Sunday, 31 January 2016

Joining The Classics Club

I am so happy to have found The Classics Club! Thanks to Carissa at Bookshelves and Daydreams for pointing me in the direction of this!


The club basics (the short version):

  • – choose 50+ classics
  • – list them at your blog
  • – choose a reading completion goal date up to five years in the future and note that date on your classics list of 50+ titles
  • – e-mail the moderators of this blog ( with your list link and information and it will be posted on the Members Page!
  • – write about each title on your list as you finish reading it, and link it to your main list
  • – when you’ve written about every single title, let us know!
So those are the basic 'rules' of the club.

As I have mentioned before, my grandpa worked at Oxford University Press and I inherited his collection of Oxford classics. Plus I have purchased other copies of my own along the way.

This whole shelf is full of them! They are tiny books, only measuring 9.5 x 15cm. So they are actually three deep in that shelf. The printing is tiny and the pages are so fine. I used to adore reading these when I was younger (and, of course, still do - although not sure if my eyesight is still up to the task!)

So I will be selecting my list from lots of these, as well as a few modern classics.
Much as I would like to say I will read 200, or 2000!, classics in the five year timeframe, I will try to be realistic and shoot for 50. I can always add to the list later if I read faster!

My list, in no particular order, is as follows:

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  2. For The Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke
  3. St Joan of Arc by Vita Sackville-West
  4. Lancelot of the Lake
  5. Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
  6. The Golden Fleece by Padraic Colum
  7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  8. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  9. 1984 by George Orwell
  10. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  11. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  12. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
  13. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  14. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  15. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  16. The Shiralee by D'Arcy Niland
  17. A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute
  18. I Can Jump Puddles by Alan Marshall
  19. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  20. The Sign Above The Door by William W. Canfield
  21. The Odyssey
  22. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  23. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  24. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  25. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  26. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  27. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
  28. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  29. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
  30. The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas
  31. Passage To India by E.M. Forster
  32. The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell
  33. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  34. The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett
  35. The Dubliners by James Joyce
  36. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann
  37. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  38. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  39. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  40. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  41. Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  42. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  43. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
  44. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  45. The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley
  46. Hans Anderson's Fairy Tales
  47. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  48. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  49. Little Women by Louise May Alcott
  50. Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling
And I will put my timeframe as being February 2016 to February 2021. Wow, that sounds SO far away!

I am really looking forward to all this wonderful reading - it was hard to narrow it down!

I have not chosen my first book yet. So how about we say first person to comment with a book title from the above list will be the first book I read and review? Maybe you would like to join in as well?

Maybe I am mad - but it will be fun!

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Period Drama Challenge - The Water Diviner, A Review

Second review for the Period Drama Challenge with Miss Laurie at Old Fashioned Charm.

Before I get to The Water Diviner though, I would like to mention another movie I watched last night, Love and Mercy. What a fantastic movie! And I never even knew it had happened. It is about Brian Wilson, the leader of The Beach Boys, and his life in the 1980s as he is being overmedicated and controlled by his psychotherapist. It was shocking to me that this occurred.
Paul Dano was fantastic as the young Brian Wilson.

I've got a bit off-track, but I just wanted to mention this movie. And The Beach Boys 'God Only Knows' has to be my favourite song ever!

OK, back to the Period Drama!
The Water Diviner is set in Australia and Turkey in 1919, with flashbacks to the battle of Lone Pine (August 7, 1915)  when all three sons died in the same battle. Their father (Russell Crowe) is determined to travel to Turkey and use his skills as a water diviner to determine where their bodies are.

This movie will definitely make you cry, no doubt. The war scenes were harrowing and brilliantly acted. From my previous review, you will know how much I admire Ryan Corr's acting and he is simply amazing here as the older brother who cannot 'look after' his younger brothers as he promised his parents he would.

I found the whole story so interesting. It is very loosely based on a true story - apparently there was one father who travelled to Gallipoli to find his sons after the war.

I'll leave you to decide whether the ending was believable. To be honest, I'm still not sure whether I liked it or whether the movie needed it.

I wasn't particularly taken with the story of the father and the relationship he formed with a young Turkish woman. I found it slightly insulting, as though she needed rescuing by a Westerner. Does that make sense? It seemed just a bit too cliché for me.

But overall, wonderful movie. Ryan Corr, and James Fraser and Ben O'Toole, as the three brothers definitely made the movie. Worth watching, if only to remind us of the horrors of war in the hope that such atrocities can be avoided. If only humans could live in peace - I would like to think that isn't too naïve a feeling to have.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Yarn Along - And A Question

Joining in today with Small Things for Yarn Along.

As we are going away tomorrow to Apollo Bay (aka one of my favourite places in the world!), I have been sorting out some light holiday reading to take with me.
I have just started Wild Horses by Linda Byler, which is part one of an Amish fiction series. I do love Amish fiction so looking forward to a new series.

I also have The Christmas Cat and The Christmas Pony by Melody Carlson. I put these on hold with my library in November and I guess they were very popular over Christmas as I have only just got them! Not sure if that will be enough though - may have to slip in some more as I would hate to be caught with no book to read!

I also have to organise knitting to take away. I'm sure we have all had that terrible moment when you realise you have not brought a stitch holder or some other essential item, or the second ball of yarn, and cannot keep knitting! Horrors!

This is how the second Ode To Doris is coming along.

I am quite liking the way the colours are appearing, particularly in the stocking stitch section.

And I have just cast on (for in the car knitting) for an Amy Pinafore. I am using my hand dyed pink/purple for the ruffles and bodice and my hand dyed tonal pink for the main body.

I would love your quick opinion too, if would care to comment. I've been planning some dyeing themes (British royal family, The Sound of Music, Audrey Hepburn movies for starters) and now am planning bases for dyeing. If you were buying hand-dyed yarn, what would be the base you would be most likely to purchase?

I have these bases to choose from:

  • Fine merino sock yarn 4 ply - 75% superfine merino, 25% nylon, machine washable
  • Fine merino 8 ply - 100% wool, hand washable
  • Pure wool 4, 8 and 10 ply - 100% fine micron wool, machine washable
  • Pure wool 8 ply - 100% wool, hand washable, feltable
  • Alpaca 8 ply - 100% alpaca, hand washable
I myself prefer to knit in 4 ply (fingering), but a lot of the popular patterns are in 8 ply (DK) or 10 ply (worsted).

Also, open to any ideas for themes.

Next week I hope to begin dyeing in earnest, so fingers crossed, there may be some photos to show next Wednesday!

Monday, 25 January 2016

Happy Homemaker Monday

I have just discovered Happy Homemaker Monday over at Diary of a Stay At Home Mom.

And as this includes the two Monday posts I normally do of my meal plan and my to-do list, I am planning to combine those two posts here in future.

Also linking with Darling Downs Diaries for Good Morning Mondays.

The Weather:
 Cool, with a little bit of drizzle and just enough breeze. My perfect day!

Right now I am:
At the dining room table, as I have no specific home for my computer. We have already been into town this morning first thing to get haircuts for the three boys and visit the post office with my latest parcels of books sold to send to their new homeschool homes.
About starting to get ready for the new school year - yuk! We did school shoe and uniform purchasing last week and now I need to label anything new and make sure I can find school hats, lunch boxes, etc.Also packing for our last minute holiday for the last four days before school starts next Monday. Apollo Bay - my favourite place in the world!          

On my reading pile:

Just about finished Mr Mac and Me by Esther Freud - loved it - and will start Wild Horses by Linda Byler next. I am always happy to find an Amish series I haven't read yet. I need to plan what easy reading to take away with me as well. 

On my TV/DVD:
This week, I am planning on watching The Water Diviner for the Period Drama Challenge. The review will be posted on Saturday (or maybe the following Saturday, once we get back).
I have also collected Parenthood Season 6 from the library.
Things that make me happy:
Knitting, dyeing yarn, gardening (need to get back to it!). Rain!

On the menu for this week:
Monday - Spaghetti Bolognaise
Tuesday - Burgers with the lot
Wednesday - Chicken wraps
Thursday -  Will be away
Friday - Will be away
Saturday -  Will be away
Sunday -  Will be away

Super simple menu this week as we will be away for most of the week. Yay!

On my to do list:
School preparations
Trimming back roses

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:
More dyeing - hopefully
Knitting some more Ode To Doris jackets
Quilting on Miss Ballerina's quilt

Looking around the house:
Actually looking fairly neat as we had a big tidy up last week. Summer holidays always see the house neglected to some extent, so it was good to straighten up. I am in serious declutter mode, so lots of sorting going on.

From the camera:
Aaawww, so cute! This is Whirlwind (who is now 7) a few years ago. It makes me so nostalgic (and a bit sad, let's face it) to look through photos of when they were little.

On my prayer list:
Friends and family and everyone battling the snowstorm

Bible verse, devotional, favorite quote:
Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Period Drama Challenge - Banished, A Review


Here is my first review for the Period Drama Challenge with Miss Laurie at Old Fashioned Charm.

I am reviewing an 7 part drama series called Banished. It is set in 1788 at the first settlement of Australia.
The First Fleet consisted of approximately 1,000 convicts and 350 free men and women. After landing, they needed to establish shelter, food beyond the stores they had brought with them and some semblance of an ordered society to ensure the safety of all. Imagine Survivor but in long dresses!

I must admit to not being overly impressed with the three main characters.

Not with their acting but with the actual character portrayal. These three were convicts and much as I know that Governor Phillip was very understanding (considered lax by some of the soldiers) with the convicts, it seems that these three had the run of the place and could pretty much do what they liked. Pardoned from hangings, pardoned from beating up soldiers - the main convict character seemed to me to just be a bully - and got away with it.
I think it possibly has to do with the love of the underdog. Australians particularly seem to want to venerate the supposedly downtrodden victims at the expense of the lawmakers and keepers. Everyone wants to have a convict ancestor, not so keen on having a redcoat! It seems to have been taken too far in this series and makes the actions of the convicts and the soldiers supposedly guarding them seem unrealistic, although I guess as the soldiers were outnumbered by convicts 3:1, they would be careful about provoking them. And it was noted by Governor Phillip that the soldiers were often 'reluctant' to undertake their duties.

Of much more interest to me in this series were the secondary stories - the fact that the blacksmith was a 'protected' convict as his role was so vital to the fledgling colony; the back story of the 'use' of women convicts by the soldiers and the ballot system that existed (and was sanctioned by Governor Phillip) to share them among the soldiers; the Reverend and his wife.

I must admit though to thinking that, for a colony that was at starvation point and down to very strict rations, everyone seemed very well-fed and very clean!

A highlight of the series for me was David Wenham's portrayal of Governor Arthur Phillip. Fabulous actor - the TV series Seachange is one of my all time favourites.

Phillip had an enormous task ahead of him when he arrived in Australia, particularly as the new penal colony was largely abandoned by the mother country of England and left to struggle on by itself. Communications from England were sporadic and vague and Phillip had to assume total control of the colony. Luckily for his fellow First Fleeters, Phillip was a fair, calm and methodical leader, who saw from the beginning that Australia could be more than just a prison dumping ground.

Percival Serle wrote of Phillip in his Dictionary of Australian Biography:
Steadfast in mind, modest, without self seeking, Phillip had imagination enough to conceive what the settlement might become, and the common sense to realize what at the moment was possible and expedient. When almost everyone was complaining he never himself complained, when all feared disaster he could still hopefully go on with his work. He was sent out to found a convict settlement, he laid the foundations of a great dominion.

 Also watch out for this wonderful actor, Ryan Corr, and the story of his soldier character and the convict woman he loves. Very sad.

Ryan Corr is a fantastic actor and will appear in a later review in The Water Diviner. He also starred in a TV series I loved called Love Child (but I cannot feature it here as it is set in 1969!)

Overall, I would say Banished is worth watching, but it just did not seem wholly believable to me.

Friday, 22 January 2016

It's Raining!

I am so thankful that it is finally raining! And not just a sprinkle either, but good soaking rain that has been coming down for at least four hours now.

I can hear the plants breathing a collective sigh of relief, as am I. Watering just isn't the same - we need this soaking rain. It will also help to reduce fire risk by dampening down all our dry paddocks.

Plus I love rain! I must be one of the only people I know who actually feel happier when it rains. I just love the sound, the smell, everything about rain.

I have just been watching a wonderful film. It is available to watch online here. It is called The Inspiring Story Of Us and was filmed throughout 2015 by ordinary Australians about their lives. It is only 23 minutes long, but worth watching. It just shows that we are all extraordinary and that there are so many people quietly achieving amazing things every day, without fanfare or acknowledgment. It made me feel we can all achieve something great, even if it seems small and simple to us.

I was particularly impressed by Orange Sky Laundry.

Photo from

Two 20 year olds saw a need and worked to fill it. So wonderful. I remember a while ago reading an article with a homeless girl where she talked about how she would rather be hungry than dirty. She said that if she was hungry no one could see it, but if she was dirty and smelly then everyone saw. So what an amazing service these guys provide, as most seem to focus on feeding the homeless. Their service goes along way towards restoring self-esteem and confidence.

But so many wonderful Australians featured. John Maher, who lost his daughter Carmen in a car crash, speaks at many schools in our area. He visited Miss Ballerina's school last year. Most of the girls and quite a few of the boys were in tears by the time he had finished. And hopefully his talk had a lasting impact on these young people as they just get their driving licences.

So as we approach Australia Day, when the Australians of the Year will be announced, it was inspiring (as the title of the film says!) to see that, although we can only acknowledge a tiny number of people, that there are so many others working to make Australia a better place for us all.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Period Drama Challenge

What fun! A new challenge, hosted by Miss Laurie at Old Fashioned Charm. As I adore watching period drama, I just had to join in with the challenge!

I have chosen to a Period Film Fanatic, which means I will watch and review 12 to 15 period dramas during the above time frame. Just between you and me, I would probably watch that many anyway!

From Miss Laurie, here are the requirements:

What Makes A Period Drama?A television costume drama, big screen film or TV series set in a historical era. They could be adaptations of classic novels, based upon historically set books, stories of historical events or even biographical flicks. For what eras are eligible I'd say anything from Ancient times up to the 1940's (like World War II). Also eligible are films that travel back in time or start in one era and moves to another (such as Lost In Austen, From Time To Time, Somewhere In Time or The Love Letter).

Here's a list of historical eras to help you out:

  • The Ancient Era (Biblical times, 4000 B.C.-476 A.D.) 
  • The Medieval Era (476-1450) 
  • The Renaissance Era (1450-1600) & Elizabethan Era (1558-1603) 
  • The Baroque Era (1600-1750) 
  • The Georgian/Colonial Era  (1714-1811) 
  • The Regency Era (1812-1830, also known as the Jane Austen era) 
  • The Victorian Era (1837-1901) 
  • The Edwardian Era (1901-1919. and World War I)
  • The 1920's 
  • The 1930's
  • The 1940's (World War II films)
Now, what will I choose?! I am thinking that I may focus on Australian made movies, as this may bring some different choices into the challenge. So far I have about 40 on my list, so need to narrow it down a bit! Can you tell I prefer period to modern movies and series?!

So far I have:

Picnic At Hanging Rock - filmed in 1975, set in 1900.

My Brilliant Career - filmed in 1979, set in 1897.

The Piano - filmed in 1993, set in 1851.

Oscar and Lucinda - filmed in 1997, set in mid 1800s.

Rabbit Proof Fence - filmed in 2002, set in 1931.

Phar Lap - filmed in 1983, set in late 1920s/early 1930s.

The Lighthorsemen - filmed in 1987, set in 1917.

Gallipoli - filmed in 1981, set in 1915.

Ned Kelly - filmed in 2003, set in 1870s.

Against The Wind - filmed in 1978, set between 1798-1812.

Banished - filmed in 2015, set in 1788.

All The Rivers Run - filmed in 1983, set in 1890s.

The Water Diviner - filmed in 2014, set in 1919.

The Battlers- filmed in 1994, set in  the Great Depression.

The Sullivans - filmed between 1976 and 1983, set from 1939-1945.

Changi - filmed in 2001, set in 1999 and 1942-45.

Well, that is sixteen choices already, just in the Australian list. And I have more to choose from - and that doesn't include heaps of others that I would like to review as well! Like The King's Speech, A Royal Night Out, The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill and Came Down a Mountain, Miss Potter, Girl With A Pearl Earring and on and on!

I will plan on posting a review on Saturdays (maybe not every week!) and will start this Saturday with a review of Banished as I just collected it from the library.

I am not sure if I will be able to get hold of all these titles - some of them may be a bit obscure now - but I will try my best.

I cannot wait to see what everyone else decides to watch and review.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Yarn Along

Joining in today at Small Things for Yarn Along.

I have just finished reading Tattoos On The Heart: The Power Of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle (founder of Homeboy Industries). I am pretty sure this was a recommendation from someone at Yarn Along a while back. And thanks to whoever was reading it as it is a truly uplifting read. Tragic but uplifting. The number of stories he told about finally making a breakthrough with one of the boys, only to have them shot down by rival gangs soon after, is heartbreaking. But there are so many success stories as well. And not success stories as some may see them - no overnight millionaires, or superhero stories. Just success in that many of the men went on to hold jobs and have families, which is the type of life many of them could not see as being in their future.

A quote from the book I found inspirational. I know I can feel this way as well, that I am not really 'enough' for Jesus as I am now. That if only I worked harder, studied my Bible more, was just 'more', then I would be more acceptable. This quote showed me I am enough right now.

"Jesus says, "You are the light of the world." I like even more what Jesus doesn't say. He does not say, "One day, if you are more perfect and try really hard, you'll be light." He doesn't say "If you play by the rules, cross your T's and dot your I's, then maybe you'll become light." No. He says, straight out, "You are light." It is the truth of who you are, waiting only for you to discover it. So no need to contort yourself to be anything other than who you are."

Another quote from the book.

For knitting, I am working on Ode To Doris by Kelly Brooker. Wonderful designs!

This is the first one I have nearly completed:

I have knitted this one in my hand-dyed alpaca. It is very hard to see the colours in the photo, but this is what it looked like in the skein.

I have started another Ode To Doris as well, this time in a mix of my hand-dyed 4ply. I am using two strands of a pale red tonal and a multi-coloured. I am liking the way it is looking so far.

And I managed to get some tonal dyeing done this week - much quicker and easier than the hand-painted yarn when the boys are home!

My favourite is the yellow!

Looking forward to seeing what everyone has been reading and knitting. I'm sure I will be adding to my enormously long list of books I need to read.

Monday, 18 January 2016

To-Do List

Just love these placemats - had to share before we start!


I am trying not to be too ambitious with my first to-do list for this year. Like my meal planning, to-do lists have gone out the window with Christmas and holidays.

  • New school shoes for boys
  • Haircuts for boys
  • Go through magazines to donate to op shop
  • Finish selling of homeschool books on Facebook
  • Organise recipe folder - all those photocopies and pieces of paper floating around!
  • Organise knitting patterns - as above!
  • Sort out boys' uniforms and make sure they have all they need
  • Look at the garden and plan to fix it one day!
  • Knitting and dyeing for my new 'shop'
Soon I will show you some photos of my embarrassingly neglected garden. The chickens just keep getting into it and I must admit, I have given up. I did get lots of rhubarb and zucchinis and the potatoes are growing well, but they dug up everything else. Hubby keeps saying he will do the fences, don't pay someone to do it. How long do you think is a fair time to wait before I get someone in?!