28 December 2014

Are you looking for holiday reading?

Have you finished reading your current book and looking for a novel to read next? I can help!

Check out the labels list on the right-hand side of my blog. See it? If you click on the label called 'Novels', my posts about books I have enjoyed will display. If you're so far into holiday mode that thinking hurts, just click here instead.

Another place to look for novels and reviews is Goodreads. This photo shows some of the titles I've read this year. For the full list, you can see it here (don't forget to scroll down to view them all). 

You may fancy reading one of these titles, so go straight to your local bookshop to buy a hard copy or buy an ebook online. If you are looking for a cheaper option, go to your local library - it's free! Signup for your library's ebook collection, too - you can download ebooks to read even when the library's building is closed - again, for free! What could be better than that? Happy reading!

26 December 2014

Welcoming 2015

I prefer to look forwards, not backwards, so you won't find one of those 'the best of 2014' posts here. I always feel they are competitive - like boasting 'my year was better than your year'. Anyway, that's just my take on it - you may feel differently.

I love to see a new year spreading out before me. Although the calendar is an artificial way of designating time (which is, in itself, an artificial construct), it gives us some illusion that we can control and organise our lives.

My diaries are always purchased long before the beginning of a new year. I've had my 2015 diary since August and already I've marked quite a lot of entries (all my Sydney Swans games are there, so I can organise other events around them!).

If you like to organise your days, too, here's a great site for free printable calendars for 2015, like the one I've shown above. You can download pdf, Word or Excel versions - aren't they lovely? Thanks Calendarpedia!

23 December 2014

Five novels that gripped me

It's holiday time and I thought you may be looking for some novels to while away the hours in the shade? I do enjoy a psychological thriller - here are five that gripped me this year.

The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid
Who would have thought that a skeleton discovered in a disused Victorian building in Edinburgh could be related to the Balkan wars of the 1990s? While investigating this cold case Inspector Karen Pirie, through the author's meticulous research, makes us think hard about what justice really is. Totally enthralling.

Read more about The Skeleton Road on Goodreads.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
This story about a woman who makes a single rash choice to have sex with a man she met at the English Houses of Parliament was never going to end well. I truly didn't know what was coming next and I was compelled to keep reading until the last twist was revealed. I was wowed by this book.

Read more about Apple Tree Yard on Goodreads.

The Book of You by Claire Kendal
This suspenseful tale is centered on a woman's attempt to escape an expert manipulator. The more I read of this story, the more I felt Clarissa's role couldn't (and wouldn't) have a positive outcome. Gripping story that had me looking around when I was out in crowds. Creepy and satisfying.

Read more about The Book of You by Claire Kendal on Goodreads.

Fog of Dead Souls by Jill Kelly  
Trying to escape a violent past, Ellie McKay walks into a bar and, unplanned, accepts a wedding proposal from a man she meets there. Brilliant, suspenseful story about human resilience. Loved it.

Read more about Fog of Dead Souls on Goodreads.

Thursday's Children by Nicci French
This is the fourth novel in a series, so perhaps it's best to start at the beginning with Blue Monday. Once you've caught up, Thursday's Children will grip you with rich, three-dimensional characters and an ever-present sense of menace. Fabulous series.

Read more about Thursday's Children on GoodReads.

Do you have any recommendations for suspenseful thrillers? Share your reviews in a comment! 

21 December 2014

Summer solstice

When we live in cities, we sometimes don't notice the rhythms of the earth and our seasons. Today is the summer solstice here in Australia - the day when the sun's track across the sky reaches its highest point - and commonly called the longest day of the year.

Although my daisy shrub is in full bloom, the flowers appreciate dappled shade that protects them from the full blast of the sun's power. From now on, the minutes of daily sunlight slowly decrease and, for that, my garden and I say thanks.

16 December 2014

Textiles Tuesday

Here it is - my last Textiles Tuesday for 2014. Have you enjoyed the links to interesting crafty events and websites I've shared with you this year? Today I have 13 items for you.

* Jenny Bowker has had so many requests for instructions for her Shimmering Triangles quilt that she has released a pdf digital pattern. You can purchase it from Craftsy for immediate download. It's a glorious project - check out the photo here!

* Do you need to upgrade your Electric Quilt skills? You can now take online classes direct from EQ University.

* For all you Bonnie Hunter fans - her latest mystery quilt, Grand Illusion, is now available! 

Printing with compressed sponge is so much fun. If you haven't tried it, watch this video by Lisa Walton to see how! If you are inspired to try this technique yourself, you can purchase compressed sponge here.

* Did you know Facebook has changed the rules for use of business Facebook pages? Here's a useful post by Katherine Tyrrell about how to best use your business Facebook page (not personal page) in 2015.

* Do you keep a visual diary? This article from Brain Pickings may inspire you.

* Pat Sloan has announced her new, free, mystery Block of the Month quilt. It starts in January 2015. 

* The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc has announced a call for entries for Evolution, Change, Challenge: A Contemporary Quilt. Entries close 24 July 2015. 

* Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr are coming to teach in Australia! Bookings are now open for Brisbane workshops and lectures on 19-22 June 2015. This event is organised by Cecile at Unique Stitching. Classes will also be held in Sydney - details to be announced soon.

* Are you interested in dyeing fabric with plants from your own garden? Read which plants Myf Walker grows in her Victorian garden and see some of her work in this article from The Planthunter.

* Another 2015 event for your diary: 

* Victorian Quilts Inc invite entries to their Remembrance Challenge 1915-2015. Entries close 1 June 2015. Full details here.

* The Tasmanian Art Quilt Prize for 2015 has been launched, with the theme History, Her Story. Entries close 31 July 2015. Full details here.

Have you found anything of interest here? Please make me happy by leaving a comment! 

10 December 2014

Fun and easy textile surface design techniques

People who aren't involved in writing, editing, designing or publishing magazines and books truly do not appreciate how much work goes into preparing these publications for our reading pleasure. How can they?

Well I do. I've seen first-hand all the planning, sample creation, writing, photographing, and organising that Lisa Walton has done to create the first in her Creative Journeys ebook series. I'm so pleased to be part of the blog hop to showcase Lisa's ebook because it's such a handy resource for all of us who like to pattern our own fabric.

I made a couple of textile postcards, using techniques that Lisa covers in her ebook. For my first one, I stencilled the background with a plastic stencil and Derwent Inktense blocks. In Lisa's ebook, she explains how to carve your own stamps but, for my postcard, I chose to use a set of letter stamps I already had. Simple stitching marked the path between 'lost' and 'found'.  

 My other postcard features a screen print of a copyright-free image. Screen printing is so easy and this is one of the techniques Lisa shows in her ebook. I coloured the tree with opaque paints - this made the black lines even more striking.

I think the main reason I find the ebook so handy is that I don't have to scramble around looking on the internet for different techniques - they are all explained in Fun and easy textile surface design techniques. It's 187 pages of useful information and there are also links to Lisa's videos!

You can buy your copy now and read it on your device of choice within minutes. How easy is that? 

To see other posts about Fun and easy textile surface design techniques, follow the blog hop on these blogs:

8 December - Sarah Ann Smith

9 December - Lyric Kinard

10 December - Erica Spinks - you're already here!

11 December - Susan Brubaker Knapp

12 December - Brenda Gael Smith

13 December - Judy Coates Perez

14 December - Shelley Stokes

05 December 2014

My book of the month: December

In my opinion, this is Picoult's best novel so far. A wonderfully twisty plot combined with richly worked characters results in a story that is difficult to stop reading.

A novel should transport you to another place and time. It should take you inside the characters' heads so you understand their motivations. Leaving Time does this and so much more. There is plenty to savour in this tale of loss, grief and motherly love (and elephants). I cried. 

To read more reviews about Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, visit Goodreads.

01 December 2014

Hello December!

I have to tell you up front that December is not one of my favourite months. It's awfully hot here and many of us are feeling increasingly crushed by the incessant commercial pressure leading up to Christmas. Yet, December arrives at the same time every year so I try to focus on the positives instead.

December means being grateful for the air conditioning at work, staying away from large shopping complexes, lunching with friends, keeping the water up to all my garden plants, hand sewing while watching Test cricket on TV, eating cherries and mangoes, and watching Australia slump into summer mode. Lots to enjoy there, so hello December!