#PaperHaul- February: Birds

Everyone knows that I love birds. It’s perhaps the most hipster thing about me. (I am obviously more hipster than a Hackney cafe called ‘Peak Beard’, selling both craft cupcakes and vintage reconstructed tea caddies.) I mean, my favourite Portlandia sketch is this one:

So just imagine my delight and surprise when I received the latest #PaperHaul box and it was BIRD THEMED. I love all of it. This is my favourite box so far (the only way it could get better? A dinosaur box. *hinthint*)

Let’s have a look inside…

20150301_0908171 and 2 are craft papers- I love the flamingoes!

3 and 4 are large stickers. I like the Scandinavian style of these and the colours are a nice twist on the usual red/blue/white we expect from Nordic-themed items.

5 is a postcard- and I’m tempted to keep this and stick it by my desk in my work room. It’s so pretty, but not twee.

20150301_090919

6 and 8 are postcards- I’m finding these are great to stash away and send to friends as a surprise. These are cute and cheery so will hopefully brighten someone’s day in the future.

7 is the washi tape for this box and I love it. I actually have this design- birds on a wire- in black and white so I like this addition to my collection.

9- tiny pigeon stickers, which D loves. I’m not sure I’ll see these again…

10- cute little notecards. These are some of my favourite items in the #PaperHaul boxes. The owls look slightly cross and bewildered (a bit like me on a Monday. They’re my spirit owls.)

20150301_091003

11- I love the inclusion of these pretty, Victorian style bird gift tags. They will definitely make me look way more sophisticated than I actually am.

12 and 13 are this month’s cards and they’re lovely and quite arty.

What I love about this this box is that there’s something for everyone in this box- cute, stylish and arty. It’s definitely the best #PaperHaul yet!

So, that’s this month’s #PaperHaul box! You can sign up here for £10 a month plus p+p(there is also an international subscription option available.)

Disclosure: I get my box at a discounted rate in return for a review.

Teaching myself Spanish with Flashsticks*

Hola!

I’m learning Spanish with a system called Flashsticks and so far I’ve taught D to say ‘Hello, my name is…’ and ‘I like fish’. Which, I’m sure you’ll agree is pretty impressive for an almost two-and-a-half year old, even if the latter phrase isn’t particularly useful (unless he’s enthusing about why he’s watching Finding Nemo for the 73rd time to a confused Spanish person.)IMG_20150224_165719

This is the sight that greets me as I walk into my workroom- and the Flashsticks post-its are plastered on the other side of the bookcase and trailing up the staircase too. It’s safe to say that Benn hasn’t got a clue what’s going on. (So business as usual on that score then.)

What I like about this way of learning a language is that it works very much in the same way as I encourage my own students to revise- each post-it is colour coded according to whether it’s masculine, feminine or a verb or other word.

The pronunciation is broken down and- rather snazzily- you can download an app that scans the note and a very nice Spanish lady pops up and shows you how to pronounce the word correctly. It was like something out of the Jetsons the first time I tried that! D, au fait with modern technology already, simply copied what she said.

So- do I rate Flashsticks so far? Well, I’m using the beginner’s pack and as I have very little Spanish, I’m finding it quite useful. Some words I know, but needed to develop my pronunciation and Flashsticks is helping. All I can say is: sorry in advance to the media technician and the head of Spanish at work and my Spanish dentist. I’ll be practising my pidgin Spanish on you all at every opportunity.

*Priced at £4.99 for 200 words, this pack was sent for review

My new book blog

I’ve been wittering on Twitter about it, but in case you don’t follow me on there, there’s a heads up that my new book blog The Bookish Badger is live.

Book reviews will no longer appear here- they will go straight over there instead. On here you’ll find crafting, makeup, life stuff, rants and the occasional confused child-related post.

Also, can I draw your attention to the fabulous cartoons by Sarah Andersen- it’s like she knows my life.

630b6362de6e203d46aacffdc1a5546f

Ch-ch-changes: I’m not quite ready to give up blogging just yet…

So after writing the other day that I was fed up of blogging, my brain has decided to be contrary and think of LOTS OF THINGS it wants to write about. So you’ll not be rid of me, just yet.

However, there will be a couple of changes. This blog will be for my general lifestyle stuff- pretty much as before, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I’m not writing three times a week like clockwork. I’ll obviously tweet my links and you can follow me on Bloglovin’ to keep up to date- the button is on the sidebar.

I’m also setting up a new blog, solely for my book reviews. This will be known as The Bookish Badger and will be where all my book stuff goes. As soon as that’s ready to go, I’ll publicise the link.

I hope this works out!

Blogging burn-out, me and where I go next

At the moment, I’m finding blogging more of a chore than it should be, especially as it’s meant to be a hobby. Although I’m way down on my record of posting everyday- sometimes multiple times a day (ah, maternity leave!)- I’m finding it hard to keep pace. I’ve been writing this blog for nearly three and a half years and in that time, blogging has gone properly mad. It’s hard to compete, not necessarily for money but for readers. I don’t have a clearly defined USP. I get lost in a Bloglovin’ crowd. I’ve never really been about endless self-promotion or had the means to host many giveaways.

I don’t know what this means for the blog. I have some ideas and also a couple of things I’d like to blog about- I’ve signed up for a language teaching thing for bloggers (I’m going to attempt to learn Spanish) and I have a review book that needs a write up. Other than that, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll relaunch the blog as something else, maybe I’ll take a hiatus. This blogging lark should be fun and at the moment I have so many other things that also need my attention.

This isn’t a ‘woe-is-me’ post and I’m not looking for validation or anything. It’s just a way of putting down what I’m thinking and also a way to explain to my (few) readers why I might not be around much. Work is also going to be stressful in the coming weeks as GCSEs start becoming ever present and I am going to be busy and most probably slightly stressed as a result.

So yeah, I’ll be posting intermittently as and when I feel I want to, not because I feel I should be.

See you soon. Maybe.

Books 2015: The Devil in the Marshalsea

The Devil In The Marshalsea (Feb)

This was on my ‘to-read’ list for ages and I finally spotted it on one of my and D’s now-weekly trips to the tiny local branch library. It’s a combination of whodunnit, romance and tale of hard times that just happens  to be set in one of the most notorious debtors’ prisons in 18th century London.

Tom is the wastrel son of a country parson who finds himself thrown into the Marshalsea after a mugging means he can’t pay his rent. Unfortunately, he ends up sharing a room with the most disliked inmate- and the man who had his bed before just happened to have been murdered. It’s up to Tom to solve the crime.

I thought this was a rich novel, full of weird and wonderful characters- apparently some people elected to stay in the Marshalsea after their debt was paid in order to run businesses; there was a barber’s, a coffee house, a pub and the interestingly named chop house ‘Titty Doll’s’ (!)- as well as some more heartbreaking stories of those unable to purchase a life of relative luxury on the Master’s Side. Everything has its price in the Marshalsea, even life.

Although it took me a while to get into the novel, I really enjoyed it and the twist wasn’t completely obvious, which was brilliant; all too often the whodunnit is signposted way too early.

If you enjoy your historical fiction to have a social conscience, this could be the next novel on your to read list.

Half term plans: gardening, crafting and a bit of socialising

February half term is always super busy, but in a personal way rather than a ‘oh-my-god-I-have-so-much-to-do-because-it’s-Christmas/D’s birthday.’ I plan to see friends, people come visit and I like to get the garden started. This year I have a HUGE garden and so the work is equally huge.

10635920_10152605321527267_4918658072628923745_n

He ain’t seen NOTHING yet.

I’ve got loads of seeds and I started a few off with D on Saturday, so on our windowsill we have runner beans, three types of tomatoes, two types of chilli, a type of sweet pepper and two types of potatoes. Benn is slightly bemused at how he appears to suddenly be living in a crap greenhouse. I say he’ll be grateful once he has lots of fresh fruit and veg.

In terms of crafting, I’m planning lots of things- mainly by looking on the ASOS website, working out what I would like to wear and whether I could make it. Of course, now Sewing Bee is back on, my annual, ‘let’s try and learn to sew’ enthusiasm is back. I’m planning on finally making the pyjama bottoms from Tilly and the Buttons- I have some amazing fabric and I need to get cracking and stop making excuses.

Add to this, I’m seeing friends, my sister and her boyfriend (also called Ben) are visiting and it’s nearly spring- all in all, a good week.