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?

29 April 2018

My book of the month: April

Sometimes it's good to take a risk with an unknown author, based on the story summary on the blurb. (Those summaries are important! They attract new readers.)

Cherise Wolas' first published novel is a stunner. It's the story of a woman who had planned her life to focus solely on her writing but life got in her way after she had published her books of acclaimed short stories.

When she was 13 years old, Joan Ashby listed nine actions to guide her life. Number 9 was "Never allow anyone to get in my way" and this is where her plan became unstuck.

There is some beautiful writing in this novel and the story has a massive twist after Joan has finally completed her first novel and is ready to make it public. A hefty book (over 500 pages), it held my attention until the end.

Read more about The Resurrection of Joan Ashby on Goodreads.

24 April 2018

Three things

Hello, is there anybody out there? I hope you all haven't given up on new posts from me! It's been a difficult time, with lots of time-consuming activities that I didn't anticipate, but I thought I'd use this tiny amount of time to tell you about three things I like this week.

1. The change in the weather

Finally! The nights and days are cooler and autumn has arrived. We've had a longer than normal period of hot days - this is something that I really haven't enjoyed. It's only been this week of glorious days that has made me feel civilised again. Now, if it would only rain, I'd be even happier.

2. Hand sewing as therapy

Stitching these small squares together into Nine Patch blocks is so soothing! I've made a few blocks every couple of days and the pace has helped me relax. Have you tried hand sewing?

3. Retiring my old washing machine

It's difficult, sometimes, deciding when to replace an old faithful machine. My Simpson Delta has served me faithfully since 1988 but it was showing its age by groaning loudly and making noises that sounded like it was going to grind itself into oblivion. I'd put up with this for quite a few months but had to face the fact - it was time to retire it. I hope it enjoys its time in the scrap metal yard in the sky.

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

12 March 2018

My book of the month: March

Have you ever postponed starting a new book because of the avalanche of rave reviews that you read? Maybe I subscribe to too many book review tweeters and bloggers? Maybe too many authors are heavy-handed with retweets?

That's something for me to ponder because it delayed my reading of Jane Harper's current novel, Force of Nature

Three pages in and I was hooked. That's important to me. 

There are way too many novels published for me to be able to read every one that I want. So it's important that a novel 'grab' me within the first couple of chapters otherwise I put it aside and move on to another book. Life's too short to force my way through stories I don't enjoy.

Force of Nature is a fabulous mystery. Five women go on a team-building corporate retreat and only four return. Each one of the four tells a slightly different account of what happened. What really did occur?

Read more about Force of Nature on Goodreads

26 February 2018

Blog derailment

Hello everyone! I've been distracted for the past month because of my Dad's illness and the time and energy that I've needed to spend helping him recover. It's an ongoing process and will take many weeks yet. We'll get there!

One victim of my derailment has been my 'happiness every day' post on my Facebook page that I wrote about in my last blog post. I've started that again so, if you want to stay in touch with my goings-on, best visit over there. I find it easier to pop up short posts on Facebook than blogging. 

Please say hello if you visit there!

22 January 2018

Happiness every day

This year on her blog, Anita Heiss is posting about where she finds happiness every day. I've been reading her posts each day and her positivity is contagious.

Some days are merely routine, aren't they? Get out of bed, get ready for the day, deal with things as they occur, come home, go to bed. Frankly, they are the type of days I prefer. No drama, no surprises, just predictable. 

But even in these 'ordinary' days, there are moments of happiness - we just need to look for them. I've been doing this and have been writing about these moments on my Facebook page

You are invited to join me over there!

15 January 2018

My book of the month: January

In October 2016, we went to a fabulous day in the Blue Mountains to hear crime writers talk about their books. I came home with the door prize, a package of five crime novels by Candice Fox, Jaye Ford and Chris Allen. That was the first time I had heard local author Candice Fox tell her story and what a great story it was.

Since then, we've been to two other sessions to see and hear Candice again. She's a fabulously approachable person and is always ready to have a chat. I guess you could call us Candice groupies (maybe that's why she's living overseas, now? 😃)

So why did it take me so long to read one of her books?

I honestly don't know. I guess that since I had a couple of my own copies of her books on my shelves, I knew I could pick them up at any time. Library books, which provide most of my reading matter, always seemed to force themselves ahead on my reading list.

Anyway, during my summer holidays I decided it was Candice's turn and I read Hades. Wow! No wonder this book won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut novel. It has complex characters, great storylines and fabulous writing. It held my attention for the whole time I was reading it. 

The second and third books in this series are also on my shelves. It's their turns next!

You can read more about Hades on Goodreads. 

08 January 2018

Nasturtiums - shades of yellow

I like nasturtiums. They have a scrambling habit and thrive in the heat, which is something I appreciate during these oppressively hot days of summer in my garden. I'm never been fond of the bright orange and yellow-red flowers, though, so it was with great excitement that I discovered these cream ones. 

My friend Lisa has them growing in her garden and, a few years ago, she kindly ripped out a piece for me to transplant at my place. I say "ripped out" because that shows how tough they are. I came home, stuck my piece of stem in a pot, and it started growing - and flowering! - within weeks. That's a photo of my first flower above.

Last week, I found a packet of Mr Fothergill's seeds for another creamy nasturtium at the local plant centre. Called "Peach Melba" they have peachy-coloured markings in the centre. I sowed all 25 seeds this morning in my nasturtium planter box.  Stand by to see how they grow!

Have you grown nasturtiums? In case you need another reason to plant some, look at those leaves! Gorgeous, flat, veined leaves that are a delightful feature by themselves. Lovely!

01 January 2018

Happy new year!

I enjoyed a great 2017 and am looking forward to an equally wonderful 2018; I hope you are, too! Thank you to everyone who visits my blog. It's always gratifying to read your comments, so thanks for taking the time to leave a note.