My debut fantasy, The Archguardians Of Laceria, has been released! Read more here and find it on all regional Amazon websites!
Also, don't forget to enter my 30DaysWild giveaway! It's open worldwide!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Mini Moss Garden - 30 Days Wild - Throwback Thursday

We're going back even further with today's 30 Days Wild Throwback Thursday and looking at a miniature moss terrarium I made in 2013, to bring a little bit of 'outside' in! I love moss, how it looks, how it feels - I even made garden moss cookies for 30 Days Wild last year, which was another piece I considered for today's post, but I'll settle for a link to that instead...






Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Wandering - 30 Days Wild - Wild Wednesday

   This afternoon I found myself with some spare time again (hooray!) so I dragged Seeg out of the house and we went wandering through the woods. It was raining but I figured we'd be all right, and I was quite correct! It was comfortably cool, we were dry for the most part, and once again I gathered inspiration for my writing. It sounds silly, but until you try to write a journey through a forest, you don't realise that you have no idea what it's like. We're always so connected to the hustle and bustle of modern life, even in rural areas, and it can be quite difficult indeed to escape it. So whenever these opportunities come up, I grasp them. The same goes with a family drive through the middle of nowhere - I look at the formation of the land, the natural details in the landscape I always overlook.
   Yes, I write fantasy - published, in fact - and in fantasy I can make up whatever I want, within reason. But nature itself, natural history, geology, is so important to me that I like to make sure I give my worlds a real foundation. This has caused me problems, I admit. Sometimes I find it hard to add fantasy elements because I'm so concerned about the world I've created being believable, so it's about trying to strike a good balance. After all, a believable world can make fantasy elements even more believable themselves!
   And fantasy is what I live for.






Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Lemon Spiced Chicken With Spinach & Chickpeas - 30 Days Wild - Tasty Tuesday

   I went out to the local farm's market this weekend and gathered up some lovely ingredients for dinner. I've been making more of an effort to use local ingredients this month, as at least I know where it's all come from and how the animals are treated, and I feel it's relevant. Well, I've not made any meals worth sharing for a long while - since this time last year, in fact - but on Monday I made something so simple and delicious I had to share it for Tasty Tuesday!

   It's a wonderful summer dish: lemon spiced chicken and spinach. It's 300 calories, healthy, serves 4, takes 15 minutes and provides 2 of your 5 a day! Serve with additional salad or baby potatoes - Seeg requested potato wedgies.



Ingredients:
Serves 4; 290 kcals
1 tbsp oil - coconut, sunflower, etc
1 onion
4 organic chicken breasts/500g diced chicken
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
the zest and juice of 1 lemon
250g chickpeas (400g can, drained)
200ml chicken stock
250g spinach




Method:

1. Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces; wash hands, surface and utensils.

2. Chop the onion.

3. Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion on medium heat for 5 minutes.

4. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the chicken. Fry for 5 minutes or until golden.

5. Add the spices and lemon zest, stirring to coat, and fry for another minute before adding the drained chickpeas and chicken stock.

6. Stir for a minute, then put the lid on and turn heat down to low-medium and simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the spinach and replace the lid. Allow the leaves to wilt for 2-3 minutes, then stir.

8. Squeeze the lemon juice and serve. Fill out with baby potatoes or additional veg like broccoli.





Monday, 20 June 2016

Work Outside - 30 Days Wild - Mindful Monday

   It has been raining a bit lately, which has been lovely - I love the rain, just like I love the cold - but it has meant that going outside hasn't been as easy. I've peered out from the conservatory, done yoga beneath the pergola (absolutely amazing when the rain is pouring beyond it), and brought the outside in with a batch of flowerpot cakes. So when the sun poked its head out of the clouds today, I took my work outside. I had a chapter to proof and parked myself beneath the pergola (just in case) and set to work, feeling the breeze, listening to the birds and, again, getting in the squirrels' way. I didn't work as efficiently, though, as I didn't consider how often the birds would sing nor how often ice cream vans would drive by along the nearby main road. Being synaesthetic, the songs of both birds and ice cream vans are very colourful and subsequently extremely distracting, especially when you grow to learn the tunes and then continue humming them when they've stopped, so what should have been an hour's job (it was a short chapter) became almost two. But I did get it done, and rather than grow irritated by the distractions, I allowed them. Because nature isn't so predictable. And neither is ice cream.





Sunday, 19 June 2016

New Jewellery Collection + Wildlife Watch Winners - 30 Days Wild - Sticky Sunday

   Today's 30 Days Wild Sticky Sunday post is a bit of a cheat. Rather than providing any crafting tutorials, I thought I'd show a few finished things: my new jewellery collection, which I've finally completed, and the three winning pieces from my competition with The Wildlife Trusts' Wildlife Watch magazine!
   My new jewellery collection, which I teased on Twitter recently, is based upon British coastal wildlife. I made my decision on the theme shortly after the second post in 2016's 30 Days Wild when I talked about holidays I'd had as a child, and that some of my fondest are of rock pools and 'rock climbing' in Wales. It's only a 7-piece collection, and, like my previous collections, it's limited to just 6 of every design which are as follows: Atlantic puffin, grey seal, gannet, shore crab, hermit crab, common starfish and beadlet anemone. I wanted to give the latter two a different look and after a lot of time - a lot of time - I managed to find 2cm glass balls to use instead of jars.
   The full collection is available in a single listing at a £29 discount as either necklaces or ornaments, and sold individually as necklaces for between £18 and £24 depending on design. I'll be listing the individual pieces over the next few days; the full bundle is already available, and the individual pieces will be listed two a day from Monday to Wednesday.


   As for my competition with Wildlife Watch, the activity was my idea. I entered a lot of competitions as a kid and never won any, and I got quite upset about it. I think it was because they were never challenging; it usually consisted of just answering a question, and because it was so easy so many would enter, and only one would win. I never stood a chance. I decided mine would be a little more interesting, so I suggested that the children should make something and there would be three winners of fox jar necklaces. Well, the idea went down a treat. Using a number of different materials, kids between 6 and 12 made animals, and there were over 70 entries. I was so thrilled! I picked out my three favourites from the shortlist of 15 to win, and this is them!


   The hedgehog was made by Emily Toon, aged 9, which I chose because I loved the use of natural resources, and frankly the daisy eyes are just the best things ever.
   The owl was made by Tillie Moore, aged 10, because it was quite unique against the other entries, and really quite clever. The use of a handle for the owl's nose was brilliant since the whole central line of an owl's face stands out a fair bit due to the concave shape of their faces.
   The fox was made by Freya Mein, aged 9, because I liked its simplicity, and the combination of a featureless 2D exterior, even with a black outline, despite it still being 3D.

   There were so many good ones and it was quite difficult to pick winners to be honest. I kept their age in mind while looking at them and I considered the skill, material used and ambition as well as the finished thing.
   I absolutely loved providing for this competition, and I'm really surprised by how many kids took part. I'm certain there was some pushing by parents, but in a time when ten year olds have smart phones (I don't even have a smartphone!), I didn't expect such a great response and it's made me really happy to see so many make an effort.