Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Did you like the visit to Etsy? Here is another fab artist.

These pictures are from Aunty Cookie who sells at ETSY at:http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=36645 The top picture she did was called 'Mrs Pomme'.

This is one of her comissioned pictures that she will draw of your family. I think they would be a super sweet gift for family or friends and reasonably priced.

Shannon (Aunty Cookie) has a cool blog at http://www.auntycookie.com/ . I was lucky enought when I was in Melbourne, Australia last year, to go to a craft fair where she had an awesome stall and say hello, and tell her how much I loved her work.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Sunday Treat

Dreamer - by Kelly Rae

I was walking home from a call-in to work and thinking I needed to write and tell of my love affair with ETSY. Somehow I discovered it about a year ago, and fell in love straight away. You see ETSY is where very talented folk from all around the world sell their wares, art and art supplies. I can't explain, but it has made me feel better about the world. I think like lots of woman out there, approaching 40 you are made to feel invisible. The advertisers are all 20-30 year old males, they don't want to sell their stuff to us, they don't know what we like and think that all we are worried about is aging.

ETSY sellers, who seem to be mostly female have shown me that there is fantastic art, jewellery and home ware available and that plenty of people are interested in the same stuff, you are not alone!! It has given me the courage to experiment, to try new things, to make new friends from the ETSY blog world and made my world seem sunnier.

So this is KELLY RAE ROBERTS. I dicovered her on ETSY quite quickly and loved watching her produce her beautiful pictures. She has a great blog http://www.kellyraeroberts.blogspot.com/ where she shows off her art and talks about her life with her husband, and life in California.

This beautiful picture is called Discovery. I am lucky enough to own the original picture. Occasionally Kelly Rae sells her original paintings and I am pleased to say this angel sits on my wall above my bed. I think she is watching over me!! As well as selling original art, she also sells more affordable prints of her work, so that everyone can enjoy them, an this week she anounced that she had just signed a deal which will see her work on calenders, cards and other items that will sell in stores soon (in the US at least).
Kelly Rae you are awesome!

Au Pair - Rachel Spencer

Au Paris -Rachel Spencer (2006)
Rachel Spencer is a twenty something American girl working for a newspaper who decides to finish up and go to Paris to work as an au pair for a few months. This memoir first appeared as a blog, about the challenges and joys of being a nanny to three children in one of the loveliest cities in the world. Unfortunately I wasn't too impressed with it's charms.

Firstly she knew the family already, as her sister had done the same job for them a year or two earlier, so it seemed a bit of a soft option. The most annoying thing I found about Rachel, was that she went to France without making an effort to learn any French, no idea how to cook, refusing to look at maps before heading off to new addresses, and seemed to spend all of her time worrying about what to wear. I didn't find that charming - just annoying, and wondered why the parents didn't complain, since they were paying her good money to do a job?

Still it is a pleasand light weight read, however I am sure the average kiwi who has been on an OE (overseas experience) and done any nanny or au pair work could break out a hundred better stories. 2/5

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Escape - Carolyn Jessop

Escape - Carolyn Jessop (2007)
Carolyn was 18 years of age, when she got married in an arranged marriage to Merrill Jessop, who was 54 and already had three wives. By the time she was 35 she had 8 children and was tired of years of verbal, emotional and physical abuse and escaped with her children. A very interesting insight into the plight of women in the radical ploygimist cult in the US, by the time the book was written her husband had married his 17th wife and had over 100 children. Women left with no rights, unable to call the police or ambulances without permission of the their husbands, girls as young as 14 forced into marriage with men fifty or sixty years older than them.

I found it ironic that I started to read this book on the evening 'Big Love' was on tv. It manages to make a polygimist marriage look interesting, fun a bit naughty maybe and doesn't seem to explore the misery of many of the women involved. They also seem to dress kind of nicely and have lots of money. Carolyn describes in her books the difficulty of being only given 100 dollars to buy food for a week for six adults and over thirty children, having limits on hairstyles and clothing and not being allowed access to books, computers or television. 3/5

Monday, January 21, 2008

Planet Earth DVD

Planet Earth- DVD (2007)

Somewhat late for christmas 2007, but maybe perfect as a gift in 2008 I got to borrow this amazing series from the local library. Beautiful beautiful shots of nature and the animal life that surrounds us with barely a glance at any humans. The majesty of the mountains, forrests and lakes will blow you away. Definately worth the investment as it is worth the rewatch. Of course it is narrated by David Attenborough, I enjoyed the many long hours it took to watch the four disc set.

It proves our planet is worth saving, worth refusing the plastic shopping bags, taking the bus and recycling - yipppee. A quiet 5/5 - how could you give it less?

This is England

This is England (2007)
Or I was a teenage skinhead (well I wasn't - but the lads in this movie were). Somehow you end up liking the lead character Sean who is a 12 year old boy, bullied and school and dealing with the death of his father, a soldier in the Falklands. He runs into a likeable group of lads who are skinheads, who take him under their wing. Relationships change however, when the more radical skinhead Combo returns from a stretch in prison.

Gives a good glimpse of being a teenager in 1983 and is far more believable than any of the rubbish Hollywood coming of age movies that seem to be pushed out every couple of years. Does contain violence, racism and harsh language so maybe not for the younger folk. 3/5

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Punk Rock Dad - Jim Lindberg

Punk Rock Dad - Jim Lindberg (2007)
Father of three young girls, Jim Lindberg is also a professional punk rocker (lead singer of Pennywise) and shares with us his tales of raising a young family and still trying to stay true to punk rock. However he sounds pretty middle classed to me, just that he still keeps wearing his clash t-shirts and his vans and won't encourage the girls to listen to Britney (wise advice).

Probably more insightful are his tales of aging and trying to stay hip in a youth obscessed culture when you are in your forties. In trying so hard to be different, the punk rockers all end up being the same and are no different than any other 'tribe'. 2/5

Sign of the Cross - Chris Kuzneski

Sign of the Cross - Chris Kuzneski (2006)
If you liked the Da Vinci Code, this is really straight up the same old alley. Murders start occuring across the globe in the style of the crucifiction, at the same time as the smart professor and his girl sidekick discover an important secret, buried in catacombs in a small town in Italy.

Throw in a couple of ex CIA agents, and a smart detective and you have a modern murder/thriller mystery. Nicely written, and with a good grasp of history, this rollicking ride is a good beach side read although I found it a bit overly long, I was pleased to read that the author had already cut an additonal 500 pages from his original draft. 2/5

Everybody who knows me

Everybody who knows me, knows that I love a good button necklace. So the good news is that they now sell online at http://www.buttons.co.nz/shop/default.aspx Yah for button necklaces.
I am still reading - slowly as the next one is 500 pages. So I will be back soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fur Babies - Liz Jones

Fur Babies (Why we Love Cats) - Liz Jones (2007)

Pretty lightweight book about folks and their cats, and their love of cats. To be honest the author Liz Jones, sounds a bit crazy about her four cats and definately preferred them to her ex husband. He wasn't the best boy, having seven affairs but she is definately heading into mad cat lady territory. 2/5

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Kabul in Winter - Ann Jones

Kabul in Winter - Ann Jones (2006)

Ann Jones is an author/journalist/womens right activist who goes to Kabul to do volunteer work teaching. This is no walk in the park, beauty salon book - she battles down to the nitty gritty adressing issues such as womens rights in Afghanistan, corruption, aid work,legal rights, politics, history and religion. However it gives you insight into a society that sells off many of its young girls into marriage often at age 9-15 to much older men, who they have never met and gives women very little rights. Amazing to think that it would be impossible to live my life over there, women are not allowed to life and work alone and mix with males who are not in their family.

A fasinating read - but not a summer blockbuster. This one takes a bit of work to get through. 2/5

28 Weeks Later

28 Weeks Later (2007)

Following on from the earlier 28 days later, this dvd shows a London that has been ravaged by a virus that causes people to eat others. Two children return, to be reunited with their family. Severe violence, lots of blood and lots of running then occur. Not a family friendly film, or one for the under 16s.

Death at a Funeral

Death at a Funeral (2007)

A bit slow to start off with, but ends up being slightly pleasantly amusing Death at a Funeral is set in one day at the funeral of the main characters father. The BBC reviewer slated it and gave it 1/5 stars - http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2007/10/29/death_at_a_funeral_2007_review.shtml
I will be kinder 2/5

Friday, January 11, 2008


Sherrybaby (2007)

Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Sherry, who is released after three years in prison for stealing and drugs. She returns to the normal world, to have to live in a shelter with other released prisoners and to try and find a job. Central to her life is her daughter who has been living with her brother and his wife.

Not one for the kids, as it contains strong language, sex and drugs scenes. 2/5

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Kabul Beauty School - Deborah Rodriguiz

The Kabul Beauty School - Deborah Rodriguiz (2007)

This is the true story of Deborah Rodriguiz , who first first travels to Kabul, Afghanistan in 2002 to help the women of Kabul. All the local beauty salons had been destroyed by the Taliban - Deborah realises that this is an opportunity to assist the women by training them for jobs and allowing them to earn money to help their families.

Returning later she then sets up a Beauty school and marries a local warlord! Some of the stories of the women are heartbreaking - to put the women who have been raped in jail and to give them sentances longer than the ones given to the men that raped them. Arranged marriage is normal and many brides marry without having met or seen their groom, in many cases teenage girls being married off to much older men.

This book was overdue, but worth the extra $3 to keep it and read this lovely book. 4/5

Monday, January 07, 2008

Secrets of the Monarch - Allison DuBois

Secrets of the Monarch - Allison DuBois (2007)

Now I promise I am not going to read every psychics book there is to read, honest. It's just that I tend to read a lot about one thing for a while every so often. Allison DuBois is the real life psychic, who the show medium is based on. I have enjoyed her other two books but this one was a bit of a let down.

To be honest I didn't learn much about monarch butterflies, or what the dead can teach us about living a better life. I thought that it just had a bit of filler - tales about readings she had done, and no real substance. A very lightweight book, 211 pages of double spacing it is an easy light read. There was a bit of name dropping regarding celebrity friends and the real only intresting insignts, were stories about her family. I have seen her on television and she is an extremely likeable and interesting person, and I love her character and tv family on medium, but sorry honey I can only give you 2/5.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Two Little Girls In Blue - Mary Higgins Clark

Two Little Girls in Blue - Mary Higgins Clark (2007)
Slightly predictable tale of two little twin girls who are kidnapped with only one being eventually released to the parents. Kathy and Kelly seem a bit too advanced for three year olds and the premise was a bit stale I thought. However she is a kind author making an easy to read book which flows easily from chapter to chapter. Good sort of sit in the sun and read book. 2/5

Changing my life

Now this little beauty is changing my life - oh yes it is. This is what Santa brought me for christmas. It is a DVD recorder with hard drive, a Sony HX 750. Now I am not scared of new technology, but I am not a boy geek who knows all the numbers of all the products, has read them up in the latest technogeek book and researched it all on the internet. Sorry boys, I know you are not all like that, but I work with a few planespotters and I know a boy is judged on his knowledge of cars, boobs and big screens.

This is for the ladies. Now I know, that some of you live in fancy places with access to Tivo and cable tv. I live in the land of poor people tv. Maybe I will get cable when my study is over at the end of this year. However I am trying to avoid it, to be honest I watch too much tv anyway and who needs to pay for more stuff. Kiwi tv is pretty good, although I don't get good signal on the channel that plays all the BBC good stuff. Not to worry, I will sort that out once the study is over as well.

Anyways I had a DVD player and a video recorder. The video RIP, died a few months ago and I muddled on without it admiring my albility to not let television ruin or rule my life. If I wasn't home who cares? I care, I work a lot of shift and sometimes it hurt to miss Greys Anatomy, or the final of Americas Next Top Model (shallow I know).

Now that the DVD recorders have come down in price I decided to invest. Now the trick is you need to get one with a HARD DRIVE (VERY IMPORTANT), also the sales guys said not to buy Phillips ones, apparently they all stop working. So I will list all the great things I have discovered:
  • You can record between 60-300 hours of programs on the Hard drive (just like a hard drive on your computer. Different qualities of recording give you different lengths of time.
  • You can be recording one channel, while you either watch other stuff on the hard drive or a dvd that you have playing.
  • You can watch the beginning of the programme while it is recording the end ie if you get home 1/2 way through the news you can watch the beginning while it is recording the sports and weather.
  • You can skip ALL the adds - yippee.
  • The one I bought, super easy to use.
  • I have been recording everything I can on the hard drive, haven't had to record on dvd yet.
  • the big bonus is that actually I am watching less tv, as I don't sit and wait for programmes. I just record what I want and watch it when I have time. so when the free tv guide comes out, I set the recorder for the following 4-5 days for things I like and then have all of my evenings free.

So there it its - my little sanity saver. Especially for those evenings when the tv is showing only movies with Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey or Will Farrell (or the Farrelly brothers rubbish). I am sorry guys you have all done the occasional amusing movie, but you all SUCK. I hate the movies you are in, the people who write and finance them, and the twelve/20/40 year old guys that seem to love them. Bring on the costume dramas anytime - haha!

So thank you santa, I will be good all year now.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner (2007)

The Kite Runner is the movie of the book of the same name, written in 2003 by Khaled Hosseini. It tells the very moving story of two boys in Kabul Afghanistan, their friendship and betrayal in childhood and what becomes of them as adults. I thought the movie did a fantastic job of portraying the essence, and the important parts of the book, as much as a movie adaptation can within a limited time frame. Fantastic performances too, especially from the young Afghan boys. 4/5

I don't think you have to read the book first, but it is certainly well worth the read . Often I prefer to read the book after the movie, as I get clear visuals in my head that add to the reading experience. I had read A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007). It would have to be one of my top reads of 2007 - I loved it's tale of women in Afghanistan and the incredible hardiships and unbearable life many were forced into leading. Truly a heart-breaking book, and one that makes you tear away from the rubbish of celebrity lifestyles that is fed to us as news and entertainment nowdays. I didn't want A Thousand Splendid Suns to end. I have just read that it to as been optioned for a movie and a screenplay is being written at the moment.

I read The Kite Runner next, and although emotional and incredibly moving, I didn't enjoy it as much as his second book. I would certainly place it in my top 10 for 2007. Having just started the blog a few weeks ago I thought it a bit presumptious to write a top 10 of the year.

Movie adaptions of characters I hated:
  • Morgan Freeman playing Alex Cross in an adaption of James Pattersons book Kiss the Girls (1998). He was wrong wrong wrong for the part (about 20 years too old for the part). It should have gone to someone younger and sexier. Now Henry Simmons who was on NYPD blues - you would be so sweet in this role.
  • Clint Eastwood in Michael Connellys Blood work (2002) was also about 30 years too old for the role.
  • The worst one I hated was Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain (2003). I loved this book. Some kind friend at work had let me borrow it, and it sat on my shelf for months, until one day when sick I decided to confront it. It is a great expansive novel that has huge and powerful characters. I felt that when the movie arrived, and I don't hate the movie too much, in fact I bought it on DVD - that Nicoles character was too prissied up. She looked like she had spent 9 hours in hair and makeup to look super movie star glam. Then they looked like they rolled Renee around in a pig pen. What is wrong with having women look normal? I hated how they portrayed these two fantastic characters.
  • Last of my rants - and this is my pet peeve of the book to movies, was my friend Miss Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones. Oh my god, how sad did they try and make her on the movie? In the book she was witty, funny and charasmatic. Me and my friends are single, we may moan about the lack of men, maybe sometimes we drink a bit - but no one I know, or have ever met is as sadly pathetic as they portrayed Bridget Jones on the screen. I don't know anyone crying into their pizzas in their pyjamas with bad 70s music playing, oops I may know one or two, but Bridget Jones on the screen you really really really annoyed me. I wanted to give you a valium, make you watch all of sex and the City dvds (except for the last series - that lost the plot) and tell you to get a life - hitch up your granny knickers and get living.

So - rant over. Go and see Kite Runner, if you take the kids you might have a bit of explaining to do. Maybe not the cheeriest movie you could pick but it beats too much Bridget Jones.

Oh but how could I forget Bones the tv series. I love Kathy Reichs books, but hate the mindlesess interprutation that is put on screen. Until last night, when I watched a christmas episode that was sweet and smart. I can endure and even enjoy the tv show, I just have to remove myself from considering it connected to the books (and reality - who works in offices that look like that?).

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Better- Atul Gawande

Better - Atul Gawande (2007)

Atul Gawande is a recently qualified general surgeon from the US, who has written this non fiction book which looks at ways within medicine, and in life that we can do better. Looking at vaious way medicine has changed practice, from the way the US army has changed sunglasses on soldiers which resulted in less penetrating eye injuries, to the Indian search to irradicate polio.

Dr Gawande presents an enjoyable ride to on the journey to his discoveries, filled with many personal tales he also considers some of the big issues such as medical malpractice and the amount of money spent in the last six months of life (often 80% of medical spending).

At the end he dishes oout sme great advice for medical students, at lectues he gives at medical school. One of them is to keep writing, that "by offering your reflections to an audience, even a small one, you make yourself part of the larger world. An audience is a community. The published world is a secloration of membership in that community, and also of a willingness to contribute something meaningful to it. So choose your audience. Write something". 4/5


Our Horses in Egypt - Rosalind Belben (2007).

I so wanted to love this book. You were the first one I grabbed at the library, for my new years reading collection. I loved your blurb, about an English women, her daughter and nanny who travel to Egypt to find their horse. Horses were requisitioned in the first world war and sent to the battlefields, where many were killed in service or sold at the end of the war. Part of the story is also told from the horse view point. What an interesting time and idea.

I started - I gave you 60 pages, but I got stuck with the language, the writing confused me and I wondered if I was horsy enough to enjoy you. Sorry to give you an incomplete, I feel awful returning you to the library, but life is short, I need to feel content when reading. Goodbye book, I hope someone else enjoys you . I notice on the Amazon review you get a five star review.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys - DVD

The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002)

Maybe not the first choice at the dvd store, but with 5 for $20 who's going to be picky about their last choice. Nothing new here in this so called inventive and funny coming of age film. About a group of boys, and their adventures and their double lives as cartoon super heroes of their own making.

I thought it a bit droll and boring, with only a couple of scenes being snigger worthy. After going to a catholic high school I can understand the boys infatuation/hatred with their strict teacher/nun , who only has one leg and rides a moped(played by Jodie Foster). Maybe some 14 year old catholic boys would enjoy it? 1/5

Malicious Intent - Kathryn Fox

Malicious Intent - Kathryn Fox (2004)

Lovely forensic lady doctor thriller in the same vein as Patricia Cornwell (before she lost the plot) and Kathy Reichs. Kathryn Fox is an Australian doctor with an interest in forensic medicine so like the the other authors she can talk the lingo. Her characters seem realistic and I was at least 3/4 of the way through before I discovered who did it.

I was drawn to her 2007 book 'Skin and Bone', but thought I would start with her earlier work. Enjoyable and makes you want to check the door is locked at night. Also makes me want to go back to the library and check out the rest of her books. 3/5

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Soldiers and Lovers - Leslie Thomas

Soldiers and Lovers - Leslie Thomas (2007)

I think I like Leslie Thomas, his tales are of normal folk generally centered around the second world war. Soldiers and Lovers is about Davy from Wales (of course) and Kate who meet up several times , before an accident in Italy causes Davy to lose his memory.

Nice easy reading, with a little romance - perfect to start the new year. 3/5

New Years Eve was a little cool and cloudy for most of the day, and as I was waiting for some photos to be developed I dropped into the local main town library. They had a great selection, and within 20 minutes I had managed to collect six new books to read, all brand new and exciting choices for me. I love a brand new book - the newer the better.

I was surprised at how many people were in the library, especially young people stocking up. We are lucky that with a population of about 200,000 we have a huge town library , and 14 branches in the city. The main one has a large cafe in it and lots of areas for studying, and resting. In fact several of the benches in the mystery/thriller section seem to be the sleeping spots of the local homeless people.

Happy New Year.