Thursday, 4 October 2018

Playing catch up - Historical fiction challenge

I have once again neglected my blog this year... my reading has continued and I will now do my update on my historical fiction reads (challenge) for the year on this one blog post...

Last Christmas in Paris by
As we were Paris bound in July my reading in early 2018 was anything French/Parisian... this is a nice little story set in WW1 about Evie and Thomas who carry on a romance by letter while Thomas is fighting in France...its is done using the epistolary style and I must say it is done really well... abit like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  An fairly easy book and worth reading if you like a light and romantic read.

My Name is Mary Sutter by
Set in the Americal Civil War, this story is about a young lady who wants to become a doctor. Trained as a mid-wife by her mother she wants to take it one step forward and become a surgeon. In order to follow her dream and leave behind some romantic heartbreak, Mary travels to Washington DC to help tend the thousands of wounded soldiers.  Under the guidance of two progressive surgeons Mary starts to undertake more hazardous and difficult medical work and her dream to be a surgeon looks like it might be fulfilled. However, she is called home to  help with the difficult birth of her twin sisters baby.  Mary Sutter is a strong heroine, who is to be admired and pitied. She wants a life she can not have because she is a women and faces continued sexism and disappointment. Despite this she rallies forward and her determination is eventually rewarded and she finds happiness in life and love.  I have not read a huge amount of historical fiction set in the Civil War but this has wetted my appetite for more.

Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
I listened to this on audio.  I was not sure what to expect having not read much of pre-revolutionary America, espeically old New York.  It was an intriguing read. One minute is was a mystery, the next a love/hate story, a horror, it was often farsical but rarely boring! A story of fortunes won and fortunes lost, men beaten down to only rise again, treachery and deceit all this woven into seamless and vivid descriptions of the beginnings of New York.  I really enjoyed this and its was a pleasant surprise...

Mrs M by Luke Slattery
Story set both in Mull and Ulva as well as the colony of New South Wales. A historical fiction book about Governor Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth who spent 11 years in the colony. Governor Macquarie often made bold and radical decisions. He wanted the colony to be more than just a prison, he believed that pardoned convicts could make worthwhile contributions to the development of the society, once gaining their 'freedom' they would help to build a new world. Macquarie was much maligned during his last 2 years of life as a report on the colony ridiculed his endeavours. A sad story in the end for Macquarie who was progressive in his vision.
A very good rendering of the historical fact, swathed in a fictional story of their lives together and a romantic liaison for Elizabeth with a convict architect.
I really enjoyed this one but I think it helped that I had studied convict history at University.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Starting again... for 2018

I seem to be a particulary bad blogger as I only did one post in 2017!  However, we will begin again for 2018 in the hope that I can get it together to post on a more regular basis.  This year is going to be busy as we have a lovely overseas trip planned for June/July of which the planning is keeping me well and truly occupied at the moment.  We are off to France and Scotland for our 25th wedding anniversary celebrations.  It will be my first time in France (3 weeks planned) and a week in Scotland (Edinburgh) to visit family and friends.  It will have been 12 years since I was last in Scotland.

I have once again joined some reading challenges to try and keep me on track - the ongoing five year Classics challenge of which I have only read 1 book out of 50 in 2 years... oh dear.... I am also joining the Historical Fiction challenge, the Victorian Reading challenge (cross over with the Classics challenge); Read Scotland 2018 for the third year running and also joined the European reading challenge to get me into the spirit for our trip mid-year.

See the above tabs for the Classics and Victorian Reading challenge lists.

I will list my other challenges and books read as I go.

2017 was a busy year work wise but also for my little business - Miss Lily's Vintage Wares.  I did a number of 'extra' new markets this year which added quite abit to my schedule.  As we will be away this year, I will miss a number of markets, but it will enable me to have a bit of a breather and re-group towards the end of the year for my major markets then.  Some photos below from my last market of the year - the Leukemia Christmas Craft Fair.



Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New Year, new challenges

I cant believe it has been nearly 12 months since I wrote anything on this blog.... anyhow, I shall begin again, a new year and new dedication to at least writing now and again....

So much has happened - we brought  another house at the end of 2015 and moved in over Christmas 2015/2016, I then took on a new role at work from May which has basically kept me flat tack for the rest of 2016.  

Sewing madly for my markets has also kept me on my toes, but its been a good but hectic year.

My reading has gone downhill in 2016 but I do now have a garden, which is lovely but daunting - 2 acres of it actually - well 1 acre is reclaimned rainforest and the rest tropical gardens and lawn.  We now live in the hills around Cairns (Kuranda) and commute down the range each day to work.

Work has meant there has not been enough time in the day for too much gardening and planning but now we are settled in and generally the house sorted, 2017 is the year to really start planning our edible garden and get stuck into it.  I had some success in the dry season with beans and tomatoes but much else got eaten by birds or just failed to thrive.  I am not sure what I am doing wrong - this tropical gardening lark is testing my patience.  So need to source some good advice from locals about how I can tackle my gardening problems.

Here are some photos of the house and garden.  This is the vegetable garden once I had cleared it of weeds and planted out in pots - the soil is clay so I am trying to break it down before planting in it as things are just dying if I plant direct at the moment.  This patch is now overgrown again and needs clearing out and compost and mulch laid again.

 Enclosed vegetable garden with lemon tree (about March 2016). Unfortunately bandicoots still get in and dig things up - constant battle with wildlife here.
 Pineapple corner - I have a few more planted in this area now.

Luscious tomatoes until the sunbirds realised they could get tasty treats from the bushes.

I'll write more soon about my bookish aims for 2017 and more garden and creature encounters.


Monday, 25 January 2016

Our first pineapple from the garden

Our first pineapple from the garden... just a little one but very juicy and sweet.  The elderly lady we brought the property from has planted dozens of these around the place - all in different stages. It takes 2 years for a pineapple to grow and flower (fruit)... so if I plant about 500 each year I might just be able to keep up with Mr Macgregors demand for pineapple juice and for eating...

So lovely to pick and eat things from your garden... bring on the dry season so I can make a good start with my vegetable gardens...

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Book challenges for 2016 and beyond...

To help me get through my very large pile of to-be-read books and just for fun, I have signed up for a number of reading challenges for 2016

I love to read Historical Fiction so I am setting myself the challenge to read more from this genre this year.  I have loads on my pile as well as a list I want to borrow from the library.  I am going for the Renaissance Reader level - 10 books for this one.

The Read Scotland challenge is to read books: set in Scotland or written by a Scottish writer. I have chosen The Highlander level (6-10 books) which should be doable.  Having lived in Scotland for 4 years and married to a Scot for 22 years I have lots and lots fiction and non-fiction books on Scotland so have a good selection to choose from.

I read a lot of non-fiction books so thought this was a rather apt challenge for this year.  I want to concentrate on women's non-fiction (either by or about women), in particular a number of autobiographies that I have accumulating dust on my bookshelves.  I am going for the Master level (16-20 books) which I should be able make.

The Classics Club challenge is a more long term challenge.  I will list at least 50 classic books that I want to read and give myself 5 years to read my way through them. I will create a tab at the top of the blog with my list of books for this challenge.... I suspect the list will be more than 50 books long... there is alot to read out there!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

A New Year

My aim in 2016 is to attempt to keep this blog alive by posting more and showing more of what I am working on, reading, listening to and watching.  Life just got in the way last year and I ended up taking on more than was reasonable.  I have a little more room now I have finished studying so I should be able to do more of the things I love and then post about them.

We have just moved house so things are in abit of a mess at present and the internet is not yet connected, but once I have my new dedicated craft room sorted and I can find things again,  I will give some updates as to where my projects are at.


Sunday, 18 January 2015

English Paper Piecing (EPP)

I started hand piecing a hexagon quilt about 10 years ago... I'm still doing it!  Its one of those long-term projects that gets picked up and put down regularly.  I was inspired by some Grandmother's Flower garden quilts I had seen online so the blocks are made up of a yellow center, a circle of 6 darker fabrics and another circle of 12 lighter fabrics.  These blocks are then to be separated by a row of white hexagons.  All of these have been hand tacked and hand pieced, the size of the hexagon is about 1 3/4" - this is likely to be the only quilt I make that is hand pieced. 

I am not sure how many flowers I have made so far... below are the finished flower blocks I have done - 1 with the white surround.

Complete hexagon flowers ready to piece together

I have many more in various stages of construction and lots of fabric cut and hexagons tacked.  No fabric has been repeated, so each flower is different.

Half finished hexagon flowers
Box of hexagons in various stages
Close up of a complete hexagon
I have also been working on some smaller hexagons over the weekend.  These are for a small round-robin I have been involved it.  These measure about 1/2-3/4" - so quite small.  I now have to sew these onto the next boarder and do some embroidery... I think they are looking great - love the colours of these small flowers.

I have been thinking of doing some different types of EPP - I am particularly inspired by the fussy cutting of fabrics for the Lucy Boston blocks that are quite popular at the moment. Think I might have a go at these sometime soon... but back to some of these unfinished BOM.  2015 is the year of trying to complete some of these...