Saturday, July 31, 2010

July Reading Round Up

The last two weeks have been frenetic.  I started my new position, spent 2 days there and then went to a conference in Wellington for 3 days.  The conference was good - will be blogging about it at Diligent Room - and I got to FINALLY meet Beverley who was good company while we browsed Wellington retail offerings.  And I got some new boots.

But all this stuff combined with newness of work routines has been quite tiring and yes, I have to say, a bit stressful.  It will get better I know.  As soon as I climb down from this wall.
Silent in the grave / Deanna Raybourn.
After receiving a threat, Sir Edward Grey - the darling of London society - dies suddenly. His widow Julia engages the enigmatic Nicholas Brisbane to help her investigate Edward's death.~from the blurb

Silent in the sanctuary : a Lady Julia Grey mystery / Deanna Raybourn.
Lady Julia returns to celebrate the holidays only to find her fathers home crowded with family, friends, and Nicholas Brisbane, the one man she had hoped to forget. The celebrations take a ghastly turn after a guest is found brutally murdered, and one of Lady Julias cousins confesses to the crime.~from the blurb

This is a new author for me and I'm rather pleased to have found her.  Her style is romantic suspense with a bit of Victorian Gothic novel thrown in.  I do like her characters too.  So far I've read these two (2nd one is the sequel to the first) and the two main characters haven't even made it into bed together yet so there is a lot of unfinished business you might say. 

Eat cake : a novel / Jeanne Ray.
Ruth draws on her talent for concocting delectable cakes and desserts when her family begins to disintegrate around her--her husband loses his job, her mother moves in, and her long-estranged father shows up at the door with no place to go.~from the blurb

Honestly?  It is a bit of marshmallow fluff really.  Made me want to eat cake.

The girl who kicked the hornet's nest / Stieg Larsson ; translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland.
"Lisbeth Salander will have her revenge - against the man who tried to kill her, and against the government institutions that nearly succeeded in deliberately destroying her life... After sustaining appalling gunshot wounds to her head and her shoulder, she is in Intensive Care, and her most dangerous enemy is in the next-door ward. If she survives, she is set to face murder charges. Officially under police guard, she is allowed contact with only her surgeon or her lawyer. But Mikael Blomkvist, editor at Millennium magazine and Salander's self-appointed guardian angel, will not give up on this strangely compelling girl... With the covert aid of Blomkvist and his journalists at Millennium, Salander must first prove her innocence. Only then can she unmask the people behind the corrupt and secret manoeuvers that ruined her childhood and remain the rotten core of Swedish society"--Publisher description.

The last in the Millennium series and it didn't disappoint.  Really enjoyed this series.

Blogosphere Book Circle | July

Wolf Hall / Hilary Mantel. London : Fourth Estate, 2009.

ISBN: 9780007230181

"England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor. Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages."-- Publisher description.

It took me a while to get into the style of this book which is surprising for me given my penchant for historical fiction.  However, once I did tune into the writing style it hooked me.  I particularly enjoyed the glimpses into "everyday" life in Thomas's household.  I think the author brings out the complexities of the age and the struggles that were starting to change society at the time very well.  It is easy to see how a noble person's fortunes could be so quickly turned into fear and suffering all at the change of royal whim.

I was reading some contemporary views of Thomas and the writer opined he was a highly talented statesman in his time.  He was not only a skilled diplomat dealing with foreign policy but also was a talented administrator.

It's a good book - quite long and detailed, but worth reading.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

felting class

Today I spent the day in a felting class with 8 other people.  It was a lot of fun and I'm feeling quite inspired by it! I really like my scarf - I think it looks like the sea with sea creatures on it.  DH thinks it looks like a dog's breakfast. Humph!

Most of us were beginners so we made scarves with a lot of different embellishments.  One lady who had been before made a hat, and another a table runner.

This is my scarf and a little ball I made.

Felted scarf

Close up of the dread lock loops on the end.
Loops on felted scarf

The little pocket.

Pocket on felted scarf

A surprise!

A surprise!

Another surprise and the silk frill.

Silk frill and another surprise

And the other layout I did yesterday.

4 lost teeth

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cards & a layout

Some cards I made to fill up my card supply box! I suddenly had no birthday cards left... still need to make a few suitable for children.

And a layout which isn't that great except for the fact it broke a drought in terms of scrapbooking.

Holiday wrapup

The school holidays have gone really fast!  I didn't achieve all the things I had on my list.  In particular, the sewing machine has not been touched which peeves me. 

We went away for a long weekend down to Rotorua.  We usually stay in the Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park which has been very good.  However, this time I thought we'd have a change of  scene and try the Cosy Cottage park. This was a mistake.  There a number of things that were annoying (eg. half a toilet roll for a family of 4 for 3 days) but the biggest one was the flatlet had one room so any adult activities conversation when kids went to bed were not possible.

It was frosty every morning.

We visited Hamurama Springs.  It's well worth a visit and very easy walking.

The spring itself is impressive.  It's the deepest natural spring in the North Island and produces an estimated 4 million litres of crystal clear water per hour. I found it quite moving and would have liked to have stayed longer to enjoy the peacefulness and serenity there.  Unfortunately we were soon joined by a bunch of rowdy walkers so we moved on down the track.

The light wasn't that good for photos - too much contrast, but you can see how clear the water is in this one.

Part of the walk goes through redwood trees.

You note that "baby" also came too.

We also visited the Caterpillar Museum.  I thought it was overpriced but it is an interesting museum.  Mr6 and DH particularly enjoyed it.  Miss3?  Not so much.  "Come on!  Let's go!" she kept saying.  But she did like the play bulldozer.  Even "baby" was discarded for that.

Being married to The Mad Photographer means you get to visit some amazing places.  It also means you get to work on your patience while waiting for him to get the king hit shot!  Patience is something Miss3 is not so good at (especially when it involves long walks in the bush). 

Luckily for the two kids there was a good playground next to Lake Tarawera and opportunity to float some "boats" at the water's edge.

On the way home we visited the Maungatautari Ecological Island.  It is well worth the visit.  The view at the gate was amazing the day we were there.  I could even see Mt Ruapehu.

During the walk we saw takahe, hihi, kaka and yellow crowned kakariki.  I was impressed with the work that is being done there.  Definitely going back.  But not to climb the forest canopy viewing tower again.  Once was enough of that one! *shudder*

Thursday, July 08, 2010

School Holidays

So far I have

1. Managed to twist my ankle and nearly faint in the car as a result. It's getting better.  Compression bandages are my friend.

2. Spent far too much at Spotlight. Now have even more fabric to Make Stuff. No really!

3. Took the kids to Greedy Cat at the Pumphouse.  They thought it was great. :-)  Miss 3 was really cute calling out "There!  There!" when they were looking for Greedy Cat.  She then went up to the actor after the play and was patting her like a real cat. Bless.

4. Have not found any shop that sells pool noodles.  "It's the wrong season" is the answer I get.  I need one for my felting class.  Hmmmm.

5. Discovered that there is a dearth of borax in West Auckland.  Well, you can get it with a script from the doctor. I'm not sure why... I checked the uses of it on Wikipedia, and while one of the uses was "to clean the brain cavity of a skull for mounting" I can't see why that should require a script. I'm not going to pay $12.00 for a script for 1/2 cup borax so I'm making washing gloop without it.

Melting the soap.  I managed to find some pure olive oil soap from the craft shop place at Westgate.  NZD$7.50 per 110g bar.  It wasn't cheap!  Then you add the washing soda crystals (and borax if you find some).

Mixing it all up in the bucket with all the water.

Put it in some bottles.

Looking forward to trying it out!

6. Ran various errands, visited dr for check up, set traps for cockroaches *disgusted shudder x 20*
7. Have not even attempted any crafting so far. Meh. Hope that will happen soon.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Princess and Fairy skirts

Yesterday we had an invitation to a princess party.  I was a bit dissatisfied with the present I'd got for the little girl so at the last minute decided to make a fairy skirt for her.

Of course, I couldn't make one for the birthday girl without having one for Miss3. I need to get some more tulle for hers and remove the pink lace.

I also made a princess skirt each.

Ever since Sally posted about her French Knitting I've been thinking of getting one of these knitting bees for Mr5 to help with his fine motor skills. 

At first I wasn't sure he was going to get it but he was intrigued by the mechanics of it all and got stuck into making a "tube" as he's called it.  He seems to be enjoying it. ;-P  Gran might be getting a pot holder for Christmas!

I've had to do the odd bit for him because he does get himself mixed up sometime.  In fact, much of the one below is me redoing it because he managed to unravel a whole heap.  We've solved that problem by finding a bottle lid that fits over the prongs and prevent inadvertent unraveling.

I used to do this when I was a little girl but always had to get Mum to cast on for me.  Now I am the Mum so I had to quickly work out from the instructions how to do it!  I found it rather fun too and am seriously considering re-teaching myself to knit.  There are so many cool fibres out there and I can't really ask my Mum or my MIL to make stuff for me even though they would do it.

I'm on leave for the school holidays.  Here are the list of things I want to do while on leave!  Remains to be seen how much I will get done.

1. Various "health" related appointments e.g. dentist, "women's stuff"... not exactly what I want to do but rather have to do.
2. Make a dress I have planned for work. 
3. Sew up the pj pants I cut out for the family and never made up.
4. Sew the pinafore for Miss 3 that I cut out and overlocked. (I have a matching one!  She will hate me for it when she is older).
5. Go to Greedy Cat with the kids.
6. Have a long weekend in Rotovegas.  We're staying in a different place to our usual.. this one has a place you can cook your tea using steam from the thermal activity down there.  Mr6 is SUPER keen to do this. 
7. Have lunch with Em.
8. Learn felting
9. Make some cards and do some scrapbooking.  I have run out of cards for birthdays and kids cards.
10. Some other sewing things I hope.  Need to make a cover for my wheaty heaty.  Would like to make some pants for DH and Mr6 with matching hoodie tops.  We'll see.
11. Clean and tidy house.  Yeah, that'll last for about 5 minutes.