Monday, November 02, 2015

Book :: Lungdon

I am so excited to tell you about this book! I should tell you, I received a copy (electronic) in exchange for reviewing it - but I had already read and loved the first two books, pre-ordered this AND intend to buy hard copies as soon as I can be sure I get a matching set. So believe me, it didn't influence my review =)

Lungdon is the final book in Edward Carey's Iremongers trilogy. I don't want to give any spoilers for the first two books, so I'm going to kind of do a review of the series and keep the details vagueish, ok?

As you can probably tell from the above, I am kind of nuts about this series - it is just so fun and weird and unique! The story is set in Victorian times, and follows various characters from the Iremonger family from their home in the great rubbish heaps outside of London (Lungdon), through a town called Foulsham, and finally to London itself. The tone in Lungdon feels a bit darker than the first two as the characters are changed by their experiences along the way, and by the end of the book the story has come to an unexpected and perfect conclusion.

Each book is told from the perspectives of two main characters, as well as an extra person here or there. One of my favourite things about these books is the how unusual and distinct from each other the voices of the characters are - I don't think I have ever read anything where this has been done so well and in such an easy to read way.

The series is marketed at the 12+ age group, but has that quirky grotesque gothic kind of style that makes it a great read for adults too - think Neil Gaiman or Tim Burton - and it didn't even occur to me that it was a "kids' book" until I saw it in that section of the catalogue.

Another fantastic thing about these books is the illustrations - Carey prefaces each chapter with portraits of characters or scenes from that chapter - they are so cool! You can get a good feel for Carey's work on his (really cool) website.

Lungdon is out this week from Five Mile Press / Hot Key Books, and is 400ish pages of perfection - I give it (and the other two in the series) five stars and recommend you get on it now =) Meanwhile, I'm off to check out Carey's backlist =)

Happy reading!

Xo Bron


Sunday, November 01, 2015

The Makers' Collective :: 30 day creative challenge

All of a sudden it's November, and the first day of the Makers' Collective 30 day creative challenge! I'm skipping over today's project - I won't be doing all 30 but instead choosing my favourite 2 or 3 each week, and hopefully sharing them here too.

In the meantime, it's not too late to sign up if you're interested too - check out all the info here. You can also check out #makers30days on Instagram to see what everyone is making, and follow along with a new diy tutorial on the Makers' Collective blog each day all month =)

Xo Bron



Sunday, October 25, 2015

Desert rose dress

And all of a sudden it's the weekend and another kids clothes week is over - and again I feel like there's so much more I wanted to do! But I think that's one of the cool things about KCW - it gets you sewing and inspired to sew even more. This time around I managed to finish the Avengers geranium dress from my last post, get some pj pants nearly done, and finish one more dress - my first go of the gorgeous desert rose pattern.

I used some cotton-ish fabric I found in the remnant bin last time I was fabric shopping - I'm pretty sure it has some poly in it. It was actually kind of not that nice to work with. I made the 18 month size and it is a pretty good fit, with a bit of room to grow into. Like the Avengers dress I have about 2 inches extra in the hem. It's hard to see in these pics with the busy fabric, but the dress closes with two buttons on the bodice front - so cute!

I have been in love with this pattern for quite a while (check out #desertrosedress in instagram - so many beautiful dresses!) and was certainly not disappointed with the result! I have fabric washed and waited to be cut out for the next already. I actually think it's a good one for special stash fabrics since the square skirt means it is easy to be flexible with length and fullness =)

Xo Bron



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Avengers geranium dress

Kids clothes week got off to a good start here yesterday - I managed to sew a whole little geranium dress! I think I mentioned Miss A is really interested in Marvel and DC super heroes at the moment, so the theme 'disguise' was a perfect excuse to make her an Avengers dress.
Obviously this sewed up quickly - it is just such a fantastic pattern, and the finishes are lovely, with the bodice lining hiding lots of seams and a clever treatment of the back seam to keep the back opening so neat and tidy.
I made the 18-24 month size, which is perfect in the chest and maybe a tiny bit long in the skirt (this has an extra 2 inches in the hem). I love the faux cap sleeves, and finished with snaps (I love my snaps!)
Don't be surprised if there's another geranium around here before too long =)
Xo Bron

Monday, October 19, 2015

Garden update

The garden and greenhouse have been loving this weather! It has been a warmer October than usual, and I'm tempted to plant my tomatoes out already even though we sometimes still get frosts through to the end of the month. The main thing holding me back is I just can't decide how to support my tomatoes - stakes or trellis?

The most action is in the greenhouse we have lots of new seedlings popping up from seeds I planted last week - from top left there's the first dwarf bean, basil (Thai basil and oregano are up too), golden nugget pumpkins and patio zukes just popping through and corn (which I'm sure wasn't there at all yesterday!).
We're picking a couple of snow/sugar snap peas each day and yesterday our first ripe strawberry (which didn't last as long as being photographed but A assures me was delicious!)

Xo Bron


Saturday, October 17, 2015

KCW warm up =)

The next round of kids clothes week starts on Monday! This theme for this round is disguise, which should work out pretty well here since A is currently fairly obsessed with Spider-Man, Superman, Batman and a whole load of other DC and Marvel characters (as well as Star Wars!). I have a couple of dresses cut out already, and a few new things planned, but mostly this time I'm just focussing on the actual goal of KCW - to sew for an hour each day.

It has been warmish here the past week or so, and the summer clothes have been pulled out. I've been super pleased to see that A still fits into some of the things I made last summer, so I made sure to take pics when she has been wearing them and thought it might be a good warm up for KCW to share them today.

First is this little Lulu dress (the pattern is by Jess from Craftiness is Not Optional). This one got hardly any wear last summer because the fit was a bit weird - I was so happy to see the fit is so much better now than A is less tiny round baby and more toddler with actual limbs. I think it is probably just a better shape on an older kid, and having seen it on her yesterday I'm pretty sure I'll make more of these (the pattern goes up to 8 yrs - yay!). I do love the combination of knit top and woven skirt!

And today's outfit - a geranium dress in tunic length. I think I made this before Christmas (I think I might have even blogged it). I found the length was perfect for her when she was crawling and she did wear it quite a bit. I will for sure make more geranium dresses - it is my favourite kids' dress pattern so far, and I love that she'll get more than one summer's wear out of it.

Xo Bron


Monday, October 12, 2015

More gardeny goodness

Sorry for two gardeny posts in a row, but there is so much happening out there at the moment and I am pretty much obsessing over it haha.

I have been raising a mega batch of tomatoes from seed to sell as a fundraiser for our playgroup - this weekend they finally looked ready to pot out from the seed tray to something a bit bigger. Fingers crossed they survive the move (and the help from A!)

And here's the current greenhouse spread. I also moved the Lebanese zukes into bigger pots - I have about a dozen seedlings that are all looking really good, some of which I'll take along for our fundraiser too. New seedlings up this week are the mixed squash, and I've planted pumpkins, patio zucchini, corn, dwarf beans and more nasturtiums.

This week I'm planning to put in climbing beans and more sugar snap peas - we have been picking them and eating fresh in the garden.

Xo Bron


Friday, October 09, 2015

Garden update

The last two or three weekends I've gone around the garden taking pictures with the intention of posting an update here, and then by the time I get around to thinking about posting I feel like the pictures are so out of date I might as well wait and take new ones and then it starts again. So, these photos are from last weekend, and, spring being spring, everything has changed again already, but I'm sharing nonetheless.

Purple. So much purple in the garden this week! Dutch irises are opening and looking magnificent, bluebells are just about finished (no pink ones this year - just purple and blue), wisteria has gone bonkers and the bees are in heaven, and some pansies I planted around the strawberries are looking good too.

The seeds are happy. The tomatoes that i germinated on the heat pad on the kitchen bench are spending most of their time outside - they are growing their real leaves and are about ready for repotting. The Lebanese zucchini seedlings have shot right up, and this week I planted out some of the borage and nasturtium seedlings.

The favourites at the moment are the sugar snap peas. They are growing like crazy and Amelia is loving eating them freshly picked in the garden.

And last weekend's exciting development was this archway which I've popped over our garden seat. I'm planing to grow climbing beans, apple cucumbers and maybe some kind of squash over it.

The forecast for the next week at least is warm sunny weather, so I have my fingers crossed for lots of good growing (and maybe just a little rain)

Xo Bron


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Currently crafting...

I'm one of those crafters who always has at least half a dozen or so projects on the go at any one time (and that's not including the probably dozens that are ongoing but haven't been worked on for ages!). I thought it might be good to have a (maybe) regular-ish round up on here of the projects I'm currently actively working on.

We had my mum here visiting last week, and I always imagine that having someone extra here to distract A will mean loads more crafty time for me so I spent the week before she arrived tracing off and cutting out dress patterns for A. In reality sewing time is still mostly restricted to when A is asleep - as soon as I sit at the machine she's over at my side offering to help or wanting to see what I'm doing (which is really quite cute). I did manage to get two little dresses very nearly finished - a simple little pinafore (the sausage dogs in the pic above) from the Wild Things book only needs its snaps, and the pretty strawberry gingham dress just needs a button and hemming (the pattern is Butterick 4176). I have two more dresses cut out for A (this and this) and a new Colette Myrtle for myself.

I seem to have a bit of a thing for starting a new quilting projects on a long weekend, and this was no exception - I've started a super cute quilt that I can't say very much about because I'm pattern testing for my friend Linden from Vine Lines Quilting. I'm looking forward to being able to share it with you as soon as the pattern is released.

And in knitting news, on Sunday I cast off a little pink Granny's Favourite (I mentioned it in this blog post here), which is now just waiting for buttons and blocking.

So, what's next? I see many many little dresses in the not too distant future - they are so quick and easy, and look adorable, and our first over 30C weather is forecast for the weekend so they'll be right in time =)

Xo Bron



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Books :: The Intern

My next gold Inky Award nominee review book is The Intern by Gabrielle Tozer. The book introduces us to Josie, a student who dreams of a career in journalism and lands an internship at a flash fashion magazine in the city.


This book was cute, fun and pretty fast paced. I could totally relate to Josie's experience of moving away from home - the mixed feelings of being excited about moving on to something new but also worried about the changes this will bring to your relationships with friends and family. It was a quick read, and I downloaded the sequel as soon as I finished - which is always a good sign.

I did find it read a bit younger than than the YA I'm used to reading - it's definitely more Dolly than Cosmo, I think. That said, the writing was still sophisticated - there were several of parts of the story where I could have been cringing, but instead I found myself feeling embarrassed (and sometimes horrified) with Josie rather than rolling my eyes at her.

I would recommend this for readers with an interest in writing. It had a similar feel to the Carrie Diaries tv series (I have to confess to not having read those books), or even The Hills (where Lauren has the internship) so I think fans of those series would probably enjoy this too.

I gave this 3 stars out of 5 (but would rate it at 4 stars if I was making a recommendation for a younger reader.)

Xo Bron


Monday, September 28, 2015

The Makers' box :: tassel bracelet

One of the awesome things about the Makers' boxes that I received was that they had projects in them that I had seen around and thought were cool but had no idea what I would do with them so hadn't tried yet. The tiny tassels in the tassel bracelet project are a perfect example of this!

I'm sure I say this every time, but the presentation and clarity of the instruction were just impeccable. It was simpler than I expected to make the little tassel, and I was super pleased with how it came out. And, as with the other projects, I loved that there were supplies enough to either make multiples of this project, or to use in something else (we used some of the extra beads in the dream catcher I blogged about a week or so ago).

In all honesty the finished bracelet isn't really 'me', but I wasn't disappointed - for me it was still worth trying because I learned a new skill (making the tassel - I'm thinking tassels on everything! How cute would tiny gold ones be on Christmas present wrapping?!) and the bracelet would make a super cute gift for someone else. =)

New Makers' box kits are on their way to the Makers' Collective online store soon - including this bath salts kit we had a peek at on Instagram and facebook last week which I think looks pretty awesome =).

Xo Bron


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Books :: Laurinda

Now that I'm in the habit of reading more, I'm trying to be more mindful of what I read - like trying to read more books by Australian authors. When I was looking for some aussie young adult fiction to start on I came across the short list for the Inky Awards. I'm planning to read all of them, and maybe review some here on the blog - starting with Laurinda by Alice Pung.

I loved this book! Lucy Lam is the daughter of refugees who wins a scholarship to a flash, all girls school. The book takes us through Lucy's first year at her new school, as told through Lucy's letters to a friend. I thought the writing was brilliant. It was funny and fast paced and powerful and touching - like this quote, which I just love (and I will never use the word tacky again!):

Brodie would have called the things in our home “tacky”, the term used by wealthy people to describe the most beautiful things poor people could afford.

The quote on the cover there from John Marsden uses the word 'horrifying' and that is so spot on (as if I would disagree with John Marsden!) - some of the young women (and the older ones!) in this were so awful that the only thing worse was the fact they didn't seem to realise how awful they were! I actually gasped a little "oooh no - they didn't! They wouldn't!" more than once - and the fact that the "girls will be girls" (or whatever variation) attitude about pranks (let's face it - all out bullying) is a real thing in the world totally gives me the creeps!

Anyway, I gave this 5 stars (out of 5) and really hope we'll see more fiction from Alice Pung soon!

Xo Bron


Monday, September 14, 2015

Garden makeover

I can hardly believe it has been over 7 years since we moved into our lovely little home. When we moved in, the garden was nice but it just wasn't us. It took us a few years to figure out what wasn't going to work for us, a few more to not feel guilty about it, then some to decide what we wanted (a kitchen garden!) and of course a bit more to actually do anything about it. Now, finally, we've had some work done in our backyard and I'm super excited about it!

It was pretty much a disaster out there - the garden bed was overgrown with half-dead shrubs and goodness knows what else, and the fence was falling down. It wasn't just gross, I felt like it wasn't safe for A - every time we were out there I was freaking out about what she was touching/where she was going. So when the fence repairs were inevitable we decided to get some landscaping done at the same time.

Check out those before/during/afters - such a difference (and quickly too! The work took about 3 days). And we love it. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that we are using the heck out of the space already. A loves pottering around and digging and moving dirt around.
So now I'm ready for veggie growing season! And because I'm so excited about it I've treated myself to something to kickstart things: a kitchen garden box from Kyrstie at A Fresh Legacy. It has seeds, growing instructions and recipes for 24 different veggies and comes in a gorgeous wooden seed storage box. Now we just need to wait for it to be warm enough to plant some more things =)

Xo Bron