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Wednesday, 22 April 2020

The library island.. *




Home improvement can be a bit of a chore, can't it?! When we moved in to our current house, it was accepted that whilst we 'd love to change everything, it's just not practical to do it all right away. There's a list, with the biggest priorities coming first. 

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At the top of the stairs is a funny little gallery landing space, so typical of this era of housing. Yes, it's wallpaper and carpet and everything else are pretty dated, but it makes the most logical sense to wait until bedroom and bathrooms are renovated (as there's bound to be bumps and knocks to the walls when things are going in and out of those rooms) and decorate the stairs, landing and hallways as a final touch. So (much to my dismay) the textured paper has to stay for a little while longer. 


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Ocean Meets Sky Library Islands poster: Photowall*

We switched up some furniture downstairs after redecorating the living room and it meant I was left with a barely used chaise lounge, which it seemed a shame to get rid of. I figured that I could turn the landing space into a little reading area, rescuing one of the old hand-me-down bookshelves from our to-go pile and filling it with a few of the books. 

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The space seemed much better utilised, but I'd been agonising about what to do with the blank wall above the radiator (long term plans involve bespoke bookcases the length of that wall, but they're not scheduled for a while yet). 
So, when Photowall got in touch with me recently to ask if we could work together, it seemed like fate and I jumped at the chance to find something which would work in that space. This was no easy task as their website is huuuuge and there is so much to choose from. It also seems as though pretty much every design could be printed as posters, canvas prints or even wallpaper. There's even an option to upload your own photos for printing. 

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I picked this design as it featured books and also birds and creatures, and the colours seem to fit nicely with the reading nook; my very own library island. It took less than a week to arrive with me from Sweden, which I thought was pretty impressive considering the current postal conditions. The quality is great too. Once we'd unrolled it and flattened it out for a few days, we fitted the wooden batons to the top and bottom (it comes with super simple instructions for this) and hung it up. I think it finishes off this little space pretty well. 

Photowall have very kindly given me a discount code to share with you. trexandtiaras2020 will give 25% any Photowall order until the end of May 2020.

Thank you to Photowall for providing me with this poster in exchange for my honest thoughts and review post. 


Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Tuesday Titles 176..

With booksellers such as Waterstone's reporting this week that their sales have increased by 400%, it really does seem that people are using their newfound social distancing time to work their way through their TBR piles.

I'd seen this 2020 reading challenge doing the rounds from Whitney at The Unread Shelf and whilst it had intrigued me, I'd spent the start of 2020 thinking I would try to shy away from putting more and more pressure on myself to partake in challenges. {I spent 2019 working my way through some of my shoe collection to share a pair each day for #365daysofirregularchoice and towards the end, it definitely started to feel more like a chore than a fun thing to be a part of and I'd kind of figured that this type of challenge was not for me. I also failed to complete last year's #2019makenine list of sewing projects and even found myself feeling guilty when I devoted any of my time to making something which wasn't on my "approved" list from the challenge.}

But then, a week or so ago, things changed across our country and suddenly a lot of the freedom we spend our lives taking for granted was stripped away from us. For good reason, sure, but it can all feel a little stifling nonetheless.

And now, I've found myself reading a lot more - partly in place of sleep - but a lot of the time just for the enjoyment of it. Here are a few books I finished this week and some brief thoughts. I might adopt the reading challenge Whitney has set.

Missy
Saving Missy: Beth Morrey
So, a teeny bit confusing here, but by the time the proof for this one arrived with me, it was called Saving Missy, which I think is the title it's now being marketed with. Centring on Missy Carmichael, an elderly lady who is struggling with loneliness. I found this one a little bit too "100 Year Old Man.." levels of out there* but otherwise a fairly uplifting tale about the fact that friendship can spring up just about anywhere. 
(*I think I'm about the only person in the world who found that book irksome, and just struggled a little to believe that this 79 year old lady was likely to be fit and well enough to have done a lot of these things). 
A sweet book and I didn't roll my eyes *too* much at the way things turned out. 



CLRC
The Cancer Ladies’ Running Club: Josie Lloyd
Dubbed to be the feel-good read of the summer, I must admit this one was in part the fluffy chick-lit I'd expected, whilst at the same time throwing in a couple of other elements of intrigue. Kinda. I enjoyed the formation of the friendships in the running club, between Keira, Tamsin, Sian and Amma; four ladies who have cancer diagnoses in common. I completely relate to the struggle that is pushing oneself to run. We see some of Keira's other struggles come to light as well: the strained relationship with her husband, the way in which her business seems to be slipping away from her. I found that storyline a little too predictable, if I'm honest. From the very first mention of her colleagues in the shop, it was clear what was going to happen there and I wasn't surprised. I think that the main focus of the story could have been the running group and the cancer treatment and that would have been enough, but as we've come to expect from this genre, all loose ends are tied up in the final chapter and all main characters get a happy ending. Read this if you fancy an escape from reality (I was going to say on holiday, by the pool, but I guess that's quite unlikely in our current circumstances).
 

Glass Hotel
The Glass Hotel: Emily St. John Mandel
OK, so I know we may only be one quarter of the way through, but my goodness this is my best book of 2020 so far. Also, I may be the only person who neither heard of nor read Station Eleven, so I can't make a comparison there, but I have to say I was absolutely hooked from the moment I started reading The Glass Hotel. To begin with, the snippets of various characters' lives seem random, but as we began to move between times and places, it becomes apparent that the titular glass hotel is the crossroads for so many of these important characters to collide. I found the writing had an almost dreamlike style to it and I personally liked that feeling of floating through the lives of the people mentioned. A couple of big events happen, but the book spends so much of it's time leading up to these things (the main one, although hinted at, doesn't even happen until close to the end and therefore isn't really dwelt on as much as I'd expected from the synopsis) and the main focus remains on the lives of the characters and how each of their tiny, insignificant actions can have a much larger ripple effect on so many others. 

Read anything good lately?

Monday, 27 January 2020

Where did the party go?

We're a month into the new year and I've been pondering just what it means for my little corner of the internet. In fact, for most of my lunch break today my finger has been hovering over the "delete blog" button as I'm just not sure that I have a lot to share on here anymore.

I guess a few things have happened over the past year or so which make blogging (for me) a little different than it used to be. There have been some big changes in my life, which I neither want nor need to share, but lately it's meant that where in the past my first thought may have been to share it, now it feels like more of a chore to keep up with posting over here.


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I'm not sure what the future of this little space is. My photo hosting site (Flickr) seem to be sending regular emails about increasing their prices, so I've decided to give myself until the current subscription runs out (November) and see how much I've shared and make a decision after that.

We'll see. And if you're still here..how's 2020 treating you?

Friday, 22 November 2019

Blog Tour: The Death of Mungo Blackwell



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The Death of Mungo Blackwell: Lauren H Brandenburg



I've been struggling to keep on top of my reading pile, lately. Nonetheless, when I received an email a few months back about this book, I knew I'd have to make some time to fit it in to my schedule, so I've read it through my lunchbreaks over the past weeks.

The Death of Mungo Blackwell follows The Blackwells, a family with astounding history and traditions, which include holding their funerals before they die. Their ways are questionable and their stories about deceased relatives are as bold as their red hair, but it is their eclectic wares that keep tourists coming back to their market in the town of Coraloo.  Charlie Price finds himself flung into the chaotic world of the Blackwells when he relocates to Coraloo with his socialite wife, Veleteen, and comic book-obsessed son, Gideon – and soon finds this new way of life under threat. Perhaps it’s time for Charlie to have a funeral of his own…


I loved the idea of a family who hold their funerals before they die - much more fun to be present, wouldn't you say? Apparently, this was based on a distant relative of the author who did one and the same, which she found super intriguing. 


When Charlie and his family lose everything and decide to start life afresh in Coraloo, they suddenly find themselves flung into the midst of an ongoing feud between rival families the Blackwells and the Tofts (think Capulets and Montagues, for sure!) I have to admit, the pace of the main story was a little slow-going for my liking and I'd have preferred a little more focus on the eccentricities of the Blackwells, but it's an enjoyable story nonetheless. After all, it's not every day you can read a story featuring pirates and low-flying macarons at the same time, is it?! 



The Death of Mungo Blackwell is available now. Thanks to Midas PR for the ARC. 


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Friday, 15 November 2019

Friday Favourites: Festive Knits



As the dreaded C-word looms ever closer, my attention has turned to those warm winter woollies that seem to be plugged in advance of Save the Children's annual Christmas Jumper Day on 13th December this year. I don't know about you but we always support this one at work.

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Every year I'm amazed at how many new and unusual designs are released - you'd have thought the festive jumper market would be saturated by now with reindeer and robins, but it seems not. Here are a few of the ones which have caught my eye in recent weeks. 

001: I'm desperately sad that this one only comes in kids' sizes. 

002: More of a winter-y jumper, I'm enjoying the IWOOT range of contemporary pop culture Christmas designs. I figure this one would be perfect for chilling with a mulled wine apres ski on the next skiing holiday. 

003: HelloDODO never fail to come up with designs which are both quirky and quippy. I love their festive offering - of course, that might be because it features a dinosaur. 

004: I love this Pacman design - it's an online exclusive for Tu Clothing and I'm ignoring the fact that it's in the mens secion, because how can a jumper even be gendered?!

005: If a full-on jumper isn't your thing, how about a Christmas tank top instead? And if that's not enough, why not cover it in fairy lights..and toucans?!

006: Not a fan of jumpers full stop? Well, I'd opt for one of Little Moose's wonderful necklaces instead.

007: Enjoying this penguin-y take on fair isle. It makes for a slightly more general "winter" jumper, which I guess you could wear for more months.

008: Little Pig has a new Christmas jewellery collection due out soon, but these Xmas sweater pins are available now as part of her sample sale. 

009: I like this one because a first look, it's a fairly staid design (is that even a thing with a Christmas jumper?!), but it lights up!

010: Festive Muppets? A winner for my best friend who starts the festivities off every year with a rewatch of A Muppet Christmas Carol. 

Do any of these take your fancy? I have a discount code for IWOOT if anyone wants it. Use CHARXMAS for 30% off. 

Of course, I've been considering making myself a Christmas jumper for a while now, too. I really love Andi Satturland's Julgran pattern - but who knows which Christmas it will be before I actually find time to knit one for myself. 


Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Tuesday Titles 175..

Dear Edward
Dear Edward: Ann Napolitano

If you're a superstitious person at all, I'll start by suggesting that you don't make the same error that I did and begin this book in the airport waiting area, as you wait to board your plane home. (It's about a plane crash.)
Having said that, if I'm honest, I didn't find that reading this whilst flying home bothered me too much, as I was too engrossed in the story. If anything, it seemed rather fitting.

Gradually, through each chapter, we find out more about the lives of some of the passengers on the plane that day, as well as how Edward - the sole survivor of the devastating crash - attempts to continue with his life even though nothing can ever be the same for him.

Read anything great lately? I've been feeling a little bit stuck in a rut with my to-read list, lately. 

Thursday, 24 October 2019

This is Halloween, this is Halloween..


I'm not sure where this idea came from, now I think about it. A while ago, I was hunting on Ravelry (does anyone else fall in there and get seriously lost...?!) for something else entirely, and I came across this Little Vampire pattern. I bookmarked it, as it wasn't quite the time for spooky stuff, and thought it would be another of the endless things I've saved in my favourites, never to see fruition.

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I don't know if it's because I've been working on a woodland wreath (well, I'm actually working on more than one at present) but I guess it means I've had wreaths on the brain. In the depths, a little kernel of (candy) corn of idea was forming and suddenly I'd decided that I was going to make a spooky wreath, for Halloween decor. 

Finding myself between projects a few weeks ago, I began searching for some other spooky bits which I could knit up and add to my wreath. It turned out that the lady who designed the vampire also did a pattern called The Little Zombie, so that made the list of course. 

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The mummy, pumpkin, bat and spiders came from a magazine pull-out section of Let's Knit magazine for making a Halloween wreath and I used most of their suggestions, except for the skulls and the witch. Then the witch I did use and the Frankenstein's monster both came from a different free halloween pattern from Let's Knit (here).


I bought the polystyrene inner from The Range (they currently have them in the Christmas section for £2) and used a ball of purple mohair which I'd bought from the bargain bin in one of our local charity shops for 50p earlier in the year to create a garter stitch rectangle which was roughly the size of the wreath. I knitted until I ran out of wool and the lucky thing about garter stitch is the stretch it creates, so thankfully it was just about able to fit with enough wool left to stitch it together. 

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One good thing about this project is that aside from the wreath, everything was made using up things I already had in my sewing room. The critters are all made using scraps of yarn, embroidery thread and beads and everything is stuffed using a box of leftover pieces of yarn from making some pom-poms earlier in the year (mostly because I've run out of fiberfill but they seem to work well!) 

I hadn't planned to do the spider web in the middle, but as I was stitching everything onto the wreath, it seemed like a good idea to have one of the spiders hanging from a little wire from the bottom of the wreath and then decided that the other should be on a web. 

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I feel as though it worked out pretty well, considering this was a total experiment, I might add more things to it in time, but it probably looks full enough as it is. I'm not sure where to hang it to start with as I don't think I want it to sit outside all of the time getting rained on, but I can't wait to get it on the door before we have some Halloween visitors next week.