Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book Review – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Seventeen year old Catherine Morland finds herself the lucky young lady to accompany family friends to Bath for six weeks of pleasure.  She leaves behind her large family of brothers and sisters and her doting mother and father.  It is quite evident after the first evening spent in Bath, that Mr Tilney, a clergyman, has developed a high regard for the pretty Catherine.  She expects to see him again the next day, but when he doesn’t come by, she worries.  In the meantime she makes firm friends with Miss Isabella Thorpe, a young lady just older than herself who has much taste and sense of style.  However, when Mr Tilney returns to Bath, along with his family, Miss Morland and Mr Tilney’s sister, Eleanor became happy acquaintances, much to the disappointment of Miss Thorpe and her annoying brother, John. Strange things occur during her stay in Bath – happy news of her brother’s engagement reach her as well as a request to return to Northanger Abbey with the Tilneys.  Her visit to the Abbey excites many discoveries and suspicions, as well as much attention from Mr Tilney’s father.  Catherine can’t help but feel slightly awkward in the mysterious abbey and one evening brings on an even more mysterious event...  Will she ever see her beloved Henry Tilney again or his sister?  And what about Miss Isabella Thorpe?  

These questions fill the mind of the reader towards the latter part of the story which gives it a sense of deep mystery...

Northanger Abbey is quite a mysterious book which gave me a sense of fear and expectation in many parts.  As strangely as it is written, it is by no means a horrible book.  I was so keen to finish it quickly so that I shouldn’t be left wondering too long.  It has a rather abrupt, but happy ending which leaves the reader imagining more chapters to ‘finish’ the story.  I would rate this particular book three stars.  Not one of Jane Austen’s finest, but certainly not at all boring!  If you enjoy a mystery book more than a romance, then I am sure you will not be disappointed in Northanger Abbey...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Going Guinea

Some of my followers – those who have been here since the very beginning – may remember our adding guinea pigs to our household.  You may then recall this post where I shared photographs of our new ‘families’ of guinea pigs.  Toffee and Fudge were our first pair – we later discovered that they were in fact two males and thus prone to having the occasional dispute over dominance.  By that stage we were so attached to our new babies that we just couldn’t think of getting rid of either one of them...  And so we made trips to two different pet shops on opposite ends of the peninsula to buy a female of completely different blood for each of our two lonely males.  After introducing the males to their new brides, our guinea pig farm grew from strength to strength...and strength – ok, you get the picture!  Many adorable babies were born and then sold to new homes during those first years.

However, Toffee and Candy, his darling lady, died at the beginning of this year due to exposure to excessive heat.  We were all devastated; Candy and Toffee had been part of our lives for the past three or so years.  I actually nursed Candy back to health after she battled against an illness, so she especially was very dear to me. 

Fudge and Cocoa and their three pups (yes, that’s what we call baby guinea pigs), also suffered heat stroke to some extent – it really was heart wrenching to see them so ill!  I learnt a very hard but valuable lesson that day, one I am sure I shall not soon forget.  Fortunately they recovered, but are much weaker than they were before.

We always maintained a strict rule that no baby, however adorable he or she may be, should ever be kept – reason being that we would never be able to feed and look after them all.  Female guinea pigs are able to birth new litters of pups every 64 days or so.  But when Cocoa had a smooth white pup with a bit of black and brown on her face that was born completely blind in one eye, we knew we had to keep her.

We named this little girl guinea pig, Jewel, and sometime in March this year she had her first pup which we called ‘Hot Cross Bun’, as she was born over Easter time.  Everyone fell in love with little Bun – no one wanted her to go to a new home as she already had one!  As Fudge and Cocoa are getting on in age and pretty much at the end of their reproductive years, Hot Cross Bun is kept with them for company and to help them stay young:-)  Jewel got her own dear chap last month when we heard of a long–haired male with the same colourings as her who needed a new home.  We named him Mr Knightly, after Jane Austen’s hero in her book, Emma.

New pups are always anticipated with my enthusiasm in our home – what colour and markings will the next lot have?  Will they be fluffy or smooth?  Over the years we have learnt to care for them better and see that they are kept healthy.  Our guinea pigs like to graze in the closed run my dad built for them.  Sometimes they run free for 30 minutes or so in the small veggie patch, eating stray grass and weeds (and sometimes a spinach or lettuce leaf when we aren’t looking).  We always have someone watching them to see that they don’t fight with each other, run off or eat something harmful.

Going Guinea is a four part mini-series to be featured on Beautiful Girlhood.  In part two I will be discussing a few of the pros and cons that come with keeping guinea pigs and how to know if your family can really commit to looking after them...

...I thought I would share a few of the photographs I took this morning of Jewel’s newest pups, Snow White (who is pure white with pink eyes – a first in our four years of breeding) and Wafer (who is chestnut in colour with white markings), in tea cups and sugar bowls.  These two are very sweet and proved to be gorgeous models for me! 


Aren’t they gorgeous?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Vintage Gift Tag

  Hello everyone!  I’m back with another paper creation...  I made this pretty gift tag for my music teacher to go with her end of term gift.

Cards and gift tags made with vintage scrapbook paper are just gorgeous.  I love to tear, distress or chalk my cards to make them look more old fashioned.

For this gift tag, I cross stitched a little heart motif as the ‘image’.  Cross stitch is quite vintage looking and the paper I used gave the card a beautiful timeless appeal.  The small brown button just adds a 3-D effect and finishes it off.  I just love how it turned out…

 I would like to take part in the following card making challenges…  It is lovely to revisit certain challenge blogs and see how they’ve changed and grown over time!  It brings back such happy memories to leave my name in the subject line again…

 Sparkles Monthly Challenges - Vintage
Inspired by Stamping - Vintage or Shabby Chic
Hobby House Challenge - Anything Goes
Inspire Me Fridays - Anything Goes
Sister Act Challenge - Anything Goes

Crafty Greetings

~ Just for You ~

  I can’t even recall the last time I posted a card on my blog, much less entered one in a challenge!  Lately I have been feeling the effects of not paper crafting, so I decided it was high time to do something about it and make a few cards.

A few years ago I made a jewellery card for someone from the design featured in Cardmaking & Papercraft Magazine (Issue 76).  I thought of giving the design a go again, using my lace earrings as the jewellery to slot into the eyelets...

 I used plenty of teal as well as some pink on this card.  I just love the combination!  I also added quite a few pearls as a border and to add a feminine touch to the sentiment ‘Just for You’.  The lace earrings (instructions to make them here) worked so beautifully and I’m sure they will delight the recipient!

I have entered the following card making challenges with my card...

Challenges 4 Everybody - Anything Goes
Through the Craft Room Door Challenge - Anything Goes
Lady Anne's Challenges - Anything Goes
Pollycraft Challenge - Anything Goes
Inky Inky Challenge - Anything Goes 

Craft Greetings,

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

52 Crafts in 52 Weeks – Week Twenty One

Today is Tuesday - the day to post the craft made last week and also the day to create a new project.  Unfortunately, as you all probably realise, I am a bit behind. I still haven’t been able to ‘catch up’ in full on all the crafts that have been due for far too long!  But today I feel like staying crafty the whole day – Mom and I took a short trip to town this morning to gather a few goodies and once I have completed this post, I will spend an hour or so in my room, making pretty gifts for dear people...  I just might keep a few lovely things for myself, though:-)

Do you remember craft nineteen?  The pretty decorated birdcage I made would be such a lovely feature in any room – I just love the butterflies and flowers cut from old book pages.  I decided to buy a fancy jar last time we were in town and decorate it in a similar way...

...I plan to store my buttons or ribbons in it as it adds such a beautiful and delicate touch to my work table...

I think I might decorate a few more jars and place something special inside them to give as gifts.

This project was made from the design featured in the February 2012 edition of Crafts BeautifulMagazine.

Twenty one crafts down, thirty one still to go:-)

Crafty love,