Let’s Catch Up, Shall We?

It’s fair to say that it’s been an awfully heavy month. I have done little else but work, cry, look after mum, try to keep the family sane, stitch & attend bootcamp. I can report that of all those, only work & Mum is the bit where I can consider it a pass.

If you don’t want to read on, you can take a pass here too. Thank you for your kind thoughts & prayers & comments over the last month. They are very much appreciated.

Let’s divide these up into sections:

WORK: I am up-to-date thanks to Jille taking care of one of my in-boxes for a week. I am currently starting at 6am, finishing just after 2, & picking Mase up from school, & into “normal” stuff after. I have run out of leave, as the rest of the adult family didn’t step up (yes, I am a little resentful here). I have another 4-6 weeks of this routine. It’s hard not having a proper lunch break/walk/escape from the office time. One of the buyers is also not speaking to me, the weirdo, as her work crush has been speaking to me! Umm – he has to, we work together?!! I have little patience for child-like, bitchy actions from people in their 50’s! I am treating this like a game & currently we are at day 12. I wonder if this can last until her retirement? Cross fingers!

 

BBM: I tried going to 2-3 of these a week. Unfortunately I’ve re-injured my wrist last Sat at the Strength HQ morning so can’t do half the stuff. I can’t STITCH either! Slowly going insane…cue the CRY. And the migraine, which is completely stress related. The GP yesterday put me onto Rizamelt, which dissolves in the mouth. So I’m more likely to gain a benefit, as the fast-acting migraine the other day left me vomiting.

 

MUM: So the 4 hour hospital appt turned into 5 days. The surgeon taking the lung biopsy cut thru her lung, & so she needed a chest drain. This gave rise to further complications. She doesn’t remember much, as she was pretty out-of-it, but at one point I honestly thought that she was going to die. Lung illnesses are scary stuff. The funniest point was when (high on morphine) she was glaring at one of the nurses, totally convinced the poor woman had kicked a squirrel! Yeah. We don’t have squirrels down here. Not even close.

The upshot is that we don’t yet have a comprehensive diagnosis. This is making Mum giddy, & it took a lot of talking to get her to understand that YES SHE IS STILL SICK and NO YOU CAN NOT GO BACK TO YOUR NORMAL. She likes to bury her head in the sand and ignore what she doesn’t like, which is one reason she got so ill, because she wouldn’t go to the GP until we forced her.

Her ANA tests are sky-high, which indicates an auto-immune disease. Her body is attacking her lungs. Usefully she tested negative for the more common strains, like rheumatoid arthritis etc. Her lung specialist has referred her to the RA clinic, as they deal with the auto-immune complications more than the respiratory clinic, then we go back to respiratory in 3 months time.

In the meantime, she has to eat regularly (at least 3 times a day, one meal fibre cereal & only 2 pc bread a day, which unknown to us was all she was having a lot of the time). Poop every day (instead of once a week). Take vitamins. Walk daily (cue a multitude of complaints). But she has lost 9kg since starting to see the specialist, so that’s good (it took 6 of us to move her in the hospital, as she was in so much pain she couldn’t help us). In another couple of weeks she can go back to the GP & see about clearance to drive & “work” at playgroup & school reading recovery again.

She will have to keep a healthy routine now for the rest of her life, and avoid people with respiratory illnesses themselves. I know this will be super-hard, as she needs to feel useful, but that should be a worry for another day.

If you got to the end of this, thank you! Well done! It was like a mini-marathon to run, & I guess you can tell that my personal stress level is super-high. I’m thinking I should probably take advantage of the work Employee Assistance Programme & the free counselling. Especially as I can’t stab things…

REVIEW: The Ludlow Ladies Society – Ann O’Loughlin

ludlow.jpgSYNOPSIS: Connie Carter has lost everybody and everything dear to her. To help nurse her grieving heart and to try and find answers, she moves from her home in America to Ludlow Hall, deep in the Irish countryside. All she knows about Ludlow is that her late husband spent all their money on the house – without ever mentioning it to her. Now Connie needs to know why.

At Ludlow Hall, Connie befriends Eve and Hetty and is introduced to the somewhat curious Ludlow Ladies’ Society. But can Connie ever reveal her hurt? And, more importantly, can she ever understand or forgive? As the Ludlow Ladies stitch patchwork memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface.

REVIEW: I found this novel both freeing and heart-breaking all at once, kind of like a modern Maeve Binchey. Not wanting to be too dramatic about it, but the first time my daughter went away on access, it felt like I had lost her. That doesn’t put me anywhere near the scope of anyone whose child has died, but it did allow me to empathise with the behaviour and mind-set that Connie portrayed. The way the author unfurls the characters is organic (I know, I’m getting all fancy up in here) and the pace suited the story and themes.

There are obvious things that happen (which I won’t go into) but even those enhance the plot and character growth. Easy five stars & one on the re-read shelf.

As per, I don’t seek to fund this site so the following link is non-affiliate. I was introduced to the title through Bookbub, but you can read a sample chapter on the publisher’s site HERE & find links to various purchasing sites. I’m definitely going back for the author’s two previous titles!

REVIEW: Just In New Zealand series – Rosalind James

JUST THIS ONCE: Escape to New Zealand #1

Everyone needs to be rescued sometimes.

Everyone but Hannah Montgomery, that is. She just needs a vacation. Three weeks in New Zealand to sort out her life, figure out what she wants, seems just right. Oh, and to relax. She should definitely put that on the agenda. She certainly isn’t looking for a fling with a professional rugby player, no matter how attractive he is. Hannah doesn’t do casual. But maybe just this once. . .

As much as he’s shared with Hannah, Drew Callahan has kept one very big secret. And learning the truth, now that she’s back home again, has made Hannah warier than ever. Drew knows that she’s right for him. But how can he convince her to let down her guard enough to explore what they could have together?

New-Zealand-Website-Slide_10_bksI’m a sucker for books about my own country/environment. Add on romance, a hot book boyfriend and I’m sold (Rock Hard, anyone? https://sewscrapmuse.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/review-rock-hard-by-nalini-singh/ The concept of the plot isn’t too far out there (find me a girl who hasn’t dreamed of a bf that’s a sports/rock/movie star, & I’ll show you a liar) and the secondary characters are funny and well crafted.

James, while a Yank, has spent enough time here to perfectly describe our environment and she does it so well. Even our unique lexicon is sweet as… J I have devoured all the books in the series multiple times & would only admit to not liking one, which is very good odds for a series as large as this one has become. Overall I’d rate the series 4 ½ stars, which is very high for me! The best thing? The titles are now available on Kindle Unlimited and James has written plenty of others too. Book One, Just This Once, is available for free on most platforms in any case. Please click on the links below & enjoy:

Blog Hiatus

Hi everyone

yesterday was fairly traumatic. We’ve had some medical issues with a family member and also a close friend & frankly, I need to hibernate. I’ll most likely be stitching up a storm as I find that hugely therapeutic; & there are already scheduled review posts so I won’t be totally gone. I’ll probably be around on Instagram but not here or FB.

If you pray, please pray for C & her surgical team; for K & his quick recovery (to add to his burden, his mum has just had ankle surgery so there’s two down in that household). And that I can hold it together & be brave in front of the kids. And that J can cover my leave requirements without breaking down herself.

Thanks heaps.

WIP Wednesday #199

I have done HEAPS this last week and I am so excited! My parcel has been in Miami for the last two days and I want it to HURRY UP but in the meantime I am pretty excited to continue with my two July WIPs.

Number One is the Mill Hill Christmas Island Santa, from their Tropical Santas line (2012 series). I am re-working parts of this as I go. You’ll note that he no longer has a coconut – I have elongated the shape to an oval and stitched it all in 434, which is the colour of the aged pig-skin rugby ball we have at home. Back story is that Santa played for the All Blacks (the national rugby union team) in his youth, & he still loves a bit of beach touch rugby. Today I’ll hopefully get that bird re-charted or stitched as a seagull, which is found on nearly every NZ beach. This pack has already been spoken for, & will be going off to Michelle #sprinklestitchykindness Garette, hopefully next week!

At home I have Andromeda on the lap stand. I finished her arm last night, and all the back stitch is done for the whole piece (both Kreinik & DMC) except her face, as I still have hair to complete in that area first. At this point I will stitch her hair in the charted colours. I am not yet sure what shade of green I will use for the ribbon in her hair but I think I found the perfect beads in my stash last night. I can tell you I’m adding an extra five bucks to the Stitch From Stash tally just for the frogging portion alone. I also decided that my Andromeda wasn’t going to be placidly waiting out the Fates. Eyes open & looking straight ahead. I looked thru my other Mira pile, found the eye I wanted, reversed it and re-charted to fit the 15 stitches high face (Cassiopeia is 18 stitches FYI).

Now, you’ll note that I now have a post count in the header. I’ve been blogging for nearly 10 years, so it took a while to average out the WIP Wednesday posts (I ignore the FB only ones) & I made an executive decision. Next week, being #200, calls for something special. Keep your eye out for #passthestash & a wee competition!

ARC Review: Forever In Good Hope – Cindy Kirk

good hope.pngBLURB: Delphinium “Fin” Bloom returns to her hometown with one goal: get the mayor—her former flame—to approve a location shoot in Good Hope. But business turns personal when the two become entangled in a fake engagement to comfort his ailing grandmother.

For Jeremy, the romantic façade hits close to his heart. Still reeling from the way things ended between Fin and him all those years ago, he sees the fake engagement as an opportunity to get her out of his system once and for all. But instead of laying the past to rest, Jeremy quickly discovers he can’t envision a life without her.

Now engaged to another man, Fin had long ago given up on the dream of a life with Jeremy. Why is it, then, that her fake engagement feels more genuine than her real one? As the sleepy days of summer come to a close in Good Hope, will Fin and Jeremy give love a second chance? Or will the revelation of a devastating secret put an end to the fairy tale?

I started reading this series as it popped up from my Kindle suggestions as similar to Sherryl Woods’ Chesapeake Shores series. And they are, in that the books are interlinked by family, romance and the wider community. Sometimes Kindle suggestions are wildly out (who the heck writes some of those book tags??!) but this one was spot on. While I haven’t written big reviews, I’ve given Christmas in Good Hope 4 Goodreads stars, and the same with Summer in Good Hope (possibly my favourite book of the series, with the presence of two normal & naughty boys) and this is one series I’ll be reading until the end. Go, Eliza!

I have to say, tho, that this is probably the weakest book of the series. Either that, or I really didn’t like Fin or the plot line. It was probably the plot line, but I persevered. I’m not the biggest fan of the fake engagement plotline, which generally has a big enough hole that you could drive a bus thru. I could see some of the ending early on (apart from the obvious real engagement) but there are other areas that out-weighed the fake. About half-way into the book, the secondary characters really started to shine and I enjoyed the second half way more than the first. Fin’s behaviour at the end of their school life was explained, Jeremy’s got a big twist coming (book six, Cindy?) and the family relationships were further fleshed out. As a series, the characters aren’t out-of-place as we move from book to book and it’s progressing nicely. I’d rate it 3 1/2 stars.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the publisher and am voluntarily reviewing it. As per, I don’t seek to fund this blog, but pre-order links & more about the series are available on the Author site http://www.cindykirk.com/ Forever In Good Hope releases on August 15th (so 16th if you’re in New Zealand, like me).

REVIEW The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue

Goddesses of Kitchen AveAuthor: Barbara O’Neal

Source: Kindle purchase

Rating: 4 stars

 

BLURB: From an acclaimed voice in fiction, this is a wry, beguiling, heartfelt, and warmly wise novel about second chances, unexpected choices, and the dreams that we all hunger to fulfill.

Trudy Marino never expected her life to turn out perfectly. But at forty-six, she was content with what she did have: her caring husband Rick . . . twenty-plus happy years raising three accomplished kids . . . and a lovely house in the artistic, vibrantly diverse town of Pueblo, New Mexico. But a heartbreaking discovery and a suddenly shattered marriage now has Trudy looking back on the choices she didn’t make—and where she might go from here.

Struggling to pick up the pieces, Trudy finds support from a quirky, eclectic group of friends and neighbors—her goddesses of Kitchen Avenue—all of whom are trying in their own unique ways to navigate life’s little surprises. There’s Jade, a fiery social worker who’s finding unexpected strength to deal with her “player” ex-husband, thanks to a most unorthodox passion; Jade’s grandmother, Roberta, who has just lost her husband of sixty-two years—and through memory and piercing grief wonders what to do with the rest of her life; Shannelle, Trudy’s young neighbor and an aspiring writer, determined to realize her talent despite formidable obstacles . . . including the husband who’s afraid her success will be his loss; and Angel, a young, quietly-knowing photographer who makes Trudy uncover a sensuality she never knew—even as he tries to get over the one love he can never really forget.

As Trudy faces her future, she discovers that figuring out what to let go and what to keep is just as difficult as moving on. As she weighs what she and Rick still share against new possibilities, she’ll surprise everyone— including herself—as she tries to reconcile the best of both.

I was hooked into this one by the cover. I know. Shallow. Bright shiny boots and fluffy cats. But the emotional tug made me keep reading thru the sometimes jarring character switches to a very satisfying end.

I could identify a little with Rick’s search for something “more”, which was echoed in both Jade’s need to express herself and Roberta’s overwhelming need to be with her husband. The way the characters are built is solid, & I only disliked one thread of the storyline (SORTA SPOILER ALERT) when Trudy has sex with Angel, looking to be desired, yet she knows Rick still desires her & did even after he had something on the side. There’s link to O’Neal’s other novels (which will go into my electronic TBR pile) which satisfies my want to revisit older characters and I’ll definitely re-read this one sometime in the next year or so.