Friday, June 23, 2017

#furkid Friday: The #Rodent Gang Get Presents From Lilie

Hi everyone! This is Maizie the chinchilla.

The day the little white Lilie dog arrived, we got presents!

The human caretakers said they were officially presents from her, but we were getting them early so we could play with them in peace while they fetched her. We didn't care who they were from, as long as they were for us. Anyway, there was one for me and my chinchilla sister, Mollie, to share, and one for Joshua all for himself.

Joshua rushed over to see what his was the moment the human caretakers took it to his cage...

Then dragged it to his favourite spot behind his wheel to have a good gnaw on it...

But Mollie and I just stuck our heads out of either end of our wooden log house...

And decided we'd check it out later. It was one of those days you humans call "beautiful" so we considered it to be too bright and sunny for us to come check out our new toy. We did play with it - and chew on it, of course - afterwards. The human caretakers even tried to get photos. But we went away from it every time they pointed the flashy thing at us, and they eventually gave up trying. Here's a photo they took of just the toy though:

Of course, that was taken before we got our teeth in to it. The wooden shapes on the chain are different now we've had a good gnaw on them. Oh, and the human caretakers say they'll use the chain to hang other stuff on for us to chew on after we chew up all those shapes, which sounds great to us!

Wasn't that nice of the little white Lilie dog to send us presents when she was planning to come live in our home?

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - June 21st 2017

I'm glad I planned to have all of June to get ready for the release of my new book, since it was only during this past week and a half that I finally got things arranged with those who are helping with release announcements for it. I had planned to arrange more than I have, but I don't think I'm going to have time to do so. Still, at least I'm getting better at remembering to arrange more than just an announcement for my own blog when I have a new book coming out. I still haven't had time to do much actual writing, but I'm doing all those writerly things that also have to be done alongside the writing (the things most people don't realise are required if you want to be taking your writing seriously, but which really are required and tend to take up a lot of time). In some ways I'd rather be using my time to do the actual writing part, but some of the other stuff is kinda fun too, and - as I said - these things need to get done.

Anyway, on to this week's links...

This first one is officially aimed at writers of short stories, but I think it's a good one regardless of the length of what you write. So, here's a post that may help you with identifying the genre of your story.

Starting your story with backstory? Don't! Get the reader interested first, and let them gradually learn the information they need; avoid your own book being abandoned after two pages, like the one in the post I just linked to.

Speaking of telling the reader things: As a general rule, you should show rather than tell in fiction. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, as there are with just about every writing rule. So, take a look at this post on the art of showing vs. telling. With that in mind, here are some tips on showing the passage of time.

Sticking with the theme of describing things for a moment... Well, kind of... If you write mysteries, you may want to check out this post on red herrings: how to keep your readers guessing.

I'm one of those writers who is lucky enough to be able to avoid having to juggle my writing around a nine to five job. The thing is though, people who find themselves in this kind of situation still have other things writing time needs to be juggled around. In my case it's health issues and pets, in the case of many others it may be small children. Whatever is the case with you, take some time to read these tips to stay professional in the work-at-home life.

Finally, check out this post on why we compare ourselves to other writers (and how we can stop). Yeah, I know it's easier said than done, but - like most things - it will get easier with practice.

Monday, June 19, 2017

#Hastings Thrive Carnival - June 16th 2017

This past Friday (June 16th 2017) we noticed a bit of a parade go marching past our windows, which seemed to be mostly made up of a band and a whole lot of children. From searching in the usual places, I'm pretty sure it was to do with the Thrive Carnival happening on the peer. That was the only thing I could find via Twitter and browsing the web that fitted, so - as I said - I assume that was what it was for.

Anyway, we grabbed the camera, but between not being prepared for it, and the battery of the camera being about to die, we only managed to grab a couple of shots. So, here they are:

*Note: we keep forgetting to change the time on the camera, so if there's a time stamp on the photos - which I can't remember if our camera does or not - then they were actually taken an hour later than it says.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 2017 #Vegetarian Friendly #Food Themed Thoughts (FD)

We've found a new pizza place near here. At least, it's new to us... I don't know for sure how new it is in general. Anyway, it's called Oregano Leaf Pizzeria, the pizza is delicious, and the service has been excellent the times we've used it. What made us try it - despite our being happy with the pizza places we generally use, and despite this new one being a little more expensive - is the larger than normal selection of options they offer for vegetarian pizzas.

Most of the places around here offer just two or three vegetarian pizza options: cheese and tomato, a veggie pizza (usually involving mushrooms, onions, sweetcorn and peppers) and sometimes a spicy veggie pizza (same as the other veggie pizza, but with the addition of olives and hotter peppers). One of the ones we use also has a "make your own pizza" option, which increases the choice of vegetarian friendly toppings a tiny bit by also offering pineapple, and allowing you to decide which of the above mentioned veggie pizza toppings you may want. This new place, on the other hand, has several different vegetarian pizzas on offer - the ones the other places offer, plus at least three others - as well as a list of several vegetarian friendly toppings you can then add to them, including spinach, wild rocket, artichoke, and a few others (as well as the topping options offered by the other places). Oh, and... Yes. You can take advantage of all those veggie options when ordering a non-vegetarian pizza too.

Needless to say, for a pizza-loving vegetarian, such as myself, this place is an amazing discovery, especially since the pizza tastes great too. The times we've ordered from them, I've had a great time experimenting with different topping combinations, all of which I've thoroughly enjoyed, and would willingly eat again.

Cooking from scratch is always the best option. But if you're going to order take-away, having it be from a place that encourages you to pile as many veggies on your meal as possible has to be a good thing, right?

Friday, June 16, 2017

#Furkid Friday: "Yep! She Said #Dog!" (FD)

Hi everyone! This is Mollie the chinchilla.

So, as you no doubt know by now, it turns out the human caretakers were planning on getting a dog.

It's a rather small white one called Lilie. When she got here she wasn't much bigger than me and my chinchilla sister, Maizie, but that was a few weeks ago, and she's grown some since. I hope she's not going to get too big, since we like her being small and unable to reach our cage (the stand it's on is too high for her right now, and we'd like it to stay that way).

Not that I'm too worried. At least, not as much as I was before she got here. After all, it also turns out my degu brother, Joshua, was right we had nothing to worry about.

Most of the time, the little white Lilie dog - who Joshua says is the smallest dog he's ever seen - has little to no interest in us. She did try yelling to us to come down and play with her at one point, but we just turned our backs on her, the human caretakers told her to leave us alone, and she got bored and went to play with something else. She's also usually interested when the human caretakers are feeding us, but she seems more interested in our food tub than in us. The first time we saw this, Maizie and I were worried the human caretakers would let her eat our food. But they didn't. They told her it was, "Not for dogs," and pushed her nose away from the tub. We were quite relieved about that, since we love our nibbles, and would hate to run out because someone else ate them all. She keeps trying, but she's never managed to steal any. We're crossing our paws things stay that way. Besides, why should she get to eat our nibbles when we don't get to share hers? The same goes for our toys in our playpen. That's much more at her level, and she keeps trying to get the human caretakers to let her go in there and play with our toys. Thankfully, they aren't letting her though. The human caretakers told the Lilie dog that the playpen - and everything in it - are just for us chinchillas, and that we'd be upset if she went in there and chewed our stuff. Too right we would! It's for us to chew, not her; we don't want doggy drool all over our stuff, thanks!

The only bad thing she's done when it comes to us is to chew the mat that was under where our cage is. The human caretakers call it a "messy mat" - I suppose because it gets messy from the stuff we throw out of our cage. Anyway, the one under Joshua is a different style of mat, and the Lilie dog doesn't chew on it (though she did pee on it once). She just kept chewing and chewing on ours though. The humans had been considering replacing ours with one like Joshua's - something about his mat being of a type that's easier to clean - so I guess it's not too big of a problem that she did it. Still, we weren't too happy when she was doing it, and were glad to see the human caretakers trying to make her stop. They even put something called "pepper" on it, which made us all sneeze, but stopped her for a while. It didn't work for long though, so they had to keep doing it. We didn't like that. The human caretakers have now got us a mat like Joshua's one, so hopefully she'll leave it alone, and we won't have to deal with the sneezy pepper stuff any more.

The human caretakers are well trained when it comes to this kind of thing, I guess, since they're really good about not risking leaving her alone in the room with us, and being right there to keep her away if she changes her mind about ignoring us, especially when we're in our playpen. We're really glad about that, because it helps us to relax knowing the human caretakers are there to protect us if we need them.

Joshua likes to throw things out of his cage from time to time for her to chase. Personally though, I'm still not entirely sure what I think of her. The same goes for Maizie. Maizie and I are hoping her lack of interest in us continues. If it does, we might decide we like her. If not... Well, we'll just have to wait and see. For now though, we're just glad the human caretakers make sure to be nearby... Just in case.

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - June 14th 2017

If you're a writer who has the same problem as I do - too many ideas, too little time - here's a bit of advice on what to do when ideas come too fast. It doesn't help with finding the time to write everything, but it's a great suggestion for making sure you don't lose the ideas. I do something similar myself.

On the other hand, if you're struggling to fill that blank screen - or piece of paper, if you're writing by hand - here are some tips on how to beat the blank page and write.

Either way, later - when you have something written - these indie publishing tips may be useful. They're especially good to bear in mind if you're a self-published author . However, they're also worth considering if you're traditionally published, since even traditionally published authors need to help out when it comes to marketing their own books, after all, publishing companies will only do so much. So, check them out regardless of how you publish, since they're great tips to consider when figuring out your marketing plan.

Are you worried your story may be either too long or too short? Take a look at this post on how long your story should be. It's officially aimed at the writing of short stories, but most of the tips are useful for writing novels too.

Regardless of your story's length, if you need to work on your descriptions, check out these tips on things to consider when writing descriptions.

Monday, June 12, 2017

A General Update Type Post For June 2017

(The photo above is our Westie girl, Lilie, the day before she turned 11 weeks old, standing on her back paws in a laundry basket).

There are still workmen doing things outside and in the downstairs hallway, but we figured if we waited for there to never be any work to do around here we'd never end up getting a puppy, which is why we went ahead and got Lilie with them still working. Luckily, she mostly ignores them when she hears them out there. I wonder if it will still be the case when she's cleared for walkies in a couple of days, and is constantly going past them? I bet she'll be wanting their attention... Lilie loves getting attention.

So... They "think" they've found the source of the dripping water. It remains to be seen if this is really the case though. Still nothing on the windows being sorted, but we can see they're hard at work doing things to the outside of the building, so we're not pestering them about it right now... At least they're showing up and working, after all.

Lilie's been here almost three weeks now, and has settled in quickly. She's in to everything, full of energy, and only seems to stop wagging her tail when she sleeps. We already adore her, and she seems to feel the same way (she gets upset if she can't get to one or the other of us, though it seems to bother her more if it's me she can't get to than if it's Kelly). She's had all her puppy treatments now, and is just waiting for the day she's cleared for walkies. When Kero was a puppy, they were allowed to go walkies and mix with other dogs immediately after the second shot, but these days the vets advise waiting a week, because it's apparently been found that it can take a few days for the protection from the puppy shots to kick in with many dogs. So Lilie will get her first walk on Wednesday. Officially I could ignore the vet and go ahead and take her anyhow, but I'd rather do as the vet recommends. Better safe than sorry, right? Anyway, I'll be slow in putting up her post about it, because I want the rodent gang to still get their turn with the "Furkid Friday" posts, and already have a lot for Lilie to post about.

About the only other things worth mentioning at the moment are the birthdays. My Grandma and Kelly's Mom had their birthdays last week (June 7th and 9th respectively) and my Dad's is tomorrow (June 13th) and some other family members and friends celebrated theirs recently too. So, happy birthday to everyone... Including you if you just celebrated your birthday, or are about to do so.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Identifying #Rocks And Their Uses

I love all aspects of the natural world, including rocks.

I have a whole collection of them. I got them as part of a magazine I collected about rocks, gems, and minerals. I can't read the magazine, since it's in print, but I collected it anyway just so I could have the samples of each type of rock they included with each magazine.

I love to examine them, even though some of the process of doing so is difficult - or impossible - for me, due to my lack of sight.

If you're interested in this type of thing too, you might want to take a look at this list of sites for identifying rocks.

Also, here's an interesting post that details the modern and traditional uses of crystals and stones, if you're interested in them for healing and spirituality purposes too.

Friday, June 09, 2017

#Furkid Friday: Joshua The #Degu On Vacation Planning When You Have #Pets

Hi everyone. This is Joshua the degu.

A couple of weeks ago, we heard the human caretakers talking to some other humans about going away for a vacation. We got worried for a while there that it was our human caretakers who were going away, but it turned out it was the other humans going away. We're quite relieved about that, because we don't know what we'd do without the human caretakers around. I mean, they're annoying sometimes, and don't always do what we tell them to do, but we need them. Plus, I have to admit, they have grown on us, and we'd miss them if they went away somewhere.

This got me thinking about when human caretakers do go away somewhere though, since I know it does often happen.

As you probably know, if you're a human caretaker for a family member who happens to be of the furry, feathered, or scaled variety, you have two choices when you want to go away somewhere:

1. Go somewhere where you can take us.
If you're going with this option, make sure the place we're going to has everything you'll need to meet our care needs, or that you bring everything with you. Also, if this is a new experience for us, remember that strange things are often very scary to us, and can make us very stressed. Where possible, keep to our usual routines, and if you can't do so please remember that this will likely upset us, in which case you need to be patient with us when we don't behave in the way we normally would.

2. Arrange for someone else to take care of us while you're away.
If you're going with this option, make sure the person you leave us with is someone you know you can trust to do everything we need them to do to meet our daily care needs. Also, provide them with details of our daily routine, as well as the details for our vet, just in case we get sick or something, and make sure they have everything they'll need to meet our care needs for the time you're away (plus some extra, in case you're away longer than planned).

There are several other things to consider too, some of which depend on which option you're going for, not to mention what kind of furry, feathered, or scaled family member you have. But those things are a good starting point. If you need more advice, contact your vet and ask them. I'm sure they won't mind answering any questions you may have, and I know the animals you're human caretaker for will appreciate it.

Thankfully, our human caretakers aren't going away. If they were, however, I'm sure they'd make the proper arrangements for our care during that time. At least, I would hope so. Either way, we'd still rather they stayed here with us instead.

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - June 7th 2017

Writing progress has been slow. I could claim it's Lilie's doing, but it really isn't. Yes, she's full of energy and mischief - like puppies usually are - but as long as I play with her for a while first, she'll let me have some time to get things done afterwards (while she naps). I've been focussing on keeping up with other things though, which has eaten in to my writing time. Plus, sometimes while she naps I just don't feel like doing anything, and simply sit quietly for a while. Not very productive, I know. But sometimes I just need to sit quietly and do nothing. So that's what I do.

Anyway, I managed to sort out a couple of writing related links for you for this week, so here they are:

Writers: Do you write short stories? If so, are you struggling to make yours work? Then Take a look at these short story pitfalls, and see if one of those is your problem.

Regardless of the length of what you're writing though, make sure you aren't ignoring your best ideas, and write like you're seven years old again.

Monday, June 05, 2017

For #History Lovers: Life In #Tudor Times

Are you interested in what life was like in the 16th century, when the Tudors sat on the English throne?

Then check out this long post on what life was like in Tudor times:

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Tori's May 2017 #Book #Reviews (LBE)

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

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!

Doctor Who: Engines of WarDoctor Who: Engines of War by George Mann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is an awesome book, which fans of Doctor Who will love.

UnderlifeUnderlife by Marissa Farrar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The emotional struggles of the characters are believable, and the main character is well-rounded. Some of the other characters are developed well too, though others feel like they could have done with rounding out a little more. Anyway, I did enjoy the book, and it has great potential. Unfortunately, I feel it didn't fully reach its potential. The author goes in to great detail in scenes where she could be brief, and leaves things vague where we could do with more details, so that the plot drags in places, and things are left unexplained in others. Not to mention, there are a few times where her choice of words for things made me think she was someone unfamiliar with the British words for things, rather than being the English born author Goodreads says she is, such as when she uses the words "potato chips" instead of "crisps" for example; if you're writing a book set in a certain country, with characters who have grown up in the country in question, you should use the phrasing for that country. So, a nice read, but not a great one.

The Path of Air (Quests #3)The Path of Air by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A beautifully written and wonderful story, with a great cast of characters.

The Path of Earth (Quests, #4)The Path of Earth by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A wonderful and well-written addition to the series, with an interesting cast of characters.

SMTG - Iso-bel Aya ShermacSMTG - Iso-bel Aya Shermac by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An interesting and well-written story.

IndestructibleIndestructible by Barbara G. Tarn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An excellent addition to the series, which provides more details about the characters and their world from another unique prospective.

Judy: A Dog In A MillionJudy: A Dog In A Million by Damien Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Not only is this a well researched story of what life was like for some of the Japenese prisoners of war during WWII, but it's also an amazing story of one very special dog, and her fight to keep herself and those she considered to be in her care alive during all the hardships they faced. I highly recommend this book, though I suggest you have the tissues handy while reading it, because you're going to need them!

The Vernal Memory: A Dystopian Sci-fi Novel (The Variant Saga Book 4)The Vernal Memory: A Dystopian Sci-fi Novel by J.N. Chaney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An excellent book, and a fantastic ending to the series!

Yellow HairYellow Hair by Andrew Joyce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
On the one hand, this is a great book, with an interesting plot, filled with fascinating historical facts and a wonderful cast of characters. On the other hand, there's too much telling and not enough showing, and the way the book was written meant I alternated between feeling like I was reading a textbook and a fictional novel (either of which would have been fine, but the constant shift from one form to another was off-putting).

Angelic Retribution (Afterlife, #3)Angelic Retribution by Katrina Cope
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is an excellent addition to the series, which makes for an enjoyable read. It is well-written, and has an interesting plot that moves at a nice pace. Plus, the series as a whole contains a cast of characters that is both colourful and believable, with relationships that evolve and develop as the story progresses.

Soulmarked (The Fatemarked Epic, #3)Soulmarked by David Estes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Absolutely awesome read! This book has everything you could ask for in a fantasy, the plot is excellent, and seeing the relationships between the characters - as well as the characters themselves - grow and develop is great. A must read for all fantasy lovers!

Friday, June 02, 2017

#Furkid Friday: Lilie The #Westie

Hi everyone.

My name is Lilie. In case you're not sure, it's pronounced like "Lily" but spelled L-I-L-I-E instead (it's still the same name, it's just that the humans apparently like less common spellings for things). Anyway, I'm a West Highland White Terrier, and I was born on March 26th 2017, which means I'll be 10 weeks old in two days time. This is me with my new humans, right after they picked me up from my Furmama's house:

And here I am during my car ride home:

I didn't think much of the car ride. It was too long for my liking, and I didn't want to be in the basket thing I rode home in. They said it was so I could be safe if I didn't want to stay still on the car ride, but I just didn't like it.

I decided quickly that I did like my new human Mummy though, so gave her kisses to tell her so:

The beds are comfy in this place too...

I settled in quickly, though the blankie my Furmama sent with me was comforting. Here I am on that blankie:

There are some furry things living in cages in this place. I'm not too sure what they are, but since they're all the way up high where I can't reach them, and they don't seem to be doing anything exciting, I've decided I'll figure them out later. All I know for now is that the humans call the pair of one type in one cage Mollie and Maizie, and the one in another cage by itself Joshua. There are too many other things to explore for me to be interested in learning more about them right now. I am curious about what lives in this cage though...

It seems to be empty most of the time, which is confusing me. I've tried asking the humans about it, but they just keep saying something about it being a chinchilla playpen - whatever that's supposed to mean. I'd like to get in there and play with the toys in there, but apparently the only ones allowed in there are the furry creatures living in the cage near to it. The ones called Mollie and Maizie. I don't think that's fair, but the humans are ignoring my pleas to be allowed in there when those furry things aren't using it. Apparently the furry things wouldn't want to share with me. Whatever!

Anyway, you'll get to hear more from me soon, but I'll let this do for my first post. Bye for now.

Lots of licks,

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - May 31st 2017

I'll kick today's post off with this list of seven essential skills you need to become a writer. If you're a writer, do you have all of those?

Do you write fantasy stories? If so, you may want to check out these tips for putting weapons in fantasy.

Regardless of what genre you write in though, beware of the curse of the backstory.

Finally, here are some tips on how mindfulness can be applied to writing, and how it can be useful in battling writers' block.

Monday, May 29, 2017

May 2017 #TV Talk And #Movie Mutterings

It's time to take a look at what I watched in May.

As with the previous posts like this one, just click on the titles to go to a page where you can find out more details about the movie or TV show in question; the title links will usually take you to a page on IMDB.

Don't forget: I watch things across multiple genres, as well as for different age ranges, so you should always check before viewing to make certain something is suitable for the intended audience, especially when children are involved. IMDB will usually provide this information for you, but you'll have to look elsewhere if you can't find it on the page I link to.

OK... On to the reviews!

Rogue One (2016 movie):
I really enjoy the Star Wars movies, so was excited to see this one. I wasn't disappointed. I mean, it wasn't a mind-blowingly-amazing movie or anything, but it was really good. Not my favourite of the Star Wars movies, but not my least favourite of them either. Kelly seemed to feel the same way, and I've had similar comments from some friends I know have seen it. Anyway, I give it four out of five stars.

Suicide Squad (2016 movie):
I'm not sure if I would have bothered to watch this one if Kelly hadn't got himself the DVD. I'm glad I watched it though, because it was a very good movie: action-packed, and often quite entertaining. It isn't a new favourite or anything, but I really enjoyed it, and think most people who enjoy superhero movies, or action movies in general, will enjoy this one. Kelly absolutely loved it, and would give it the full five stars, I think. Personally, however, I give this movie four out of five stars.

Captain America: Civil War (2016 movie):
I know I wouldn't have watched this one if Kelly didn't get the DVD. Plus, I thought as I started watching it about the fact I hadn't seen the other Captain America movies. Never mind. Anyway, it wasn't too bad of a movie, but it wasn't great either. I thought at first it was me... Maybe even at least partially because I hadn't seen the previous movies... But Kelly felt the same way. It felt like they just threw all the elements together that they needed in order to move the story from point A to point B, with no consideration for how well it was done. Others may disagree, but that was how we felt about it. Anyway, I give this movie three out of five stars.

It's Me Or The Dog (2005 TV series):
Despite how long this show has apparently been running, it's only recently I discovered it. Regardless, I find it to be an interesting series, and would recommend it to anyone who has a dog, or plans to get one in the future, since you'll get excellent training tips, which really do appear to work very well. I give this series five out of five stars.

I also watched more of the episodes of NCIS I'm trying to catch up on. Of course, Mollie and Maizie are glad I'm doing so, since they're huge NCIS fans, even though I'm told they shouldn't be. I read somewhere recently that chinchillas are meant to prefer quiet and soothing things. I don't have a link to the article, but it said something about how chinchillas needed the kind of thing you could put on for a toddler, and have a good chance the toddler in question would fall asleep to it. Yeah... I think someone forgot to tell Mollie and Maizie about that rule.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 2017 #Vegetarian Friendly #Food Themed Thoughts (FD)

Earlier this month, Kelly and I went out for a meal with our friends Lorna and Andy (the friends who took us to see and fetch Lilie) to a nearby pub-style restaurant. It's called "The Crown" and is along the seafront near the old part of town. Anyway, it's a really nice place. The staff is friendly, there are several vegetarian friendly options on the menu, and the food is absolutely delicious. Several places around here now have water bowls near their doors for use for dogs, since dogs are allowed to be with you if you're sitting outside. This place goes one step further though, and is one of the few places around here where dogs are actually allowed inside, so it gets bonus points from me for being so animal friendly. Lorna and Andy said they've been there several times now, and I can see why. I'd certainly be happy to go there again, that's for sure!

We started by sharing some fresh bread, as well as some veggies and twice-baked chips (fries) with things to dip them in... In my case tomato ketchup and a humus dip they make themselves. Then it was on to the main course, which I can't remember the full details of. I know mine involved asparagus, kaƱiwa (which, if you don't know, is a fine grain that's a relative of quinoa) as well as a couple of other bits of chopped veggie, a slice of freshly toasted bread, and eggs though. Plus I had some more of those twice-baked chips to go with it, because I just couldn't resist. My dessert was churros - which, for the benifit of anyone who doesn't know, is a kind of Mexican dessert that I think sort of tastes similar to a sugary doughnut - with rhubarb compot and custard. Like I said, it was very tasty, and I'd happily go there again.

Meanwhile, at home...

A few weeks ago, I tried out a recipe I'd found for asparagus-mushroom melts. It sounded like a perfect recipe for me, because I love mushrooms, think cheese on toast is great, and was looking for some different ways to use asparagus. Well, it was; it was very tasty, and I really enjoyed it. A little tip though: if you're having it for dinner, rather than just as a lunch, you want to have something else with it, because it's perfect for a light lunch, but I don't really feel it's filling enough to be a dinner on its own. I tried the same mixture in a tortilla wrap (instead of on toast) another day though, and found it to be a little more filling that way. Just something to bear in mind.

The veggie quiche I made recently with asparagus as one of the veggies was plenty filling enough. It contained asparagus, spring onions, and mushrooms. I was really glad I'd made enough to freeze some for another time. Actually, I do that a lot with things like quiche. Mind you, since I'm mainly cooking for one, due to me being the only vegetarian in the house, there are several times when I end up with leftovers to freeze for another time. It's easy to just make the amount you need for one person with some things, but other things are just easier to make in bigger batches. It's no big deal though. In fact, I like having leftovers to freeze, because it means a potential quick meal for me in the future, without me needing to resort to grabbing take-away, which is a good thing for many different reasons.

Another quick recipe I tried recently was this one for loaded avocado quesadillas. It was nice, but I still prefer cheese to avocados. Like I said though, it was nice; it was a nice change, and a good quick meal option.


Sally has recently been sharing some great cook from scratch recipes on her blog, which you might want to check out.

Also, don't forget: you can find more recipes - most of them vegetarian friendly, and some even vegan friendly - on my website's recipe section, as well as in previous "Food Themed Thoughts" posts.

Friday, May 26, 2017

#Furkid Friday: Maizie The #Chinchilla On Keeping Your #Pets Cool This #Summer

Hi everyone. This is Maizie the chinchilla.

The warmer weather is starting to happen more often, so I wanted to take a moment to remind you that your furry and feathered family members need you to think about them in the heat. Some of the scaled ones do too. At the very least we - and by "we" I mean all animals, be they furry, feathered, or scaled - need a shady spot to rest in, and plenty of water to keep us hydrated, especially in the heat of Summer.

For some animals, however, this is not enough. Chinchillas, for example, have fur that is so thick we can't tolerate higher temperatures at all. For us it's even more important to take steps to make sure to keep us cool.

In short, regardless of the species of your family members, it's important that you do what you can to stop them becoming too hot, and watch for any potential signs that you aren't managing to keep them cool enough. If you don't, you risk them becoming very ill, and possibly even dying, which I'm sure you don't want.

If you're not sure what to look for, or are concerned for any reason, you should contact your vet immediately.

Just bear that in mind, OK?

Squeak soon,

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

#Writing Wednesday - May 24th 2017

I managed to get "How To Trust Your Human" finished and pre-released via Smashwords during this past week. I do have the files to do the paperback version too, but for some reason I can never get CreateSpace to let me pre-release books, even though I'm told it's meant to be possible (it keeps insisting any date more than 24 hours in the future is invalid). Yes, I could use a different release date, I suppose. But I like having the dates match. At least I have the files ready though, so I can "hopefully" get the paperback version sorted quickly after the release date. The official release date is July 3rd 2017, which not only gives plenty of time for it to be available for pre-order via retailers like Barnes & Noble and iBooks, but also gives me plenty of time to organize all the promotional stuff that goes up around the release date, in between my attempts at sorting other projects while training my new puppy, Lilie. Or, perhaps I should say, "being trained by my new puppy, Lilie." *wink*

As I said, I will, of course, be working on other projects while Lilie and I are training each other, like the adventure story I've been slowly working on all year, for example. I'll talk about those more another time though. In the meantime, here are a couple of writing related links for you. I only have a couple this week, but hope you find them interesting.


"Beta readers: who are they and what do they do?" Whether you're a reader or an author, if you've found yourself asking that question, you should read the post I just linked to.

If you're a writer, don't give up hope that someone will choose you. That post is aimed more at those who plan to take the traditional publishing route, I think. But the message about not giving up hope when your dreams take a long time to be realized is an important one for all writers, not to mention everyone who has a dream that has yet to be realized. Also, here's an important message for those of you who are writing to get rich. Remember: Having lots of money isn't the only way to be rich.

Monday, May 22, 2017

14th Wedding Anniversary

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary.

How did that happen?

It doesn't seem like it's been that long. But since it's now 2017, and I got married in 2003, It obviously has been that long.

I say this often, but I'm not sure how Kelly's put up with me for all these years. I'd have gotten sick of me years ago, but he's still here. Not that I'm complaining, of course.

Anyway, we rarely do much to celebrate our anniversary. We do something to acknowledge it, of course, but we don't make the big fuss a lot of people do. We don't feel the need to do so. We show each other in little ways all year that we love each other, so we don't feel the need to do something spectacular to prove it when our anniversary rolls around.

I'm glad to be able to say I'm celebrating being married to Kelly for 14 years though, and hope I get the chance to still be celebrating our life together in another 14 years... At least!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A #Dog Themed Announcement

The title sort of gives it away, but I'll say it anyway: We're getting a puppy!

I'm not sure how we came to start discussing the idea of getting another dog - though I'd wanted another dog for some time when we finally ended up discussing it - but we decided back in November that we wanted another dog. But first we needed to get the work done around here. It's now about as done as it's going to get. I mean, all the stuff is unpacked and organized, and the workmen aren't needing to be in and out of our place all the time. If we wait for there to never be any work to get done, we'll never end up getting a dog though, so we've decided the time is now.

I didn't mention our plans before - though it was one of the things I was thinking about when I said at the start of this year that there were plans for this year that would take up a little more of my time - because I was going to make the announcement as soon as I could give you proper details, and had a date for when we'd be bringing the dog in question home. In a sense, this is what I'm doing now. Although, it's rather closer to the date to bring her home than I expected it to be, since it turned out she became officially mine less than a week before she was ready to leave her Mother and siblings, I'd only spoken to the breeder the day before, and all this was only officially arranged last week (though I've been bringing dog supplies home every so often for months now). But, anyway...

I'm calling her Lilie (pronounced like "Lily" but spelled L-I-L-I-E instead) and she's coming home on Tuesday May 23rd 2017. She's a West Highland White Terrier - like Kero was - and I got to meet and cuddle her this past Tuesday.

Here's a photo of my first cuddle with Lilie:

She appears to be a real cuddler, which is just fine by me! Also, I think she already likes me, since she cuddled with me like that the whole time we were there, and protested to being taken from me when it was time for us to leave. Actually, if I could have done so, I'd have taken her home immediately, but she was a few days away from reaching eight weeks at that point, so it wouldn't have been right to do so.

Anyway, I also briefly cuddled her brother (she has a sister too, but I didn't cuddle her) and met her Mother. The Mama dog (Dixie) is a sweetheart, and the woman we met with when we went to see the pups last week seems to be a very nice woman, who clearly loves Dixie, and obviously cares where the pups end up, since she insisted on seeing us interact with the dogs before she would agree to let us have one of the puppies.

Before anyone says anything: Yes. I considered adopting an older dog instead of getting a puppy. In fact, I almost adopted a three year old that was "some kind of terrier" earlier in the year. I also considered getting a different breed. But I ultimately decided I wanted a Westie puppy. So, that's what I'm getting.

Like I said, we're picking Lilie up on Tuesday. Our friends, Lorna and Andy, are generously providing transport to us. They took us to see Lilie last week, and are taking us to bring her home. I'm really grateful to them, since we don't have a car ourselves, and transporting Lilie by train and taxi would have been quite an ordeal for her. Plus, would have meant I'd have needed to miss out on being with her on the journey home, since guiding me while dealing with a most likely scared and confused puppy would have turned the thing in to quite an ordeal for Kelly too (and it wouldn't have been much fun for me either). This way we get a pleasant car ride, and everyone can focus on being relaxed and happy while we bring our new baby home.

When I came home, smelling of dog, I let Mollie and Maizie (chinchillas) and then Joshua (degu) check out my hands. I wasn't too concerned about Joshua, since he's met dogs before, but I wasn't sure how the girls would react. I was right about Joshua; Joshua didn't seem to notice - or care - that my hands smelled differently (I guess he's learned to trust me enough over these past months that just the fact it was my hand was good enough for him). Mollie and Maizie were a bit more interested, and gave my hands a good sniff, but were ultimately more concerned by the fact the hand initially didn't contain food than what I smelled of. I'm hoping they remain as unconcerned when Lilie comes home.

Anyhow, I'll tell you more about Lilie in a couple of weeks, and should have more photos to show you then too. I certainly plan to have more photos, anyway. I've already warned her she's going to have to get used to the camera. *wink*

Oh, by the way... Kelly saw this interesting-looking house on the way to go see Lilie, so made sure to be ready with the camera on the way back to get a photo for me to show it to anyone who may be interested. So, here it is:

Friday, May 19, 2017

#Furkid Friday: "Wait! Did She Just Say #Dog?"

Hi everyone. This is Mollie the chinchilla.

The human caretakers are up to no good again. I should have known! I mean, things had calmed down around here. Sure, there are still plenty of noises from humans working outside. But things have been quiet inside, and the human caretakers had been behaving themselves. Like I said, I should have known that meant they were up to something.

They've brought some new stuff lately. We stopped paying much attention, since they weren't even willing to share the wood they brought... They just stacked stuff on it. It's like they don't even know how good wood is to chew! Humans!

Anyway, as I said, we stopped paying proper attention. Or, my chinchilla sister, Maizie, and I did. Our degu brother, Joshua, on the other hand, seemed more interested. He especially seemed interested in certain items, which he told us afterwards looked suspiciously like the kinds of things human caretakers provide for dogs.

If that wasn't enough, we heard the human caretakers talking about dogs a lot recently. I mean, we thought we'd heard the human caretakers say something about a dog a few times over the past couple of months. But nothing seemed to be happening, so we thought we'd imagined it. But now we know they're talking about a dog. Plus, as I said, Joshua is pretty convinced they've brought some dog stuff.

We think they might be planning to get one. Either that, or one is coming for a visit. We aren't too sure which.

Joshua, who says he's met several dogs in the past, doesn't seem concerned either way. Maizie and I, on the other hand, aren't sure how we feel about this. We don't know much about dogs, and haven't actually met any, so we don't know if Joshua's right not to be bothered, or if we should be worried.

Is there a dog coming? Is Joshua just acting tough, or does he really know enough about dogs that we can trust him on this?

I just don't know!

Squeak soon,