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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Catch up

I know, I know I have been MIA again for the last three months but sometimes life just gets in the way and something has to be put on hold.  I didn't intend for it to be so long and it was quite a shock when I realised how long ago that I last wrote a blog post.

So to quickly bring everyone up to speed.

  
 





Of course there have been books, books and more books.  
I have read some fantastic books over the last three months but my favourites have been Lisa Genova's Inside the O'Briens, Dani Atkins The Story of Us and who wouldn't have JoJo Moyes Me Before You which I still haven't managed to get to see at the cinema, it may well be another one I have to wait until the Dvd comes out before I get to see it, but at least I won't feel so bad when I cry uncontrollably.




April saw a trip down to London to see a show with my lovely daughter.  This trip we saw War of the Worlds at the Dominican Theatre.  Daughter knew nothing of the original story only the disastrous attempt at remake with Tom Cruise, so I wasn't sure if she would like the show or not but was pleased when she said she had thoroughly enjoyed it.  We had a trip around the shops in Covent Garden and saw the street artists who we saw on our trip for her 21st a year ago and we finished the day off with a meal at the Crusting Pipe. Fantastic atmosphere but I thought the food was quite pricey for something I would make at home. I believe their afternoon tea is worth a visit for though and as always we were entertained by the musicians.  Another baby blanket was called for as yet another colleague when on her maternity leave, but when you work with a lot of young newly married nurses there will always be a new arrival on the horizon.  No babies currently on their way so I have been able to concentrate on my cross stitch.  I am still working on the Earth Goddess but she has gone a sabbatical for the moment whilst I work on the Quiltmaker as a 60th birthday present for a very good friend of mine. April also saw us take on yet another Cavalier King Charles. This one makes number 5 and I have told D no more as Ollie has proved to be a bit of a handful and is one of the reasons I have not been around for a while.  He may be a Cavalier but in his head he thinks he is very boisterous Labrador and we're currently trying to undo all the bad habits his previous owner let him get  away with which at the age of 6 is going to take some doing but he is definitely a WIP and not all his fault.
The Queen also turned 90 in April it is going to be a very sad day when the Queen and Prince Philip are not steering our ship.  I know Prince Charles has been more at the forefront of things along with William but I have never known any other monarch in my lifetime.  And of course we had the news of the sad passing of Victoria Wood one of my all time favourites.  I have seen her a number of times and every time I  she appeared on stage with her yellow mac and matching hat asking if you'd seen her friend Kimberley I would just go to pieces.  She will be much missed by all.


It's a rarity that you can get all five dogs sitting together in one place and all facing the camera. I'm still not sure what it was that D did to bribe them into sitting still long enough to take this picture. What did I say about baby blankets not being required. I obviously spoke to soon as yes another baby blanket came through the production line for a baby boy who arrived in May.  There was a little progress made on The Quiltmaker and I even got the knitting needles back out. Not so much progress made on that particular project.  The back is finished and I'm just about to start the raglan seam on the first of the fronts. I have made this cardigan before but never for myself so I thought that it was about time I did start and knit for myself for a change. I planted this yellow rose in memory of a friends mother who was always like a second mum to me. She sadly died after a short illness almost six years ago now.  Her favourite flower was yellow roses and this one is called Golden Celebration and is a climbing variety.  I have a three memory roses now in my garden a white rose for my mother who shared my love of white roses, this yellow one and this year I planted a dark pinky colour in memory of another friends mother who died 2 years ago at the age of 90 + 5 days.  For me its a lovely way to remember them all.



As you can see there was yet more progress on the Quiltmaker and I am hoping that by the end of July I will be 3/4 through but I am at the point where there is a lot of blue stitching going on albeit in different shades of blue as I am working on the ladies blue dress.  I'm beginning to think I should have maybe worked on other areas so that it wasn't all the blue dress to finish last. My friend is an outstanding quilt maker and I know she is just going to love this when the time comes.  She knows absolutely nothing about it so I can't wait to see her face when she opens it, but that's not until December so I have to keep myself in check when I see her and not blurt out the secret.  The sleep head is Buster who kept me company after I had a fall whilst walking the dogs and badly sprained my ankle which resulted in four days in bed and a week off work. Fortunately this happened the day after I went to see Elton John and not before, I had seen Sir Elton in concert before but the last time I took my dad who was a huge Elton fan and that would have been some 35 years ago. This time it was my daughter who came with me and I was surprised she knew so many of the songs but as she told me later I played them a lot when they were young.  I didn't set myself challenges this year just as well as I don't think I would have been able to keep to any of them, but I did decide I would read something out of my usual genre.  I started reading some of Terry Pratchet's discworld series.  I have read the first three and do intend to go back to them but at the moment I am catching up with dear Harry P.  I read snippets with my daughter when she was younger but she isn't the most avid reader and tells me that since I am going to read them all this year that she will try and find time to dig her copies out again. She has them all but I'm not sure she has read them all.  I have to say I am absolutely enjoying them and I am up to number 4 now but not got to it just yet.

So there we are that's a quick update of the last three months and I will try and get back here again to show you what I have been up throughout July.  

All the best one and all

Mx

next task to catch up on everyone's blog posts.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

The year in Books March 2016





March has been another busy month of reading with six books.

So what I have I been reading and what did I think of them.

Jenny Blackhurst - How I lost you - I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don't you? 

Three years ago Emma Cartwright used to be known as Susan Webster. Susan Webster was accused and convicted of killing her 12 week old son. She was sent to a Psychiatric Institute and has just been released. With her new identity and a new address she has a chance to rebuild her life, that is until she receives an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside the envelope is a photograph of a young boy, on the back is written Dylan January 2013.  Susan has never remembered what happened the day that her son was found dead and now she is left not knowing for sure that he is dead.  This is Susan's journey to find out what did happen to her son and if there is the slightest chance that he is still alive then she is determined to find him.  

Very good read and would recommend.

Caitlin Moran - How to build a girl - My name is Johanna Morrigan. I'm fourteen and I've just decided to kill myself. I don't really want to die, of course! I just need to kill the old me., and build a new girl. Dolly Wilde will be everything I want to be, and more! But as with all the best coming of age stories, it doesn't exactly go to plan.


Johanna Morrigan isn't happy with her lot. She decides that she needs to reinvent herself in order to have the life she craves.  Meet Dolly Wilde the alter ego of Johanna Morrigan.  I struggled with this book it has to be said.  It was not unlike reading the script of shameless but possibly worse and with a lot of foul language to boot.   As it was a Radio 2 book club recommendation I thought it would be a really good book and had the potential to be but sadly not for me and not one I would necessarily recommend. 



Terry Pratchett - Equal Rites - They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance. The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. 

In reality he didn't check that the baby in question was a son. Everybody knows that there is not such thing as a female wizard. But now it's gone and happened, there's nothing much anyone can do about it. Let the battle of the sexes begin.  I have really enjoyed getting to know Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.  This one is total girl power and I loved it.  I can certainly see why his books have such a following. 

Judy Finnigan - I do not sleep - Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there. I do not sleep. There is nothing more powerful than a mother's love. Five years ago, Molly Gabriel lost her twenty year old son, Joey, to a terrible sailing accident. His empty boat was washed ashore on the rocks, but his body was never found. Now Molly has returned to the sands of Cornwall haunted by his disappearance, unable to to accept he is gone. Joey was an experienced sailor and died on a calm sea - things just don't add up and Molly cannot let go. 

I had read Judy Finnigan's first novel Eloise a while ago. I then heard an interview by Graham Norton and loved the sound of this her second novel.  It was by far a big improvement on her first novel.  I did enjoy reading it and it was far more believable than Eloise.  It would make a good holiday read a novel you can pick up as and when you have time rather than gripping. 

David Nicholls - Us - Douglas and Connie; Scientist and artist, and for more than twenty years, husband and wife - until suddenly, their marriage seems over.  But Douglas is going to win back the love of his wife and the respect of Albie, their teenage son, by organising the holiday of of a lifetime. 

I loved this book, it had me laughing out loud, and let me tell you, you get some very strange looks when you laugh out loud on public transport.  Douglas tries everything he can to make this a holiday of a life time and I am not going to spoil the outcome and would recommend that you read it for yourself to find out.  

Brooke Powley - The Other Wife - Elizabeth Jones has been placed under arrest for killing Rose Boston. The same Rose Boston that her husband, Rob once had an affair with. To the outside world it seems like a clear cut case. But Rose Boston had been suffering from a long, terminal illness - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In her darkest hour she asked Libby for help. As the lines between what is right and wrong become blurred we are left wondering. If your friend asked you to help her to die ... what would you do? 

I have read this authors two previous novels, the first one I loved, the second I liked and this her third was excellent.  You get to know each of the characters really well including that of Rose Boston and get a good understanding of her struggle with a terminal illness.  You get to know Libby's incredible character. Not sure I would except my husband having an affair especially as a result of that affair there was a child. Then to take on that child as if it were your own and look after his terminally ill mother.  Each chapter gives you an insight to each of the characters within the family and those of close family friends.  Very well written and definitely my favourite read of March.  Would definitely recommend.

Well that's my reads for March and I have already started my first novel for April with Jonathan Harvey's The Secret's We Keep.  I am 75 pages in a little unsure so far but with another 300+ pages to go it certainly has time to pick up.

Happy reading one & all

Mx

Friday, 1 April 2016

Goodbye March Hello April


It's so nice that Spring is finally here, whether you go by the meteorological date of the 1st March or by the Spring Equinox of the 20th.  Personally I go by the meteorological date just because it's here earlier and easier for me to remember. During the dark winter months I always feel like a mole due to the fact that I leave for work in the dark and return home in yes you guessed it in the dark. 

March has been yet another busy month what with Mothers Day and Easter.
I did however have lunch cooked for me on Mother's Day and treated to lunch out the following weekend by my daughter as she  had been at work on Mother's Day so nicely spoiled. 

I have kept up with my Terry Pratchett's reading with the third in the discworld series, Equal Rites, the story of a young female Wizard and of course we all know that girls can't be wizards don't we.  Well this one was about girl power and very good it was too. 
My favourite book this month has been on my kindle. The third novel by Brooke Powley called The Other Wife.  I will tell you more when I post my March reads. Needless to say I have read all three novels by this author I loved the first one, liked the second but knew this one was going to be good  when I hadn't even got to the end of the first page and I was hooked. 

I was let loose in the kitchen again and decided to go all creative with yet another cake this time covering the top with mini eggs.  This cake is a Lorraine Pascale recipe aptly named The I can't believe you made that cake and you can find the recipe here.  I had been a little poorly over Easter with a head cold and each time I looked at the cake I was sure there were less eggs than before.  I thought my son had been snitching eggs from the top of the cake only to discover it was D.  

Having had a few days off over Easter I managed to spend some quality time on my cross stitching projects.  I am now at the half way point on The Earth Goddess and once finish she will will complete the trilogy of ladies I have been working on over the last 12 months. I have also started a new project not something I would normally do when I have a project on the go, it's too tempting to just keeping starting new projects and never completing any of them.  My new project is The Quiltmaker, which is a Lavender and Lace chart. It's my first Lavender and Lace project and is part of the Told in the garden series.  She will eventually be a gift for a very dear friend later in the year who will be having a big birthday so I wanted to get a head start on her to make sure she will be finished hopefully way before she needed. I will keep you informed of her progress but I am hoping that by the end of April she will be half way as she is not too far short of the first quarter being complete. 

In between times I am still working on granny squares for baby blanket as the baby boom continues with colleagues at the hospital.  I suppose it's the natural way of things when you work with so many young ladies but there certainly has been quite a few due in the first half of this year and it is always lovely to receive a little thank you card or photograph when the stork has come a calling. 

The rest of my time has been spent with my furry boys, joining me for cuddles in the morning whilst I have a cup of tea in bed and read my book, going out for walks and playing out in the sunshine (when there's been sunshine that is), this is Mr B having a rest after a busy nights sleeping it's a hard life being a dog don't you know.

For those of you who are on your Easter break enjoy and for the rest don't work too hard. 

Mx


Sunday, 27 March 2016

Happy Easter


I'm afraid they have let me loose in the kitchen again this weekend.
I love making these cakes you can literally transform them into a cake for any occasion.


At the beginning of the year I started work on the third in the trilogy of ladies.
This is The Earth Goddess.




I promised I would write a blog on her progress 


and here we are.
She is every bit as beautiful as the other two and I am looking forward to seeing all three completed. 


.

As you can see by the 19th March I had reached the half way point.




Having reached the half way point on The Earth Goddess I decided I could now start working on my next project which is to be a gift later in the year.

She is called The Quiltmaker by Lavender and Lace and is just the right present for the recipient.



She is proving to be lovely to stitch and even at the end of day one I could see the picture coming together. 



Today marks the end of the first week and as you can see there has been a lot of progress, mainly due to having a few days annual leave.

Hope you all enjoying the Easter break 

Mx






Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Year In Books 2016 - February









Amy Snow - TracyRees 
Abandoned on a bank of snow as a baby Amy is taken in at nearby Hatville Court. But the masters and, servants of the grand estate prove cold and unwelcoming.  Amy's only friend and ally is the sparkling young heiress Aurelia Vennaway. So when Aurelia dies young, Amy is devastated. But Aurelia leaves Amy one last gift. A bundle of letters with a coded key. A treasure hunt that only Amy can follow. A life-changing discovery awaits if only she can unlock the secret.  As a debut novel I thought this a very good read and loved all the intrigue behind the treasure hunt.  Amy is a young girl of just 17 when her friend Aurelia dies and,  she is banished from the Hatville Estate.  She under takes a journey following instruction from her dear friend Aurelia.  At each destination she is to wait the arrival of the next clue until she finally travels to York to discover Aurelia's secret. It was a long novel at over 500 pages and probably could have been a little shorter but I would still recommend.

.Imogen's Baby - Amanda Prowse 
Can Imogen overcome life's challenges and have the baby she longs for? It's hard enough having a baby on your own. But for Imogen, 24 years old and blind since birth, it will be harder than most. Her journey will take her from heartache to hope and back again. But Imogen has never let blindness rule her life, and she isn't going to start now. I have always been a fan of Amanda Prowse novels since her first Poppy Day. Imogen's Baby is a short story only available as an e-reader. Imogen has been blind since birth and has had to overcome a lot in her young life. She desperately wants to be a mother herself and this is her story of how she is going to make this happen.  Worked well as short story but think there could have been a lot more content in a full novel. 



The Silent Sister - Diane Chamberlain 
What if everything you believed in turned out to be a lie? Riley MacPherson is returning to her childhood home in North Carolina. A place that holds cherished memories. While clearing out the house she finds a box of old newspaper articles - and a shocking family secret begins to unravel. 
Riley has spent her whole life believing that her older sister Lisa died tragically as a teenager. But now she's starting to uncover the truth. Her life has been built on a foundation of lies, told by everyone she loved. Lisa is alive. Alive and living under a new identity. But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago and what secrets are being kept now? As Riley tries to separate reality from fiction, her discoveries call into question everything she thought she knew about her family. Can she find the strength inside herself to decide her future. This novel was a birthday present from last year and I have only just worked my way through the bookshelf to read it.  Diane Chamberlain is not normally an author I would look out for, and it's probably why my friend bought them for me as gifts as she knows how many books I buy throughout the year it's difficult to get a book for me that I won't already have.  I have read two Diane Chamberlain novels now including this one and I still have two more that she gave me for Christmas and birthday.  I really enjoyed Riley's journey in discovering the truth about her sister and how she puts the pieces together to find her sister. 

The Light Fantastic (Discworld Novel 2) - Terry Pratchett 
As it moves towards a seemingly inevitable collision with a malevolent red star, the Discworld could do with a hero. What it doesn't need is a singularly inept and cowardly wizard, still recovering from the trauma of falling off the edge of the world, or a well-meaning tourist and his luggage which has a mind (and legs) of its own. Which is a shame because that's all there is.....  I haven't set myself any challenges this year but I decided I would like to read something totally out of my usual reading genre.  I see Terry Pratchett novels every time I go to the Waterstones and I have always been intrigued by the huge following his novels have.  I decided therefore that Sir Terry's Discworld series would be just the right thing for me.  I loved Rincewinds character in the first two and the story of the Unseen University and I am looking forward to taking on the 3rd in series which I believe only leaves me another 37 to go.

The Photographer's Wife - Nick Alexander 
Barbara - a child of the Blitz has devoted her life to raising a family. She has protected her children from many of the harsh realities of life and kept more than a few secrets about her marriage to famous photographer Tony Marsden. But with such an incomplete picture of the past, her children have struggled to understand who their parents really are, and in turn, she sometimes worries, to build their own lives and identities. When daughter Sophie decides to organise a vast retrospective exhibition of her adored fathers work old photo's are pulled from dusty boxes. And with them tumble stories from the past, stories and secrets that will challenge every aspect of how Sophie sees her family and who her father really was. And as the story untavels, Sophie begins to find out that there is more to her family than she could ever have suspected. I hasn't read any Nick Alexander novels before.  The story is written in the past and present which I do like in the novels I read. It is a story of a daughter who after the death of her father has put him on that pedal stool as so often happens. Sophie decides she would like to hold an exhibition of her fathers work something her mother Barbara is not over keen on and with very good reason. There are things that Sophie does not know, secrets within the family and most of all Barbara is worried that her daughter will find that her father wasn't quite the esteemed photographer she thought her was.  Really enjoyed this one and would recommend. 

The Ice Twins - S.K Tremayne
A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcroft move to the tiny scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives. But when their surviving daughter Kirstie claims they have mistaken her identity - that she, in fact, is Lydia - their world comes crashing down once again. As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past - what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died.?  I had seen this book on lots of blogs and instagram.  It came up as one of my daily deals on Amazon so I decided I would have to download it.  As it says in the title and the blurb it is a story of twins. One of the twins is killed in an accident. It is assumed the twin that died is Lydia and the surviving twin Kirstie, so when the surviving twin tells her parents they got it wrong and that she is Lydia it throws the family into chaos. They have no way of proving it one way or another, they even hold a second funeral for the Kirstie and have to change the death certificate for Lydia.  It all became very complicated and I have to admit even by the end of the novel I wasn't quite sure which of the twins had actually survived.  I still enjoyed the novel and maybe the whole point was that you should be left wondering which was the surviving twin.  

As always I like to pick a favourite read of the month and for February I have picked Amy Snow by Tracy Rees.

Image result for mother's day

Today is Mother's Day here in the UK so to all mums and soon to be mums Happy Mothers Day x

Mx

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Goodbye February Hello March


At last Spring is here, well meteorlogically speaking at least, even though it has been freezing this last few days at last the mornings are lighter even if it is still dark by the time I arrive home. 

I am all at sixes and sevens at the moment. Life work balance is proving to be a bit of a challenge and sometimes I have to put things aside and the moment it appears to be my blog.

February saw a month of birthdays with middle son turning 25 and daughter 22 and our little Monty turned 8. It was also a month where I completed two more snuggle blankets for colleagues at work who are about to go on maternity leave to have babies in April/May.More stitches have gone into The Earth Goddess cross stitch.  She is coming a long well but I have to be very strict with myself and at least get a couple of hours stitching in on a Sunday afternoon. I intend to do a post with photographs of her journey so far when there is a bit more to show.  I have continued reading the second novel of Terry Pratchett's Discworld and I have this morning downloaded number 3 in readiness for when I have completed my current book. My favourite read of February was Amy Snow by Tracy Rees and I am in the midst of writing a blog post about all the books I read over the last month. 

We don't go big on Valentines these days so it was a lovely surprise when I came home to a gorgeous bouquet of red roses 16 in all representing one for each year we have been together, so there is an old romantic still lurking somewhere in D after all.  We had a nice meal topped off with white and dark chocolate mousse desert made from a Raymand Blanc recipe which I found on the internet. The diet definitely went south that day.  

I am planning a few days R & R over the Easter break so I am hoping that will give me more of an opportunity for writing blog posts in a more timely fashion.


Hope March is treating you well so far and for all the mothers in the UK have a wonderful Mothers Day this Sunday.

Mx



Monday, 1 February 2016

Goodbye January Hello February


I started off the month saying goodbye to 2015 and welcoming 2016. I clung onto the last days of December by making a naughty but nice cheesecake. In January we have three birthdays starting with mine. I was very spoiled this year when my colleagues decorated the office and one of them made me a lovely lemon cake. I received lots of gorgeous gifts and flowers from family and friends and rounded off the celebrations with a meal with my daughter and her boyfriend. Our little Rufus turned 4 in January and our eldest son Matt turned 28 (I can't believe that little baby I bought home is now knocking on the door of 30 where did those years go).  Last year one of my challenges was to bake or make something I hadn't made before. I really enjoyed this challenge and although I have decided not to make any challenges this year I thought I would carry on and make the odd thing as and when the mood takes me. I went for Mary Berry's Cappuccino Cake which was delicious and you can find the recipe here. I also in my madness decided I needed to loose a little weight. Sitting in the car for long periods driving does not help one's waste line.  There are times when I don't get home until late and eating at past eight o'clock is not the best time of the evening to eating a meal.  As I have access to a microwave at work I have started taking something a bit more substantial for lunch and having a lighter bite when I get home and there are times when nothing else will do than boiled egg and soldiers. I confess I am a bit of a nibbler during the day so instead of reaching for the biscuits or crisps I am trying to eat more fruit and I have now managed two weeks without biscuits and crisps at work.  As we entered into the New Year a very good friends daughter had her second baby and a snuggle blanket was duly despatched. At the same time I didn't want his older brother to feel that all the attention was going to his new baby and I sent him a Storytime Elmer blanket together with an Elmer book which he reads with his daddy before bed.  I loved this photograph that his mum send me after a hard day at nursery school all snuggled up in his Elmer blanket.  I have now completed 3 baby blankets since Christmas and I am about to join yet more granny squares together to make a fourth snuggle blanket for a little girl who is due to arrive in April. Finally as we are approaching the end of January the mornings are getting lighter and we have experienced some stunning sunrises over the last couple of weeks.  As we are now heading into February it is fast approaching Spring (yea) in fact anyone who follows Little Green Rabbits blog will know that as far as Vivienne is concerned Winter has finished and we are now in Pre Spring.  I think I might go with that too.

Happy Pre Spring everybody

Mx