Friday, 27 September 2013

recent library books...

It's no secret that I love our local library.  I'm a great user of their internet search, in which they're linked to other libraries throughout Victoria.  Simply by adding '2013' into the publication date field, I'm able to reserve new books left, right and centre.  Then it's just a matter of running into the library and picking my books up from the reserve shelf - brilliant!  There have been more than a few gems lately and I feel very spoilt...
Real Homes offers a beautiful glimpse of stunning places around the world - nothing overdone, just images of places filled with items their owners love.  They really are...  real homes.  Just gorgeous.  I've taken lots of pictures of the pages for inspiration - outdoors and in.  Here's an example above - I love the artworks featured against the crisp white walls.
From the books in this pile and in the top, I would highly recommend Until I Say Good-Bye.  When she was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), journalist Susan Spencer-Wendel set about living a year of joy - holidays with family and loved ones and living positively, rather than dwelling on the impending downsides of her incurable illness.  Susan wrote this book with her THUMB on an Iphone and presents an extraordinary view of resilience.  It's an amazing story and made even more so with Susan's wonderful sense of humour.

Another worthy mention is Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly - see what happens when a young schoolgirl goes missing.  The fact that she was meant to have been picked up by a school friend's mother adds another twist to the tale.  I wouldn't recommend reading the end first - don't ask me why, but I did.  Somebody else I know has the same bad habit...  Not recommended!!  Anyway...

Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts is an older book that I picked up off the shelves.  It's a tale of a young man's return to the town from which he'd disappeared as a baby.  He has only recently found out that he was adopted and goes in search of his mother.  When he finds out his disappearance coincided with her murder, he starts looking for answers.  It's another beautifully written novel and well worth searching out.

Anita Hughes' Lake Como is a quick and easy read based in the world of Italian aristocracy.  Hughes is an Australian living in America and this is the first time I've read her work.  A classic beach read and one for the school holidays when it's hard to concentrate on anything heavier.  Great work!

Gardening in Miniature is a favourite book of Sophie's and I think she'd like to see it appearing in her Christmas stocking.  She was inspired to make a miniature garden at her nana and pa's place and would like to make a few at home.  She wants you to know it is a very fun book and she really liked it.

What about you?  Any recent recommendations or old favourites??

Monday, 23 September 2013

the colour coded bookshelf - want, want, want!

Have you fallen for it too?  The colour coded bookshelf?!  The bane of people who like to sort their books into genres (for they seem to have no colour boundaries), you will find yourself fossicking through your bookshelves to create a kaleidoscope of colour and intent.  My mum and step-father are on the move and we're been helping to declutter - I'm sure my work on mum's bookshelves in her study will sell the place!
I kept it simple - just the blue, red and green - and was able to merge excess books into two other sets of bookshelves in the house.  I just love how it looks and will have to vicariously enjoy it while I still can - we only have one set of bookshelves in use at the moment and they're in Tom's room.  I'm hoping that one day we can have something similar to these shelves, also incorporating my computer and office 'stuff'.
It's amazing what a great effect it has for not too much work - and it creates such a restful scene with them all sorted further into height order.  It really appeals to my latent organised side, the one I'm trying to let come to the fore... and declutter my own house...  What about you?  Have you tried the colour coded bookshelf?  Did it last?!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

poppies - take your pick!

Today's all about the poppies - Flanders rather than mum's beautiful Californian poppies out in full bloom on the weekend.  I'm heading to our local community garden to pot up Flanders poppy seedlings to be replanted in newly constructed council garden beds.  These new planting areas have been made for our Poppies for Remembrance project to commemorate our Victoria Cross winners and former service personnel - hopefully they will be out in full bloom in November for Remembrance Day.  Meanwhile at home I have a lovely collection of donated knitted and crocheted poppies just waiting to be made into bunting - with only just over seven weeks to go, it's time to get crafting!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

the writer's edition: month 6 check-in

I was going to subtitle this post 'The Opposite of Writing' because that's what I've been doing: reading, not writing.  After last week's post, happily thinking to myself that both kids were at school, I had a phone call to say there was a sore tummy and could I come and do a pick up?  So yeah, another month like that hasn't done much for my productivity!  Instead, I've been reading again and have found a few gems I will pass on to you.  It's been good then to turn around from books I've really loved and pick up my own work in progress afresh...  and discover that I really love it too!  Proving that really, you have to write what you love, otherwise what's the point?

Look, who knows where this will go, but if I don't try I will never know.  It's unlikely that it will happen overnight and, with my own family responsibilities, I don't even know whether I will make my own deadline.  It's hard to make plans with young children and achieve what I want to professionally without any kind of childcare for Jono.  He doesn't start kinder til next year and even then it's only a few hours a week.  There's plenty of time for writing yet, my kids being young will be over in the blink of an eye.  And that's what I'm going to savour - writing when I can, enjoying what I have here at home.  Life's too short to be superwoman!

Now, for the book recommendations:

Green Vanilla Tea - Marie William's husband is in his early forties when his personality changes immeasurably.  It takes a couple of years for him to be diagnosed with early onset dementia and motor neurone disease - a heartbreaking story, but a lovely read about an incredible, international cohort of friends and relatives who unite behind this family of four.

Far to Go - Alison Pick's Man Booker Prize finalist historical fiction novel tells the compelling story of the Bauer family's experiences as the Nazis sweep into Czechoslovakia.  It's a very interesting book and has a twist that at first slightly almost irritated me, but as I accustomed to the mechanics of the tale, I settled back down and enjoyed the story.  I'd be very interested to hear from you if you've read this book - I found I just had to keep reading, each paragraph lead so well into the next, a brilliant find!

Simply from Scratch - This is a very easily read novel from Alicia Bessette.  Rose-Ellen Carmichael Roy's husband has died in a post-Hurricane Katrina relief mission in New Orleans.  Despite the subject matter, there is a lightness and warmth to the writing - I enjoyed seeing new friendships develop and existing relationships at work.  I look forward to hearing more from Alicia Bessette.

I've just picked up another huge haul from the library, so hope to add to these recommendations as time goes on.  What have you read lately?  What should I reserve next?

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

painting and planting

Sunshine and spring have finally arrived!  We've had the most fabulous time over the past few days, creeping outside and enjoying the fresh air, kids bouncing wildly on the trampoline, making new garden beds out the front and back, even planting out a hedge.  The nurseries nearby are doing great trade from us, I can tell you that much!
Jono and I watered our new plants, then came inside for a painting session.  I just love watching him work, so serious!  He's so careful with the paint too - the other guys just used to mix the colours on the paint into a brown splodge.
There's nothing really to share from our morning's efforts - just lines, shapes, marks, swirls.  It's not really about painting something, but more moving the paint around - hard to do anything requiring any concentration with a toddler at my side!