Make it Monday: Birthday Shenanigans ‘Lord of the Rings’

I remember birthdays as a child, mostly the cake (the infamous ‘Rabbit Castle’ will go down in family history but that’s a story for another day) but parties and fun. Since having the Lamb we’ve tried to put extra special effort into celebrating birthdays, decorating the house and of course, baking a special cake. This year hubby celebrated a special birthday so the Lamb and I made and decorated the house, as well as baking an extra-special birthday. Can you guess the theme? IMG_2844.JPG

The assorted books by JRR Tolkien have long been hubby’s favourite so we created Middle Earth here in Devon!

Our porch door became a Hobbit hole
It was a lot of fun creating the decorations and we used different craft skills.

Shelob was a black pom pom.
It took quite a while to do all the lettering but luckily I found some sites on Pinterest to help. Of course, we needed a ‘Happy Birthday’ banner.



And I also made a number of small banners, based on the different characters……

Eeeeep! The white hand of the Urak Hai!

My House of Rohan design. Getting the right shape of the horses head was a bit tricky but I’m happy with the result

Gandalf’s symbol
Of course, we needed Sauron’s Eye to watch our celebrations….


And I tested hubby on his Elvish…..


Can you guess what this says? Not a traditional Elvish quote from the books, but thought it apt for hubby
Our hallway. Down the banister I knitted brown ‘branches’ with the leaves of Lothlorian while there were streamers and balloons from the ceiling as more branches and leaves.


I needle-felted Gandalf (if you’d like one made to order, comment below or email bluebeaglebaby(at) which was fun and I look forward to making more. Perhaps I’ll eventually felt the other characters.


And created these luggage/gift tags


And finally the cake. And in-keeping with the books, we celebrated in Hobbiton!


A very happy birthday to hubby!

What did you think of our Middle Earth birthday? Have you had a themed party? Let me know in the comments below!

My Top 12 Books

As is a usual event in our house, last night’s dinner convo revolved around which books we’d take with us in the event of an apocalypse (what can I say? Apocalypse Girls for life!). There’s a number of books I always have a copy of when we travel, and favourites I haven’t read for ages but still love, and ones which I’ve only read once but stuck with me. All this book chat got me thinking: what would be your definitive 12 books on your bookcase? 

A long conversation with hubby ensued as we shared favourite books, battled over whose list was the better and made promises to read the others list. However, the one thing which struck me about the conversation wasn’t necessarily our choices, but the reasons for them: while we discussed the book genres, memorable characters and the achievements of the authors the thing we talked about mostly was how the book made us feel, the memories it brought up, of friends we had shared the book with and family who had read it to us. It was a challenging but really fun chat so I’m sharing a few of my ‘bookshelf 12’ with you. For the sake of my sanity, I’ve not included anthologies, although a number of the Fox Pockets would make the list, along with ‘Girl At The End of the World‘ by Fox Spirit Books. 

The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I remember being off sick from work with horrible sinusitis. I’d watched all our DVD’s when hubby suggested I try ‘The Princess Bride’. I fell instantly in love so was ecstatic when he bought me a copy of the book just before we got married. It’s a book with it all: romance, adventure, sword fighting, fantasy and witty dialogue. One of the few books whose movie is worthy of it.

Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allen Poe. I’ve got a lovely old copy of Poe’s book. I remember buying it in a second hand bookshop in Bournemouth where you have to rummage through mountains of books before finding a treasure (or two!). Again, while I love the book and it’s given me many happy hours reading, it’s the memory of chatting with the elderly bookshop owner: the smell of his tobacco mixing with the musty books which fills my mind as I turn the first page.

Sabriel by Garth Nix. It was the white cover which drew me to this book and it was the first book by Nix that I read. However I was soon looking out for more of his work and was desperate for the sequels to be published. For me, books two and three never fulfilled the potential of the first which, if I’m honest, is one of the reasons I love and write fantasy novels now. 

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder. This was leant to me after a random conversation with an acquaintance on the phone. Ok, it’s not what you’d call ‘high class literature’ but the story and world-building is good, making it the perfect just-before-bed-book.

Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. I’m going to cheat and say that I love all six (am awaiting number seven to come out in paperback) and would have them all on my shelf. Mixing the real world with that of magic, quirky but relatable characters and fabulous dialogue, for me these are a must read for genre fans of all ages (although hubby would disagree!)

Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. It’s a tough choice with King novels. There’s so many to choose from and everybody has their own favourites. However, Skeleton Crew contains some of my favourite short stories by King, including the amazing ‘The Mist’ which was adapted into a pretty good (for a King novel) film (although I think the film had a better ending!). 

PS I Love You by Celia Ahern. I stayed up late reading this book and by about page five I was sobbing so hard, I woke hubby up. Ahern’s books really tap an emotional valve and the concept of finding love after the love of your life dies is dealt with beautifully.

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny by Beatrix Potter. A naughty little bunny, swaggering around a forbidden garden until he inevitably gets into trouble. I love all of Potter’s characters but there was always something about the cheeky and willful Benjamin that I loved the most.

Stark by Ben Elton. I always enjoy Elton’s take on popular culture but my favourite quote comes from this, his first novel: ‘What IS the point anyway?’ It’s a question I ask frequently.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Don’t Panic! Earth is about to be blown up by aliens in order to make way for a galactic bypass. Arthur Dent, possibly literature’s most hilarious anti-hero, travels the galaxy with his friend Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, love interest Trillian and depressed android Marvin. Hilarious stuff packed with educational tid-bits to rival a book penned by a royal sibling. I know where my towel is, do you? 

Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien. Do I really need to say why? 

I’m going to save my last spot because I’m hoping one of you will share your favourites and inspire me! Im missing some good female authors so who would you suggest?
Do you agree with my list? What are your favourite books? Which books bring happiest memories? Feel free to add some of your own in the comments section!