Category: Little Musings

Five Christmas Gift Ideas for the Book Worm

I once did a “Five Valentine’s Gift Suggestions for the Book Worm“, since it’s almost Christmas, and  I’m trying to get myself into a festive mood, I decided to pen another one for the gift-giving season.  Let’s see if this will get me into the Chrissmassy mood.

I’m starting my list with books.  After all, it is a list for the book lovers.  It’s no secret how much I love beautifully made books, especially once with lovely illustrations.  I’m slowly building up my Folio Books Collection, they are all a dream.

 Hansel and Gretel, by the Brothers Grim

If you follow me over at Instagram, you’d probably noticed I posted a photo of this book already.  Sadly, I don’t have it … yet.  It’s a bit pricey at £250 but if you’re a book collector, I think it is so much worth it.  It’s not advisable though to buy it for your child, or maybe for older kids who know how to take care of books.

This beautifully illustrated book has 12 colourful plates reproduced from the copy of the first edition and text is printed on Caxton  wove paper.  I think it’s absolutely beautiful.  When I’m gone, I won’t be able to leave T a lot of money (unless I win the lottery), nor expensive jewellery (a few trinkets perhaps).  Rest assured though that she will have lovely books to hopefully, leave to her children too.

I Am” Sylvia Plath Necklace

While I’m not a big fan of words in a necklace (Is there even a term for that?), I do love this Sylvia Plath one.  For those who love poetry, or if you like Plath like I do, you might want to have this on your list.  It’s a quotation from her first novel “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart.  I am. I am. I am”.  It’s solid brass with 9 ct gold plating and can be extended if you prefer a longer necklace.  This book was like a bible to me when I was a teenager, her words will always be special.

I’ve had this on my list for the longest time and it’s always out of stock, luckily it seems to be on stock at the moment.


Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit Lampshade

I love anything book-inspired, though admittedly don’t really have much of it.  Would love to have this White Rabbit lampshade.  For the price of £115, I’m just glad they included the cushion cover!


I do have a white wicker chair already.  All I need is that lovely lamp and cushion.

Wool Blanket

And of course, imagine being curled up in that arm-chair with this lovely soft Kilnsey Wool British made blanket wrapped around your legs in a chilly winter evening, kids asleep upstairs, with the Alice in Wonderland lamp on, giving you just the right amount to read your book, at the same time casting a lovely ambience in the room.  Now that’s what I call bliss.

Wool Blanket

Go Away I’m Reading Mug

And lastly, what’s a gift idea list without including a mug, right?  Priced at £8.99 – this lovely bone china mug is perfect for coffee, tea or hot chocolate, curled up in that white arm-chair (pictured above), legs wrapped in that wooly blanket, with your favourite book and the world outside, can disappear even for just a while.  And if anyone disturbs you, just point to your mug.  No need for words.

Remember, some times even book lovers like a variety of presents, not just books, but that won’t apply if you’re buying them Folio books. But then again, that’s just me.

Did you see anything you like from my list?

Are You feeling “Christmassy” yet?

I’m not.

Is “Christmassy” even a word?

Yesterday, as we got into the car to take T to her gymnastics class, Christmas songs filled the air.  I looked at my husband, and he said “Don’t look at me.  Blame her!” pointing at T who was busy mucking about with her friend in the car.”  Apparently, the-not-so-little-one has managed to find the Christmas CD which was part of her Now That’s What I call Disney CD which I thought I had hidden away.

Off we went as the song “Jingle Bells” blasted through the car, with me gritting my teeth, thank goodness, her new gym club isn’t that far from where we live.  I don’t think I’d survive the car ride if it were longer that 20 mins without turning into the Grinch.

I’m not just feeling the Christmas vibe just yet, which is a bit unusual, because I’m someone who loves and embraces everything about Christmas.  My husband recently brought all our decors from the shed because the boxes were being nibbled by mice.  If I were my “normal” self, I’d take this as a signal that it was okay to start decking the house with Christmas garlands with the husband protesting in the background and reminding me that “We agreed the first of December, remember?!”  And of course, I’d completely ignore him.

Nope, not feeling Christmassy yet.  In spite the Christmas adverts being shown on TV.  I finally saw the controversial John Lewis Christmas ad and found it really cute.  It didn’t upset or annoy me at all. But I did understand why some parents might be bothered about it.  If T asked me, I’d say. “The trampoline was from Santa, but he didn’t have time to set-it-up so  he asked the Dad to do it for him.  After all, he still has loads of presents to deliver all over the world right?” And she would believe me.

My mum sent me a photo of her beautiful Christmas tree.  Again, normally I’d feel really envious but I just admired it from afar and didn’t have the urge to go and pester my husband to get one before the agreed dates.

We’ve decided that it’s okay to decorate the house in the first of December.  We also have this Christmas tradition every year, where we go to a Christmas tree farm and choose a special tree.  But this happens usually on the second week of December.

What about you?

When do you start decorating your house and putting up your tree?

The Reading Residence

Strange Times

The results of the election in the States seemed to have enveloped one part of the world in a dark cloud.  It’s such a strange world we live in now.  Like many, I was upset about the results, mostly because I’m worried about my family living there:  even though they are American citizens, they are an easy target all because of the way they look and when you have a man who seems to demonstrate all the worst “isms” in life become President of that country, what are their chances?  They might as well draw a bull’s eye on their foreheads.

When my husband woke me up on Wednesday morning to tell me the results of the elections, I wanted to grab my daughter and start digging a hole so deep and keep her there until it’s safe to come out again.  I don’t want her to grow up in a world where it’s okay to be a misogynist and sexually assault women and yet be elected President of the  most powerful country in the world.

This morning, I wanted to wake up and realise that yesterday was a bad dream.  That it wasn’t our reality.  But I’ve been here before.  We had our own elections in the Philippines months ago.  Just like everywhere, clearly our people were tired of the political elite ruling our country and wanted change.  Like the Americans they thought they could turn to a demigod, a man they thought they could trust even though he made rape-jokes and thought that he could get away with it, by apologising later on and claiming it was all humour, just like Trump who called it “locker-room” talk.  And now that man has sold my country to China. He and his supporters have re-written our history by allowing a former dictator to be given a heroes burial.  A dictator who robbed my country clean, who killed thousands, among them, a poet, the father of one of my closest friends, and also the husband of my mum’s best-friend right in front of her, forcing her to pull the trigger, when she couldn’t do it.  They just shot him, but not before using her bellybutton as an ash tray. That very same day, she lost her baby too.  The same one who tortured my own mother when she was an activist during his time.  I guess, I ought to be thankful that they didn’t kill her. Is that all for nought?  Really?

We live in such strange times indeed.  My sister said in jest, the world is ending.  I replied to her seriously and said “No, it can’t end.  We have our kids to think of!”  After all, it’s our children who will have to live with the mistakes of our past.  And here I was thinking that I’ve had it with gloomy thoughts.  Can you blame me?

Dear World,

No more bad news please.

The Reading Residence

Seasonally Lonely

Before moving to England, I’ve never heard of S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) before.  When I did, I laughed. Yes, I actually laughed and couldn’t believe that there was such a term.  But having lived here for almost a decade, I understand now.

I know now how the short days and seemingly endless not to mention cold nights can do to ones emotional being and mental health.  How even the days can be so dreary, just looking out the window will want to make you want to weep.

How little things that can happen, or careless words said in the summer when they days are longer, carefree and bright, and therefore can be brushed aside and deemed not important.  When the days are short and the nights are long, those words can sting you, and wound you so deep, if left untended, can and will fester all through out the winter.

In past posts, I wrote about what I arm myself with to ward off the gloom.  I turn to comedy and humour.   I try to focus on the smallest joys like wooly socks that keeps your feet nice and toasty.  In the month of November, we have the promise of Christmas, even though it can be madness too, up till the 25th, at least our minds are preoccupied about lists to tick off and presents to buy.  January though can be a bit tricky, especially once the decors have been taken down and the house suddenly looks bare.  Thirty-one bloody days of bleakness.  Luckily February is a short one and down here in Cornwall, Spring comes early.  If we’re lucky again this year, the daffodils will come springing up even in mid-December like last year.

Knowing how much I missed the music of my past, my husband bought me a collection of Rickie Lee Jones CDs.  And as much as I love her, she can be bloody depressing (see previous post).  I’m sorry Rickie.  You will have to collect dust for now.  I’ll take you out in the summer.  For now, I’m only going to listen to Highlife.  Ghanaian music always makes me think of good friendships, the sun, festivals, and dancing, even if it’s looking desolate outside.  Enough of my ramblings and navel gazing.

What about you?

What helps you get rid of the blues?

Postscript:  I drafted this post last night.  My husband woke me up about the latest news that’s happening across the globe.  I’m afraid not even Highlife can cheer me up now.  Whoopie-bloody-doo-dah.  We live in such strange times.

A Little Bit of Rambling

I think Winter is slowly inching its way in, nudging Autumn on the side.  The air is chiller now and our windows are always framed in frost.  It does paint a pretty picture though, especially when you have a lovely view of the country outside.


And since it’s the first week of November, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about Christmas already.  I must confess, I do love Christmas and everything that goes with it.  At the moment though, I’m thinking, this is happening way too soon as if someone has pressed the fast-forward button.  I need it to slow down just a little bit.  While I love decorating the house up in lovely Christmas lights and all that, I shudder at the thought of the madness that happens up till the 25th of December.


I’ve also been busy raking leaves in our garden.  I go out bundled up in my thick coat and wellies, complete with wooly hat, gloves and a scarf.  After raking for some time, I find myself peeling off the layers.  Raking makes good exercise.  I’m glad I talked my husband out of buying good rakes instead of a leaf-vac, so far, the novelty hasn’t worn off yet.


In other news, we’ve finally managed to book tickets to see Matilda in London this December.  This was actually included in my summer bucket list but we didn’t get around to going.  I’m glad we’re finally going to see the show since I’ve only heard great reviews about it.  Also, we’ve never used AirBnb before, but decided to give it a try for our night’s stay in the capital.  Hopefully it will be a good experience for us.  Now all we have to do is book Doc into a kennel and we’re all good.


I’ve been listening a lot to Rickie Lee Jones again, and I can’t seem to get the song “Autumn Leaves” off my head.  I love, love, love the bass in the this song.  I know, not exactly cheerful is it?  I need one that will make me think of sunshine and warmth.

 What about you?

Are you ready for winter/Christmas?


Our lives, our memories are made up of little moments …


Just as I was about to strap T in the car to go trick or treating with her friends last Monday, she bent forward and vomited all over her lovely La Muerte dress.  It looked like liquid chocolate on her black dress, which spilled into her orange pumpkin bag.  Her little friend who came over for a play date exclaimed “Oh T, you’ve got the bug now!”  And my little girl burst into tears, just as the afternoon was fading and the night was creeping in.


It was our wedding anniversary last Sunday and in the car, on our way to Truro, I turned to my husband who was driving and said “Guess how much I love you?”  How much?  he asked, humouring me.  I replied “more than infinite!”.

At the corner of my eye, I saw the T’s facial expression change.  She was hurt.  The look of betrayal was all over her.  This is our thing.  Every night just as I tuck her in, we go through our dialogues:

“On the day you were born”.  She replies with “It was the happiest day of your life”.  Followed with a “Guess how much I love you?”  Her answer is always “More than infinite!”.

“You know I love you more than infinite too, just like your dad, right?”  I said to her as I reached out and held her hand in mine. She nodded her little head and the hurt was gone.

“She smiled and said with an ecstatic air: “It shines like a little diamond”,
“What does?”
“This moment. It is round, it hangs in empty space like a little diamond; I am eternal.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre, The Age of Reason

 The Reading Residence

A Frustrating Week

One of the downsides of living in the country and being away from urban amenities, is the limited choice of shops we have.  When we tire of the available ones within our area, we have to drive at least an hour from where we live, just to be able to try something different, whether it’s eating in a restaurant or clothes shopping and that is why I order most of our things online.

About a week ago, I ordered a few clothes for T, myself and my husband from this Japanese brand I’ve been meaning to try, especially since my family back home have only good things to say about this particular brand (which will remain un-named in this post, because I’m nice 😉  They only have a few shops around here in the UK unlike other foreign brands and every time I visit London I always forget to visit.

I was excited to receive the items right away so ordered next-day delivery, especially since I wanted T to wear the outfit when we went to the Bath Children’s Literary Festival as mentioned on my previous posts.  It didn’t arrive that day or the next.  When I tracked it online, it was logged as “attempted delivery”, which I found really hard to believe because I was home the whole time.

On Monday, it was then showing as “delivered”.  Odd.  I circled the house, and also went outside our little gate, just to double check that they didn’t leave it there, but it was nowhere to be found.  Prior to this, I’ve messaged them about “paying extra for a no-show next day delivery” to which they promised a refund.  I tried looking for a contact number on their website.  Found none – but came across a phone number of their London shop.  After about two hours of trying on and off, they finally answered the phone and promised to look into it and would phone me back.

And they did, but only to say that they did receive my email and will reply back. A bit peeved I inquired about my order.  The poor man on the other end couldn’t give me an answer, but told me to wait for the email.  To be fair, later that day I received the following:

Dear Mrs. B.

Thank you for your email.
We are sorry that you are still not in receipt of your parcel.

We understand that although it is stated that your parcel has been delivered to the below address you are still not in receipt of this. We have escalated this with our courier to look into further with the driver in question and will be in contact once we receive an update.

In the meantime, we would strongly advise you to check with your close neighbours (as parcels may be left in deemed safe locations or with neighbours as part of our courier’s policy), should this not be the case, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will escalate this further.

My reply was:

We live in a private road and there’s only three houses that share this.  I can assure you that if the order was somehow delivered to one of the houses in our street,  our neighbours would’ve brought the parcel to us by now, especially if they left it with the lovely farmer and his wife, down our road who likes to have little chats whenever they pass by in their quad bikes.

Unless of course, my order was accidentally delivered to Theo, the bull who lives in the field next to our house, then I’m afraid he might have had it for dinner, because somehow I doubt the jumper I chose for my husband would fit him.  Does that mean I won’t get a refund?

Kind regards,

Mrs. B.

And so the saga continues…

As I type this, the crazy old woman who lives in my head is sniggering. “You do realise you’re coming across as some bored superficial house-wife who has nothing better to do but moan about her lost purchases she ordered online?”  Hush, you silly old witch!  Keep taking the tablets … And yep and you know what? I don’t care.   I wouldn’t want to waste money now, would you?

If you find yourself driving in our corner of England, don’t be surprised if you see a bull wearing a lovely blue jumper.  Yes, I know. It’s way too small for him.  But don’t say anything please, it might hurt his feelings.

The Reading Residence
UPDATE:  I’ve finally received my package and I’m so pleased with my orders.  Might even order from them again, in spite bad delivery.  Will think it over.  Thank you all for your lovely/supportive comments.  We’re thinking of getting Theo his own jumper for Christmas 😉

Autumn Thoughts

“We’ll be needing a leaf-vac” my husband says to me as he surveys our big garden.

“Pfft” I say to him “All we need is a rake and I’ll get raking!”


Scene from our back-garden.

I had images of myself going out with a rake in hand, wellies, wrapped up nice and warm in my brown coat (the one I use to walk the dog), complete with wooly hat.


I had visions of myself raking away, deep in thought, while Doc as usual, would be lumbering around like a silly billy.  After while, I’d have a whole mountain of lovely brown and golden leaves on one side.  Maybe later if there was still enough light, T can do a leaf dive and I’d manage to catch everything in my camera (I rarely do, by the way), perfect captured moments, to be later posted on Instagram.


When all this is done.  We’d go in, hand-in-hand, mother and daughter, the husband will be slaving away in the kitchen with a lit fire, making us delicious hot-chocolate, complete with whipped cream.  He’ll also be slicing us a piece of cake fresh from the oven.  Lovely.  Life is bliss.

 “Dean, look at all those trees” the husband pointedly says, interrupting my reverie.  Can you imagine all of those leaves on the ground?

view_fromstudy View of the side-garden from the Historian’s study.

“Yep, we’ll need a leaf-vac”  and just like that my husband bursts my bubble.

Are you a dreamer like me, or practical like him?

Goodbye September

September went by in a whirr.  The last thing I remember was getting T ready for the first day of school and now the first month is gone.  Pfft, just like that.

She’s well settled now.  To be fair, we didn’t have any problems with her settling in. It was different of course when she was in reception and even parts of year 1.  My husband and I are really pleased that year 2 seems to be working out really well for her, in spite having a new teacher.  All is definitely well.


Little T has also started with ballet and is loving it.  She’s pleased with her pink leotards although she did wonder if she could have a different colour.  When I queried it with her teacher, she said that their students are required to wear regulation leotards, not wanting to offend, we decided to just get them from the ballet school.


After the closure of T’s gymnastics club in Bodmin and then following her announcement of early retirement and then coming out of it, we were a bit worried that we wouldn’t find a new club within reasonable driving distance from where we live. I’m glad my husband persevered in looking for another one.  Luckily for us, the North Devon Gymnastics Club decided to open up a pilot class in Bude where it’s nearer to us.  Since they are still new in the place (their main club is in Bideford), they don’t really have much equipment yet, I’m hoping that will change soon.  And since it’s nearby, close friends of T’s from her school have decided to join in with her.


Admittedly, T didn’t practice her cello over the summer break in spite her teacher giving her some exercises.  I guess it’s because I wanted her to enjoy her summer break more.  But I’m glad to say she’s back in the groove and is practicing as much as she can.


I’m glad to say she’s still doing well.  To be fair though, she went to swim club over the summer-break, so she didn’t really get much of a break from swimming which is good, because she hasn’t lost her momentum.  Her coach is really pleased with her progress, especially since little T had a bit of a trust issue with her.

Yes, we are all settled and definitely back in our school routine.

Our word of the week is routine.

What’s yours?

The Reading Residence

The Last Summer Barbecue

It was a bit of a mix this week, weather wise, that is.  The first two days felt like autumn has finally come and then on Wednesday, the sun suddenly came out and it was warm again.  Warm enough to have a barbecue outside, our last one for 2016.


I find it a bit dispiriting that this will be our last barbecue outside.  Even Doc seems to agree with me on that one.  While I do like autumn, the changing colours of the leaves, even the dip of the temperature is kinda of nice, especially since it isn’t usually that cold here in Cornwall compared to the other parts of the UK. But somehow the idea of not being able to dine outside dampens my spirit a bit.


My last Pimms for 2016.  Okay, I’m lying.  I still have half a bottle left and strawberries and all the other goodies that this drink is made of in the fridge, so I might just be able to have a glass or two before I call it my last.


In other news, little T has been unwell since Monday night and has been off school for two days now.  She was back yesterday and is feeling so much better apart from the usual cold that comes with the changing of the seasons.

Also, a close cousin of mine is here in the UK for the year.  Sadly, as much as I would love for her to stay with us, we drive her off to the University of Reading for her post grad studies on Saturday.  The good news is that she’s spending Christmas with us and hopefully she’ll be able to come and stay every chance she can get.

My word of the week is “last”.

What about you?

When was the last time you had a barbecue?

The Reading Residence