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The Books I read in 2019

These are most of the books I read in 2019, only ‘most’ are in this pile because I own two which I can’t find for the life of me, I even wonder if they have been donated. The others are new at the library and all checked out and I forgot to add one to the pile!

They are not a ‘best of’ selection as they are all the ones I read from the first page to the last.  I don’t finish a book if I don’t like it, so these are those I liked (and finished). I remember them all except one and I have more favorites than not.

Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens.  I was late to this party as I didn’t really fancy it to be honest, but I am very happy that I eventually read it as I liked it, great characters helped by the main character’s talent for sketching and observing.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.  This was a classic case of judging a book by it’s cover which is beautiful and the book is worth a read even though I did get a little irritated by the couple featured at times.  I don’t usually read much non fiction but this has made me look more at the non fiction shelves.

Professor Chandra Follows his Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam.  This was an ‘in-between reads’ book.  I had nothing to read as the books I was waiting for had not arrived and I needed a book right now, so I scoured the shelves at the library and this one popped out.  It sounded ok, so I took it home, it was an entertaining read and a good ‘in between’ book.

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas.  There was a lot of backwards and forwards in this book as you may well expect.  It was well written and easy to keep up with all the characters and times, even though I did have to hop back a few times to establish the time we were in!

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley.  Another ‘in between’ book found on the Waterstones website when I was looking for a ‘right now’ book.  This is not at all the sort of book I usually read, I have no interest in the ‘who did it and why and when will we find out’ type of story and yet here I was with a classic whodunnit in my hands.  I enjoyed it and it was a satisfying read. This was my last book of the year and it is set over New Year, so that was appropriate.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames. I enjoyed this book although I noted when I had finished ‘good, but quite bleak in parts’.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.  I know, I know, late to the party doesn’t even count on this one, everyone had gone home to bed by the time I arrived!  I read this beauty on holiday, in large print as that was all the local Cape Cod library had where we were staying and I loved it so much.  It is crying out to be a film directed by Wes Anderson, I just hope someone is on this!     Oh, I just did some looking on the Google-webs and it is going to be a mini series with Kenneth Branagh, I’ll take it!

Little by Edward Carey. This book caught my eye early in the year as it is written by the same man who wrote the ‘Iremonger’ series which my youngest son loved when he was about 10 or 11.  I dove right in and loved it.  It is a historical fiction novel about Madame Tussaud and her beginnings.  It is just the right combination of dark, clever and historical for me.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I grabbed this as soon as it landed on the library shelf and devoured it!  The story romps along and the characters are wonderful and full of life. Another one which would make a fabulous film.

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion.  I have read the other two Rosie/Don books so it was only good manners to read this one too.  I liked it but didn’t love it.

Akin by Emma Donoghue.  I spotted this on my director’s desk and was so happy to see a new book by Ms Donoghue.  I love loved ‘The Wonder’ and couldn’t wait to read this new book.  It was not disappointing, very good story and relatable characters.

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger.  Ok this is the one, I saw it on my list of books read (I note them in my planner) and I don’t remember reading it!  I looked at the synopsis on Amazon and yes I definitely read it as it did ring a bell,  and I must have liked it otherwise I would not have finished it.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.  I started this warily as I wasn’t sure it was my thing and I didn’t love the ending, but I did get to the ending!  Liked it but didn’t love it. Don’t need a movie of this one…

The books not pictured but read are:

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.  Loved this one, loved the cover, loved the story.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.  I made notes from this book, wrote down quotes. I never ever do this but this was so visual and the story is astounding and wonderful and wondrous.

The Girl who saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson. I am the worst for owning a book and then never reading it which is how this book came to be on my shelf for so long before I read it.  It is full of story and character, packed to the edges of each page with interesting stuff to read and story to follow.  I couldn’t find it to add it to the pile which makes me think I donated it.  I hope the next person to read it loves it too.

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan.  This was the first book of the year and I liked it but not my favourite.  Another one I owned and then donated (I think).

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. Funny, clever, original and relatable.  Such a good book.

Queeny Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan.  Almost my last book of the year and what a cracker, it is heartwarming but not sappy, the characters leap off the page and there are enough twists and turns to be interesting but not frustrating. I loved that it is set in Brighton, England which is somewhere I love!

That is my books of 2019, did you read some of the same ones?  What did you read in 2019?  I am always collecting book recommendations.

Happy Thursday x


I like Friday. Art Witch Academy review.

Art Witch Academy is a fairly new membership art website exploring the concept of ‘art as ritual and ritual as art’, which I like the sound of, so I asked the founding witches if I could have a preview of the Academy to review for Brush magazine. Brush is no longer in print, but the website still has lots of inspiration.

The  A.W.A. website provides tutorials, inspiration and information with projects on a variety of art topics, all art witch and magic related. The witches run the academy in semesters and they are full of original projects and ideas.

The Academy is the vision and work of three art witches, Vanessa (@dansmoncrane), Caroline (@freya.fennec) and Emily (  Each has a unique take on their contribution to the Academy.  Their passion, knowledge and generosity is apparent in every part of AWA as you browse around the site looking at book recommendations via detailed seminars and tutorials.

The website is clear and easy to navigate and revisit to carry on with a class or to follow an interview.  

It starts with ‘Orientation’ where you can read about the founding witch sisters and consider your own witch goals while pondering the question “What does ‘witch’ mean to you?”.  I liked this introduction to the whole website as it did make me think about the concept and what it meant to me.  I have always been very interested in all things witchy although I don’t consider myself very witch-like.  Everything from crystals and tarot cards to my fascination with dragons and totem animals is of interest to me.  I worked for many years with a self professing witch and she was always one of my favorite people.  Having said that, no matter what your level of witchness (I think I made that word up), there will be something at Art Witch Academy of interest to you.

The ‘Seminars’ section has traditional tutorials with ideas and practical applications all with a solid helping of magic. I personally enjoyed the classes which have a specific goal but can be used for all kinds of other projects. Some of the tutorials will carry on across future semesters which I like the sound of, guided ongoing projects are always rewarding to me.

Watching my first tutorial by Caroline literally had me stopping part way through to grab a notebook, art journal and playing cards to add gesso and work on. I had specific ideas related to the class about exploring personal symbols which I had to write down there and then!

Another class taught by Caroline included some very innovative bookbinding which I was overjoyed with and as this is an ongoing project at the academy, I am looking forward to the next stage.  As you know, bookbinding is one of my very favorite things.

One of my favourite parts of Art Witch Academy is the ‘Laboratory’ which has practical and super interesting projects like how to make your own set of hand made water colours taught by Vanessa.  

All three witches make the projects interesting and accessible, with their own style and way of working and explaining.  

After watching and reading the tutorials and interviews from the first semester (they are now on semester three), I get the constant feeling of total inspiration.  Art Witch Academy is full of information and actions which are accessible and doable whether you are a fully fledged art witch or just like to see a black cat cross your path once in a while, or just wonder about a dragon as a pet like I do.

Whether you are working in a handmade grimoire or a journal from the store, Art Witch Academy will have some inspiration waiting for you.  The energy and ideas just bounce off the screen and you will be creating in no time.

Visit for all the information.

Happy Friday x

Snow on a Monday

We have had a snowy day today here in the mid-west as the temperatures plummeted from the sunny sixties yesterday straight down into the frosty twenties by mid morning today.

I braved the snow and wind to walk down to the YMCA to pilates class, I arrived looking like a snowman and with a slightly damp mat!  I enjoyed the work out though, so worth the wintery walk, and I got to stomp through the snowy woods and discover that one of my winter boots has a hole in the back heel…..ewwww wet cold sock…

Apart from the trip out to pilates I have mainly been drinking tea, eating home made gooey butter cookies and doing a little bit of art journaling.  Oh, and I vacuumed the floor!!

Hope you have had a good start to the week.

Happy Monday x


I like Friday – trip to see the Ai WeiWei Bare Life exhibit

I liked the bikes!

I went with a friend to see the Bare Life exhibit by Ai Weiwei at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum here in St Louis and it was  well worth a visit.

There is so much to see and learn here, and all for free!  If you are in the St Louis area, be sure to see this exhibit.

Of course the other galleries of the art museum are worth a look too, I loved this mini hall of mirrors in it’s own tower.

Happy Friday x


Get Messy Season of Reflection week 1

For this season I explored the Japanese stab stitch book binding technique.  I have to admit that I have always looked past this method as I didn’t think it would be a great journal binding as it doesn’t lay flat readily.  I always thought it looked too bulky to work with the papers I like to journal on and I was right, it would not work very well with a  watercolor paper even though I am sure it could be persuaded to open flat. So I explored some different papers.

I followed the advice of the experts and went for the four hole binding to start with and I used a soft unbleached mulberry paper and my trusty waxed linen thread.  It opens nicely and I like the folds at the outside edge of the book.

This technique does not require folded signatures, you can use single sheets or folded sheets with the fold at the spine or the open edge.  I am thinking of all the possibilities to be had with this book binding magic!

Of course I can always make a book any size I like, tall, square, long, skinny, landscape or tiny.  With the Japanese stab stitch, I can also use almost any paper and I love old paper which doesn’t always like to be folded, so that should be fun to try.

So far, I have been filling this one up with mandalas, I can put my template between the pages and paint on the pattern.

I got some straw for my garlic as a winter blanket and turns out it makes a nice background too!

Happy Thursday x


Taking Stock November 2019

It is ages since I did a Taking Stock post, so here we go!  They are super fun so I have left a blank list at the end for you if you want to copy it and fill in your own Taking Stock.  I must say thanks to Pip at Meet Me at Mikes for the original concept. In fact if you just want to browse a fabulous blog, Meet Me at Mikes is one of the best!

Ok, let’s get going –

Making : Sketchbooks with lovely paper and the Japanese Stab Stitch bookbinding technique.

Cooking : Frozen pizza tonight as I am at work!

Drinking : Biscuit tea made by Taylors of Harrogate, it is completely delicious even though I don’t normally like flavoured teas.

Reading: Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, I have only just started but it is about twins who spontaneously combust and sounds hilarious.

Wanting: A good night’s sleep.

Looking: At the foggy evening outside.

Playing: In my new stab stitch sketchbook.

Deciding: What to do this week on my unexpected day off!

Wishing: Fairies lived at the end of my garden. (maybe they do!)

Enjoying: Looking at lots of cookbooks borrowed from the library.

Waiting: For my new cardigan from Goodwill to dry so I can wear it!

Liking: Getting bargains at Goodwill.

Wondering: How long I can leave a bag of turkey and stuffing chips before I devour them!

Loving: Gin and tonic in a can.

Pondering: Food and menu planning for next week.

Considering: What to buy everyone for Christmas.

Buying: New boots.

Watching: The Curse of Oak Island

Hoping: For some direction.

Marvelling: At all the people who do all the things.

Cringing: At awkward conversations.

Needing: My new boots to fit (the curse of online ordering!).

Questioning: My exercise routine – I need more cardio!

Smelling: Favourite rose perfume.

Wearing: New earrings.

Following: Creative Bug daily classes.

Noticing: All the different bookbinding techniques.

Knowing: I have an eye test tomorrow.

Thinking: About mandalas and all the ways to make them.

Admiring: Teachers.

Sorting: Winter scarves, I do love my scarves!

Getting: Ready for a cold couple of days.

Bookmarking: Podcasts – This American Life and No Such Thing as a Fish.

Coveting: My new boots.

Disliking: Noise.

Opening: A box of tea bags ordered from England! Yay!

Giggling: At ‘Little Brexit’ on BBC Radio 4 iPlayer.

Feeling: Up and down.

Snacking: On turkey and stuffing chips!

Helping: My craft group at the library make necklaces.

Hearing: My family watch Terminator.

Happy Wednesday x


Here is a blank list for you to copy and fill in if you fancy.

Making :

Cooking :

Drinking :







































I Planted some Garlic!

After much research (ok I read an article in a gardening magazine) and waiting for the first frost, I have planted half a pound of garlic.

If it all grows I will have a stall at the end of my drive or I can be a French lady with a striped shirt and a string of garlic around my neck (stereotype? Moi? Never!).

I even have a bale of hay at the ready for when the ground gets chilly and it needs a straw blanket, I also have a snack if any horses pop over!

Happy Tuesday x

Weekend Finds

This weekend my favourite antique store was open, it is only open for the first seven days of the month, so you have to get there when you can!

This time I didn’t see much I wanted (which is a good thing really!), but I did spot this teeny tiny pot.  I have owned a less ornate one before and found it to be ideal for holding small amounts of ink to dip a brush or pen into. Unfortunately it met it’s end when I dropped it on the kitchen floor, so I was happy to see this one.

I thought this was an old salt cellar, but on further research it could be a toothpick holder.  Either way it is the perfect size for a puddle of ink and for two dollars, a bargain!

Happy Monday x


Get Messy, Season of Habit pages from my Art Journal

When I made this art journal a couple of months ago, I was sure of two things, I loved the look and layout of it and it has way too many pages to fill in one season of Get Messy.

Turns out I was correct on the first one, I loved this journal every time I worked in it.

It transpired over the course of the Season of Habit that my second assumption was very wrong, I filled this treasure up with maybe one page to spare.  Not only did I fill it, I added a pocket full of art cards and two mini accordion books.

I used all of my favorite techniques, starting with making the book itself, machine sewing, collage, simplicity, spray painting through old doilies and using old photos.  These are a few of the pages from my completed journal.

Happy Sunday x