Wednesday, 30 January 2013

When winter came to Wales.

I've lived in this country now for nearly ten years. For the most part, the climate is very similar to the one I left behind in Michigan - with a few minor differences: the summers are more humid, it rains more, we rarely get thunderstorms, and it hardly ever snows. When it does snow, it normally lasts for less than a day.

Being from Michigan, I expect a lot more snow than that in the winter. I've often been disappointed.

But not this year!

This year all my snow dreams came true!

It snowed heavily for days on end this month. Six, to be exact - which was the number of days Jay and I were snowed in together. It was, for lack of a better word, awesome.

I tried not to be sad when the rain came back, driving all the snow away, but it was hard to go back to work after six days of couch surfing and playing Call of Duty. The next couple of days we had shocking weather: two of the mightiest thunderstorms I've ever seen here.

It was kind of awesome too.

(Anyone NOT worried about climate change?)

And now we're back to gale force winds and lashing rain.

I have to say that Blizzard 2013 really got me off to a good start for the year. I get really - REALLY - excited when it snows. (I'm like a child, honestly.) The sight of falling snow never fails to make me smile. So, although it was too brief, I am grateful for the snowfall we had this year.

(And in case you're wondering... I did have several accidents though none of them resulted in anything worse than a scrap. Snow without pain? Hooray!)

Sunday, 27 January 2013

A Song for Sunday: Seether - Country Song

I got bored this week and put my Scrobbler onto the Godsmack channel and, not too long after, this song came up:


It's got just the right blend of twang and rock to make it awesome. (Not that Seether need any help being awesome.)

The lyrics taste of a bad break up and the tune is extremely catchy. I dare you not to sing along.

And how fun is the music video? I love the battle between the kids and all the ridiculous characters. An all around win.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Peter Pan - Favourite Quotes

I recently read J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it. Actually, I was surprised that I hadn't read it until now - I mean, I AM thirty, for Pete's sake! But then I remembered that while other kids my age were reading this, I was busy reading Dracula. (And every cheesy romance novel I could get my hands on.)

But now, as a student again, it's back to the classics and some of them have really surprised me by how epic they are. And some have disappointed me. (Voltaire, anyone?)

Anyhow... Back to Peter Pan.

I LOVED this book. I mean in a crazy, read-it-in-about-an-hour kind of way. I just took hold of me and wouldn't leave me alone.

Would you be surprised to hear that I've never SEEN any version of Peter Pan either? Not even the Disney one! (This is going to be rectified with a Wondra style movie marathon very soon, trust me.)

It's like I was raised in a cave sometimes!

But the main reason for this rather rambly post is that I wanted to share some of my favourite lines from the book/play with you. Here we go...

Mrs. Darling: (when talking about night lights) They are the eyes a mother leaves behind to guard her children.

Peter: (when describing where he lives) Second to the right and then straight on till morning.

(About Hook) He is never more sinister than when he is most polite

Peter: To die will be an awfully big adventure.

(About Wendy's feelings for Peter) She is too loving to be ignorant that he is not loving enough

Hook: Split my infinitives but 'tis my hour of triumph!

Hook: O fame, fame, thou glittering bauble

Cookson: (after pirates start dying) They do say as the surest sign a ship's accurst is when there is one aboard more than can be accounted for.

Hook: Proud and insolent youth, prepare to meet thy doom.

Hook: I'll show you now the road to dusty death.

(About Mr. Darling's decision to live in the dog kennel) sorrow has taught him that he is the kind of man who whatever he does contritely he must do to excess; otherwise he soon abandons doing it.

Wendy: (describing her daughter) Pen cannot describe her, she would have to be written with a golden splash!

I think no one is surprised that most of my favourite lines come from Hook. I do love the baddies.

I included 'When Wendy Grew Up: An Afterthought' in this although I prefer the play without it. I think it ended in the perfect place and the afterthought was dreadfully sad. Even so, Peter Pan is my favourite book of the school year so far!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

A Song for Sunday: The Lumineers - Ho Hey

Something a bit different for you this Sunday: Ho Hey by The Lumineers.

The music video appealed to me before the song did.  What can I say? I'm a sucker for flashing lights. (Oooh... Bright...) Seriously, though, I like the rustic feel and I like that it doesn't try to do too much. No story, no gimmicks, just people. It was a nice change.

The song itself has a gentle, folksy kind of sound that really gets my foot tapping. My only complaint is that it isn't nearly long enough! I'm always just getting into it when it ends.

Funny... I've never heard of the band before. Don't know anything about them. I was surprised when I played the song for Jay and he told me that he knew both the song and the band. That doesn't happen often, I'll tell ya! (Unless the band was around in the eighties, of course!)

I'm going to have to rectify this and hunt down some more of their stuff. Let me know what you like, if you're a fan.

A Very Literary Blog Swap

It's time for our monthly post from our good friend Jessica over at a Shimmering Star and this time the theme is literature...

Sharing the Joy of Reading

Reading has always been one of my favorite activities. My parents never had to urge me to find something to do; if I was bored I would read a book. My job as library support staff gives me the opportunity to encourage readers of all ages. But more importantly, I can be an advocate for all kinds of literacy.

In the past several decades audiobooks, eBooks and even graphic novels have redefined the act of reading. The new diversity of book formats makes it easier than ever to encourage people to read.
Three Ways to Share the Joy of Reading:

1. Visit the library or bookstore regularly. Do you like to knit? Are you fascinated by fairy tales? Hobbies and interests are a great place to start looking for a book. Are you taking a trip soon? Find a book about local history or attractions.

2. Start a monthly book discussion group. Let the group decide on a book to discuss. On the day of the discussion have drinks and snacks.
3. Invest in new technology. eReaders and tablets allow you to download and interact with books from the internet or your local library.

Every reader has their book. It is every bibliophile's job to share the joy of reading.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

CoD Playercards: Count Duckula

When Jay came to bed last night, he said, "You should play Call of Duty when you get up" but wouldn't tell me why. Naturally I was curious!

So when I got up this morning, I headed straight for the Playstation and loaded up CoD. What did I find? This!

How. Freaking. Cool. Is. That.

There was much *squee*ing and much *happydance*ing, I'll tell you!

This is AFTER he told me that Count Duckula and Darkwing Duck were too difficult to do... Do you think this means that I'll find Darkwing waiting for me soon?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

CoD Playercards: Animal

I realized that in my previous post I mentioned the Animal emblem Jay (aka: SimplyFiendish) made for himself - but I never actually shared it! Shame on me!

It's very... Fitting! :)

If you follow me on instagram you've probably already seen this so I apologize for repeating myself! (I'm very proud of my husband's artistic abilities! If only I could find a way to steal them!) Oh... And if you don't follow me... Um... Do!

(That would be here.)

If you like Call of Duty and instagram, these accounts are worth a look: callofduty_offical, theragelobby, and callofduty4u.

And if you don't like Call of Duty... Tough! I'm kind of obssessed right now and you're going to be hearing a lot about it!

Nomminess: Chicken and Veg Casserole

Today was the last day of my vacation and the last day of my cooking. After today, Jay goes back into the kitchen like the good little house husband he is... So I thought I'd do something he wouldn't be able to: Chicken and Veg Casserole.

For this, I used a combination of chicken thighs and legs (because that's what I had), and a dozen small potatos, a dozen small carrots, two medium onions and chicken stock. (I use Knorr because I like the flavour. I make it fairly thick too.)

First, I peeled and cubed the carrots and potatos and soft boiled them. When they were done, I mixed up the chicken stock and chopped up the onions. Everything went into the pan which then went into the pre-heated (fan) oven on 150 for about three and a half,  maybe four hours. (I turned the chicken halfway through to make sure it cooked evenly.)

This casserole could have easily fed a family of four - a bit too much just for the two of us! But we enjoyed it all the same.

Nomminess: Stuffed Potato Skins

We didn't feel like having a huge dinner last night (Okay, I didn't feel like MAKING a huge dinner last night) so we opted for a snack instead:

Super easy! I used half a dozen medium potatos, half a package of streaky bacon, half a cup of shredded cheddar, and a bit of butter.

I halved the potatos and tossed them in a pan to boil while I chopped up the bacon and fried it in a pan. Before they got too soft, I drained the water and scooped out the center of the potatos. A little bit of butter, salt, and pepper in the centers and then into the oven (it was 150 degrees C in a fan oven) while I did the dishes and caught up with my tweets... 

Then I took them out of the oven and cranked it up to 180 while I stuffed the potatos. Back in they went and I left them there until the cheese turned a nice brown.

Not very specific, I know, but they turned out pretty well. You could just put them in the oven to bake without boiling first but I just didn't have the patience. A lovely snack with hardly any fuss!

Monday, 14 January 2013

A Song for Sunday: Panic! at the Disco - New Perspective

This week's A Song for Sunday was inspired by a recent conversation with Jessica from a Shimmering Star... She mentioned Panic! at the Disco's I Write Sins Not Tragedies and I immediately got it stuck in my head.

I ♥ Panic! at the Disco for two very obvious reasons: 1. their music is fucking awesome and 2. Brendon Urie is beyond adorable.

While checking out Panic! at the Disco videos on YouTube I came across a song that I didn't know, off the soundtrack for Jessica's Body. Since that movie came out four years ago, you'd think I'd have heard it by now but hey, what can I say, I live in a bubble.


Also, I've never seen the movie.

Anyway... On to the music!

This song is catchy and fun and the lyrics make me grin. ("Can we fast forward to go down on me?") I'm guessing that the video has something to do with Jessica's Body? Looks like a hormone fuelled blood bath... Worth a watch, no doubt.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Jane Austen Movie Marathon

I've had ten days off work and how did I spend my vacation? Watching every Jane Austen film/mini series I could get my hands on! Here they are, starting with my favourite: 

Mansfield Park (1995)
Pride and Prejudice (1995)
Emma (1996 - Paltrow)
Sense and Sensibility (2008)
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Persuasion (1995)
Persuasion (2007)
Clueless (1995) It's my list and I can count it if I want!
Mansfield Park (2007)
Northanger Abbey (2007)
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Emma (2009)
Emma (1996 - Beckinsale)
Persuasion (1971)
Pride and Prejudice (1940)

You expected Pride and Prejudice to be at the top? There's a kind of desperate desire lurking in Mansfield Park that only just beats Colin Firth in a wet shirt.

It was hard to choose which I preferred in some cases, like Persuasion - which were both excellent in their own ways. Very frequently, I found myself wishing that I could have THIS movie, with THAT Col. Brandon, etc.

I had to leave a few out because I simply couldn't find them:

Pride and Prejudice (2003)
Mansfield Park (1983)
Sense and Sensibility (1971)
Sense and Sensibility (1981)

I suppose I ought to apologize to the legend that is Olivier for putting that P & P at the bottom but I just could not stand that version. Like the '71 Persuasion, it's just a product of its time, blah blah blah - but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Was it a good way to waste my time off? You betcha!

Friday, 11 January 2013

CoD Playercards: Cookie Monster & Fozzie Bear

Jay promised to make muppety emblems for each of his friends. He made himself an Animal one and he made me both an Oscar the Grouch one and a Cookie Monster one:

So now I can switch between them, depending on my mood. (Most of the time, it's on Oscar. Lol.)

He also created an emblem for one of his best friends. I couldn't see how he would pull it off so I'm quite impressed with what he came up with:

Yup, it's Fozzie Bear!

I understand the Swedish Chef is next so stay tuned!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

A Song for Sunday: Twenty One Pilots - Holding On To You

Here we are, week two of A Song For Sunday. This week my favourite song has been Holding on to You by Twenty One Pilots.

Wow. What a beautiful video. The imagery is just fantastic - and a little dark (which you know appeals to me.)

I didn't even bother running this one past my husband. He refuses to acknowledge rap as legitimate music, even rap as lyrical as this. But, never mind him... This one is just for you and me.

My favourite part of this song is the words themselves. Take this, for example:

Fight it, take the pain, ignite it
Tie a noose around your mind
Loose enough to breath fine and tie it
To a tree tell it,
You belong to me, this ain't a noose
This is a leash and I have news for you
You must obey me! 

 Anyone who has ever suffered any kind of mental illness - or even just been consumed by a particular thought - should feel the power behind those words. (Again, beautiful imagery.)

Saturday, 5 January 2013

An Austen kinda night.

My recent work on Mr. Darcy, Vampire has put me in an Austen kind of mood. I suspect there'll be a Pride and Prejudice marathon tonight... (And maybe a bit of Mansfield Park?)

And, oh yeah... A P&P board on Pinterest!

While I was pinning, I came across a lovely etsy shop with some cute cross stitch patterns for bibliophiles. Head on over to Book Pilgrim and check it out!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Mr. Darcy, Vampire

When I talk about writing fanfiction, I see some of my friends, family, and work colleagues' eyes glaze over. They don't "get it."

That's okay.

I didn't get it either - until I started. @whatsherf8 would tell me about the fanfiction she'd read and I'd be all like, "What? That's not REAL literature, is it?"

Damn right it is. Some of it is, in fact, exceptionally well written. (Yeah, a lot of it is shit, but still.)

It started with Ship Wars (Go, Team McSpirk!)  and just kept growing. Sure... It takes away from my "real writing" time but it keeps me in practice when I'm just "not feelig" any of my WIPS. Plus, it's a way to visit characters I love and miss.

Trouble is...

I struggle to just write fanfiction. What I need is a challenge.

Luckily, a friend rose to the occassion and presented the Pride and Prejudice Fanfiction Challenge. The exact terms of the challenge have been long lost but, for some crazy reason, we're still going! (I suspect I'm losing but we'll ignore that fact.)

When we started, I decided that there were two things I was going to do: 1. turn Mr. Darcy into a vampire and 2. keep the language as close to Regency as possible.

Who knew it would be so difficult to do both at the same time?!?! (Certainly not me!)

But, four chapters in, I'm still happy with how it's going. Check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think:

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

CoD Playercard: Oscar the Grouch

When I got home from work yesterday, I found a little present from Jay:

It made me :)

Now his friends all want one too! (I can't wait to see Fozzie Bear!)

So... You know I ♥ Oscar the Grouch, right? Have I shared my Oscar pinboard on Pinterest yet? Well, since we're talking about it...

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2013 Challenges and Goals

A new year, a new reading challenge!

Each year, I take part in the 50 Book Challenge on In 2010 and 2011, I beat my 60 and 70 book challenges. Last year, I didn't do as well:

77 out of 80

So close! If I had spent a little less time playing Call of Duty and Skyrim, I'm sure I would have beaten it. (Bad Wondra!)

If I was wise, I'd probably just stick to 80 again this year... Or maybe 85 so I'd have a small challenge.

But I am not that wise. This year, my goal is 90 books - which makes me laugh because it works out to be seven and a half books a month and, well, seven.

I'm also setting myself a blogging goal. I want to get into the habit of blogging every day - including A Song for Sunday and monthly blog swaps with Jess at a shimmering star - but since I came NOWHERE NEAR blogging every day last year (with the same goal) I think I'd better start a bit smaller.

So my blogging goal for 2013 is to blog at least five times a week. That'll be 260 posts in total and gives me two I-can't-be-fucking-bothered days a week. I think that's doable.

Let's talk about my writing goals for the new year...

You may remember from a previous post that I intend to write 30 short stories this year. I think that's possible. I don't care if they're fanfiction, erotica, or just normal shorts - so long as they get written. I might need some poking and prodding along the way so feel free to nag!

There's also the challenge every writer has every year: get published! Well, I'll be working on that too...

And, finally, in the same post I challenged myself to try 30 new foods this year. I'm kind of a picky eater (surprisingly, looking at me) and I don't like to try new foods. But this year, I'm going to change that! I'm going to be adventurous and seek out foods I wouldn't have tried in the past.

Send your recipes this way! :)

Those are my challenges and goals for 2013. You'll notice I didn't use the word "resolutions" once. I don't lie the word, it has too many negative connotations. People feel just lousy when they've failed to keep one (normally by the end of January) so why bother even making them? So they can punish themselves for doing the things that they like.

No thanks.

I'm going to keep on doing the things I love and just try harder to do them a bit more.