say, but what is life without a little adventure now and again - plus I also no longer own toddlers. This could be a very dangerous dress for toddler owners.

I love the gold and navy and I'm coming around to the weird mind-bending behaviour of the stripes on the skirt. Plus - pledge achieved. Let's have a whoop about that.

How about you? Are the weird stripes working for you or are you rummaging for something to fix the migraine you feel coming on? Sorry about that - just imagine the effect of me in real life bopping about in it. There that's made things worse now hasn't it?

Outfit details.
Dress - Sew Simple Ruby Dress pattern
Necklace - Oxfam
Tights - possibly a hand me down
Bracelet - silver, from a second hand vintagey type shop
Shoes - Novo
Sunglasses - the reject shop (I am a fashionista to aspect to!!)
Earrings - a gift

not the end of Ruby dresses in this neighbourhood, but the end for today.

Tell me dear ones what mistake have you made lately. Go on, we're all friends here.

love you more than a fabulous zip xxx

Sunday, September 6, 2015

week thirty five and thirty six of fifty two


I get a little behind now and again on these posts but they are so good for keeping a record for the year. Plus the relatives love them. Hi grandad!

dodge ball in the laneway with dad

a couple of slightly difficult to photograph muppets

making pizza

robotics at the library

soccer trophies at final game

that must mean it is spring - which is very good news for the washing pile, good news indeed.

love you more than spring sunshine xxx

Stray by Rachael Craw

Super humans buckle up the much anticipated sequel to Spark is on the shelves. (I pre-ordered mine at my beautiful local bookshop and actually got to read it before it's 1st September release!)

Stray by Rachael Craw. Part 2 of the trilogy.

Now it must be said I sometimes think the best way to read an amazing trilogy is to close your ears, shut off your FOMO (fear of missing out - I am so down with the lingo) and wait until they are all on the shelves so you can read the whole thing over 2 days ignoring the serious family neglect that comes with it.

However, I could not wait. (It's a fomo thing!) So I've now devoured book two. What scares me about trilogies is that all the relationship development will be left behind in the second book (think Lord of the Rings) and it's all action. Not so with Stray.

There is still lots of great character interaction and for me this book feels more mature in terms of the writing style and weightiness of the story. I do hate spoilers in books so I'm not going to talk about the actual narrative suffice to say Evie has to face up to the full weight of being an unwilling part of the Affinity Project (I should not have said the A-word!). The emotions and action in the book are powerful and the reader is left with very little time to catch breath. You may need to clear your schedule for this one.

Also there are funny bits. I like that and I think it is clever to be able to achieve humour amidst the dark and hang on for dear life action.

There are some steamy scenes so be warned if that is not your thing. It's not a major feature of the book but it is there. There are some really terrific new characters introduced too and for me the book has a Bourne Supremacy kind of feel to it's story. It would make a great film. I should probably be cast as Miriam because that is my name but I fear I am: a)not attractive enough, b) too old, c) way too unfit and d) not American. (There may be an alphabet of reasons that I would not be cast but for the sake of my delicate ego we'll leave it at 4 - extra reasons are not welcomed).

So YA book lovers get out and get a copy. You will receive a fabulous book and also be supporting the emergence of a wonderful New Zealand writer.

Details - Walker Books, Information and links on where to buy it can be located here. Or check out your local independent bookseller and support keeping bookshops alive and lovely. :o)

love you more than the taste of slightly burnt, I was distracted by reading while making dinner, dinner xxx

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Truth About Peacock Blue

readers! I have been reading some more... oh yesy, yes I have, lots of reviews coming your way.

The Truth About Peacock Blue is a novel by Rosanne Hawke.

Hawke lives in rural South Australia but has spent 10 years as an aid worker in Pakistan so her setting rings true. The novel follows the life of Aster an almost 13 year old Christian living in a small village in Pakistan.

An opportunity to have an education at a girls school in the city seems like a wonderful chance for Aster, but being in a minority doesn't make things easy. From the beginning one of her teachers seems to have it in for her. When Aster is accused of blasphemy the real trouble begins.

In Pakistan blasphemy carries the death sentence and there is very little, if any, evidence required.

Inspired by the tragic true story of Asia Bibi and the assassinations of those who have tried to speak out against the blasphemy laws this story isn't about happy endings and hollywood fixes.

Despite it's sad narrative this book is a challenging read. I think these kinds of books are especially important for children who live in countries like NZ and Australia to develop both empathy and awareness of how life is around the world. This would make an excellent novel to study with intermediate and high school aged children.

As an adult I found this a very moving read, the relationships are beautiful and the joy and hope of the story manage to triumph even the bleakest turns.

Details - Allen & Unwin September 2015, RRP $15.99

love you more than a box of tissues at easy reach xxx

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Yeah I Made It 36/52.... Another Kimono Top - pledge part 2

Right it's time to hold onto your excitement about another Kimono style top.

Thing is, this style is so wearable and quick to make and basically requires 2 pieces of fabric. I've had this cut out since about February - I know! What was holding me back?

This fabric was bought on impulse at the last minute on trade me and I got metres of it. In the end I gifted it to my sister when we left NZ and she made this:

and gave me the scraps. She also made the bias binding I used on the neckline. (Okay so maybe this almost looks like exactly the same top - but it's a rare day when our dressing styles cross over! Check out her blog and you'll see for yourself.)

This top is cut on the bias so it floats and sweeps around the body, check me getting poetic!, more than fabric cut on the grain.

In the end I think it was a 20 minute job one evening when I was doing something else in the craft space.

Outfit details:
Top - stash, re-gifted fabric, self made pattern
Jeans - sportsgirl (I own a black pair the same and that is the sum total of my jeans)
Shoes - siera brand bought from a local op-shop $10
Necklace - beautiful origami paper on wood from Freedom Creative

Oh yes - it's done! 2/3 done - I am on track as we speak for getting into the 10th of Sept deadline.

do you have a project half started that just needs a bit of finishing time?

love you more than a wardrobe full of easy tops xxx