Saturday, April 12, 2014

Quarter Year

Oh hi!  *BIGGIGANTICSMILEYFACEATCHA*.  Anyone else (NZ-side) enjoying this Indian Summer as much as we are?  I'm sure Autumn will arrive at some point, but we aren't tooooooo depressed to have this extra dose of balmy weather.

Things:

  • I set myself the goal of de-cluttering our home this year.  It seems like a gigantic, never-ending task, and actually I think the biggest clutter culprit in our home is Excessive Clothing.  I for one am utterly sick of finding clothing strewn around the house, and I'm starting to plot ways to minimize this.  Namely, reducing the amount of pieces we collectively own.  Difficult, because I get weirdly sentimental about clothing (maybe this is normal??  Anyone??), my collection of saved-for-the-next-baby clothing is testament to this.  But a two-year-old really doesn't need 4 warm coats and 17 collared shirts.  Fact. 


  • In the past few months I have be sloooooowly training myself to run.  And by run, I do actually mean jog-at-walking-pace.  Yesterday I walked/ran a half marathon.  It was intense, and I feel somewhat amazed that I reached the finish line.  Afterwards I indulged in a hot bath and an early bedtime, and today I actually feel pretty good!  Surprised!  


  • I made a conscious decision to just quit it with the creative projects for now.  Honestly, I haven't missed it much.  Occasionally there's a pang, but for now I am quite content to just.  be.  It's actually weirdly liberating.  Suddenly I have my evenings to myself again.  I mean, I can just relax and do nothing all evening!  I'm sure it won't last for that long, but I'm kinda reveling in it.
  • I have also barely picked up my camera lately.  This has a lot to do with ^^ and also quite a bit to do with a computer hard drive that is bursting.  This, I need to sort.  


  • Very soon we will all be off on holiday, wheeeeeee!  Super excited!  I feel like I have our travel planning pretty down-pat these days, and now I'm working on how to pack minimally, yet cover all the essentials.  It's an art, people!


  • Booksssssss!  I want to read them alllllll.  Right now I'm totally immersed in this series (again).  The latest installment sits on my nightstand, tantalizing me with it's shiny cover (reviews here, here and here). Perfect school holiday readings... 
So anyway, how are you?  It's been too long, I've missed you!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mrs. Mo's Monster (Gecko Press)



Here's a fun little piece of children's lit. for ya!  Mrs. Mo's Monster details a fuzzy little terror who is hellbent on destruction.  Okay, I'll stop right there.  I have one of those, only mine has blond hair and significantly less monster drool.  But he does in fact, love to crunch, munch and chew ev.er.y.thing (and that, is just the start of it...).  As I've found with almost every Gecko Press title sent to me so far, there's an important message to take from this seemingly innocuous story.  If Mrs. Mo's Monster can be convinced to stop eating all the things and find a fun and non-destructive hobby, so too can my little fuzzy haired friend.

The cute wee tale has vivid illustrations, including a beautiful depiction of a birthday surprise (built towards in the previous illustrations), and plenty of opportunity to practice your best monster voice (mine is a cross between the Cookie Monster and Yoda).  My kiddos love it, and I do enjoy reading it to them.  Find out more/purchase Mrs. Mo's Monster here, or check it out in your nearest bookstore or library...

Gecko Press sent me this copy for review, but all opinions expressed are my own xx

Sunday, March 30, 2014

About... blogging.

Some will have figured by now that life just hasn't been leaving me much room for blogging.  2014 is proving itself to be a very different kind of year, and much as I place value on time spent taking and curating photos, typing a paragraph or two and hitting that publish button, at the end of my week every allocation of energy has been spent.


Part of me still holds out hope that soon the dust will settle and a new vista of our year will appear.  Who knows.  For now, it feels a little bit like being stuck in a hamster wheel, at times.  Creativity eludes, but good books and strong coffee... Ahhh...


The adventuring, of course, will never stop.  My three favourite allies...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Preppers Survival Kit Winner

Thanks guys, you made this giveaway so much fun!  I think these kits are super cool and after Cyclone Lusi (which, okay, turned out to be a bit of a fizzer in these parts) and all the rushing around finding alllllll the thiiiiiiings, I can definitely see just how handy they really are.  Thank you so much, Preppers!

So I let Random.org pick a winner (including one facebook entry) for me:



Congratulations Rachelle!  If you wouldn't mind sending me an email at rutherbrad(at)yahoo(dot)com, with your address, I will get Preppers to send your prize out to you. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

On My Nightstand - March

On My Nightstand is going to be a regular feature this year, as I read my way through 40 books in 12 months (yusssss!!!!  Best challenge everrrrrrr!!!).  These are not typical reviews, just some short (and sometimes longer) responses to the books that end up on my nightstand.  So far - 11/40 books completed.

The Iron King - Julie Kagasawa


This wasn't absolutely terrible in every possible way, but it can't be a good thing when the only character you find remotely likable is... a cat.  That right there, that's a fail.

The protagonist was super, super bland.  And annoying.  So, so annoying. In addition, I found it really hard to really locate myself in this story world (probably there are others who would enjoy it more), it just seemed really grim and uninviting to me.  There was an element of fun, and some interesting bits (oh dear, can you tell how hard I'm trying to find the positives?), and the writing mostly didn't make me cringe.  However, the story felt like a retelling of other, better stories, and I just didn't care enough about any character to enjoy being pulled along.

This was my second 'blind purchase' via Goodreads reviews (as in, not recommended by friends/fam/anyone-whose-opinion-I-trust) and I probs won't try that again.  

Prized - Caragh O'Brien

Yuss!  After spending several weeks struggling through The Iron King, Prized was such a welcome relief!  I really like O'Brien's writing style, super easy to slip into, and she surely knows how to draw a scene.  Gaia the 16 year old midwife is kicking all sorts of ass in this second installment (okay, so not exactly ass-kicking, but you know, delivering babies and standing up to peops and fighting to uncover truths - all that exciting stuff).  The new setting is quite divine, I much prefer it to the Enclave, and there is still plenty of mystery to solve, so attention equals grabbed.

I feel a little conflicted about Gaia after the second round.  In a lot of ways my opinion of her grew, but I found her fickleness and naivety confusing at times, especially as she was super competent and up front in most situations.  The whole love square thing... Too much for me (though I have to say, I am Team Will, all the way - and yes, I realise that you have all now lost any respect you may have had for me :-P).  I felt like perhaps just concentrating on building some (less angry maybe?) tension between Gaia and Leon would have been enough, but you know, whatevs.

One thing I have to say is that these books have some weighty themes (which I love) and some really loaded social commentary.  There's potential that some readers could be upset by some of the content, I think, though O'Brien deals with these subjects very sensitively.

Promised - Caragh O'Brien


Again, superb, clean, colourful writing.  Gaia and her new clan return to the Enclave (doom) and a bitter hostilities ensue.   The dislikes: Urgh, the Enclave.  I actually felt physically distressed each time Gaia re-entered the place and this became an overriding issue with the book.  I get that there was pressure to keep the plot moving, and interesting, and full of action (because apparently this is what teenagers want *shrugI'mnotsureIbelievethat*), but I would have enjoyed this book infinitely more if Gaia had just stayed the heck away from that place.

I felt like Leon's character became murkier and murkier throughout the second and third books.  What I loved about him initially, felt lost along the way.  I can't exactly put my finger on what it was, but...  Sadly, many of the characters I found super interesting in previous books, were overlooked or undeveloped.  A shame, I think, to sacrifice character development for (more) action.

The likes: I was hooked the entire way through, even during the parts that were hard to read.  So riveting, and interesting.  The amount of research she must have done prior to writing these, wow.  It definitely adds.

This book really ups the ante in terms of scary, evil antagonists.  Creeeeeepy.  Definitely more edge-of-your-seat that way.  And Gaia is pretty awesome, I have to say.  Tough breaks, but she so handles it.  It was a strong and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.  Recommend, totally.

On My Nightstand - Jan
On My Nightstand - Jan/Feb
On My Nightstand - Feb/Mar

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Stills


1. A stealthy friend saw this Society6 cushion cover on one of my Pinterest boards and sneakily purchased it for me.  Love!
2. Our lawn might need a mow.
3. Windowsill collection.
4. Sisters + nail polish + photo bombing toddlers.
5. Fangirl.
6. Sissy.
7. Weekends end...
8. Quiet play with a recent correspondence kindy pack.
9. "Spider's home".

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Preppers Survival Kit Giveaway CLOSED

Well, crazy timing!  I have been in contact with the very friendly Andre of preppers.co.nz in regards to their handy survival kits, and he kindly offered to give one away to one of my lovely readers, just as an epic storm is due to hit our small pacific island...  I don't know about the rest of you, but I have spent almost the entire day preparing for Cyclone Lusi.  All outdoor items are stored and secured.  Loaves of bread are being baked, containers filled with water, torch batteries replaced.  I only hope I can locate the can opener before the inevitable power outage that will come (always does).  The last remaining chore will be to fill our firewood basket, and then I think I am ready for whatever Lusi brings (except for fallen trees - please, please, please let no trees fall on our house or car...).


Anyway, one thing I have been thinking about a lot lately is whether or not our family is really prepared for an emergency.  Several years ago (you know when), I did actually put together an emergency kit... or at least the beginnings of one.  But you know, there are a lot of things you kinda really need, and it seems like maybe more effort than it's worth to go about collecting all those individual items.  I didn't really get round to finishing it, and also, there was some kind of leakage and things rusted/grew mould, and basically it's time to start from scratch.  So I've been looking into these prepared kits, with all their fancy water purification tablets and food bars and waterproof matches.  It just seems much easier to purchase an emergency pack with everything already in it!  A pack that you can just grab as you head out the door, you know, if the need arises.


So to the point, Preppers put together such survival kits, and just check out this epic list of contents:

12 x 4oz Water Pouches
6 x 400 Calorie Food Bars (2400 calories)
10 Water Purification Tablets - 1 per 1 liter of water
Am/Fm Radio with headphones and batteries
Rechargeable Squeeze Flashlight
30 hour Emergency Candle
12 hour Green Emergency Glow Stick
5-in-1 Survival Whistle
Box of Waterproof Matches
Emergency Survival Sleeping Bag
16-20 Hour Body Warmer
2 Person Tube Tent with rope
Emergency Poncho with hood
16 Function Knife
Leather Palm Work Gloves
N95 Respirator Dust Mask - NIOSH approved
50 Feet of Nylon Rope
Safety Goggles
Sewing Kit
24 Piece Deluxe Hygiene Kit (see website for list of contents)
Gaurdian 65 Piece Deluxe First Aid Kit
Pencil
Playing Cards
Infectious Waste Bag

All valued at $265NZD.  Dude.  Awesome right?  All you need to do is add a paperback novel and a block of chocolate to this pack and you are set.  Preppers.co.nz also has a wealth of information available, so do go and check them out (this checklist is super handy).  And here's a video of the contents, if you'd like to take a closer look:


Giveaway is now closed - thank you for all your entries x

So, kiwis.  If you would like to enter to win this most excellent Preppers (one person) Survival Kit, just leave a comment below telling me which three items you would secretly stash in this pack in case of an emergency.  For extra entries, try one of the following (but make sure you leave a separate comment for each entry):

Like the Preppers Facebook page
Like the Golden Adventures Facebook page
Follow this blog
Share this giveaway on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest/Blog

Giveaway will be drawn on the 28th of March and is open to all kiwis.  Oh, and stay safe this weekend guys!  Batten down those hatches...

Friday, March 7, 2014

On My Nightstand - Feb/Mar

On My Nightstand is going to be a regular feature this year, as I read my way through 40 books in 12 months (yusssss!!!!  Best challenge everrrrrrr!!!).  These are not typical reviews, just some short (and sometimes longer) responses to the books that end up on my nightstand.

How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff


Oh. My. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!  This book has stayed with me, and maybe it will always stay with me a little bit, kinda like Claire and Henry from Time Traveler's.  There's a feeling you get when you pick up a book and the writer is SO skilled that you automatically feel your limbs just relax, even as your excited anticipation grows.  That might sound pretty weird, but it's just what happens.  Weeeeelllll.  To me.  I did a bit of an internal fist-pump when I began this book.  I had just spent two weeks getting through Across The Universe (felt like I really was road-tripping across the entire universe, just sayin'), and devoured How I Live Now in two nights.  That's not to say it was an easy read.  It was hard.  Painful, devastating, and utterly utterly beautiful.  Oh my freaking goodness, I can't even handle.

Disclaimers:  I definitely would not recommend this novel to every reader (firmly Edgy Contemporary YA, with some pretty heavy imagery and a fair amount of 'mature' content) but if you can handle a good dose of pathos and, and you like your romances to be tinged with sadness and a little bit of weird (not that I do, but it is) then maybe probably you will love this book as much as I did.  It got that pretty gold sticker for a reason y'all!

The Fault in the Stars - John Green


While I don't always love listening to audio books (in comparison to reading by torchlight into the wee small hours), this story is read superbly, making it such a pleasant listen.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, actually.  I read Looking for Alaska several years ago and didn't overly enjoy it, which made me a little bit dubious about trying Green again.  But I needed some try-to-pretend-I'm-not-running audio distraction and I figured I had nothing to lose (thank you e-library!  Did you know you can rent e-books and audio books from your library?  Okay, you did.  Just me who found this news shocking in the very best of ways), aaaaaaand I actually really loved it.

Hazel and Augustus are super adorable, smart, funny and outright lovable.  It's sad, yes, but also unexpectedly uplifting, and gave me a much clearer picture of something that I have always felt quite terrified of.  Mostly it's just a good story, cleverly told, with a cool leading voice.  I really liked it, and my evening runs just won't be the same without these two sweet characters chatting in my ear.

I Quit Sugar - Sarah Wilson


Okay so I'm still actually reading this, but it's non-fiction so I figure it's okay to publish all my initial thoughts (there's not going to be any epic finale that changes everrrrrrrythiiiiiiiiing).

I bought this book on impulse because I have tried intermittently to give sugar the boot, and I figured it was time to enlist some expert help.  Overall, I think this book will be super helpful.  There are lots of pros.  For instance, the layout of this book is super organised and easy to dip into when and where needed.  The back of the book is dedicated to recipes, many of which I was immediately drawn to, and some that I want to try this minute.  Sugar-free baking never looked so good (but okay, I'm so not an expert on this).  The programme itself (I didn't actually realise prior to purchase that there was a programme, but all good, I'm down with programmes) looks simple enough to follow.  Even maybe too simple, but we'll see (I haven't actually read past week two, yet).  There are handy shopping lists, and lots of useful tips.  So yeah.  I think it will be helpful-as.

There were a few things that bugged me, but nothing really huge, so really I guess I'm just nitpicking... I feel a little bugged by non-fiction books that portray current popular thought as 'fact', with little to no supporting research (mostly no research - cited anywayin this case).  I'm also kinda dubious about some of her cooking tips, such as par-boiling and freezing all vegetables immediately.  I get that this is less wasteful, but it's not the way I would choose to treat vegetables.  I know, it's a such a little thing, but still.

Anyway, there is enough that is useful to make the book feel absolutely worth the purchase, for those (like me) who are keen to 'recalibrate' their bodies (Wilson's term - I like it) and live without sugar.  But I must say, I'm a tad tempted to pull out my twink pen and attack certain sections.  Haha!  I would never do that... or would I?  Yeah... I would.

On My Nightstand - Jan
On My Nightstand - Jan/Feb

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Hey y'all


Keeping up our yearly tradition...  And maybe starting (late) a year of monthly family portraits (a la Dee), just for fun.  Or not.  We'll see.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Heat


I know this hasn't been everyones ideal summer, but I must admit I've loved the temperate weather.  When recently the days turned hot, we (pretty frantically) hit the beach for some relief.


And oh my, how pretty it was.  We returned the following day, sans camera, and it was... wow.  Silvery calm.  Dreamy.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lately


Watching: Agents of Shield
Reading: Iron King - Julie Kagawa
Listening to: The Fault in Our Stars - John Green (audio book)
Eating: Grapes straight from the vine
Making: A smaller (and less cool) version of this

Gradually we are adjusting to our new pace.  It's good.  Sometimes I feel dog-tired and a little bit overwhelmed by it all.  Other times I am filled with irrepressible energy, and in those times I turn the study slash storage room into a craft slash playroom.  We've all be enjoying this, and while they play in their own little house, I continue the arduous task of organising the crafty side.  It is endless and exhausting and completely satisfying.  

Friday, February 21, 2014

This plus This

Earlier this month I reviewed some back to school labels from Stuck On You.  I had a bit of a plan in mind for their use, and at long last I have put a little of my time into this.  Kinda pretty much just a reward chart, but a little more specific.


The point of this chart is to help my students check out their progress and feel that mighty fine feeling of accomplishment as they draw closer to their/my goal (in some cases the goal may be a little arbitrary and the chart will be used to celebrate effort instead).  Pretty simple.  The charts will be pasted inside their work books and will (hopefully) be updated regularly.  That's the plan anyway...    Feel free to nick the image and print it yo'self if you think you could find a use for it.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

Late summer


The countryside looks so pretty at this time of year, all the grasses bleached the same colour as Garland's summer hair.  Easy for a little fella to camouflage himself in that sun-blond glade.


I think this would make such a pretty place to get some family photos taken.  Time to make some room on my hard drive...