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Sunday Sevens 19th August – Almond milk, embroidery and black magic

Roses in rose bowl

It has been a busy week and what weather we are having! Sunny days interspersed with rain it is nice to be back to our normal temperatures and see the grass turning green again!  I’ve escaped the four walls nearly every day this week – friends have been so kind to pop by and take me out for a bit. I am walking on crutches so I am somewhat  of a liability – especially as Thursday was raining cats and dogs – but it has been great to catch up with good friends and be a lady who lunches for a while! I have also been showered with more flowers! I bought this rose bowl in a charity shop some years ago – its crystal and was a bargain for about a fiver. I have used it often as it makes displaying flowers so easy as the grid holds the heads nicely.

mini heart brooch pincushion

We had a family gathering recently I wanted to make something to give as well as the usual gift. As she is a stitcher I decided to make a little heart brooch pincushion. I am always losing pins no matter how many pincushions I have scattered around the craft room – so having a little brooch that travels with me, has been very useful. I love this little print and the flower sat so beautifully framed in the pink felt.

brooch pin cushion

Its tiny, only about 4inches by 2 and a half inches but it came out nicely. Ok, I will admit I got carried away with the embroidery bit – I was watching Bletchley and the story tension was building so I was stitching faster! I crocheted a little border round the edge which seemed to finish it off nicely. I do adore Petra Cotton Perle – it is lovely to embroider with. Thankfully the gift was appreciated – which is always a bonus!

make a wish - dandilion embroidery

It is difficult to capture this little embroidery that hangs above this little heart, it is only 2inches – it is a dandelion head worked over fine organza. When I am eating it looks as if I have captured a lovely seed head in a frame, but photographs just don’t seem to come out right.

Dandilion embroidery

Stitching on such a see through background is more difficult and messy than I hoped, and looking so closely at the embroidery – doesn’t really capture how effective it is when viewed from a distance. It took me less than an hour to do but it really does please me.

moon over soho ben aaronovitch

Moon over Soho is the second book from Ben Aaronovitch – I am delighted to see that there are a few more books already out in this Series.  I have become rather fond of DC Grant, – his sardonic humour is delightful, the police procedure and social commentary makes me giggle. Not to mention the mix of the magical in every day cynical London life.

The 1960s planning department of local council whose unofficial motto was Finishing what the Lufftwaffe started…

Some things never change, and a senior police officer doesn’t organise a costly raid and admit to failure, or violating the Magna Carta, until he has done his best to convict somebody of something.

I think this book follows on very well from the first one – and we are now introduced to our ‘modern day Moriarty’ in the form of a Black Magician who managed to escape this time, so I am keen to read the next book. I don’t think it will be long before we see this series televised – it is that good! although they might need some really good special effects to do it justice.

Oh and the little fox brooch was a tiny fabric illustration of the fox cushions I made for my daughter – I could not let it go to waste so I made it into a little brooch. It is lovely to have time to stitch.

almond milk

I made a huge mistake buying some ‘almond milk’ in the supermarket a few weeks back – It was basically water with a hint of almond – I am shocked they can get away with it – the almonds make up less than 5% of of the overall ‘almond milk’ – making it 95% water. So I decided to make some of my own and it is really easy, tastes delicious and is much cheaper.

Simply place a bowl full of almonds (I used the skin on) in water for 24 hours. The nuts plump up and actually taste nicer!

Then add a teaspoon of vanilla extract a couple of dates (to sweeten it a little) your nuts and water to a blender and blend for about a minute. Push through a fine sieve to remove the skins. (I think I might try the almonds without skins next time!)

I found my almond milk was very thick so I did a few more whizzes using the stuff left in the sieve and additional water. It still looked like milk after the third time and my home made milk was more creamy than the shop bought one. It is nice for cereals but I don’t think it would work in coffee or tea!

Sunday Sevens, your week summed up in photographs,  is the brainchild of Nat at Threads and bobbins – you can find her site here.

Have a lovely weekend.

x

 

 

 

book review, Books, novel, reading

Summer Reading – Book Reviews

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This is the second Lesley Pearce book I have read, I picked this up reluctantly, I wasn’t thrilled about the last one, but was interested in this story and willing to give the author another try.

Coronation Day, 1953.
Molly Heywood has always been a pillar of strength for her local community, so when her friend Cassie fails to attend the Coronation Day party in the village, it is Molly who heads out in the rain to look for her.
But nothing can prepare Molly for what she is going to discover.
Now with Cassie gone and her six-year-old daughter Petal missing, it is up to Molly to head to London to uncover the past Cassie kept so well hidden.
But will Molly discover the truth before it’s too late? Or has Petal disappeared forever?

I found Molly a likeable character from the start, anyone who volunteers to run a children’s party has got to be nice! Cassie’s friendship broadens Molly’s outlook from the small village and she heads to the smoky streets of London not only to get a better life but to uncover what happened to Cassie’s daughter. Molly makes friends and enemies along the way and finally discovers who murdered Cassie.

I was reluctant to read another of Lesley Pearce’s novels because I find her characters a little on dimensional, they are either good or bad, with nothing in-between. I also dislike it when characters are given modern opinions – such as women’s equality and homosexuality. It just irks my sense of authenticity.

That said, this is an interesting tale, the story has its twists and turns, with a rather unexpected twist. Although I found once the mystery had been solved, the story continued along for another chapter – tying up loose ends, but for me it was simply padding.

A good read for a poolside holiday – I would classify it light hearted chic lit.

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Stephanie Lam’s stunning debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House, is a gripping read laced with mystery, secrets and love.
It’s 1965 and eighteen year-old Rosie Churchill has run away to the beautiful but run-down Castaway House in the seaside town of Helmstone. But when she uncovers a scandal locked away in the walls of the old house, she soon comes to realise that neither her own troubled past nor that of the house will stay buried for long. . .
In 1924 fresh-faced Robert Carver comes to Castaway House to spend a languid summer in the company of his much wealthier cousin, Alec Bray. But the Brays are a damaged family, with damaging secrets. And little does Robert know that his world is about to change for ever.
As Rosie begins to learn more about Robert, the further she is drawn into the mysterious history of the house, and their stories, old and new, entwine.

This was an engaging mystery, I liked the two timelines although Robert’s tale was preferable. There are a number of links that bring the two timelines together, not least the House itself, re-invented in 1965 into small flatlets. The characters were well rounded, both timelines had their twists and turns, and I was drawn into the tale easily finding it difficult to put the book down. This is a great read, I can thoroughly recommend this book for a holiday and hope the writer publishes another soon!

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Since reading the book, the Woman In Black, I have been a huge fan of Susan Hill. She is a superb spinner of gothic ghost stories – don’t confuse the book with the film, which was not a patch on her novel. She weaves a tale in classic gothic tradition mixing cosy libraries and fire lit studies with chilling ghostly shadows. Read the woman in Black, it is one of her best, but these two smaller novelettes are a wonderful introduction to her writing.

The Man in the picture is the story of a haunting tale,  the picture appears to collect victims who are mesmerised by the scene depicted.

In the apartment of Oliver’s old professor at Cambridge, there is a painting on the wall, a mysterious depiction of masked revellers at the Venice carnival. On this cold winter’s night, the old professor has decided to reveal the painting’s eerie secret. The dark art of the Venetian scene, instead of imitating life, has the power to entrap it. To stare into the painting is to play dangerously with the unseen demons it hides, and become the victim of its macabre beauty.

This tale is engaging – I love the contrasts, warm cosiness of college rooms to chilly cold nights, passionate love and black hearted obsession. I love the way her novel time periods are hard to define, but they have such an element of early 20th century when most men were gentlemen – not easily shaken. It is a great tale to read on a long winter’s evening, while the fire softly crackles and settles down.

The-Small-Hand-by-Susan-Hill1

Returning home from a client visit late one evening, Adam Snow takes a wrong turn and stumbles across the derelict old White House. Compelled by curiousity he decides to enter, only to be repelled when he feels the unmistakeable sensation of a small hand creeping onto his own. This is just the beginning of a series of odd experiences.

This has a more modern feel but still a male protagonist – our book dealer is not someone easily spooked, but the many incidents begin to unnerve him. All Susan Hill’s stories appear to revolve around similar characters, and I wonder if this helps us to take the ghostly apparitions seriously, men after all are supposed to be more logical and less emotional. What happens is believable, the mystery is slowly unravelled until we are left with a logical explanation and satisfying sense of justice. Definitely worth settling down for – though not in a rambling old house.

book review, Books, novel, reading, RS Pateman, The second life of Amy Archer

Book Review – The Second Life of Amy Archer



On 31st December 1999 Beth Archer’s daughter, Amy, disappeared without a trace. Ten years later Beth is still bound by her grief, separated from her husband Brian, and still trying to come to terms with her daughter’s body never being found.
On the tenth anniversary of Amy’s disappearance, a woman called Libby comes to Beth and introduces her daughter Esme, to her. An uncanny double of Amy that knows details that only Beth and Amy would know, Libby insists that Amy has been reborn in Esme.
The tension and inner turmoil of the main character, Beth, is palpable on every page. Pateman maintains the momentum right though the books journey, Beth’s frenetic swings of belief or disbelief in re-incarnation; combined with the slow unravelling of the events of her daughter’s disappearance is tantalising, we get glimpses of the past cleverly mixed with the present day. I read this book in a day, because I could not put it down. 
I have an open mind about re-incarnation, cleverly Pateman’s Beth is not a believer – she so desperately wants to hold her daughter again, it is almost too much to bear that she cannot bring herself to believe. The innocent Esme pulls at the heartstrings, her knowledge of the past is convincing, she is unaware of the pain she causes in her throw away remarks, revealing dark secrets that even Beth has repressed. 
Beth’s emotional swings and unravelling, the way women and mothers are judged in society, maternal guilt and deep harrowing grief are so well written that it amazed me to discover that Pateman was a man! 
The only niggle is the connection of Esme and Amy’s past, it seemed a bit tenuous, but that aside, it is a very good tale, one that will have you reading deep into the night. 

Well done Mr Pateman, this is an outstanding debut novel, can’t wait to read the next one!