Since I just finished a readalong of Holly Black's Black Heart with Jessica of a Shimmering Star, I thought I would have a little look back at the series...
White Cat(Book 1)
Excellent. Slightly predictable in parts but not in a “I’ve read this
plot so many times I know exactly what’s going to happen” way, just an
author that’s good at foreshadowing. It’s cleverly written with
descriptions that really tickle your imagination. By giving readers just
what they need to know, rather than forcing history down their throats,
Black creates an alternative reality that is so casual that it feels
real. The ending wraps things up nicely but leaves you craving more.
Red Glove (Book 2)
A good follow up to White Cat. The characters remain consistent and
there are some nice surprises. It's fairly obvious where the plot's
going but I enjoyed Cassel's thought processes as he got there.
Black Heart (Book 3)
The thing that I love about Holly Black is that all of her writing is so different. Okay... that's just ONE of the things I love about Holly Black. I also love her ability to create worlds that are so believable that I still feel a little naughty, walking out of the house without any gloves on. Did I mention that she's a master of foreshadowing? She guides you so subtly to the conclusion that you kind of always knew it would happen exactly that way - but still feel like doing a little fist pump at the end. Brilliant work by one of my favourite authors.
I highly recommend this series. It's a little spy thriller, a little love story, a little coming of age, and totally worth it.
If you've read this series, please share your thoughts and recommend similar books, if you know any!
I have to say that, while I am looking forward to this movie, the extended clip they showed before 300: Rise of an Empire at Cineworld was just too long. People who came in late looked confused, like they thought they'd walked into the wrong movie!
I like the relationship between Captain America and Black Widow. (And let's face it: Cap'n's just a little too nice to carry more than one movie on his own.)
This tailer made me *squee* like a little kid:
I should point out, though, that I have not seen How to Train Your Dragon. Guess I'd better get onto that...
I know I've seen this one before but it's just too good to pass up:
I mean... Edgar Allan Poe and Queen? What fight isn't that going to win?
Also, because it's something that really gets my goat, "The Raven" is probably my favourite poem of all time AND IT RHYMES. (Sorry. It's just this beef I have with people who look down on rhyming poetry.) Are you going to tell me Edgar Allan Poe was a hack? That "The Raven" isn't an amazing poem?
This (live from the kitchen) is my favourite version. It's more fun than the official video (and I can do without the long, foreign language bit at the start, thanks).
This song is all Soul. It comes from Paloma Faith's new album, A Perfect Contradiction, which is due to be released tomorrow. Her last two albums have been fantastic so I'm really excited about A Perfect Contradiction.
This is an email I sent to firstname.lastname@example.org in regards to an ongoing complaint I have wth them:
19 February 2014
To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Wondra
Vanian and I live at <address removed>
NP11 7GH. I am sending you this email because I have a serious
complaint to make and @RoyalMail on Twitter have advised me to use
this email to do it.
For many months now,
our post has been mistreated by our local postman and/or delivery
office. It has frequently been left out in the porch, where it has
been subjected to the adverse weather conditions Wales is known for.
If we're lucky, we find it in time and this is the only amount of
damage it has suffered:
As I said, that is the
condition we can expect to find our post in if we're lucky. If we
haven't found it in time – which is more often than not because I
work evenings and, as a result, sleep later than most in the mornings
– we can expect to find our post as thus:
Even when the weather
is not inclement – a rare thing in South Wales! - leaving
post outside our door, instead of delivering it properly, is
unacceptable. Leaving it outside the door when it clearly says that
it should be signed for, is simply rude:
I'm sure you can
understand why I feel the level of service I have received is
I did endure this for
several months before I finally broke down and made a formal
complaint. This was made on 20 December 2013 15:38:12 (GMT Standard
Time) and read as follows:
two Christmas presents, totaling £65 in value, were left in the
porch, which is open to the weather. Both packages were "Signed
For" but no attempt was made to obtain signature and both still
have their "Signed For" barcodes attached. One package was
labelled "!!Fragile!!" by sender (and was face down on the
wet ground.) This is a recurring problem. Many of our letters are
unreadable by the time we see them because they are left in the porch
in the rain.
A response was received
on 27 December 2013:
you for contacting Royal Mail.
I'm sorry to hear about the
problem you have experienced with two items of mail delivered to you
recently. I can fully understand your concerns regarding this. Of the
huge volumes of letters and packets we handle, very few encounter a
problem along their way - but we take every single failure seriously,
so I'm sorry that you've had cause to contact us.
appreciate the risk to the security of your mail if our postmen and
women do not follow our procedures and instead leave items exposed on
doorsteps or in porches. It's important that our customers have
confidence in us to always deliver their mail securely and to a high
standard, so I apologise again that we have let you down.
regards to your items being delivered, however the Delivery Officer
not obtaining a signature, please accept my sincere apologies on
behalf of Royal Mail for this error. I am very sorry that no
signature was obtained - please be assured that we take letting our
customers down seriously and will use this information to make
deal with this problem, and based on the information you've provided,
I have been able to take the following action:
• Logged and
reported the full details of your complaint • Passed these
details to the manager of the Delivery Office.
Office Manager will speak to the Delivery Officer concerned and do
all that is required to ensure you receive the quality of service you
should expect in future.
Once again, please accept my sincere
apologies on behalf of Royal Mail for the problem you've had, and our
thanks for taking the time to make us aware of this.
for taking the time to contact us and once again, please accept my
apologies for any inconvenience and annoyance we've caused. In the
unlikely event that you experience any further problems of this
nature, please don't hesitate to contact us again by emailing direct
to email@example.com quoting 1-2801396329.
I had hoped that, by
raising a complaint through the online form available on your website
my problem would be resolved. I was wrong. We continued to experience
the same problem, forcing me to raise a second complaint on 18
January 2014 12:12:09 (GMT Standard Time):
making a complaint about post being left out in rain instead of being
delivered through letter box, we have had this happen three more
times: on 08/01/14 a bill was ruined by being left out in the rain,
on 10/01/14 a collectable book worth £40 was left out in the rain
and received minor damage, on 18/01/14 a application from the DVLA
was left out in the rain. Considering the high winds we have been
having it is impossible to say if anything has or has not blown away.
Can you please let us know what we need to do to stop our mail from
being damaged and/or lost?
The reply, which was
received 27 January 2014, was much the same as the first:
Thank you for your further contact with Royal
I was very sorry to hear that you've experienced further
problems with the delivery of your mail and apologise that you have
had to raise this matter with us again, despite the corrective
measures we've already taken.
To try and resolve the issue, I
have now taken the following action:
• Logged and reported
the full details of your repeat complaint • Passed these details
to the Manager of your local Delivery Office • Escalated your
complaint to the Delivery Sector Manager
potential risk to the security of your mail, as a direct result of
the actions of our postmen and women is unacceptable and will be
dealt with accordingly.
In the circumstances, the Delivery
Office Manager has also placed a Special Instruction card in the area
where your mail is sorted and prepared for delivery. This will act as
a constant reminder to our postmen and women of the problems being
experienced and ensure that they all take extra care whilst handling
and delivering the mail from now on.
onto the item that was damaged, unfortunately, I cannot process
claims of this nature via email; this is due to the specialised
investigation required that may involve the provision of supporting
information. To progress your enquiry you will need to complete one
of our claim forms, known as 'P58 Inland Lost, Damaged or Delayed
Mail form'. These forms can be submitted online at:
again, please accept my sincere apologies on behalf of Royal Mail for
the problem you've had, and our thanks for taking the time to make us
aware of this. Please be assured that we take letting our customers
down seriously and will use this information to make further
I hope you have found this information useful
and that this explanation resolves your enquiry and concludes this
matter for you. However if you are unhappy with my response you can
contact the Escalated Customer Resolution Team who will
re-investigate your complaint. They can be contacted by emailing:
you can write to: Escalated Customer Resolution Team, Royal Mail, PO
Box 466, Plymouth, PL9 7HJ. If you do contact the team please can I
ask you to quote your reference number 1-2833307387.
Byrne Customer Service Advisor
I did not bother to
seek compensation for the damage received to that item. As I said, it
was minor and, at the time, I just wanted the situation resolved.
Something did happen as
a result of this second complaint (again, raised through the proper
channel): we stopped receiving post on days that it rained. Not
exactly the result I had hoped for.
My suspicions were
raised. Personally, I thought we were being punished for having the
audacity to raise a complaint but my husband, being both reasonable
and trusting, said, “Don't be stupid. They can't do that. It's not
legal.” I wanted to believe him but the situation only got worse.
(From Monday 10 February 2014 to today (Wednesday 19 February 2014),
we have received post only twice.)
I had been expecting
six packages and only one had arrived. Two of the packages that had
not arrived were Valentine's Day presents for my husband. Can you
imagine my dismay and chagrin when I had to explain to my husband on
Valentine's Day that he did have presents, they just hadn't arrived?
He was disappointed. I was humiliated.
I will say at this
point that I suffer from severe Depression and Anxiety and that my
symptoms have been much worse lately. All of the stress and hassle
that your agency has forced me to endure has not helped matters one
bit. A close friend was concerned about my welfare and send an Amazon
gift card so that I might treat myself. The two items I ordered were
among the five packages that were expected but had not arrived:
The final package was a
set of photo books from Photobox:
I draw your attention
to the estimated delivery dates. We went to the delivery office on
Monday 17 February 2014, which was when we finally received them.
On Saturday 15 February
2014, we received this letter:
In case you have any
problem reading it, it says:
Can you please contact Royal Mail on the above number or call into
the office please to discuss your footpath.
As your footpath is causing concerns to our delivery staff.
I'll not mince words:
there is nothing wrong with our garden path. Nothing.
We tried calling the
number provided on the letter several times on Saturday 15 February
2014 but received no reply. We tried several more times on Monday 17
February 2014 and, again, received no reply. At this point, even my
husband had to admit that something was not quite right. We went to
the Abercarn delivery office (the office stated on the letter),
wasting our time and petrol.
When we explained the
situation to the gentleman behind the counter, he told us that he
couldn't help and advised us to call the number on the letter.
Understandably, we were unwilling to go down that route again.
When I elaborated on
the situation, explaining that we had made two formal complaints and
felt that we have been singled out as a result, the gentleman behind
the counter offered to check to see if there was anything waiting for
us. There was.
I am not concerned
about the letters that were there (though I should be – what if one
of them was time sensitive or important?) - but all of the packages
that I had been expecting were obviously being held with no
attempt at delivery and no attempt made to tell us that they were
being held. Unacceptable.
My husband could only
say that he was in shock; he couldn't believe that a postman (a
member of the public service sector!) would engage in “tit for tat”
behaviour. He and I both remain disgusted by this revelation. Is it
Royal Mail policy to punish customers for complaining about bad
service or is this petty vindictiveness on the part of one postman
and/or delivery office?
The gentleman behind
the counter offered to have someone call us back and tried to keep
the letter. I had to ask him to make a copy of the letter for himself
as I intended to keep the original for my own records. He wrote our
telephone number on the letter and assured us that someone would call
us back. I had to press the issue three times before he would agree
to a time for that telephone call (the next day, after 12pm).
I was pleasantly
surprised to actually receive a phone call when I was promised one
(you'll understand that my recent experiences with the Royal Mail had
not inspired faith in their ability to do what they promised). The
gentleman that called, however, had no idea of what the problem
actually was. I was forced to explain the situation yet again. He
then told me that the reason that we received a letter was that our
postman had made a delivery on Saturday 15 February 2014 and found
our path “slippery”. If you care to cast your mind back to that
morning, you'll remember that we were still suffering the effects of
a three-day-long gale that day. I'm not surprised he found it a bit
slippery! I am surprised, however, that he and/or the delivery office
think that I have any power over the wind and rain! Which is
essentially what I told the gentleman who called from the delivery
office on Tuesday 18 February 2014.
I pointed out, as well,
that no attempt had been made to inform us that our post was being
held. The gentleman actually told me that it said so on the
letter that was sent to us. Luckily, I had kept the letter and had
proof that this was a blatant lie. It is shocking though, isn't it,
that one of your employees would resort to flat out fibbing to avoid
having to own up to his (or his colleague's) behaviour? I hope you
find this as unacceptable as I do.
I was told that our
garden path was a “health and safety risk”. This surprised me –
not only because it is clearly not a health and safety risk – but
also because I have, on more than one occasion, watched our postman
climbing over my neighbours' garden fences so that he did not have to
walk up their garden paths. As I said to the gentleman on the phone,
if climbing over my neighbours' garden fences is not a health and
safety risk but walking up mine is, we have a serious problem!
I said to my husband
that it's more likely that he is just angry that he actually has to
walk up our garden path (because he cannot climb over our fence) and
my husband suggested that might very well be why our post is often
left outside our door. Could it be that our postman is simply
standing on our neighbour's porch and tossing our mail in the
direction of our porch? Does the Royal Mail condone that delivery
The gentleman on the
phone then said that he was told (he was really very vague and
genuinely had no idea of the situation – which makes me wonder why
he would make a call he was obviously not prepared for) that there
was moss growing up the path. Another blatant lie. I can assure you
that there is no moss growing up the path. There is, however, moss
growing up the wall – which I will assume is not a problem
since we do not make a habit of walking there.
In case there is any
doubt on the matter, please feel free to visit and assess the
situation for yourself - which is exactly what I told the gentleman
on the phone. To save you time, however, I have provided a photo of
the path on both a wet & windy day and a nearly dry day:
I will concede that
there was a broken ornament that had fallen off our neighbour's wall
and shattered in the wind. As I said, my Depression has been very bad
of late and I had not left the house in a few days so was unaware of
the broken ornament (the white shapes you can see in the first
picture). I did pick up the pieces as soon as I became aware of their
presence. I apologize for the gale force winds we have experienced
but, again, I am regrettably not in a position to alter them.
What the gentleman on
the phone said next showed a surprising amount of igorance. He told
me to remove the non-existent moss. The method he suggested? “Go
out and toss a bucket of bleach down there.” GO OUT AND TOSS A
BUCKET OF BLEACH DOWN THERE?! I'm sorry if I sound incredulous but I
am. Who would suggest such a thing? Do you know what the symptoms of
bleach poisoning are? If not, please let me enlighten you:
Pawing at mouth
Ulcerations in the
Redness of the
(This information is
also available at http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/alkalis/.)
Bleach poisoning can
result in death in both cats and dogs. As I have a cat and two dogs,
you can see why I refuse to follow that gentleman's well-meaning but
ignorant suggestion of tossing a bucket of bleach down my garden
path. Can you imagine what would have happened if I had been dumb
enough to follow his suggestions?! I could have had enormous vet
bills and could have even lost one of my cherished family pets! And,
if not me, one of my neighbours (as many of them also have cats and
dogs). Perhaps that gentleman simply did not know the dangers of what
he was advising – or is “toss a bucket of bleach down there”
something all Royal Mail employees are trained to tell people?
I digress. The result
of the conversation? “I'll look into it.” I'll look into it was
the only reply I could get off of the gentleman that I spoke to on
Tuesday 18 2014. I might wonder why, if he had not already looked
into it, he was wasting my time by calling at all. Regardless, he has
promised that he will look into it, visit our premises to assess the
situation, and call me back in a week. I'm sure you'll forgive me for
saying that, at this point, that is just not good enough. I expect
this to be taken further.
Let me be very clear
about exactly what I expect:
I expect to
receive a letter of apology – a letter through my front door, not
an email – from yourselves for failing to resolve this issue for
me satisfactorily after receiving two complaints about the matter.
I expect to
receive a letter of apology from my postman and local sorting office
(Abercarn), also through the mail, not by email.
I expect that all
my mail in the future will be delivered directly to me or my husband
at number 11 Mount Pleasant Terrace. My house, not a neighbour's
If the mail cannot
be put through my front door for any reason, or handed directly to
myself our my spouse, I expect a missed delivery card to be put
through the front door instead.
I do not expect
any mail to be left in the porch. I do not expect to find a
missed delivery card halfway down my garden path, which has happened
in the past.
I expect my local
sorting office and the postman who has caused this complaint to be
properly reprimanded – and I expect proof that this has been done.
Just telling me that you have spoken to them is not acceptable. I
expect proof in writing that they have been brought to justice for
this breach in policy and the destruction of my trust in the Royal
I do not expect to
be fobbed off. This entire trial has been well documented online, as
will this email, and your response. People have a right to know the
sort of service their (and my!) taxes are paying for. I expect the
level of service I deserve as a taxpayer – something I am not
I do not expect
you to have the decency to compensate me for my distress and
inconvenience - though I do believe it would be more than
appropriate in this instance. It is your employee and/or delivery
office that have been to blame. They have made my Depression and
Anxiety worse. They have wasted my time and money. They have
destroyed my faith in the Royal Mail. As your
employee(s) are responsible, it is not out of the question to ask
you to take financial responsibility for their behaviour.
I do, however,
expect to be reimbursed for the cost of my shipping prices on the
five aforementioned packages because the delay in their arrival (in
fact, they never arrived at
all) was a direct result of either negligence or
malignance on the part of one or more of your operatives. This
is a total of £17.68 and the invoices showing shipping costs
I expect a timely
resolution. I believe that, given the months of stress and hassle
you have put me through, a time frame of 5-10 days is more
than generous. I do not expect you to waste any more of my time. I
expect you to deal with this and I expect you to deal with this now.
Let me be clear on one
other thing: I am sending you this email as a courtesy. I will not
waste any more of my time contacting you again; I will contact The
Ferret and Watchdog instead. I have given you more than enough
opportunity to fix this yourselves and have been severely
I await your speedy
<telephone number removed>
And this is the response I received:
Thanks for allowing me the time to look into this; I’m sorry my enquiries have taken longer than expected.
local manager has agreed that there are no concerns with regards to
your footpath and that deliveries to your address have been reinstated.
If I can help you any further then please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Royal Mail Twitter Team
Clearly, this is not acceptable. This, therefore, is my reply (made via the Royal Mail online complaint form, since the Twitter account had not suceeded in accomplishing anything):
The reply that I have received from your Twitter team in regards to this complaint is unacceptable. If 'The local manager has agreed that there are no concerns with regards to your footpath and that deliveries to your address have been reinstated.' was enough to resolve my complaint, I would not have had to make a second or a third (and now a fourth) complaint. Please re-read all three complaints to familiarize yourselves with the situation and please note what my acceptable solutions to this problem are and what your response has been.
To further expand on these complaints, I would like to point out that my husband and I left our house at 12pm yesterday (26/02/2014) and got to the end of our garden path to find that someone had kicked moss off our garage wall and scrapped it off our garage roof so that it lay in clumps on our garden path (moss growing on the path was the supposed reasons for our local delivery office and/or postman refusing to deliver). This is highly suspicious since, upon my husband's return to the house, he found a delivery card saying that our post had been attmepted to be delivered at 12:20pm but that we had not been there. Could it be that our local postman was trying to make a case for yet again not delivering by putting moss in our path? It seems that way to me. I have photos of this and am happy to share them with you as proof.
This complaint has not been resolved, as far as I am concerned. I will now be contacting both The Ferret and Watchdog. I will also be contacting Citizens Advice Bureau about taking further legal action.
Here are the photos from yesterday, showing that the rest of the path is clear, but that moss had been kicked off the garage wall and scraped off the garage roof:
After I had pushed the moss to the side so my husband could go through: (You can clearly see where someone has put their foot to it)
The roof: (You can see where some of the moss had been flipped upside down, where someone had been handling it)
Also, since February 10, 2014, we have received post just four times: on 12/02/14, 15/02/14, 21/02/14, and 26/02/14 - so IN WHAT WORLD has normal service been resumed??
This has got to be one of my favourite craft projects at the moment.
Tree of Life pendants aren't exactly an easy project. They take a lot of time and patience and a fair bit of dexterity (It's a wonder I can manage with my "Michigan man-hands"!) but totally worth it in the end.
No tutorial this week, just showing off! Maybe next time. ;)
Another day of international rugby for Jay, another day at the pictures for me.
I was way geeked about The Lego Movie and I wasn't disappointed.
This movie is just so much fun! It got a bit slow at the end when it hit the moral bit (you could tell the kids in the audience were getting antsy by then.) There was a lot of thinly veiled adult humour which kept the parents from getting bored. Even Will Ferrell couldn't ruin this movie.
The only reason I bothered with That Awkward Moment was because I had time to kill. Talk about a waste of time.
This movie tried too hard to be young and hip and totally fell flat. The dialogue was clumsy and the acting was wooden. I was bored the whole way through it.
I was determined to not watch I, Frankenstein because I was afraid it would stray too far from the book and piss me off (ie: calling the monster Frankenstein) but I was pleasantly surprised.
I, Frankenstein was not a complete waste of time. The backstory was basically the novel, which pleased me. The gargoyles were a nice touch, there was plenty of action, and even a hint of romance (but not so much that I wanted to gage). The only annoying thing about it was Aaron Eckhart's "I'm Batman" voice.
Jay and I went to see the Robocop reboot last weekend.
It's been a long time since I last saw the original (I deliberately refused to watch it so that it wouldn't bias my opinion of the reboot.) so I can't say exactly how faithful this movie was but it was enjoyable. No movie can be awful if it has both Gary Oldman and Samuel L Jackson in it. (And, yes, Samuel L did manage to get a "motherfucker" in there.)
Overall, the movie was... good. Not amazing, just good. I think this was one of the better reboots that have been done recently. (Don't get me started on how awful Carrie was.) It won't knock your socks off but it isn't a complete waste either.
When we went up to get our tickets, the guy behind the counter said, "Two for Robocop? Wow. That's something I never thought I'd hear myself say." Lol.
I love international rugby. Not the game itself (though I don't hate it) but the great Rugby Pact of 2011. Go on... ask.
What is the Rugby Pact of 2011?
It's the agreement my husband and I struck a few years ago that, on the days that international rugby games occur, he is allowed to go out with his friends to watch it - providing he drops me off at the cinema first and collects me after. I'll not spend my day waiting around for someone who would put a sport above me, no sir.
Frozen was amazing! It was the first Disney movie that I've seen in many years that was a true Disney movie. I loved it.
When the music started at the beginning of Frozen, I totally got chills. I love the old world feeling and the beauty of the art. A major win.
Jack Ryan was... good. As long as you can ignore the little things.
It was massively action packed and the spy bits were good - but the back story was a little forced and it felt a little bit obvious in places. In parts, it was like they only just stopped short of going, "This is the bad guy. This is why he is a bad guy. This is the good guy. This is why he is a good guy." I'm not an idiot, thanks, I can work it out myself.
The best part of Jack Ryan was Kenneth Branagh. That man can outact everyone else in the film without opening his mouth. He's got this way of just looking at the camera that makes you squirm. (I can't stand Keira Knightley, by the way. She annoys the hell out of me.)
I had no intentions of watching Mr. Peabody & Sherman. None what-so-ever. I didn't like the cartoon when I was a kid and I had no reason to want to watch the new movie. But I ended up with some extra time so I thought, what the hell?
It actually turned out to be funny. Dumb - but funny. I wouldn't watch it again, though, and it doesn't really have much to recommend it to adults.
I've been having a lot of fun with this crafty art project:
Melted Crayon Art
Melted crayon art is super fun and easy - but can be time consuming. I probably should have started with just straight up melted crayons, without attempting any fancy silhouette work, but I'm a feet first kind of person.
It's as easy as lining up the crayons and hot gluing them onto a canvas before melting them. I did learn a couple of important things with my first attempt at melted crayon art, though, that you should know before you start:
1. Stick to bright colours if you're going to do a black silhouette. The darker colours don't work well against the black.
2. If your wax is dry when you go to pull the tape off, it's going to break in a really unattractive way and you'll just end up having to do it again. Pull the tape off while the wax is still wet.
3. Did I mention this project is time consuming? It took about three hours, from start to finish (but it was a long canvas).
My second attempt went a lot more smoothly:
I used a heat tool to create my melted crayon art. You could use a hairdryer if you don't have a heat tool but it won't give you the same level of control. Whichever you use, prepare for flying wax. No matter how careful you are, it's going to happen. I'm still scrapping stray bits of wax off my table.
You may notice that, for the second one, I didn't use Crayola crayons. Not intentional. I just couldn't find enough Crayloa crayons in the area where I live so I bought a different brand instead (which turned out to be a whole lot cheapear) and they worked just fine.
Ideally, you should draw the silhouette on with black Sharpie before you start melting but I opted for painting it on afterward with acrylic instead and I was happy with the effect.
So much time had past since Maggie gave birth that we were starting to think (and kind of hope) that maybe her baby making days were done. But I heard Jay hollering at me the other day and went rushing into the living room to find an extra pair of noses poking out of the chinchilla cage. Meet Ms Marvel and The Captain (until they're big enough to sex properly, we're sticking with those names):
These little fluffballs are Maggie and Eddie's sixth babies and second set of twins. I love the way that one is Maggie's colour (dark grey) and one is Eddie's colour (tan). When they had their first set of twins, one of them died so we're really happy that both babes and parents are doing well so far.
I was just getting on with things when this song came up on my iTunes. I had to stop what I was doing and go back to listen to it again. Even though I'm sure I've heard it dozens of times before, it really caught my attention for the first time.
This shits making me crazy
The way you nullify whats in my head
You say one thing, do another
And argue thats not what you did
(lyrics from metrolyrics)
Seems like there's an Alanis song for every stage of my life and this is so the song for right now.
jewelry, and trinkets seem pre-destined to disappear. To combat this, I
place catch-all dishes around the house. It's become second nature to
empty my pockets into the dishes, and I lose fewer things! Money is tight after the holidays, so it’s the perfect time to craft from your stash. Crochet
Catch-All bowls require a crochet hook, hemp cord, and yarn. The hemp
is used to shape the bowl, so any rope, string or yarn will work. Be creative;
we’re crafting from our stash!
Yarn: make a slip knot loop. Hemp:
Make a magic circle by wrapping the hemp around your pointer and middle
fingers. Slip your fingers out while holding the hemp in the circle.
The direction the hemp leads will depend on your dominate hand. I
crochet left-handed, so the cord leads to the right. Right-handers will
follow the cord to the left. Using your yarn 7 SC around magic circle. Tighten circle by pulling both ends of the hemp. With
the hemp held close to the top of the crochet stitches, SC into the
first stitch made. 2 DC into the following stitches until the circle is
3 inches across. Keep the circle flat. Slip stitch. *Ch 1. SC until end of row. Join with slip stitch.* Repeat three times. Slip stitch around once. Finish and weave in strands. Note: Shaping
the yarn around the hemp can be difficult. Periodically tighten the
hemp and adjust the yarn around it. Also, the final shape can be
Last year I set myself a goal of reading 90 books for the year. I actually reached 104 books in total.
Two of the books that I read in 2013 really stood out, Daughter of Smoke and Boneby Laini Taylor and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. To read my reviews of these books (and the other 102), click here. You can keep up to date with my current reading challenge - 125 this year! - on goodreads.
If you prefer a visual representation, check out my 2013 Reading Challenge pinboard on Pinterest.
I've lived in South Wales for 10 years and I've never really been to Cardiff Bay. I've driven past it a few times but have never stopped and just walked around. Until now.
I told Jay that I didn't care what we did during my vacation, so long as we didn't just sit around the house doing nothing. On Saturday we went shopping in Cardiff city centre, which was a lot of fun. Yesterday, Jay told me to get up and get ready but wouldn't tell me where we were going. As we got close to Cardiff Bay, I had to ask, "Does this have anything to do with Doctor Who?" and the answer was yes!
Sadly, though, Jay decided to go to The Doctor Who Experience on the only day of the week that it was closed. Epic fail. But the rain stopped for a few minutes so we got to have a nice wander around the bay.
I couldn't believe how gorgeous the bay area in Cardiff was! Plus, it was really clean, which you don't expect in a big city like that like. We spent a little over an hour wandering around but I could have spent a lot more time there. And probably will.
My employer offers an awesome program that allows you to go out into the community and spend a day volunteering instead of working. As much as the company makes me bat shit crazy for a lot of other reasons, I think this program is just amazing.
I used my 2013 Day to Make a Difference helping St. David's Hospice run their Santa's Grotto. After caring for my mother-in-law during the last months of her terminal illness, I have an increased appreciation for the work that hospices do. Doing it for one person just about killed me so I can't imagine doing it day in and day out, year after year.
We helped to raise over £500 for St. David's Hospice on our Day to Make a Difference. We also had a lot of fun. It was amazing to watch the children get all excited about meeting Father Christmas and it was even better when their parents got excited about them meeting Father Christmas.
Working at Santa's Grotto was a lot of fun. (Way, way more fun than work!) I was also, surprisingly, better with the children than I thought I would be. It even made me think that I might want to actually have one. One day. Maybe.
I love crafting for the holidays (any holiday, really). Painting is not really my strong suit, though. I have to admit that I had a bit of help. I told Jay what I wanted and he drew the outlines for me. He also gave me a few tips as I worked.
"Add a bit of pink to his cheeks to make them look rosy."
"If you put a little white dot in his eyes, it'll make them stand out."
I used a combination of gouache and acrylic on these spoons and outlined everything with a black Sharpie to make it pop. With Santa's hat, I applied the white acrylic with a Q-Tip to make it look fluffy. I dabbed pink onto his cheeks with my pinky. That's pretty much the extent of my artistic ability!