March 29, 2014

The Year in Books - March - Belle Cora

Several reasons for this post, which follows on so rapidly after the garden update.

Firstly, I'm so glad that I discovered Circle of Pine Trees - the year in books blog link up.  Laura started this in January, so I'm pleased thatI have found it reasonably early in 2014.
The two books I've read in March are - Stay Alive by Simon Kernick and Belle Cora by Phillip Marguilies and two more different books both written by male authors would be difficult to find.

I'm sure I've read Simon Kernick before and he has a reputation as a good thriller.  So despite trying to swerve away a little from mystery thriller types, Stay Alive did sound like an interesting read.  However (to this reader anyway) it was a disappointment.  Claiming to be a fast page turner, it was just that.  I couldn't wait to finish it and get it over and done!  With clumsy writing, an unbelievable plot with bodies dropping left right and centre. (I couldn't escape the mental imagery of the movie 'Home Alone' with the boy outwitting the baddies constantly). The ending seemed a bit rushed as the author tries to tie (the many) loose ends together. All in all I would consider it a holiday read - airport or beach!  

However, the book which really engrossed me was Belle Cora - oh my goodness, what an enjoyable read! This is riches to rags story of a daughter of a New York merchant who went on to become a millworker, a prostitute, a notorious madam, a murderess and eventually one of San Francisco's richest and most revered dowagers.

It's beautifully written - a spellbinding story of a single woman ahead of her time - the tale of an epic life.  She managed to rise above many difficult situations to make something of her life when it seemed there was no hope.  The book is tastefully written by Phillip Marguilies (can't believe a male wrote this particular book) and manages to celebrate a particularly strong woman. 

Have a look over at Circle of Pine Trees for all the details of this wonderful virtual book club!

cheers for now

March 28, 2014

In the garden - some rain at last

I'm linking in with Jacqui over at Dusty Country Road today.  I've been thinking of joining in the last few Fridays, but now at last I feel a bit more inspired.  We've had some rain, it's a little cooler (humidity stay away please) and I wandered about and took a few photos.
Wow - and my first mosiac too!  I've been aware that my photos have been looking a bit ordinary so I'm aiming to 'up the ante' wondering at the same time what that expression actually means.

So I stumbled upon reference to this site and managed to fumble my way around enough to make my first mosiac.  win win.

Back to the garden however!  Photos are as follow -

1&2 - Before and After sunflowers (see the sunflower experiment).  It's amazing what a brushcutter can do!
3&4 - Some rain in the gauge at last (only about 110mls over 2 days - not as much as some but more than we have had for a long time).  The humble start to this winter's veggie crops.  A rather hurried planting before the rains. Hopefully more time in the garden this weekend.
4&5 - Tamarillos powering on; our first coconuts!  We are in south east Queensland, in the sub-tropics so we weren't sure if this would ever fruit.

Thanks Jacqui for a bit of a push into appreciating the garden a bit more!  I hope to have more exciting photos next time of the progressing veggie garden.

cheers for now

March 26, 2014

Books 2014

This page is where I hope to add to my list of books read throughout the year.  It will be separately located near the blog header.  I'm planning to add to this with some comment on the book I've just read, giving my humble opinion on how I found the particular book.  Please comment or join in if you have read it too!
The genre of books I lean strongly towards is suspense/thriller/mystery.  Preferably not too detailed in the blood/gore aspect!  I really enjoy a good mystery with a twist, or perhaps a police procedural type.  The English author Peter James springs to mind, with his Roy Grace crime series based in Brighton.

Another favourite is Elly Griffiths with her lead character, forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway always with an interesting challenge placed in front of her.  I'm eagerly waiting her newest book, which is on my library reservation list.   However, as per my resolutions of sorts post at the end of January, I am trying to read different styles of books.  So I have stepped out of my comfort zone a little and have read a few different genres to date.

However, I have a major confession to make regarding the books I read!  I have an obsession love to read new releases and have a backlog of books reserved at the library.  At last count it was 23. All my reading is done via the library now.  Over the years I have decluttered (yes really!) the majority of my book collection. I really enjoy reading book reviews, and then following up to see if I can reserve the item in question at the local library. Fortunately, we have a wonderful library system here, and I'm usually able to find the book I'm seeking.

I'm not a particularly fast reader, and some take longer to complete than others.  The Luminaries would be one case in mention - what a doorstopper of a book!

This is the list of books I've read to date in 2014.


Paris Letters - Janice MacLeod
Through the Cracks - Honey Brown
The Disappeared - Kristina Ohlsson

The One Plus One - Jojo Moyes
All the Birds, Singing - Evie Wyld

April / May
The Weight of Blood - Laura McHugh
Life after Life - Kate Atkinson
Someone Else's Skin - Sarah Hilary
Keep Quiet - Lisa Scottoline

Stay Alive - Simon Kernick
Bella Cora - Phillip Marguilies
The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton

The Visionist - Rachel Urquhart
A Tap on the Window - Linwood Barclay

North of Boston - Elisabeth Elo
A Narrow Margin of Error - Faith Martin
Burial Rites - Hannah Kent
The Mayne Inheritance - R Siemon


I realise this is probably another major swerve from decluttering!  However, I've wanted to get a few things sorted on the blog for a little while, and this was one of the changes.

Thanks for the comments regarding my indecision on the blog name in my last post.  I've realised that I'm quite happy where it sits, and hopefully fellow declutterers can find some hope/inspiration/kindred spirits here!

cheers for now

March 25, 2014

What's In a Title?

When I first toyed with the idea of having a blog, it was more of an idea to keep track of my own feeble attempts at decluttering and sorting.  My house being a fairly good example of  '80s double brick ranch style home full of brown furniture.... and lots of 'stuff' inbetween.
Victorian mahogany Duchess dressing table fitted with seven…

In my naivety duchess_declutter was created (this was my very first post)  I was initially thinking of a duchess as one of these - and there is a big silky oak one sitting in our bedroom.  This is not it.

However, I thought it was a catchy title.  It seemed to fit in with the ideas that were flowing around about decluttering my house and my lifestyle.  At one stage I had two entire households here when I inherited a lot more 'stuff'.

So this is my official Disclaimer Post.  I am not a Decluttering Guru.  I'm actually pretty slack at it, and this also why I've been tidying up the blog a little.  I'm openly stating that this is not really a decluttering blog, more of a ramble.

My apologies to all how have clicked on the title and hoped for guidance.  I'm looking too.

I'd love some feedback - a) what do you think of the new colour scheme (if you're a regular reader)
and b) is it decluttering tips you're really after??

Cheers for now

March 19, 2014

The Sunflower post I've been meaning to write

We have sunflowers aplenty in our veggie garden at the moment.
all part of a planned 'experiment' in improving the soil for the future planning of our winter vegetables.

The shadehouse was emptied of last season petty remnants.  A soil test followed and some missing minerals were added.   Husband rotary hoed it, then planted basically this mix.
Wild bird seed from the produce.  I had a 20kg bag already purchased for feeding the lorikeets.  I realise that feeding wild birds may be a contentious issue, but we do it sparingly (might not seem so with a 20kg bag I know).

Husband sneaked out a few kilos of it and hand sowed it straight into the freshly dug up soil.
before long it started to look like this
and the outside area had been planted up as well.  It was no surprise that this section took off more.
inside the shadehouse is now pretty crowded and it's difficult to get a good photo
however, outside is just blooming. There are other varieties growing as well - sorghum, maize, millet I think  - but obviously the sunflowers dominate.
The place is alive with bees at the moment. 
and  I've found that sunflowers last very well as cut flowers.
However, the sunflower garden is about to meet its' demise.  This weekend is scheduled as cut and plough time. The main purpose of this was to enrich the veggie garden as a green mulch.  I imagine the chooks will love getting in there once it's cut!  Lots of insects and goodies for the short time they will be allowed in.

It's been an interesting (bright and colourful) experience.  However I'm also looking forward to the winter veggie garden and all that it brings.  I haven't really enjoyed this summer - it's been way too hot!

I'm not really one for the garden in summer, so I haven't been outside much at all, but I have been doing some decluttering - which has to be a good thing.  To be honest I haven't had much enthusiasm for that either. Bring on the cooler weather here in SE Qld sometime soon please!!

cheers for now