Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bookish - Her Mother's Secret

Hi, hi again,

Six weeks off screen entertainment has indeed been good for my 'to read pile'. I recently received Her Mother's Secret from my reviewing wishlist. I picked up the book about 8pm one night and closed it at 11.20pm. (Which is a late night but not too bad for a a full novel).

The novel follows the life of Leonora from her chemist shop in 1918 England through to New York driven by her desire to produce make-up for women and to challenge the traditional views of the time towards women who wore makeup.

The narrative flows well and there are a good range of characters, some thwarted lovers, crushes and betrayals... all the elements that make up the frustration and joy that is 'chic lit'. There are also societal expectations, etiquette and ladies on the prowl for a rich bachelor. And some great dresses!

I enjoyed reading this, it's a nice read on the couch with a cup of tea and chocolate kind of book. There are some good female protagonists and it's always good to get a look into periods of history and how they impacted the people who lived in them.

The book is very strong on the knowing the 'one' as soon as you meet them and has some sex scenes, neither of which I'm much of a fan of. I'm happy to read these kind of novels for what they are and I assume (hopefully correctly) that people realise there's much more to life and amazing relationships that an electrical tingle the first time you lock eyes. Those wee gripes aside I did really enjoy my evening reading this one and I'd be happy to read further books by Natasha Lester.

Perfect for escaping into another time in history with fabulous clothes, love and plenty of women characters and some good looking bachelors thrown in for good measure.

Details - Her Mother's Secret, by Natasha Lester. Hachette NZ, 28th March 2017. RRP $34.99 also available as an ebook.

love you more than a fabulous lipstick xxx

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

McCalls 6614 The Rabbit Hoodie - Retreat Sew

Kia ora,

I'm still going strong on my retreat sewing. I found this 'cross-stitched' rabbit fabric in spotlight a while ago. I just adore the slightly crazy vibe of it.

I decided to try a new hoodie pattern to change things up from the Augusta hoodie I've made recently. This is a unisex pattern McCalls  M6614 and I made the medium in the hopes it would be a reasonably relaxed fit. The fit did end up pretty relaxed but that's good I want hoodies for those sloppy days anyway.

One thing I would change next time is the ribbing - it's really too big and generous and so it doesn't do what it's designed to in terms of creating cuffs.

I don't love the zip but it was in my stash and I didn't have time to race out and find a raspberry coloured one, which would have been my preference.

The Atlas took these pics for me at an old reclamation yard we went to... so much awesome stuff - made me want to build a house out of recycled bits.

How about you - what do you wear on sloppy days?

love you more than a cross-stitched rabbit xxxx

Monday, March 27, 2017

Bookish - See You In the Cosmos

Hey peeps,

I've just put down Jack Cheng's debut novel 'See You in the Cosmos'. The novel is aimed at the tween/teen age category but it's a great read and I think plenty of adults would find it really enjoyable too.

It's tempting to say the book is written in first person but it's actually a transcript for Alex Petroski's golden ipod that he's preparing to launch into the atmosphere for whatever intelligent life is out there. Alex is determined to capture life and sounds to launch with his rocket as part of SHARF (Southwest High Altitude Rocket Festival). However, as the novel unfolds it is the reader who is offered a unique perspective on the world. Gifts and wisdom from the mind of an 11 year old whose perspective is not just different because of who is innately is but, as with all of us, because of what is going on in his world, who he meets and what happens to him along the way.

As a teacher, this novel also challenges me on the children normalise whatever happens in their world front. As adults we have set perspectives on what the world ought to be like, how adults should behave and what levels of care are appropriate for children. Unless we are in the worlds of our young people we have no idea whether what they are experiencing comes anywhere near to what we think it is.

This book is also about community, accepting outsiders, doing what you can for others, embracing the unexpected and accepting that wisdom might come from unexpected places. It's also one of those lovely books where the protagonist is anything but cool but he has no anxiety about what cool is, trying to be cool, and it never seems to occur to him to be anything other than himself. It's a beautiful message delivered effortlessly integrated into the narrative without obviously saying it.

I think this would be a really good one to read and talk about with young people or even just as a read alone book to reflect on. Some of the themes and material covered wouldn't make it accessible for younger (primary aged) readers even though they may have the ability to read it. I look forward to reading more from Jack Cheng - a fabulous and unexpected debut.

Details - PenguinRandomHouse 1 March 2017, RRP $21.00

love you more than a really good burger xxx

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bookish - The Young Magicians and the Thieves' Almanac

Hiya friends,

I've just finished reading The Young Magicians and The Thieves' Almanac by Nick Mohammed.

Pretty much the moment  I finished reading it I started reading it aloud to my boys. I so enjoyed this upper primary/intermediate level novel and I knew it would especially appeal to my 10 year old who is rather partial to magic tricks and science.

I thought the humour was totally on point for this age too - not too swaggery and obvious but also not so subtle that you need to work to figure it out or 'get' it.

The narrative follows four young magicians and their hopeful journey to become part of the Magic Circle. (A famous magic institution in London). As they arrive and form a friendship it will take all of their skills to work out what is really going on - as well as trying to solve some very mysterious crimes along the way.

I like that the protagonists have a genuine and warm friendship with each other without any of them needing to fall in love. I appreciate that they aren't naturally cool kids but neither are they one dimensional geeky stereotypes.

I really hope that the author publishes more books using this fab four and continues to provide humour, mystery and some adventures along the way.

My boys are already loving how much I've read them and I think if another is published they'd both read it independently.

Details - PenguinRandomHouse NZ, March 2017 RRP $21.00

(thanks to PRH for this fab book to review)

love you more than President Pickle loves a roast with ALL the trimmings ;-) xxx

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Retreat Sewing - McCalls 7120


Back with the next retreat sewing instalment. You remember I made McCalls 7120 with the sleeves that were too tight? Well I removed the sleeves and I love it way more now!

So much, I decided to make another one on retreat. The front fabric is an amazing Kaffe Fassett remnant that the very generous Deb gave me. I a-d-o-r-e this fabric - SO much. The back is a piece I picked up from Creative Junk in the great fabric stash score. It's a denim of some description and there was just enough of both fabrics for what I needed.

It should be noted that that wind was absolutely blustering when The Atlas took these photos and the dress is not weirdly shapen in the middle (and neither am I - to the best of my knowledge!)

I think might be my new favourite wardrobe item. I did put patch pockets in denim on the front and then I hated them so I unpicked them - really could I make any improvements to this fabric?

This dress is all the things (except pockets) light, cool, pull on, comfy, beautiful.

Whoot! I love it. I see more of these dresses in 2017.

What could you do with another version of in your wardrobe?

Yes those are my boys playing in the background.

love you more than Kaffe Fassett and that is saying something! xxxx

Friday, March 17, 2017

Retreat Sew - Ruby Dress

Hi, Hi!

As promised here is one of the makes from my recent sewing retreat. Another Ruby dress by Simple Sew. I think this is my 6th or 7th iteration of this particular pattern and I still love it.

These photos are entirely meh but that's what happens first thing in the morning when I'm half asleep and rushing to get to work!

There isn't too much to say about this pattern that I haven't already said. I've had this fabric for a while - I bought it at IKEA when we were living in Australia - how I love IKEA fabric! It's a furnishing fabric so the fullness in the skirt really stands out with the weight of the fabric. I love the scientific looking drawings on it.

Also note the French plait which I managed all by myself!

Tell me I'm not the only one who has made a pattern 7 times and still thinks they might make more of them?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Bookish - The Earth Cries Out

'Sup lovelies?

I've just finished reading The Earth Cries Out by Bonnie Etherington. It's different from any other book I've ever read.

I requested it based on the blurb After the accidental death of Ruth's five-year-old sister, their father decides that atonement and healing are in order, and that taking on aid work in a mountain village in Irian Jaya is the way to find it. It is the late 1990s, a time of civil unrest and suppression in the Indonesian province now known as West Papua.

I didn't really have any set expectations, except that it would be different from a lot of the other novels I tend to pick up. Etherington is a new author to me. She is a poet, short story writer and travel writer and all of these styles weave their ways into her novel.

The novel has a dream like quality it expertly feels child like, without ever becoming childish - in stead it offers observations that are more than adult in their detail, wisdom and thoughtfulness. Interspersed through the narrative are chapters/ short stories that stand alone based around the botany of Papua.

The story and stories are heartbreaking and real and yet uplifting - they honour the people of the region and reflect the difficulties too.

The novel moves slow and twisted, it's not about clean story lines and clever twists. It feels like a 'full length' short story - if that makes any sense. I think this novel would be soul food for anyone who's lived, as the author has, in unfamiliar places and with the dirt, customs, ways and languages of somewhere that is completely foreign.

It's thought provoking reading and beautifully crafted language.

I leave you with a couple of favourite quotes:
The women put their grief back in their bags that were so wide they could hold the whole world. They put their grief in their for bringing out during late nights or early morning loneliness, and started opening the cooking pits.

Sometimes all we can do is watch, have our own eyes on the earth even if we do not always know what we are seeing.

Details - PenguinRandomHouse, March 2017. RRP $38.00 ebook available
you can also read a beginning extract of the book in the same place

love you more than a book that makes you care without your consent xxx

Friday, March 10, 2017



I recently got an invite to a sewing retreat, one of the people going had had to drop out and they offered me the place. Whoop! A whole weekend of uninterrupted sewing, my own room and all food provided for a very reasonable cost? ... um yes!

As a sewing retreat virgin I had a fear that I wouldn't take enough and I'd run out of things to sew - enter the lists! I wrote lists of things to do, lists of what I needed to take with each project - thread, binding etc. Then I wrote a master list of what projects I had - which I happily ticked at the completion of each project over the weekend.

The worst bit about sewing for me is the prep so I also cut out, sewed darts and overlocked all the relevant pieces for 2 peg pinnys, a hoodie, a pair of pants, 2 dresses and 2 tops.

The retreat was at Living Springs - about a half hour drive away and it was stunningly beautiful. This is my sewing view. So good for the soul!

I'll blog about the projects separately but for your info.

Completed projects:

Friday night - 
2 dresses
1 top

Saturday - 
2 x peg pinnys (if you don't have one you should - they are a game changer)
hemmed a throw for our bed
1 top
1 pair of pants
machine sewed binding on the edge of a quilt

Sunday - 
removed the waistband from an op-shop skirt and bias bound the new waistline
hand stitched the binding onto the back of the quilt from the night before
did some Boro (visible mending) on a pair of jeans that I was given

I had 2 projects I had thrown in at the last minute to cut out if I had time and some other picture hand sewing to do if I had time. I didn't get to those but always best to be prepared! If I had sewed for longer on the Sunday I may well have got to them.

I started sewing at about 6pm on the Friday and finished sewing at about 12:30 on the Sunday.

And I met a whole group of incredibly talented, diverse and inspiring sewing women.

How about you - ever been on a creative retreat?

love you more than the sound of whirring sewing machines xxx

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bookish - Don't Cross the Line

Hi reading types,

As you may remember I'm actively limiting screen time in my world (as she blogs!) at the moment and focussing on reading instead. This is very good seeing as I currently have a fabulous stack of books I requested for reviewing and another ever expanding stack of books that keep falling into my cart when I am shopping... it's truly strange!

One of the new picture books that currently has me enthralled is Don't Cross the Line by Isabel Martins and illustrated by Bernardo Carvalho. 

The book is filled with illustrations that look like they have been done by a child (hopefully that isn't insulting to the illustrator) they are basic felt pen on a white background which grows more complex as the narrative unfolds. The text is very minimal and consists only of speech and sounds made by people or animals.

This book is clever, it manages to do profound things with very little. For me this is the essence of all my absolutely favourite picture books.

The theme explored in the book is dictatorship, peaceful resistance, the common voice and the absurdity of people who want power for no good reason - yet it just feels like some random story moment, with simple pictures and no 'teachy' tone to it at all.

This would be a great book for discussing power and power struggles - from the playground issues to world politics. It's incredibly clever and to be honest I never expect anything less from books published by Gecko - they are very astute in their choices.

Details - Gecko Press, September 2016. Hardback $29.99 NZD available direct from Gecko or other great book stores.

What simple book has been much more than it appears on the surface in your world?

love you more than a new book xxx