Tuesday, 21 March 2017

McWhirr's Chocolate Review

   Anyone who's spent half an hour with me (or has seen me in a grocery store or cafe) knows that sugar is my vice. I eat fast food like 5 times a year, I have alcohol even less, I never drink coffee. It's all about cakes, biscuits and, above all else, chocolate.
   But I don't eat it often. It's true that I have a Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club subscription, even if I have set it up to deliver once every 8 weeks, but the truth is I have a serious problem with guilt. All it takes is one chocolate, one single chocolate to send me into a whirlwind. Three will send me into a spontaneous jumping jack Tabata session. And I admit that I have a post I want to write on this in the near future...

   The thing is, chocolate is good for you, but conventional chocolate - the stuff you think of when someone says 'chocolate' - is loaded with sugar, because raw chocolate - cacao - is bitter, and to the average person, not the tasty treat they're looking for. It's true that it has its own unique flavour, which is why the Aztecs loved it so much, but when it gets turned into a chocolate bar to suit the masses, lots of the goodness is removed and replaced with other ingredients, including lots of sugar.
   This is part of the reason dark chocolate is so much better for you than milk, which is in turn better than white: because it has a higher cocoa content, and subsequently a lower sugar and other-ingredients content. But dark chocolate isn't for everyone. I admit, it's for me, but it took time - like matcha! Super good for you, but definitely an acquired taste.


   Fortunately for the health-conscious, calorie-counters and diabetics, this is where McWhirr's Chocolate steps in. Bristol-based (woooo), these chocolatiers have developed a handmade bean-to-bar chocolate bar with absolutely nothing artificial and no added sugar. It's sweetened naturally with xylitol and stevia, has a high cocoa content (both their white and milk bars contain 42% cocoa while their dark has 67%), minimal ingredients, and works out at 69 calories per 4 pieces (a single row of the bar), or 415 calories per bar (518kcal per 100g). The range includes four different whites, milks and darks, some infused, others sprinkled.

   McWhirr's is bean-to-bar chocolate - it's not raw, it doesn't need to be stored in the fridge, it's proper, tempered chocolate made by hand in their Bristol factory from the original bean to the bar itself. This means it's real chocolate, and the perfect chocolate bar to have in the cupboard or in your handbag for when you really need it. I won't kid you - oats, nuts, seeds, fruit, they're all better options if you're feeling peckish, but sometimes nothing but chocolate will do.
   "But this isn't chocolate," I hear you cry, "it's a 'healthy alternative'!" It's true that 'healthy alternatives' rarely stack up to the real thing, but in this case, McWhirr's comes so very close.


   McWhirr's actually tastes like chocolate and is just as smooth and creamy as anything you'll find in a supermarket, just a touch milder in sweetness - but with no added sugar, you can't expect it to be identical to Galaxy, can you? But, having said that, it's worth stating directly that 'milder in sweetness' doesn't mean 'unsweet' and it certainly doesn't mean 'bitter'. Even at 42%, it bears no resemblence at all to dark chocolate, but rather is very definitely milk chocolate, just with a higher cocoa content, and like I said before: the higher the cocoa content, the less room there is for other ingredients. And as it's milder in sweetness than mass-produced stuff, it results in fewer cravings, helping you to stop at 4 pieces rather than 4 rows. And that reduces the already meagre guilt factor even further.
   More importantly, the lack of refined sugar also has minimal effect on the body's blood sugar levels, making it ideal for avoiding sugar, reducing the risk of diabetes and hyperglycemia.

   I'll also mention this: I hate products with stevia in them. It has a horrible taste, worse aftertaste, and always overpowers the product it's supposed to only 'sweeten'. In short, stevia is more like a flavour than a sweetener. But, in this case, you'd never know the stevia was there. There are no unusual tastes nor any funny textures whatsoever, it is chocolate, pure and simple in every sense of the phrase.

   The chocolate isn't compromised, it has a perfectly tempered snap, the variety of flavours aren't too thin, the packaging is cute, it's creamy - it is, in short, chocolate. Even Seeg liked it, and he's hard to please, especially when it comes to my 'healthy rubbish'.
   Truly, it is 'the delicious way to cut down on sugar'.

   You can find McWhirr's chocolate on their website with delivery worldwide, and you can also find them at fairs and markets within Bristol - keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming events and appearances, where they stock more seasonal chocolates as well as free samples!

https://www.facebook.com/mcwhirrs/photos/a.1536309526690832.1073741829.1376298519358601/1599503250371459/?type=3&theater




Sunday, 19 March 2017

A Touch of Honesty 1.2

   Right. I've neglected my blog from a persona standpoint for a while now because so many things have been stressing me out. I spoke about them a little while ago, and there's been a single development: Seeg's application for a permanent residence card has been processed. And rejected.

   As it presently stands, he doesn't have to leave the UK. He can carry on as he has been for the last 6 years because the permanent residence card is just a formality, it doesn't affect his right to live in the UK as a Dutch national. But how long that will be the case, we don't know. That's why this mattered. Leaving the EU means that things will change for EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU. It's said people already living here won't be affected, something I doubt that very much, but now that his application has been rejected because he's been helping me look after my mum rather than working, it makes me wonder just how we're going to be able to stand up against it if 'working' is what constitutes as 'living' here.
   So this has been keeping me up, making me panic and just generally making me want to lock myself in the house, draw the lights, unplug the internet and pretend the world outside doesn't exist.
   I've not given in, of course - beyond simply distancing myself from this blog and social media on a personal level - and the coming of spring is helping to ease me, but the trouble is that we have no idea what's going to happen now, and that means that we have no idea how to prepare nor what we can do against it. The permanent residence card was our safety net for the Brexit changes - assuming of course that the permanent residence card for EEA nationals itself isn't affected, either - and now we've got nothing but tightly crossed fingers and toes. And I don't like it. It's all completely out of our hands.

   This is immensely important to us. We've been a couple for 7 years this May, and living together for 6. We're committed, we're determined - but what can we do if the law changes and he has to leave? I can't follow, not with my mum in the condition she's in.
   I'm trying to remind myself that there's no point in stressing, because with absolutely nowhere to turn but also no clue how severely it's going to affect us, everything's up in the air. As it is, the only thing we can do is turn our minds away from it and leave the stressing and panicking for when there's actually something to stress and panic about. Otherwise we're putting ourselves through undue strain for potentialy (hopefully hopefully hopefully hopefully hopefully) no reason.

   Fortunately, there's been much in the way of distraction. We've just finished Horizon Zero Dawn, which was simply amazing, and now we're playing Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. This Thursday - though we're extremely unenthusiastic about it - Mass Effect Andromeda comes out, and it also looks like patch 7.2 for World of Warcraft will be coming out quite soon, too. So there's much in the way of video game distractions.


   Then there's the fact that I've also almost finished my book (the first of two) - I'm tantalisingly close to the end - and so that has been seriously absorbing my attention in between, and will continue to do so for a while. Once I've finished writing it, it needs redrafting, and then I need to refine the plan for the second one. I'm not doing a thing with the first until the whole story is finished - no agent submissions, no self-publishing - so don't expect to see anything about it for at least a year.

   But that's where I am right now. I'm tense, but I'm successfully distracted. It's when I go to bed, turn out the lights and snuggle up to him that it all comes crashing back into my mind.



Kelta Fit - 2 Weeks Later

   Oh. My. Goodness. It's so amazing to have a workout that genuinely excites me again! I've been working so hard with high-impact, demanding workouts with body weight and stuff for so long, so it's so nice to have a change, especially one that's actually conventionally fun! The thought that I've already used Kelta Fit for two weeks makes me sad! I'm already half way!

   I don't generally use dance workouts because I never really get much of a sweat out of them - Kukuwa has been the only exception. And because I'm addicted to sweat and burning muscles, I've kind of avoided dance workouts for the past couple of years. Kukuwa only got a look-in because it seemed (and was) higher-impact and more fun that most of the rest.
   Kelta Fit looked like it was going to be one of those low-impact workouts which is great for beginners, but nothing but a 'waste of time' for myself because it didn't involve deadlifts or jump squats. But I decided to give it a go because of my new year's resolution which was to kind of back off of heavy workouts and try something a little calmer from time to time.
   Well, Kelta Fit is certainly not Jillian Michaels, and there are no kettlebells or burpees involved, but my goodness it gets you sweating and your legs burning.


   In my first post I said I was expecting six 9-minute workouts consisting of a mixture of dance and dance-inspired resistance (barre), or perhaps the six workouts to be divided between the two categories, ideally 4/2.
   Instead, it turns out that there aren't 6 sequences, but rather 4, as the warm up and cool down (with a 6-minute abs section) are counted among them. But the warm up includes some simple dance moves to get your heart rate up, and the six minutes of ab work is simple but effective and makes up more than half of the sixth section.
   But don't be concerned. It occurred to me on my first morning that a barre workout along with the promised 'lively traditional music' wasn't likely to work very well, and indeed it wouldn't. Instead, the four workouts are all filled to the brim with dance, every single move is from Scottish and Irish routines, and you're given told which dances some of the steps come from, too, like the Britannia two-step or the Virginia Reels. The moves seem easy, and though they're not complicated and they're taught comprehensively, even for absolute beginners, you'll find yourself sweating and your knee refusing to lift as high as when you started after completing just one section. But there are also resistance moves in two of the four routines - squats and lunges - but they don't feel like they drag you out of the dancing spirit, and they're well-inserted as well as really good fundamental leg-toning moves.


   The music is also simply amazing. Irish and highland dance is my guilty pleasure - sequences from Lord of the Dance impress me so much that I cry more often than not. I will put my hands up and admit that I am lame in this way. And only this way. And that Warriors is my absolute favourite routine. And that I'm a sucker for villains.
   But the music - back to the music - you cannot possibly not want to move to it. You just can't, it completely goes against the laws of physics. From the moment the music started playing in the warm up, I was honestly grinning like a fool.

   I absolutely love it. I can't wait to start my exercise every morning, it's so much fun and truly something I look forward to now. There's no dread, no trying to make deals with myself and then doing it anyway, no feeling mentally exhausted just from the idea of it. I genuinely want to do it.
   Oh gawd I can't wait to do it again tomorrow!



Sunday, 12 March 2017

Kettlercise Ignite DVD Review

Price: £13
Length: 3x 30 minutes
Workouts: All-over body (cardio, abs, strength)
Suitable for: Anyone with some level of kettlebell experience
Rating:   ★★★★★
Enjoyment:  ★★★☆☆   Difficulty:  ★★★★☆   Results:  ★★★★★
Based on 5 weeks of use.


https://www.kettlercise.com/kettlercise-shop/product/8388-ignite-dvd/category_pathway-55

   I'm a big fan of kettlebells. Because their weight isn't distributed evenly like hand weights or barbells, they take a lot more concentration to control, and there are a range of different exercises you can only do effectively with such an unbalanced weight. These movements are quite often explosive and a lot of the power comes from the lower body, making every move a full-bodied compound exercise, using more calories and getting in lots more fat-burning while still creating lean muscle and a shapely silhouette.
   Kettlercise have always been amazing at delivering effective kettlebell workouts, and though their Ignite program is aimed at more experienced kettlebell users - ie someone who has used any of their other DVDs already - even as their 7th installment, it hasn't lost that intensity.




Overview
   Kettlercise Ignite consists of three 20 minute workouts, each with a 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down, and instructed by two familiar faces: Anoushka and Stacey, with Mandy in the back, all of whom you would recognise from Lean In 14. All three workouts utilise kettlebells to a slightly different end: cardio, interval training, and after burn. You wouldn't think that three kettlebell workouts could be so different, and that's a very good thing because it keeps it from becoming exhausting. I used this DVD 3 times a week on non-consecutive days for 5 weeks, and never once got comfortable or familiar enough with the DVD for its difficulty to drop. Some moves are repeated - windmills and swings are, after all, some of the most effective kettlebell moves - but there are a wide variety and a number that are only found on one workout.
   20 minutes might not seem like long, but Kettlercise transitions from one move to the next without even a few seconds' break, so you can rest assured that those 20 minutes will be truly packed full of sweat, fat-burn and muscle toning. Kettlebells are one of the top five most effective workouts for fat-loss, and most classes, Kettlercise or otherwise, average at 25 minutes.

Kit
   This should go without saying, but a kettlebell, or selection thereof, is necessary for this workout. I have three on hand - 4kg, 6kg and 8kg. I haven't used kettlebells in a long while, so my 8kg went mostly neglected, but my 6 and 4kg were more than enough. Some moves you will want a lighter weight on, especially upper-body-specific moves like front raises or snatches, in which a heavy weight can be harder to control, but in this case I go as heavy as I can while maintaining good form, and when a move that drives most of its power from the lower body comes along, like a swing, deadlift or squat, I increase the weight.
   A mat is also a good idea for comfort's sake. Every workout has some abdominal moves at the end and a mat makes them more comfortable and subsequently easier to complete a set of.

Difficulty
   While it's not usual for a workout DVD to have a separate instruction disc or segment demonstrating the form of the movements for beginners, Kettlercise are good enough to offer this on most of their DVDs because kettlebells and the movements performed with them are different from dumbbells and other weights due to its shape, affecting the distribution of its weight and the challenge that comes with just holding it correctly to keep that uneven weight under control. But that isn't present here, and that's no doubt because both DVD and website state clearly that Ignite is not for beginners. They advise that you only use if you've used another Kettlercise DVD or have attended some other kettlebell workout and are familiar with the weight. The workouts are not easy, and while there are modifications, they are few and far between and the moves themselves are challenging.
   As such, this DVD is simply not suitable for beginners, though Kettlercise for Women volume 1 & volume 2 are, as is Lean In 14.

Melt Down
   Melt Down is horrible, but it's worth doing. This is a cardio-specific workout, a kettlebell workout dotted with cardio intervals throughout such as burpees, crab toe-touches, kettlebell star jumps and so on, but fortunately they're spaced apart widely enough that you can still do the rest of the workout. Kettlebell movements are quite dynamic, full-body and high impact already, so pairing them with body-weight cardio moves hikes your heart rate up fiercely, and with the inclusion of simpler moves like windmills - still full-body, but certainly slower and more controlled - you get that wonderful interval training which is proven to burn additional calories by forcing your heart rate to rise and fall multiple times and keeping your body guessing.
   I despise cardio, and this workout more than the others on this DVD. And that's why I would never skip it - because it must mean it's effective. No one likes burpees, and that's because they're hard enough that they provide results for everyone regardless of fitness level. Indeed, a full burpee is kind of an advanced move, but it's one that is easily modified for intermediate and beginners.


Detonator
   Detonator is a much more typical kettlebell workout. It uses familiar moves like swings, windmills, side bends and such, but stands out by combining moves into pairs, such as a bicep curl at the mid-point of a weighted squat, or a lunge with a swing. This works more muscles at once, allows the use of familiar, simpler moves like those squats and bicep curls without letting the heart rate drop too far, and is lower-impact and yet still immensely effective because the cardio doesn't come from jumping, but from engaging upper and lower body at the same time, and so continues to burn calories after the workout is finished while repairing the muscles used.
   This workout is the most straight forward of the three, making it perfect for those who are experienced but out of practise, or for those who want a fat-burning workout without the jumping around.


After Burn
   After Burn is a more advanced 'Detonator'. It stacks up moves, but by using 'complexes'. These are seen in their Lean In 14 program, and rather than combining two moves, it combines up to four. Needless to say, it's complicated. The clue is in the name. This really works your nervous system too by making you think, and it works the most muscles it can. It also means you can go deeper into a lunge or a squat because you're not just repeating that single movement over and other; instead, by performing an overhead press after a squat, you get those few seconds before squatting again, and in a chain of four moves, only one of them is a squat, giving you even more time before dropping into it again. It's less about the number of reps in this case and more about the range and depth.
   Like Detonator, this also gets your heart rate up, and is the most advanced of the three simply for its complexity.


Verdict
Enjoyment:  ★★★☆☆  - Not conventionally fun, but the variation between the three workouts does give a greater enjoyment to the workout, as it feels less like doing the same thing every session.
Difficulty:  ★★★★☆  - Kettlebells are always hard - that's why they're effective. This DVD takes kettlebells further by stacking moves, and these are both physically and mentally challenging.
Results:  ★★★★★  - You simply cannot avoid results with any of the three full-body, cardio-resistance combination workout.

   Kettlercise seems incapable of bringing out bad DVDs. You would think there was only so much that could be done with kettlebells, and while many of their workouts are similar, they still manage to maintain enough difference to develop favourites, and this is one of my favourites. Having used many of Kettlercise's DVD, I'd say that this is the staple piece, as it offers three 20-minute kettlebell workouts that each provide a different angle on the form, and that makes it invaluable.
   Results are also guaranteed due to the nature of the workout - it's high-impact enough to melt fat on the spot, but it's loaded with resistance which also means you're toning up lean muscle, creating a curvy silhouette and increasing your metabolism, and also means you continue burning calories afterwards while your body repairs itself from the exertion. It is, simply, epic.



Monday, 6 March 2017

March: Kelta Fit



   I'm quite excited for this month's workout. Back in 2014, I used Jean Butler's Irish Dance Masterclass, and while it wasn't inherently a workout DVD, it was physically demanding and provided a good sweat and some good toning even while truly learning something new. It is dance, after all.
   And in 2015, I used Kukuwa's African Dance workout, and while that was a workout, it was undeniably African in its style. It's still my favourite cardio workout to date, and the only dance workout that still proves to be a challenge for me personally.
   Finding genuinely original workouts with a cultural theme or origin is actually quite difficult, and that's a real pain because they can seriously spice up you workout.
   So when I found Kelta Fit, I snatched up a copy right away.

   Kelta Fit is a Ceilidh ('kay-lee', Gaelic for 'gathering') dance workout which combines genuine Scottish dance moves with aerobic exercises and lively traditional music, so I've got high hopes for enjoyment - but, I will admit that I've not watched any of the videos, so I don't know entirely what to expect here. This is how I prefer to start new workouts - I never even remove the outer packaging until I'm ready to begin the first session, and I especially never play the DVD and watch it before using it. So the first time I see its contents is the first time I use it. That way I can't dread difficult-looking moves before I've even begun - or, alternatively, be put off by easy-looking moves.


   The DVD contains 6x 9 minute workouts, and I'm hoping that they'll each be dedicated to either dance or resistance, not a mixture of both which would break up the intensity. Ideally, I'm hoping that four will be dedicated to dancing and two to light resistance, like barre. I'll be content if it's three-three, but if it's two dance and four resistance, I will be disappointed. But, as is always the case, I'm not going to know until I use it later this morning.
   I also expect it to be low-impact compared to what I'm used to, which you can find in my Fitness Archive, but that will be a welcome change, especially after having just completed five weeks of Kettlercise. I wouldn't usually knowingly select a workout that I felt would be below by insane standards for difficulty, but in keeping with this year's new year's resolution, I need to step back from constantly high-impact workouts because my body just can't keep up with it. So this should be ideal - and there are three levels of intensity, which is unusual for a dance workout, so I'm hoping that that will make a difference if it turns out to be too low-impact for me.

   I'm going to give this workout four weeks. The plan is to use three of the six workouts a day, and while it'll probably be a bit messy for the first two or three days while I work out which section offers what, I'm hoping that my half hour will start with one resistance session and then two dance sessions, without repeating any of them the next day. Which is one of the reasons why I'm hoping for two resistance and four dance.

   So I'll blog again in 2 weeks and outline whether it was what I hoped it would be, and if it's challenging enough to meet my expectations of ease/difficulty. And, just as importantly, if it's fun.

   I've got new leggings (what a surprise) and they're from Wild Bangarang again.
   Koi.
   I'm sorry but they are simply epic. This is from their fitness range which, to my surprise, is actually made differently from their other leggings like my Sylvanas and Nozdormu. They're thicker, they have a little more compression and they have a wide, flat waist band rather than a general elastic waist. They're really comfortable and have a different, more accurate size guide. While it was their original World of Warcraft range that drew my initial attention, their koi capris were quick to catch my eye, if slow to slip into the shopping bag...



Sunday, 5 March 2017

Kettlercise Ignite - 5 Weeks Later

   After 5 weeks of Kettlercise's Ignite program, I'm still surprised with how varied the three workouts are. After all, how different can kettlebell workouts be?
   I used the DVD three times a week and gave the three different workouts five runs each (except 'Melt Down', as I was graced with a migraine not five minutes after getting out of bed, and had to skip that day's workout), which meant that, especially because each workout was different from the other, I didn't get anywhere near comfortable enough this month for the program to stop being a challenge.

   The DVD and website both advise that Ignite should only be used if you've got previous experience with a Kettlercise program, and there's good reason for it. There is no how-to on this DVD like there are on the others, and, like the other DVDs, you transition from one move to the next without a pause so you do need to know what you're doing. As such, Ignite is not suitable for kettlebell beginners. But if, like me, you've got an unreasonable love for the kit and the unique and highly specific moves you can only really perform with them, if you want them to be effective, then this DVD is awesome.


   Melt Down is horrible, my least favourite - you know I hate cardio - but it's one I still begrudgingly do. Kettlebells are challenging enough without adding burpees into the mix, that is just not fair. But it is effective. Detonator and After Burn are much nicer, but though they might be void of jumping, they're just as effective at melting fat. Kettlercise have maintained their usual system of giving you no break at all between the moves, and they've revisited their 'complexes', the stacking of individual moves to utilise more muscles at once, raise the heart rate through the demand, all without your feet really having to leave the floor. Hoorah. So no one workout on the DVD delivers less results than the others, even though some might be 'easier' than others if just because they're not as frightening and so 'easier' in terms of finding the motivation to do. 


   I'm not sad to see the back of it, though, and that's my own fault. I've slipped into a habit of eating only 1300 calories a day, though I know I'm supposed to be getting 1500 without exercise, so I've been feeling increasingly run down since after Christmas in an attempt to compensate for Christmas and birthdays by creating a calorie deficit by both exercise and eating less, which is simply wrong. So I'm somewhat exhausted right now, and I'm really looking forward to March's workout which, I expect, will be much lower impact but hopefully more conventionally fun.
   But I would, without a doubt, recommend this DVD to anyone, and it's joining my 'would use again in a heartbeat' collection. Once I start eating a little more...

   I'll blog again with a DVD review next weekend, so if you're after more technical info on the DVD, be sure to come back!



Friday, 3 March 2017

A Touch Of Honesty

   This blog has been a bit void of personality lately, and in truth I've not felt like opening up. Brexit has thrown so very much up into the air, and with the decision to leave the free market, the residence of all non-UK EU/EEA nationals is in question. This very much affects me because Seeg is Dutch. He's been living in the UK for 6 and a half years now, helping me to look after my mum, and has just applied for proof of right of residence. It's been said officially that people already living here won't be affected, but no one can be sure. Leaving the EU is going to be a long process, and once it's all finally done, all kinds of things could change. As such, the idea of deportation is dogging us, and while I would happily follow him and live in The Netherlands, my mum's disability makes the matter complicated. Just getting a job, moving out and making a start on my own life is complicated, and that's also why I'm relying so heavily on my Etsy shop.


   And that's the second issue: my shop is failing astoundingly. Since about October my sales have been dropping, and I'm now matching the stats from three years ago. It's seriously getting me down because I haven't the faintest idea what to do about it. I've given my shop an overhaul, rewritten every single listing's title, tags and description, made new pieces, tried different forms of advertising, but it's now gotten so bad that I can't even afford to advertise anymore, making the whole matter worse. It feels like a downward spiral and it's making me feel even more hopeless.

   Seeg has also had some kind of problem with his legs and lower back for at least 6 months, which has now gotten so bad that he needs physiotherapy, and while I'm glad something is finally being done about it, it adds another worry and appointments are affected by caring for my mum.

   In short, right now, nothing is as simple as it should be, and though I'm trying to look on the bright side, I've gotten to a point of feeling so hopeless that even though I've received a few custom orders, I can't find the energy or motivation to do them. I have, of course, and I've given them my best efforts, but I haven't enjoyed it. I've been trying to meditate, but if I'm honest, the thought to do it doesn't occur to me anymore and I just want to sit and wallow in my own self pity.
https://www.etsy.com/shop/thePicsees

   Eesh. I'm glad I wrote this. I know it's whiney, but at the same time, I've not actually taken the time to try to get these thoughts in order, and now things at least seem plainer. I know why I'm stressed, and while none of them are matters I have any real control over - I can't slap any clarity out of the government, I can't force people to buy my stuff, and I can't fix his back - they're also matters I might as well put out of my mind. I have a strong belief in this Buddhist proverb, and I need to remind myself of it from time to time: if you have a problem that can be fixed, then there is no use in worrying. If you have a problem that cannot be fixed, then there is no use in worrying.
   This is a time for finding something new to do - trying a new craft, watching a new TV show, trying a new game.
   And when it comes around to it, my current book, at least, is going well. I'm starting to doubt my abilities, but I know I have all the time in the world to tweak and polish my book before submitting it, and the first draft is absolutely never printable. And it's a two-parter, which Archguardians should have been in hindsight, so while the first book is nearly done, I'm not submitting it anywhere until the second is finished. So there's still plenty of time and no need to worry about it.

   But yes. That's me. Perhaps, if this keeps on, I'll annoy you all and start writing short, weekly, positive posts. Remind myself every day of something I'm happy with, grateful for, enjoying and so on, gather them up and stick them up here for all and myself to see. It's the simple, daily things that are all too easy to miss, after all. You don't obsess or over-think the things you enjoy them, you just enjoy them...right?



Thursday, 2 March 2017

Archguardians Of Laceria Book Bundle Giveaway

   It's World Book Day! I used to love World Book Day in primary school, there was always a little book fair in the main hall and I used to go after school, pick out everything I wanted, have them put it on hold and then go home and tell mum she needed to come to school and pay for it all. She was never impressed, but I always went overboard. They also used to give out book tokens to get either £1 off of a book which, back then, cost about £3.99, or a free book to the value of £1 which came out especially for the event, like little 60-page books, but I loved them because they were small and cute.

   Well, I'm not in primary school any more, of course, but I still love World Book Day because books, but also because lots of book fanatics go overboard on costumes, parties, and there are all kinds of unique book-themed things circulating. It's also an opportunity to shamelessly promote my own book and book jewellery.

   And that's what I'm doing right now! Because my book came out in paperback recently, I wanted to host another giveaway for my little Archguardians collection just like I did on its original release! It includes:
• a print of a hand-drawn map of Laceria
• a jar of Alvetha's jasmine tea
• a bottle of rakikik either as a keychain or a necklace (winner's choice)
• a sticker of the book cover
• an Archguardians book flower necklace
• a free copy of the ebook (£2.99) - or, if you already have the ebook, I'll give you a copy of the paperback edition (£16.50) instead!


   This giveaway is open worldwide - though the book is in English - and closes on March 16th. There will be three winners. There is no cash alternative, and if a winner would like the paperback version, they must provide proof that they have the ebook version - literally a picture of their ereader with the book open on its screen will do.
   Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. The winners will be contacted by email on March 17th and will have 72 hours to respond. If no response, a new winner will be selected and emailed, and the original winner notified that their chance has passed.


 Winners will be contacted later today (17th)
Remember: if you'd like to win the paperback, buy the ebook and provide a photo of the book open on your device!






Wednesday, 1 March 2017

My Spring Jewellery Collection!


   It's March the 1st, my mum's birthday and the first day I start to really think about spring. In terms of comfort, I am definitely a winter person - it's easier to layer up and keep warm than it is to strip off and cool down. There's only so much you can take off before you're naked, after all, and even then it can feel like it's not enough.
   But as far as moods go, spring is my favourite. The warm, bright light fills me with motivation, and the best work I will do in a year occurs in the spring. It's still cool enough to be comfortable, and with the trees regrowing their leaves and the first flowers coming out, it's a colourful time, too - you've not gotten used to it like you have by summer.
   I work like a madman on my writing, my imagination flows perfectly, my vocabulary broadens, and I do a generally better job, increasing on both quantity and quality at the same time!
   And Easter isn't far off, either! I'm not religious, so the holiday is just a chocolate-fest for me, and one of the few times of the year I let myself indulge. Seeg and I break out our flashiest eggs and watch a movie - we saw Fantastic Beasts in the cinema, despite not being the hugest Harry Potter fans, and we loved it so much we've saved the DVD for Easter Sunday!

   And, of course, there's all the new life. Plants bloom and sprout, an event many animals timed their birthing season to coincide with, birds are chirping their songs (territorial and warning songs, really - they have babies to protect, too) and even England sees some sun. It's a wonderful time of year. And so I've paired my newest jewellery collection towards that new life.

   My 2017 Spring/Easter Collection, which you can view here, features seven necklaces of baby animals: a rabbit kit, a fox kit, a lamb, a chick, a fawn, a duckling and a song thrush nest. As always, pieces are limited, and there is only one listing for the entire collection at a discounted price, which you can have as either a set of ornaments as shown, or as necklaces. The jars range from 1.5-3cm.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/513842193/spring-easter-miniature-collection-baby?ref=shop_home_active_1
   It's all available in Myth Of The Wild as of today, with a £1.50 UK shipping fee, and $4 for the rest of the world. The deadline for Easter orders is April 8th for the UK, and March the 18th for the rest of the world. In the case of the latter, orders placed afterwards will be processed as quickly as possible and may well still arrive in time, but I can't guarantee it.