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Excited for the NovelTea book club

For 6 months or so now, I have been an avid reader of the brilliant lifestyle and literary blog, My Life as a Teacup since discovering it through bloglovin’. Kristin posts about a variety of things but predominantly books and now she has started a monthly book club called NovelTea which I just had to sign up to take part in.

The first book is Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan which was on my reading list anyway. I had spotted it on an offer in Waterstones and had been tempted to pick it up (who could resist the idea of a 24-hour bookstore?), but in an effort to be thrifty I walked out without it. The book club has given me a great opportunity to pick this up again!

Discussions about the book will officially start on the 1st July – tomorrow – and will take place on the Facebook group and on social media using the #NovelTea hastag.

I was trying to wait until the 1st July to start reading the book but couldn’t help myself! I am 46% through already and enjoying it. But I will post more thoughts later!

Visit My Life as a Teacup to read more about the book club or join the Facebook group.

The July NovelTea book Club

Adventures in Embroidery: &stitches stitch swap

I’ve been getting into cross stitching and other crafts a lot over the last two years – I like that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I complete a project no matter how small. Whilst I mostly prefer cross stitch – working to a very specific pattern – I have also been dabbling with embroidery.

For inspiration I’ve been following a lot of embroidery blogs. Probably too many for my own sanity. There’s so many amazing projects to work on. Some of my favourites are Wild Olive (I love the stitching clubs), Cherry & Cinnamon (she does the best hoop embroidery art and projects – I bought her embroidery of tin man recently which I love) and &Stitches (who share great posts on embroidery and also run a quarterly e-zine).

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When I read about the &stitches stitchy swap I immediately wanted to take part. I signed up and was immediately inspired by the theme of ‘place’. The problem was which to choose?

Being still quite a beginner when it comes to embroidery I decided I wanted to do something quite basic. I had some red and white striped fabric in an embroidery hoop for a while just waiting for a suitable project, looking at it I realised if I used blue thread it would be quite French. This led me to thinking about a beautiful print my friend Kerry bought me for my birthday based on the quote from the remake of Sabrina.

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I love this because it reminds me of getting engaged in Paris and the wonderful time I had. So I decided to take my inspiration from this. Hopefully the end result was ok and Marie, my recipient, liked it!

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I then waited for a package to arrive from my stitch swap mate Marie in America. I was absolutely delighted when the package arrived – such a stunning embroidery of a calming place – the sea. The stitching is perfect and I love it. Marie also sent some little embroidery themed treats in the package and a lovely card which explained her choice and I found really poignant.

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I really loved taking part in the &stitches swap and can’t wait for next time!

My favourite things

Every Friday I will be posting a short list of my favourite things from that week.

Here are this week’s six favourite things:

1. Academy Awards – Sunday 3 March

Academy Awards

Every year I run an Oscars predictions competition at my workplace. The prize this year is chocolates but more importantly, pride and respect!

Even though I never win, I always really enjoy having a guess. If you want to predict this year’s winners, you can see this year’s nominees and download an Oscars ballot sheet on the Academy Awards website

Let me know how you get on!

Of course, the big question is… will Leo finally win his Oscar?

Leonardo DiCaprio

Image from tumblr via BuzzFeed

2. Only Lovers Left Alive

Only Lovers Left Alive starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton

Tom and Tild in Only Lovers Left Alive

On Wednesday I went to the Broadway Cinema with two friends to see Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive.

Starring Tom Hiddleston and the flawless Tilda Swinton, Only Lovers left Alive is a beautiful, subtle and charming film which follows Adam and Eve, two Vampires living in Detroit and Tangiers.

The film looks at their relationship, the changing world and the effect of Eve’s wild sister Ava.

The music is hypnotising, the performances are superb and the film is surprisingly funny.

Highly recommended!

3. Inside Llewyn Davies soundtrack

Inside Llewyn Davies soundtrack

Inside Llewyn Davies soundtrack

Last month I went to see the Coen brothers new film about a struggling singer-songwriter in 1960s New York. Whilst I enjoyed the film, I didn’t love it but I am really enjoying listening to the soundtrack.

Full of folk tracks from the film, the soundtrack is perfect for a Sunday morning or a nice drive. It has also saved me from a hangover a couple of times too!

4. Great Exhibition eReader cover

Great Exhibition eReader cover from the V&A

Great Exhibition eReader cover from the V&A

I’ve blogged before about my love of the Great Exhibition and other World Fair’s, but I recently discovered this wonderful eReader cover on the V&A Museum shop website.

The cover design is based on the official catalogue of the Great Exhibition of 1851 and it is absolutely stunning.

Sadly I don’t have the right Kindle for this cover and even I’m not impulsive enough to buy a new Kindle for this purpose!

If you are one of the lucky ones with a standard 6″ Kindle, I’d snap this up! It is actually on sale for more than half price at the minute – £15 down from £35.

If you do, please invite me round to take a look!

5. Berlin documentary

Berlin documentary by Matt Frei

Berlin documentary by Matt Frei

It is my 30th birthday in a few months (eek! where does time go?) and rather excitingly my present will be a city break to one of my favourite places, Berlin.

I don’t particularly need anything, however, I do like little trips and we found a really cheap city break deal and that was that. I don’t know why but all other European cities seemed about twice as expensive at the minute. Not that that bothers me as this will be my third trip to Berlin and I love it.

In the run up we’ve been watching Matt Frei’s documentary for the BBC about Berlin and it is fantastic. Frei takes you through the history of the German capital, both political, societal and cultural, and then contrasts the significant places of Berlin’s past with those of today.

If you are interested in Berlin or German history, I highly recommend it.

6. #FridayReads

The House of Silk audiobook narrated by Derek Jacobi

Currently listening to The House of Silk audiobook

This week I’m experimenting with listening to the audiobook of The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. So far i’m really enjoying it but it is taking me a while to get used to listening to the story rather than reading it myself. I found it was great to listen along to at the gym. The audiobook is narrated by Derek Jacobi.

I’ve recently taken out an Audible membership. Does anyone have any other audiobook recommendations?

The Wheel of Tim aka the Cabin Pressure book name game

The cast of Cabin Pressure

My boyfriend and I have recently become a bit addicted to the BBC Radio 4 comedy, Cabin Pressure. I discovered the show rather predictably through the participation of the omnipresent Mr Benedict Cumberbatch but stayed for the fabulously witty writing and sense of fun.

Cabin Pressure is a radio sitcom written by the supremely talented John Finnemore which focuses on the lives of four employees of the small charter airline MJN Air – the owner Carolyn, her excitable son and steward Arthur, their charming and authoritative First Officer Douglas and finally, Captain Martin Crieff who faces a daily battle to assert his authority over all who he encounters.

If you haven’t had the chance to listen to it yet I would recommend trying to catch it before the final episode airs later this year. I downloaded seasons 1 – 4 on Audible but it looks like Radio 4 Extra are broadcasting the first episode of Season 3 on Sunday night and may well repeat the rest in the run up to the final episode. I applied for tickets to the final recording but for the 200 seats that were available, the BBC had a record-breaking 22,000+ applications. Needless to say I wasn’t successful!

The show is fantastically funny throughout but our favourite moments are when Martin (Cumberbatch) and Douglas (the wonderfully witty Roger Allam) play a series of games to pass the time. We first meet Douglas and Martin in the middle of a game of ‘Brians of Britain’, in fact.

But our favourite, so far, has to be from the end of Season 1 when they try to find names of books that sound more interesting when you remove the last letter. Their contributions included:

The Da Vinci Cod(e)

Three Men in a Boa(t)

We couldn’t sleep last night trying to come up with our own versions. So here’s a few of them:

Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Tim(e)

Twilight: New Moo(n)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factor(y)

The Velveteen Rabbi(t)

A Farewell to Arm(s)

For examples of books that don’t quite work, we just need to consult poor Captain Martin Crieff with his suggestion of:

The Mill on the Flos(s)

Sorry Martin. Better luck next time!

Let us know which ones you come up with!

Josh Lyman for President

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I often find myself with the strong urge to start rewatching The West Wing again. This is particularly true of today, when I saw this sign on the University Campus.

Sadly I didn’t see Josh and Sam walking and talking through the corridors or CJ and her goldfish but it got me thinking about my favourite moments from the brilliant series.

My favourite character? Without a doubt, Josh Lyman. He’s the witty heart of the show. Also, you know… Josh and Donna.

My favourite moments? Too many to mention really. Although at the minute, mostly around ‘Big Block of Cheese day

What are your favourite characters and moments?

This has got me thinking that I should do a West Wing themed cross stitch too. I just need to decide what to do. Hmmm. Any thoughts?

#Cumberstitch meets The ‘Batch!

Thanks for everyone’s lovely comments on last week’s blog post about my Sherlock-themed cross stitch, and a warm welcome to all my new and existing followers. It is lovely to have you with us!

I just thought I’d post a quick update about the #Cumberstitch as there has been a rather exciting development. Well I think so anyway!

My friend Anne (who I made the cross stitch for) took the framed piece with her to the Sherlock convention Elementary in Birmingham last weekend. Whilst I was gutted I couldn’t attend, this has been replaced with excitement at the news that Anne reported back that she managed to get it signed by The ‘Batch himself!

Anne from Oh My Geek! and the #Cumberstitch signed by Benedict Cumberbatch

Anne from Oh My Geek! and the #Cumberstitch signed by Benedict Cumberbatch

I wasn’t even there but the fact that he smirked at the cross stitch and signed it immediately made it one of the best days ever.

Read all about Anne’s fab experience at Elementary on her blog, Oh My Geek!

What are your reading goals for this year?

Since discovering the brilliant website Goodreads a few years ago, my boyfriend and I have always taken part in the Book Challenge. To take part in the Challenge, you choose how many books you want to read that year and the website tracks how well you do. 

I did quite well in 2012 (44 of 40), very poor in 2013 (23 of 50) and this year my target has been set back to the more reasonable amount of 30. So far? 2 books read. A long way to go. 

But then I read this interesting article in The Guardian which talks about how just focussing on a a numeric target isn’t the aim of the reading game. I can see their point as ticking off the numbers may deter people from reading longer books.

But I also think that is up to the reader and looking through Goodreads we can see that many people do read longer books and get drawn into this worlds and engage with the experience despite the challenge looming large. At the end of the day, reading is a joy and we all read how and what we like. 

Since then I’ve been thinking about my goals for this year and how I’d like to try and include elements of both approaches in my reading challenge for the year. I find it useful to have a number to aim for as it reminds me to read (but I don’t take the target number too seriously!) but I’ve also thought about the types of books I want to read this year.

In conclusion, I want to try and read a lot this year but a mix of classics I never got around to reading, more graphic novels, carry on with my Agatha Christie novels and to re-read some of my favourite books (Harry Potter, 1984 etc).

I’m currently reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I read some of the stories when I was much younger but not that I can remember really well so I wanted to try and remind myself!

What are your reading goals for this year? 

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