26 June 2018

My book of the month: June

One of my fantasies is to live in a small community away from the noise of the city. Then I read a story set in such a place and wonder whether there will be hidden mysteries surrounding me. How would I cope?

The Two Houses by Fran Cooper is such a story. Set in a remote setting in northern England, the setting almost becomes a character in the book. I love a story with a strong sense of place and this sure has that. It also has a buried body and a 'secret' that everyone seems to know about except Jay and Simon, who have purchased the property, Two Houses, after moving from London.

Intrigued? You can read more about The Two Houses on Goodreads.

15 June 2018

Indoor plants have never been out of fashion to me

Indoor plants have been attracting plenty of attention over the past year. If you believe recent articles, they are having a resurgence from the years of the 1970s and 1980s as if they have never been popular before. 

In fact, house plants have been popular for many centuries and have been cultivated by generations of people who looked to plants to beautify, decorate, and improve the health inside their homes. Plants in our homes help absorb pollutants emitted by things like glues and modern furnishings.

I purchased my first indoor plant and decorative pot while I was still living in my parents' home. I can't recall the type of plant but I do remember how well it thrived in my north-facing bedroom, which was flooded by light filtered through net curtains. 

I have added to my collection of plants through all the decades since and say 'welcome!' to all the people who are just discovering the pleasure of cultivating plants indoors.

Fun fact: 

Recent research from the University of Melbourne and RMIT suggests that it is the bacteria living in plant root systems that do the work, rather than the leaves of the plant. Fascinating!

If you are new to indoor gardening (or want to revel in photos of gorgeous plant-filled rooms), I recommend these three books.

My favourite plant website is The Planthunter - Life With Plants
This is a fabulous online magazine with many articles about indoor plants, the latest being A guide to growing native houseplants, which shows how you can use some Australian natives indoors.

Finally, here's a fun new app - Plant Life Balance -  that allows you to take photos of areas in your home and add pictures of plants to them. It's a super way to visualise how your room could look with greenery. (And no, this photo isn't my place - sadly.)

Do you include plants in your home? Which ones do you find most reliable?

12 June 2018

Three things

There are always positive spots in life; it's just a matter of looking for them!

1. This newsletter from Local is Lovely

Oh, it's a joy to receive this weekly newsletter from Sophie Hansen! Do you know it? Sophie is a food writer and farmer from Orange NSW, who brings sunshine into my email inbox each week. Just delightful. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

2. Using a digital pen

I love learning something new every week, even if it's a simple skill. This time, I taught myself how to write payment details on PDFs of bills so I can keep digital records, not paper ones. I love technology that helps me accomplish tasks in a more efficient way!

3. Liberty of London

Who doesn't love Liberty of London fabrics? They are so seriously delicious that I have a carefully curated pile of them. (Must start sewing with them one day instead of just fondling them. 😀)

My sister visited the shop in London last month and arrived back with this fabric-covered sewing box for me. The box closed:

and open:

Of course, another one came home for her, as well (pink and purple this time). How fortunate am I?

So there are my three things. Tell me about your week - what have you liked this week?

04 June 2018

Magazines and newspapers galore!

Libraries rock.

I've always been a lover of magazines. Dipping in and out of stories about all sorts of subjects has always informed and entertained me, ever since I could read. I used to buy dozens of magazines until my local library subscribed to titles through RB Digital (the library app was formerly called Zinio for Libraries). Then I stopped paying for magazines and took advantage of my library paying for specific subscriptions instead.

Reading magazines while online has never appealed to me. I want my digital magazines downloaded onto my tablet so I can take them with me to read when there is no internet access. I stopped reading some titles that didn't let me do this. Reading solely online is so yesterday.

I told you libraries rock!

But recently my magazine world exploded. My library subscribed to PressReader, which allows me to access and download 3828 magazine titles. But wait, there's more: 3406 newspaper titles, to be precise!

I immediately installed the app on my tablet, chose my library, and signed in with my library card number. Dear reader, I binged.

I can read overseas and local magazines and newspapers for free - for free, I tell you!

I haven't had my local suburban newspaper delivered to my home for many years because the publisher can't get people willing to deliver them. Now, though, the digital version is automatically downloaded each week and I can again read about all that's going on in my area. 

It's magazine and newspaper lovers' heaven. Why don't you ask your public library if they subscribe to PressReader? You won't regret it. 😄

29 May 2018

Beam n Read

I don't know about you, but I always need a bright light when sewing by hand. It needs to be focused directly on my sewing and not cast shadows over my stitching, nor get in the way of my hand. I prefer to sew while sitting on my couch so the light needs to be flexible, as well. 

My eyesight's not as good as it used to be and I've tried many different lights over the years. Nothing worked for me. 

Luckily, my friend Sarah snapped up one of these Beam n Read lights at Market at Houston last year for me and it has solved my dilemma. Don't you love friends who look out for you?

It weighs very little, it runs on batteries, it does not generate heat, and there are various lighting options. It hangs around my neck but does not irritate because it is so light.

I've been using it this year and it is simply brilliant.

What a great combination - a good friend and efficient technology - to make a difference in life! 

I don't know if anyone in Australia sells Beam n Read lights but they should! (If you know an Australian stockist, please leave a comment.)

15 May 2018

My book of the month: May

Oh I do love Marisa de los Santos' novels! I read Love Walked In years ago, after a friend gave me her copy of the book because she had read it while travelling and didn't want to carry it during the rest of her trip. I was immediately entranced by the story and the positive feelings it left with me. I quickly followed this by reading the sequel, Belong To Me.

I'll Be Your Blue Sky is her latest novel and it revisits the characters from these earlier stories. 

It's another uplifting story but also has elements of sacrifice, courage, and many secrets. Love wins in the end (as I knew it would) and all the strands of the story are woven together so cleverly that, before you know it, the book finishes. 

This is one of those novels that I am so eager to start reading, yet don't want to finish because then the enjoyment is over. Immerse yourself in this book (you don't have to read the first two in the series but they may captivate you as well) and you will give a big sigh of pleasure at the end. 

You can read more about I'll Be Your Blue Sky on Goodreads.

08 May 2018

Time out

Today I went to the movies for the first time in six months. 

For the past several years, two friends and I have had a regular day out at the movies, followed by lunch, every six weeks or so. November was the last time we did this.

Circumstances this year have led me to push these regular days out of my life. My weeks were too crowded, squeezing in a plethora of tasks for a family member to my calendar. Activities that contributed to my own well-being were put on hold and my life was lived through the prism of another person's needs.

I don't regret doing any of this - I'm grateful that I am capable of making a difference - and it is ongoing. But slowly I've been reclaiming some time for myself.

So what did we see today? The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It was simply lovely, just what I needed to help me regroup. I'd read the book so long ago that I'd forgotten details of the plot so it was like a new story to me. Beautiful.

There's so much value in taking time out from the stresses of life; living one day at a time, don't you think?