Wednesday, November 14, 2018

#WriterWednesday - November 14th 2018

We're already basically half way throughNovember. Can you believe that? Where is this year going? Ready or not, December will be here soon, which means Christmas is coming up fast!

Speaking of Christmas: my book, "Ulrike's Christmas" was featured in this post in Sally's Cafe And Bookstore, along with some other fantastic books that might make suitable gifts for the children on your gift list this year.

Anyway, in case you missed Lilie's post from Friday: "Where's Noodles?" is now available in audio. The narrator is Judith Bareham, who you can learn more about in this narrator interview. Lilie did an interview this past weekend too, which you can read here. All three of the posts I just linked to provide a variety of purchase links for all available formats. Here's where to buy the book on Audible though. Oh, and here's a story snippet, which I posted on Sunday - in case you didn't see that, and would like to read it.

Speaking of audio book production: if you know the narrator you'd like to work with, you can now speed up your audio book production with direct offer, which is a new feature ACX has added.

I managed to do a bit of writing, but if I was doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I would currently be failing, since I've only written a few hundred words so far this month. Hey, it's better than nothing though, right? After all, any progress is good progress, whether you're participating in NaNoWriMo or not.

If you're a writer too, how is your writing going? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how are you doing? Are you on schedule? If not, that's OK. Yes, it is. In fact, here's why it's OK to fail NaNoWriMo.

Regardless of whether or not you're participating in NaNoWriMo, if you don't feel the same way, and want to increase your writing output, here are four foolproof methods to increase productivity.

No matter how fast you write, are you worried your story isn't original enough? Well, don't! we're all basically writing the same things at the same time. The trick is to make them your own, which you can only do by writing. So, just write, and enjoy the process.

Don't think you can write, because you have writers' block? Well, this is what causes writers' block, and why you should just sit down and write anyway. I get it. There's nothing more frustrating for a writer than feeling too tired to write. But sometimes you just have to do it anyway.

Yeah, I know there is a problem with 'just write anyway' being the go to advice. Sometimes you really can't. I get that too. I've been there most of this year. It's up to you to figure out if you really have a genuine reason why you can't write right now, or if you're making excuses because there are other things you'd like to do. If you can though, you really should try to get that writing in. Even if it's just a few minutes a day. That way you can feel the positive effects of writing every day.

Oh, and here's a post for when people say you work too much. Although, sometimes you really do need to listen to those people. In fact, here's why you need a 'nope day'.

Anyway, let's assume you're writing, regardless of when, or how long for. So... Here's what you need to remember when writing the beginning of your story.

Speaking of beginnings: here are four steps to starting your novel.

Are you writing a gory story? Then check out these blood-oozing tips to including gore in a story.

No matter the kind of story you're writing though, check out these tips for making a scene pop.

By the way, most people will never tell you how your writing makes them feel, and that's OK. Though it's nice if they do, you don't need them to. We authors do love feedback though, so if you want to tell an author how what they wrote makes you feel, go for it.

Speaking of giving feedback: this is how to give feedback to anyone, which will be especially helpful for those times when the feedback you need to give isn't exactly positive.

Finally, if you're looking at your 2018 goal list, and thinking how much you still need to achieve if you're going to meet your goals before the end of the year, here are some tips for sailing in to the end of the year.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Rough #Ocean Views, #Crafting, And Starting To Think About #Christmas

Her ideal was a wild and lonely sea coast. No matter if the winter gales sent waves beating against her walls, flinging stones at her windows and over her roof; warm and snug inside, she was perfectly happy and loved it there.
~C.R. Milne

It's been a stormy sort of week. I love listening to the storms, and to the rough ocean.

Speaking of the rough ocean: here are some photos of it. The three photos I'm about to share with you were taken on the morning of November 9th, when the ocean was sort of rough, though not at its roughest. It's been worse than this.



Even at that point it was quite a blustery day , and a bit of a drizzly one too. At least, we got a bit damp when we went for our walk, and poor Lilie came close to being blown off her paws at one point. I bet she felt just like Piglet from Winnie The Pooh at that moment, though at least she was already tethered to something solid, since Kelly had hold of the other end of her lead. She certainly made me think of him anyhow. As I said, it got worse later, eventually becoming one of the storms we've had over the past week.

I heard some idiots deciding to still do their firework displays in that weather. Even I think that's stupid, and I'm a big fan of fireworks. Luckily, there was enough rain that any potential issues from the wind were prevented. But still. Like I said... Idiots! If you want to have your own firework display. Fine. But at least do it when weather conditions are appropriate, and not in the middle of a storm. Fireworks are dangerous enough without adding those extra risks.

Anyway, on a more cheerful note, did you know: it's six weeks to Christmas Day today.

Yes. Really.

Hmmm... Maybe that's not more cheerful to some of you? I like Christmas though, so it is to me.

So... Have you started making holiday plans? If not, when will you start? If you have, how are those plans going so far?

I've started figuring out what I'm getting for who, but that's as far as I've managed to get with my plans so far. Not that there's much to do beyond that, apart from putting up the decorations. Oh, and buying a Christmas tree. Got to do that at some point. But I already decided those things will happen in December. We don't decorate until December anyhow, so there's no point me worrying too much about getting a tree before that either, even though Mini Mr. Pumpkin-Head had to go, so the only Halloween themed thing still up is my sugarskull, who's still happily grinning at us whenever we go in the living room.

What I have done though is unpacked my every day ornaments. The ones that are supposed to be on display in the living room. My ornamental Westies, and things like that. They're now unpacked, and on display like they're meant to be. That's one more box unpacked, and its contents organized. We're getting there. Could do with more shelves to sort most of the rest though. It will probably wait until the new year now.

In other news:

I've canceled my subscription to the Mister Maker boxes. I subscribed, despite them being aimed at children, thinking they'd be easy and accessable crafts, which they are. However, they're a little more simple than I'd hoped. I even tried increasing the age the site had me listed as (they make you add a child's age when you sign up) and that didn't make any difference that I could see. For a child, especially one who's a fan of Mr. Maker, they're great little kits. For an older crafter just looking for easy and accessable crafts... Not so much. So, I'm stopping them. Not because they aren't good kits, but because they aren't for me. Basically, you really do need to be in the recommended age group for these boxes - which is three to eight years old - to fully enjoy them. At least, that's how it seems to me. Older crafters could potentially enjoy them. But younger crafters would get more enjoyment out of them. So, I cancelled my subscription.

I was going to subscribe to another box in their place, but decided not to. I have my SewMine and Makerly boxes coming for fun craft projects, and my Harry Potter box too. That's plenty of fun post, and a nice variety as well. The rest of what we'll call my spending allowance (for lack of a better term for it) can go towards getting books and DVDs, or getting supplies for any other craft projects I decide for myself that I'd like to do. Besides, you can never have too many of those things. Especially the books. You can definitely never have too many books.

Besides, since it takes me longer to do the craft kits than it does a lot of people, the kits from those two boxes are giving me plenty to keep me busy. Plus, I brought a couple of the old boxes from both of them. The felt flowers from Makerly, and a Christmas mouse kit from SewMine. So that's even more to keep me busy.

I - or, more accurately, we - have been working on the Autumn themed table runner that was in the first SewMine box I got (the same runner I was hoping to have had finished before Halloween). There's slow progress on that one, because we decided Kelly should do the ironing parts, for safety reasons, so I have to keep waiting for him. That's Why I can't accurately just say "I" have been working on it. Anyway, while I wait, I'm working on the Christmas mouse kit, which is one I only need help with colour identification for, so can easily do by myself for the most part.

Ha! I still got out of doing any ironing! Actually, I'd have done it myself regardless. But Kelly spacifically asked me to let him do it. So I'm letting him. Not because it's safer, or because it gets me out of doing any ironing - though those things are true - but because it will be nice to be able to have it on the table next Halloween, knowing we made it together.

By the way, speaking of crafting: do you want to make sure your craft projects are eco-friendly? Use ecoStardust for all your glittery crafting needs! No, I'm not getting anything for advertizing for them. I also haven't actually tried the stuff out myself. But I saw the article the other day, and thought it sounded cool, so decided to share it.

Monday, November 12, 2018

#Music Monday: Ottawan - Hands Up

Since I shared my brother's favourite song from childhood - well, one of them anyhow - the day before his birthday, and tomorrow is my birthday, I thought I'd share a favourite of mine from childhood too.

I've loved this song since I was really small. As in, still in nappies (diapers) small. I only learned it was called "Hands Up" and by Ottawan when I was about ten. Until then I had another way of identifying it. So... In the words of me as a small child... "Come on, 'cause baybeh's on!"

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Story Snippet: #Pet Themed #ChildrensBook "Where's Noodles?" - #Animals #Dogs #Westies #KidLit #Mystery

As she was coming out of the bedroom, her tail and head drooping sadly, and her charcoal eyes cloudy with sorrow, Lilie spotted the hoover monster lurking in the hallway. He often lurked there when he wasn’t prowling the rooms sucking things up. He had a corner where he stayed whenever the humans wouldn’t let him loose in the rest of the house. Usually Lilie just ignored him, but today she stopped right in front of him.

“Where’s Noodles?” Lilie asked in her softest and saddest whine.

The hoover monster had never answered her before, and she didn’t really expect him to this time either. But she asked anyhow, because... Well, you never knew. Besides, she was getting desperate.

Sure enough, as she’d expected, the hoover monster said nothing. He didn’t even move. He just stood there, silent and still, lurking there in his corner.

“Never mind,” Lilie whined miserably, turning away from the hoover monster. “Thanks anyway, I guess.”

Noodles was gone, and nobody would even tell her if they had seen him. So, as you might expect, Lilie was feeling very sad, and starting to be certain she’d never see Noodles again.

A soft little whine of pure misery escaped her as she headed back in to the living room, her tail and head so low in her sorrow they almost touched the floor.
~Above taken from "Where's Noodles?" by Victoria Zigler.

***~~~***

Where’s Noodles
Written by Victoria Zigler.
Now with an audio version narrated by Judith Bareham.

Book blurb:
“Noodles is a strange red creature with a squeaker in his tummy, who just happens to be the favourite toy of a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie. At least, he is now, since the bushytailed squirrel and cuddly triceratops fell apart while she was playing with them – totally not her fault, by the way!

Now noodles is missing.

Lilie’s sure she left Noodles on the living room floor when she went walkies. But when she comes home and goes to fetch him so they can have a nap together, Noodles isn’t there.

Where’s Noodles? Is he somewhere else, or is he lost forever?”

The book is available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio. You can find the book in one or more of these formats via Audible, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, iTunes, Amazon UK, Amazon US, and Amazon Canada, as well as a few other places Smashwords and KDP distribute to.

The book also has a Goodreads page.

Friday, November 09, 2018

#FurkidFriday: #Pet Themed #ChildrensBook "Where's Noodles?" Now In #Audio! #Animals #Dogs #Westies #KidLit #Mystery

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.

Guess what?

The story Mummy wrote about me - which, you may remember, is called "Where's Noodles?" - is now available in an audio version. A nice lady called Judith Bareham reads the story for you.

In case you don't remember what the book is all about, here are the details:


Noodles is a strange red creature with a squeaker in his tummy, who just happens to be the favourite toy of a West Highland White Terrier named Lilie. At least, he is now, since the bushytailed squirrel and cuddly triceratops fell apart while she was playing with them – totally not her fault, by the way!

Now noodles is missing.

Lilie’s sure she left Noodles on the living room floor when she went walkies. But when she comes home and goes to fetch him so they can have a nap together, Noodles isn’t there.

Where’s Noodles? Is he somewhere else, or is he lost forever?

Mummy says to tell you that you can buy the audio version from Audible and iTunes.

She says to tell you it's also available to buy as an audio book download from that Amazon place.

No matter where it's from, if you do buy a copy, I hope you'll tell your friends all about it. Mummy says it has something called a Goodreads page where you can do that kind of thing. But she says you can post reviews and tell people about it in other places too. It would be really great if you do, because then more people will hear about my book.

If you like those eBook things better, you can find out where to get one of those in this post of mine from the start of August. Or, if you like paper books, you can find out where to get one of those in my post from September instead.

Lots of licks,
Lilie

Thursday, November 08, 2018

#FurkidFursday: Lilie the #Westie #Puppy playing with her owl toy

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.



Mummy says there aren't enough Fridays. If I was the worrying kind, I'd be worried about that. But I'm not. Although, I think the squeaky things in cages might be. They worry a lot, especially those chinchilla things.

Anyway, since there aren't enough Fridays, Mummy and I agreed you could have a special edition "Fursday" post to help us catch up with some of what we want to share. That's why I'm posting today. Because I have a video and a couple of photos to share with you, but I need to tell you about something else tomorrow, and the squeaky things in cages already have things set up that they want to talk about on the Fridays for this month. Then we'll have to post our letters to Santa Paws... Like Mummy said, there aren't enough Fridays!

So, there's that photo at the top of this post, which is just a cute one of me, and is from the middle of October. Then there's this one, which is of me playing with my owl toy near Mummy, and was taken on Halloween:



Finally, here's a video, which was also taken on Halloween, and is also of me playing with my owl toy:







I hope you enjoyed this special Fursday post.

Lots of licks,
Lilie

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

#WriterWednesday - #Quotes About #Writing And Creativity - November 2018 #WednesdayWisdom

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.
~Ray Bradbury

Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either.
~Meg Cabot

You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.
~Annie Proulx

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.
~Pablo Picasso

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
~Jack London

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It's that easy, and that hard.
~Neil Gaiman

I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.
~James Michener

You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.
~Annie Proulx

When you train your creativity, you automatically train your memory. When you train your memory, you automatically train your creative thinking skills!
~Tony Buzan

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

From #Halloween To #BonfireNight, And Everything In Between; #Pumpkins, #HarryPotter, And #Fireworks



We didn't do much to celebrate Halloween. We rarely do. But I wanted to carve a pumpkin, so we brought a little one so I could. You can see my mini Mr. Pumpkin-Head in the photo at the top of this post. He's still sitting in the middle of our table right now, grinning his lopsided grin, though he probably won't get to stay much longer.

Lilie has seen pumpkins in passing when we've been to the fruit and veg shop, but she didn't see one properly before, because we didn't carve one last year. Given the ball shape, the fact it smells of food, and the fact it doesn't take much to get Lilie excited as a rule, we figured she'd get really excited over checking it out, just like every other dog we've known. But no. Lilie just has to be different. She was curious about it, and gave it a good sniff. That's it. After a good sniff, she walked away. Even after my carving it peaked her curiosity more, she still wasn't all that bothered. We even let her come up to check it out on the table (something she isn't usually allowed to do) thinking the novelty of that would encourage her. It didn't. She gave it another sniff, and then dismissed it and jumped off the chair to go play with something else. Kelly just had time to grab this photo before she lost interest:



Lilie wasn't interested when I offered her some pumpkin to eat either. She just spat it on the floor and left it there. I guess she's not a big pumpkin fan. Unlike the rodent gang, who were pleased to get their share of the pumpkin seeds.

Oh well, at least that means Mr. Pumpkin-Head has been able to stick around all week without her bothering him.

I was going to set out our Halloween decorations too, since we have them unpacked after all, but I didn't bother. It's not like we get any trick-or-treaters here anyhow. Plus, things are still a bit chaotic around here, which is actually the real reason for my not bothering to get them out. I've promised myself they'll all come out next year. Not that we have loads of them, but still. I'll have the table runner done by then too, so can make the table all pretty while I'm at it. It was just my mini Mr. Pumpkin-Head this year though.

I carved my pumpkin while watching "Beauty And The Beast" (the Disney animated version). Yeah, I know, not really one that screams Halloween, is it? But a lot of my DVDs are still in boxes, I'm pretty sure I have no Halloween themed ones among those that aren't packed, and "Beauty And The Beast" was just starting when I put the TV on to see what was on. I couldn't resist. Besides, as I said on Twitter and Facebook at the time, it is sort of a monster movie. Sort of.

***~~~***

We almost took Lilie on a dress up dog walk. But we found out about it too late to get her a costume.

It was happening nearby. It was a Halloween event happening the Friday after Halloween for dogs and their humans, complete with prizes for best costumes (with catagories for both dogs and people). All the dressed up dogs - and their people, some of whom would also be dressed up - go for a walk together near the seafront as part of it too.

I'll have to remember to watch for something like it happening next year. I think she'd love to go.

Of course, Lilie gets walks along the seafront pretty much every day. But she'd love the extra attention being dressed up would get her, and all the people and other dogs to make friends with.

***~~~***



The badge in the photo above is my exclusive Newt Scamander Fantastic Beasts Pin Badge. I brought it on Pottermore, gaining a cool keepsake for myself, while at the same time supporting Lumos (the charity J K Rowling founded). As I'm sure you figured out by yourself - especially if you're a Harry Potter fan, or pay enough attention to movie releases to have heard about it despite not being a Harry Potter fan - the badge is in honor of the new Fantastic Beasts movie being released this month. It's now sitting on a shelf near me, with a couple of other keepsakes.

Speaking of Harry Potter stuff: my October Harry Potter box finally arrived yesterday!

So, what was in the box this month?

two recipe cards. One for a spider themed dish (which I'll have to substitute the meat based ingredients in for vegetarian alternatives, but this will be easy enough to do) and one for a berry themed dessert:


A Belatrix Lestrange wanted poster, which is even framed:


A little Ron Weasley figurine:


A basilisk fang replica:


And the t-shirt and scarf I'm wearing in this next photo:


A pretty cool selection of things. They feel like they're of pretty good quality too. It was an almost two week wait for the box (boxes are shipped out between the 21st and the 26th of the month, according to their website, and it took my box until November 5th to arrive). But at least it was worth the wait.

You know, with all this Harry Potter talk, I have an urge to read the books again. I can't though. Those are among the couple of boxes yet to be unpacked. Oh well, never mind. I'll read them again another time.

***~~~***

I had my shot this past Friday (November 2nd). Because of how the shot has to be every four weeks, I'll actually be getting two shots in November, since my next shot is scheduled for November 30th at noon.

Still no surgery date though. Mind you, you probably figured that by the fact I hadn't mentioned one. Hopefully it won't be much longer now. We'll be at the five month mark in the "three to six months" in another week. If they keep to their promised deadline, I should hear something in this next month. I sure hope so. It would be nice not to have to worry about the shots deciding not to work any more, or side effects from having them becoming a problem, or whatever.

Anyway, I had them weigh me while I was there for my shot, as usual. I'd hoped all the moving of furniture, etc, would mean I'd managed to get some of the weight back off, though I wasn't holding my breath. Yeah, it didn't. I didn't lose so much as an ounce. Didn't gain any either, so I guess that's good. Still, it's frustrating. I'm being careful with what I eat - I was even careful about not eating lots of Halloween treats - and I'm getting much more exercise than I was. I should be losing weight. But I'm not. This is why I stopped trying in the first place. It's like nothing I do makes any difference. In fact, with the weight gain from before, I'm actually heavier than when I started trying. The same thing happened when I was trying to lose weight before.

If it wasn't for the gynecologists, I'd just be glad I'm able to do more, and focus on being healthier, while not worrying about what I actually weigh. But I can't help worrying about what they'll say if I haven't lost weight when my surgery date rolls around. There's not really anything more I can do about it than I am, but I know they'll say I should have figured something out. I'm trying my best. I can't do more than that.

***~~~***

I've had fireworks to listen to most nights.

There are fireworks around here a lot of the time, since they're popular additions to all the events, especially the ones put on for tourists in the "Summer season" (roughly late Spring through early Autumn). But yesterday (November 5th) was Bonfire Night here in the UK, so there are always a lot of fireworks around this time of year. Luckily, none of the furkids really mind them, which leaves me free to enjoy listening to them.

The only time I didn't enjoy them was when someone got the bright idea to set some off in the early hours of the morning. Even I think fireworks at 3:50am on a Sunday morning is a bit much.

Anyway, when it was a reasonable time of day, Lilie and I have been enjoying the fireworks. I even had her in my arms by the windows a couple of times while we were listening to them. She actually seems to enjoy listening to the fireworks. At least, she's eager to jump in to my arms when I ask her if she wants to come up so she can look out of the window and see if she can see them, and stays there happily while all the bangs and fizzes are going on, tail wagging the whole time.

I'm afraid I don't have any photos or videos of fireworks to share though, because we could hear them, but Kelly said he couldn't see where they were. He might have been able to see them if he'd gone down to the street, but there was no guarantee he'd have even been able to see them then, and he was reluctant to go and look, because it's been quite cold here. The one day it was warm enough, it was obvious they were coming from a direction where he wouldn't have been able to see them from where we live, even if he went down to the street so the angles of buildings wasn't a problem. Oh well. Lilie and I enjoyed them anyhow.

A lot of the past week has been 7 degrees C (about 46 F) or lower, though it did get a little warmer than that a couple of times. The warmest it got in the past week was 12 degrees C (about 56 F) and that only happened once (it was yesterday). We had a bit of a storm towards the end of last week too. Not a particularly big one though.

Monday, November 05, 2018

#Music Monday: Jason Donovan - Too Many Broken Hearts

Jason Donovan's "Too Many Broken Hearts" has been among my favourite songs since childhood. It was one of the most played songs on the cassettes I had as a child, along with Kylie Minogue's "I Should Be So Lucky" and a few others I loved that were released during my childhood. I can't include them all, but I couldn't leave Jason Donovan out when sharing some of my favourite tunes. So, here you go... Enjoy!

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Tori's October 2018 #Book #Reviews - #AmReading

Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.
~Dr. Seuss

It's time to take a look at what I read in October.

It's lucky my replacement Kindle arrived quickly, because October was a busy month for reading challenges and things. I had books to review, my first buddy read, and a couple of books I read for group challenges on Goodreads. Thankfully they all count towards my reading goal for the year, since I'm a couple of books behind on that at the moment. I'm hoping I can get caught up in time to meet my goal when the end of the year arrives, which isn't long now... Can you believe it's already November?

By the way, I haven't mentioned in the reviews which ones were for challenges, but will tell you if you want to know. Either way, let's take a look at them, along with the books I read in between those titles, shall we?

October is crisp days and cool nights, a time to curl up around the dancing flames and sink into a good book.
~John Sinor

Just for fun, I tried to keep a mystery, paranormal, or spooky theme to the books I read in October, in honor of Halloween.

Anyway, as with the previous posts like this one, if you want to know more about the book, or the author, click on whichever it is you want to learn more about, and it will take you to the appropriate page on Goodreads. Clicking on my rating should take you to my actual Goodreads review for the book in question.

Don't forget: the format I've reviewed may not be the format I read. Also, please remember that I read across multiple genres and age ranges, so you should always check if a book is suitable for the intended reader, especially when children are involved. Sometimes reading the book's description on its Goodreads page will be enough for this, but other times you may need to check elsewhere to figure out the genre and/or recommended reading level.

OK... On to the reviews!

Conspiracy of Silence (Ravenwood Mysteries #4)Conspiracy of Silence by Sabrina Flynn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Great characters, a fascinating plot, and a wonderful ending.

The Darkest Part of the ForestThe Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the kind of creepy fairy tale that reminds you that the stories we know today had much darker origins than they do in most retellings. I wasn't sure what to think of either the plot or the main character for the first couple of chapters, but started to like both as I got further in to the book, and soon found myself enjoying reading it so much I didn't want to put it down. I don't feel I can give it the full five stars. After all, it took me a couple of chapters to really get in to it. But I do think it's a really great read, and recommend it to those who enjoy the darker side of fairy tales.

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is a 3.5 star read for me, but I rounded up. Anyway, for the most part I thought it was a fun read, filled with plenty of mystery and magic, as well as a dash of romance. But I found the way it jumped about in the timeline confusing at first, though it wasn't so bad once I got to know the characters properly.

Quest of the BrokenheartedQuest of the Brokenhearted by Charles E. Yallowitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is an excellent read, filled with plenty of action, and a plot that will keep you guessing. Also, that ending... I so did not see that coming, but loved it!

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1)Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book. The gadgets and equipment used by both sides were pretty cool, and I also enjoyed how we got to see events from both sides during the story. I'm looking fforward to seeing how this series progresses.

Mercenary (Star Minds Lone Wolves)Mercenary by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a well-written book, which is a nice read in its own right, and a great addition to the series. Cherry's story is a sad one, but it was nice to get to read her story, and get to know more about her.

Freelance (Star Minds Lone Wolves)Freelance by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love this addition to the series! It's wonderful how Elsa is so independent, and doesn't let her blindness stop her from doing things. The author did a fantastic job of portraying a blind character, and the story is interesting and well-written in general, so this is an all round great read.

Abby & Holly Series Book 2: Unfortunate EventsAbby & Holly Series Book 2: Unfortunate Events by Janice Spina
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an excellent book in its own right, and a wonderful addition to the series. Mystery, suspense, ghosts, and some great characters... What more could anyone ask for?

Harry Potter: A History of MagicHarry Potter: A History of Magic by Ben Davies
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you're a huge Harry Potter fan who wants to learn more about the magical world, and the real history behind some of it, you might enjoy this book. Similarly, if you're an author who wants a little insight in to J K Rowling's cretive process, you might enjoy this book. If neither of those applies to you, you probably won't. I'm lucky in that both apply to me, so I did enjoy it. Although, I'm unclear why chapters on identical aspects weren't placed together, and think being able to pour over the information in physical form would have been better had that been possible for me, since even I found my attention starting to wander after a while with the audio version.

Practical Magic (Practical Magic, #2)Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this book, though not as much as I thought I would. The story was a good one, and I like the characters, but the plot moves along slowly - probably because we're trying to follow so many characters - and the ending was rather anti-climactic. I try not to compare books to movies, and generally would tell you the book is best anyhow. But in this case I can't help it, because this is one of those times when I think the movie is better. The movie has been a favourite of mine for years. The book is a reasonably good read, but won't be making it on to my favourites list.

Aaliyah (Supernatural Evolvement, #1)Aaliyah by Katrina Cope
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
You know those books that make you stay up past your bed time because you just don't want to stop reading? Yeah... This was one of those for me. The plot hooked me from the start, and wouldn't let go. The characters are interesting, and believable as "real" people, despite mostly not being human. Plus, the writing itself is excellent. All this combined to make for an excellent read, which I eagerly devoured in one sitting.
*NOTE: I was given a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This fact has in no way influenced my opinion of the book, nor the contents of this review.

The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic, #1)The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I actually didn't realize this prequel to "Practical Magic" existed before, otherwise I'd have read it first. Still, it turns out it doesn't really matter which way around you read them. At least, I don't think it does. But, what did I think of the book? Well, it was really good, and interesting to learn more about some of the family's history. It wasn't amazing. But, then again, neither was the book version of "Practical Magic" so... *shrugs* I liked it though, even if I didn't totally love it. It was a fun read, with a magical plot, and some great characters.

The Cuckoo Clock of Doom (Goosebumps, #28)The Cuckoo Clock of Doom by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A great story, which will give you goosebumps for sure!

The Haunted Car (Goosebumps Series 2000, #21)The Haunted Car by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A creepy read, which is sure to give you goosebumps.

Friday, November 02, 2018

#FurkidFriday: What Lilie The #Westie Is Scared Of

Hi everyone. This is Lilie the Westie.

The squeaky things in cages have been talking about things they find scary, because the humans mentioned this thing called "Halloween" - which I think I might remember happening around this time last year, but I was only a little puppy, so can't be sure - and apparently scary things is the theme for that particular holiday. So I thought I'd join in.

Only, I'm a big brave girl, and I'm not really scared of stuff.

When that thunderstorm thing happens, I either ignore it, or - if I think it's being particularly growly - growl back at it. Most times I just ignore it. I don't understand why Mummy loves when it happens so much, but I don't really care that it does.

I'm not scared of the dark, loud noises, sudden movements, or anything like that either.

I'm even OK with the hoover monster. Although, I admit I do watch it very carefully when the humans let it loose, just in case.

I can even deal with being left alone for a few minutes. I don't like it, and get upset. But I can deal with it, and don't get scared like I hear some dogs do. Sometimes I don't even cry right away.

See. I'm super brave!

OK. Fine. I admit it: there is one thing I'm scared of.

Drums!

Yes. I'm scared of drums.

I normally love music, and will even sometimes sing along with Mummy. But drums get me all scared and upset at the same time. I can't decide whether to cry about them happening, run away and hide, or try yelling at them to go away. So I usually end up trying to do all three at once, which doesn't work very well.

I have a good reason though: some giant drums came really close to me when I was a tiny puppy, and scared me loads and loads.

Look. I was a young puppy, it was my first ever time out on a big walkies, and the drums were very loud and close. You'd have been scared too! I can't help it if I never got over it, can I?

I'm not scared of anything else though. Not even fireworks. It's just drums.

Lots of licks,
Lilie

Thursday, November 01, 2018

@MakerlyCrafts Box Review - #Crafting #Sugarskulls #Quilling

The subscription boxes from Makerly Crafts sounded fun, so I was delighted when I received my first box. I'm going to tell you all about my first box today, which is rather appropriate, given that there was a skull theme to this month's box, yesterday was Halloween, and today is the continuation of the Samhain celebrations, or the Day Of The Dead (depending on who you ask, and where in the world you happen to be).

Before I do though, I want to make something clear for those who aren't regulars to this blog: the quality of the finished project is not a reflection on Makerly Crafts, but a result of my being blind. Someone with sight would probably have produced something much neater, even if they were as new to quilling as I was. Just saying.

Right, now we have that out of the way, let's get on with talking about the box and its contents, shall we?

Makerly Crafts sends different crafts each month. One month it might be a sewing project, another month candle making, another month some kind of quilling kit (I list those because I know they've definitely covered those kinds of crafts, since I've seen them mentioned on their social media as past box themes). You get the idea. So you never know until the box arrives what the craft will be. They even make a point of giving some time for the boxes to arrive with people before announcing online what the craft for the month is. Looking at the past boxes they still have available, and the stuff on their blog and social media, they've had some fantastic kits. I'm only sad I missed some of those (I was too late to buy the pumpkin sewing project they did last Halloween, for example; I'd have loved that one, and brought the kit for that past box for sure, if they were still selling it among their past boxes for sale).

Anyway, back to the box I got this month...

They send the boxes out on the 15th of the month. When your box arrives, you'll get something like this:

(I put something over my address, since I'd rather not have my home address plastered all over the internet).

When I opened my box, it was like Christmas had come early, with a nice little package inside, and even a lovely little welcome note...


It was only at this point, when I was examining the contents of my box, that I learned what the kit was for the month. In this case it was a sugarskull quilling kit. A perfect kit for October!

The box contained...

  • The instructions and template
  • Some background paper to put the template on (in a couple of different colours)
  • A quilling tool
  • A quilling board (for making the actual shapes)
  • Some tweasers
  • Some pins
  • Strips of paper (in several different colours)
  • Glue
  • A frame to put your finished picture in

Here are some photos of everything that was in the box:


It was everything I'd need to make my kit, both when it came to tools and supplies. In fact, I could have easily made a second one. Although, I'd have had to buy my own frame for that one. Still, you get the point, I'm sure.

Anyway, they say the instructions they include with their kits are simple and easy to follow. They are very much correct. The instructions were clear enough that it only took one time with me having them read to me while familiarizing myself with the various items, and after that I was able to know what I was doing without having to keep asking for clarification on any of the steps. So anyone who can easily refer back to them when they need to would definitely have no problems following them, regardless of skill level. I did need help to cut out the skull template, and with colour identification (for obvious reasons) but that's not something most people would struggle with, of course.

So...

Once I had my skull template, and it was glued on to the background I chose...


I outlined the skull in black...

(Glad for the pins they'd included, which made this stage easier).

Then I gave my skull some eye and nose holes...


Before filling the rest in using my own chosen colour pattern...

(There is a pattern shown with the instructions, which you can follow if you like, but they say you can pick your own pattern, and I probably would have done that even if I could see theirs).

I didn't use tweasers to help with doing it. They suggested it might be easier. For some people it might. But I was managing fine just using my hands and the quilling tools, so I didn't bother. Actually, in my case it would have possibly made things more difficult had I used the tweasers. Still, that might not be the case for everyone, and I thought the tip about possibly using tweasers was nice, and the fact they even included them - just in case you did find it easier that way - was even nicer.

Anyway, once my skull was finished, I put it in the frame...


There you have it. One completed sugarskull quilling kit.

So, what did I think of it all?

The kit was fun. Not only that, but it was all presented nicely, which made me feel like they'd taken special care with my package, so made me feel good. Plus, as I already mentioned, they included clear and easy to follow instructions. I'm already excited about my next box coming, and I still have another couple of weeks before it will arrive.

Is it good value for money? Absolutely! It costs £15 (around US$20 with the current most common conversion rate) and you'd be hard pressed to get everything included in the kit for the cost of the box.

Would I recommend it? Definitely! In fact, consider this me doing so. Yes, to those of you outside of the UK too, since they do ship outside of the UK.

If you want to check it out, but don't want to commit to a subscription, you can buy some of their past boxes - while stocks last - from their website. The sugarskull quilling kit from this post, for example, is available to buy at the time I'm writing this, along with the cupcake candle kit (which I believe had been September's box).

Finally, I'd just like to say a huge thank you to them for this box, and for the hours of crafty fun it gave me.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

#WriterWednesday - October 31st 2018 - #HappyHalloween!

Writing, real writing, should leave a small sweet bruise somewhere on the writer . . . and on the reader.
~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Happy Halloween! If you're doing anything to celebrate, I hope you have fun. I know this is officially a writing related post, but feel free to tell me about your Halloween plans in the comments, if you have any. I'd love to hear about them.

OK. Let's get back to writing related stuff, shall we?

First of all, there are stories in your heart - set them free.

No matter what you're writing, you need to take breaks regularly. It's not good for you to sit at the computer for hours on end. Then again, you also have to be careful that your quick break doesn't turn in to something distracting you for so long you don't come back to your writing any time soon. Yeah, I need to learn about both those things myself. So, for all our benifits, here's a post on how to take a writing break without getting distracted.

Oh, and here's a potentially useful post that explains how to be super efficient by batching your work.

So... It's 8pm. Why aren't you writing? Or, maybe it's 8am...? Look, just substitute the time for whatever time is meant to be your writing time. The point is, sometimes you just have to work with whatever writing time you can, even if it's not your best time. Yeah, I know. This is another thing I need to work on. This year really hasn't been a good one for me when it comes to getting my writing time in though, and it's more than just a scheduling issue in my case. Sometimes that happens though, and sometimes you have to let it. Sometimes you have to make sure your writing happens when it can be scheduled in, sometimes you have to snatch whatever moments you can, and sometimes the other stuff in your life has to come first, and writing has to take a back seat. Only you know which is the case right now in your own life.

On a similar note: here's some advice on finding the time (and words) to write, and writing when life is more trick than treat.

Writers do not live one life, they live two. There is the living and then there is the writing. There is the second tasting, the delayed reaction.
~Anais Nin

Though the reading or writing of mysteries and horror stories isn't limited to this time of year, it does seem like the perfect time to discuss tips for writing mystery, horror, and suspense, or writing terrifying horror fiction and monster stories. If your scary stories are aimed at children, you might want to take a look at this post on writing horror for kids, which bases its tips on quotes by R. L. Stine.

Regardless of the genre or age range you write for, if you write flash fiction, or would like to try doing so, here's a post on introducing the problem in few words.

Have you picked a title for your book yet? If not, check out these tips for naming your novel to help you find one.

Now your book has a title, do you need some marketing ideas? Check out this post on how to make use of locations in your marketing, even if the locations aren't actually real places.

Finally, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts tomorrow. I'm not participating, but if you're participating... Good luck! Remember to take care of yourself while writing though. That goes for those not participating in NaNoWriMo too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A #Weather Report, A Week Of Organizing, And A Little #Crafting

Mother Nature: our lives sprung from her life, our health from her health. So we look for that gentle, reassuring rise and fall of her breathing that tells us she is alive and well, that to-and-fro movement that carries her through the seasons.
~C.R. Milne

For those who like to know about weather in the rest of the world: the weather in my area has been sunny most of the time, with a mild storm or two, lots of frosty starts to the days, and a couple of misty mornings thrown in for good measure. But it's been kind of chilly a lot of the time. Not that I'm complaining about the temperatures. I quite like when cooler temperatures arrive. Plus, it's nice after the heat of the Summer. It's been ranging between 3 degrees C (about 38 F) and 16 degrees C (about 64 F). Towards the lower end of that scale more often than not, especially at night, and in the mornings and evenings. In other words, appropriate weather for the time of year. At least, it's what I think of when I think of Autumn weather, and what I think the temperatures should be at this time of year.

Anyway, either we were much more motivated to unpack than pack, not having our movements so restricted made a huge difference, my feeling better helped a lot more than expected, some other forces were at work, or some combination of these things, because we got a lot further with sorting things around here than I thought we would over the past week, even though we were actually taking the time to properly organize everything as we put it all on shelves this time around, and rearranged some furniture too.

That's not to say we're completely done sorting things. We aren't. But our home office now resembles one, our bedroom is only a bedroom again, and a lot of what we had packed is back to being on shelves instead of in boxes.

I think the furkids find it all rather strange. They were watching us closely, as though trying to figure out what we were up to. Especially Lilie, who had to be shut the other side of the babygate for her own safety more than once, since she was supervising a little too closely at times, and we didn't want to either hurt her, or get hurt ourselves trying to avoid doing so.

Anyway, apparently both of us wanted to just get it done as quickly as possible, since Kelly and I both devoted most of our time during the past week to moving furniture, unpacking boxes, and organizing the contents of said boxes on to shelves. There are a few things we didn't get a chance to do that we'd planned to, but the bulk of it is now done.

As I'm sure you can imagine, it gave my muscles a good workout, so I went to bed sore and achy quite a lot during the past week, and am still feeling it now. I don't mind too much though, because it's nice to be able to actually do stuff. It's also nice to have so much of it done already. The rest will be done slowly, as we get the extra shelving and things, sort the household repairs that are our responsibility, and replace items that need replacing. Or, in the case of stuff we just ran out of energy to tackle, when we have a few free moments to deal with it.

The rest of my time during this past week - what little there was of it - was devoted to keeping up with the usual day to day tasks as best as possible, playing with the furkids, and that kind of thing, with a little time for working on one of my craft projects thrown in. Though not as much as I'd hoped of the latter.

I've finished the kit from my first Makerly Crafts box, which was also my first attempt at quilling. I had fun doing it, even if I had to have a little help from Kelly to start with, and with some colour identification. But I'll tell you about that properly another day, since that's the one where I promised to review the box. Watch for that review coming very soon; since it's a sugarskull quilling kit, I'm posting the review on the Day Of The Dead... November 1st.

I'd planned to start on some of my other projects too, but all the organizing and unpacking took up a lot of time. Plus, it wore me out so much I was going to bed early. Since I had some reading commitments that needed to be met before the end of the month, I made those and the quilling kit my priority. Then I ran out of time to do anything else, despite the clocks going back and giving me an extra hour. It doesn't matter though. I finished what was most important, and got some rest in when I needed it. That matters more.

Monday, October 29, 2018

#MondayMotivation And #Inspiration - October 2018 Edition

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
~Buddha

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
~Mother Teresa

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
~Stephen Hawking

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
~Anne Frank

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.
~Jim Rohn

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Hastings Bonfire Celebrations 2018 - Part 2

Here are the rest of our videos from the Hastings Bonfire Celebrations (October 13th 2018). You can find part 1 here, if you missed it last week.
















































There would have been more firework videos, because there were plenty more fireworks. But the camera's battery died.

Anyway, the last thing I have to show you for this event is a photo of the pin badge (button to some of you) that Kelly brought home for me, which he picked up at the event. So, here it is:

Friday, October 26, 2018

#FurkidFriday: Maizie Talks About The #Chinchillas' Fears

Hi everyone. This is Maizie the chinchilla.

Last week, our degu brother, Joshua, told you about the things that scare him, because that "Halloween" holiday is coming up. At least, the human caretakers say it is. So we decided we'll all tell you what we're scared of. Although, since my chinchilla sister, Mollie, is scared of the same things as me, I can just tell you what both of us are scared of.

So, what are Mollie and I scared of?

  • Sudden movements and noises. We can deal with loud noises and people moving about, but if they happen suddenly, we'll get scared.
  • Being grabbed unexpectedly. We don't mind being petted, and will sometimes even agree to be cuddled - more with Mummy than with Daddy - but we need some warning that you're going to touch us, otherwise we get really scared, and will panic.
  • Bad storms. We don't mind the little storms, but the bigger ones are scary, and will send us scurrying for our log house to hide.

Basically, the thing that scares us the most is things happening suddenly. Take things slowly, and we'll be OK.

Well, as long as there are no bad storms.

Or spiders.

Yeah. I'm scared of spiders. Mollie isn't. But I am. Even if they're on the TV.

The Mummy human is too, so at least I'm not the only one.

Squeak soon,
Maizie

Thursday, October 25, 2018

"Abby and Holly: Unfortunate Events" by @janice_spina - #KidLit #Mystery #BookRelease

Abby and Holly: Unfortunate Events.
By Janice Spina


Abby and Holly are cousins who are more like sisters. They enjoy doing everything together. Holly lives with Abby and her family in a haunted Victorian.

Holly must deal with some difficult decisions in her family when unexpected and unfortunate events come to pass.

Abby is there to lend support to Holly along with two ghostly apparitions, Felicity and Minerva, who live in Abby’s house. These specters provide some magical and helpful advice along the way as they watch over Holly during this difficult time.

The girls’ friends, twins Davey and Derek Donato, from their own series, pop in to support Holly and bring some fun and comical relief to the story.

Buy the book from Amazon, or click here to buy it from Amazon UK.

About the author:
Janice Spina is a award-winning author with eleven children’s books, Louey the Lazy Elephant, Ricky the Rambunctious Raccoon, Jerry the Crabby Crayfish (won Pinnacle Book Achievement Award), Lamby the Lonely Lamb (won the Silver Medal from MOM’S Choice Awards), and Jesse the Precocious Polar Bear, Broose the Moose on the Loose (won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award), and Sebastian Meets Marvin the Monkey, and Colby the Courageous Cat. Jeffrey the Jittery Giraffe, Clarence Henry the Hermit Crab Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series (Book 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) is a middle-grade/preteen series. Book 1, The Case of the Missing Cell Phone (won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and an Honorable Mention from Readers’ Favorite Awards). Book 2, The Case of the Mysterious Black Cat, won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and Book 3, The Case of the Magical Ivory Elephant, also won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and Book 5 won a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award and a Silver Medal from Authorsdb Cover Contest.

Janice has published three novels under J. E. Spina, Hunting Mariah, a thriller/mystery, Mariah’s Revenge (Sequel to Hunting Mariah) a paranormal/mystery/romance novel, How Far Is Heaven, and a short story collection, An Angel Among Us, all available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is working on a children’s book, and a mystery series for YA girls to be published in 2018. She needs to edit a YA fantasy series which will be published in 2019 and beyond. Her husband is her illustrator and cover creator.

Connect to Janice
Website: http://Jemsbooks.com
Blog: http://Jemsbooks.blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janice.spina.9
Twitter: @janice_spina
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7222888.Janice_Spina

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

#WriterWednesday - October 24th 2018

'Tis the season to be writing. Yes, really! Autumn - or Fall, if you prefer - is the best season for writing. At least, according to these five reasons why Fall is the best time to write. Depending on your area, if you're inspired by storms, the colours of the changing leaves, and that kind of thing, that might make you doubly eager to be taking advantage of the season and writing a lot right now. Not that you really need an excuse to schedule in some writing time, of course. But maybe one of those reasons might be enough to make you make a start on writing that book you've been meaning to write, or do some more work on one you've already started, or whatever.

No matter when you do your writing, your real life will always bleed in to your fiction, whether just a little, or a lot. But that's OK. In fact, it's a good thing, as the post I just linked to explains.

Regardless of how much of your real life is in your story... Do you outline? If so, these are the three elements to include in your novel outline - just in case you need a reminder.

Whether you outline or not, do you need to show time passing in your story, but don't want to keep having to mention clocks, days of the week, etc? Try using the Lady Bird way to show passage of time.

Regardless of how much time passes in your story, don't forget to watch out for unlikely simultaneous action in your story, and fix it when you spot it.

While you're focus is on editing, remember to check that you're using the parentheses correctly. Also, watch out for these dialogue downers.

Are you planning on adding an epilogue to your story? First, check out the pros and cons of using an epilogue.

Do you write for children? If so, here are some ways to make your children's story sparkle.

Finally, here's an excellent post that explains how to follow your dreams through writing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of #HarryPotter Boxes, #Crafting Kits, The #KindleFire8, Neighbours, Organization, And #Sewing Projects

Those who know me well won't be surprised to hear this, but... I did end up signing up for the Harry Potter box. I wasn't sure if I should, so Kelly made the choice for me, and signed me up for it. It asks you to pick a house, because it customizes some of the items based on your house. We picked Ravenclaw, because that's what Pottermore says I'm in. The sorting hat has put me in Ravenclaw in the past too, when I was sorted on the old Harry Potter site that used to exist. My first Harry Potter box will arrive any day now.

I've had lots of fun post this week.

On Monday - as in October 15th - my first Mr Maker box arrived. It's got kits to make both a pizza and a doughnut. Not real ones. Ones made of foam that are either decorative or for use as play food, depending on the situation or who has them. There's also an activity book and a sticker in it. I'm not sure whether I'll keep the sticker or not, but I'm planning on collecting up the activity books, and sending them to one of the people I know who can actually use them with a child. By the way, if you like the sound of the Mr Maker box, and decide to sign up, can you do so using this link, please? In theory, if you do, you get your first box for free (though they still charge you the £1 postage) and I get a half price box for refering you. I know the free thing works, because I got my first box for just the cost of shipping, having used a similar sort of link from the subscription boxes website.

Also, the nice people who do the Makerly Crafts boxes sent me one to review for my blog. It arrived on Wednesday. I'm now signed up to get their boxes regularly, and will be posting a detailed review of the box they sent me some time soon. The kind of craft their kit is for each month varies, and this month the kit in it is a quilling kit. A skull themed one, in honor of Halloween. I'd never tried quilling before, though I'd heard of it, and my Nan (Dad's Mother) has tried it. Anyway, more on that soon.

I also checked out the My Gecko Box kits. But I only liked one or two of the things they do, so I won't be subscribing to that one. It looks like a great box for teaching children, but not so much for someone like me who's just looking for some fun craft kits and goodies to enjoy each month. I did order their owl sewing kit and heart dream catcher kit though, since I liked the look of them, and they didn't cost much. Those arrived on Friday. I'm calling them an early birthday present to myself.

Then there was my early birthday and Christmas present from Kelly. You see, on Monday evening, it took me three hours to get my Kindle to open a book and start reading, and then it wouldn't read for long. For a while now, it's been slow loading books nine times out of ten. It's also been doing this thing where it starts reading a book, and then stops and closes the book and returns to the home screen. It does the same with apps sometimes too. I'll be using it, and suddenly I'm back on the home screen. My Dad had another kind of tablet that did the same kinds of things shortly before it died. We suspect that's what's happening here. In all fairness to it, I've now had it for four years, and it really is used a lot. As in, pretty much every single day (there has been the odd day I haven't turned it on to read, but those days are few and far between). Well, at least that helped me with deciding what I want for my birthday and Christmas from Kelly. Plus, the newer Kindles have more storage space on them to start with, as well as a mini SD slot, so I have more book storage on my new one. Silver linings and all that. *wink* Yes, I've now got a new one. My old Kindle was a Kindle Fire 7. The new one is a Kindle Fire 8. More storage, faster processor, slightly different size, better sound quality. Other than that, it's basically the same in my opinion. Well, other than the fact my old one isn't working properly any more, and it was a purpleish-pink colour, where as my new one works properly, and is blue. Yes, I could have had red, but we'd just signed me up to the Harry Potter box, so I felt like sticking with Ravenclaw colours. Oh, and there's the fact it has a "restart" option, which I keep accidentally pressing when I go to press the "power off" button, which is really annoying, though it's something to do with me, and not the Kindle's fault (I know it is, because Kelly can press the right button, and he's not very good with touch screen as a rule). Anyway, it was meant to arrive on Friday or Saturday, but actually came on Wednesday, which was an excellent thing as far as I was concerned. Kelly got me a case for it too, since my old Kindle's case would be too small. That's blue as well, to match the Kindle, and also arrived on Wednesday.

Like I said, I've had lots of fun post this week!

I also had an iron come. My Mam is still laughing about my needing to get an iron. You see, I always refused to get one. I can iron, but I don't see the point in ironing laundry, so I didn't see any reason to own an iron. I've always refused to get one, and wouldn't let my Mam buy me one. Anyway, the craft kits in the boxes come with everything you'll need to do the kits, except for items they assume every home will have. Items like irons. So, we start checking out what we need to do for the Autumn themed table runner, and it turns out we need an iron to make the special paper stuff become sticky, so it can help hold the fabric leaves to the runner. Except, as already mentioned, we didn't have an iron. Now, we could have improvised. Skipped that step and just gone on to the stitching part. But the leaves will be more secure with the sticky stuff as well as the stitching. Plus, we do want to do these kits as close to how they're meant to be done as possible. So, we brought an iron. It arrived on Thursday. It's not a fancy one. It's just a cheap little travel iron. After all, I only want it for crafting. Hey, just because I now own an iron, doesn't mean I'm about to start ironing my laundry. *wink* Here's a photo of my iron, for the benifit of anyone who might want to see it:



In other news:

We already have someone new moving in downstairs. Kelly's spoken to him some, and so have one of our other neighbours, and he seems nice. Plus, he was there a couple of times when Lilie was racing around like a maniac when I was playing with her, or she was playing in general, and he didn't complain about that, and hasn't complained that we walk about too loudly, even if we have some reason why we're walking around at night (such as bathroom trips). So that's a great start. Let's hope he stays this nice, since we've decided not to move now that nasty neighbour is gone.

Yes, we were still planning on moving. In fact, that was the plan right up until this past Friday. But then we had a long chat about it, and decided we didn't really want to move. We no longer have to, now that nasty neighbour has been moved, so the real reason for continuing to move now would be the stairs. Kelly doesn't consider them a problem for him, and I don't struggle with them so much now the dizziness isn't an issue, and will likely struggle with them even less again when my body gets used to exercise again. So we're just going to stay here.

When we were packing boxes before, we weren't paying much attention to how we stored them. The result was a mess of boxes blocking our access to half the stuff in the spare room - the room that's officially meant to be our home office. So, not this past weekend, but the one before, we started organizing the room better. That was what I was doing that meant I didn't have more than a few moments here and there to snatch to make a start on one of my craft projects. We didn't finish sorting it that weekend, and started doing more during this past week. We started doing it with being able to access stuff to pack it in mind, and ended up doing it with restoring the room to its intended use in mind instead. It's still a bit chaotic in there, despite our having done more in there this past weekend, but at least we can actually get in there now, rather than leaving the room to the spiders who - judging by all of the cobwebs - considered us not going in there to be an invitation for them to claim the room as their own. The spiders won't be pleased to hear this, but we'll be continuing to sort things out in there this week, and reclaiming the room from the spiders in the process.

I guess it's a good thing we never got around to packing all the boxes in the end, because we now need to unpack the ones we did get around to packing. We're making a point to properly organize things as we put them on the shelves this time though. We'll need to get some more shelves, and there are things in our home we need to replace, but we already knew that was the case, since it's something we'd have to do whether we move or not. We'll use the money we'd saved towards moving to make a start on sorting that, since we won't be using it for moving after all.

Anyway, in between all the unpacking and organization - and evicting of spiders - I managed to get about half the purse kit completed during last weekend. I even managed to watch some TV, including a new to me movie, while doing part of it on the Sunday (I'll be telling you about the new to me movie in another post). I managed to finish the purse this past weekend, so here are a couple of photos of it:



The inside fabric isn't the same one the Sew Mine Box people gave us for the inside in the kit. The one they gave us was white with purple-ish polkadots. But I had a bit of trouble with the template at first, and ended up using a different fabric. They would have replaced it if requested, but I didn't think it was fair to ask them when it was an issue caused by me not being able to see what I was doing, so we replaced it instead. We couldn't find identical fabric at short notice, so went with a solid purple instead.

Anyway, I'd planned to also do the quilling project this past weekend. I was going to do that one, and see if I could start the Autumn themed table runner too, though I was doubtful I'd get to the table runner. But time got away from me, so I didn't do more than start the quilling kit. I hope to have both the quilling and table runner projects done by this time next week. I'd like to be able to post about them around Halloween, especially given their themes. I might work on the quilling one on and off through the week, instead of waiting until the weekend, thus freeing up a bit more time to work on the runner over the weekend. We'll see what actually ends up happening though.