5 things I liked this week -5/2/16

  1. George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces is a bit of a Grand Designs clone but unlike Kevin McCloud, who just stands around going “oh dear’, Clarke does help a bit more. In the episode I saw on Saturday night Clarke was following a man who was making a houseboat out of a shipping container for £50,000. The resulting houseboat was absolutely lovely but it had all these space saving things, like a bed which you separate to get to the wardrobe underneath (which you’d need living somewhere that small) and as much as I’d like to live somewhere that gorgeous, I know me, no way could I be bothered to pull apart my bed, no matter how smooth and on rollers it is, to get to my wardrobe, all my clothes would guaranteed be piled on the floor within less than a week.
1400-amazing-spaces-floating-homes-marina02-copy-hp
image credit: ES Homes & Property

2. Rich Hall on The News Quiz, with a particularly funny rant about Americans and guns.

3. You’ve seen a dinosaur do parkour (scroll down a bit), now watch a dinosaur ice skate!

4. This one is a bit bittersweet, Boy Lacer has been on a residential trip all week, so I’ve been having a glimpse of what life will be like without having to do the school run, cue showers / baths in the morning *shock* and more time to do work as Girl Lacer doesn’t get in till later. I will miss doing the school run though, only a year or two left.

5.

i-just-want-to-drink-coffee-create-stuff-and-sleep-laptop-sleeves
image credit: Society6

I love this laptop sleeve by Words Brand from Society6, in fact I pretty much love all Words Brand stuff and on everything.

 

 

Faithful Place

Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #3)Faithful Place by Tana French

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think Faithful Place is my favourite of the Dublin Murder Squad series so far and they’ve all been pretty good. In this one we follow Frank, the undercover guy from book 2. Frank grew up in a rough part of Dublin in the 80s and he was all set to escape it and go to London, when his girlfriend disappeared. Frank thinks that she’s run off without him, so he stays in Dublin but avoids his family for the next 22 years. It’s only when he gets a phone call to say that his girlfriend’s suitcase has been found, does he get drawn back to Faithful Place.

View all my reviews

#cbdrawaday

IMG_5564

One of my resolutions for 2016 was to draw more, I’m not at all confident with my drawing but I know when I do it daily I do improve and I do get more confident. Creativebug’s #cbdrawaday with Lisa Congdon was a fantastic opportunity to practice and I could definitely see an improvement over the month, I was also getting a lot more adventurous. You can see in the slideshow below how my drawings (mainly) improved over the month, the first one was ‘tree’ and it’s a bit cringeworthy, I just drew the trees Lisa talked us through on the video but with subsequent videos, she encouraged us to draw our own designs. So with each drawing, the first four or five drawings under the title are drawings I’ve copied from Lisa and the rest are my own.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I found that I particularly liked drawing natural things (most of the time), my favourite drawing from the month is the mushroom one above, which is from day 10 and I was experimenting with coloured pencils. I also tried watercolour but I am very much a novice with that and I got some of my colour mixing wrong, that succulent at the top is not meant to be that colour and it had been looking so good when I’d just painted the green bits too *pouts*.

IMG_5584

For the rest of the time, if I wanted watercolour, I used watercolour pencils, I particularly had fun when it was the houseplant day.

IMG_5589

#cbdrawaday has definitely encouraged me to do some more drawing and I have done some but it’s so cringingly embarrassing, they’re definitely not going to see the light of blog. I think I definitely draw better if I have someone talking me through some examples first to warm me up. But I will keep trying and I will keep taking more online art classes.

Taking Stock – January

Playing along with Meet Me At Mike’s Taking Stock

Making : I actually finished some embroidery this month and I’ve started another one (pattern by Follow the White Bunny).

IMG_5614
I’m not totally happy with this so far, I did Nicole’s shading course last year (the year before that?) and I’m rusty.

I had decided that 2016 was going to be about large projects; big cross stitch projects, making clothes, blankets, hand stitched quilts, quilts in general, pretty much all of those already started over the last year or two but often neglected. But the Shakespeare embroideries I did for a teacher at Girl Lacer’s school was such a nice, relatively quick project, I couldn’t resist doing another embroidery just for me. But I have also been working on at least one big project, I’ve made good progress on the Mario map for Boy Lacer.

IMG_5615
It took me ages to finish that section of the cliffs and it was extremely boring but for some reason stitching the sea was nowhere near as tedious, it was actually quite fun – I’ve got an awful lot more blue to go though, so I may not keep thinking that (pattern from Box Cat Shop)

I have also been working on a commission for a client.
Cooking : my cooking mojo has pretty much failed me this month, having a messy kitchen for most of the month did not help.
Drinking : I bought myself a Nespresso machine for my birthday, so lots of coffee! I like espressos but my favourite way of drinking it is as single shot lungos, I love the foam!
Reading: I’ve read quite a lot this month, mostly murder stuff, I’m in a grisly reading mood.
Wanting: I know I say this every month but I want the date for my next surgery, it’s been 8 months and waiting now.
Looking: we went to The British Museum of Food for my birthday, just a small pop up museum (which is now closed), it was okay, I wouldn’t recommend their massage chair experience though! I also popped into the Natural History Museum instead of the V&A this month prior to one of my regular hospital appointments, although I discovered quite a bit of the museum is currently closed off for refurbishment, which is definitely about time, a lot of the museum hasn’t changed since my childhood!
Playing: Plants vs Zombies of course, although they’ve just released a new world and Crazy Dave is back in the modern world, I am surprisingly (or maybe not that surprisingly) gutted about that. Also more Scroodles.
Deciding: on a how we’d arrange the living room, as Mr. Lacer broke our sofa, so we need to get a new one.
Wishing: I didn’t have such a sweet tooth or should I say a sweet tooth habit, as I think it’s mainly that.
Enjoying: daily drawing with Creativebug.
Waiting: (see wanting).
Liking: my new cheese toastie machine (a Christmas present), cheese and jalapeno toasties are nectar from heaven.
Wondering: (see wanting and waiting).
Loving: the combination of coffee and cinnamon and raisin, particularly hot, dripping with salted butter, cinnamon and raisin bagels, that is one of the nicest things ever to cross my taste buds.
Pondering: career stuff as usual.
Considering: doing the Capital Ring.
Buying: stuff for Boy Lacer’s residential field trip *ouch*.
Watching: Silent Witness, although me and Mr. Lacer are always wondering why we still do, it’s getting increasingly unrealistic (the forensic person in on the police interview, come on!), the main characters behaving completely OTT and most of the storylines are crap. However there still is a good storyline occasionally, I think the main thing that keeps us watching it, is that there is nothing else on TV at the moment.
Hoping: that I can get some of my care transferred (still).
Marvelling: Boy Lacer learnt zip up on his coat this month, yay!
Cringing: I’ve had to write an email of complaint this month and although it was perfectly justified and I did it because I hope the NHS department that did this to me won’t do it to anyone else, I still hate complaining to anyone formally.
Needing: to tidy this flat.
Questioning: can I stop myself going on Twitter so much?
Smelling: coffee.
Wearing: as well as being behind on the housework, I’m also behind on the laundry, so whatever I can find that is clean (mainly tracksuit trousers).
Following: @NYBakeryCo and @NespressoUK (my favourite anytime snack combination) plus @Highgatemums, as it’s funny / cringeworthy.
Noticing: the sky (Boy Lacer has got me started on that).
Knowing: our weather is screwed.
Thinking: about whether I need to be stricter with myself on sugar again (I should do).
Admiring: Girl Lacer for growing into a lovely young woman (thankfully many more years of growing to do).
Sorting: the flat out (very slowly).
Getting: new shoes, a new pair of Converses and a pair of DMs, both cherry red.
Bookmarking: my last three likes were

Coveting: the iPad pro.
Disliking: mud.
Opening: boxes of coffee pods.
Giggling: at The News Quiz.
Feeling: stressed.
Snacking: when I’m not mainlining coffee and cinnamon and raisin bagels, I, along with the kids, can’t get enough of sliced Granny Smith apples.
Helping: Boy Lacer pack his suitcase for the residential trip and wishing he took more after his sister who does her own.
Hearing: dubstep from blinking Geometry Dash.

This will be my last Taking Stock, as I have an idea for two regular blog posts that will start appearing here from next Friday (one weekly, one monthly), which will sort of cover stuff that I talk about here each month, keep an eye out!

Runaway

RunawayRunaway by Peter May

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Runaway sort of follows a similar theme to the third book in May’s Lewis Trilogy, with an intertwined plot which follows threads both in the present day and the 1960s, with the group of friends in question, members of a band. In this one a disgraced actor who was known to have murdered someone at a house party in 1960s Kensington, returns from exile but is promptly murdered. One of the group of friends, now back in their native Glasgow, hears of this and persuades his friends to runaway again to London, for one last dying wish.

It was okay, a bit preachy in parts (May’s books sometimes are) and some of the dialogue with the 17 year old friends seemed a bit unrealistic, as they sat round discussing architecture but it was a reasonably entertaining read.

View all my reviews

The Widow

The WidowThe Widow by Fiona Barton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Widow should be read as a warning to teenage girls, if your boyfriend tries in any way to control you, run, run for the hills. Jean is a woman who didn’t run, she ended up marrying him, Glen, the man who could do no wrong and if he did, that was it, it was never to be talked about again. On the surface he seems like an okay husband but what’s he doing in the spare room? And why does he really want his wife to lie for him?

The Widow is a really interesting look at the dynamics in the relationship between a man accused of a terrible crime and the wife who stands by him. Barton is a journalist and you can really feel that influence in this book.

The Widow is billed as the next Gone Girl or Girl On The Train, I’ve read both and I actually think The Widow is better but then I was not as crazy about the other two books as some people. I galloped through this book, it was a very gripping read, if rather disturbing in places and I think Barton has a very good voice.

View all my reviews

Shakespeare Embroideries

 

Shakespeare embroideries-4
Not good light to photograph embroideries today but these needed to be rushed off to their recipient

Girl Lacer is in a Shakespeare play at school, so being all keen and enthusiastic she took in the Fowl Talk embroidery I did last year to show her teacher. Her teacher loved it and asked if I could make one for her, she offered money but as it’s not my pattern (the pattern is by Follow the White Bunny) obviously I couldn’t accept any, although I would have done it for free anyway, any excuse for embroidery and Girl Lacer adores her teacher, so it was a pleasure. So much of a pleasure that I also, as a surprise, stitched up Little Dorrit & Co.’s Romeo and Juliet balcony scene (I added the quote underneath).

Shakespeare embroideries-3

As with any Little Dorrit and Co pattern, there’s lots of different stitches you can use, which is always great fun. I’m not totally happy with the colours I chose for this but I was trying to get in a lot of the school colours. I was also using puppets embroidery thread for this, as I got a big box for Christmas from my dad. I’d never heard of puppets embroidery thread but the box says it’s made by Coats, so that’s a good sign it should be reasonable quality. I have a feeling my dad got it from HobbyCraft or somewhere similar. I was a little dubious using it, as I’ve been burnt by cheap embroidery threads before but this was okay, not as smooth as Anchor or DMC, so a few of my lazy daisy stitches stick up a bit but it’s okay. And it’s always a pleasure to have a big box of embroidery threads to choose from.

Shakespeare embroideries
detail

I used an iron on transfer pen for both of these embroideries, 2016 will be the year I wean myself off my dependence of Sulky Solvy. The iron transfer pen I used was from Sublime Stitching, so a nice thin line, although I ironed on too heavily the Romeo and Juliet pattern (so you can see it a little bit in places) and not quite enough for the Fowl Talk pattern, I need some practice. But at least using that method I didn’t have to wash my embroideries, so no colour leaching (!) which is what happened with my original Fowl Talk embroidery. Even ignoring the colour leaching, I think I prefer this version, again I tried to use school colours a bit and this time it worked and as much as I do like stitching on patterned fabric, I think I’ve been underestimating white, as the pattern looks so much more clearer and defined this time.

Shakespeare embroideries-2

For reference, here’s my original version again.

thumb_IMG_5058_1024