Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Meet the new blogger ...

... same as the old blogger ....

this is a bit scary, after nearly ... eight years in the same place. But I felt the need for a change, a makeover and a new address that was a bit more accurate for me.

So, if you will, go over here ................ and say hi :-)

Same old me, brand new address.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The restless reader

I have - so far - been having a pretty good reading year. I've been trucking along nicely, and keeping pace with my goodreads challenge.

I've read some good books, some great books (STATION ELEVEN) and some ... other books.

But, now, I find myself in that unenviable position: What's next? The fuzzy photo on the left is all of the books I have on my bedside table at the moment. One pile of my own books, and one pile of library books.

Misery is on there, for the June readalong, hosted by the ever lovely Care of and I had aspirations to start it today. I got about 10 pages in. I've read Misery before, and I do love it, but for today, my brain went "meh." So it's on the shelf, for now. I have a terrible unweildy omnibus which contains Misery so I might see if my library has a more hands-friendly copy and go from there.

My lunchtime ibook reading is Reaper Man by Mr Sir Terry Pratchett, and that's going okay. The book itself is wonderful of course, funny and sharp-witted and all of the best things. I took it with me today when I took spawn to the playground and my brain went .. "meh."

It's not you, lovely books, it's me.

I've had six months of excellent reading, and as I said previously, some excellent books, but I have hit that dreaded thing: The Wall.

Well, okay, I haven't hit it very hard, obviously, as I still have books on the go, it's more like .. I've stubbed my toe on the corner of the wall, and now I'm wary of touching the wall again because the wall means pain.

The wall.


I want my momentum back, is what I'm saying. I want the wall to bugger off. Or better yet, crumble into dust at my feet. I realise that I haven't hit the other dreaded thing yet: The Slump, but I've been having such a good reading year so far, that I want to avoid that at ALL COSTS.

So. I'm thinking what I can do to dodge the evil slump, where it lurks in the swamps behind the Wall.

Old favourites?
Something entirely new?
Something I haven't thought of yet?

Any ideas? :-)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dragons and wardens and cross stitch ...

Hosted by the lovely Trish, here:

So,  a few months ago, I ventured into video games for basically the first time ever.

I never played them before because I'm absolutely terrible with gaming consoles. I can't use them for some reason.

But THEN somehow I found out you could also play using mouse/keyboard and so I thought "well, I'll give it a go, see what happens."

(Stay with me.)

What happened was I bought Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2 in a bundle that Mighty Ape had on special at the time. I leaped in with Dragon Age because I'd seen people talk about Inquisition, and I thought "hey, that sounds like fun," and ... well, the rest is history, sort of.

I started playing in December and ... what, seven months later? I'm finally nearly at the end of the game. Go me, right? (THIS IS ABOUT CREATIVITY I SWEAR JUST BEAR WITH ME).

Now, I tend to get enthusiastic about things that I love.

Cats, for example.
Whittaker's artisan sea salt and caramel chocolate.

And I am very very very enthusiastic about Dragon Age. So much so, that I went poking about on Etsy recently, looking for cross-stitch patterns of the Grey Wardens' motto.

(Told you it was about creativity.)

I found a couple of patterns, and they were ... nice. But not what I wanted.

So, for the first time ever, as someone who cannot draw a stick person, I'm embarking on creating my very own pattern.

I'm not actually .... creating it, as in drawing it from scratch because that way madness lies for us all.

It's more ... a cobbling-together.

The Grey Wardens motto is this:
In peace, vigilance. In war, victory. In death, sacrifice.

Also, in the legend of the game, the original Grey Wardens would fly into battle on griffons. So I want to incorporate that, too.

I started with the alphabet. For the "I" on each sentence, I wanted something a little bit elaborate - and I found a free cross-stitch alphabet that suited my purposes. (I found it by googling 'free old english cross-stitch alphabets'). Here's the link:

For the rest of the motto, I wanted something with a tiny kick to it, but nothing too elaborate.

My Saturday night stitch-and-watch friend has a book of alphabets, so I've borrowed that for the lettering of the rest of the motto. On the book cover to your left, it's the small green one, second alphabet down. It's simple, but still has a bit of a curl to it.

The final piece of the puzzle was the griffon. So I googled once again - Dragon Age griffon - and found one that, as far as I know, falls under fair use. I'm not planning on selling the final product, so I saved the image and ran it through a free pattern generator. I guessed at the colour numbers - I chose 15, but may do it again with 10 because it's all shades of blue and grey, which is going to be the colour palatte for the whole thing.

Wait, I lied. There's one more piece - I have to decide whether I'm going to do a border or not. To keep my options open, I went through some of my magazines, and found a simple graphic one that would work. It's a bit thin, is the only thing, but other than that, it should work all right. Plus, I'm just doing this for myself, so if I mess it up, I'm not disappointing anyone else.

My friend suggested starting with the words, so I would know how big the border would need to be, which is good advice. My 'vision' is to have the griffon in the lower-right corner, below the motto, then encase it all in a border. Because of the griffon's colour palette, everything will be done in varying shades of blue and grey.

I'm thinking of making the "I's" of each line a darker shade than the rest. I'm debating whether to do the rest of the motto in a different shade of blue, do blue/grey for each line, or something else.

I may end up stitching the griffon first, just to see what colours are available.

Now that I type all of that out, it strikes me as ridiculously ambitious - lol.

Will that stop me? (Signs point to no.)

I sketched out a rough design (I stole Spawn's crayola felts and scribbled on a page to help with visualsation. As you'll be able to see, my artistic skills are ... well. You'll see ...
 So, what's inspiring you this week?

Monday, May 25, 2015

It's Monday ...

... what are you reading?

Hosted by the lovely Sheila at or you can jump on the #IMWAYR hashtag on twitter to have a nosy.

Since our last instalment,  I have given up on both books I was reading last time, finished two other books and am digging into Discworld again.

Hurry Up and Wait by Isabel Ashdown has a great premise and I'm sure it's a really good book, but I got to a point with it where it felt like nothing was happening and I troughed (opposite of peaked). The same thing happend with Prince Lestat, which I wanted to like, I really really did but it's so .. random and halfway through it starts going off on very odd tangents, so it, too, is on the Perilous Shelf for now.

After that, I picked up Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and ... well, I did finish it, because it was super-easy to power through. Did I like it?


I liked the premise a lot, but some of the prose, which did more than flirt with the colour purple, it let the colour purple fill its whole dance card and scandalise the local matrons was a sugary, sugary, giant sugar pill to swallow. It was a lot.

It had a likeable lead, a nice love-interest and an engaging psycho. I just. Also, I went looking for book two on Goodreads and I see people are now talking Team Nice Love Interest and Team Psycho.

Nothing makes me Seacrest out of a series faster than a love triangle. Especially since, in book one, TEAM PSYCHO HAS HER KIDNAPPED AND HOLDS HER HOSTAGE. Like. I get that he has Daddy issues or whatever, but that doesn't excuse bad behaviour!

Anyway. For my lunchtime reading at work, I'm rolling with Reaper Man by the late, redoubtable Mr Sir Terry Pratchett. I'm working my way through Discworld in chronological order. It's slow going but every time I read a Discworld novel I marvel at my own stupidity in not reading them years ago.

I'm loving it, is what I'm trying to say.

Over the weekend, I devoured A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott. It's about a girl with Big Dreams who comes to Hollywood in the 1930s to try and make it as a screenwriter. She gets tangled up in the lives of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, and also witnesses history in the form of the making of Gone with the Wind.

I really enjoyed it - it reminded me of Longbourn in a way - a cosy, historical read.

Up next, on my workmate's recommendation, is I Am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes.

What are you reading?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Inspiration on Monday

 From Trish at comes Inspiration on Monday for all things creative.

I want to start blogging more (it's like the continuous goal - lol) so I'm Making an Effort.

I learned cross-stitch about .... 20-odd years ago, when I was at University. My flatmate taught me, and I had no idea how easy it was because with fiddly creative things (embroidery, knitting etc) I generally have 10 thumbs.

But tiny coloured x's? That I can do!! I have more examples, and in later posts, if I don't get distracted by shinies, I'll talk  about  other projects.

Right now, I'm working on a gift for a friend, who is a huge X Files fan. It's from on etsy.

I used to do a lot of x-stitch for gifts, etc, but now I mostly work on things for myself and as I say to my stitching friend - who works far quicker than me - it's about the journey now, and not the destination.

However, once in a while I have the urge or a reason to work on a gift, hence the pic above.

I have a few I'd like to finish, and I'd also like to get into more fandom stitching. I really want to do a Rivendell chart, but I can't find one. D: And also the Grey Warden's oath from Dragon Age: Origins.

I.... have rambled enough. :-)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's Monday ....

Hosted by Sheila here: or track the #IMWAYR hashtag on twitter, to add to your TBR :-)

I hit a mini-wall for the first time this year a couple of weekends ago. I looked around and went "huh", because for the first time I didn't know what I wanted to read next.

So, of course, I went to the library. I picked up a few graphic novels, and some sundry other books.

I read Hawkeye Vol 1: My Life as a Weapon, and absolutely loved it.  This is the Hawkeye that should be in EVERYTHING Avengers - damaged, introspective, impulsive ... did I mention damaged?

Other than that, I started Hurry Up and Wait by Isabel Ashdown. I'm only a few pages in because I started it today, but it's promising so far.

Yesterday, I asked spawn to go and get me a book from my room, figuring he couldn't do worse than I have been lately in choosing reading material. He came back with Prince Lestat by Anne Rice because he thought the writing on the cover looked 'cool'.

Good enough.

What are you reading?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Readathon hour one meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Reading/cheering from Middle Earth
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Probably Keeper of the Keys by Janny Wurts
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Crispy M&Ms
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I started gaming recently and am now 100 per cent totally obsessed with Dragon Age Origins. I've never played any kind of computer game before and now I'm already trying to decide what to play next.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? I'll try and actually read more - lol If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? Chatting! I mean. Reading. Obviously. And cheering. Go #teamfrodo!

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Monday ...

... what are you reading?

Your meme is hosted by Sheila, here:

I finished Pet Sematary on Saturday, after making a pretty big push to get through the bulk of it. Yay for #gangstercats!

I'm trying to get back into a habit of reviewing books, so will post one up later in the week. Ultimately, though, I found it creepy and sad over out-and-out scary.

I've also dived into The Half-blood Prince for Sheila's Harry Potter readalong, and I'm hoping to have that series finished - if not by Sunday, then by next Wednesday, which is about when the readalong itself finishes.

I haven't reviewed the books or done any posts - I thought I might do a vlog right at the end, though, so ... stay tuned.

My lunchtime reading is Written in Red, by Anne Bishop. I remember inhaling the first three books of her Black Jewels series in one weekend several years ago (there are other books in that series but I haven't picked them up) and I loved it. Written in Red - while a very different book, is written in the same engaging way and all I want to do is sit down somehwere and consume it all in one go.

Coming up, of course, is The Deathly Hallows. Other than that I have The Miniaturist and Bel Canto out of the library. So possibly one of those, or maybe Keeper of the Keys, book two of the Cycle of Fire by Janny Wurts, a trilogy I somehow failed to finish many years ago but Ms Wurts is a favourite author from way back, so I'm excited to get back to that again.

What are you reading?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

So, the X Factor

ETA: Natalia Kills and Willy Moon fired: I don't blog about TV shows, but I have Thoughts and Feelings and so I've decided to share them.

By now, it feels like the whole world knows what happened on X Factor NZ last night. In case you  missed it, this happened:

Stuff story:

With reality shows - especially talent shows - I feel like we all enter into the same, unspoken social contract: we all know that there is going to be manufactured drama, that the producers/judges are going to push for preferred contestants.

They know that we know, and we know that they know we know, and generally speaking, if reality talent shows are your thing, everyone is happy.

However. That. That is not what happened here. Not remotely.

Joe Irvine performed Cry Me a River, a cover of a Michael Buble song; a singer who has made his career work by moving into the Rat Pack's wheelhouse and settling in. It was a good choice for, in my opinion, one of the less-strong singers on the show.

Joe's judge/mentor Mel Blatt obviously worked hard with him, as did the show's stylist, and Joe looked and sounded the best he has so far. (Once again, in my opinion.)

"Constructive" criticism on a reality show like the X Factor can take many forms - it can actually be constructive; a judge can say, for example, that they thought a song was wrong for a particular contestant; or they can hone in on pitch, or stage presence - any number of things.

If the judge in question is cast as the "asshole" judge, or as I like to call it, the Simon Cowell - then they can dig deeper and present opinions that go against both public opinion and that of their fellow judges.

And that's fine. That's part of the contract we all enter into. We know that's coming. We expect it; we anticipate it. Someone has to be the villain.

However. There is a difference between being cast as Simon Cowell and offering up unpopular opinions and so-called constructive criticism and personal attacks.

Joe Irvine sang fine. He looked great. He could have expected a round of "well done's" with perhaps some suggestions for improvements. Instead, what he got was a vitriolic personal attack out of nowhere, and a stack of unwanted drama.

By all means, TV3, manufacture drama to boost ratings. That's fine. We know you're going to do that. But what happened last night is not fine. It's not even in the same neighbourhood as fine. It's not fit to shine the bottom of fine's shoes.

It was a vile display of bullying, and wherever it came from, whether Natalia herself, or from a producer tipping her to amp the drama somehow, it should never have happened.

Surely we are all civilised enough to understand that it's not okay to let loose on someone like that? Critique the performance. Hell, critique his outfit, even though it fit perfectly with the theme of the song. But accusing Joe of "copying" Willy Moon? Because ... Joe is tall and he wore a suit? Not to mention Willy Moon weighing in and basically calling Joe a serial killer.

I'm trying to rise above, and not get personal but let me tell you, if I had to walk home alone on a dark night for whatever reason and I could choose between Joe or Willy to get me home safely ... well, let me just say I'm not crossing the road with Willy Moon.

I keep asking myself what should happen now. I see chatter all over twitter and facebook and comments on stories that Natalia Kills and Willy Moon should be fired. And, yes, probably. What they did - what they chose to engage in on live television was nowhere near any kind of criticism. Instead, they chose the route of schoolyard bullying, picking on the most vulnerable character on the show.

We've all seen Joe cry it out after Bo-Rap, and at boot camp. We shared in his absolute delight in getting to go to Thailand, and to making it to the live shows.

And now. Joe's delight and joy is marred by a vicious, vicious attack out of nowhere. Natalia and Willy might as well have charged the stage and kicked Joe in the shins.

At the very least  - AT THE VERY LEAST - TV3 needs to make them both apologise - publically, and profusely.  A few weak tweets that TV3 doesn't condone bullying is not going to slice the chicken here.

Actually, they should apologise, and then withdraw. And I do understand that it's hard finding judges for a show like X Factor, and a shake-up like that would hurt their contestants, but honestly, their contestants are going to suffer the backlash from this anyway. Someone - likely from Natalia's team - is going to go home tonight, whether their performance warranted it or not.

Ginny Blackmore put her hand up on twitter. There's a decent replacement for Natalia.

As for Willy Moon .... well, Benny Tipene is around. There's a narrative that you could spin pretty easily, given Benny was the runner-up on X Factor last time. Or how about Neil Finn? He wouldn't do it, I don't think, but Neil Finn interacting with Brendon Thomas and the Vibes would be TV gold.

The golden rule, for me, is don't be a dick.

Why is that so difficult for some people to grasp?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

I'm sorry panko

So, Trish over at has a cookbook challenge, wherein you cook from your cookbooks like, once a month or something.

I went through the cookbooks that I do own, but they're by like ... chefs. I mean, I own a cookbook by Gordon Ramsey. It's nice to look at and all but I'm not auditioning for Masterchef or anything. So, accepting that EVERYTHING EVER in ALL the cookbooks I own is well above my skill level, I naturally turned to pinterest.

I searched chicken recipes that I had saved, that were more like .... do this thing and do that thing, and less .... okay first butcher your organic free range very posh chicken, then butterfly the legs and the wings and ... anyway. You get where I'm going with this.

So I found a recipe for panko-encrusted chicken drumsticks and went "I can make that." THEN I went, "But do I have to buy panko? Isn't that just fancy breadcrumbs for wankers?"

And. Well. Maybe. BUT. Panko is DELICIOUS. It is crunchy and textural and tasty and all good things. I drafted Jeremy to make chips, which he shallow-fried in a frypan and they were also crunchy and delicious.

The panko is full of seasonings like garlic and smoked paprika and parmesan so it's basically a flavour party for your mouth. I did have issues with the timing of the cooking, because I'm an idiot, so next time I'm going to make chicken tenders and use the same crumbing.


I'm on a mission now. A quest, if you like. It may or may not involve cookbooks - likely from the library, but it will certainly (probably) involve pinterest.

Also, chicken.

But probably not Gordon Ramsey. I love you Gordon Ramsey but ... yeah.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

This can only end badly

Jill over at is hosting a Pet Semetary readalong.

Details are here:

I saw the chatter on twitter in passing and thought "hmmmm another readalong. I'm already behind on Harry Potter. I started Pet Semetary once before and didn't finish it .... LET'S DO IT."

This despite the fact that I nope'd out of watching Penny Dreadful when one of the characters snapped a cat's neck to feed a vampire. I mean, I know it wasn't REAL but. Still. I have my limits.

I'm hoping that Pet Semetary is more .... zombie animals rising up and less .... animal torture. Plus, I do love Stephen King. And I DO own the book ... these are terrible reasons but they're also MY reasons so.

I'm, er, I'm in.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

It's Monday

Your meme is hosted by Sheila here:

I've slowed down a bit on my reading, which always seems to happen a bit after the initial head-rush of January. I'm going to try to maintain at about one or two books a week, see how I go.

I finished Bird Box by Josh Malerman yesterday, and liked it quite a lot. It's a fast read, but somewhat sad and very spooky at the same time. Malorie - the only woman left from a household of adults who had gathered together after mysterious events led to people committing horrific acts - has finally gathered her courage to find a better life for herself and her two children. She just has to get down the river without being seen - or, without sight. Good stuff.

I'm about halfway through On the Beach, which is good but is about as uplifting as standing at a bus stop in the rain and the next bus is half an hour away. And it's windy. And there's no shelter. This is getting away from me.

Up next is Order of the Phoenix for Sheila's readalong, which I am well behind on but I persist.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cooking it up

Here's a  great idea, from Trish of - a cookbook challenge.

I am no kind of cook, in any way, shape or form. I have a few basic recipes that I fall back on and that's about it. However, if I do push myself juuuuust that little further, I do enjoy the process.

And, I own cookbooks. I own cookbooks in the same way a magpie might own a diamond ring. It knows that the ring is pretty, but it has no idea what it's for. That's .. pushing the metaphor but I hope you know what I mean. Cookbooks are pretty! They have deceptively attractive layouts! Photos of food! What's not to like?

So. As a non-cook, I own cookbooks. I look at them every day, but I admire them in the same way I admire horses and snakes - very carefully and from a safe distance.

So stumbling over Trish's challenge is sort of perfect. Pet the snake! (Er. Anyway.) I don't want to get carried away with impossible dreams, so my plan is to pick one recipe once a month that I feel I'm capable of. It won't be soon - it'll probably be in a couple of weeks, but I'll take photos of the carnage, er, the results and link up with Trish's monthly .... linking thing.


Bon apetit?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It's Monday

Your meme is hosted by Sheila here:

It's been nearly a month since I did one of these - or blogged at all. I was haing an existential blogging crisis, then I decided to stop that.

Anyway. What am I reading?

I had a pretty decent reading January; getting through about 10 books. The standout read for that month was, I think, Graceling, which I liked very much of a lot.

For this month, so far, I've finished Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and honestly I think it's going to be my favourite read this year. It's so, so, so very good and I wish I had many copies so that I could hand it out to people on the street and earnestly explain why they should read it.

You. You should read it, if you haven't. It's great.

Um. Anyway. I'm still pottering away at Sister Carrie, although I fell well behind on Care's readalong. However, it's a decent lunchtime read and I'm enjoying it, so I persist. Other than that I've picked up On the Beach by Neville Shute. I've never read him, but several of his books came to me via my mother, a few years ago, and this one has been on my radar for a while.

Up next is Order of the Phoenix, because I realised I"m also falling behind on Sheila's readalong, but I shall persist, if not prevail.

What are you reading?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It's Monday

Your meme is hosted by Sheila here:

I had a reasonably productive week, I think. Well. Weekend, anyway. I read Cold Feet by Jay Northcote, a sweet gay romance story about best friends trapped in a Welsh cottage over Christmas. I WONDER WHAT THEY GET UP TO THEN. It was lovely, a nice slice of escapism.

I also finished Parasite by Mira Grant, which I also liked a lot. There was a twist right at the end that made me keen to seek out book two.

Of course, I have Goblet of Fire on the go, and I’m about 100 pages in to that for Sheila’s readalong.

And the lovely Care at is hosting a readalong of a novel called Sister Carrie, which I had never heard of but barged in on anyway. It’s my lunchtime reading on my ipad, and so far, so good.

What are you reading?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Health updates and a cat thing.

As some of you know, I had  a health hiccup in April of 2014. By “health hiccup” I mean I had the period of doom for three weeks and wanted to kick puppies.

I had blood tests and a smear test, and that all came back normal. The lovely doc also wanted me to have a vaginal scan (woo hoo) and that was scheduled for November.

I finally had it last month, and they found …. nothing. Not even fibroids. Just nothing. My body was just messing with me because it could, which. THANKS A LOT.

Though I am grateful that it turned out to be nothing more than a random aberration.

The cat thing. I didn’t talk about this on here, because I wasn’t sure if it would ultimately be worth its own post or not, but one of our cats - Morgana - brown tabby and lapcat extraordinary - went missing. She just … vanished.

I duly called around the vets, and called the SPCA and put an ad on Trade Me but nothing was forthcoming.

Then, one morning, about a week after she went missing, I got up early to go to the loo, and was greeted by some rather frantic meowing. I had to go back to get my glasses because I was 100% sure that was not the meow of any of the cats currently in residence.

I was correct. It was Morgana - brown tabby and lapcat extraordinary - popping up like nothing ever, meowing her face off and demanding cuddles.

A very minor miracle, but I still think of it as fairly miraculous.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's Monday

Your meme is hosted by Sheila here:

Let’s see … I had a reasonably productive reading week last week. It helped that I only worked Monday and Tuesday. Back to “normal” this week.

On Wednesday I went to see The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies and thought it was the best of the three. I still have issues with a 300 page children’s book being turned into three overly long movies, as much as I love The Lord of the Rings movies but THAT ASIDE …. Battle of the Five Armies was pretty good. I also accidentally started shipping Bard and Thranduil, so that was entertaining.

The week before that, I took spawn to see Big Hero 6 on Boxing Day and absolutely recommend it, it was great. Spawn loved it too, and I think it’s the first movie he’s been to that he hasn’t complained about being overly long.

Uh, anyway. Last week, I finished The Miseducation of Cameron Post on iBooks, and it was great. It’s a coming-of-age YA novel about  young girl who’s just lost her parents, and she’s starting to explore her sexuality. When she’s outed, her born-again aunt sends her to a conversion therapy school.

That’s a terrible summary but it’s a great, great read.

I also, finally, finished The Two Towers in the world’s slowest LOTR re-read. I’ve got a bookmark in Return of the King but haven’t cracked it open yet.

Right now, I have  Parasite by Mira Grant on the go, and I’m really enjoying it. I just need to pick something on my iBooks to read at work.

What are you reading?