Thursday, 3 May 2012

books, books, books

Do you remember 2009? I kept track of all the books I read that year, and recently reading those posts again I've decided to diarise my literary year again.

Since January...

The Waiting Game, Alexander Fullerton
Nicholas Everard; Vol 2 Mariner of England, Alexander Fullerton
The Glitter and the Gold, Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan
Hard Times, Charles Dickens
Snobs, Julian Fellowes
The Light Years, Elizabeth Jane Howard
Marking Time, Elizabeth Jane Howard
Confusion, Elizabeth Jane Howard
Casting Off, Elizabeth Jane Howard
The Cranford Companion, BBC


I've really enjoyed all these books, the Cazalet chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard is a monumental family saga, with a 'cast of thousands', and is an incredibly detailed portrait of an upper middle class English family before, during and after World War Two.  Alexander Fullerton's 'The Waiting Game' is a very tight book, quite different from many of his others, and focuses on a secret naval mission to Norway.  'Snobs' was fun, though a little predictable, 'The Cranford Companion' was a bit of a treat and is a gorgeously produced book, 'The Glitter and the Gold' is a fascinating, though curiously written, memoir of the former Countess of Marlborough, which I found in the wake of Downton Abbey series 2 fever.  As it's a memoir, rather than a biography, you can sense that much is hidden, glossed over, or forgotten, but it is enjoyable for all that.  And 'Hard Times' was brilliant, a tight, witty, interestingly written book with a plot that isn't that sorrowful or depressing after all.

And do you remember this post, when I started to read more children's books? I did read most of the books in that list, and I still read children's books...

Since January...

Moominland Midwinter, Tove Jansson
Don't Want To Go, Shirley Hughes
The Girl Who Loved Wellies, Zehra Hicks
Stanley's Stick, Neal Layton and John Hegley
Again, Emily Gravett
Dogs, Emily Gravett
Monkey and Me, Emily Gravett
Lost and Found, Oliver Jeffers
Up and Down, Oliver Jeffers
The Incredible Book Eating Boy, Oliver Jeffers
Stuck, Oliver Jeffers

It's A Book!, Lane Smith
Paddington Bear in the Garden, Michael Bond
The Story of A Seed, Eric Carle,
In Wibbly's Garden, Mick Inkpen

Most of these are picturebooks, and I'm quite choosy over picturebooks, poor illustration totally kills it for me.  Moominland Midwinter is the first Tove Jansson book I've ever read, and it was perfect for the January afternoon I spent on my sofa wrapped in a blanket.

And here are some books I really love by Usborne;

Usborne The Story of Art Sticker Book
Usborne The Impressionists Sticker Book
Usborne Art Sticker Book
Usborne Kings and Queens Sticker Book

Though I am doing an undergraduate course in Art History, I've found these books to be fun and pretty informative.  Definately a great thing to buy if you're a beginner but need a break from, or are totally put off by, heavy tomes.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Diamond Jubilee Series - Cupcakes

Baking cupcakes for the Jubilee weekend? There are some very cool and kooky cupcake kits out there, here is my pick...

Just Added! Today I discovered the lovely watercolour-style Jubilee range by Waitrose.  I particularly like the little trays, perfect for triangle-cut sandwiches. 

Meri Meri 'It's British' kit £8.99 at and 'It's Terribly British' kit, £10 at

Jubilee Canape Flags, £4 for 24, a

Royal Jubilee Cupcake Decorations, £5 at

Navy Diamond Jubilee cupcake toppers, Union Jack Edible Butterflies, Royal Retro cupcake toppers, from £1.69 for 12,  at

Royal Retro Cupcake Toppers

Jubilee Cupcake Wraps and Toppers, Cupcake Thrones, Mini Jolly Windmills, Jubilee Pop Top Decorations, Jubilee 3 Tier Afternoon Tea Stand, all available at

And finally, the Good Food website have a gorgeous rose, almond and raspberry Jubilee Cake recipe here.

Jubilee cake