Saturday, 12 April 2014

Kindle reading

I got myself a Kindle for Christmas.  Not that I always wanted a Kindle, on the contrary but we travel quite a bit, books tend to be ‘heavy’, I always carry a second one just in case I finish the first one… anyway… I gave in, and got the basic version.

What I like about my Kindle:

  • very, very light,
  • long lasting battery
  • no blur, no shiny spot
  • best of all, I can download books from the Library

What did I read on it:

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Blue Monday
by Nicci French

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The Expats
by Chris Pavone

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Shadow of a Quarter Moon
by Eileen Clymer Schwab

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The Adventure of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain

What can I say about this list?

  • I liked Blue Monday, this is a thriller from Nicci French actually Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, well done and entertaining.  A few things are amiss: the last twist was interesting, but almost expected, only the main character, Frieda Klein did not see it coming…  there are more books in the series.  I will probably read them.
  • The Expats was OK.  I enjoyed the description of expats’ life: finding your way in a new country, coffee mornings with other expat moms, the fast making of new friends, the urgency of visiting all the places  closed to this new home… everything was so familiar except for the part where the main character is an ex-CIA… I don’t know whether this part is plausible, I’m not and were never a spy contrary to what some of my friends think.  Overall, this was enjoyable, but a bit ‘chick lit’ to my taste.
  • Now it is getting bad, very bad, very very bad.  Shadow of a Quarter Moon… I read it, not all the words, not all the pages… Initially, it looked like a book I would enjoy: set just before the Civil War, in the South, slaves escaping their condition thanks to the Underground Railroad and people risking their lives… but honestly, what a waste of time… I would also say a waste of paper, but gladly I read it on Kindle. The whole story of the privileged girl finding out that she was actually born from the love of her father and a slave does not work at all, oh and she also find out that she has a brother and she is in love with another slave…  it just does not work.
  • I am currently reading Tom Sawyer… I need to go a bit further before I get a feeling for this book.  So far, I don’t know, I have problem to get attached to Tom Sawyer, I’m not sure what to think about him yet.

All in all, I am not very pleased with my readings so far this years… Any recommendations?

A couple of more facts:

  • I miss not having the book cover on the Kindle.
  • I no longer count the pages until the end of the book, but check the percentage read.

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Monday, 17 March 2014

Stress induced baking…

… and other cooking activities.

Sometimes, I can’t really understand, explain why a sudden rush of stress swamps me.  I can’t find any rational reason for this.  Not everything is rosy in my life, but things are far from bad:  Alice has been offered a place in all the UK universities she applied to, Victor is making good progress and working hard toward his GCSEs, Juliette is doing well at school, especially in Mandarin, Philippe seems to be happy at work…  So why do I wake up in the middle of the night, heart racing, sweat in my neck… careful to the first person who mentions my age! :-)

Do you want to know how I deal with this? I BAKE, I COOK… I know I should probably go exercise, it might be more beneficial!

Stressfull week

Veggie Risotto (from my Red&Black homemade recipe book)

Stressfull week1

Stuffed Portobello mushrooms (seen these big mushrooms many times, I had to try and cook something with them –
I might take the time to write a recipe)

Stressfull week2

Baked cod with chorizo and tomatoes (Improvised recipe, done many version of this over time)

Stressfull week3

Coffee beans biscotti (Recipe from my R&B homemade recipes book)

Stressfull week4

Roasted tomatoes, ricotta and basil tart (Recipe from my homemade recipes book)

Stressfull week5

and for Pie day – Raspberry and poppy seeds pie (recipe from this blog: A Beautiful Mess) with soggy bottom

If or when I find the time, I might write all these recipes and share them here.  In the meantime, I’m counting the days until my big kids arrive.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

I caught in a new bug

Last year I tried ceramic, pottery.  I enjoyed but I also realised that it will take a long time and a lot of practice before I can produce anything good.  I haven’t given up on the idea yet, but for the moment I haven’t found the opportunity to try again.

But, I found something else to try out: making jewels, playing with beads and wire… and NO it is not a kid’s activity, there’s some real skills into it.

I first started with a Wiring workshop, and produce this little bracelet.

Glass and wire bracelet

Then came the second workshop, Knotting.  That was fun, easy and fast… Oh so fast.  First produce a long, very long, outrageously long necklace with multifaceted beads and pearls.  Then I knotted a very simple, a bit traditional necklace (no picture, I think I’m going to redo it).

Knotted green pearls

And finally another long necklace with matching earing with some wiring (love the little loop on the earing).

Turquoise knotting

I enjoyed it so much that I could not stop at one or two workshops, I went to a third one.  This time bead weaving.  It took some practice and concentration to produce this bracelet.  There are a couple of imperfections, but I have plan to make another one.

Blossom bracelet

And you know what was the best thing about this new activity: I get to go and share this time with my friend and meet other likeminded people.  There will be more to come.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Oh so simple…

I almost kept my resolution to not start any new project for 2 weeks!  A big clap to me…  OK, not exactly, I did start a few things, but I will come back to this later.

I finished Mon Jules and a pair of socks (how do you take good pictures of socks?).  So I rewarded myself with a new project.  The Trendy chale: a very simple shawl… garter stitches all the way…  The tuto can be found there, it is in French but it couldn’t be easier:

  • Cast on 3 stitches
  • Knit every row increasing as follow:
  • Row 1, increase 1 stitch before the last stitch = 4 stitches on the needle
  • Row 2, repeat 1 = 5 stitches
  • Row 3 and after, increase 1 stitch before the last 2 stitches.  I’ve read this recommendation in another French blog (Une souris dans mon dressing – you should take some time to visit Anaik’s blog, I really like her dress sense)
  • Knit and knit until the shawl is to the desired size, cast off.

Trendy chale

I knitted with Lace Sequin from Paton, it has a light blue-purple-ish hue with some sequins to add a bit of sparkle.  I worked with needles size 5.5 mm, the shawl ends up very squishy and light.  And for a bit more of interest, I added a picot around the edge.

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Et voilĂ , Oh so simple, Oh so fast… and so satisfying!

Friday, 28 February 2014

Embarking on a 8-week TV bliss

OMG, OMG, I think I am hyperventilating... OK, I might be exaggerating just a bit... But you have to understand Series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee has started last Tuesday. I followed Series 1 last year, 4 episodes, it was a bit to short.  This year BBC is broadcasting 8 episodes.

I'm not going to discuss in details the programme, so many journalists have written about it and much better that I could (the guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent…).  Although some of them might be a bit condescending... I have only one thing to say, I LOVE it; probably even more than the Great British Bake off.  What I particularly LOVE about the Great British series programmes, both Bake off and Sewing Bee, is that although it is a competition there’s no bullying of the contestants, no shouting, to unnecessary drama…  I would LOVE to be allowed to sit in a corner of the Studio, taking it all in, stroking the fabrics, fiddling with the ribbons, playing with the buttons, listening to the tips and advice of the judge, feeling the tension, witnessing the friendship growing between the contestants... I can almost make myself believe that I could be one of the contestants one day.

GBSB

Now I have a few suggestions of programmes for the BBC: the Great British Knitting Circle, the Great British Quilting Guild, the Great British Throw Studio, the Great British Beading Party… the Great British Anything Crafty.

Other series from the BBC I’m hooked on.

Silent Witness

Season 17 already.  This is my number 1 favourite.  I really like the format of this series: one hour, 2 nights, one story.  The characters are complex, the intrigue is not a quick and easy one, and it is such a interesting incite of the British society.

silentwitness

Emilia Fox as Dr Nikki Alexander is my favourite character – I just would like to be tall, slim, blonde or at least have the address of her stylist and personal shopper.

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BTW, 2 episodes were filmed our street last year -  it felt strange watching these episodes and stepping into our neighbours’ houses.

Line of Duty

I discovered the first series last year, it is about an anti-corruption unit within the police.  Strangely enough, none of the character are really sympathetic, even the good cops are not 100% good guys. No pretty faces, no white smiles either.  It feels so real that it almost scarring.

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Silk

Another great show, I’ve watch season 1 and 2, learnt quite a bit about the British judicial system. Cherry on top of the cake: Rupert Penry-Jones as Clive Reader, isn’t he handsome, bad boy and so sexy…

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I love the BBC, love their programmes, love that I have a UK VPN address so I can keep watching everything on iPlayer.