Friday, 30 August 2013

Crafts and Crafting: Minion hats for Mama

With a friend's birthday coming up, and her obsession with minions, I knew I had to make something awesome... something awesome like MINION HATS!

I modified this pattern a fair bit to come up with these minion hats (one adult size, one kiddie size.) It started out just an idea to make one for the kiddo but then the thought of her making her partner wear one too so she could have minions was just too good to pass up.

Ideally, the small hat would have ended up a bit smaller but I did use the smallest pattern. (I had this problem just making the monkey hats earlier in the year too.) I still really like the pattern, though, and will be looking at other ways to adapt it as winter sets in.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Ticket Stub Memory Box

I've been on Pinterest recently (no surprise there) looking for fun things to do with old ticket stubs and one of the most common crafts I found was the ticket stub memory box. Well... it just had to be done, didn't it?

The frame itself is just a plain wooden shadow box from The Range, painted black. (I wanted it to emphasis the 3D glasses in the front.) A bit of scrapbook paper, stamped with the words "Oh! The fun we had!" and with some random tickets for rides, shows, and some arcade tickets glued on provided the back. Easy peasy.

It holds a lot of ticket stubs. I go to the cinema quite often and this box holds a couple of year's worth of stubs. (I can't wait to start saving up some more so I can make another box!) It also looks really awesome on the wall - like something I spent more than an hour putting together. I bet it would make a great gift too.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Autumn Pinboards

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest. (Who doesn't, these days?) I love Autumn. Those two facts, combined, mean that I have a bunch of Autumn themed pinboards for you to peruse and enjoy. Check them out:

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Crafts and Crafting: Mod Podge Letters

This is a project that I've been wanting to try for ages and, as it happened, Jessica from a Shimmering Star had a birthday coming up. Perfect opportunity!

Mod Podge has to be, without a doubt, one of my essential craft supplies; it's so versatile! I decided to use it for this project (instead of making paper mache paste) because I wanted the printed pages (taken from an old Edith Blyton book) to be clearly visible.

The only bit I had a little bit of a problem with was the scrapbook paper on the front, which I was afraid of putting too much Mod Podge over, lest it bubble. Does anyone have any good tips, to keep paper from bubbling when applying Mod Podge?

Of course, cutting out the letters required the use of an Exacto-blade which frightened my husband half to death. Why people worry about me and sharp objects is a mystery...

Monday, 26 August 2013

Monday's Meme of the Week

Nothing can beat this week's meme for sheer WTF factor:


I have no words for how wrong that is! Lol.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

A Song for Sunday: Kelly Clarkson - Tie It Up

This week's Song for Sunday is a guilty pleasure:

I'm not a huge Kelly Clarkson fan or anything but this one just gets stuck in my head. Even hard old cynical me gets all mushy and girly when this song comes on. I mean... Everyone wants to believe in happily-ever-after, right? That's what this song is all about.

I love Kelly's expression in this video; she looks so happy! The photos of brides and weddings are gorgeous - I'm sure I've seen some of them on Pinterest too.

On My To Watch List

I wasn't impressed with most of the trailers I saw at the cinema today but this one caught my attention:

When the trailer for How I Live Now started I groaned a little bit. I thought it was just going to be another blah coming-of-age thing... Then bam! it turns into a post-apocalyptic romance -that's got to be worth a look. 

A Day at the Pictures ** spoilers **

Finally! I've been waiting for this one for a long, long time.

I honestly didn't expect to have to see this movie alone. An acquaintance got me to read this series ages ago so when the movie was released, I thought we'd be going to see it together. But you know what they say about assuming, right?

Anyway... I was both looking forward to this movie and dreading it at the same time. Film adaptations of awesome books have too often failed to impress. So how was it?

The first half of the film went very well. Although it differs a lot from the book, it managed to capture the essence of the story - which is too often a battle on its own. And Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace is just excellent casting. A lot of people were worried about Lily Collins as Clary but I don't see what the big deal is. She did well enough, I thought.

(Don't even get me started on Godfrey Gao, though... Whoever thought he'd be a good Magnus Bane needs their head checked. I mean... ZERO on the fabulous scale. SO disappointed.)

Things went downhill the second Valentine was introduced. Firstly, they barely mentioned him until he showed up, they dropped the whole thing about him pretending to be Jace's father, and he was just all wrong. I saw Valentine as a crisp suit, suave motherfucker. They turned him into an ugg for the film. Mega fail.

Visually, this film is intense. It moves at a lightning fast pace and is chock full of fights, explosions, fire, and mayhem. The runes didn't look quite like what I was expecting, though. I thought they'd be more... elegant, less... garish. Not as sexy as I imagined. 

Some major things are missing: Simon doesn't get turned into a rat, no flying motorcycles, and they've dropped the parabatai angle, etc.. Some things are just wrong: the portal is described as a natural phenomenon, werewolves are allowed in the Institute, they find Jocelyn in the basement of the Institute, etc. Overall, though, I think they did a good job. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury

Last week, as the Autumn chill settled in, I picked up my first Ray Bradbury novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes - and quickly fell in love.

If I had known how utterly breathtaking Bradbury's writing was, I wouldn't have wasted the last thirty years not being his biggest fan. The first page of this book had me hooked and kept me there, writhing in deliscious agony, right to the very end.

His descriptions are amazing - I love the way he plays with the senses. Songs are felt and emotions are tasted. Nothing is just what it is, it's everything that it is. Amazing.

This book is a perfect read for Autumn because it is, first and foremost, a horror story but also because it explores the concept of our "autumn years." That being said, it took me a little while to realize that it was just as much about Will's dad as it was Will and Jim.

If you haven't already, you need to read this book. Like, now.

“God, how we get our fingers in each other's clay. That's friendship, each playing the potter to see what shapes we can make of each other.” 

Reading this reminded me of a music video I came across a good while back. It might amuse you, if you're a Bradbury fan: (NSFW, by the way.)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Butterscotch Infused Vodka

On the way home from work a few days ago, Jay laughingly told me about how one of his friends used Werther's Originals to make butterscotch infused vodka. Naturally I made him turn the car around and go to the store to buy some!


The idea is to empty a bottle of vodka into a pitcher and add a big bag of Werther's... wait for them to dissolve and you end up with tasty butterscotch infused vodka. The only vodka I had in the house was Crystal Head Vodka and that's just too damned good to waste on an experiment so I used a small bag of Werther's and 1 cup of vodka.

You're suppose to drop the candies in whole but I'm a bit on the impatient side and I just happened to have a mortar and pestle handy so...

Crushed, it took the candies overnight to dissolve and - whoa! What a result! This stuff is great!

It tastes just like Werther's Originals. I don't know if this works on any butterscotch candies or just Werther's... if you've tried it with any others, let me know!

Alone, it's awesome. I tried mixing it with some apple cider I'd made that day and I wasn't very happy with the result. The flavor of each was diluted instead of enhanced - I don't recommend it!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Crafts and Crafting: Fall Leaf Cross Stitch

I'm the first person to admit that I'm not very good when it comes to cross stitch. It has to be a very small project because I have the attention span of a goldfish. It also doesn't help that I have a habit of miscounting and screwing up the pattern - which I normally notice fifty or sixty stitches down the line. *facepalm*

While I was going through some old magazines a couple of weeks ago, I came across this fall leaf cross stitch pattern:

It seemed like a small project and I was in the mood for a little autumn crafting so I dug out some supplies and got busy. OF COURSE I screwed it up very quickly. But I'm trying this whole embrace-your-imperfections thing and, even though it made me feel WAY OCD, I carried on, improvising as much as I could.

I'm not loving it 100% (because I know where every single mistake is - and there are plenty of them!) but it makes me happy that I actually finished a cross stitch project. Go me!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Scent of Autumn

I love that moment, when the seasons start to change, that I get to swap my lotions. (I have a unhealthy obsession with Bath & Body Works lotion - but not in a Silence of the Lambs kind of way... honest.) Away go the light, citrus-y scents of Summer and out come the woodsy, apple-iscious scents of Autumn!

The Autumn 2012 range. *swoon* Honey Autumn Apple is my second favourite - it's so sweet! Dreamy Vanilla Woods is warm and smoky. You can really smell the brown sugar in Brown Sugar and Fig. They're all gorgeous!

I mentioned that Honey Autumn Apple is my SECOND favourite lotion in the Autumn 2012 range. What's first?

Sweet. Cinnamon. Pumpkin. Holy freaking cow. I LOVE this shit. Hence the reason it's ALL GONE. *sob*

Annoyingly Bath & Body Works won't ship to the UK. (Fail!) Which is STUPID because everyone I've given a bottle of lotion to here has fallen madly in love with it. (HELLO, people, can't you smell the opportunity?) Basically what I'm saying is IF YOU LOVE ME, SEND ME LOTION. Lol.

The Autumn 2013 range looks every bit as awesome:

I'm dying to try Aspen Caramel Woods and Napa Autumn Blackberry. If I wish really hard do you think the Hallowe'en Faerie will give me some?

Monday, 19 August 2013

Monday's Meme of the Week

This one makes me LOL because I frequently argue with the grammar check on Microsoft Word:

(This crafty one came a close second.)

Sunday, 18 August 2013

A Song for Sunday: MIKA ft. Ariana Grande - Popular Song

I love this music video so much! It really appeals to the sick, twisted, Burtonesque part of me:

How fun is this song? Of course, it helps that I was never popular in school. ;) (How much did I wish I could have done that to some of the people I went to school with?!)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

On birth. And death.

Maggie and Eddie have given us two baby chinchillas in the last year: Snowball and Crash. Snowball has already gone to a good home and Crash is just about to go up for sale. (We just don't have the space, time, or money to keep so many chinchillas.) Just as we were thinking that it was time for Crash to go, we had a little surprise.

Make that two little surprises.

It's funny that one is the same colour as Maggie (grey) and one is the same as Eddie (tan). Since we won't know their sexes for a while yet, it was difficult to name them. After some deliberation we decided to call them Boris and Doris. (Yes, we have been watching True Lies.)

Sadly, since writing the above, we have lost the grey chinchilla. Jay went to feed them at night and found her under their bath hut, dead. We don't know what exactly happened but we're sad to have lost one of our twins.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Facebook #FAIL

Last week was a slow week on the meme-age front -  also I was ill and I didn't spend a whole lot of time online so no Meme of the Week for you this week. I thought I'd share a Facebook #FAIL instead.

I went to tag an old photo of myself on Facebook the other day and this is what came up:

Really, Facebook?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

A Song for Sunday: John Newman - Love Me Again

Today's Song for Sunday is one that I didn't immediately love when I first watched the video on You Tube.

I didn't immediately love "Love Me Again" by John Newman but something did strike me as interesting. I saved it and came back to it a couple of weeks later and found I did absolutely love it. I guess you could say it grew on me.

The thing that I first noticed about the video itself is that the building its set in reminds me of the welfare club where we play bingo. Sad, but true. Lol. And, if you make it to the end of the video, there's a bit that made my jaw just about hit the floor.

This is definitely a dancing song - but the lyrics aren't just empty prattle. I love these lines: It's unforgivable, I stole and burned your soul/Is that what demons do?/They rule the worst of me, destroy everything/They bring down angels like you. This song appeals to the darker part of my soul, even as it makes me smile.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

On My To Watch List

Just a few movies to add to the never ending list of films I want to watch...

Hmm. Not sure about this. Either it's been a very long time since I've read Romeo & Juliet (which is probably true) or the director took some liberties because there are bits of this that don't seem familiar. Could be interesting, though...

And is it just me or do Romeo and Juliet get younger every time they remake this? (Or do I just get older and older?)

Of-sodding-course! There is no way in hell I'm not ALL OVER Thor 2 when it comes out.

I've been looking forward to Byzantium for a long time. It looks dark and beautiful and I can't wait to see it.

A Day at the Pictures

Jay and I watched a new movie together called The Conjuring. I don't lie to you when I say that it was one of the scariest things I have ever watched.

It isn't that there's anything new about the movie; it relies on stock characters, plots, and frights but is timed so perfectly, with atmosphere so perfectly created that it becomes a whole new terror.

I think that the reason it works so well is that you know. You know what's going to happen, you're waiting for it. You know that window is in shot for a reason and you're just waiting for something to happen there. It's all about the tension in this film.

I can't recommend this movie highly enough. I'm sure Jay would too - when he stops laughing about the number of times that I jumped while watching it...

Friday, 9 August 2013

Twitter #WIN

I'm a great big ole fangirl at heart. No doubt about it. I'm also a huge fan of social media. When these two things combine, I find myself ridiculously pleased.


Jessica from a Shimmering Star and I frequently tweet one another about the books that we've been reading. One of the books that we've been discussing recently is Glimmerglass by Jenna Black. She read it and sent me a tweet to let me know she liked it, remembering to mention the author. I replied that I was glad she liked it, again mentioning the author. I was pleased when I saw that Jenna Black had taken the time to reply to us both.

It's such a little thing but it made me smile.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse for people in the spotlight. One wrong word and SPLAT, the shit hits the fan. But a few kind words and you have fans for life.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Pinterest Updates

I haven't been on Pinterest as often lately, mostly because, at 205 boards, I'm running out of ideas for new pin boards. Over the last couple of months, though, I have noticed some small changes to the site.

It now looks different when you hover over a pin, showing you this:

I especially like the "Send" option. Instead of having to comment with @whoever now all you have to do is click the button and start to type their name - and it remembers the people you've sent pins to recently.

Clever! I also love this clever new feature:

Finally! This would have saved so much time when I first joined the site! It now recognizes when you've already pinned something and gives you a heads up before you go and pin it for the second (or third or fourth) time!

Thanks, Pinterest!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

How I Survived My Summer Vacation

We had weeks of record heat this summer. It was awful. I'm not a summer person. Not. At. All. So how did I get through it?

Adult beverages.

One of my favourites for summer is Wondra's Hard Lemonade.

An amazing drink that is so easy to make. I used the juice from four lemons, two limes, one cup of sugar, three cups of water and just a little bit of vodka. Okay... About half a pint of vodka.


And... with a twist: Wondra's Hard Stawberry Lemonade.

Same thing but with a handful of chopped strawberries instead of limes. (Let it sit in the fridge for a few hours for the strawberries to infuse the mixture.)

Serve with plenty of ice and a smile!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Autumn 2013 Bucket List

I can't believe Autumn has rolled around again already. It seems like the rest of the year has simply flown by and I've missed so many opportunities to do something out of the ordinary and special. I won't let that happen this Autumn! I've made a list of all the things I want to do, to make every minute of my Autumn epic:

1. Pick my own apples. There's a pick-your-own farm very close to where I work and it would be a shame if I didn't do this.
2. Make apple cider. I never realized how easy this is to do. I've been craving apple cider already so this is going to be happening very soon.
3. Bake a pie. I've never baked a pie before. Ever. So it's about time I did!
4. Make caramel apples. Mmm.... Caramel apples. I might try one of the neat inside out caramel apples that are on Pinterest.
5. Have apple butter. It doesn't matter if I make it myself or if someone back home who really loves me sends me some. *hint,hint* 
6. Make home made apple sauce. I make excellent apple sauce, if I do say so myself.
7. Visit a pumpkin patch. Or at least a farm selling pumpkins.
8. Carve pumpkins. I keep threatening to make my husband buy me 31 pumpkins so I can carve one every day of October. He thinks I'm joking... Lol.
9. Bake pumpkin seeds. I can't let the autumn pass without doing this; we both love them so much!
10. Eat candy corn until I feel sick. It's strange living in a country where you don't see piles of candy corn in every store you visit.
11. Make home made soup. I've never done this before, either, but Autumn seems like the perfect time for it!
12. Enjoy a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Or two. Or twelve.
13. Have a coffee date with a friend. I can't remember the last time I did this. It's a perfect time for catching up!
14. Make s'mores. Seriously. The graham crackers might be a problem, though.
15. Bake Fall cookies. What's better on a chilly day than a melt-in-your-mouth cookie, straight from the oven?
16. Hand out Halloween candy. Even if it's just to work colleagues. (We don't get trick-or-treaters.)
17. Start a blessing jar. I saw this on Instagram and thought it was a great idea. We are so blessed, even if we don't always see it. I hope this will help me be more grateful for the good things in my life.
18. Send a letter to an old friend. Snail mail. I lose touch too often, and too easily. I need to start setting this right.
19. Take a long walk. Enjoy the changing leaves, the crisp wind, and the golden glow that come with Autumn.
20. Take a scenic drive - with no destination. With petrol prices so high these days we never just go out to go out. It would be lovely to drive around and see how the changing season has affected the rest of the country - if we get the chance.
21. Spend a night watching scary movies. Time to cuddle up under a warm blanket and scare the crap out of ourselves!
22. Watch a football game. A real football game, not that pussy sport where you can't touch each other. 
23. Play in the rain. Autumn in Britain is definitely the rainy season. Inside of staying dry, I'll head out and act like a big kid again.
24. Stay warm in flannel. Flannel is so snuggly and warm and it just screams cold weather.
25. Play in the leaves. I love the crunch of fallen leaves and I can't help kicking them up as I walk.
26. Leaf art. Instead of just sticking them in a big old book, it's time to get creative...
27. Photograph the leaves. Although we don't get the vibrant reds and oranges that I'm used to, Wales in Autumn is still beautiful.
28. Write poetry. I always get a little more poetic this time of the year.
29. Knit. I'm not a particularly skilled at knitting but now is the time to practice. Hope everyone wants scarves for the holidays! Lol.
30. Crochet. I wish I had about a million crocheted blankets for me and the doggies to snuggle under. I should work on that.
31. Visit a craft fayre/farmer's market. Support local artists, crafters and farmers this Autumn!
32. Dress up. I always plan to dress up for Halloween but it doesn't always happen. This year, it will - even if I'm not going anywhere!

It sure looks like a pretty big list - but it would be a whole lot longer if I was at home, with hayrides, haunted houses, and bonfires to be enjoyed.  

Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices Book 3), Cassandra Clare

Okay... So maybe it was dumb to go to a talk on The Mortal Instruments movie before I finished reading this story. Derp. One girl got up and said that she'd cried through the whole second half of the book. Actually, what she said was that it "kicked her in the feels" - which is one of the coolest things I think I've ever heard anyone say and a phrase I immediately adopted. And you know what?

This book kicked me in the feels.

I too cried through the whole second half of the book. I expected the ending to be totally ruined and I was completely wrong. I was surprised more than once by something I didn't expect, delighted continually by references to her other novels, and had my heart broken to pieces no less than three times.

(Just ask my poor husband who walked in as I was reading the Epilogue to find me sobbing uncontrollably. When he asked me what was wrong, in a concerned voice, all I could manage was, "(gasp) Will! (sob) Tessa! (gasp)")

The thing that I love about teen lit today is that it isn't restricted and "niced up" by adults who think they know what's best for their kids. (Like it was in my teens.) The thing that I love about Clare's teen lit is that when she does tackle sex, it's done with both heat and dignity. The thing that I don't like is that she feels some need to pair up every single person in the novel. It's okay for people to be single, you know.

When I started reading this series I was worried that it was just going to be a poorly done rehash of Mortal Instruments. I'm happy to say I was wrong. I won't say that it's better, but it's every bit as good. I can't recommend it enough.

Normally when I read Clare's work, I'm struck by the wit of her heroes. In Clockwork Princess, I was moved by the depth that they revealed.

    "Achilles was murdered with a poisoned arrow, and Jason died alone, killed by his own rotting ship. Such is the fate of heroes, the Angel knows why anyone would want to be one." (p. 49)

    "There is more to living than not dying." (p. 56)

    "I would rather die and be reborn and see the sun again, than live to the end of the world without daylight." (p. 69)

    "Every heart had its own melody. ... You know mine." (p. 128)

    "Our hearts, they need a mirror, Tessa. We see our better selves in the eyes of those who love us. And there is a beauty that brevity alone provides." (p. 129)

    "When you walk that aisle to meet him and join yourselves forever you will walk an invisible path of the shards of my heart." (p. 134)

    "I love you now more desperately, this moment, than I have ever loved you before, and in an hour I will love you more than that." (p. 134)

    "And now I need you to do for me what I cannot do for myself. For you to be my eyes when I do not have them. For you to be my hands when I cannot use my own. For you to be my heart when mine is done with beating." (pp. 166-167)

    Ave atque vale, Will thought. Hail and farewell. He had not given much thought to the words before, had never thought about why they were not just a farewell but also a greeting. Every meeting led to a parting, and so it would, as long as life was mortal. In every meeting there was some of the sorrow of parting, but in every parting there was some of the joy of meeting as well. (p. 345)

    "I will see you with the eyes of my heart." (p. 345)

This book was a completely change in tone and pace and I love it all the more for it.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Monday's Meme of the Week

I can't believe Monday has rolled around again. Maybe that's because I spent my whole weekend on the couch, begging for ice cream and death. (In that order.)

Some of you already know that I've been fighting Menorrhagia - which is really just a complicated way of saying that my periods are all out of whack (and extremely painful and bloody.) I won't go into details because it's gross, even for me, but also because I think this meme sums it up perfectly:

I'm still waiting for that ice cream.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

A Song for Sunday: Wretch 32 - Doing Okay

Now that we're back from our little Summer vacation (ie: being too busy, sick, or miserable to post), it's time to pick this week's Song for Sunday.

This one took me completely by surprise. I was just clicking through the trending videos (as usual) and, when this one came up, I was speechless. It's so... different!

It's a great song with a great video that tells a great story. I love the mix of reggae and rap - a pair that shouldn't really go together but does. I also love that, even though there is a rap element, it isn't crass or edgy or full of hate. It's just about love and that's why I love it.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Farewell to Summer

I cannot express how happy I am that today is August 1st, known to witches as Lughnasadh (or Lammas). It marks the first harvest of the year and heralds the end of Summer.

Can I get an "oorah?"

I'm not a big fan. When you suffer from migraines that are triggered by light and heat, the season loses much of its charm. Britain is fairly good to me; the summers are typically mild. But, when those "glorious" summer days that every one else yearns for finally do roll around, I normally spend them being ill and/or miserable.

This summer was a hard one. We had a record number of scorchingly hot, sunny days - which just had to coincide with FIVE WEEKS of menstruation. It was my own personal hell.

That being said, I didn't spend the whole summer hiding under the covers in bed, praying for Autumn (though this did happen on occasion.) Jay and I did get to visit the coast a few times.

Rest Bay in Porthcawl is one of my favourite places in Wales. There's a peace and tranquility there that you don't find anywhere else. You can see why it was chosen as the location for a convalescent home; it certainly made me feel better every time I visited.

This summer I came across something I've never seen before: a living star fish!

The tide was really in that day and there was an abundance of the little fellows about.

Rest Bay is a popular place for surfers too. It's always fun to watch them have a go. Jay doesn't trust me on a surf board (and with good reason!) and I haven't been able to talk him into kayaking with me yet. (Yet. I'm still hoping to work my magick on him one day...)

Down the road a little in Porthcawl there's a permanent fairground called Coney Beach. Coney Beach has fun rides and arcades and its own stretch of beach (that I avoid because there are always donkeys on it. I don't know if I'm allergic to donkeys, but I'm not willing to find out.) We didn't go on any of the rides this summer but we did enjoy several games in the arcades. I even made Jay win me a stuffed toy!

Well... I say win. After three really bad goes, the guy let him buy it instead! It still counts, if you ask me! :)

Looking back, it wasn't an awful summer. Just difficult. I spent a whole month studying for my exams and, although it was really stressful, I got good grades on them both so it was worth it. I was sick for a long time but, if I hadn't been, they wouldn't have found out that I have an under active thyroid and begin treatment for that. Plus, Jay and I did get to spend a lot of time together, thanks to my illness, and sometimes a relationship needs that.

No, it wasn't a completely awful summer - but I sure am glad to see it go!