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!).

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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.

Holiday!

It feels like forever since I last had any proper time off, but now it’s finally my turn for a holiday! Tonight we fly to Gatwick, from whence we shall be travelling around Britain (well, mainly England really). I haven’t scheduled any posts and I won’t be posting while I’m away either, so this place will be devoid of activity for a while. Try to be good while I’m away 😉 See you in September!

Lake Lucerne
Photo of Lake Lucerne from above for no particular reason…

Shooting stars for 34 years of me!

As you may or may not have noticed, it was my birthday on Sunday. I’m now 34 – less than a year until I have to tick the next category in age ranges (why is it always 35 to something) and less than a year left for my 35 before 35. Eeep. Obviously, 34 doesn’t feel too different so far. Obviously I am another year older, but at this point I’m also only 4 days older than I was before my birthday…

Part of my gift from Jan was a trip to look for shooting stars. As you may know, the Perseids is a meteor shower that takes place every year from around mid-July, peaking between the 12th and 14th of August… i.e. right around my birthday. Since it was cloudy in Basel on the 12th, we had to go hunting for them elsewhere. So Jan hired a car, which he eventually managed to pick up in the afternoon after some mix up about where it was. Since it was still light, we went to Solothurn first, where we were just in time to climb the tower of the Baseltor before it closed.

Back down on the ground, we took a walk through Solothurn and then went for dinner (I had tuna steak. It was delicious). Then I decided since it was my last meal as a 33 year old I deserved dessert. Vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. Yum! I didn’t take any photos of the food, but here’s one of the restaurant we ate at:

Brasserie Federal_Solothurn
Brasserie Federal, Solothurn

After dinner, we got back in the car and drove in a generally south-ish direction, hoping to find somewhere less cloudy. We eventually got to Bern, where we checked the cloud radar and decided to move further south. We eventually ended up in Spiez, which is where we got out of the car. First we went down to the lakeside (Lake Thun for those who are interested) and then we headed up to a castle on a hill so that we could see more of the sky at once. I still only managed to spot a grand total of three shooting stars the entire time we were there, but we did see a bat, which is always cool. Midnight struck while we were by the castle, but unfortunately no meteorite showed itself to wish me a happy birthday 😉 From what I could see, Spiez looked like a nice place. We’ll have to go when it’s light some time. Here’s the castle and a church that was opposite it – I thought the moon beside it (half hidden behind a cloud) looked cool.

It was 2 a.m. by the time we got home, so all I did was go to bed, leaving my cards for the morning.

Such a beautiful place to see in my 34th birthday. Once again, I’m so glad we took the chance and moved to Switzerland.

The books I read in July 2017

Once again it’s time to link up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books… and I warn you this is going to be a long one! I well and truly got my reading mojo back in July, and not only completed Erin’s reading challenge but even managed to read another four books for a total of 14! This time I’m listing the challenge books all together (in the order I read them) and then the others.

show-us-your-books-2016-300by300

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (570 pages, read for the “banned book” category). Uhh, what even was this book? It was more enjoyable than the typical war story I was expecting, but it was really confusing and nowhere near as hilarious as people make out! Some bits were funny, but a lot of the humour just felt forced and ridiculous. It did a good job of showing how ridiculous and insane war is, but I wouldn’t read it again. 3 stars.

Lost DogHow to Look for a Lost Dog by Ann M. Martin (240 pages, read for “A book with an animal on the cover” – see photo for evidence of animal). I loved this book! I loved Rose, I loved Uncle Weldon and I wished I had a dog like Rain. I wanted to strangle the dad though, especially when he said things like “why do you have to be like this ” and told Rose to behave herself at school. Grrr. Read if you’re an animal love and like having your heart strings pulled on. 5 stars. (Note: this is the same book as Rain, Reign under a different title).

 

Alfie Bloom 2Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief by Gabrielle Kent (272 pages, read for “A book with a mostly yellow cover” – see photo for evidence of yellowness). Book two in the Alfie Bloom series is even better than book 1… and I already gave the first one five stars, so now what do I do! I’m glad Amy had a bigger role in this book – she’s an amazing character. And it was interesting to find out more about Ashton and Emily. One of my favourite things is that the girls in the book weren’t treated differently because they were girls – at one point Alfie wants Amy to carry out a plan because she’s “the best swimmer out of all of them”. Not like the books I read a child where the girls were always being told they couldn’t do something because “it’s too dangerous” (Famous Five, I’m looking at you!). Everyone should read this series! 5 stars.

A Seven Letter Word by Kim Slater (297 pages, read for the freebie category). I enjoyed this, but not as much as this author’s previous book (Smart – reviewed here). Finlay is an likeable enough character and I did feel sorry for him, but somehow his story didn’t grip me in the same way as Kieran’s did. I did enjoy the little titbits of information about Scrabble at the beginning of each chapter. 4 stars.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (336 pages, read for “A book published in 2017”).  I loved this one and read the entire thing in two hours (when I should have been sleeping, but oh well). The characters are all so lovely and I could definitely identify with Molly and all her insecurities. It was also nice to read a book about older teens – most seem to have characters aged around 13-15. I wish this had been around when I was 16! And I also wish my sister and I had the kind of relationship Molly and Cassie do.  5 stars.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (359 pages, read for “Read a book with a non-human main character). This book had been sitting on my bookcase for over a year and I have no idea why I put of reading it for so long. I mean, there are DRAGONS! Dragons who can change their form and walk around looking human no less. There is also intrigue, secrets and a kick-ass main character. I finished reading it and then immediately ordered book two. 5 stars.

Broken Silence by Danielle Ramsay (408 pages, read for “A book that starts with the letter B). I had been looking forward to reading this book for ages because it’s set close to where my family live, so I was incredibly disappointed to discover that the author apparently hates Whitley Bay. Seriously, is there any need to mention every two pages that it’s “a once bustling seaside town” that’s now run-down and seedy with kids doing drugs on every corner? If you hate the place that much then sod off back to Scotland! Also, the main character is a total cliché and the entire book read like the author had done a creative writing course and learned to vary her writing style, with the result that she sprinkled adjectives around like confetti. Nobody could just “say” anything, ever. They always had to demand, instruct, state and order. Or even question sceptically, answer coolly or whisper hoarsely. Every. Single. Time. However, I did like the basic crime story that was hidden in there somewhere and persevered because I wanted to know who the murderer was (I guessed correctly slightly before the detective). right towards the end the writing suddenly got better and there was a fantastic interview scene, which is why I gave this book 3 stars instead of the 2 I had originally intended.

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida (256 pages, read for “A book with a cardinal/compass direction in the title). This book was strange. I actually really enjoyed it but I can’t quite explain why. The writing is amazing, almost poetic, but the story is strange, not particularly realistic (so many coincidences!) and, based on the ending, I don’t think Clarissa learned anything from her experiences. And yet I gave it 4 stars.

Thirteen Hours by Narinder Dhami (272 pages, read for “A fictional book featuring mental illness”). The mother of the main character has agoraphobia, so there#s the mental illness connection. I really liked this book. It’s gripping from start to finish (the beginning in a different way to the end). I felt for Anni and her mum and even liked the intruders. The “secret” was entirely different to what I had expected. I also liked that the author included an explanation of young carers and agoraphobia after the story. It could have been a lot more detailed, but for the young age group it’s aimed it I thought it was really good. 4 stars.

Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Stalten (272 pages, read for “A book that’s related to a Disney film”). Obviously this book is nothing like the Disney version, but I was expecting that. It’s quite graphic at times and not really a book for young children – I wouldn’t give it to anyone under ten. It’s a nice enough story and wonderfully written, but I felt like the author went a bit overboard on the portrayal of man as totally evil. 3 stars.

Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher. I meant to read this for my “mental illness” book, but it turned out the main character’s refusal to speak was on purpose and not true selective/ elective muteness after all (rather than being unable to speak, at one point she has to force herself not to!). I enjoyed this book and read the entire thing in a morning while waiting for some people who were visiting us to wake up. I felt sorry for Tess, and although the way she handled her situation wasn’t the best, it felt realistic for a teenager. The heart to heart between Tess and her parents at the end really made me smile. Not perfect, but really good. 4 stars.

Toten Stille by Daniela Arnold. Read in German, the title literally translates as Deadly or Deathly Silence. A serial killer is keeping women prisoner for months and torturing them before killing them and leaving the bodies for the police to find. At the same time, a woman is involved in an accident and her husband, child and friends then claim she’s not who she says she is. When the evidence points to her being the murderer of the other women she needs to figure out what’s going on. This book was fast-paced and thrilling, the action never let up for a minute. The ending annoyed me though – somehow the detective working on the case managed to work out who the culprit was based entirely on her intuition despite the fact that they had never come across this person in the course of the investigation and his name had not once been mentioned in the book. Umm, okay then. It passed the time well enough and was a quick read but I’m not sure I would read anything else by this author. 3 stars.

Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson. In the interests of disclosure, I should say I wouldn’t have read this book if it wasn’t on the BBC Big Read list. I don’t think this is one of Jacqueline Wilson’s better efforts. While it is interesting to see a book for pre-teens and younger teens that deals with death/grief, it seemed a bit simplistic even for the target age. Also, I just could not like Vicky, even though I was probably supposed to feel sorry for her being dead? Actually I thought Jade had a lucky escape – at least now she can get on with her life without her bullying so-called “best friend” putting her down all the time! 2 stars.

Bang, Bang, You’re Dead by Narinder Dhami. After Thirteen Hours, this book was a bit of a disappointment. I really felt for Mia and was worrying about Jamie right along with her, but then the ending went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting and I wasn’t sure what to think.  It was all a bit odd. The “twist” was a bit too abrupt and it felt like there wasn’t enough time left to handle it properly. The mum’s bipolar disease is handled well though. 3 stars.

And that’s it… 14 reviews. If you’ve got this far you deserve a medal (I did warn you though!). One day I will learn to review books more succinctly. Head to the link up to see what everyone else has been reading and – if you’re anything like me – add even more books to your never ending want-to-read list! And if you’ve read any of these books let me know in the comments whether you agree with my opinion 🙂