Sunday, 21 December 2014

Currently 21/12/2014

Briefly  I'm writing this on Saturday night because I'm hopefully going to be out Sunday evening at a Christmas dinner thing so it won't get done otherwise! I've been very absent on the blog this week and hopefully this post will explain why a bit!
Time and Place | 7:42pm Saturday night, again in the armchair, my usual blogging place. 
Eating and Drinking | Spaghetti with veg sauce and leftover beef followed by some of the chocolate from my amazing secret santa parcel!
Reading | About to finish Enough: Breaking Free From the World of More by John Naish. It's given me so much to think about. I'm just reading the penultimate chapter which is a lot about gratitude and relearning to be grateful for things. It's incredibly thought provoking actually, because I know I go through a lot of days bitching and moaning about all the tiny things which go wrong and forgetting to think about all the hundreds of things which go right! I also finished Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock this week and quite enjoyed it. I've not got much to say about it so I don't think it will be getting a full review though! I'm back on my reread of Waylander by David Gemmell as of last night and I still love it. It's been far too long since I read any Gemmell. 
Watching | Nothing right now but I'm thinking about Gilmore Girls...I just finished watching The Road to El Dorado with the boys so now I have 'El Dorado! El Dorado! El Doraaaaaado!' in my head. Hopefully somebody reading this will have seen the film and have some clue what I'm talking about. If you are that person, I apologise for getting the song in your head. 
Listening | Again, nothing right now but we've been listening to the Muppet Christmas Carol soundtrack all day pretty much. Did you know that wherever you find love it feels like Christmas? 
Making | All the things! I finally finished the name blocks I mentioned last week:
photography is a skill I aim to get a lot better at next year...



Also a scarf for Rhys' stocking, which he has seen so I can put a picture here as I'm secretly pretty proud of it. 

Obviously it's not finished yet but it should be finished tonight and then I've got blocks to make for Sam as I've already made some for Ben and the plan is that they will be the boys' presents to each other. Suffice to say I'm probably not going to be blogging much this week either! Also we decided since none of us actually have proper stockings and we've been making do with mums spares the past four years, we'd actually make our own this year! I say make, what I really mean is do this:
Yes, that is a pillowcase with fabric letters (made from scraps of fabric from our rag bag, how Little Women am I?!) sewn onto it. So far this is the only one of the four that is finished. Obviously we have our priorities straight! 

Cooking | I cooked spaghetti with sauce earlier, but really the cooking was minimal as the sauce was from a jar (supplemented with an extra can of chopped tomatoes so there will be enough to freeze for that time between Christmas and New Year where nobody really wants to get dressed let alone go food shopping) and the beef was just leftover so all I had to do was cut it up. 
Blogging | Absolutely nothing. I will be blogging about the awesome Secret Santa parcel I've received though!
Hating | Trying not to hate anything at the moment. See previous comments about gratitude. 
Loving | That the contracts for our house finally arrived from the solicitors! We have to get everything signed and take it in to them on Monday and hoooooopefully we'll be able to get stuff exchanged before Christmas *crosses fingers and holds breath*
Avoiding | The kitchen. I've been washing up all damn day and I swear every time I go in there more dirty dishes have just grown from somewhere. Urgh. 
Anticipating | I'm stupidly excited for Christmas now, especially Christmas eve. My parents have a big meal at their house and everybody gets dressed up and eats three courses and sets up the nativity scene and then afterwards we have a little concert where my mum makes us each sing/play/perform something. This year Benji and I are singing 'Oh Christmas Tree' (he sings it 'o ismas ee'). Oh and then we eat loads of after eights and watch Miracle on 34th Street and argue about whether or not to go to midnight mass. Serious excitement. 
Who's excited about Christmas? Has anybody else had a bookish Secret Santa? 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Currently...

Briefly  I've borrowed this format from Kim over at Sophisticated Dorkiness because I wanted a weekly update that was a little less book-centric than the Books on my Bedside Table I am going to write later in the week! We've been counting down Advent with an 'advent box' (a shoebox wrapped in Christmas paper with a little clear pouch in the front where we put a number each day) filled with an advent task, a bit of the nativity story and a Christmas book or film. Benji is absolutely loving it, and has perfected his 'ho ho ho'. Scarily deep voice coming out of my two year old at the moment!
Time and Place | 7:48pm in my armchair (the one which is by the sea) freezing my bum off as our heating broke late last night and can't be fixed until tomorrow so we have one tiny little standing heater trying desperately to heat our whole front room....
Eating and Drinking | Just finished eating roast dinner (beef and yorkshire pudding. yum) and chocolate orange ice cream. Once the boys are both asleep I shall probably be drinking some tea and eating honeycomb chocolate with Rhys, as well as drinking a lot of water. Last night was the work Christmas party and I've basically stopped breastfeeding so I can drink again. Plus they pay for the wine. Enough said, I think!
Reading | I'm still reading Enough: Breaking Free From the World of More by John Naish and loving it! We have so much stuff and I'm so often overwhelmed by the constant urge to buy more, especially around this time of year. This book is really refreshing and really appeals to my self-sufficiency loving side. I also started Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick the other day and I'm really liking it so far. It's quirky and although at first I thought the footnotes would really annoy me, I actually quite like them now!
Watching | If iPlayer will work, catching up on the Strictly semifinals. If not, probably more of season 4 of The Big Bang Theory. Since we quit live TV over a year ago I'm really really behind on Big Bang but we've been picking up the box sets as we see them cheap in exchange shops and we're up to 4 at the moment. What season is everyone else on,now? I think we're about halfway through? :-p 
Listening | Ooh lots and lots of Christmas music, especially my CD of Ella Fitzgerald (one of my all time favourites) singing Christmassy things and a CD my siblings and their (awesome) choir made a few years ago. 
Making | Name blocks for my sisters boyfriend's nephew for Christmas. Six to be finished by tomorrow and I've currently nearly finished the first one... Hmm. 
Cooking | Just finished cooking beef roast dinner and I'm also making chicken stock to freeze for future soups. 
Blogging | This week I blogged about how I'm giving up on The Pickwick Papers (as is everybody else in the readalong I think!) and also about diversifying my reading!
Hating | That our heating is broken and also our car seems to have developed a hole in its exhaust which makes us sound like those idiots who do all kinds of crazy stuff to their cars and then drive around our neighbourhood way too fast shouting stuff you can't hear out of their windows while listening to loud drum and bass. Eurgh. 
Loving | We watched The Polar Express for the first time today. It was in the box, and it is incredible! I really really have to get over my irrational Tom Hanks hatred. Number of Tom Hanks films I like (off the top of my head) is six, the number I don't like is one (Castaway and I'm not all that keen on Forrest Gump). Seriously, even the statistics don't back me up here!
Avoiding | Finishing the christmas letter we put in with our cards. We decided to make a border of photos of all the stuff that's happened this year and cute pictures of the boys but neither of us can really be bothered to actually do it, we kind of just want it to magically... be done? 
Anticipating | Decorating the house for Christmas and also Christmas itself! I always kind of hate the journey back to London as we have to go on Christmas Eve and the weather is usually bad (80mph winds last year) and I'm a pretty nervous driver, but as soon as we get there I will freak out with Christmas excitement! It's even more exciting this year as Ben and Rhys are also both excited!
What have you all been up to?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Pickwick Papers Week...?



I think the title probably gives you some indicator of what I'm about to say. Fellow sufferers, I have given up on The Pickwick Papers. After much deliberation I've decided that life is just too short and full of books I want to read more than I want to force myself to struggle through twenty more chapters of the same old same old with Pickwick & co.

I'm sad. It started off so well and at times I'm still enjoying it. There's a lot I like about Dickens' writing - he's funny at intervals, and his description is fantastic, plus I love all the little quirks of the period which he throws in so I feel like I'm learning a bit of history at the same time, but what I don't like is how I feel like I'm just going around in circles. Because of the lack of plot it just feels like pointless reading. I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere with it and it's depressing me! I think I would have loved it in weekly installments but I honestly just don't think it was meant to be published as a novel.

I will continue to post the weekly link ups for those who are continuing and I will happily cheer you on from the other side. I realise it's super lame to give up on your own readalong, but I just can't deal with it anymore! Big thanks to Charlotte and Hanna for validating my decision, and on Ellie's suggestion, ideas are now being taken for a replacement for #dickensindecember for next year. Alliterative if possible please!

Good luck to those continuing!




Saturday, 6 December 2014

Reading Diversely: Some Book I Want to Read





I've talked a bit about wanting to read more diversely during Nonfiction November and also in my list of Bookish Resolutions for 2015. I also know I have a fair amount of diverse authors on my shelves, just never get around to them, so I though as a way to help myself I'd make a list here of a few that I already own which I'm excited to get around to!

Drown is the only one of Junot Diaz's books I've not yet read and as it features the same character as The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her, which is one of my favourite books of this year, there's no excuse not to read it. Plus, it's tiny. Diaz is a Dominican born Dominican-American author and thus fulfills the criteria of not being from the US or UK. Also, he's awesome.

I read Zadie Smith's debut, White Teeth waaaay back when I was in uni and taking a course on literature and London. I remember really enjoying her vivid descriptions and the way she brought the city to life. I have two of her other books - On Beauty and NW but for some reason the latter just calls to me more. Although she is British born, she has Jamaican heritage and if White Teeth is anything to go by that comes out in her writing.

I've actually already started reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami and was really enjoying it before Nonfiction November snuck up on my reading and made it all educational (and awesome!). Despite its length I'm really excited to get back to this as it was really fast paced. So far this is the only translated novel on my list. Murakami is, probably obviously, a Japanese author.

I have a couple of Amy Tan novels and The Joy Luck Club has been following me around since secondary school, despite which I've managed to not yet actually read it. This will be remedied asap as the premise sounds really interesting and right up my street. Amy Tan is an American whose parents are Chinese immigrants.


I read Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw during my first year of blogging as part of the Geographical Reading Challenge and I really enjoyed the experience of reading about a country and experiences so far from my own. I've had The Harmony Silk Factory for way longer though, since my very early days on ReaditSwapit (we're talking at least six years ago now) and I honestly have no idea why I haven't yet read it. I suck. Tash Aw is a Malaysian writer.


And finally, The Vanishing Act by Mette Jakobsen was a book I had previously never heard of which I unearthed in the 'Holiday Book Swap' box in our local (and amazing) ice cream parlour. It sounds so interesting and full of mystery and intrigue, plus it has a really pretty cover. I will be getting to this sooner rather than later! Jakobsen is Danish.

I know I have a lot more than this and there's a lot more I want to read that I haven't put on this list (Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for example) because I don't actually own it, although I can get hold of it from the library easily. Looking at this, it really shouldn't be difficult to fulfill my one in three quota for next year, and I'm not as woman-heavy as I thought! There's a sentence I never thought I'd write...

Does anybody have any recommendations for me?

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Pickwick Papers Week 3: Chapters 24 - 35



Is anybody actually up to where we should be with this? I'm still way behind, although I have read at least a few of this weeks chapters which to be honest is bloody fantastic considering I've been studying like mad for my driving theory test (which I passed by the way, but to be honest I was ready to mock my own intelligence levels forever if I hadn't, so it's a bit of a relief!). I'm just past the bit where Sam visits his parents at the pub/hotel/couldn't quite decide what it is place, so yeah. Like, about nine chapters short of where I should be! I've left the book in the car so whether I get any more read tonight depends on my ability to be bothered to get up and go get it (and also on the speed with which I make button loops for a cardigan. So hmm) 

I'm still quite enjoying it, but there's still lots more I feel a more pressing urge to pick up. I do kind of have to make myself read it to be honest, but I really like Sam Weller. His accent is a bit difficult at times but I love his readiness to rush in and defend Mr. Pickwick from whatever at any given time. I am getting a little bit annoyed with Mr. Pickwick's ability to get himself into stupid situations entirely without realising that he's pretty much responsible for them - I think Hanna said something similar last week, and the more I read the more annoying he gets. It's not a bit thing though, overall I'm still finding the characters pretty endearing and I like that familiar faces keep popping up from time to time. 

I said to Rhys the other day that that whole thing we were mocking at the beginning of the readalong about how the novel's most noticeable for being a good study of the coaching houses of the period has actually turned out to be pretty interesting to be honest. Mostly because their coach journeys are way more interesting than any National Express trip I've ever taken!

I can't remember if it was this week or last week's chapters which I read this week, probably last, but honestly what were they doing letting Mr. Winkle near a gun again?? And how have they now been swindled twice by Mr. Jingle?! I'm very glad they've got even with him, to be honest I could do without him for the rest of the novel! 

Come on, guys, we're more than half way through now, we can do this! *cheers* 

*Picks up Charlotte and drags her through the next two weeks* :-p (sorry for victimizing you a bit Charlotte!)