Friday, 24 April 2015

Currently April 2015

I first saw the Currently List on Kristin's blog and have seen it elsewhere in various forms. I thought it might be a good way to show what is happening around here at the moment. I found the list I finally went with on Pip's beautiful crochet and so much more blog and will link this up there.

Making : A final push on my alphabet cross stitch sampler so that I can start the monthly Frosted Pumpkin sampler that I cannot wait to start. 

Cooking : A chocolate Anzac slice in anticipation of the 100th anniversary tomorrow

Drinking : Too much espresso and sparkling water

Reading: How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer and The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - I am enjoying the latter more

Wanting: A proper oven instead of a convection microwave

Looking: For a new apartment with a proper oven and dishwasher

Playing: Way too much Criminal Case and a lot of Spot It with the small girl

Deciding: Where I want to go for my birthday meal

Wishing: We had a good holiday planned for the small girl's 5 week break

Enjoying: The sun on my skin during the current hot season

Waiting: For a couple of my requested books to come into the library

Liking: How affectionate our 9 year old Maine Coon is becoming as she gets older

Wondering: If my daughter will ever sleep the whole night in her own bed for more than one night at a time

Loving: The fact that next weekend has four days

Pondering: Whether we should brave the holiday weekend traffic and go to Legoland to see the big Star Wars exhibit that my husband would love (I still have not watched any of them)

Considering:If I should join the gym or just get back into walking

Buying: Postcards to send to my Postcrossing recipients - who knew they would be so hard to find in Sg

Watching: The Blacklist - I have loved James Spader for too many years and he just keeps getting better

Hoping: I can find a job that gives us enough family time and some income

Marvelling: At the amazing job my daughter's Prep teacher does

Cringing: At the thought of hopping on the scales

Needing: A plan to make the most of my days at home

Questioning: If we should stay in Singapore or if returning to New Zealand would be the best option for our family

Smelling: My favourite Silver Birch candle

Wearing: My City Chic black skinny jeans - shame it is too hot to wear them out of the house

Following: A lot of Paleo blogs

Noticing: The more Paleo blogs I read the more I crave carbs

Knowing: Water really is the cure for everything and I need to swim more often

Thinking: That our PM's pony tail obsession is frankly embarrassing

Admiring: The gardener's at Gardens by the Bay who manage to keep tulips alive in 35 degree heat

Sorting: Through the small girl's clothes as she continues to grow out of them 

Getting: Overrun by 60 litre containers full of the small girl's discarded clothes

Bookmarking: A couple of scrapbook sketches - the first time I have considered it in nearly a year

Coveting: A pair of shoes that are not to loose around my heels that are not fit flops or trainers

Disliking: The idea of having a head transplant

Opening: The windows and enjoying the fresh air before haze season begins

Feeling: Very stiff in my neck and shoulders from too much sewing

Snacking: On mangosteens, guava and papaya

Wishing: It was already lunchtime as I am meeting a friend to try one of the top ten coffee places in Sg: Sarnies

Helping: Out in my daughter's class every week and loving it

Hearing: Kim Hill and Kathryn Ryan every day as I get my jobs done - I love Radio New Zealand National and it is nice to feel well informed about what is happening at home

Have a great weekend!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Quick Lit April 2015

 I have really made an effort to get back into reading over the past 12 months. I discovered the joys of Good Reads and then I found Modern Mrs Darcy and her excellent book posts (I think through the Little Gold Pixel blog). This month I am going to join in Modern Mrs Darcy's Quick Lit post and share the books I read in March.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica  was a well paced thriller set in the Mid West of the US. A woman is kidnapped as part of an extortion plan. Her complicated family relationships and a series of choices made by her kidnapper see her confined to a deserted lakeside cottage in rural Minnesota while the police and her her mother attempt to track her down. This was an engaging quick read which I gave four stars. I would have rated it a three and a half but the final twist was totally unexpected.

The Likeness by Tana French is the second in the Dublin series of thrillers. I have had no luck getting the first book through the library so I bit the bullet and started with book two. This was a very absorbing read. The story is successful as a stand alone novel (phew) and the lead characters were well drawn. The plot had enough twists and turns to keep me turning the pages well after bedtime even if the main premise is a bit of a stretch. The lead character, Cassie, is a police woman who is called to a murder scene as the victim is the image of her. With few clues to draw on the decision is made to insert Cassie into the victim's life and see if she can solve the murder herself. A good four and a half star read.

 Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell was a Young Adult book that I really connected with. I found the characters so well crafted and believable. It is, at its core, a love story but so much more than the usual boy meets girl formula. The time period (the mid 80's) was exactly the time I was about this age and I really loved all the musical references and familiar experiences in the book. I was all set to give the book five stars but I felt the ending really let the rest of the book down. A very solid four stars though from me.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes is the first book I have read by this author. I was under the (false) impression that she was a bit like Jodi Picoult and so I suspected I would not be a fan. I was wrong. This novel about a modern family dealing with the pressures of modern life was at times laugh out loud funny but at other points in the book I found tears in my eyes. The characters were really believable and it was nice to see a non traditional family portrayed so positively and vividly. A good four star read and I look forward to reading more books by this author.

A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton is the fourth book in the Lacey Flint series. I am a huge fan of Lacey Flint. She is ballsy and fierce and totally focused on her role as a policewoman. These books can be read as stand alones but I would suggest starting at the beginning of the series as the back story does explain some of Lacey's behaviours in this novel. This is a police procedural set in London and the river Thames dominates this story almost to the point of being a character itself. Dark, scary and well written I gave this novel four stars.

The Ocean At the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman was a book I had heard a lot of buzz around a couple of years ago but as I generally am not a huge fan of Fantasy I didn't read it at the time. I wish I had. This book is beautiful from start to finish. The quality of the writing and the imagery has stayed with me for weeks after reading it. It is a Fantasy novel but it is so much more than that. All I can really say is that if you have not read this book you should. It was an emphatic five star read for me.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler suffered a little for being read straight after Neil Gaiman's book but I just did not enjoy this one much at all. I found the early part of the novel quite interesting but once the twist was revealed (about a third of the way through) I started to lose interest. The story seemed to peter out from this point on and it was a struggle to finish. I gave it three stars when I finished it but it may actually be closer to a two star read for me with the benefit of a few weeks passing.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill was a beautiful read. This is a short but very sharp read. I could see so many familiar aspects of the drudgery of baby raising and the difficulties of relationships in the contemporary Western world that really resonated with me. The author has a powerful writing style that contains so much beauty and truth. My second five star read of the month and book I intend to buy as I really loved it.

So that is my month of March in books. I got through quite a few books. My daughter had two weeks of school holidays in early April so my April list will be considerably shorter. I would wholeheartedly recommend Dept. of Speculation and The Ocean at the End of the Lane if you are looking for a great read. Both the Sharon Bolton and Tana French series are worth a look if you like your thrillers. My sole don't bother book this month is We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves but I think I am in the minority with this one. Lots of people loved it.

I am linking up with the Quick Lit post at Modern Mrs Darcy. It is well worth a look if you are looking for something to read as there are over 60 links to posts like this one there.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Great Abandoned Blog Mystery

If you asked me why I have not touched my blog in nearly twelve months I really couldn't tell you. I guess I could spout all the usual excuses of the 21st Century - I am busy, lack of inspiration but really it is a mystery to me. 

I got so much pleasure from blogging and interacting with friends and strangers from around the world and it was mentally really healthy for me to have an outlet for my thoughts and creative projects. I need to get back into this.

I was chatting online with my sister-in-law and our conversation touched on blogging and she reminded me just how much I enjoyed this space. I cannot be sure what shape it will take. I have not touched my scrapbook supplies since I finished LOAD last year so I doubt there will be much scrapping going on. I think I want to return to the original idea of the blog a little more and record some of the adventures we are having in Singapore and beyond. Life has changed a great deal with Miss S starting primary (elementary) school and turning five so there are things to explore there too.

I have returned to my passion for reading in the past year. The discovery of the amazing Modern Mrs Darcy has introduced me to a world of new and exciting books and book bloggers. I want to share the books I have enjoyed with my readers in the hope that some may strike a cord with you.

I am also making a concerted effort to get into yoga. I have been working my way through 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene via Youtube and although my body and fitness won't allow me to do everything in each of her sessions I feel really great after them. There is always a pose in the session that my body really requires even if it is just Corpse pose at the end!

So the plan is to blog once or twice a week and see if I can find my mojo again. I hope those of you that have hung in there will join me for this new installment of my adventure in Singapore.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

LOAD 514 Week Three

Week Three of LOAD and I got a little behind over the weekend. I did catch up though and was really pleased with the layouts I made. The thing that surprised me most was how few supplies I was using to complete the layouts. I had visions of using up kit after kit but the reality is a kit would last for several layouts - up to a week's worth so my supplies remain largely intact.

 I think the topic was the fashions in your youth but the less said about that the better so I decided to do a layout about the person I know who loves fashion more than most - Miss 4. She loves looking at clothes, trying on clothes and playing dress ups. I used a Dear Lizzy paper that I had been hoarding and some fun plastic thickers. Once again, I used a PL journalling card - I am finding them super useful on standard layouts.

I have let too long a time pass to remember the prompt for this layout but I was keen to use this photo of M4 on her favourite TV watching perch. I used the patterned paper as the driver for all the embellies and lettering on this page.

This layout was inspired by the work of another member of the LOAD group. It remains unfinished as I cannot find the remaining film for my Instax to take a picture of M4 and myself to add to the picture. I like having a little snapshot of what we like at any given time and this is a picture of where we are now. This layout did make a decent dent in my enamel dot collection.

I had a super busy day on this particular day so I grabbed some scrap papers and put together something really simple. I love this photo of us and I wanted to let the image do most of the talking.

I was inspired by a Diana Waite layout that popped up on my Facebook feed. When I went back to the original I realised this was really nothing like it! I took a selection of 6x6 patterned papers and layered them. The journalling from M4 is hidden under the layers. She would like to be a Mummy when she grows up and have six children. It was quite a quick piece but I love the look. I will definitely try this approach again.

The prompt for today was about your faith. We are not religious in any way, shape or form so I decided to spin off the idea and look at the role our families play in our lives. I love this picture of my Dad holding M4 just a few hours after she was born.

This layout has made use of some of the oldest printed photos I had on hand. We went to the US a few months before M4 was born and had an amazing trip exploring the California, Nevada and Arizona highways. These photos are from Death Valley as we drove to Las Vegas. It was amazingly hot and dry and the scenery was straight out of an old Western. I am very pleased to have finally recorded some of the lead up to M4s arrival and these photos of a very memorable holiday.

I will share the remaining layouts from LOAD in my next post. I have not done any scrapping since the end of May but I have got some ideas for what I would like to do once I get some more photos printed.

Monday, 19 May 2014

LOAD 514 Week 2

I often start new projects with a hiss and roar before running out of steam. So far I am still keeping up and enjoying working on the layouts each day. I definitely find weekends much harder when we are all home and frequently out and about. 

Here are the layouts from Week Two.

The prompt for this day was favourite songs and I thought about doing something about songs from my youth but ended up going with one of our favourite songs right now, Pharell's Happy.

The prompt was about school days and although I have used a pair of photos from Miss Four's preschool, the journalling looks at the differences between my kindergarten experience and my daughter's.

I am not thrilled by this layout. I love the journalling but the whole layout is not quite right. At least the story is told. The prompt was something to do with telephones. I looked at my phones over the years and had a great shot of Miss Four sitting in the guard house at our apartment answering the phone. I loved this prompt as I would never have thought to scrap about this but the changes in phones during my lifetime have been substantial and it may be of interest in the future.

The prompt for today was Puppy Love and as a non dog owner and  someone who didn't really have any pop star crushes I decided to take my cat's name and make her the star. She is a very photogenic Maine Coon and I am glad to have a little more about her added to my albums.

I cannot for the life of me remember the prompt for this layout but I know I went off topic a bit with it. We have been so fortunate to be able to live our dream and spend time living in Singapore with our daughter. We are working towards a new dream for a little later in our life of building a new home in Central Otago. It certainly won't happen in the next five years, but is a medium term goal for us both. 

I am unsure what the theme for today was exactly but I have recorded Miss Four's love of food. She has, until recently, eaten anything. It was nice to show pictures of her enjoying eating and making food and a good reminder to me of how things used to be. I am finding her fussier attitudes to food very trying so I hope things return to normal.

The topic for the day was Sick Days and I couldn't find the photo I had in mind for this theme. I did find this one of Miss Four and her father at the park and decided to put a bit of a spin on things. Again, this is not a topic I might otherwise have scrapped about so I am very glad that I have these memories recorded.

We had a lovely weekend. We didn't do anything particularly exciting but had a quiet, relaxed time as a family. I hope you had a great weekend with your friends and family.



Friday, 16 May 2014

LOAD 514 Week One Layouts (Part 2)

I have to admit I am loving this class. I love getting a new prompt every day and I love the fact that I have completed 15 layouts so far this month.

I have kept these layouts super simple so that I can complete them within an hour. I have absolutely stuck to using photos and supplies that I have in hand. I have found sourcing photos for some of the topics a little tricky but it is quite a good challenge to find a work around on those occasions. The only thing I am kicking myself about is that I have have not made note of the exact topics but most of the layouts are reasonably close this week.

I think the topic for this was board games and as luck would have it I had snapped a picture of Poppy lounging in the middle of one of the games we play most often, Monster Bingo.Poppy loves to be involved when we play games and she is very careful not to knock things over. I was pleased to have a try with the Amy Tangerine letters on this layout.

This layout was based on a Christmas theme. I had these photos taken from a couple of years ago that didn't make it into an album so I am glad I recorded the process of how tree decorating takes place for us. I don't usually play a major role. Miss Four and Tet love decorating it together and my role is to take photos as they do.

I love these photos of Miss Four that were taken when she was about 10 months old. I know I have scrapped some photos from this session before but I just love how her personality is so apparent even then. The theme for today was when you believed your life would begin. I twisted this a little to be when I truly felt like an adult which was with the arrival of Miss Four. I grabbed a random piece of patterned paper from an old kit and added some journalling cards from the most recent Amy Tangerine Project Life mini kit and some random cards from either Studio Calico or Citrus Twist PL kits.

I haven't made a lot of progress with Miss Four's baby album journalling but I am really glad I have finally recorded her early words somewhere other than in her baby book.
I had forgotten so many of her early words. I am so pleased her father wrote everything down!

The seventh topic was the most wonderful time of the year. A lot of people went with seasons, but for us it is always whenever we go on holiday together. We all adore travelling and getting to spend a lot of time together. I am all too aware that in a matter of years Miss Four would rather not spend her free time with us so I am most certainly going to enjoy this while it lasts. All the images in this layout are from Miss Four's first 14 months of life. The top centre photo was our first trip (moving internationally aside) to Indonesia. It was perfect, lots of sun, delicious food and hotel staff who loved our daughter. The bottom right photo was from our post Christmas trip to Phuket. Miss Four loves the beach and she had a wonderful time splashing in the waves, eating sand and her own body weight in pineapple rice. The final image is from our first trip to Japan. This shows my two loves on a ferry in Tokyo Bay. That ergo carrier made trains and sightseeing so much easier.

I am really looking forward to sharing the next seven layouts with you over the next week. I am so excited that I have managed to keep up and that I am finally doing something with my supplies and photos instead of feeling guilty about it.

In between working on these layouts and the normal day to day adventures I have watched the first series of Scandal and a big chunk of series two. I love it! My husband is not that interested so I watch it while he is at work and we are both happy. We have been hooked on The Blacklist and are looking forward to watching the final episode tonight. I love James Spader in this show.

Thanks so much for reading if you have made it to the end. Are there any other shows you could suggest based on the ones mentioned above? I love finding a really good series to watch!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Layout A Day 514 Days 1 and 2

After an unexpectedly long hiatus I am back on board with a major scrappy challenge to get my memory keeping back on track. This month I am taking part in Lain Ehmann's LOAD challenge with my intention being to create 31 layouts over the course of the month.

I am enjoying the challenge so far. I have set myself a couple of rules to keep things manageable. The first is that I am to work from my stash and more specifically some of the bagged Studio Calico kits that are taking up a lot of space in my home. I am also trying to spend no more than an hour on each layout as I have a busy month of visitors and activities planned and do not want to burn out.  

There is a theme for this LOAD and it is Past Perfect 2. This means looking at stories from my own past that need telling. If the theme for the day does not fit with photos or ideas that I have then I can broaden and change things to fit. Day one's theme was In The News. Right away I knew we had noted down some headlines and other bits of trivia from the day that Miss 4 was born. I grabbed a couple of old kits and looked for things that worked with the theme and the layout above was the result. I was really pleased to find the news printy style stickers and and patterned papers. I gussied it all up with a cut apart page from Crate Paper and some embellies from Amy Tangerine and Freckled Fawn. The photo is actually when my daughter was about 5 days old but it was the only one I had printed from this age so it will be more than adequate.

The Day 2 theme was If These Walls Could Talk and one of the suggested ideas was our bedroom from childhood. I don't have any photos from my main childhood house but it did trigger a whole lot of memories. I decided to make the layout the colour of my room which was a bright yellow with multiple patterns going on as they did in the 70's. A quick look through my patterned papers and I had more than enough suitable papers and I was away.

I used some more cut apart cards for my journalling which also had a yellow floral which was very similar to the patterned wallpaper in my bedroom. Lain has been really helpful giving ideas such as hitting the internet for stories you don't have pictures for. I would never have told the story of my Basil Brush bench had it not been for this prompt and it was a favourite possession for several years. 

It isn't the loveliest of layouts (and certainly is not quite as square as I would like) but I am thrilled to have recorded a story that would otherwise have been untold.

Here is a little bit of a closer look at the story.

I am counting down to receiving the third prompt later today.

Have any of you taken part in a LOAD challenge before? Did you manage to keep up?

I hope you have a creative weekend and find some time to celebrate National Scrapbooking Day today.