Tuesday, 31 December 2013

books of the year 2013

We've been reading books this year! 
Although not as many as last year.
Still 89 books (me) and 77 books (bert) are still pretty good going. I mean we've watched a lot of Kojak too.

At the end of the year we put together a top ten of our faves of the year. They aren't ones necessarily published in 2013, just ones we liked the most.

These are mine:
Fairyland: A Memoir of my Father by Alysia Abbott.
This is a memoir about growing up in San Francisco in the 80s and 90s and the death of the authors father from AIDS. It is really warm, smart, sad and powerful memoir and I just loved reading it so much. 
It's my favourite book I read this year.

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
The beginning of this novel in which Reno (the main character) rides across salt flats on a motorbike in order to take photographs of the tracks as part of an art work is one of the most beautiful and striking things I've ever read. It has stuck in my mind since.
It's set in 70s New York and there is lots of contemporary art talk which I loved... the writing is really great too. Half way through it changes direction which did lose me a little.
Ultimately pretty great though.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
I didn't expect much from this as Lauren Graham is an actress (Lorelai in Gilmore Girls of course!) so I unfairly thought this wouldn't be much cop.
But it was just my thing. It's all about a struggling actress in 90s New York and it's funny and smart and a pure pleasure to read. 

It Chooses You by Miranda July
We all know that Miranda July is a genius right?
This books is like a companion piece to her film 'The Future' and is about trying to write and connecting with other people. It has lots of photos too and is sort of like an art book too. 
I love the way July writes with that honesty and charm.

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit
Solnit is one of my favourite writers. All of her books end up on my top tens of the year, her books are so intelligent and questioning and yet still easy to read. This book talks about her mothers illness, a big batch of peaches, (uh, actually they were apricots) travel, art, storytelling and fairy tales. But really it's more how she writes than what she writes and I'm already looking forward to more of her work.

Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton
Leanne Shapton is really interesting.
Her books are similar in style to Miranda July or Sophie Calle and often contain Shapton's own artwork too.
I really enjoyed this, partly because I love her writing anyway, but partly because it's about swimming and I did a LOT of swimming when I was young. Shapton has really interesting insights about the little things too and talks about the smell under a watch strap... which took me back to my swatch days.

Necklace of Kisses by Francesca Lia Block
Did you read the Weetzie Bat books back in the day?
well, this is Weetzie Bat number 6! and Weetzie Bat and Secret Agent Lover Man's relationship is on the rocks! nooooooo
I don't know why, but I really connect with Weetzie Bat and this books is as fun and magical and sweet and sad as all the others.
Francesca Lia Block is a really unique writer and I love reading her books.

Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot
This is a history of San Francisco from the 60s to the late 80s and it covers so much - the summer of love, the murder of Harvey Milk, AIDS and gay rights (oh and football, which I read but didn't really take in or understand). It is really fascinating, readable and a bit bleak but y'kno, still great.

Huerfano by Roberta Price
Communes are another obsession of mine. Especially communes from the point of view of women.
Gosh this was good too, Roberta is amazing! she built her own house! she took loads of photos! she rules!

Bringing Yoga to Life by Donna Fahri
I read this in January so I can't remember it that well, but I do know it was good.
Fahri is a really great writer so she is fun to read even if this wasn't about yoga.
I really want to read more of her work (and possibly re-read this one too) as in my review on goodreads I said that it had changed my life. I remember it being pretty profound. and yoga is amazing.

And what did Bert enjoy this year? 
Let him tell you!

Queenpin by Megan Abbott
Sexy, gaudy, glam noir from the empress of hardboiled and all round amazing lady Megan Abbott.

Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg
Ultra-Seventies tale of one guy's declining psychic powers and ensuing mid-life crisis.

In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B Hughes
More hardboiled noir!  With actual strong female characters!  
Post-war Los Angeles, crazy killer on the loose. 

Goshawk Squadron by Derek Robinson
A genuine lost classic of British WWI fiction (written in the early Seventies) full of black humour and the insanity of war. Derek Robinson came to sign some copies of this in the bookshop where I work, and I can confirm he is a goodie. 

Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman
This had an awesome hazy, adolescent, mythical, late-Eighties kind of feel to it, conjuring up the weirdness and mundanity of the everyday. 

Jampot Smith by Jeremy Brooks
Coming of age in Llandudno during the Second World War.  Charming, warm and profound, I loved it.

The Gilded Gutter Life of Francis Bacon by Daniel Farson
Brilliant biography of Bacon which really evokes that era of Fifties Soho with all its criminals, bohemians, boozers and artists.

Brewster by Mark Slouka
My favourite release of 2013!  Brewster is a tough and beautiful coming-of-age in late-Sixties small-town America.

My Face for the World to See by Alfred Hayes
Lost classic alert!  This is a grim and glitzy tale of damaged people in damaged relationships. Yay!

Maggie Muggins by Keith Waterhouse
Billy Liar by Waterhouse is one of my all time favourites, but this out of print Eighties novel of London and poor, flaky Maggie Muggins is an absolute treat too.

In case you are interested... these are our favourite books from 2012 and go right here for our 2011 list. 
don't forget we are both on goodreads and crying out for new friends!
and we are linking up with click clack gorilla and her book lover blog hop
What was your favourite book of the year?
let us know!
Here's to 2014!

ana mendieta tote bag

Back in November me and Bert went to see the Ana Mendieta exhibition in the Hayward Gallery.
I am a HUGE fan of Mendieta and was secretly (and not so secretly) hoping they would have some Mendieta merchandise, maybe some badges or notebooks, or at the very least a tote bag. is that wrong?
Admittedly much of her work deals with rape and violence so possibly isn't ideal for a tote.
Anyway... They didn't have tote bags.
Bert stitched me one!
I love it so.
It is inspired by the above image on one side... and has a great quote on the other.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

bagels and 'cream' cheese...

today I made bagels and cashew cream cheese.
this is the recipe I followed for the bagels, and I think they've turned out ok... they are just cooling out of the oven and Bert-Bagel-Pastore will have to give them the official taste test later.
I've been wanting to make cashew cream cheese for a while but you need a blender and I didn't have one...
thanks mama (who got me a little blender for christmas)
To make cashew cheese you have to soak the cashews in water for at least two hours. I think the longer you soak them the smoother the cheese will be, so you can soak them over night if you have time. I only gave 'em two hours as I was super keen to give it a go....
then you blend them with salt and nutritional yeast flakes, apparently you can just do that, but I also added olive oil and some water to loosen it up. I also added some chopped spring onions at the end for a bit of excitement.
cashew cheese is so 2014.

UPDATE! bert liked them! whoop.
the big success tho is the cashew cheese. gosh.

Saturday, 28 December 2013


christmas eve table....

christmas dinner.
it looks a little gross in this picture but it tasted good. I cut out hearts for the top of the chestnut pie

some christmas books.
and my nearly done crochet blanket.

a new sonny angel for my collection! and a christmas one too.

we've had a lovely christmas. bert is already back in work but i have some time off. the weather is awful - all rainy and windy, the kind of weather that wakes you up in the middle of the night.
a yoga studio I go to has been open over the holidays so am hot yogaing it up this morning.. they also had a class the morning of christmas eve which was perfect.
I've been thinking more about training to be a yoga teacher but am stumped by the practicalities and the cost of it.
Yesterday me and my friend Rhys attempted to see 'frozen' at the cinema but it was sold out so we had wine and food instead.
hope you are all having a lovely time

Sunday, 22 December 2013

felt christmas decorations.

the most delightful christmas decorations made today by little ones.

just before christmas...

Just today making decorations 
and tomorrow morning tidying up
and work is done for 2013.

Friday, 20 December 2013

straight from quidditch

bert's favourite colours are brown and mustard yellow...
so those are the colours he chose for his scarf.
It was only when I was in the middle of making it that I realised that there was something familiar about it...
Harry Potter.
Although, the harry potter scarves are officially mustard and maroon... and not quite so evenly striped I don't think.
Anyway, someone in work asked if Bert had come straight from quidditch...
Bert knows nothing about Harry Potter so it's kind of cute.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

in 2013 I....

I realised last night that I had pretty much given up sugar for a whole year.
That cake in the pic is an agave sweetened one
I was pretty surprised by this... because somewhere along the way it had just become an everyday thing that I didn't eat sugar any more and I hadn't even noticed.
I haven't completely completely given it up as  if someone makes me (vegan) cakes or cookies or buys me chocolate I'll eat it and be really appreciative! but my everyday life is sugar free. 
As it's Christmas I'm going to be a little more sugary for the rest of the year and back to sugar free in Jan.
some other things that I did this year are....

made mini suffragette flags with Sara Huws...
this is an ongoing project which we'll be getting back to in the new year too....

learned to crochet.
or did I learn last year?
whichever it was, 2013 has felt like the year of the crochet for me.... I've made two baby blankets, little shapes and have nearly finished that yellow and orange blanket in the picture above.
crochet is amazing.
This year I started doing hot yoga and have found two different studios to go to which I love!
I've also been on a yoga course which has made me really interested in studying and reading more. 
I have booked myself on to a hot yoga class for the morning of christmas eve, which just sounds delicious and have a day course in the new year to look forward to as well.
have you started something new this year?

Monday, 16 December 2013

crochet paper chain for sale!

hey all!
I have a crochet paper chain to sell with all money going to the DEC Philippines appeal.
please go here to bid.
there is another 'paper chain' available too which is a multicoloured one.
they will look so pretty on your tree and you'll be doing something awesome too!
lots of love sian.x

Sunday, 15 December 2013

crafts, tudor foods, the usual

I have been making christmas decorations with all sorts of people this week... and next weekend have my final christmas decs family sessions for the year. 

felt decorations, nanna baubles and paper chains. 

Sara (who I work with) was showing visitors to the museum  what a Tudor holiday would be like food-wise.
The table looked so beautiful and she had cooked such interesting foods.

it was our last knit and sew of the year yesterday, so we ate festive treats while knitting, sewing and talking about our experiences with ghosts. (really! + I love hearing about supernatural experiences so I was happy)

I love it when our knit and sewers bring their projects in for people to see.
Anna has made this cute little guy.
oh gosh.

Anna also made this lovely princess and the pea toy. The little princess sits on piles of mattresses....
she is sleeping of course. oh, and that's her crown on the left.

and here are the peas! Princes and the pea is my favourite fairy tail. I also like the Jon Scieszka where they put a bowling ball under the mattresses 

Margaret made this little snowman which was super soft and totally loveable. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

crochet baby blanket

finally finished a baby crochet blanket for a friend.

and I made a crochet bauble! 
am pretty excited about this.

christmas crafting

I'm making Christmas decorations in work for the next couple of weeks.
I'm inspired by these wonderful things.

A cute holly brooch by wild olive

pretty crochet garlands over on messyla handmade

the cutest little stockings made by home baked although my friend anna
 made some that are equally as cute as these!
I'm going to try making these baubles today! instructions over on meet me at mikes

I made these little trees. They can be brooches or decorations.

I like these too. Beautiful colours. 
They are from here

We'll also make popcorn garlands, paper chains, tissue paper pom-poms, paper lanterns and so much more!
happy making.x

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

handmade christmas decorations

I shared these pictures last year, or maybe the year before. Anyhow, here they are again!
they are photos of some of the decorations in work -most of them are 1940s and 50s

I am using these decorations as inspiration for some of the workshops I'm doing.

I think these decorations are earlier, 20s/30s perhaps. The baubles are knitted...
I am going to try crocheting something along the same lines

and these are the kinds of things we'll be making.
paper lanterns....
pom pom garlands... maybe some crochet snowflakes?


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