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

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Goodbye Google Reader, Hello Bloglovin.

   Yeah, yeah, I know, everyone's blogging about it, but that's because it's important. Google Reader going away (on July 1st) means that you'll no longer be able to follow any blogs through that method any more.
   This DOESN'T mean that my blog will disappear, or that anyone else's will. You'll still be able to find the blog in the same place, at the same time, with the same URL. But it DOES mean that you won't be able to use Google Reader to follow my newest posts, or anyone else's.

   Personally, I've never used Google Reader. I have used Bloglovin for a very, very long time. It displays posts easily and cleanly, with only the occasional advertisement as a distraction, because it is conjunction with Bloglovin itself, usually blogger awards or something. It's also free, as it should be.
   You're able to add blogs to Bloglovin, so if the blog you want to follow through BL doesn't have a BL follow button, you can still add them to the database - if you paste the full URL of a blog into the search bar, it will find the blog, whether that blog has been added to the website before or not. Even if it hasn't, you can follow it through Bloglovin. And, if you're the owner of the blog, you can claim it (NOTE: this doesn't mean other people can impersonate you and claim it in your stead. To claim the blog, you need to add some HTML to the sidebar to just prove that it's yours. You can remove this afterwards if you wish). If people follow your blog before you claim it, you won't lose those followers, and those followers won't lose you. Nothing really happens except it's easier for the blog owner to keep track of states on Bloglovin.

   There's also RSS feeds, and Feedly.com which I tried using once but found it too busy.

   If you usually use Google Reader to view my blog, or anyone else's, switch over to one of these options, or another I've not named, or you won't be automatically updated any more!



Bookmark Dump

My new World of Warcraft fanpage - screenshots, musings, useless vanity items, and a character journal.

Malted Chocolate and Honeycomb Marshmallows

Fawn & Flora have relaunched!


World of Warcraft screenshots with a tilt-shift affect on my WoW blog, The Wyvern's Tail



Gorgeous (and free) iPhone wallpapers from Wonder Forest - if I had an iPhone, I'd be using these.

How to grow your Etsy business with Newsletters.

What to eat for an easier period.


Banana? Or bapple?




Saturday, 29 June 2013

New Bat Plush PDF Pattern Available!

Yesterday I spent hours stitching together this bat plush, and this morning I listed the PDF pattern for it! All the patterns are now £4 or $6 a piece, and instant download! I have a few others I'm working on that I'm hoping to get up in the next couple of days!






Friday, 28 June 2013

The Past Few Weeks

   Some of you have probably noticed that I've been somewhat AWOL lately. I'm not entirely sure what happened. Or, rather, I am, but I'm a little astounded to see the impact it's all had.
   I've been playing a lot of World of Warcraft lately. I started up a fanblog - The Wyvern's Tail - for the game, and it's ended up with me doing a little creative writing in the form of a journal for my newest character. I'm really enjoying writing the journal, and that in turn is really making me enjoy the game. There are three journal entries up so far, with a further 8 scheduled to post across the next three weeks. I'm working on many, many more, however, as it follows her through the game from level 1 to 90, but it's obviously not written like that. The diary is of a young Blood Elf who leaves her home of Quel'Thalas and goes off to explore the rest of the world. She's rather dejected to begin with, as everything is so dreary and diseased beyond the borders of her homeland, but she soon cheers up as she travels south and forests and the like become much healthier.
   And so, playing the game has somewhat been capturing a lot of my attention as I rediscover the whole world of Azeroth and beyond.


   I've also been putting a lot of time into my jewellery. I've been working on three new products - all of which are a variation of eachother - and they are going just unbelievably bad. In theory there's no reason at all why they should go so badly, but I seem to be struggling so much that I know that the problem is me. Which makes me a little angry, and I stubbornly refuse to give up. It's honestly been one thing after another going wrong with them, with my biggest problem being the resin, from both faulty products and shitty sellers, to just generally making rookie mistakes with the stuff. But it's been keeping me busy, if increasing stress levels.

   I've been working on constructing jewellery for a jewellery bundle, too. My Christmas in July sale is happening, with 25% off of everything. It's going through Etsy On Sale, so it's all automatic with no need for discount codes - although a free shipping code will be created for the sale, anyway - but I've also been working on a big jewellery bundle for the sale, too. It contains 10 items - 3/4 rings and 6/7 necklaces - and 2 £10/$15 gift cards. It comes to a total value of £189 ($280) if everything was purchased individually (not counting any shipping fees) but I'm selling it for just £80 - it's less than half price!
   I'm quite excited about it, too, but I'm not expecting much. £80 is still a lot of money for a single person to spend in my shop, but I figured it would only cost me 13p (listing fee) to try it. I'm only making 5 bundles available, however. I'm pre-making all of the products for the bundle, so that I can just ship them right away without having to make anything (unless the customer requests a change to the bundle), which means that if I don't sell all five (and I doubt I'll sell even one) I have five copies of ten different products premade and ready to go should someone buy them individually afterwards.
   If this bundle goes well, however (perhaps even if it doesn't), then I'm going to do it again for Black Friday.


   My parents have also booked their holiday for September, which means Seeg and I will get our second holiday-at-home of the year (and this time I will NOT spend the whole time on the computer!), so I'm pleased about that. It might only be a week, but it should still be lovely. Plus, last time they went away they brought me back a fricking pleisosaur vertebrae!!

   Money has been pretty tight for us, with our already meagre savings dwindling down to nothing, so we're feel quite miserable at the moment (hence my decision to attempt selling a jewellery bundle), and I've been doing all I can. After changing my monsters, which I hadn't sold since February, into patterns, I've actually sold one of the PDFs, and it's also encouraged me to sew again, since I'd only ever have to make one or two of any single design, so I've been working on some new plushies with what little money we do have.

    All in all, though, we're both pretty happy. I'm seriously enjoying WoW again, and Seeg has a new game to play which he's enjoying too. I was gonna try it but it looks a little frustrating. I don't play frustrating games, because they're frustrating. WoW is easy, so I can get lost in it without having to worry about dying and losing progress since my last save. The summer has been pretty bearable so far, too (knock on wood) so that's good. Mum's been coping better than expected, but she still can't handle the heat without nearly falling out of her wheelchair, so the summer is very hard on all of us. Still, y'know, ice cream.



Thursday, 27 June 2013

Off-Site Search Engine Optimization for Artisans' Online Stores

   This post has been written by for publishing on A Blackbird's Epiphany. He is an expert in SEO, so this information is quite valuable. You may even notice that he has given an active example of SEO boosting in this very post! Thanks Brandon, I'm certain we will all appreciate this help!


   When selling your online crafts at virtual marketplaces such as Etsy, ArtFire, or TheCraftStar it is important to stand out from the crowd and make a name for yourself.  If not, someone else will, and you will get lost with the thousands of other artisans selling their products online.

   Search engine optimization consists of on-site SEO and off-site SEO. In this post we are discussing how to utilize off-site SEO to maximize your store's exposure, get more traffic to your page, and, ultimately, more sales of your products. On-site means anything that is done to the website to get it ranking higher, where as off-site involves nothing to do with the website, but rather promoting it on other channels.

   A good starting point is to open business pages for your store and brand it properly on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and other sites if you have time. Using RSS feeds you can make it so that if you update Facebook it will update Pinterest and Twitter accounts. Using IFTTT you can set this up easily and for free.  It is important to link your social media accounts together as this will save you time and energy, but just be sure the message you send out is appropriate for all social channels.

   Write articles and press releases about your store and your products. Make sure to link back to your store where possible, as these links will move your site up the rankings. Write quality posts, and they are sure to gain traction on their own via social networking sites. Share these articles with other bloggers or on free/paid article directory sites such as Ezine Articles. With article writing, it is more about quality of writing over the quantity. You can write hundreds of low quality articles that no one will want to read or link back to, but if you write a few high quality articles, people will likely link back, share them on social networks, and comment on it, all of which will greatly increase your SEO rankings.

   When performing off-site SEO and gaining new inbound links, one thing to keep in mind is that not all links are treated equally. A link from Wikipedia has more value than a link from an article directory. Try to find links from authoritative sites, which are do-follow, and are related to your topic. These links will be much more beneficial than generic links.

   Another technique is to join popular forums related to your niche and become active members.  Start joining in with discussions, creating discussions, and answering questions. If you establish yourself as a knowledgeable and credible source, people will respect what you say. Do not promote yourself, this will get you banned, but mention your crafts and in your signature place a link back to your store and social networking sites. Only put 2 – 3 links in your signature so it does not look like SPAM.  

   Off-site SEO is very important when marketing yourself online, so study up and learn other techniques and methods not discussed above. There are tons of ways to market yourself; you just have to be creative and original in your ideas. Following the above techniques will get your online marketplace full of buyers wanting your crafts.



Thursday, 20 June 2013

Grumble Cave Monsters Sewing Patterns

   I've not had too much success with Grumble Cave Monsters. I did quite well in my first two months, but things quickly fell quiet, and I've not sold a monster for months. As the time has gone by, too, I've grown tired of sewing. I don't have a machine, and it takes me literally 5 hours to sew a baby monster and 6.5 to sew an adult, by hand. £30 is an extortionate amount to sell plushies for - or, mine, anyway - but it still felt too little given the amount of time I put into them. As a result, I sort of purposely let the shop slip. I stopped promoting, I stopped renewing, I stopped doing more or less everything. If I got an order, I would certainly fulfill it, but I wouldn't enjoy it.

   I'm very proud of my designs, however, and it killed me to think of them just sat around not being used. And so I did the only thing I could think to do with them: turn them into PDF sewing patterns and sell them that way. I'm hoping that the lower price will help them sell better, and it'll certainly prevent me from spending hours and hours bent over a table, sewing.

   It was fun while it lasted, but I do think that this is for the best. I'm still selling the constellation plushes, however, and a couple of premade monsters, but otherwise, the monsters are being kept as PDFs.







Tuesday, 18 June 2013

10 Minute Solutions - General Review



      This is my favourite make of workout DVD. I bought my first one - Blast Off Belly Fat - at the end of 2011 for £3 in HMV. I thought it was cheap enough to take a chance on, because I wanted an exercise DVD, but I didn't really know where to look. The title was all I needed.
   Well, this DVD focused on toning and muscle work, and I felt it wasn't quite what I wanted, so after a month or so of using it, I went online to see if there were any others. There were loads. Their website shows a large range, but it's not very up-to-date at all. I had a search on Amazon and found all of the DVDs shown on their page, and more.
   They had a nice range of danceDVDs - about 6 or 7. I ended up buying almost all of them over the course of the next two and a half years.
 
   10 Minute Solutions is great. Each DVD is made up of five 10 minute segments, and each DVD gives you the option to choose your workout from the list, or rearrange them to your desire. What I usually do is line up about 3 or 4 of the same workout when it's one I'm unfamiliar with. This gives me a good chance to learn the moves so that the next day I'm more efficient.
   There are a lot of negative reviews of workout DVDs on Amazon, particularly 10 Minute Solutions dance DVDs. This is because people are either expecting too much from the DVD, or themselves. Because each section is only 10 minutes long, and each segment has a different routine from the rest, the instructor can't take too long showing you how to do each move, otherwise, once you're familiar with it, you won't have the chance to do it at a good pace, you'll be stuck doing it half-time. And no exercise DVD has ever been designed for only a single use. You are supposed to use them many times, which means, after a few run-throughs, you will have grasped the routine and will do a more efficient job, losing more weight from it. This is why I line up the same segment several times when I'm first trying it, because it cuts down the number of days it takes for me to learn it. When I first began, it took about 4 or 5 runs to learn a single section, but after a few years, I know my way around dance and my body well enough to only need one or two runs to pick it all up properly. With my most recent DVD, I was able to learn two different sections in half an hour.

   While it's the dance DVDs I love the most, there are many, many other different workout types by 10 Minute Solutions, each of which has instructors who are experts in the field. There are simple yoga DVDs, which don't appeal to me at all due to the slow pace. There are toning DVDs, which I've not bought because I want to lose the fat first. There are pilates and pregnancy exercise DVDs. Then there are much more exciting things like kick boxing and fighting. I still prefer the dance, because I'm allowed to pay more attention to the music, but once I've toned my arms, I do intend to get some kick boxing and fight DVDs, just for a laugh. Why not, eh?

   10 Minute Solutions are also wonderfully affordable. I've not seen one for more than £6, and that was the last one I bought. The prices do go up and down, usually depending on the time of year - the prices are more likely to be higher on the run up to summer while ladies are trying to get ready for the beach than they will after the summer and Christmas is coming. Either way, they're not too pricey at any point of the year for how amazing they are. You can ask Seeg, because I frequently tell him that these DVDs are worth far, far more than they're being sold for. They're so much fun, and given that each DVD is split into five 10 minute routines and the instructors change their clothes in between, it's easier to work for longer since it doesn't quite seem that there's an end to the DVD, like there are for other workout DVDs like Urban Workout.

   All in all, if you're looking to get fit and lose weight at home, these DVDs are fabulous. I honestly and absolutely swear by them, and I'll be reviewing all of the individual DVDs I have one at a time shortly.
   The dance DVDs don't require any equipment, but the yoga ones probably require a yoga mat, and some kick boxing and other toning DVDs might require some dumbbells or weighted gloves, but you can generally find this out before buying the DVD. Just about each of these DVDs has a small preview video on Youtube. I often rely on these previews to find out if the DVD I'm looking at is any good for me, and so far there's only been one dance DVD I've not bought based on the video, and that's because it clearly shows that this particular DVD - Dance Off Belly Fat - requires a lot more space to move around in than I have in my little living room, so I'm glad I saw that before buying it.



Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Urban Workout DVD Review


Price: £3
No equipment needed.



   This is the only DVD I have at this point which isn't a 10 Minute Solutions one. I bought this DVD from Amazon because it was £3 and I didn't really have any 10MS DVDs in mind to get. I figured - like I did with my first 10MS - that £3 was worth the chance, so I bought it. I figured it would be similar to the hip hop dance DVD I had, but, because it wasn't my usual brand, I was hesitant to use it. I think I had it sat in my collection for almost 3 weeks before I finally decided to try it.
   I love it.
   It was similar to my usual DVDs because it was split into 5 uneven sections - warm up, (about 7 minutes) slo and lo (about 15), mid section (15 again), hard and heavy (15 again), and cool down (about 7 again). It didn't have a feature to jumble them up, however, and neither did the dancers change their clothes, which made the DVD more tiresome, but each section was a different chapter, so you could easily skip the bits you didn't want to do. There were 5 background dancers, which was also new to me, but they weren't too distracting. The music was also quite different, because, unlike my usual which was just music, this DVD actually had R&B (I think) chart songs. I even knew some of them, surprisingly. It was definitely not the kind of music I would listen to usually, but it was so amazing to dance to. It got to a point that I would just put the DVD on, and start dancing while it was just the title screen, because it was so very easy to move to. When it comes down to exercising, music is important, and while I'm not keen on that genre, there's no doubt at all that it's easy to move to, and it really helps with the exercising to have a good beat like that.

   Some of the moves are kind of hard, but you have more time to learn them since the warm up and cool down are not connected to the individual sections. This also means that the routines are much longer, and repeat more often. They also add a new move to the end of the routine each time you run through it, but towards the end of one or two of the sections, a move is added which doesn't get repeated the final time through. There's little time to take a breather, but if you plan to see the whole DVD through from start to finish, you can always take a second off to have a drink.

   This DVD is amazing, and just like the others, I believe it's worth a lot more than it's being sold for. It's so amazing, so much fun, and it's got a lot of moves that I've never seen before. The music is great, though not what I would usually listen to, but despite that, it really encourages me when it starts up. I highly recommend this DVD, but only if you have a little bit of experience. It's not really suited for beginners.



Saturday, 8 June 2013

Aspirations

   As you all surely know by now, my aspiration in life is to become a successful, published fantasy author. While I believe I have the talent (I'm not being big-headed, I'm being honest) to get somewhere, it's convincing agents I'm worth the trouble. They get so very many submissions all the time, a lot of which are rubbish, but they get a lot of good ones too, and those are the competition. I have to get lucky enough to send something good in to the right person at the right time - when they're looking for a new author, and every submission they've had so far since deciding that doesn't quite cut it.
   I'm no fool, while I'm certain I have the talent, I realise it can take a long time for anyone to be willing to take a chance on me. I'm prepared for even more rejections, and have no intentions of stopping. My first book I submitted was rejected from the only 5 agencies in the UK that accept fantasy - that number is one that would make most people give up. 5 agencies for my genre? I may as well just write fiction! But I hate fiction. It just isn't enough for me. I hate reading it, and I hate writing it. If there is no magic, or no fantastical beasts, then I'm not interested.
   But I'm not going to give up. I completed the first book to my trilogy, and no one wanted it. That's fine. I've put it safely to one side, along with the first 6 chapters of the second book, and the plan for the rest of the trilogy. I may come back to it and rewrite the beginning and give it another shot, because I'm still confident in that story.


    I started work a few months ago on another book entirely. I began writing chapter 5 just last night. The full plan is complete, and while at this stage it doesn't compare to my trilogy, I know that, over time, I can make it better with new and appropriately-timed ideas. And when I've finished this, I'll send it out to agencies and start immediately on whatever book I plan to write next. And when I get my rejections from this book, I'll already be writing the next, and when that's complete, I'll send that out and work on something else. I'm going to keep playing that loop until I get somewhere, because I love writing. I love creating my own world, my own characters, my own sciences, I love learning things while writing, like about how sieges work, how different people react to death, how the body works and how it can be manipulated to make certain fantastical characteristics viable. I love it so much.

   My other aspiration is in the same vain: for a long time, I've also wanted to write and publish an official World of Warcraft book. The reason for this is that I've read every single novel (not the comics, only the books - I seriously struggle to read comics), and through those, and the game itself, I have become quite familiar with and fond of the lore of the world. It might seem ridiculous to people who don't play games, but, given that World of Warcraft has been around for 9 years this November, and Warcraft has been about for 10 years on top of that, the story is quite huge. The story of the games and the world has expanded enormously, and it only grows with every new expansion. I am most interested in the Orcs and the Orcish Horde, but there are many books already on that subject. I'd love to do a book about the War of the Shifting Sands, in truth, but that was already done in the form of a short story on the official Warcraft website. I'd also love to do a book about Medivh, doubtlessly one of my favourite characters in the whole of the world of Warcraft, and so far only really a short story (the longest short story in the single book) was printed in the Archives about him. He is simply awesome.
   But to write a World of Warcraft book, officially, I have to get somewhere with my own writing first, to sort of prove my worth. There are only two consistant writers who cover the books at the moment - Richard A. Knaak, and Christie Golden, the latter of whom actually plays the game. I don't expect to join them. I'd be more than happy with just one book. But this is just a sort of 'side quest' if you will. I care more for making success with my own works than writing the story of someone else's - but I'd just love to finally get so involved into the world as to write an official one. Well it would have to be official, wouldn't it? I'd get sued otherwise!

   I'm not sure why I've written this post. I just had to get this out. I have some degree of confidence that I can get where I want to, eventually, and I also have no intention of giving up this blog. I suppose, really, I'm writing this so that, if I truly am still updating ten or twenty years from now, when I'll have hopefully achieved both of the above goals, that I'll be able to smile and laugh about my enthusiasm, and remind myself that it's all payed off.
   Everyone needs dreams. These are mine, and will have been for 10 years this October. Yes, I even remember when I first decided that this was what I wanted to do.



Friday, 7 June 2013

Tophatter After-Effects

   Be wary if you decide to do an auction on Tophatter. They have told a few of my auction winners that they will receive their package within 5 days. That's just not true. I'm in the UK for goodness' sake! The auction was nothing but trouble for me, personally - I moved a lot of stuff, but I ended up losing a lot of money - money I couldn't afford to lose - and now I have angry customers asking where their products are, not to mention trouble I've had with the US post offices. Great fun.

   I am concerned about the well-being of my shop, now, too. If these customers leave me negative feedback on Tophatter because of these things, I'm not bothered, because I won't be using it again. But if they start publicly bashing me and my shop due to things that are not my fault at all, then things could end up going very badly for me.

   If you do decide to work with Tophatter, please also read my Tophattter experience that was posted over on Etsian Ballyhoo - this was written before all of this postage nonsense had happened, and so is a little more positive. A little more positive.



Powergloves by Powerhoop Review

   I'd wanted some weighted gloves for my workout for ages, but I could never find any that I could afford. Plus, for the most part, they were all quite fat and ugly, but that's not really something that one can be picky about when things like this are concerned.
   But one day, I found these delightful little gloves, by Powerhoop. They were cute, but pricey, and they had several weight options, so I decided to buy them. Typical me, I wanted to buy a heavier pair, but I decided that that might be a bad idea after having no experience with them, so I  begrudgingly purchases the lightest size of Powergloves.



    I will start by mentioning my single complaint, and that is that, on Amazon (without too much checking around, admittedly), they were advertised as 0.5kg, 1kg and 2kg. It took me over a month to realise it, but when I looked at the box they came in to actually write this post, I found that the box said 0.25kg each. I was under the impression that I had bought a pair of gloves which were 0.5kg each. Though I have to say, after my experience with them, if they had been 0.5kg each, it would have been a bit much to start with. But that was a bit misleading. Although now I think about it, they did weigh considerably less than a single dumbbell. I suppose it should have been obvious!
   Having said that, they are truly excellent gloves, and it was only the way they were presented on Amazon that had caused my disappointment. Fortunately, as I said, it has taken me 3 weeks to notice this, and in these past 3 weeks, I've never let them out of my sight. Unlike the other gloves I had seen, these are really quite feminine. The weight, which feels as though is full of sand (but is actually particles of iron), making it more comfortable to wear, is focused on the back of the hand, so your palm and fingers are free to move around and pick things up if you need to, making it perfect for use with dumbells, kettlebells, barbells, and simple tasks like sweeping and cleaning and things like that.
   The fabric is a thick foamy material, which is also very comfortable, and the gloves are fixed by very strong Velcro. The Velcro patch is quite long, which allows for very appropriate adjustment.
   They are a delightful purple colour, though I believe the colour changes depending on the weight of the gloves, and I have to say, I really rather love them. To begin with, there was a black band left around my wrist and thumb, but I have to be honest, it came off in the shower, and I'm not the type to freak out about such a thing, anyway.

   One thing I have realised from these Powergloves is that they can help with dumbbell weights. Typically, dumbbell sets come in threes or fours, and consist of 1kg, 1.5kg and 2kg weights. Once you've adjusted to the highest you can always buy another set, but 2.5kg+ tend to be more expensive. Powergloves, on the other hand, especially if they are rounded weights of 0.5kg each, can more or less give you another dumbbell. I've actually lost my other two dumbbells, so all I have left are my 1kg ones. Naturally, I adjusted to those quite well, but I have to buy a whole new set to increase my weight workouts. But with these Powergloves, I'm able to use my dumbbell at the same time and increase the weight, and when I move onto a workout that requires use of my hands, I can still keep the weighted gloves on.

   I highly recommend them. I intend to buy the next weight up shortly, and I'm also hoping to get a new set of dumbbells anyway. Powergloves are made by Powerhoop, which is a brand of weighted, padded hula hoops. I don't own one - but I'd certainly like to! Who doesn't love hula hooping?! Just make sure you warm up properly first, or you'll end up with a stitch. At least, I will.



Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Selling My Only Dress

   I'm not really big on dresses, and I also only own one skirt. I'm very touchy about my legs to be honest, they're not the nicest, but it's more than that.
   A lot of you lovely people can probably throw on a skirt like it's second nature to you, but the idea of not having fabric wrapped around each individual leg is a little...unsettling for me, for some reason.
   But, I recognise the importance of having the odd dress for special occasions. For example, I know that if I were invited to a wedding I'd need to have a dress, because wearing jeans and a t-shirt would look really very out of place, and would also make me feel even more uncomfortable than I would if I were wearing a dress for that reason - but otherwise, it's really all I have.
   I bought my only dress a few years ago as a sort of 'just in case,' but at that point I had put on rather a lot of weight without really realising it, coming from a miserable few years. So the dress I bought fit fine at the time, but being that I never needed it, it just sat in my wardrobe for a few years, untouched. I tried it on the other day and it's like a bag on me now, which is nice, but impractical.
   The reason I tried it on was because I had seen another dress somewhere else which I just fell in love with. The price, however, is steep. Well, after trying my only dress on and finding how poor its fit on me now was (don't get me wrong, I wasn't fat, I was just bigger than I am now), I decided that I could pay for the new dress by selling this one.
   The dress I now have my eye on, from Pepperberry, is certainly gorgeous. It's simple enough to not draw the eye, but pretty enough so that if it does, I wouldn't be judged. Also, the cut would fit my body quite nicely, I believe! But Seeg has said to me that there's little point buying it. He has a point, of course: we never go anywhere, let alone to formal occasions, so it would just sit in my wardrobe for a few years, untouched, until I decide to sell that one for another one. But he's not female, so he doesn't quite get it. I know full well I'm not likely to get invited anywhere - I only have two friends and constant commitments to my mother, after all - and it probably will end up in the wardrobe. But Pepperberry don't sell their clothes long. They go in and out within a few months, so I also know that I will regret it if I don't buy it. And if I have even just one nice dress in the wardrobe, then if any special occasion did come up, I'd be totally covered.
   I made an agreement with him. He's told me to come up with the money, but also to wait and think about it a little more (probably hoping I'll change my mind), and I'm going to do so. But something that often gets forgotten is the simple fact that, if it doesn't fit, or doesn't look right afterall, I can send it back and get a refund, as simple as that. So there's really little risk involved unless I happen to rip it getting into it. That happened once in a shop's changing room. Needless to say I did what any normal person would do: I left it in there and bolted. Fortunately it was only like £8, but still. Oops.

   So, if anyone happens to be interested, here is the dress I am selling:


UK 14, US 10/12 or something like that. Gold satin with a black soft lace overlay. It's got adjustable spaghetti straps, and the skirt is quite full when you spin around. There are more pictures and info on the Ebay listing.



Just Hit 60000 Page Views

All-time page views, of course - I don't get 60,000 a day o_O I don't think many do! That would be madness.
I realise 60,000 isn't exactly 50,000 ot 100,000 but I just happened to spot it!






Monday, 3 June 2013

Mermaids Exist

Full 1 hour 21 minute documentary. 

Mermaids: The Body Found



Full 40 minute program

Mermaids: The New Evidence





No, of course I don't own this video, I had no hand in making it, etc, etc.
And don't ruin it, either! Stupid comments will not be published. Just try to enjoy it.



Sunday, 2 June 2013

Goat's Cheese and Spinach Souffles


   I found this goat's cheese and spinach soufflé recipe in Women's Fitness magazine, 115. Now, I am almost a total failure in the kitchen - seriously, it's unreal. The only thing I can make are cakes and marshmallows, so Seeg was a bit uncertain about me trying this recipe out. But I was adamant, so I gave it a go.
   I love goat's cheese, it's delicious, and I'm not all that big on cheese. This is a great vegetarian dish (no, of course I'm not vegetarian, I'm human, I have teeth designed for omnivores), and a really great light lunch. It doesn't look too bad either (it did look better in the magazine - much bigger and more risen - but mine look the same otherwise).

You'll need:
• 250g leaf spinach
• salt and pepper
• 3tbsp olive oil
• 2 peeled, finely crushed garlic cloves
• 20g plain flour
• 125ml milk
• 100g goat's cheese
• 2 large eggs, separated


• Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6, and butter 4 100ml ramekins. I used the glass ones I had left over from Gu desserts - a chocolate soufflé, in fact.
• Put a large pan over medium heat. When it's hot, add the washed spinach and a bit of salt and pepper, and stir until the spinach leaves have wilted. If you need to add water, do so, but do so sparingly. You don't want to end up boiling the spinach. The spinach will look a bit much to begin with, but once it's wilted, it looks considerably smaller.
• Once the spinach has wilted, empty it into a colander and let it cool. Once it's cooled, use a tea towel to get the excess water out, then chop it all up.
• Heat the olive and garlic in a pan and stir over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the flour and some more pepper and stir for another 3-5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk, then simmer and stir for another few minutes until thick.
• Move the mixture to another bowl and allow it to cool, then crumble the cheese in, and a little more salt and pepper. Add the chopped spinach and egg yolks.
• Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff, then fold into the spinach and cheese mix until properly combined. Spoon into the ramekins and set them on a baking tray in the oven, baking for around 15 minutes until risen and golden brown. They can either be served immediately, or popped in the fridge to be re-heated when you're ready to eat them. I had one for lunch every day for four days, putting them back in the oven at gas mark 5 for 20 minutes. They didn't burn, and the inside was still soft as a soufflé should be, but the inside was also hot.

Don't stint too much on the seasoning. I hate pepper, and I'm a little bit paranoid about how much salt I put in food, so when I did this the second time around, I didn't add as much (ie I skipped the second and third additions), and it tasted a lot emptier than the first lot. Yes, I had these for lunch for eight days, making 2 batches. They were yummy, though!