23 January 2017

Hygge books

There are so many great books out at the moment about hygge, and I wanted them all! But I made myself wait until after Christmas as it was the sort of thing I thought someone might buy me - and I was right! In fact the theme of my Christmas presents in general was hygge!

I got The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking for Christmas, and it is a really interesting and in-depth read on the subject, with lots of statistics on happiness. The illustrations are lovely too. The only complaint I'd have is that the text is a little small - I think that the book would have been better in a bigger size (but then the name would not have been as appropriate!).
After Christmas I ordered How to Hygge: The Secrets of Nordic Living by Signe Johansen and Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Soderberg. I went for books by Scandinavian sounding named authors only, as I presumed they should have the best personal knowledge of Hygge!

How to Hygge was there by the time I returned from my parents' house to my own house! It's by the same author as the Scandilicious Baking book that I love, so I was interested to read some more of her recipes and hear what she had to say about hygge. I actually think this is the best book of the three for practical ways to introduce hygge to your life, and I found it really inspiring. I liked the fact that it covered things like summer picnics as well as winters in front of the fire.

I haven't got properly started on Hygge by Marie Tourell Soderberg, but it looks like it has a lot of quotes from different people on how they experience hygge in their lives. Again the text is quite small (but maybe my eyes are just getting old!). There is a lot of white space around the text so it really could have been bigger. It looks like this book also has recipes.

21 January 2017

2016 reading

It seems that every year since I got my Kindle and started keeping track of my reading, I read even fewer books than the year before! This year, even though I made a big effort in December, I couldn't manage the previous year's total of 44 and only read 41. I'm determined that this year I will beat that!

I started to get into local author Val McDermid's books later in the year, and saw her speaking at Bloody Scotland. I will definitely be reading more of hers this year. Another local author whose books I really enjoyed was Jenny Colgan.

1. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
2. The World According to Anna - Jostein Gaarder
3. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage - Sydney Padua
4. Neurotribes - Steve Silberman
5. Hollow City - Ransom Riggs
6. Among Others - Jo Walton
7. Slaughterhouse-five - Kurt Vonnegut
8. The River at Green Knowe - Lucy M Boston
9. The Town in Bloom - Dodie Smith
10. Alex Through the Looking Glass - Alex Bellos
11. Jonathan Livingston Seagull - Richard Bach
12. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
13. The Year of Living Danishly - Helen Russell
14. The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro
15. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate - Cynthia Kim
16. The Undrowned Child - Michelle Lovric
17. The Magic Finger - Roald Dahl
18. Carry On - Rainbow Rowell
19. A Game of Thrones - George R R Martin
20. The Elephant Vanishes - Haruki Murakami
21. Concretopia - John Grindrod
22. All the Birds in the Sky - Charlie Jane Anders
23. Everyday Aspergers - Samantha Craft
24. Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer - Jane Brocket
25. Vincent - Barbara Stok
26. I am AspienWoman - Tania A Marshall
27. The Periodic Table - Primo Levi (audio)
28. The Mourning Emporium - Michelle Lovric
29. Class - Jenny Colgan
30. Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime - Val McDermid
31. Rules - Jenny Colgan
32. The Mermaids Singing - Val McDermid
33. The Humans - Matt Haig
34. The Wire in the Blood - Val McDermid
35. The Last Temptation - Val McDermid
36. The Lady Astronaut of Mars - Mary Robinette Kowal
37. The Torment of Others - Val McDermid
38. The Man in the Queue - Josephine Tey
39. Hercule Poirot's Christmas - Agatha Christie
40. The Kerracher Man - Eric MacLeod
41. The Little Book of Hygge - Meik Wiking

19 January 2017


Having experimented with vegetaranism in the past (buying and cooking only vegetarian food for a year), and knowing the impact that animal-based agriculture has on the planet, I was intrigued to give Veganuary a go. It comes at that time of year when I want to try a bit of healthy eating anyway, and I'd just happened to have a look at the one vegan cookbook on my shelf, Vegan Feasts by Rose Elliot, a few weeks beforehand.

Things got off to a slow start, seeing as I wanted to clean my freezer out first and there was a lot of meat and fish in there! I also had a good clearout of my food cupboards, so they are looking much tidier and I have a better idea of what's in them! But I properly got started about a week in to the month.

The first thing I did was to write a lot of lists - of meals to cook and of food to buy. I had a look at my cookbooks and online for ideas. Some of the meals on my list were mushroom and stout pie; a kale, black bean and avocado rice bowlsweet potato, black bean and rice bowlkale salad with carrot, avocado and tofu; satay sauce with sweet potatoes and rice; tomato and kale spaghetti; tofu scramble; peanut butter, cranberry sauce, carrot and sultana toasties, and much more! I know my local supermakets don't have black beans, so I made sure to pick a couple of packs up when I was in Glasgow. I was also lucky that Asda had kale in stock, because they don't always have it and a lot of my meals were based on it!

It wasn't that difficult to come up with meal ideas, since I tend to eat a lot of meals that are either vegan or vegetarian anyway. I also generally use soya milk so that was fine. I did find coming up with snack ideas a bit more challenging, though, as I do love a bit of cheese! However, I'd been getting into snacking on fruit recently anyway, and I also like things such as roasted chickpeas and kale chips.

I love trying new foods and a challenge like Veganuary is a great way to introduce yourself to different foods. And it's also great to know I'm doing my bit for the environment and animal welfare and my own health. I'll be thinking much more carefully about what I eat in future!

17 January 2017


I've really got into colouring recently! I was given a colouring book as a present a few months ago, I realised I hadn't done much with those I'd got last Christmas, and the librarian at work gave me some Christmas colouring bookmarks!
I realised that while colouring is quite a simple thing to do, it doesn't have to be mindless and un-creative - there are lots of ways that you can experiment and make your colouring pages unique by adding shading and colour gradients.
I'd coloured in one of the Japanese colouring postcards last year with Tombow brush pens, but was disappointed with how flat the colour was and how streaky the finish was. After reading a bit about colouring techniques, I discovered that I could use pencil on top of the pen and I was delighted with how it turned out - I've used this technique on a few other pictures since.

I've discovered that I particularly like colouring postcards and bookmarks, because they lie flat and are handy to keep beside you for those idle moments. I've actually considered cutting up some of the colouring books for this reason!
I've also bought some Stabilo Triplus fineliners which were in the sale at Cass Art, and they are great for getting into fiddly areas. I already had a handful of these so I knew that I liked them for writing and drawing with anyway, so it's great to have a bigger selection of colours.

14 January 2017

Blackboard writing

I really love beautiful chalkboard writing, but my own efforts so far had been really disappointing! I did a bit of reading online, and decided to try some chalk/pastel pencils.

Here you can see the difference between using an ordinary chalk and using pencils!
I bought a couple of different pencils from Cass Art (and would have bought another from Paperchase if the person serving me hadn't dropped it on the floor - and she didn't even understand why I thought this was a problem!). The white pencil is a Cretacolor chalk pencil, and the blue one is a Stabilo CarbOthello.
The chalk pencil was a huge improvement on chalk sticks, but I discovered that the CarbOthello pencil goes on much more smoothly than the chalk pencil and doesn't wear down as quickly. It also seems to erase quite well. Now that I know the sort of pencil I like, I am making a list of all the colours I want to buy!

12 January 2017

Recently thrifted

This was what I picked up on a recent trip to my charity shop to drop off some donations. I really liked the geometric pattern on the fabric of the bedding, and I love that it has different colours as I can use it for different craft projects. I immediately found a use for some of the grey fabric as I'd splattered a little curtain in my craft room with blackboard paint the previous day!
The woven mat will be great for using to line a tray, and for photographing things on, and I'd been looking for a little candlestick for thin candles.

11 January 2017

Felt bag

During the Christmas holidays I always like doing a few easy craft projects that I can do in front of the TV, and craft kits are a great way of doing this because everything you need is in the kit. This was one I picked up in Tiger. The bag shape was pre-cut, with holes already there for the stitching.

I realised I had kind of messed up the cross stitch by adding diagonals around the edge, but it was too late to go back and unpick it so I just continued it all the way around. The bag was really quick to make.
It will be a handy little bag to carry small craft projects around the house in.

09 January 2017

Crocheted dreamcatcher

During the Christmas holidays I always like doing a few easy craft projects that I can do in front of the TV, and craft kits are a great way of doing this because everything you need is in the kit. I save all the kits from Mollie Makes magazine in a basket, and try to remember to save the instructions and templates to go with them! Then when I need a little project I have a look through the basket to see what I have there.
This dreamcatcher was fairly easy to crochet, although I had to remind myself how to do double crochet as most of the crocheting I do is treble crochet! The yarn was more like embroidery thread, so I had to be careful to draw all the strands through when doing a stitch.

31 December 2016

This year on emuse

There’s been a lot going on this year on emuse!

In January I started the year by showing the photos I’d taken in Italy a few months previously, and I kept some festive spirit going in February by having a Moomin post-advent calendarFebruary was a month devoted to crystals, gems, geometric shapes, space, and the sky.
InMarch I created some brightly coloured items for my bedroom and made some jewellery. This was also the month that one of my all-time favourite shops, the Artstore in Glasgow, closed down - quite by chance I was there on closing day, so it was a bittersweet experience.

 In April I dyed my hair black (it's still dark now, but more of a dark brown), and went to quite a few exhibitions.

Ma May was a big month because I released my e-zine, Emma’s First Taste of Japan! I haven’t sold a lot of copies, but I really did enjoy creating it and those who bought it seemed to like it! My obsession with The Clangers continued when I made some Clangers birthday cards

I also went on a foraging walk, and foraging has now become a new obsession of mine – I’ve got loads of books on the subject now!
 June was a fairly quiet month, but July was all about jewellery workshops – I made a carved ring, a titanium ring and pendant, and two acrylic necklaces – a pair of birds, and a lightning bolt.

In August it was all about appreciating your town, by creating a Japanese-style souvenir stamp, and some illustrated maps, and generally exploring your environment.

 In September I again went to a lot of exhibitions, and in October showed some crafts based on teeth – because I’d recently got my braces off.

November was a very busy month, full of Blythe dolls and the big 50th anniversary events at the school where I work, which I helped to plan and arrange.

This is, in fact, a big year for anniversaries with my primary school turning 40 and my university also celebrating its 50th. 

And I did a little Cinque Terre inspired shed makeover, to remind me of last year’s Italy trip.

I also won a prize in a competition run by the National Galleries of Scotland, to create a self-portrait using objects.
The year was a sad one, with many celebrity deaths, of which the one that touched me most was Leonard Cohen, and a mad one in terms of politics. Sadly a former colleague and teacher of mine died in June, and another former colleague in December.

When December arrived I decided it was time for a bit of comfort and contentment, so I embraced the Danish concept of hygge with lots of cosy blankets and socks, candles, and endless cups of hot chocolate.
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