My debut fantasy novel, The Archguardians of Laceria, is now available in paperback, and in all ebookstores!

Friday, 30 November 2012

November 30th

   Well, I managed it. I blogged every single day this month. I learnt something from it, too: views really do go up when you blog actively. It's no wonder big bloggers have so many fans when they do the amount of work they do!

   I really enjoyed babbling on about rubbish this month, and I hope to be able to continue to blog actively! But prepare for radio silence for the first week of December. As most of you know, I won't be in England for 6 days, because I'm flying out to The Netherlands with Seeg on Sunday. This also means that orders placed between Sunday the 2nd and Friday the 7th won't be shipped until Monday December the 10th. I will still be open for orders, but I won't be able to fulfill them right away.


   But, to keep you all entertained while I'm gone, I'm hosting a giveaway with CharmTopia from Sunday the 2nd to Sunday the 9th. Keep your eyes peeled for the giveaway post for your chance to win a lovely necklace!

   I hope everyone is well! Have you all been up to much? Were you sick to death of my constant blabbering and glad I'm shutting up? I'm sure some of you are. I know that blogs that don't blog frequently are boring, but blogs that just don't shut up can be annoying and just as boring.

   



Thursday, 29 November 2012

Professionalism Vs Personality

   When I order from Etsy sellers, I expect the parcel to be one of two things, but want only one of them - and I'm usually disappointed. The first thing I expect is professionalism - this isn't "expect" as in: if it isn't there I will be fuming, this is "expect" because it's what most people do automatically, or think they should do. The other thing I expect is personality - and this one is the other "expect", the one I am bothered by if it isn't there.
   As a seller myself, I am particular about how I package my products. I really don't like receiving plain brown envelopes and bubble wrap bags. It's boring. When I order from Amazon or something, whatever (of course even they have branding), I'm not bothered by plain packages. They're usually packaged by machines, or employees who are told to do it just so, and have to package goodness knows how many things a day.
   But when I order from Etsy, I know full well that there is probably only one single person, occasionally a couple more, behind the shop, making products, managing and packaging orders, promoting and everything. And so my order is hand packaged carefully.
   Perhaps it's just me, but when I receive these orders in plain envelopes, and the item is just dropped inside, I'm disappointed.

   I really feel like I'm rambling, so I'll get to my point. I discovered today that it is very possible to be professional and personal at the same time. I wouldn't have said I'm one of those people, though. I package my products carefully with tissue paper, pillow boxes, sometimes with string, I hand write a note, and use washi tape for just about every adhesive need (aside, of course, for sealing the envelope). So I consider my shop to be more personal than professional.
   Of course, some people think that because they are running a business, they must be professional constantly - I couldn't agree more. Once money gets involved, everything gets complicated. BUT, professionalism does not mean blank envelopes. It doesn't mean cold packaging. It means responding to messages and problems in a timely and helpful manner, it means delivering exactly what you said you would, exactly when you said you would, and making the transaction smooth and easy. The customer comes out happy and so do you. And that's great. But personalisation can also make sure you're remembered.


   I made a purchase yesterday with Vivid Please - I know I've mentioned them before, and it's all with good reason: for a two-person show, they are certainly doing everything right.
   Today my purchase arrived - these wonderful "Merry Pugging Christmas" cards, and a pack of "Words are for Nerds" pencils. Great, right? Well, I got exactly what I wanted, and it arrived in a very timely manner. Professional. But not only that. The envelope wasn't so blank. There was a bit of washi tape in the corner. Right away I could tell that it wasn't the copy of Anno 2070 I got Seeg for Christmas. I opened it up (albeit not too calmly, I never do), and was very happy with what I saw.
   Each product was neatly wrapped in mint green tissue paper, sealed with mint green washi tape. Wonderful. It looks so carefully and personally done, far from rushed, but they incorporated their shop's colour into it. That's professional.
   Then there's the invoice. That's a damn professional thing to do. I never give receipts with my orders - it's not something I've ever thought of. Occasionally I'll buy something on Etsy and have a print out of the statement - professional, but dull. Still, it's not something I'll look at and just say "well, that's poor" it's just something I toss to one side without thinking about.
   This invoice was printed and stamped, but then the details were written in by hand, once again in their trademark colour.


   When people take on a professional approach, it does create the air of trust and experience, but when people take on a personal approach instead, it creates a more catered and unique experience, like they've really payed attention to you and your order. But never before have I encountered someone who has managed to balance both parts perfectly. I feel special and pretty, but I also feel like I can truly trust them and that they know what they're doing.

   So if any of you out there aren't sure which side of the fence to fall on, how about you just choose one garden, forge a good relationship with the neighbours, and borrow and lend away! Get the best of both sides. It seems it's possible.



Wednesday, 28 November 2012

International Christmas Deadline Tomorrow

   Yes, that's right, tomorrow, Thursday the 29th, is the deadline to get all international orders in for Peaches and Pebbles, and for premade monsters from Grumble Cave Monsters. Friday the 30th is officially the last shipping day for Christmas deliveries outside of the UK, and I will be going to the post office no later than 16:00 (4pm) GMT (London Time) that day.
   The reason for the Thursday deadline is timezones. If it strikes midnight here in England, it could well still be 6pm in the US. This means that I am still willing to go to the post office on the 30th for orders that occur up to 15:30 (3:30pm) GMT Friday.

   Simply put, please get any orders in by Thursday night, regardless of timezone. Any orders placed after Friday 30th 4pm GMT will not be shipped until December 10th due to a sudden and necessary trip, and that means that any international orders placed after the 30th will not be received before Christmas.


   The UK deadline dates are:
Monday 10th December for custom made monsters
Monday 17th December for premade monsters and all jewellery.


The Cyber Monday Sale is still going, and expires tomorrow as well. Get 20% off
of Peaches and Pebbles with the code BFCM12
Or opt for free worldwide shipping in Peaches and Pebbles AND Grumble Cave
Monsters with the code BFCMFREE



Etsy Favourite Feature

Here is yet another Etsy Favourites Feature post! If only my purse wasn't filled with moths.
Remember that a lot of sellers across Etsy and elsewhere are still hosting Cyber Monday sales!
My Cyber Monday sale (20% off* with the code BFCM12, or free worldwide shipping with
the code BFCMFREE) ends on Thursday at midnight, which means that my sale extends right
up to the international Christmas shipping deadlines! But enough of that, here are a few more
wonderful things that are certainly gift-worthy!






*20% off only applies to Peaches and Pebbles.
Free shipping applies to both shops and is worldwide.



Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Etsy Favourite Feature

Well, my Christmas shopping just about done. I've got everyone sorted ^^ and just in case
you've not finished, here are another four wonderful things taken from my favourites. And
I'm also extending my Cyber Monday sale (20% off* with BFCM12, or free worldwide shipping
with BFCMFREE) until Thursday the 29th! That's also the international shipping deadline
in both Peaches and Pebbles, and Grumble Cave Monsters, so get your orders in quick!





* 20% off only applies to Peaches and Pebbles.
Free Shipping applies to both shops, and is worldwide.



Monday, 26 November 2012

I Like To Believe

   I've never had difficulty believing things. Perhaps I'm just gullible, who knows? But when it comes to imaginary things, I accept them without question. It is, of course, Father Christmas who has brought this subject to the front of my mind. When I was little, like most of you, I believed he, the tooth fairy, the easter bunny existed, I believed they were all real. I never questioned it. The fact that my stocking was filled and the cookies had gone in the morning was all the proof I needed. The same goes for the easter bunny. I remember one year my sister and I had some plushy bunnies. We spent days brushing them so they would be nice and smooth, and we left them beside a basket, because, in our house, the easter bunny would leave us a small collection of mini eggs and creme eggs and stuff in our room. We woke up easter morning to find that my bunny's fur was ruffled - clearly, the only explanation, was that the easter bunny had stroked it.
   But then the day came when I was told the truth. Some of you may have figured it out for yourselves. Seeg did. I didn't. My parents told me, I assume, because otherwise I'd find out from kids when I started high school, and let's face it, they wouldn't have broken it to me well. I would have then proceeded to embarrass myself by disputing their slanderous claims. Of course kids these days seem to know before they're 10 that none of it is real.
   I recall the day they told me, in fact, and I remeber these words escaping my lips with tears pouring down my face: "next you're going to tell me the easter bunny isn't real!" Yes, that's right, the easter bunny somehow seemed more legit than Father Christmas.

   Well, I may be turning 22 in January, but I still eagerly latch onto these imaginary things. When I'm riding in a car, I search the sky for dragons. I'll be even worse on the plane to The Netherlands. In fact, just a month ago, I conjured up a lovely little idea about dragons - one I'm keeping to myself for future reference, so I won't tell anyone who asks! But even now I hope things to be real, even when part of me knows full well it's rubbish. I also believe, on my crazier days, that I may actually possess magic, I've just not figured out how to unleash it yet. In fact, I remember watching Sabrina The Teenage Witch in the 90s and thinking to myself that when I turned 16, I'd try it. Well, I did, and no luck. So I thought maybe when I turned 18. I tried it, no luck. Yes, even at 21. I've given up with age now, I figure it'll happen when it happens.

   But I have to say, as crazy as I might come across to some people, I am so proud of myself for maintaining that childish outlook on life. It makes the world brighter, and so very hopeful. I recently finished reading Breathless by Dean Koontz - SHOCKER! It wasn't a fantasy (not quite)! - and those little white furry creatures with their flipping awesome eyes, but set here in our world, got my cogs turning. They didn't evolve, they just suddenly began to exist. It was awesome.
   I might not be that old yet, but by the law, I am an adult. I don't think I'm ever going to grow up, and I'm glad. It means that I have a constant flow of resources for my writing, because I can conjure an idea out of thin air and have done on many occasions, and as easy as I am to convince with things, I can come up with sound reasoning and physics behind my stories. Facts that will probably never come up in the books, but are there nonetheless.


   What traits do you carry that you're very proud of?






Sunday, 25 November 2012

Etsy Favourite Feature

I've been blogging every day this month, but the Etsy Favourite Feature still slipped my mind.
I've been working a lot on trying to get my Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and
Cyber Monday sales heard about, (20% off with BFCM12, or free worldwide shipping
with BFCMFREE) and I'm hoping it worked. The sales are still running, up to and
including the 27th of November, so you had better get in, quick! But for now,
here are some lovelies that I've collected in my favourites some time ago.



 



Saturday, 24 November 2012

Scrumptious Delight

Black Friday and Cyber Monday coupon for 20% off: BFCM12 Peaches and Pebbles ONLY
Free worldwide shipping coupon: BFCMFREE Peaches and Pebbles and Grumble Cave Monsters ONLY 



    Well I believe I've stumbled across one of the best things ever. After writing the post about Lottie's Cupcakes' candy cane marshmallows, I started searching for my old favourites - the pink, white and peach coloured ones. I found some and ordered plenty, but that's besides the point. While I was searching, I came across a picture of a plushy marshmallow. Naturally, like any sane person, I clicked the picture and followed the link, and after another brief search, found myself at the virtual door of Scrumptious Delight.


   I just love candy floss, I do. It's delicious and strange, comes on a stick, in a bag, or in a bucket. It's pretty great. I used to sell cute little candy floss necklaces before the key material became impossible to find. So seeing this plushy candy floss, well, my  heart started to combust, in much the same way candy floss does when exposed to the air. I flipping love it. It is most certainly on my wish list, though I think I'll have to get it myself. I think Seeg would prefer to just get me a bucket of the real stuff - at least he'd get some too that way xD


   To my main point, marshmallows are awesome. I love to toast them, especially mini ones. Give me mini marshmallows, a candle and a fork, and I am more than content for half an hour. These plush marshmallows can be bought individually, big and small, or in a plush bag as above. How freaking awesome is that?! Seriously, a bag of plushy marshmallows is so original it makes me sick. I wish I'd thought of it first!


   These little guys made me laugh. Plushy cookies. I love the chocolate chunks! The faces are wonderful on all pieces, too, I really love them, and the photographs of each piece in her shop is just great. I especially like the angry pickle being pricked by a fork. No wonder he's angry, to be honest!

   In short: GIEF!!






Friday, 23 November 2012

Important Shop Info & A Trip To The Netherlands

 Important shop info at the bottom of this post. And Happy Black Friday!
Use the code BFCM12 for 20% off up to and including the 24th!

   Well, it seems that I'm travelling. I've never left the country before - not properly - so this is a big first for me. Planes and all.
   My poor Seeg has been suffering with toothache, so he's finally having his wisdom teeth removed. Preferring to stick to his familiar dentist, we're travelling back to the Netherlands for him to have it done. This is all taking place in about a week and a half. We bought the tickets a week ago, but I had a feeling we'd be going a week before then, so I've had some time to adjust to the idea.
   Now, I'm not going to freak out in some Final Destination sort of way. No, what worries me is the stress of it all, having to be at the air port a few hours before the flight and things like that. It worries me. On one hand it's great because it's all so organised - and I do love organisation, I'm not the kind of person who can just "wing it" - but at the same time, it's only going to make me think I've forgotten something if I'm going to be sat waiting for 2 hours.

   But, nevermind. I'm going to close my eyes and follow Seeg, he has had more experience than I have with this. And I guess I'm excited. Afterall, it's not me who's having teeth cut out. I'm going to be seeing a different country, at last. Despite the UK being made up of like 4 countries, since we're not physically connected to the rest of Europe, it does feel like Wales is just another part of England. I can't say we're going to be up to much, either. With Christmas just around the corner, we're quite skint, so we can't afford to do much the week we're there, but at least walking is free. Wander around Arnhem and see what's there.


Important Shop Info:

   My shop will remain open through this time, however. I will still respond to messages, when I get the chance (they have internet in the Netherlands, afterall), the only thing I won't be able to do is ship anything. Therefore, any orders placed on the 1st of December to the 7th won't be shipped until Monday the 10th. This shouldn't affect anything, though. As both of my shops state, the deadline purchase date for international orders is the 29th of November, and I will ship on the 30th as well, and the deadline for the UK is roughly the 17th. All orders should reach everyone in time for Christmas, but there will be a delay in order processing during the first week of December. So if you're international, then you should buy before your deadline to ensure Christmas delivery. I'll repeat all of this at the beginning of next week.





Thursday, 22 November 2012

Custom Monster Deadline - International

   The International (outside United Kingdom/UK) deadline for Christmas purchases of Grumble Cave Monsters is the 23rd of November - that is tomorrow. If any of you want to buy a custom made baby or adult - and note that there is only ONE PREMADE baby left - and have it in time for Christmas, now is the time to buy. Any orders received between the 23rd and 25th may still be eligible, but orders placed after those dates are not likely to be with you for Christmas.
   The monster prices have also been lowered to their original introduction prices for Black Friday, so get them while they're hot! On Wednesday the 28th they'll go back to higher prices.

Who can resist this mug?




Updated Christmas Shop Info

Happy Thanksgiving! Black Friday and Cyber Monday coupon for 20% off*: BFCM12
Black Friday and Cyber Monday coupon for free worldwide delivery: BFCMFREE

Updated shop info for Christmas - all dates are accurate as of the point of posting this page.

Purchasing Deadline dates:
   International premade monsters/jewellery: Thursday 29th November
   International custom monsters: Friday 23rd November
   UK premade monsters/jewellery: Monday 17th December
   UK custom monsters: Monday 10th December

1st to the 7th December:
   Any orders placed between the 1st to the 7th of December will not be shipped until Monday the 10th of December. The shop will remain open for purchases to be made, and I will respond to any questions and messages within the week when I can, but please expect a 2 day delay.

Notice to International (outside UK) buyers:
   If you wish for your product to arrive in time for Christmas, order before the deadline dates shown above. If you order afterwards, it may not arrive in time. Because I have to go abroad in the first week of December, any chance of later orders arriving in time has now been nullified. So please be sure to order by the appropriate dates above. The postal service during December is notoriously slow regardless of country, so it may well take longer than usual to reach you, hence the specific dates.
   Shipping does not include tracking.

Notice for UK buyers:
   All products are shipped 1st Class by Royal Mail. From Monday December 10th, next day delivery will be available upon request to buyers in the UK. Please contact me before making the purchase and I will adjust the price, OR contact me immediately after placing an order/mention in the "message to seller" box in your cart, and I will invoice you for the rest. If this is not done, it will be shipped standard (1st Class).
   During the Christmas period, 1st Class may take longer than during the rest of the year. While 1st Class usually takes 1 to 2 days, over Christmas it could take 3 or even 4 in extreme cases.


*20% off only applies to Peaches and Pebbles.
Free shipping applies to both shops and is worldwide.



Wednesday, 21 November 2012

New Sponsor Spot!

   In addition to the usual large and small ad slots, which have now dropped in price, there's a new ad slot which appears at the bottom of every post. This ad slot is most certainly going to be seen by more people than the sidebar ads, and like the sidebar slots, it comes with a guest post/giveaway option - but there is only one available a month. 
   While available for purchase now, the ads won't go live until December 1st, so for the next 10 days, my own ad with line the bottom of the posts. I'm sure you'll realise from the number of times you see it that the slot is a good one.

   See the Sponsor page for more info!



Dogs.

   I've had them all my life. My parents got Candy 4 years before I was born, and when she died when I was 9, we only had a few months without before we got Poppy. Then we got Rosie, and then Francis.
   It's been a year since Rosie died, and we've been without dogs since. If my mother wasn't disabled, we'd have already gotten another, but in her condition, getting a dog of any size or breed is kind of out of the question. And it's killing me.
   Cats are nice, I guess, but I don't trust their snooty attitude. I know where I stand with a dog. I'm a dog person through and through, and though we've been without dogs for only a year, it's actually only getting more difficult. Seeg can attest to the sheer volume and genuine uncontrollable squeals whenever I see a puppy, be it a picture, a tv advert, or a real one outside in the field.

   I miss the little munchkins, and I miss having fluffy cuddles, and I get so superbly jealous whenever I see someone blogging about their pets. I wish there was some way I could have a dog, but until I move out - whenever the hell that will be, because we have no money right now, and my dad needs us here - it's just not possible.


Baby Poppy with my mother, about 12 years ago.






Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Redemption of Althalus


  Title: The Redemption of Althalus
Authors: David and Leigh Eddings
Published: 2001
Available as paperback and kindle

   I turned my laptop on today in an attempt to write a review about a book I just finished reading. It's called the Redemption of Althalus, by David and Leigh Eddings, and, barring the Lord of the Rings (due to what it stands for personally, not just the story), it is now my favourite book.
   I'm actually good at writing reviews. I did very well in school with it, but I'm just too distracted right now, because as soon as I finished the last page, I picked up another book that I'm glued to.
   So I'm going to put it to you simply: humour, thieves, real gods, unique magic, a real jumble of different characters, a house at the end of the world, and doors that lead to anywhere and anywhen and are invisible to everybody save for one person. It's 900 pages of pure amazingness that I would recommend to anyone who hasn't read it.




   Now as far as I'm concerned, I'm finished here. Back to The Diamond Throne.





Monday, 19 November 2012

Creative Writing Tips: The First Step

   I like to start with looking briefly at the antagonist. The first step to creating a story is knowing what the story is about, and when it comes down to brass bolts, it depends entirely on what the antagonist is trying to achieve.
   It can be many things, ranging from simple narcissism, all the way to insanity and personal beliefs. Religion can easily play a role, as can family legacy or a thirst for revenge - either against one individual, or a race as a whole.
   You don't need to completely design your antagonist yet, though - just think about what you want to happen. One example could be a natural disaster: perhaps a comet is heading towards earth. In this case, the comet would hit earth with or without the antagonist's help, but perhaps he uses some kind of magic to keep the comet from breaking up when it enters the atmosphere, or cause it to grow or move faster, creating a bigger mess - I'm not a geologist or a meteorologist, so I don't know whether I've gotten something wrong here. But he would also likely purposely cause some kind of panic and cause apocalypse-crazed cults to pop up and create even more havoc. In these cases, the villain would likely just want to see the world burn.
   But whatever your antagonist's plan may be - from destroying the world to stealing the throne - there also needs to be a motive.
 
   Let's look at some examples...

The Lord of the Rings

Sauron's goal was a narcissistic one, though I've not read the Silmarillion so I may have my facts a little wrong here. He wished to control everyone, every man and elf and dwarf. Morgoth's goal was similar, but he had become terrified of being harmed that he was unable to actually act on his plan. Sauron had the rings of power made for the men, dwarves and elves, as you might remember, but he had another made in secret - the One ring to rule all the others. Through this method he'd have been able to control their will and their minds through the rings they were gifted - hence the ring wraiths, the black riders, they were the nine kings of men with the weakest hearts, and so were the first to fall. I'm not sure that his own motives had much to do with his predecessor, Morgoth, but they were selfish, as they usually are.


Robin Hood

The Sheriff of Nottingham - in the BBC's version that I've seen, at any rate - was the lead antagonist in the series, and answered to Prince John, whom we only saw in the third and final series. Their plot was to remove King Richard from the throne so that John could be King - however, the Sheriff, Vaisey, had his own plans. He, however, had his own plans to gain the ultimate power for himself, though I don't believe he ever succeeded. He was simply a tyrant, and, again, his motives were selfish. When he teamed up with Prince John, he stole the seat of Sheriff of Nottingham from the then-sheriff, and began to tax everyone in Nottingham dry, and also enjoyed killing people for the fun of it. He wanted nothing but power and money. But he was possibly the scariest villain I've ever encountered in any media. Well, fictional, anyway. He might not seem like much but he was brilliant.



Fable II

Lucien Fairfax of the game Fable 2 had an equally selfish goal, though one that did not initially involve gaining massive power for an unlimited amount of time. His family had a history of mental instability, and after a few ordeals while he was younger, it's no surprise he went to such lengths. The game begins just after he lost both his wife and young daughter to an unknown illness, which plummeted him into depression. He began an obsession with the Old Kingdom, and, well, long story short, discovered a tower that would grant one wish. However, after the tower's last use, it was destroyed. Lucien saw it as an opportunity to both focus his mind on something, and regain his family. He set to rebuilding it and about 25 to 30 years passed before it was completed. However, during that time, his instability grew worse and he soon saw Albion as a tainted place, and one unfit to continue its existance since it took his family from him. His mind turned, then, to creating a perfect world where no one would ever die - but destroying the current one in the process. His motives have far more backing than any mentioned so far, and were certainly more than enough to prompt such action in a novel, game or movie.


The War of the Ancients

Sometimes there are villains of different levels. The ultimate villain, the ones that answer to them but also have something to gain, and maybe some below even those who have simply been tricked.
   In this trilogy, there are two levels. The first and smaller of the two is the monarchy. The Queen and her loyal and closest advisers. Their goal is to rid the world of those who are "impure" by their standards - generally all other races besides the Night Elves, and anyone they don't like the look of. However, the second level is the one they answer to. This is Sargeras, the Demon Lord - a Titan. One of a race who shaped the worlds, but Sargeras was charged with locking away demons. However, overexposure to the prisoners and their magic soon corrupted him and he began to rebel, using the demons as his army for thousands upon thousands of years. They've gone from world to world, devouring all the magic they can find and leaving none alive - whether they possess magic or not. The Demon Lord has managed to control the Queen and her closest and warp their minds to his own desires. He allows them to believe that when he arrives at their world, he will destroy all that is impure - what they don't know is that he believes everything is impure, and once he reaches their world, will destroy them as well with not so much as a glance. Their motives are selfish, but there are two layers to the plot - the first plot to be discovered - the Queen's - and then subsequently the true plot of Sargeras.


   These are all fantasy, I know - I did say I can't write anything else - but when I think of the word "plot" I think of all kinds of outlandish things. Fantasy and science fiction really are the freeist genres - any world you want, any laws - you can even defy the laws of physics, and while that may take a little explaining for a reader to believe you, it really is still free.

   So I count this as the first step. What is your antagonist planning, or doing already, and why are they doing it? This is the most important part of planning your work. Without a plot, you have nothing. You might have a great idea for a main character - but what will that give you if you have nothing else?
   If you already have a plot and motive but no antagonist, then you could well be fine. I have another post about building an antagonist that might help coming soon.

   What is also important at this point is that you don't race ahead. You must keep your focus on the plot and the motive, and imagine that no one will save the day. You must be able at this point to want the villain to succeed, and you must know what the result of their win would be - both from their point, and from an opposition. What would their winning mean, what would they gain? What would the world be like? You must at this point assume that they will succeed with their plan to the letter. Only once there is a protagonist will you need to look at an alternative, and at how the villain can modify their plan to make up for the pesky nuisance of the hero.


I own none of the images used in this post.
All images have been linked to the sources from
which I have found them.



Saturday, 17 November 2012

One Voice For Badgers



Donate, sign the petition, or spread awareness.







Cupcake Bunting DIY


    Cake bunting is wonderful. I've seen small strands wrapped around large tiered cakes, small cakes with massive bunting on top, and little cupcakes with little bunting to match. And I love it. Of course tutorials for such a thing are on other websites too, so I thought I'd go a different way with it and use the Chinese Lucky Star. At least I think it's Chinese. The internet can't decide.
   As you may or may not know, certain numbers of these origami stars mean different things, if you can find websites that agree with eachother. It is by no means a traditional thing to do, either. Lucky Stars only really came about in the 1980s, where the lead female in a Chinese movie (I don't know the name of it) gave someone a jar full for good luck. But over the last few decades it's become very popular to make them. Instead of putting them all into jars, though, you could string them onto cake bunting! Kind the number of the message you wish to give, make them, and thread them all onto the bunting as shown below.

See my how-to for lucky stars here!


You'll Need:
Cocktail Sticks
Scissors
Needle & Thread


How To:


1. Once you've made your stars, take the 2 cocktail sticks and engrave a small notch into the top of them both using a pair of scissors - but don't cut them.


2. Thread the needle with your chosen thread and wrap the thread around one stick, where the notch is. The notch will help prevent slipping. Once you've done this, tie it in a knot or two, and if you're worried that it might slip, you can always use a little bit of mod podge or glue to keep it in place.


3. With the thread now fixed to one stick, take the other end of the thread with the needle and pierce through the top of a star. Thread it onto the thread and keep doing it for however many you want. If your cocktail sticks are longer than mine, it won't seem as cluttered when you stick it in the cake.


4. Once all of your stars are on the thread, push them all down so that they're all bunched together. This will make it easier to tie off the thread. Use your judgement to decide how long the thread should be once it's complete - the longer the thread, the further apart the sticks have to be, or the greater the angle they'll have to be stuck at. Once you're happy with the length you've chosen, wrap the excess around the second stick in the same way that you did with step 1. After you've wrapped it about five times, tie it off and mod podge if you feel the need to.


   If you're using triangular flags, just sew them along the top with wide stitches, and all other steps are the same.





Friday, 16 November 2012

Origami Lucky Star How-To




1. Cut a strip of paper approximately 1x25cm.
2. Tie the end in a knot. Don't leave too much on the shortest end.
3. Flatten it and make sure that there are no gaps between joins.
4. Turn it over and fold the smallest bit in a valley fold (diagonal, not perfectly horizontal) so that it matches with the sides that are already in place.
5. Turn it over again and valley fold the long strip so that the length lines up with the edge.
6. Keep turning and folding until you reach the last bit.
7 & 8. Tuck the final piece into the star beneath the two overlapping folds.
9. Flatten it down.
10. Using your finger, gently press the straight sides in so that you puff the star out. Depending on the paper you've used this could be easy or difficult. I managed to mangle a few up but most of them worked fine. But if you do bend the star, it's going to be near impossible to fix, so throw it away and start again.







Thursday, 15 November 2012

Feeling Rather Uninspired

   With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, I'm feeling the pressure to get new products out, and fast. And for once money for supplies isn't the problem. Instead, it's what the hell to make. I'm getting plenty of views for "fox" searches, which is wonderful, and my fox in a jar has been selling very well (news: only a few left!), which makes me think that something fox-based would be a great start, but I have no idea where to go with it, and that makes me think that it's time to be original. I've not made anything truly original for some time now, I'm just repeating my same old products.

   The uninspired can also be said for my writing. I can't help feeling that, since I've completed something and started mailing it out, I've lost my enthusiasm to write anything new. The new story I'm working on could turn out to be great, but I'm just not that excited about it, which makes it difficult to just sit down and write it. So I'm casually chewing over some ideas I had a while ago while I attempt to plod along with it (I'm only at Chapter 3, so the further into the story I get, the more likely I am to get entranced by it again and be able to think of nothing but), and all I can do is hope for the best. I had a thought to mix 2 different genres together and see what I manage to come up with, but when I sat down with the idea last night it looks like it's going to take a lot more work. There's also a fair chance that the book will be less attractive because it'll be too "different", but, as I always say with such things, you'll never know unless you try.

   I'm hoping inspiration will hit me like a bolt of lightning (like one, not an actual one) and by the middle of next week, I'll have some new products ready to go. I'm putting a lot of thought into the 23rd to 26th this year, and I hope it pays off, but it always seems like there's more that I can do. Too many birthdays fall just after Christmas, so I have a lot to keep in mind where finances are involved.

   What are you fretting about right now?




He's More Clueless Than Friendly.



 



Star Wars and Disney

   I'm sick of hearing people complain about the fact that Disney bought LucasFilm. Disney is HUUUUGE. They are responsible for more than just Disney princesses! Miramax was owned by Disney when Pulp Fiction came out! Just because Disney owns a company, doesn't mean that Mickey Mouse is going to pop up anywhere in it. In fact, Disney could possibly do a damn good job - they could even surpass the more recent films. Not that that is hard. Better actors would make all the difference.

   I'm just sick of almost everywhere I turn hearing really ignorant comments from people about the situation. George Lucas mothered Star Wars like it was his own kid. Everything Star Wars related - toys, comics, everything like that, is all canon. Nothing to do with Star Wars could be made and distributed without Lucas' stamp of approval. So why would he sell his beloved Star Wars franchise to a company who isn't going to do it justice? It's not like he sold it to Rob Zombie.

   No, I don't think that just because it's Disney it's going to suck, and neither am I 100% confident that the movie will be any good anyway, but that won't necessarily be down to Disney. It could just be that the story is finished. The Empire was defeated, so they have to find a "new" enemy. It will probably have something to do with Sith, since as long as there are Jedi, there is a dark side, but the story doesn't have to tie into that at all. But whether it sucks or not will have nothing to do with the fact that Disney did it. In fact, a lot of Star Wars fans made a huge complaint about Episodes 1, 2 and 3, and they were all made by George Lucas anyway!

   Bottom line: George Lucas would never have sold Star Wars to anyone he couldn't realistically trust to do a good job with it, unless of course he was sick to death of Star Wars altogether and wanted someone else to put the nail in the coffin. And either way, it's being written by the guy who wrote The Avengers.

Quit yer bitchin'.






Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Custom And International Order Deadline

   The International (outside of UK) Christmas deadline date for purchasing a custom made monster is the 23rd of November. If you wish to purchase one, please hurry. These will be dispatched to you by the recommended deadline date which is also the date put into force on both of my shops for jewellery and premade monsters (the 29th November).

   For premade monsters or jewellery, the International Christmas ordering deadline is the 29th of November. Please purchase by then for Christmas delivery.

   Any International orders placed after this time will not arrive in time for Christmas.

   For buyers within the UK, deadlines are Wednesday the 12th for custom monsters and Monday the 17th for premades and jewellery.

   Please keep your eyeballs wiiide open for more very important information regarding such things nearer the end of this month.





Lottie's Cupcakes

   From time to time, something falls through my letterbox that is simply worth shouting about. Sure, I buy many things, all of them wonderful (otherwise I wouldn't buy them, right?), but sometimes some things just stand out from the others - maybe because it's a product I don't usually buy and am pleasantly surprised, other times because things provided more than I expected, or because the seller was so kind and the packaging was beautiful. These products are the ones I feel the need to shout about.


   I recently made a purchase from Lottie's Cupcakes on Etsy. It's a simple little shop with really quite sweet (get it?) products. Now, I blame Etsy for this, because a month ago they mentioned home made marshmallows in a Finds newsletter. I wouldn't buy such things from overseas (and I'm sure all products that were featured were) because they'd take forever, but I followed the search that the words were linked to, and very quickly came across two things that caught my eye. One was candy floss marshmallows which I have yet to try, and the other was candy cane marshmallows. These are the ones I want to talk about.

   Now, I love marshmallows. I want to live in one. And while I have my own marshmallow recipe right here on the blog, I can never get them to the consistancy that I want them, so I'm very happy to buy from people who know what they're doing. And boy, does this girl know what she's doing.
   These marshmallows were so much softer than my own - really spongey and gorgeous. They were better than the majority of marshmallows out there, and were almost as good as my all-time favourites (these ones exactly), and what I was surprised by was the fact that they did taste like candy canes, albeit without the tooth-breaking crunch.


   When they first arrived, I was surprised by how big they were. I had asked how many I'd receive and I was told 10. 10 giant ones. I like smaller marshmallows because they're easier to ration through the week (hour), and they're easier to add to hot chocolate, so I quickly got out my pizza cutter (it's the best tool in the world for marshmallow cutting) and cut them all down, and I then had 40. Well, 35. Some jumped in my mouth.
   At first I wasn't so sure that they were very candy caney - I'd brushed my teeth half an hour or so before and wasn't sure if I was still tasting that or not, but when I tried them again an hour or two later, I could really taste it!
   And not only all that, but they're honestly the best marshmallows I've ever added to hot chocolate, and not just for the candy cane colours that formed on the top. They were flipping gorgeous.

   I am definitely coming back for more, and I seriously suggest you do too. They're totally affordable and all! And while you're at it, get me some chocosaurs.