Monday, 28 October 2013

Peaches and Pebbles Giveaway

   Fancy winning one of my book page flower necklaces? Judging Covers has just reached 400 followers, and I've given them a book page flower necklace for a celebratory giveaway! As always, my giveaways are open worldwide, so head over to Judging Covers and try your luck, and get some amazing book reviews in the process!








Sunday, 27 October 2013

Hallow's End Sweets Halloween Candy Recipes

   This week's WoW Crafting Challenge piece is a bit late, but I got there in the end. I decided to make the four sweets that can be obtained within the game during the Hallow's End world event - those are Soothing Spearmint Candy, Pyroblast Cinnamon Balls, Chewy Fel Taffy and G.N.E.R.D.S. I actually made them all, so they're totally edible! I'm really pleased with the overall outcome, eventhough I did have trouble with the G.N.E.R.D.S - but I shan't waste your time. For full info, read the original blog post on The Wyvern's Tail, or continue reading here for just the recipes.




How to Make Hard Candy


You Will Need: 250ml water; 500g sugar; colouring; flavouring.
Method: Spray a mould or tin with non-stick spray. Mix the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the candy thermometer and bring to a boil and increase the heat, letting it cook to 150C - just under 'Crack'. It will cook fast until about 100C, then it'll slow down to a crawl. It will speed up a lot between 140 and 150, though, so keep your eye on it. Between 140 and 145C, add a dash of colour and flavour, but don't stir it. The boiling mixture will do a remarkable job of this itself. As soon as it hits 150C, take it off the heat and pour it into a tray. Alternatively, if you're using moulds like I was, transfer it into a heat-proof Pyrex measuring jug - it'll stop it cooking and it will give you a more precise pour. Let the mixture set for a few hours and then pop them out of their moulds. I used half-ball moulds, but found that they stuck together just fine. I then rolled them in sherbet because, well, frankly they were a little messy and I wanted to cover it up. To clean the pans and jugs, just soak them in hot water. The sugar mix will dissolve away. Store the sweets in an air-tight container.


How to Make White Chocolate Fudge / Spearmint Fudge


You Will Need: 120g white chocolate; 60g unsalted, cubed butter; 1 cup sugar; 1/3 cup of evaporated milk; colouring; flavour
Method: Line an 8x8 tin with baking paper. Combine broken white chocolate and butter in a bowl and set aside. Mix sugar and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan and heat to a boil, stirring constantly. Stop stirring so often and continue cooking until 113C on a candy thermometer. Once it hits 113, empty it into bowl of butter and chocolate and stir until butter and chocolate has melted, then add a dash of colour and flavour. Mix it together and pour it into the lined tin. Let it set at room temperature for a few hours until firm, then cut it into pieces.


How to Make Taffy with Kool-Aid


You Will Need: 2 1/2 cups sugar; 3 tablespoons cornstarch; 1 cup light corn syrup (light meaning clear in colour); 1/13 cups of water; 2 tablespoons butter; 1 teaspoon salt; packet of Kool-Aid drink mix (standard 6g packet)
Method: Butter a large pan. Stir sugar and cornstarch in a large pan and then add the corn syrup, water, butter and salt and stir over a medium heat until all has melted and combined together. Bring to a boil at medium heat and stop stirring, letting it reach 120C, 'Hard Ball' on a candy thermometer. It heats up really quickly between 115 and 120 so keep a close eye on it the whole time. When it reaches 120C, remove it from the heat immediately and stir in the Kool-Aid. Add additional food colouring if you wish to mix the colour. I used a blue drink mix and added yellow colouring to make it green. Pour the mixture into the buttered tin and leave for about half an hour. When you come back to it it should be touchable, and it should be soft but not runny. Butter a large plate, then butter your hands like crazy. Seriously, treat it like soap. Gather the taffy mix out of the pan with your gross, buttery hands and start pulling it about above the plate. If any drops on the plate, the buttered surface will stop it sticking. Rebutter your hands as often as you feel you need to and keep pulling the taffy about until it stiffens. The colour will change. It was quite dark and looked a bit watery/translucent in the tin, but after pulling it about, it became lighter in colour, and very opaque. When it's been pulled about enough, leave it in strands and cut apart. If you didn't pull it enough, like me, then keep it in the fridge, it will help firm it up. I used waxed paper to wrap all of these sweets.


How to Make Fondant Candy


You Will Need: a packet of fondant; powder colouring; flavouring
Method: For the fondant pieces, just use powdered colour with store-bought fondant, mix until colour is even, then press into moulds. Pre-heat your oven at a low temperature for about 5-10 minutes, then turn it off and put the moulds inside. The dry heat will remove the moisture from the fondant and make it harden a lot faster. Otherwise, you're looking at an overnight setting time, and the possibility of it not setting anyway if your home happens to be humid.





Monday, 21 October 2013

Movember Mugs

   Movember is soon upon us. I'll be honest, I hate moustaches. I don't know why, I just do. The only person who should be allowed a moustache is Tom Selleck. But, regardless, Movember is for a good cause (provided the people growing moustaches for Movember know why they're doing it).
   Cancer is horrible. It is. I hope never to experience it. The only member of my family I've lost so far, my grandad, has been to stomach Cancer. Seeg has lost a lot of his family to different forms of cancer, which makes me worry an awful lot about his health. His aunt was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, only about 2 weeks ago (she's lucky: they found it bloody early so she has a good chance of pulling through). And I, naturally, also fear for myself. 1 in 3 odds of developing cancer is damn scary stuff.

   And so, despite my distaste towards moustaches, I do support Movember, as long as people know why they're doing it, which is to raise awareness - and that's half the battle - of men's health and men's cancer. Breast cancer is well known, and is generally seen as a women-only threat. It isn't. But prostate and testicular cancer does only target men, and a lot of men may be a little too proud to get themselves checked out. Not all of them, but a lot never the less.
   YourDesign, another personalisation company, have recently revealed a range of Movember moustache mugs, and it has to be said, I never knew how many different moustaches there are. I rather like their Einstein and Fu Manchu 'taches, myself.
   For every £7 mug sold, YourDesign gives a portion of the profits to the appropriate cancer charities, and there is definitely a moustache to suit every face taste.



   I've compiled a moodboard this time of items that, when purchased, donate a portion of the profits to relevant Movember charities. If you're going to buy a moustache product labelled as 'Movember' this year, on or off Etsy, make sure that there are donations included. It's astounding how many products are labelled as 'Movember' (A charity movement) and don't donate. If you're unsure if they do or not, don't hesitate to contact the sellers, be they on Etsy or elsewhere. Movember is a charity event and shouldn't be taken advantage of for someone's own pocket.


1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7


Ren, of The SnakeSkin Trunk, has put together a team of Movember participants called The Tea Mustacheers. Donate or join them in their effort to raise money and awareness.




Saturday, 19 October 2013

Custom My Little Pony Night Elf Druid


   This is the fourth piece for my WoW Crafting Challenge over on The Wyvern's Tail, and as always, I'm showing you here because I'm proud of it. This one especially. I originally started with a G3 Petal Blossom, and gave her a new face, new hair, new ears and an outfit. I am so bloody proud of it. There is one big problem with it, though, and that's that her mane has split. Because I used polymer clay, I had to put her in the oven. I used the advice online from other customisers, who said to reduce the temperature and the time the clay would usually be in the oven to avoid damage to the pony, but it didn't work at all. However, the hair does not simply fall out, and the split goes from the front root to the end, but it's not that visible. The only time it's a nuisance is if you try to brush her hair, because you'll pull it out. However, it's easy enough to push back in, but if you squeeze her neck together while brushing her hair, none comes out at all, so it's all good. Regardless, customised My Little Ponies are never intended as toys, they serve more as ornaments, so she's quite safe while she's sat in my book case ^^

   There are full pictures of the process on The Wyvern's Tail including a write-up, so if you're interested, head over to the original post.




Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A-Z Bookish Survey

I found this over on Habitual Homebody so I thought I'd give it a go!

Author You’ve Read The Most Books From:

Richard A. Knaak, though not because I think he's a good writer. I read every World of Warcraft book that comes out and it just so happens he's written the majority of them. The author I choose to read the most books from is David Eddings.

Best Sequel Ever:

The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Hobbit was in fact written first, began in 1920, and though I had read it after reading the trilogy, the trilogy itself is in fact a sequel. The Hobbit was intended as a children's book, but The Lord of the Rings spun out of control and became something much larger and more complicated than originally intended.

Currently Reading:

I'm about to start the Belgariad five-book series by - you guessed it - Eddings, and I'm quite excited. I read The Dreamers four-book series because my boyfriend said they were his favourite books. I loved them, and then read another Eddings book he'd brought with him from The Netherlands, which was The Redemption of Althalus. Holy crap it was awesome, and it blew The Dreamers out of the water. I then read the Elenium Trilogy which was even better still. I'm excited to start the Belgariad, but I'm a little nervous that I'm going to be disappointed. Surely they can't both keep getting better.

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Hot chocolate, preferrably, because I tend to read at night year-round, or during the day in the winter for some reason.

E-reader or Physical Book?

I don't have any kind of E-reader because I don't have wireless or buckets of cash, so it's physical books all the way. Plus I love the weight of a book, and if I drop it or get it wet by accident it'll still work afterwards.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

I don't really know, I don't really get attached to characters that way. There are some I sympathise or empathise with more than others, certainly, but I don't think my mind works in quite the right way to be able to answer the question.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Erm...Well I suppose it's the Elder Gods, the first Dreamers book. I do judge books by their covers, sadly, and his copy is quite old and looked a bit, well, poo. But I picked it up and holy crap, new favourite author right there.

Hidden Gem Book:

Uhh...The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima. I've not actually got the fourth and final book just yet, but it's not the kind of book I'd usually go for, it's got a bit of teenage foolish romance in it which I don't usually go for preferring adult characters over teenagers, but it was (as far as the first three go) an incredible story, and despite not really being all for romance, I admit to getting a little frustrated with the characters and the dancing around everything they were doing. Man up and say something!
Also, I have actually never read a book that's made me gasp in surprise three times, and each was relevant to the story, not the romance. I totally didn't see any of it coming. Holy crap. Highly recommended.

Important Moment in Your Reading Life:

Reading the Lord of the Rings when I was 12. It was my first introduction to fantasy, and when I finished the final book in October 2003 I decided I wanted to be a writer. Though I've had other dreams since then, that dream has never wavered even once. Even while I was in bands hoping to become a famous musician, I was still writing. It's doubtlessly the most important moment in my reading life.

Just Finished:

I actually just finished Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War. I realise I'm a bit behind, I don't even have a copy of Vol'jin yet! It was a good read. Not perfect - I dislike the majority of the characters to be honest - but good enough.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

I hate ordinary fiction. I just hate it. I personally find it so bland and uneventful compared to what I'm used to. I find romances the same. If there's no magic in it I'm not interested. And that's not to say I haven't read any books like that in recent years. I don't like ghosts either, and I hate things with rape in it. Torture, violence, murder, gore, whatever, I'm not bothered by that, but rape I just can't do.
Also general fiction just doesn't have the kind of imagination I want, or the length. The only book I've read for a very long time that wasn't fantasy that I enjoyed was Dean Koontz's Breathless, and even that had a sci-fi twist to it with the little creatures Puzzle and Riddle.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

The Redemption of Althalus. 928 pages. It could have been a trilogy, but it was just a single book.

Most Mentally Stimulating Book:

If this means the book that I had the biggest emotional connection to it would be the Seven Realms. While things happened that I didn't expect, I also found myself laughing and crying more with this story than any other I've ever read.

Number of Bookcases You Own:

One, but I need two really because I'm stacking books on top of and in front of other books.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

 I actually have a hard time rereading books, I'll be honest. I started rereading the Lord of the Rings, my favourite story in the world, and only got half way through the Fellowship before putting it to one side to read Jaina.

Preferred Place To Read:

Bed. I can't read anywhere else, although I usually start of sitting up and before I know it I'm on my side, glancing to the edge of the bed covers and then to the clock, trying to work out if 8pm is too early to just get in bed and read for 4 hours. I almost always fall asleep though.

Quote That Inspires You/Gives You All The Feels From a Book You’ve Read:

Hah! This is impossible. I suppose the only quote I recall is the poem from The Lord of the Rings, only half of which was spoken in the film:
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Reading Regret:

Cycle of Hatred. Oh it was awful.


Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):

The Seven Realms series, only not finished because I don't have the fourth book yet.

Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books:


The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, (so far) The Elenium Trilogy by David Eddings, and Songs on Bronze by Nigel Spivey, Greek Mythology.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Anything Tolkien. While I usually remain level headed in regards to books - Eddings is my favourite author but there are faults with his work - I can't find much to complain about with Tolkien except literary ability. This might be because I am so in love with his imagination that I can't bear to find fault. That doesn't mean I will tell someone they're wrong if their opinion differs to mine, but it does mean I won't be the first person to say something bad.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Pass! I really don't keep up to date with book releases. Both Tolkien and Eddings are dead so there's nothing new coming from them, and Eddings' wife wrote a few books with him and died shortly after he did. I can't say I get very excited over WoW books, I enjoy reading them but I'm never really jumping in my seat to get ahold of one. I really can't answer this.

Worst Bookish Habit:

I usually buy used, and I almost never go into bookshops. They're too expensive. If I do buy new, it's because it's part of a series I'm reading or I was excited about it somehow, or because a new copy is £1 more than a used one, and it's 98% of the time from Amazon.

X Marks The Spot (Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book):

Eragon. It's hiding behind some better books, but it's the 27th book on my shelf. It was good but not great, and I never finished that series either, now I think about it. I actually totally forgot about it until I just saw it.

Your Latest Book Purchase:

For me, that would be Forsaken, by Oliver Bowden, it's essentially Haytham Kenway's diary, explaining how he got to where he was in the beginning of Assassin's Creed 3 (the first 4 hours of this game were more of a 'revelation' than Revelations itself was). So far it's awesome.
Overall, though, it would be Doctor Sleep by Stephen King that I bought my dad for his birthday.

ZZZ-Snatcher Book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Last book that kept me awake...I tend to put the book away when Seeg has finished playing his games for the night, but I suppose the game that I didn't nap through would be the last book I read in the Seven Realms series, The Gray Wolf Throne.




Monday, 14 October 2013

Christmas Gifts For the Motorcyclist In Your Life

   I'm endeavoring, this year, to create some more...specific gift guides, I suppose you could say, alongside my usual ones. Gift guides aimed at specific interests. Following my uncle's interest and passion for motorbikes, and having seen him quite recently, I decided to start right there.
   Motorbikes are cool. I do believe this, and though my boyfriend would love to ride one, I really don't want to let him. They're dangerous. That's not me saying that the bikes themselves are dangerous, or that the person riding them is incompetant - you can have the best motorcyclist in terms of skill and safety on the road and they can still die. The problem is not the bike, so much as other motorists' attitudes towards them, and the fact that, unlike cars, motorbikes have little in the way of safety - not nothing, they have some for sure, but not anywhere near as much as cars.

   However, my uncle is an avid motorcyclist, and has a Suzuki GSX1250FA, 2011, which is one of my favourites. I don't know all that much about motorbikes, in truth, but I do know what looks perdy.
   I like the biker look, I do, I admit it, but I can recognise that, while some things are styled on such an image, the products themselves are of greatly higher quality than the fashionable pieces that Topshop might offer us. They have to be.

   GetGeared.co.uk is actually a pretty great website, and they've got loads to offer, from motorbiking clothing and rather awesome helmets, to the more nitty gritty parts that you might need to fix up or even customise your bike.

   But I'll focus on the clothing for now, since I don't know enough to get into the technical business without potentially looking like a fool.


    Helmets are, obviously, key when it comes to things like bikes, be they motor- or foot-powered, and I have a special appreciation for them, partially because, as far as games go, it's the armour helmets and shoulders that make or break a set, whether it's motorbikes or fantasy.
   And so, my girliness shows through when I add this helmet in particular to the list, as the first spot. Look at it. There is another version available of this Shark motorbike helmet, with a bit of colour, but I actually prefer the sepia version. If I was ever to get on a motorbike, I need this helmet or I'm not getting on. So it's clear that there are products out there for the more feminine of motorcyclists. In admission, I will say I caught the end of Homes Down Under on the TV the other day and there was a couple on there - they looked so prim and proper, really quite professional and quiet. Until they got on their Harley-Davidsons. You really can't judge a book by its cover. Well, you shouldn't anyway. Or by it's blurb. I swear, if I read the blurb on the back of a book before reading the book itself, I would never read anything.
   There are, of course, other options, like this SPADA helmet, and, to be honest, when I see it and read the name, I just replace it was Spartan 117. I even read "SPARTAN" instead of the actual name when I first saw it, too.


    Admittedly, still sticking with a slightly game-related theme (I promise I can't help it) these motorcycle boots  - Crossfire 2 by Sidi - remind me excrutiatingly of Mass Effect. If that's not a Normandy N7 design then I don't know what is, seriously, even the font of SIDI mirror's the ship's font. Either way, I would snatch these bad boys up immediately, get myself a custom black bike with a red and white stripe and slap a big old "N7" on the side and I'd  be away, hyperdriving through space the country.
   Seriously, though, these boots have to be good. Motorcycle boots have to have protection - hell, you have to wear body armour while on a bike, or there abouts. Motorcycle boots have to be reinforced to stand the shock of the road, they have toe boxes to protect your little piggies, and ankle pads to prevent rubbing and breakage and all kinds. So the thought I had, once upon a time, that you could wear just anything on a motorbike is simply false. Get Geared have a great selection of just about everything, along with a good written guide on what you should look for when buying boots.


    It's like something out of Splintercell. Like boots, there are a lot of things to keep in mind about motorcycle gloves, too. You need to have proper grip on the handles, and knitted gloves won't provide that, you need warmth from winds regardless of the time of year, and, let's face it, if you fall off you don't want to rip all the skin off of your hands either. Ouch. They're padded and often have finger reinforcements, and also provide the ability to move your fingers properly at the same time, though they don't look it. These Alpinestars Monster Energy leather gloves look pretty nifty (you can see how silly you'd look, of course, if you wore all three things I've picked out so far together), and the lime green/black combination will surely make you go faster. Just like putting flames on your car will. It's proven. But it doesn't work for tortoises. Trust me on that one.


   Right, I said it before and I'll say it again, giving people things they need as presents is boring. I don't mean to be so material or close-minded, but only giving or only receiving things you need sucks. It's okay if there are a few unexpected goodies in there, too, but otherwise, especially if it's generic stuff like socks, it just seems that no one put much effort in. Though, admittedly, if you were to gift stuff like this, some thought would have gone into it.
   Either way, I now give you the fun stuff, the stuff no one in the world needs but is always nice to have.


   Get Geared have a great selection of gifts, including all of the above and more. I'm partial to the biker aprons, and yes, there is an awesome female one too. The cake tin and the cookie cutters are a nice touch, and the lighters are quite nice, I'm especially partial to the one pictured above and a gasoline one for their 50's style artwork. I can't help thinking these things - particularly the cake tin, cookie cutters and ice cube tray - are hand-picked specifically, rather than just sort of thrown in. It feels like they've gone the extra mile to collect this stuff together.

   And that concludes the first random gift guide! I have no idea what's going to come up next, we'll just see what I stumble on to.



6 International Shopping Weeks Until Christmas!


   Christmas is about 10 and a half weeks away, so in the interest of safety we shall assume it's 10 weeks exactly.
   As in my last post at 12 weeks on the subject, these 10 weeks become about 8 weeks if you're buying online to safely accommodate the shipping rush (although, to be fair, most of the time delivery companies will increase the delivery rounds in the last two weeks before Christmas. We never usually receive van deliveries by Royal Mail after 11am where I live, but we were receiving 2 a day last Christmas, one before 11am and another by about 6pm). Those 8 weeks, however, become just 6 weeks if you're buying from overseas with a safe timeframe. Now, this may not be of consequence to a lot of people. I know that my boyfriend - sometimes rather annoyingly - keeps his Christmas shopping within the UK, but I don't. I've got 3 things already in my possession for him, one of which came from the US, and I have a few more in mind.

   So, let me please warn you all that, wherever you are, if you're buying from overseas for Christmas, don't leave things too late. Couriers do tend to step up and meet the demand at Christmas, and I have, in fact, noticed a significant decrease in time taken for items to arrive overseas around Christmas, but I cannot guarantee that this would always be the case
   I will be posting Christmas purchasing deadlines in my shop, so it is advised that you buy before those dates to avoid disappointment. At the moment, the dates appear as follows: 

International (everywhere outside of Europe): December 15th
Europe: December 17th
UK: December 20th

   These dates may change, and were estimated by Royal Mail. There are shipping options available for next day worldwide with other couriers, but, of course, the shipping fee is pretty steep even for tiny packages such as my own, at around £50 at least.

   However, if you plan to buy from me for Christmas, you can use the code 12WEEKS for 20% off until the 20th of October in Peaches and Pebbles - that's just one week, but it can make a difference.



Saturday, 12 October 2013

Clay Furbolg House; World of Warcraft

   This piece for my WoW Crafting Challenge took 3 weeks to make, and I'm very happy with the outcome. It's a replica of the log houses used by Furbolgs in the game, bear people who are one of the oldest races in the game's lore. It's made dominantly out of air dry clay, but there is a little bit of fabric and paper in there, too.

   If you're interested in how I made it, check out the original post, posted on The Wyvern's Tail one minute ago. I figured that, since it was a long post, it would be better to do it this way than bore you all with the details. 






Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Frozen Hot Chocolate Creams DIY

   I love hot chocolate. You probably already know that if you read my Options Hot Chocolate review or saw my hot chocolate stirring spoons I posted here last year. I hate coffee - truly hate it. I hate the taste and what it...well, does to me. I can't see how anyone can taste it and say "ooh, I like that" unless peer pressure is involved. But, honestly, I'm not judging, and in the winter especially, it's nice to have a hot drink. I've become a pretentious green tea lover, but green tea isn't really the kind of drink you cuddle up in a blanket with - you know the vision: blankets, log fire, low lights while it's dark outside, big toasty slippers and either a book or a nice movie, topped off with a thick hot chocolate or coffee.
   I usually stick with Options - like I've said before, it's amazing stuff, no need for milk or anything, and it's got so few calories and so many flavours, how can you not love it? Plus, they're like 35p a sachet - yes, sachets. This means easy portion control.


   But that's not what I'm going to talk about today.
   I know I just said it doesn't need milk or cream, but let's face it, we all have our naughty moments, and when it comes to hot chocolate, aside from giving myself perhaps a few extra spoons of powder from hot cocoa drums, I love to add milk or cream to thicken it up more.
   I recently bought some evaporated milk for a Halloween recipe (which went wrong, but I'm trying again), and ended up with two thirds of a tin left over. I couldn't leave it in the fridge so I decided to add it to my hot chocolate that evening. Um, yum. Evaporated milk is like cream in consistancy, but has so much less fat. I decided that perhaps freezing it would be a good idea - it would keep longer - but I was still quite hung up on the whole thick and creamy hot chocolate thing.
   I have these adorable mini amo silicone cake cases - they're just over an inch across and 1cm deep. And, shaped like hearts and stars. I poured the milk (cream also works) into these silicone cases, then added some mini marshmallows and some Divine Deli golden stars to the top of them and put them in the freezer. Evaporated milk can be frozen for 6 weeks with no reduction to nutrients (if frozen properly), and the silicone cases easily pulled away from the frozen pieces.
   The downside was that they didn't float visibly on the surface, and I begin to think the only reason they did at all was because of the marshmallows, but I might be wrong. Either way, using these cases - or, alternatively, ice cube trays - allow for great portion control, to make sure you don't add a little extra each time. Plus, the shapes you can make, as well as adding these stars (or something similar) and marshmallows, or sprinkles, make them much more delightful, visually, if you're having the family or some friends over one Winter evening.



   Dead simple stuff. All you need is cream or evaporated milk (which has far less fat and can be frozen for 6 weeks with no decrease in quality), an ice cube tray or silicone molds, and something to make your cream extra special. The Divine Deli golden stars are part of their Decorate! range, but I've only ever seen them in a garden centre - Cadbury garden center in Congresbury, to be precise. Still, they last for a long time, and there are so many other items in their cake decorating range, like little toffee balls coated in chocolate about 5mm in size. Um, yum.
   Just pour your milk or cream into the molds, add the marshmallows or other decorations to the top of it, then put them in the freezer. They'll be done in a few hours and ready to pop in your chocolate or coffee, and melt gradually from the heat of your drink. I've had like, five of these since I made them a week* ago. They're amazing for the winter, and I'm going to make some more when they're all gone. My dad has also been raiding them, but that's probably for the best of my waistline.


And if you're looking for a great hot chocolate recipe, check out VividPlease' latest tutorial!


*four days, actually



Sunday, 6 October 2013

New Halloween Plush Sewing Pattern - a Rat!

   I've put together a new plush sewing pattern for halloween: it's a rat! Or a mouse. It depends on how you want to look at it. It's a simple enough pattern, suitable for machine and hand sewing, and features an illustration of the stitches used to help you out. It's not as simple as my monster or bat plush patterns, but it's not so complicated that a beginner couldn't work it out. I'm a beginner myself, afterall.

Pattern - £5 - instant download after purchase.






Saturday, 5 October 2013

Arcane Eye Chocolate Truffles

   This is my third piece for my WoW Crafting Challenge: Chocolate Arcane Eyes. Arcane  Eyes are floating spheres of magic, usually conjured by mages to get a closer view of things further away, and act as sentries, but these are rogue magical embodiments roaming the area outside of Karazhan, my all time favourite raid, and only true haunted house in the game. The history behind the location is one of my favourite stories, following a mage who had been possessed by the leader of the Burning Legion (infinite army of demons) very early in his life and eventually just went batshit insane. He was freaking awesome and his story is a sad one.
   And before I get onto it, I must give a special shout out to Vicky of VividPlease for being a star and printing a screenshot from the game for me, of the area outside of Karazhan where they roam. I printed it myself but it came out pink. Yes, pink. I wouldn't have had a backdrop for this picture if not for her, and while I could have tried to edit the screenshot in behind it, I'm quite certain it would not have gone well. So thank you Vicky!


    These were a pain to do. I've made chocolates a hundred times before, but I've never done them quite like this. Usually they consisted of milk or dark chocolate, since white chocolate is the least healthy chocolate in terms of cocoa (those 'happy chemicals' in chocolate only actually exist in dark and raw chocolate. The greater the cocoa %, the healthier and happier it is, and you can't get much more concentrated than raw chocolate), and I'm not as keen on it, but it would have been a true challenge to colour milk chocolate light blue.
   Coating chocolates in chocolate - or anything in chocolate - is difficult because of the tempering (heating and cooling process) the chocolate goes through before it makes it onto shops' shelves. I had heard of Candy Melts by Wilton some time ago, but never bothered with them because they were white chocolate - in truth, they're not really chocolate, but they taste like white which doesn't appeal to me too much. But for this, I decided to get some. They're designed to be melted and then cool again. If you melt a chocolate bar and cover something in it, it won't set quite properly. It'll melt much easier once it's hardened which makes for messier products. The Candy Melts, however, were made with this in mind, and are totally solid after cooling.
   I was planning on buying white ones and colouring them, but just so happened to find some in the perfect shade of blue, which saved me £3 on food colouring, and messing around trying to get the shade right, and cleaning the blue stains afterwards. I also bought 2 bottles of lustre dust in Ice Blue and Ocean Blue, though I only ended up using the former.
   I also used three Galaxy milk chocolate bars and a bit of heavy cream to make the ganache filling.

   To see the full post, including how I made them, see the original post over at The Wyvern's Tail.



Thread Gifts For Your Boyfriend

   I don't know about the rest of you, but I really struggle with buying gifts for my boyfriend. He is extremely unhelpful about it, too. If I ever ask he just gets suggestive in, well, that kind of way, but he will never tell me what he'd like me to buy him. So, I'm left to my own imagination, and that's difficult when he only really likes games, and games are either too expensive, or there are none out that he's interested in because he has the awful tendancy to get them as soon as they're released, leaving me with nothing to get him.
   So, instead, I'm left to other, random things, and all I can think of is the boring stuff: stuff he'll use, stuff he needs, and if there's one thing I can't stand, it's being given, and giving, things that are needed. Perhaps it's the child in me talking, but Christmas is about junk, stuff you want that you have no use for, and splashing out on the big things you want and never had a good excuse to get. Like expensive figurines. What? Oh, nothing.
   Anyway, the best thing I can think of is clothing. Let's face it, everyone needs it. Even naturists. Everyone gets cold, right?

   Hoodies. This is something Seeg wears constantly, even in the summer. It's just part of his overall immaculate look. He keeps it simple, neutral tones, and he rocks it. So, neutral hoodies are a good place for me to start. Not to mention that, as his girlfriend, I enjoy stealing his body heat, and there is no body heat there to steal if he's cold!
   I saw this great hoody on Capology. In fact, Capology had an awful lot of great stuff. Not all of it would suit Seeg, but I know that some of you ladies out there would find this stuff perfect for your own lads.
   This King Apparel Dappa hoody looks quite thick and toasty for a hoody, it's a nice neutral grey, and it's plain. That's one of the more important aspects of the hoody, it's not showy. I can't stand big brands that slap their logo all over their clothes, like little crocodiles playing polo. I like things nice and simple, and so does he.

   This cap - it's not so Seeg, and in truth, I think girls pull caps off way better than any man, whether the lady has long or short hair, straight or hugely curly. Women just rock these hats, they always have and always will.
   But, it still stands as a good gift for your fella.
   I love these New Era caps, especially the ones with comic book heroes. I personally dislike Spiderman - I never enjoyed any of the movies. I am not a fan of Superman, and I am not a fan of...well, many of them at all. But Batman is pretty cool, even if Iron Man does win by like a million miles. So these comic book hats are great - for him or for you! Prove me wrong. I dare you. We have an Alienware laptop, and they sent a free cap with it. I basically claimed it as my own. Well, he got the laptop!! It's only fair. Especially if I look better in it than he does.


  Scarves! Very important in the winter. I love the colour of this one from 47 Brand, really nice neutral autumny colours. I'm sure men aren't too fussed about such colours, but, from a female standpoint, there's nothing wrong with some minor co-ordination between clothing and environmental colours,



   T-shirts are one of the basic essentials, really. Like underwear. Everyone needs some. This one is quite cool, I love the colour, and the snake image. It's from The Riot Club, again from Capology, and the delivery charge on such a product is really nice, too. For me, the shipping fees can make or break it, but as the t-shirt's page shows, it's only about £1.99. I usually end up paying more than that everywhere else.

   I would never recommend just buying clothes for anyone as a gift, unless they're homeless or need new clothes because they're falling apart, or if they're genuinely not interestedin anything else. But buying a few things that are needed if you're a little bit stuck along with other things can still be a great gift - if you get it right. Buying clothes is not easy, especially when the two of you have differing styles. I know for a fact that if I decide to buy something for Seeg, but I have to pick between two, I will always choose the wrong one. An example: I had to choose between Pokémon Pearl and Pokémon Diamond - the difference, to those who are unfamiliar, is the legendary pokémon. Pearl and Diamond both have a different Legendary Pokémon that you can only catch one of. The pokémon on the cover is the one in the game, and the other isn't in that version at all, you have to trade with another player to get it and fill your pokédex. I looked at the two and thought that the Diamond Pokémon looked a bit shit, so I chose Pearl, thinking it looked better. Typically, fifty/fifty chance, I chose the wrong one. It didn't go to waste, though. He let me play it instead. I recently decided on two gifts for Christmas and his birthday this year, and again I had to make a choice between three for each of them. But, instead of choosing the one I thought he'd like, because I thought it looked better, I chose one of the others. We'll see if I was right to do it or not. But clothing is also difficult for me to get him because I'll always choose the wrong design, and while we both prefer plain, I sometimes find plain too...well, plain.



Thursday, 3 October 2013

Exasperated, and Almost Angry

   I'm not 100% about what's making me feel this way - perhaps I'm just PMSing - but lately I've been feeling extremely irritated, and very almost angry. Snide comments have been slipping from my lips left, right and centre, and I've been getting into arguements with Seeg, both in person and in my head - and, of course, that only makes me angrier.
   The thing is, I'm clever enough to realise that it's all me, and if anyone can correct it, it's me, and me alone. I can sit around asking Seeg to make me feel better all I want, but if I don't make the effort to push it all aside - whatever 'it all' is - then when he makes me feel better, it'll only last for a moment.

   I put it down to two things, and I am a little surprised with myself with one of them. I'm a little irritated with Seeg's friends, but in fairness, I always am. I don't like them, not at all, but I'd never ask him to stop speaking to them ever again. That's just too far, and, well, I don't dislike them that much. It's just that they can be a little clingy and obsessive, to the point that if they don't have his attention, they'll keep on and on until they get it. And the problem is, I'm like that too, but I don't feel like I'm allowed to be because they are. This is something that I face frequently, but always get over when I remember how stupid I'm being. But, when I am going through it, it's still not easy.
   The other thing - the one I'm actually surprised about - is Grand Theft Auto. This franchise is notorious for stealing boyfriends. Relationships break up over it because the game is so big and immersive that girls can't keep their boyfriend's attention. This is, of course, a stereotype, but it's a common one nonetheless. I don't usually fall into it, either. Personally, I'd never play the game because I don't like the subject matter at all, but I can very, very easily raise my hands and say that I have watched him play it, I did enjoy it, and it has most probably the best voice acting in history, out of any game or movie or radio. Even nameless characters who are there for 2 minutes have amazing voice acting, and that gives the game a real strength. It is a good game, but it's not one I can say I'd play or get excited over the release of.
   The reason I'm surprised is because I'm not the kind of girlfriend to get jealous over a game. I play games myself, I know when they can and cannot be paused, I know how much attention they demand at points, and I'm actually very good when he's playing games. I won't try to talk to him about anything that needs his attention if he's in a fight, speaking to an NPC or whatever - and some games I won't talk to him during at all - because I know he can't spare the time, and some things can't be paused whether they're online or not. But the thing is, I am getting upset about this game, and now they've released GTA Online, regardless of bugs, and I know that's going to steal his attention, too, and worse, it's going to coincide with the first thing I mentioned, which is going to make it worse.

   I'm feeling exasperated and almost angry in general because of these two things, and they overlap as well, unfortunately. I feel like I can't get his attention when I need it - need it as in I'm feeling down, not as in I have something important to say - and it's making me feel really miserable lately. And, of course, if I am PMSing, then I can trust my ever 'faithful' brain to start dwelling on problems until they're huge and make me want to scream, when, in reality, they were never problems at all. Not even nuisances. And that's something else, I can't tell if I am PMSing or if this is actually something that is truly upsetting me.

   Like I said, only I can get myself out of this, but I wish sometimes I could put a wall up around him and guarantee to keep his friends away for an evening so that we could do something together without fear of them crying for his attention. I don't think they even realise how clingy they are. Though, I suppose the same could be said for me.
   I just wish I knew what to do, how to hurry myself out of this, how to make him and his friends realise it without upsetting any of them, and how to not feel like this again.

   Eh, whatever. I'm sure I'll be fine in a week. If not, then I'm sure a game disc might go missing.



Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Most Exciting Thing to Happen to Me Lately

   It's quite upsetting that this is the best thing to have happened to me lately, but it is.
   The scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where Harry tricks Lucius Malfoy into giving Dobby, his house Elf, a sock and freeing him. A lot of people claim to have quoted the scene in a relevant situation, but their situations usually involved being given their washing from their parents with the socks on top, or having simply been given a pair of socks.
   Well, I got to relevantly quote the film.
   It's not often you're given a single sock, and only a single sock, but my socks in particular tend to go missing, and one evening recently my dad handed me a sock that had walked off. I realised my opportunity, and I got so excited that I almost didn't say it, but man, I nailed it.
   "A sock! Master has given Kim a sock! Kim is freeee!!!"
   Dad laughed big time - a difficult task - and I felt so proud. You can probably tell, I'm actually posting it on my blog for goodness' sake! Like I said, it's not often you're given a single sock and nothing more, and I really would have kicked myself if I had missed the chance because it surely wouldn't have come up again.

Source



Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Shop News! Christmas Tree Ornaments & Direct Checkout

   It's taken a while, but Peaches and Pebbles, and Grumble Cave Monsters, finally both use Direct Checkout along with Paypal. The introduction of Direct Checkout in both shops means that you can pay directly with credit card without having to touch Paypal if that kind of thing puts you off. It also means that if you have an Etsy Gift Card, you can spend it in my shop as well as other shops that accept them.

   I also have a few new products! I've just rolled out the beginning of my new line of Christmas Tree Ornaments. I have a few others I'm working on that are quite different, more expensive, and more time consuming to make, so for now, enjoy these feathers. They cost £7 a piece, £25 for a set of 6 or £40 for a set of 12, and shipping in the UK on sets of 6 and 12 is totally free, while it's £3 for the rest of the world. I can't help the cost of the post office, sadly.





Middle Earth.

   There are a lot of things that make me happy, the most obvious of which is my boyfriend. This goes without saying. But he is not what this post is about. This post is about what makes me happy aside from that, and I'll be honest, while it's not close, it is in second place.
   I realise how silly it might sound, but it brings me to tears. I get excited every time I see it, read it and so on, and when I went to the cinema for it, just the opening credits brought me to tears.
   I just wish it was real.

   Middle Earth.
   I first saw the Lord of the Rings when it was released. It was the first time I'd ever been exposed to Fantasy, and I fell in love immediately. I read the books shortly after I saw the first film, and it was when I finished the trilogy, in October 2003, that I first decided I wanted a career in fantasy writing. I was 12 years old.
   I've had other 'dreams' come and go since then, but writing has been the only one that has never once wavered. Even when I wanted to  be in a band, I was still actively writing. It's still my only solid dream, the one goal I have that I can honestly say I want with all my heart, and I am working for it. It will happen one day.
   But the roots of my passion for writing, and for fantasy in general, despite the fact that my fantasy isn't quite the same as that of Tolkein, lie within Middle Earth.
   The magic, the races, the world, its history. I love it all. I owe a lot of my passion to the films and the books, to the story itself. It shaped fantasy as we know it today, and even the film adaptations - while not precisely the same as the book (for example, Frodo didn't leave the Shire with the ring as soon as Bilbo left. It was years later before he left, and he had the ring in his possession for 17 years before it was destroyed) - make me happy, to actually see Eriador, Rhovanion, The Lonely Mountain. It's incredible. Believe me when I say I need to go to New Zealand one day and see Hobbiton for myself.

   The stories have been done justice through film, I believe. Others will disagree, and they're welcome to, but when I see even only the title screen, I'm crying. I open the books and I am absorbed into them for days. If it wasn't for The Lord of the Rings, I would not be who I am today, and that is a very simple fact. My passion for fantasy has shaped who I have become friends with, shaped my hobbies, and shaped my dreams. Even The Hobbit is outstanding, though, once again, not identical to the book.
   I love anything to do with it (except any suggestion as to how they made the film, I prefer to think it's real for as long as I can get away with), and there's a wonderful company, WetaNZ, that is responsible for creating the props for both The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit, among many other things, and they sell replicas of the props, using the same materials, moulds and everything they used to create the originals. We own only one piece from Weta - the Key to Erebor, from The Hobbit, and I bought a copy of the Deed of Contract that Bilbo had to sign before heading out with the Dwarves, too - full size - but it was from another manufacturer (no wonder at only £25), but believe me when I say that I'd buy the official Weta staves of Sauroman, Gandalf and Radagast if I could. I would.
   Hell, I'd live in Hobbiton if I could, and just become a Hobbit. I'm short enough, and I have an appetite to match, and their houses are gorgeous and their lifestyle is so quaint and simple. And, despite the fact that the end of The Return of the King was different to that in the book, I'm glad they didn't add it into the film. I don't think I could stand to see what became of the Shire.

   My point is, I love Middle Earth. I love it. I wish time and time again that it was real. It's another reason I write. Because I fall in love with fantasy worlds so easily - though not so deeply as Middle Earth - even if they're of my own creation, and I write so that I can escape this world - and let's face it, this world is pretty foul - and I can stay there for as long as I like. I'm sure this is some sign of a mental or social disorder that, if I let it, may one day become serious. But in that case, I will become the Elinor, the old aunt in Inkheart. I will build a magnificent library, and I will live in it, never leave, and just visit any world I ever want, whenever I want. I will write more and more, create new and wonderful worlds, and have complete control over its history and future, even if that does mean that awful things have to happen, because it's these awful things that make the worlds more real, make the people real, regardless of whether they're Human, Dwarf or Elf.

   I will get where I want to with my writing. I will convince an agent that I am worth their time, and I won't stop until I get what I want. I have so many ideas, I've filled notebooks with ideas for many different books. I have no intention of stopping, even when I do get where I want. I want success, but only so that I can continue with what I love, so that I can jump into my worlds and survive while I do so, to pay the bills, own a house, have a secure life that I can abandon whenever I wish.

   I will get where I want.

Edit: this is the new trailer to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug that was released officially just 3 minutes ago. I can't wait.