Jan 31, 2015

Lung Leavin' Day



On February 2nd it's Lung Leavin' Day. On this day nine years ago Heather's lung was removed, because she had a life threatening form of cancer, mesothelioma. Asbestos was the cause of Heather's lung cancer. Most people who are getting diagnosed with this form of cancer are getting a grave prognosis. They told Heather she'd have 15 months to live. Heather didn't give up though and this year it will be the 9th time that she's celebrating the removal of her lung. She has a daughter and she wants nothing more than to see her grow up. 
On the night before her surgery Heather, her family and her friends gathered together. They'd written their fears on a plate and threw them into a fire. Heather has turned this into a recurring event and would like people to join her. As I think Heather is a very brave and strong woman with a very special cause, I didn't hesitate to agree to write something about Lung Leavin' Day on my blog. Her strength is amazing and she's definitely someone I admire. 

Lung Leavin' Day is all about writing down your own fears and throwing them in a fire. It's a great way to deal with the things you're most afraid of. As Heather is brave enough to share her fears with the rest of the world I will do the same with mine. I'm not a healthy person and I never have been. I have a genetic connective tissue defect called EDS. It causes a lot of problems with my joints and my organs. The worst thing about it is the pain and I'm taking 14 painkillers per day to keep it from overwhelming me. Sometimes I'm in too much pain to think and that's something I'm trying to avoid. There's always a small fear that I will have another day like that or that my painkillers won't work any longer. Then there's also something wrong with my immune system. I've been given Azitromicine for it and that helps enough to give me back part of my life. I can't eat many things as it's not the medicine that helps me with my stomach issues, but it's keeping chest infections, pneumonia, ear infections and sinus infections from spreading. I'm more vulnerable than most people and there's always the fear of getting sick. 
The past couple of years I've been so ill I couldn't do anything. I spent my days in bed or on the sofa reading and that's all I could do. Since the Azitromicine I can write and even though it hurts my joints and muscles I'm having a much better life which I enjoy every single day. I'm grateful that I've been given this small part and am also afraid that someone will take my precious medication from me. At the same time I'm also afraid that I'll never be able to eat normally again. My stomach is getting upset from most types of food and I keep having to cross things off my list of food I can take. I always have to bring my own food wherever I go and even then there are no guarantees that it won't make me ill. It didn't used to be like that, as food was my biggest passion. I'm afraid I'll never be able to enjoy it again.
On Monday I'm going to write down these fears and throw them in a fire. Having strength is facing your fears and trying to overcome them which is what Heather's doing over and over again, I think that's amazing. Are you ready to face your fears, so they will no longer be able to control you and are you going to join Heather with me?

Six Postcards Home by Michelle Jackson

Blurb

Michelle Jackson's sixth bestselling novel Six Postcards Home is set in Dublin, London and Spain. Karen and Greg fall in love as teenagers but their story doesn't run smoothly as a series of events and circumstances prevent them from being together. As middle age approaches it seems they will never be together...or will they?

Amazon

 Karen and Greg have something special. Their teenage love isn't just a casual thing, it's deep and it's real. Unfortunately they don't manage to stay together, but they can't stop thinking about each other. Each time they meet they want to get back together, but they're not sure if it's ever going to happen. They grow up and start living their own lives, but they do keep in touch every now and then. When they are approaching middle age, they still can't forget each other. Will they manage to make it happen or is life too complicated?
There are six postcards which all stand for turning points in Greg and Karen's relationship. Somehow they don't manage to make it happen between them while they want to every time they see each other. Life and sometimes stupidity or stubbornness gets in the way. Both Karen and Greg are such nice and kind people, they deserve some happiness. That's what I kept thinking. I married my high school love, so I know what they felt like, but I also got to see what would have happened if we would have parted. That meant this book came very close and it's why I liked it even more. The ending is so romantic and unexpected, I loved it. Six Postcards Home is a fabulous Irish novel and I highly recommend it. 

I bought this book from Poolberg during their Christmas sale and am very happy with my purchase.

Jan 30, 2015

Happy Mail Update and Giveaway!



I haven't posted about my happy mail project for quite a while, but it's still going and behind the scenes I've been making a lot of plans. My happy mail project is getting their own website where you can add the mail you've sent and request happy mail for yourself or someone you like/love. I hope it will be ready soon and in the meantime you can enter my giveaway to win some lovely happy mail.



 
  I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international. 

Lavender Loves Personalized Writings! + Giveaway


 It's almost February and that means it's time to start planning for my favorite holiday, Valentine's Day. I love finding cute and romantic gifts for both my husband and my friends. There are many different Valentine's Day traditions and I try to include the ones I know. Of course I always try to find special gifts and I've been searching the internet for weeks.


I found Personalized Writings on Etsy. In this shop you can find all kinds of personal listings. You can order a Valentine's Day poem, but they also help with your resume, speeches, poems on baby announcements and love letters. It's a fabulous shop and they will formulate their text exactly according to your wishes. I've ordered a poem from them and am very happy with it.


Some of my friends include a small poem with their cards every now and then. What's nicer than having a customized poem especially for your friends? That way you can make your own, special and personal cards. The same goes for a romantic gesture for someone you love. A poem will help you win someone's heart or it can deepen the love you already have for each other. 
I'm very happy that I can give away a personalized Valentine's Day Love Poem to one very lucky winner. Enter the rafflecopter below to win this amazing gift!


The winner will be contacted by Personalized Writings. Good luck! 

It's Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice + Giveaway

Blurb:

In 2008, Simon Fitzmaurice was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (mnd). He was given four years to live.

In 2010, in a state of lung-function collapse, Simon knew with crystal clarity that now was not his time to die. Against all prevailing medical opinion, he chose to ventilate in order to stay alive.

Here, the young filmmaker, a husband and father of five small children draws us deeply into his inner world. Told in simply expressed and beautifully stark prose - in the vein of such memoirs as Jean-Dominique Bauby's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - the result is an astonishing journey into a life which, though brutally compromised, is lived more fully and in the moment than most, revealing at its core the power of love its most potent.

Written using an eye-gaze computer, It's Not Yet Dark is an unforgettable book about relationships and family, about what connects and separates us as people and, ultimately, about what it means to be alive.

Amazon

Simon Fitzmaurice has Motor Neurone Disease. The prognosis of this neurological disease isn't good, the doctors told him he had three to four years to live, that was in 2008. After having severe respiratory problems Simon decided he didn't want to die, he wanted to live as he wasn't done yet. The doctors didn't agree with him and told him to give up, but he managed to get a ventilator to help him breathe.
Simon is a film maker and he's won several impressive prizes. When he has some problems with one of his feet he's in such a good period of his life. He's met the love of his life, is living in a nice house and has just started a family. Even though he slowly loses most of his abilities after that there's one thing that keeps him going. He wants to live and experience life. He's not ready to leave his loving family and to abandon his greatest passion which is film. He can move his eyes, which means he can communicate. He's written this book with the help of an eye-gaze computer.
It's Not Yet Dark is impressive. Not only because of the remarkable Simon Fitzmaurice and his wonderful view of the world, but also because of his beautiful sentences. Everything he writes is good. I loved reading about his family, about the things he's done in his life and his philosophical thoughts. This book is such a support for people who are struggeling to build a life around their illness. Simon focuses on what he can do and he manages to use that at maximal capacity, which is amazing. I admire this author and his book very much, it's filled with love and hope from beginning to end.

I bought my own copy of this book and purchased a second one to give away.


  I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international. 

Jan 29, 2015

After the Storm by Jane Lythell

Blurb:

Some secrets destroy you.
Rob and Anna have only just met Owen and Kim. Now they've boarded their handsome old boat to travel to a far off island in the Caribbean.
With only the four of them on board, it should be paradise: lazy afternoons spent snorkelling; long nights enjoying the silence and solitude of the sea.
But why does Owen never sleep? Why is he so secretive about his past? And why does Kim keep a knife zipped into her money-belt? Anna can usually get people to talk... but this time, does she want to?
 
Amazon

Rob and Anna are on holiday. They don't have much money and are very happy to be able to spend an entire month together. When an evening doesn't go according to plan they aren't so satisfied with their cheap accommodations any longer. Rob thinks he's found the ideal solution. He immediately says yes when Owen and Kim offer them a journey on their boat. Together they will visit remote and peaceful islands, they will get to see the most beautiful places, they will learn how to sail and it will fit their budget. Kim is a good cook, so it will all be perfect. At least that's how it's supposed to look. Owen and Kim are broke, they need to charter their boat, so they will have enough money to eat. Owen and Kim seem like a nice couple, but Anna has issues with them from the start. Is she right about the other couple or will they indeed have the promised holiday of their dreams?
After the Storm tells the story of two couples. Rob and Anna are English. They come from very different backgrounds. Anna is tense and she doesn't easily let herself go. To enjoy this holiday she needs to give up a lot of the things she values. Owen and Kim are American. They grew up together and have known each other for a very long time. Owen has trouble sleeping and Kim carries a knife with her at all times. Soon Anna's starting to ask a lot of questions, she wants to know more about the people she's traveling with and she's especially interested in Owen. He and Kim have secrets and Anna wants to know what they are.
From the four main characters I liked Anna best. She's the most sensible and she's both kind and strong. Kim is tough, she's been through a lot. Rob is easy going and he almost always has a good time, he knows how to make things fun and he's good at making small talk. Owen is the most complicated and mysterious. I couldn't wait to find out more about him. While reading this book I kept having the feeling that something could go wrong any second. Because of that I read the story in one sitting, I couldn't put it down. I badly wanted to know what would happen. Are Kim and Owen reliable people? That was the question I kept asking myself. I loved the ending of this book. It was unexpected and I'm still thinking about it. After the Storm is an intriguing read and I enjoyed it very much.

I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy of the book.

Lavender Loves Hoobynoo World! + Giveaway



I love Hoobynoo World. It's such a happy and cheerful shop. The items are all really cute and I like that they are characters with their own story.


The sunny and kawaii items are such a joy to look at. I think Hoobynoo World is so lovely and warm, it radiates fun.


 I asked the owner of the shop, Chiara, a few questions to find out more about her, her shop and the sweet characters.

What inspires you?

 Quite a few different things inspire me, I love kawaii and whimsical items. I love bright colours, rainbows and pastels and I love fairytales and fantasy.
I read a lot, both magazines and books and I watch many films. I get my of inspiration from all those things. I am inspired most by animals and nature which reflects a lot in my jewellery design.


Where and how did you learn to design and to craft?

 After school I did a three year general art and design course, where I studied painting, illustration, photography, printmaking and sculpting. After college I went to University and did a degree in Graphic Design. But I have always loved handmade crafts and over the years I've had many hobbies, scrap booking, cross stitch, sewing and many others. 


I love your style, could you tell a bit more about it?

 The style I think evolved because that is the sort of art I like, and I started off by creating things that I would want to wear or buy myself. I am always drawn to other artists and illustrators with this style and have lots of kawaii style artwork on my wall.
My love of Kawaii started as a child as we had lots of Japanese students stay with us while they were studying in the UK. Sometimes they would bring me presents with Kero Kero Keroppi or Little Twin Stars so it started from there I suppose.


How did your Etsy adventure start?

 Etsy seemed the easiest way to test the water and see if there was a demand for my product. My first etsy shop was CLS Craft Creations where I sold handmade bags and purses, I quickly realised that I really only enjoyed making them as a hobby and didn't want to turn it into a business.
The idea for Hoobynoo evolved from that first shop, I was trying to amuse my son one day while we were in a cafe waiting for our lunch and I was drawing animals on a napkin and making up stories about them. This gave me the idea of taking those drawings and creating character based jewellery, which would be less labour intensive than making bags and would provide more profit. As part of CLS Creations I had handmade little animal brooches from felt, I took the sketches I had done to create the patterns and used those as the starting point for the jewellery designs.


Do you have any good advice for someone who would also like to start selling on Etsy?

  Etsy is such a wonderful community of artists and craftspeople, when I first started I set up a group called the British Sellers on Etsy to bring together other British sellers so we could discuss our work and offer advice.
I think having that little community when I was starting out made such a big difference. If you are new to Etsy I would definitely recommend joining a team :)


These mirrors can be personalized which is something I really like. I love pocket mirrors and these are fabulous.


 Besides a Hoobynoo World etsy shop there's also a website. There you can find a lot of cute items and great sales.


Check out this amazing shop and the cute characters. They will definitely make your day!


Every item in this shop has a story. When you buy something from Hoobynoo World you buy an item with a name and personality. I think that's really great.

Freddie:

Freddie is the cutest fox in all of Hoobynoo World. Unfortunately, he’s always covered in rubbish so very few animals get to see him in all his natural glory. Freddie doesn’t care what he looks like, but he is always extra careful to poke the bins before he roots in them: he once woke a sleeping vixen and got more than he bargained for!


For a very lucky reader of my blog there will be £15 to spend on the website. That means the winner can choose something from all of these very kawaii items.



      I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international. 

Jan 28, 2015

Stargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami

Oto-san is down and out. Life has conspired against him and nothing is coming together the way he wished - so he sets out with his car to get away from it all. All the people around Oto-san have abandoned him in indifference but as readers discover along with him, the one he can count on utterly and completely is his adopted dog. His dog follows him blindly and faithfully to the end - lightening up his new adventure into the unknown.

Amazon

Happie has been with the same family for a long time and Daddy takes him for a walk each day. When everyone abandons him Daddy only has his dog left and he is his most loyal companion. Happie travels through the country with him on his way to a better life. While they're on the road several unfortunate events are taking place, but Daddy and Happie are always together. Happie will stay with Daddy till the end and he will never leaves his side.
Stargazing Job is a very impressive manga. I loved the story, it's beautiful. Happie is such a loyal dog, he's giving his love to people who don't always deserve it. Daddy walks him every day and tries to feed him as well as he can. When Daddy loses everything the bond with his dog becomes stronger. Happie can't talk and he might not know exactly what's going on in his boss's life, but he's always there to play and to be a loyal and loving pet. There's so much more to this story than only the relationship between a dog and his boss. I was angry about the horrible way some people can treat others. The drawings in this book sometimes said more than words could ever say. This is such a moving and emotional story and it's actually really philosophical. While I was reading the final pages I had tears in my eyes. I highly recommend Stargazing Dog, it's got so many layers and hidden depths. The writer didn't need a lot of words to say something meaningful, which is quite an achievement. I loved this book and will certainly read it again and again.

Romantic Giveaway



Today I've put together a romantic happy mail giveaway, which I hope you will like.



    I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international. 

Sign-Up: February New Release Giveaway Hop


This giveaway hop is especially for books that will be released in February 2015. 

- The prize has to be a book that has been published in January 2015, both ebooks and paperbacks are allowed.
- You can also give away additional items like bookmarks, gift cards, etc. as an extra prize.
- Don't use too many entries. I won't be really strict, but keep it easy for people to enter.
- Please be clear if you will be sending worldwide or not. Put it in the linky, so people will know. As you can send books via the Bookdepository for free, it would be great if you could send worldwide.
- Add the linky to your blog post ( I will send all the necessary information to you by email a few days before the start of the hop ).
- Please keep this hop family friendly.



Jan 27, 2015

Tea Natura Lara Crema Mani Protettiva



I've bought this Lara Tea Natura Cosmesi hand cream from Ecco-Verde. I have dry skin and especially during the colder months I need a good hand cream to keep my hands soft and smooth. I've tried this hand cream for a few days and really like it. It has a lovely, fresh herbal scent and it does what it promises to do. 
As this is a 50 grams package the tube is pretty small, but I think it will last quite a while. My skin absorbs the cream really quickly and it doesn't leave a fat layer like some creams do. This means Tea Natura hand cream is perfect to use during the day, even while using a phone or tablet with a touch screen. I'm actually very much in love with that aspect. 
The packaging is really simple and I like the colors and fonts that have been used. The brand has a serious look and feel which is pretty at the same time. I'm certainly going to try more Tea Natura products. I hope they'll be just as good as the hand cream.

Blog Anniversary Giveaway 20: Pink and cute




I love pink and have some more pink items to share. One winner will receive the items on the photo. Good luck!


  I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international. 

Jan 26, 2015

Blog Anniversary Giveaway 19: Exoal Wrap Bracelet


Win a great leather Exoal wrap bracelet. 


   I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international. 

Mother of the Year by Karen Ross

‘I often think my mother would prefer colonic irrigation to hanging out with me...’


Beth Jackson is a national treasure, celebrated for her television shows and winning the Mother of the Year Award three times in a row.


Only, her daughter just wishes that Beth would be more like a normal mum...

Amazon

JJ always feels insecure as she's nothing like her mother. Beth is a celebrity. She's got a radiating personality, she looks stunning and she always stands up for people who can't defend themselves. Beth was a teenage mother who vowed to make something of herself and she's done so with a fantastic television career. JJ works in advertising, she thinks she doesn't look as good as her mother, her career is nothing compared to Beth's and she'll never be able to come even close. JJ is good at her job though, she has a great best friend and a boyfriend who loves her. When she has to move back home all of a sudden things slowly start to be different. JJ is the only person who can change her life and the way she feels and the question is if she can do it. 
I loved Mother of the Year. It's such a great story about a connection between a mother and a daughter. JJ doesn't have much confidence and it's wonderful to see her grow. Of course there are some ups and downs and some of them result in funny situations. She's a lovely person. Beth has a lot of confidence, but when it comes to her daughter she's very sensitive. That doesn't always mean she makes the right decisions though. It was great to see the relationship between mother and daughter evolve. The bond between a mother and a daughter is a great topic to write about. It's also very sensitive and fragile. Karen Ross described, used and handled it so well. I liked all the developments in this story, every new scene was just right which resulted in a wonderful book.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Amazon

Review by Anniek:

I saw the cover of this book and was sold immediately. I know never to judge a book by its cover, but I do love a beautiful exterior. Fortunately I loved the content just as much. I couldn't put this book down and read it within 2 days. This is quite something as I have a 15 month year old son who needs a lot of attention. The story has been written so well I wanted to know more and kept on reading.
 
In the world where America Singer lives the people are divided into castes. You can be a one, a two, a three and so on. America is a five and her love Aspen is a six. In their world it is really not done to marry below your own caste, so they date in secret.
Prince Maxon needs to find a wife. The Selection is the way to do this. He will marry a girl who isn't royalty so she can relate to the people. America doesn’t want to sign up, but she has to and doesn't expect to be chosen from the thousand girls who have registered.

America is a person you will instantly fall in love with. She is loyal, brutally honest, sweet, caring and also has quite a temper. I had the feeling that if I would have met her in person she would have been a very close friend within seconds.
If you want to read this book, be smart and get the whole series immediately. I bought a box set which I highly recommend. You will be happy that you can continue with the next book straight away after finishing The Selection.


The First Month of the Year


This is the last Monday in January, for me it was a month with ups and downs. I spent the first few days of the year in Wales and I loved it there. I had such a good time and love the country and the people. When I left I could look back on a very good time. 
It was pretty much inevitable with so many people at the airport being ill that when we got home my husband and I were both under the weather. I already had some issues before Christmas, so wasn't very happy to spend my days on the sofa again. Luckily there was something really positive about that time as well. I had the chance to read a lot of books. 
Fortunately this was the only real negative. The positive is definitely a lot nicer to talk about. One really wonderful thing was the reading that also continued when I felt a bit better. I've read so much this month and I got a lot of great new books. Of course I couldn't stay away from book shopping while I was in the UK. Then I discovered a great English book shop in Amsterdam that has decent prices. The books aren't the newest titles, but they have some really nice offers. I've been there twice and am hoping to go a third time this week. 
My husband had some time off this month. After being sick we spent many fun days together. We've done a lot of shopping and I've found some great bargains during the sales. It was so nice to hang out together and I've had a great time. There are still a few days left and we're going to make them as good as possible, so I have something to look forward to this week. 
Another really great thing that happened to me is the mail I received. I got a wonderful I Love Beautiful Body set as a surprise gift. There was also a great package with Christmas presents waiting for me when I got home one day. And I've received an envelope with fabulous Etsy happy mail that has really made my day. I got several paperbacks from publishers/authors and enjoyed reading them very much. There was also a great thank you note from a dear friend and plenty of other things that brightened my days.  
I didn't expect that my giveaways would do so well. I'm always doing my very best to find the nicest combinations of gifts and am glad to make people happy with them. That has been my intention with this blog from the start and I'm enjoying it more than I could have ever imaged. I can't wait to list new giveaways and to keep the fun going. 
Last, but not least. I finally started thinking about what I'd like to do this year. My blog is one year old and I've discovered how much I like spending time writing posts. I've organized my first hop and event and am hoping to host many more. Of course there are other things that matter to me as well. For example trying to improve my French. I've made a list of things I'd like to achieve and hopefully I can manage to make some progress. I have a lot of ideas and can't wait to do something with them. 
Overall I loved January 2015. Hopefully your first month of the year was a good one as well.

Suzanne Loves The Boutique Bizarre! + Giveaway



 I love The Boutique Bizarre, it's such a fabulous Etsy shop with beautiful, original jewelry.


The owner, Kristin, works with all kinds of materials, but most of her items have been made from clay. I like the amount of detail and the amazing craftsmanship.


Kristin's ideas are truly unique and her jewelry is one of a kind. 


I've asked Kristin a couple of questions to find out more about her and her Etsy shop.

Where does your love for polymer clay come from?

 I found polymer clay about 8 years ago when I saw a girl who had made her own gauges while she was stretching her ears. I thought it was brilliant because that can get quite costly. I got some polymer clay of my own and fell in love. I haven’t put it down since! I eat and breathe polymer clay. I don’t go out or hang with friends, I make stuff. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up, and the last thing I do before I go to bed.


How did your Etsy adventure start?
  
As far as my start on Etsy; I was making my own jewelry. Then some people wanted to buy it and that was the first time I knew I could sell my stuff. I sold to local stores in my area for a few years, but saw that some girls had made stores on Etsy and were doing AMAZINGLY. I had to try it! As soon as I did I wondered why I hadn’t sooner. It was great! This holiday season was super busy and I hope next year is even more! I really hope I can make this into my career. I am always making new designs and my work has tons of influences. I don’t just stick to one style, I try to do them all! 


Where do you find your inspiration?

During high school I went in and out of popular scenes, for example; punk, goth, rockabilly, indie, girly, and much more. I love all types of styles so I couldn’t make a product with just one. I will get obsessed with let’s say kawaii for about a month, then the next month its steampunk, and so on. I feel that is the key to staying relevant, always having new merch.


What are your plans for the future?

 My future is obviously one with polymer clay. I want to make this a career, and with Etsy to help me, I know I can do it. I don’t want a job that keeps me from doing what I love. I want a job doing what I love. When it comes to clay I can work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week and it never becomes work. At a regular job, I wanted to leave after 2 hours. Obviously that’s not the path for me, hahaha.


 You can see Kristin's versatility when you look at her items. In her shop you can find quite a few different styles. There's something for everyone and that's really nice.


Kristin also makes custom items, so you can order something especially for you.


I've already spent hours looking at the beautiful and artistic creations. 


One reader of my blog will be very lucky as Kristin is giving away this amazing Steampunk Rose Anatomical Heart. It's so pretty! 


     
I will contact the winner on twitter or via email. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international. 


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