Christmas cards for the first day of autumn

Yes, you read that correctly! I bet at least one of you is now sitting there thinking “But it’s September”… and believe me I muttered those exact words at the display of Lebkuchen and other Christmas treats that have somehow snuck their way into the supermarket in the past week. But if you saw the length of my Christmas card list you would understand why I say when it comes to crafting it’s just different, okay? Anyway, I recently received some new wooden buttons I had ordered and I was desperate to try them out!

Of course, I don’t really have to pester my poor readers with thoughts of the festive season when autumn has only just begun, but I haven’t posted for an entire week and I can’t think of anything else to day, so Christmas cards it is. If you don’t like it, you should have looked away by now 😉 For the rest of you, here are some of the fruits of my labours.

let it snow card

 

Christmas button card

As well as being the first day of autumn, apparently in Switzerland today is the day of the apple. I know this because the local supermarket was giving away apples to celebrate. Free fruit? I’ll take it!

Happy first day of autumn, happy apple day and, most importantly, happy Friday everyone! Have a great weekend.

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Friday letters

There’s nothing quite like the disappointment of feeling like it’s Friday only to remember that, actually, you still have another entire day to go before the weekend. Repeat every 2-3 hours and you have my day yesterday. But now, finally, it really is Friday. Hurrah! How about some letters?

Friday letters

Dear godson. So, you’re a big 5 years old already! Glad you liked your present (I gave you a marble run because I secretly want one for myself).

Dear weather. Umm, you know it’s supposed to be late summer, right? You’ll have plenty of time for your cold and wind and rain over the next few months so could you at least try to let us down gently please?

Dear rainbow I saw last night. You were beautiful – the biggest (width-wise) and brightest I have ever seen. It’s just a shame you had already disappeared by the time I ran inside and grabbed my camera.

Dear Christmas cross stitch. (Yes, I used the C-word. In September.). I really need to get a move on if I’m going to get all my cards finished in time! It’s less than three months until my sister’s wedding, and I’m hoping to take all the family cards with me when I go to England for that…

Dear scales. Well, at least the number you’re showing my now is back to my previous highest-ever weight from before the holiday completely threw everything out the window. You seem to have stalled again now though. Let’s see some downward movement next week, okay?

That’s all folks. Much love to all who are reading. Have a great weekend.

The books I read in August 2017

It’s the first Tuesday of the month again, and that means it’s time for Show Us Your Books. In August, I read six books (or really read five and finished a sixth) – four of which were for the bonus Erin‘s reading challenge. I am listing the challenge books first in the order I read them, followed by the the two books I read that weren’t part of the challenge.

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One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (358 pages, read for the “published in 2017 category). So, the basic idea is that five students walk into detention, but only four walk out. The fifth dies and the other four are all under suspicion of murdering him. I loved this book so, so much. All the characters had something to hide and in the beginning not all of them were likeable (particularly Addy who was basically a puppet with no mind of her own!), but by halfway through I liked them all and didn’t want any of them to be the murderer! I actually guessed who did it before the end, but with so many twists and turns I doubted myself and changed my mind several times. I kept going back to the same theory though and in the end I turned out to be right… sort of. I didn’t guess the entire story. My only small issue with the book was that the ending came too suddenly. It would have been nice to see the why explored a bit more. After everything that went on I feel like the ending should maybe have been a bit darker. Oh, and Nate, the bad guy, drug dealer, was kind of a cliché. Despite those few issues I gave it 5 stars. Such a fun read!

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes (217 pages, read for the “banned/challenged books category). Olive is a girl who died in an accident. Martha was in her class at school. The synopsis says there were “eerie connections” between the girls and they “share a secret”. Given that, I was expecting something much more dramatic, but the connections are tenuous at best. One of them is Olive always wanted to go to the ocean, Martha goes every year. Wow, so eerie! I’ve always wanted to go to Japan.. do any of my readers go regularly? Wow, such an eerie connection between us! And the “secret” wasn’t much of one at all – maybe I read too many heavy books so when something tame comes along I don’t expect it? Anyway, overall this is a quick little read, the baby sister is cute and Martha’s relationship with her grandmother is sweet and touching, but honestly the best description I can think of is “nice”. Pleasant enough to read but basically forgettable. 3 stars and zero idea why it was challenged!

Gracefully Grayson Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky (256 pages, read for the “yellow cover” category. Photo as evidence). For as long as Grayson can remember, he’s been keeping a secret: he’s trapped in the wrong body – inside, “he” is a girl. Telling anyone would mean, rejection, ridicule or even worse. Then “he” tries out for a female part in the school play… This book is totally adorable! I just wanted to give Grayson a big hug and tell him everything was going to be okay. Parts of the book felt a bit repetitive and in places it seemed almost too simple/lacking in detail, but maybe that’s just because of the target audience. But basically it’s a quick and lovely read. 4 stars.

The Posionwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (526 pages, read for my freebie book). I had zero idea what this book was going to be about when I read it. I chose it because a) it’s on the BBC Big Read list and b) it had previously been chosen for the challenge. It turns out to be the story of an evangelical Baptist family who go on a mission to the Congo in 1959, their time there and the aftermath, told from the perspective of the minister’s four daughters and his wife. Some parts of this book dragged and I wanted to skip them. Other parts were fascinating. I really liked the different points of view and different attitudes to colonialism, westernisation, religious missions, etc. It’s a looong read but overall worth it. 4 stars.

And that was my four books for Erin’s challenge. Here are the other two books I read.

Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake. I had started this in July then when I had to go into the office, I forgot to put a challenge book in my bag so this was all I had to read. This was another one that was fantastic in places but dragged in others. I actually slightly preferred the first book in the series – Titus Groan. There wasn’t enough Fuchsia on this one! But especially towards the end I got sucked in and didn’t want to stop reading. 4 stars. I don’t think I will bother with part 3 though – this is the one that’s on the BBC Big Read list.

One by Sarah Crossan. This one has a yellow cover, so if anyone is doing Erin’s challenge and still needs something to fill that category I can recommend. This is the story of Tippi and Grace, co-joined twins. It’s written in verse, which I hadn’t realised when I bought it and at first it was a bit off-putting. The style actually turned out to be perfect for this story though. It’s a gorgeous book: emotional, affecting, moving and somehow just beautiful. (So many adjectives!) I would have liked to hear from Tippi as well – the story felt a bit one-sided with only the one twin’s point of view – but overall it was a really good book. I think having co-joined twins as the main characters is probably unique in YA literature and I thought Sarah Crossan did a good job of handling the topic sensitively. To me, it read like she had really done her research. Another 4 star read, but a very different 4 stars to the last two. Probably more like 4.5. Not perfect but I 100% recommend.

And that makes six. Have you read anything good recently?

Linking up with Jana and Steph, of course.

Card, sweet card

It’s very rare that I make a card that doesn’t involve any cross stitch whatsoever, mostly because I feel like my plain old hand made cards just aren’t as good. I’m not all that talented at card making, so I tend to let an awesome cross-stitched picture do most of the talking. But occasionally I will be struck by inspiration, or I’ll want to make someone a hand-made card but just won’t have the time to stitch something to go on it.

In this case, it was a bit of both. Loads of Post Pals and siblings have their birthdays this month, and there just isn’t going to be time to stitch a card for all of them (especially since I should really have stitched at least a few designs for Christmas cards by now!). With the sixteenth birthday of one of the pals coming up, I knew I wanted to do something with sweet sixteen. Then I remembered some buttons I had that looked just like the tops of lollipops. And so this sweet card was born…

pink sixteenth birthday card

Usually when I make cards they don’t turn out the way I imagined them, but this time I’m actually quite proud of what I came up with!

In case you’re wondering, no I’m not that good at writing… the “Sweet” was made using a stencil and “Sixteen” involved a printer, tracing paper and more luck than skill 😉

If you want more card-making inspiration, check out this one Kezzie made by recycling one element of a different card. Very clever (and good for the environment too!).

Recent doings #21

Once again it’s that time of the month where I tell you all about what went on the one before. For August, it’s going to be a very holiday-filled one, because the first two weeks of the month were uninteresting and honestly I can’t really remember most of what I did, other than trying to cram in packing in the evenings leading up to our going away and wondering why I didn’t take the Friday off for precisely that purpose…

Anyway, let’s get to it.

whats-new

Reading. I read six books in August – or technically read 5 and finished reading one. Four were for Erin‘s reading challenge. I will tell you about all of them on Tuesday.

Listening to. Welcome to Night Vale! I actually took the audio book on holiday with me but we thought the hire car didn’t have a CD player so we listened to episodes of the podcast. Then, with only a few days left, I discovered a CD player hiding in the glove compartment. What?! So we’ve now made it through the first seven CDs and we’re nearly caught up on the podcast!

Watching. Something my dad had recorded about restoring old buildings. Before our holiday I’m not sure I watched anything…

Eating. I don’t remember what I ate before we went away. Probably lots of ice cream. On holiday I ate all the British foods I could cram in, although surprisingly no Monster Munch. Actually, very few crisps – just some Hula Hoops. I’m awful at food photography, but here’s a venison sausage with black pudding mash. Yes, it’s Bambi. And it was delicious.

venison sausage

Drinking. Cider in a multitude of flavours – the rhubarb one was nicest. I also treated myself to a can of Dandelion and Burdock and some point.

Buying. While we were on holiday I pretty much only bought food so I’m trying to think back to what I bought before that. Umm, a few books for the bonus round of the reading challenge and a T-shirt for my holiday are all I can think of.

Celebrating. My friend’s 30th birthday. She turned 30 at the beginning of the month, but had her celebration together with her mum over the August bank holiday weekend. Oh, and my birthday as well (I genuinely almost forgot about that!)

Travelling. To Britain, but you know that already 😉 We also travelled to Überlingen on Lake Constance to see Jan’s mum and her partner and did some driving around in Switzerland for my birthday.

Meeting. Fellow blogger Kezzie and her husband, who happened to be in Northumberland at the same time as us. They are both lovely, lovely people.

Admiring. Puppies! So many puppies… some literally puppies (but all dogs are puppies, right?). I swear every dog owner in England was visiting the same places we were. I even got to pet a few (dogs, not owners!).

Cross stitching. Birthday cards for my godson, another friend’s son and my little brother, as well as many, many PostPals children, plus a new baby card for a friend. I feel like every time I blink someone either gives birth or announces a pregnancy.

rocket card

As usual, I am linking up with Kristin and Gretch.

Have you been doing anything interesting recently?

My scales hate me!

Okay, I confess, I didn’t exactly bother with healthy eating while I was on holiday. When faced with all the foods I love that are unavailable here, I don’t have much self-control. There were fish and chips, cream teas, Cornish pasties and crumpets. But there were also days we skipped lunch because by the time we had finished whatever thing we were doing it made more sense to go straight to tea (uh, that’s dinner to most of you). And there was walking along beaches and around botanical gardens for miles. Plus we went hiking three times in the Lake District. That’s three four-hour hikes, up and down mountains, clambering over rocks, squelching through bogs… so why do my scales tell me I’ve not only put on all the weight I had lost (which admittedly was only just over a kilogram), but also put on an extra kilogram on top of that? It just goes to show what I already suspected… when it comes to weight loss, exercise is of no use to me. The only way for me to get those scales to be my friend is to cut calories. And with a mere three months to go until I need to fit in a bridesmaid dress, it is a matter of some urgency! So no more crisps, chocolate, cakes and bacon for me… except as a special treat. Healthy eating starts now.

scone
This scone with clotted cream and jam was worth every calorie!

Guess who’s back, back again!

No, not Shady… well, possibly him too. Isn’t he always back? But that’s irrelevant here. Nope… it is I, your very own Confuzzled Bev who is back! After two weeks of gallivanting around Britain (well, England and one town in Scotland – but I’m counting it as a Britain trip for the sake of my 35 Before 35), drinking gallons of tea, consuming mountains of proper bacon, scones, pies and fish and chips, walking on beaches and climbing up mountains, I am now back at work.

I will tell you all about our trip eventually… when I can be bothered to sort and resize the dozens of photos I took. In the meantime, here are two photos of bees on flowers in Cornwall – because bees are cool and deserve to have their photos shared whenever possible!

Hello readers! As fun as travel always is, it’s good to be home.