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

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bookish - Keep Me Safe


When I saw this title released and the blurb for the book I was quiet intrigued (and a little worried it might be super full on) so I requested it for reading.

The book is Keep Me Safe by Daniela Sacerdoti. The author is really interesting, having published ebooks for some time. She writes for adults, young adults and children. (Anyone tempted to use the theatre term - triple threat?!)

This was the first book of hers that I have read. The blurb starts with this statement - What do you do when your six-year-old daughter starts telling you about her other mother, her other life? Which I found interesting and also weird. I was hoping it wasn't going to turn into some terribly dark story. The main narrative ends up taking Anna and her daughter Ava from London to Seal (a tiny island in Scotland).

The writing has a very simple style which I found slightly disappointing initially but by the end I was really charmed by the whole story and the ways in which it played out on a lot of levels. The simplicity of style didn't translate into a simple story line. There where some lovely unexpected moments in it.

The story has supernatural themes but dealt with gently and naturally (if that's a thing).

I loved the slightly magical feel of the book and the setting was so beautiful - it made me want to visit Scotland again and especially the tiny islands. It also dealt with human dilemmas in ways that felt really authentic.

This was another one of those books I picked up and read and read until I came to the end.

Glad to have Daniela Sacerdoti on my list of 'will read her books' authors.

What books make you want to travel?

Details - Keep Me Safe by Daniela Sacerdoti Hachette NZ, April 2017 $29.99 also available as an ebook.

love you more than a raging sea from a safe distance xxxx

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cupcake Bouquets

Hi, hi,

So I love doing courses, especially short ones that have tangible outcomes! So I decided to sign up for the Make Company's cupcake class. In it we were to learn how to make a bouquet of cupcakes using buttercream icing. (I paid to do the class just sharing in case anyone wants more details)

this was the efforts from the whole class

It was a really fun night we learnt how to make the cupcake stand/ presentation part too so we could replicate it at home.

It must be said that of everyone in the class I struggled most with executing the rose. It wasn't much of a surprise to me, I have zero expertise with icing and piping bags and I are not what you'd call 'good friends'!

Still I am super impressed with my efforts and my boys and hubby made all the right noises too. The following afternoon we had little friends over for fluffies and cupcakes and I felt suitably professional! (The friends were 6, 4 and 2!)

What have you made lately that was trickier and more happy making than you expected?

love you more than a patient tutor xxx

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bookish - My Hand to Hold


Latest book for little ones to be landing on our shelves to review is My Hand to Hold by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and illustrated by Alison Friend. (Isn't that a fabulous last name?)

This sweet rhyming book is one of those ones I would have read to my children when they were little and we were recovering from tantrums and time-outs. It's message is the universal one you try so hard to drill into your babies when they are small - I will love you no matter what.

The illustrations are perfectly in keeping with the text. The colours are soft and there is a nice sense of movement in them.

I can see that this might feel a bit too 'sweet' in illustration and writing for some readers but really I think for young children it's a message they can never hear too much. My 8 year old read it straight out of the envelope and said, "Oh Mum, this book is really lovely and sweet," and he's right. We should never tire of hearing we are always precious no matter what the difficulties we are facing and every child ideally would know that deep down in their bones they are loved - everyday and not based on their performance.

I probably wouldn't pick this up to read to the children I teach but I would buy it as a gift for new parents and young children.

Details - Hachette NZ, April 11th 2017, RRP $19.99 also available as an ebook.

love you more than rabbits holding hands xxx

Monday, April 10, 2017

McCalls 6566 version 2 - hospital wear?


This is my second version of this pattern. It's not as successful as the first one. The fabric is a bit light for the shape and it has a definite hospital vibe!

Also, it's a bit see-through so I need to wear a slip with it which makes it look a bit blah too.

Never mind, I'm a learner and all that! It will probably end up being a nighty in summer.

what's been relegated to your 'not so much' pile of late?

ps - don't you absolutely love these shoes? Handmade in Raglan to your foot measurement. So good! Here is their website. (I don't get anything from that - just the pleasure of pointing you towards NZ made!)

love you more than a teeny-tiny pocket xxx

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Foodied Fun

Hey food lovers,

I was recently offered an opportunity to attend the Christchurch Food Show. Who was I to decline?? So, today a dear friend and I took a day off from Mummy-ing and wandered around the heart of the Horncastle Arena taste testing our way around every stall.

The show was well attended but not so that you couldn't actually make it to the stalls to try all the goodies. Every now and again there would be a rush when a new batch of raspberry panna cotta (oh yes please!) or the like, came out and you had to hold back on using your elbows.

The celebs were out in the demonstration area, which was a really a highlight judging by the way that every seat was filled before they started. I loved the fact that the wonderful Scorpio Books had a stand brimming with recipe books. (Also you got a $10 voucher for their in town book shop when you made a purchase... of course I did!)

I bought The Atlas some wild venison salami and the boys some fudge. I also purchased some limoncello and we got a super cute idea from the adorable Jax who was at the Countdown stand. Lemon curd and cream cheese filled hollow eggs. We'll be making these with our littles this weekend.

We were also provided with Uber rides to and from the show. I downloaded the app and found it super easy to use. We were transported by different people both ways - it was really nice to hear their stories and I was really impressed with how simple and quick it was to use.

The Food Show is on again tomorrow if you need a reason for a day out with a friend - I can recommend it - came home full tummy, some bags of goodies and a generally relaxed and great day out.

If I was going to recommend anything it would have been more coffee options - as a non coffee drinker it didn't really effect me but the one coffee cart was so busy and the nespresso stand was people deep every time we went past.

Despite the look of my photos there was lots of lovely savoury food too including hangi pies!

Thanks to the prshop for this super fun opportunity :-)

love you more than a cream cheese egg with a lemon curd filling xxx

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Bookish - The Little Breton Bistro

Heya lovelies,

I was talking to another friend who has a 40th coming up and she was saying that one of her 40th year projects is 40 books in a year. Given my current book consumption levels I could be a goer for this too!

Recently I've finished reading The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George. 

I started reading with my 'chic-lit' lens on for expectations. On the whole the book delivers well in this genre for me. When I want to escape into a book for pure pleasure - the same way one might watch a movie that doesn't demand much of them - then chic-lit is my go to.

The book follows Marianne as she escapes, or finds herself inadvertently escaping from her rather unloveable husband. To find her dwelling place and destiny in a tiny French village in Brittany. 

If I have a frustration with this book it would be that the husbands character is a little one-dimensional for me. He doesn't have any redeeming features at all - I like reading books that have some subtleties that make characters a little more nuanced than wholly good or bad.

There are quite a lot of French phrases in the novel which would make it enjoyable for those who can speak French. I can't and it didn't stop me following the narrative but I did just jump over those parts.

There are some nice sub-plot lines that go on and a wide array of characters.  I also really liked that this wasn't a love story about 20 something singles who were desperate to find the 'one' and have babies. It's nice to have stories, especially love stories, written about women who are past the 'popular/desirable' age range and portray them as capable of love and desire and capable of attracting and being desired.

A good read for any one who likes the genre and wants to believe in happy endings for women on the wrong side of (list age here!). :-) 

Details  - The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George. Hachette NZ, April 2017 RRP $39.99 also available as an ebook.

love you more than a tiny French town xxx

Monday, April 3, 2017

Retreat Sewing - Boro


Hope life is well in your house. I'm completely not a mender, consequently I wear things with holes in them.
"Did you know you have a whole in your cardy?"
"Yes I actually bought it like that from an op-shop and then I couldn't be bothered waiting for myself to mend it so I started wearing it."
... awkward silence...

Lately I've been getting into Boro - which is a Japanese thing around visible mending. Where we continue to use things rather than throw them when they have tears or holes. Instead of trying to disguise the mending you simply let it be what it is.

These jeans were given to me by my sister with a ripped up knee. Now I know that some people are into the whole ripped clothing thing (I really can't get past how people pay money for something already ripped??!) but it's not really my bag.

I will admit I wore these jeans with rips in them for a good few months - because I am lazy!

At the sewing retreat I got into them with embroidery thread. They are pretty subtle (a surprise for me!) but I love them.

It makes me smile every time I look at them.

Are you a mender? What size is your mending pile?

love you more than new or old embroidery threads xxx