Sunday, 19 June 2011

Sunday Bookworm

Welcome to my first Sunday Bookworm - where I am writing about recent favourite reads of mine, hopefully to provoke thought, and encourage others to pick up a good book. I will be announcing next month's book at the bottom of this post, so if you would like to join in the discussion please drop me a line at subject "Sunday Bookworm" and tell me what you thought, liked or didn't like about the book in question.

The Ice Cream Girls
by Dorothy Koomson

I first came across Dorothy Koomson as a writer when I read the much publicised "My Best Friend's Girl" way back when it was a Richard & Judy Summer Read - it may have been Ms Koomson's third novel - but for me it was her first, and it will always remain my favourite. I have been avidly collecting and reading all of the rest of her books ever since, and The Ice Cream Girls has been the latest one I have read. The writer likes to tackle emotional issues in her stories, although for me it is the depth of characters and realism that also shine through.

The Ice Cream Girls tells the story of two young women who were charged at a very young age with a brutal crime. One girl is convicted, and one is cleared. Now their paths cross again, and we are witness to the development and fall out that this brings to their lives. We learn the history to their supposed crime, told in sometimes alarmingly graphic detail, and are slowly drawn into their world - even thinking, what would I do in their situation?

This is one excellent novel! It is bold in the way it tackles a potentially very sensitive subject, and yet treats it with compassion at the same time. Personally, I thought it had a touch of "Martine Cole" about it - not in a bad way, but in it's realism, grittiness and down to earth nature - although it still retains Ms Koomson's own style and identity.

The characters are well drawn and totally credible, and the writer's ability to tell the story from two peoples angles, at two different ages in their lives, shows a lot of talent. The stage is again very credible - no yummy mummies, or public school off spring here (my banes of modern "chick lit") - set in Real England, warts and all. It is interesting to see how one act can touch so many lives, even years after it has taken place, and this adds depth and intrigue to the story. There are buried secrets and inner turmoils to be uncovered, moral avenues to be explored, and engaging people to meet.

Oh, and also there is a great twist in the tale at the end!

If you are interested in this, or any other book by Dorothy Koomson, or indeed finding out more about the lady herself, then she has an excellent website at which I urge you to explore.

Is My Best Friend's Girl still my favourite? Hmmm, to be honest, I'm not too sure any more!

Next month's Sunday Bookworm will be posted on 17th July 2011 and I will be reviewing...

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

I do hope you will join in and send me any comments!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

What's the meaning of it all...?

No, I don't mean life, the universe and everything - we all know the answer to that is 42 (and with that I've probably just given away my age!)...

...What I'm talking about is "Vintage" and "Shabby Chic".
These terms are bandied about everywhere these days as popular terms for a new culture of, basically, old things. Or things that are a bit distressed, or pretty in a cottage-y kind of way, or... well, you name it, everyone has their own definitions! And I'm afraid that is my problem. We are straying too far from the real meaning of the actual words.

Going back to basics, and on the same theme, we all know pretty much where we stand with the term "Antique" - it is a word we generally use to describe anything of around 100 years old or more. Lovely, nice and clear. Done.

OK, so what about Vintage? Well, I have researched this one and, getting away from wine (which was difficult, in more than one way!) I can conclude that it is a generic term that refers, or should refer, to an item that is "of old, recognised and enduring interest, importance or quality". Perhaps not quite so clear, but it gives us a good point of reference.  I have often been worried that when I am selling "vintage" crockery (in particular my gorgeous tea cup candles) that I am simply picking up a term and running with it, probably for the sake of cashing in on today's trend for items with age, provenance and beauty. But, as you see, there is no age limit on being vintage (my major worry vindicated), and in fact it would appear to be a rather esoteric handle, that people can turn to fit their items (cars, furniture, clothing, wine... crockery!) just so long as they fit the broad spectrum of being a good example of their own place in time. I like that last phrase - for me that sums up vintage pretty damn well.

Now to the absolute minefield that is "shabby chic"; and I guess I am about to have a soap-box moment! You see this adjective just about everywhere. My regular readers will know that I have an Ebay addiction, so it will come as no surprise that my first gripe starts there. So many items are described as shabby chic - maybe because they are old, maybe because they are a little worn, maybe because they seem to fit the seller's perception of what this term means - but in my opinion, they live up more to the shabby and less to the chic!

Having trawled the internet for a true definition of the term, my old friend Wikipedia has come to my rescue: 
"Shabby chic is a form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their age and signs of wear and tear or new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique. At the same time, a soft, minimalistic, and feminine feel is emphasized to differentiate it from regular vintage decor; hence the "chic" in the name."

It is the second part of this definition that I feel most often gets forgotten - so many people concentrate on the shabby, but forget the chic part. To me shabby chic should be "faded elegance" or "distressed beauty" - not crappy rubbish that might once have been quite nice, but now really is beyond all redemption!

But there is also a second detractor from the true essence of the term... And I will call this "The Cupcake Revolution".  Now I like a cup cake as much (if not more) than the next woman, and I do also like pretty home wares, and I'm not adverse to the odd biscuit tin or china mug depicting a cup cake pattern. But please. Come on. I will spell this out quite plainly...


 (Well, maybe give it 30 years, a few dents, a little rust, and you may have a nice retro piece of social history - but you get my drift.)


I have probably now alienated half of the female population, and my Twitter followers will be un-following in droves. But I just had to say it. I love vintage, I love shabby chic, I love faded elegance, I even love cute, chintz, kitsch, retro, classic and cupcakes - but please can we at least try to describe our products accurately?


And just to show no hard feelings against the humble cup cake,
I do happen to think these tins from Lakeland are pretty lush.
No mention of shabby chic in their description though....

Friday, 3 June 2011

Folksy Friday - Feeling Arty...

I haven't done a Folksy Friday post for a few weeks now, I'm trying to add a bit of variety to my blog, but I thought is was time to bring you a another selection of beautiful items from our wonderfully talented crafters and artists.

My inspiration for this week's collection came when I was researching items for another Folksy orientated blog that I write for (Found on Folksy - they publish a weekly Tuesday post) and came across so many lovely paintings and art works for my chosen subject (you'll just have to visit the blog next Tuesday to see what it is!) that I thought it was about time I showcased some of this amazing wall art.

I am truly astounded by the talent of these fabulous artists - personally I can't draw a pair of curtains, let alone know where to begin to create something this beautiful - so I am totally in awe of all the artists I have featured here. is bursting with similarly fantastic art pieces, and all at reasonable prices bearing in mind how much you would have to pay for one off pictures like these in a gallery. So support our clever artists, and next time you want to brighten up a room take a look!

by Cora Stone's Paintings

by Wellydog Gallery

by Posh Oxford

by Genevieve Cseh Art

by My Tweet Things

by Sascalia

by L F Studio

by ..........redpaint!

by cheery deary

by Vintage Twist art by Claire Barone

These are just a few of my favourites... click on over to to find yours...
...there are plenty more for you to discover!