Sunday, 1 March 2015

A to Z authors: C, D, E and F

It's been a successful month! A trip to Norway with no internet and grandparents keen to spend every waking hour with their grandchildren meant I got lots of reading done... No fear if you're not further than B yet... I'm stocking up as I know things could take a drastic turn in June when baby arrives!

In all seriousness, I can honestly say I've loved every one of my books this month, and, thanks to lots of you readers and your recommendations, I've been brave and stepped out of my comfort zone... I've read a book on christian living, a classic suspense story, a biographical novel and I even reached into the never before entered territory of the fantasy genre (unless you count Harry Potter!) I've loved discovering new authors, crossing genre boundaries and just generally trying out some new books. I SO encourage you to join the fun... its not too late!!


I can't wait to hear how you've all been getting on with your #atozauthors adventures... Here's what I've been reading...

Photo courtesy of pixgood.com
BOOK 3: "C"
FRANCIS CHAN
"CRAZY LOVE"
This was a quick read as far as nonfiction books go, and it was challenging from start to finish. Chan challenges the lukewarm Christianity that pervades much of the modern church and calls us back to biblical, radical living. Loving God and loving our communities in sacrificial and practical ways. I loved it. And although it was the first book I read in February, its message lingers, calling me not just to feel challenged, but for the way I live to be changed. A must-read for all Christians.
Favourite quotes:
"How many of us would really leave our families, our jobs, our education, our friends, our connections, our familiar surroundings and our homes if Jesus asked us to?" (p96)
"Be careful not to allow others lives to be the mold for your own... Allow God to be as creative with you as he is with each of us" (p167)

*****

Photo courtesy of www.etsy.com
BOOK 4: "D"
DAPHNE DU MAURIER
"REBECCA"
This book had me totally gripped from the word go... it was not AT ALL what I expected, but I couldn't put it down! Du Maurier weaves suspense throughout the book - a deep seated sense of forboding whispers on every page, with some wonderfully clever twists and turns along the way... Slightly Jane Eyre-esque without the gothic feel. It was just one of those books that leaves you with a hundred questions at the end and isn't totally satisfying in a perfectly satisfying way. I think this should be on everyone's 'classics to read' list. I highly recommend!
Favourite quotes:
"Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind" (p6)
"It's funny, I thought, how the routine of life goes on, whatever happens, we do the same things, go through the little performances of eating, sleeping, washing. No crisis can break through the crust of habit" (p358)

*****
Picture courtesy of bookwormburrow.wordpress.com
BOOK 5: "E"
DAVID EDDINGS
"PAWN OF PROPHECY"
This was my risk this month... I'm not normally one for fantasy novels and I never have been, but I figured now was as good a time as any to dip my toes into this new genre. At the recommendation of a friend (thanks Sarah!) who had also previously been unconvinced by this particular style of writing, I thought I'd give David Eddings a chance. ANd I'm SO glad I did!! I was totally sripped by Garion's story from start to finish, and there was a good balance of adventure, fantasy and good storytelling, as well as fantastic characterisation to boot. My only dilemma now is that there are 5 books in the series and I want to read what happens next! I'm really glad to have a new author AND a new genre to explore!
Favourite quotes:
"Good men will live their lives believing only in what they can see and touch. But there's a world beyond what we can see and touch, and that world lives by its own laws. What may be impossible in the very ordinary world is very possible there, and sometimes the boundaries between the two worlds disappear, and then who can say what is possible and impossible?" (p31)
"If you're old enough to ask the questions, you're old enough to hear the answers" (p258)

*****
Photo courtesy of www.storymerchant.com
BOOK 6: "F"
BENEDICT AND NANCY FREEDMAN
"MRS MIKE"
This book made me ache... the stunning beauty, the sheer size of that great, unbroken land with its terrifying majesty and heartbreaking harshness. Mrs Mike is the true story of Kathy, a young wife building her life on the frontier of northern Canada with her Mountie husband in a settlement in the early 20th century. It is mind-blowing, breathtaking, heartaching and heartwarming all at once. This book must be read... I was with the author every step of the story and it brings a new depth to historical understanding, as well as an appreciation of the beauty of life to all who read it. Definitely my favourite book of this challenge so far!  
Favourite quotes:
"

As I said, its been a fabulous month of reading! Hooray!

Now its time for you to let us know how you're getting on with #atozauthors! The linky is continuous so we can keep a record of all we've read, so you can just go ahead and continue to link up below. Please do leave a comment here and also take a look at some of the other linkers to get some inspiration for your own A to Z journey... and don't forget to leave a comment with them and say hi! We all need a little encouragement on the way!

In the meantime, happy reading! I'll see you on April the 1st!




Saturday, 28 February 2015

Me and Mine: February

Our plans for our Me and Mine photos were nearly scuppoured this month. I utterly failed to capture a single photograph with all four of us together in Norway which was SUCH a wasted opportunity! Just goes to show that family photos don't happen without planning! And then David has been bed bound this week with the most awful bug, and I just knew no amount of persuasion would result in him posing for the camera.

But thankfully, health was restored yesterday, and so a VERY last minute photoshoot was whipped together as the sun was setting, and the light was fading, and Mama grabbed a wailing girl under one arm, and her camera under the other. And as anyone knows, fading light and wailing girls do NOT make for the best photo shoots.

But thankfully Papa came to the rescue with the guitar... if there's one thing that is BOUND to make our girls smile... its music...


One under-the-weather Papa, two tired girls, and a Mama with an ever-growing bump ended up having a whale of a time having a merry little singsong!


... and the singalong soon turned into a danceathon...


...with hilarious consequences...


 A classic "Me and Mine" for February!



Friday, 27 February 2015

Wedding Weekend...

After our whirlwind trip to Norway, we spent a brief day recovering on Friday before packing the children off to their Grandparents while we headed north for our friends' wedding. We don't leave the children overnight often... I think this was only the third time ever... so it definitely felt like a bit of a treat!


The wedding was stunning... every detail had been though of... so many special little touches... and just being in February gave the whole day a really unique feel.


And of course, I travelled with my trusty camera, and couldn't resist snapping some special moments and little touches... photographers are there to capture the big moments... the official photographs. But I remember well from our own wedding, how much I also appreciated the stolen moments that some of our amateur photographer friends caught.


Its something I try and remember when I'm privileged to be invited to someone's special day.





The drinks were possibly the coolest beverage I've ever laid eyes upon...

And the food? The food was divine! A February wedding meant nothing could taste better than some classic English pie... served up by a "Piemaster" who had been designated on each table!

Matt... you did a stellar job!


It was lovely to spend the day with uni friends we haven't seen in a long time, and just to share the joy of two lovely people starting out on this very exciting adventure of marriage. We thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to enjoy every second of the day, without having to have our eyes darting left and right to spot a rogue toddler, and I enjoyed being able to fully engage in conversations without someone tugging on my skirt!

The only slight dampener on the day was that it was clear by the end of the evening that Dave was coming down with something. I'm only thankful that he managed to last the night! Poor guy has been bed-bound since Sunday afternoon with some hideous head and throat, gland bug that's hit him hard. We were so grateful that somehow the bug stayed at bay until after our wedding weekend away!

It was a relaxed, fun, special weekend away... and we wish Andy and Christina all the very, very best as they start their new life together!




Thursday, 26 February 2015

My little Washerwoman...

We are revelling in the little glimpses of springtime... getting out in the sunshine, savouring the scent of the first fresh flowers and listening on the school run for the sound of those songbirds making their presence known.

Our return home from nursery at lunchtimes has taken a change too. The children are no longer eager to burst into the house, to warm their icy hands and devour a warm lunch... instead, they are rushing straight out to the garden to their happy little Huette to busy themselves with cups of tea, picnics and sweeping the doorstep!

And this week, a new activity kept my little ladies busy. It seems spring cleaning has hit even the smallest ones!

After all, dollies need their clothes washed too!


And so an afternoon was spent working hard washing all the dollies clothes in their little sink (the old fashioned hand-washed way, with invisible water... I know, the best Mamas would've let their kids loose with real water, but I'm too much of a neat freak for that!)


And then, once they were washed, the clothes were all hung out on the line to dry! As I said... we are making the most of the glimpses of spring sunshine!
 























Of course, little sister was keen to help out too, although she was very clear that her own "Tilly" did not want her clothes washed. She was more than happy to help Ava out with her babies though.


Then, like any productive housewife, she stood back to admire her handiwork...

I thought that was the end of it as I promptly packed the girls off to their nap time/quiet time, and was surprised when my eager big girl appeared an hour later ready to head straight back out to the garden.

After all, you can't leave your clothes hanging on the line all day!


The clothes were taken in, ironed, and folded and laid to one side, ready for babies to be re-dressed!

Note our makeshift iron... sometimes Mama's desire for creative perfection is usurped by a need for speed. No pretty little iron for this girl... a butter lid, a yoghurt pot and a little sellotape was enough for my little lady. You don't have to be creative if your little one has a good imagination!

As she busied away all afternoon, it struck me that my little lady means it when she tells me "when I grow up I just want to be a Mama"... that may not always be the case, but while it is, I'm proud of this little girl and her joy in something I find so menial. I work so hard to teach my girls to delight in the ordinary.

Yesterday I realised she was teaching me.

mummy daddy me

Monday, 23 February 2015

Ski slopes, fjords and lots of snow!

We had a wonderful two weeks in Norway... the girls revelled in the snow, and we were blessed with milder weather while we were there. For the most part, the sun shone, protecting us from icey paths, but leaving enough snow everywhere to do lots of skiing, sledging and build a grand total of 3 "Olafs".

Here's a little of what we got up to...

Building Olaf the 1st with two crazy excited girls!

Admiring sunsets over the fjord...

Cute moments with our little ladies...

Precious time with grandparents...

My little Ski-bunny! Learning to ski with her Papa!

Exploring the beautiful, snowy outdoors!
We had so much fun... Ava adored the snow. She set off on her cross-country skis like a pro and didn't want any help. She tried out slalom skiing with Papa, loved whizzing down the slopes on her sledge and rolled around in the white stuff like nobody's business!

Heidi was not so sure... she was pretty nervous in the snow and was happiest looking on while seated on Mama's lap. She was happy in her sledge, but sometimes even that got a bit too much... However, we discovered our little lady is a total water-baby. We went swimming twice while we were there, and she absolutely loved it!

It was lovely to see our little ladies developing interests and enjoyment for different things!
I was unable to ski this year, due to the impending arrival of Bubba the third, but enjoyed watching my little family loving the snow! Swimming was fun, and I had great fun browsing my favourite Scandinavian style in some of my favourite shops and lovely friends homes... and coming home to recreate my own little Norwegian corner here in London!

It was a great break, lovely to see more of a country we fall more in love with every time we visit, lovely to spend time with dear family and friends, lovely to experience a bit of "real winter" and lovely to absorb, soak and appreciate all that beautiful nature.

But I won't deny it was a little bit lovely to return to some greenery...

... I think Spring is just around the corner!!






 Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Siblings in February

We  are in Norway now... making the most of the snow and all it has to offer. These two little siblings have been in their element - one confident, giggling, off on her skis, the other more cautious, nervous and wanting lots of cuddles!

But when it comes to the snow, there is one thing both girls have loved without shadow of a doubt... snowman building. All those viewings of "Frozen" calling for the making of an Olaf!

And so these little siblings, together with the help of Mama and Bestamor, shared a special sister moment making their very own Olaf. Ava giving Heidi the reassurance and direction she needed. I do love watching their little friendship.

Little sisters in February...



Sunday, 8 February 2015

Complications

All went well with the journey and the girls were good as gold = one relieved Mama!!
The girls took to their skis today... My big girl off without looking back and not wanting any help at all.
My little girl nervous and wanting Mama. We will build her confidence on the snow day by day... That's the plan anyway!
But, the internet is down, meaning my plans to blog are scuppoured, so instead I will be posting all my photos on Instagram...
Follow @Clarina1985 on Instagram to see more of our adventures in this stunning country!!
Har det bra!