Monday, 28 March 2011

room wanted... giveaway

read in a 1940's english accent

the giveaway - the rules
to enter - leave a comment and tell me your favourite old film
(just being nosey)

for a second entry - add the button to your sidebar or mention the giveaway with a picture in a post on your blog, leave a second comment and tell me you've done this.

Mr and Mrs have up to date passports and don't get travel sick.
I give them a mostly good reference, she talks, and talks, and talks, and he has an eye for the ladies.
I'll draw a winner on 12th April 2pm, UK time.

If you can't wait until then, you can buy their neighbours here.


* giveaway now closed - a day early, sorry, something has come up!
- thanks for entering *

Thursday, 24 March 2011

my creative space

What do you do when your 'to do' list is so enormous and unachievable, and you don't know where to start, and you don't want to do any of it, and none of it is fun, and the really important deadlines are creeping up on you?
Start something new, something you meant to do last summer, something that is fun, something that will make you breathe, something that will give you some joy.

I didn't get it finished like I'd hoped, the bobbin ran out of thread, I managed to unthread the overlocker by accident, the phone kept ringing (and even more annoying - there was no-one there) the breadmaker beeped, the the needle needed changing and then my time was up. 
But I get to add something fun onto my 'to do' list.

I can also share my stitched postcard for the swap, the theme this time was 'love'. 
I really enjoyed doing this.
The slow hand stitching, the choosing of colours, the feel of the linen, the time it gave me to sit still, the doing it with my actual hands, thinking of all the things I love, feeling loved.
And of course, Miss Parker helped me out with the words, which never fails to please me.
This travelled over to America to live with Mama Bear. Hoping mine will get here soon, it's nice to get happy post.
Being creative is so good for my sanity.

You can still join in on the book review - anyone?

Monday, 21 March 2011

book review - My Sister's Keeper

I know, it's been a little book bonkers over here lately - I will calm down soon, I promise. 
So here's my first book review, I hope you'll join in and add your review to the Link too, spread the word - it'll be more fun if lots of us play along.

This is the first book I've read this year, (I don't find much time to read so I'm feeling chuffed I've managed a whole book by March!)

'My Sister's Keeper' by Jodi Picoult. 

This is the story of a family and how their lives are centered around the middle daughter, Kate, who has leukemia. 
To save her life a younger daughter is conceived to be a bone marrow donor. But it doesn't end there. 
By the age of 13 the younger sister, Anna, has had countless procedures to save Kate's life. She is then expected to donate a kidney, this is when she proceeds with a lawsuit to sue her parents for rights over her own body.

This is a heartbreaking book, as a mother of two I kept trying to put myself in the parents shoes and wonder what I would do. I couldn't. 
Most mothers would donate any body part to save their own childs life - but is it fair, is it right, is it immoral to expect a young sibling to do so? 
It had me in tears many times and wondering just what is the right answer. The book is written from all the characters points of view, so you really feel their turmoil. They are all making difficult choices with the best of intentions. Who could chose one child over another, who's doing the right thing?
As the book progressed I found it hard not to side with Anna a little. Her whole life was defined by being a donor, having a sick sister, spending their lives at the hospital and a childhood overshadowed by sorrow. But as the court case unfolds it becomes clear where her heart really lies. 

The ending is not what I expected, it's bittersweet and it's a shock. I don't want to give it away but it came back to me day after day and made me appreciate how lucky we all are to be healthy.

This is a sad story, but it gripped me, I just had to get to the end. If you're up for an emotional journey, this is a good one.

Now it's your turn, you can review any book - a cookbook your family would starve without, a pattern book you've made things from (share some pictures please!), a novel you hated,  a children's book your little ones love... anything goes!

I'll leave the link open for a couple of weeks so you have plenty of time. 
Can't wait to read what you're reading...

Friday, 11 March 2011

my creative space

Sometimes I need to hear the bash - bash of Miss Parkers keys. And I'm quite hooked on making these bookmarks. 

Some people got one with a book last week - they were very chuffed.

Handmade and personal - what's not to love?

There are many more creative spaces.

Monday, 7 March 2011

World Book Night

I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of World Book Night this yearOn Saturday night 1 million books began a new journey with a new owner. 20,000 'givers' each gave away 48 copies of the book they chose. I chose Alan Bennett's A Life Like Other People's. When I signed up I hadn't realised that every copy would be given a code number, you can register the book and then track it's journey on the website as you pass it on to another person and share the experience. This is so amazing. One of the people I gave a book to said she will post it on to her sister in New York, Maria at Me and Ma who won one on my giveaway is passing her copy on through her blog. The journeys  these books will go on is fascinating.
Were you a part of it, were you a book giver? Did you receive one, are you inspired to read again?    


When I signed up for this I said that I would be giving away books to other parents, who like me used to read before having children and haven't really found the time to do so again. I have handed them out in the school playground, at toddler group and the Children's Centre. I have just five copies left to pass on, everyone has been so enthusiastic about it and I look forward to hearing what they thought of the book as the weeks go on.

I watched some of the coverage on TV on Saturday night and was so inspired to read, read, read. I used to read books recommended by friends and work colleagues, there doesn't seem to be time to chat about books though any more. 

So I started to think about you lovelies out there, we read each others blogs, have similar interests maybe we would like similar books. What books do you like, crime fiction, the classics, cookery, gardening, crafty, travel, history, knitting books? I'm thinking of starting a book review linky thing. Would you join in - write a post on your blog and link it back here so others can read it? Leave a comment and let me know. 

I'm so inspired right now, I guess this event really got me hooked at least.

Friday, 4 March 2011

a london walk

So the rest of my day out...

I walked from Whitechapel over to Spitalfields. I love the buildings round there, some are done up and swanky, others are shabby and charming. The streets are eerily quiet compared to the buzz at the nearby market or along Brick Lane. 

These are the streets where Jack the Ripper did his worst, I used to have a studio round here and most evenings on my way home I would hear the local guides naming the women he had killed on the very spot his crowd were standing on. It always sent a chill down my spine as over the road I waited for the bus and watched the current prostitutes emerging from the alleyways.

Doorways fascinate me, what goes on inside, who lives there, what's the rest of the house like, who were the previous residents? I would love to be able to see a snippet of a houses history, visually, to watch all the comings and goings.

Can you just imagine all the stories these doors keep locked away?

Before I headed home with a heart full of inspiration I went to the National Portrait Gallery to see the exhibiton An Englishman in New York: Photographs by Jason Bell. I love New York, I've only been a couple of times but I wish I'd been more, and maybe lived there for a while. This is one of the few regrets I have in life, maybe one day I will get to do it... Anyway, this is a small but perfect exhibition, great photographs, interesting subjects all with their own New York story to tell. 

Actually the whole gallery was fascinating - I don't often go there but I found so many interesting displays to look at. I polished the day off with a little bit of cake and sketched the overhead view through the glass roof. 

Inspired, revived, clear headed. And home in time to tuck the girls into bed. A perfect day.


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

hand made tales

Tradition is a funny thing, we carry forward age old traditions without really knowing it. It's just something we do, part of us. Our history, our family, our future.

an unfinished quilt - hours of hand stitching abandoned for who knows what reason

Yesterday I snuck out all by myself for a mooch around the city. I started at the Hand Made Tales exhibition at the Women's Library. I wasn't sure what to expect but I've heard a lot about this place and was pleasantly surprised. Despite being empty (just me at one point) it was very welcoming and very comforting. Phrases like 'I remember those', 'Oh we had one too', 'that's just like ours' kept popping into my mind. 
a lady made this dressing gown for her daughter, who then chose to wear it as a coat

It was all so familiar, I don't think I'd realised before just how much I do, by hand. There were examples of patchwork, crochet, knitting, cooking, gardening, baking, dress making, embroidery, the sharing of recipe books and ideas. It was really inspiring, and completely in touch with all the blogs I find myself reading and the lifestyle choices so many people seem to be returning to these days.

the pearly queen outfit - all those buttons! - just wonderful

Every item on display had a personal tale to go with it, it was like having a chat with someone from 40 years ago or so. There is family history in everything we make, tales from where the fabric came from, who chose the colours, what techniques came from overseas with our ancestors, it all shapes our children's future memories and the way they will see their childhood and selves. It's what they will have fond connections with and the times they will remember every time they fold that blanket or smell a favourite jam. 

some have-a-go knitting, I didn't want to drop all the stitches so left it alone

I came away totally inspired and reminded that what I do matters, that it's what thousands of women before us have done and that I'm not being completely selfish and crafting just to fulfill my needs - it's important to our families too. 
I wonder what will happen to all the things I/we make in the future and how people will respond to them if they happen to end up in an exhibition in 60 years time. I suspect it will comfort and inspire the future generations too.

 a place to pass on recipes and tips

There's more to come from my much needed day out, but I need to get to bed. x