Monday, 23 November 2015

Book Review: Welcome To Night Vale A Novel

Hi readers, 

I'm becoming more determined to make Mondays the day I post to this blog. I'm not sure why, I guess the routine of doing so? Also, because I'm free on Mondays, it's like the only day I don't have anything else to do, well beside from starting work on getting ahead with short stories for my other blog and catching up with emails. Once, again I've no idea how long this is going to last for as I've all ready got some plans for the new year and I'll be writing more about them sometime in December. For now though, let's look at today's topic. 

Of all the books on my list this year, Night Vale was the one I was most excited about. I've been listening to the podcast for ages and enjoying them, though I often fall behind with them because I really can't do anything whilst I listen to them as I lose concentration with it. I was also lucky enough to go to a live show in Manchester UK with my boyfriend. Strangely, the podcast works on stage very well and it made me more eager to see how a novel would work out.

Firstly, you don't have to have even heard of Night Vale to pick up and read the novel. Of course, being aware of the settings and characters is useful, but the way the novel is written gives you everything you need to understand all of this. Though, if you are looking to find out why Night Vale is so supernatural then you won't find any answers here! Like with the podcast, you have to just accept Night Vale for the surreal unnatural world it is, where anything can and will happen.

The plot focus on two female characters and their search for a very unusual man who is waiting for them in a city that is very difficult to get to. Interjected between the chapters are extracts from the Night Vale radio station (which if you didn't know is how they do the podcast) and as these go along it becomes more apparent how they fit in with main plot. Plus, they are humors snips of life in Night Vale. Along the way are side-plots and themes about family, life, jobs and out of the box solutions. I could so go into a lot more with the plot, but I don't want to spoil it.     

I really connected with the characters and the ending linked them all together which nice to see. Even though the focus is on the main set of about four or five characters, the background ones feel like they have their own issues and aren't just there to be the stereotypical background people. I really hope that some of these characters get their own novels in the future because it'd be interesting to find out more about them. I think that nearly a everyone will be able to connect with a character or more in the novel because many are likable and have realistic problems such as being a parent, a teenager, a mayor etc. 

I did enjoy the narrative, which is linear, though you'd think given Night Vale itself, it wouldn't seem so straight forward, but that does mean that anyone can read it. If you know Night Vale then you might find yourself- as I did- hearing the voice of Cecil as you read, if not it comes over in a friendly, simple, matter of fact tone. The characters dialogue is natural enough and pacy too.  

My favorite part of the novel has to be the visit to the library, just because it's the complete opposite of a normal library. There's still bookshelves and books, but not as we know them to be. Also, the librarians are actually monsters that want to kill people. I really like the idea of the 'normal' being totally flipped and I think that's why Night Vale is so attractive.   

Overall, This novel was great and I loved it. I would say to expect the unexpected if you've just discovered Night Vale and if you're returning then the novel really does feel like an extension of the podcast only longer and more in depth about things. I seriously can't wait for the next one...I hope there's going to be one!  

Monday, 16 November 2015

November Update: Taking Part In NaNoWriMo For The First Time

Hi readers, 

I'm currently ill with a virus and I'd like to say I'm writing this from my bed right now, but I'm not. I'm at my desk, counting down the last hour before I try and head into work, (I keep meaning to write an updated post about that, but haven't had the time) I agreed on Saturday-when I wasn't feeling so bad-to cover someone's shift tonight and I'm in desperate need of the money for Christmas - isn't everyone?- So, I thought I'd take my mind off things and write this post, which I did mean to start on last week, but I've been busy. Also, I know I missed a post last Monday which was meant to be my review of the Night Vale novel, I was in hospital. (nothing serious, just stuff to do with my long term health condition, which I also plan to write a post about soon). 

I this year I decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month. I'm not sure how long I've known about it, maybe only a year or two? The idea behind it is to write 50,000 words of a novel in a month and it's useful if you're writing for the first time or you struggle to fit writing into you daily life or-like me- you just want to write more. There's lots of other reasons too and what I like most about it is that it brings writers of all levels together and gets rid of that whole writers-need-to-be-alone/solitude writer's life myth. Okay, I get many writers need alone time to write, but we also need a lot of support and feedback from other people, not just editors and publishers. 

To be honest that's what I wanted to use NaNoWriMo for; to connect with other writers, look at what they were writing about and how they were doing it. Have I achieved that 16 days into the 30 day time period? Not really...I connect with four people on the first day and haven't spoke to any of them since and the fifth person shouldn't really count as she is an old friend from uni. Though I've read the opening of her novel twice now and given her some well needed feedback. I guess I've not done it because I've been so busy. I've been trying to reach the word count goal every day and failing due to having to write short stories for my blog, working, being ill and struggling to actually write. I know these are things everyone else has been facing too, so why haven't I been able to reach out to others? I really need to change that!

My second goal, though it was impossible from the start was to try and finish my novel. I decided that I wasn't going to start a new one when I had about 30,700 words of Trust and I wanted to do the next six parts for my other blog this month. The first of which will be published this coming Friday. So, far I've written 13, 625 words and that is actually all six parts-since I aim for about 1,200 words per part and the start of the next six parts for December.  (You can read Trust here; ) 

 Below I've got a screen shot my of current stats and yeah, I know the total count is a little bit higher then what I just declared and that's because I might have been cheating just a little. But who can bear to have a empty gap on these kinds of things? I've made up the word count twice now, but it's been over the weekend and today when I've been ill. I struggle to fully focus when I'm like this and feel its' pointless trying to write. So, I've got some catching up to do and I've kinda all ready decided that I'm not going to reach the 50,000 word goal. I'd have to write 2,000 odd words a day, maybe even more to get there now and that's not something I can currently commit to. 

A blogger, I was talking to a few days ago after I'd read his post on the opening week of NaNoWriMo, said it was about 'quantity over quality.' And I agree with that. You are forced to write and to meet the goals, which isn't a bad thing if you are new or struggling, but for me I always do a little editing on the side throughout the writing now, because I find it saves time in the long run and it gets editing clearer in my mind when I actually come to it fully. For me, I'd rather focus on good writing then just spilling everything out on the page and praying it works - though I'm well known for doing that anyway. 

My finally thoughts for now are that I have proven one thing and that is I can get more writing done in a day if I set my mind to it and don't get distracted by other things. I've been able to juggle writing a short story or more (up to four so far) alongside writing a novel. That's the third thing I wanted to get out of this experience really. I overall, I think it comes down to this; the more you put in the more you are going to get out of these types of challenges. So, if you're busy taking part right now or thinking of giving it ago -there's still time, there always is- then good luck and I'll give a final update on my progress at the end of the month. 

Next time; my review of the Night Vale novel.      

Monday, 2 November 2015

Book Review: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Hi Readers,

I thought I'd write a short book review about this novel. I finished it late October, but because I don't want it to be stuck in between my Halloween count down posts, I thought I'd type my thoughts now and post it up in the first week or so of November. It took me awhile to get into reading Bookshop because its really not my kind of thing, but it is really well written and so easy to get into. 

For me, though there wasn't enough grip from the plot and I didn't feel excited to find out how every thing was going to end. The story is set in France, mainly Paris, where the main character Jean owns a bookshop which is on a huge barge boat. He has this strange gift which allows him to fit a book to the mood or requirements of a customer. So, if you were feeling homesick or lonely, he'd have a book for that. I do like that idea. 

Jean has been grieving for twenty odd years over the lost love of his life, who having left only a letter behind her, returned back home to her husband. Jean never opened her letter, until now and reading it helps to make him finally set off to find her. He makes some solid friends on the way - a young writer suddenly thrust into frame by his first bestselling book, an Italian dancer also looking for his lover and two cats. Together they form a good friendship group and learn to be honest with each other. 

The side plot is that Jean is also on a quest to find the writer of his favorite novel. The work got him through the difficult times in his life and now he wants to try and thank the writer. And I won't spoil that for you nor anything else about the plot. As for the characters, I found them interesting and very reflective about their pasts and futures. There wasn't a great deal of tension between them and even at the end when Jean meets up with his lover's husband, where you'd expect there to be an explosion, was more of a flicker. 

My other problem with this book was it's too slow pace and I get that maybe that was done to match the slow journey of the boat and some people will enjoy that, but for me I like action and fast things. I also got bored of the wonderful descriptions of France. There was a lot of time - it felt to me- give up to just the scenery and backgrounds. Normally, I do enjoy a lot of description and close details, but this time I got bored of all the flowers and countryside. 

The book does have some interesting thoughts about wasting you life and trying to live to the full. I did like that message / theme and I can see how that would appeal to an older readership. It didn't move me enough to start looking at how I could life better though. I think the main reason why I actually finished this book was because I only had 150 pages to go and I brought another book I really want to read and that pushed me through the last quarter. 

Overall, I can see some people really enjoying this and getting involved in Jean's journey. I think other people might not bee so keen on it due to the things I've pointed it. Saying that it is an easy and quick read, so it can be worth having a look at.   

Saturday, 31 October 2015


Hi readers and happy Halloween,

I've spent all day being busy sorting stuff out, carving pumpkins and decorating. I'm now finishing writing this and editing it as I wait for the Trick or Treaters. So, firstly my pumpkins. I decided to go with Sparky from Frankenweenie and Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas. They turned out pretty good and I've already had some neighbors and parents really liking them.

I can't believe how long it took me to make them, even though they were simple designs. I watched nearly all of the second season of American Horror Story and I was glad of the distraction because asylums, torture and hospitals are the worse things for me and I can't really watch stuff with those things in them. I've got the last two episodes to watch now, but the setting has mostly moved out of the asylum now. I'm looking forward to watching the third season a lot more now and that's about witches which I'll be fine with. Anyway, here's my pumpkins close up;  

I'm hoping they'll keep the evil spirits away night! I've had 22 trick or treaters so far and I'm out of sweets. I made 20 party bags up and believed I'd have some to left to eat afterwards and now I'm having to give away my person Halloween sweets. I've never had so many kids before, but it's getting a bit later now, so I might have said goodbye to the last of them. 

I also manged to do the lantern from my last post and I'm really happy with it. I decided to not use the black marker to color in the outline as instructed, because it just wasn't working. So, I used my black glitter paint again and I added some purple glitter paint into the inside to give it more sparkle. I've still got another two to do, though they are going to have to wait till another time now. But I'm not too bothered because I'd love it to be Halloween all the time anyway! I'll be posting them up in November now and showing how I got on with them. Then In December, I'm going to do Christmas scene ones. 

In the kitchen yesterday, I made gingerbread ghosts, pumpkins and bats. I used a different recipe to the one I normally use and though they turned out okay, they are far from perfect. I think the problems from my Halloween Count Down part 2 post also effect me and again. They do taste fine, but I wish they looked better. I was tempted to put them in the goodie bags for the kids, but then decided against it due to not being sure if the kids were going to be okay with them and if the gingerbread icing would survive. My last biscuits went down so well and I can only hope these do to. I think next year, I'm so going to stick with the recipes I know work and do turn out really good. Who knows what I'll be up to next year, though?

One thing I always think about at Halloween is how many pumpkins are wasted. I know that sounds like an odd thought, but none of of the pumpkin goes to waste in my house and so tonight I made roasted pumpkin seeds. These are really easy to make! I washed and dried the seeds then added in some brown sugar and cinnamon. I cooked in them in the oven for an hour and half on a low setting. They are a tasty and health snack! Plus they can be added to lots of different dishes too.  

With the rest of the pumpkin the plans are to make my mum's pumpkin pie and a pumpkin soup. With her being away at a party, I've not been able to make those tonight and I've frozen the pumpkin so we can use it when she returns. I'll write about that next week because pumpkin pie is something no one should miss out on!

Here's a photo of all the stuff I got to go in the goodie bags. I was hoping to get some toys and maybe theme stationary too, but none of the shops I went to had anything like that. I just liked the idea better then mixing everything in a bowl and the kids really like them. I think I'll have to look at getting some more next year though because this time has been really busy. That's if I do decided to do it again though. 

I've fond memories of trick or treating with my family and friends or else going to parties and I just like the idea of those memories starting in other people. A part of me does wish I was hosting or going to a party tonight though. Oh, well, maybe next year.... 

I think that decorating the house has to be my second favorite part of Halloween. (Pumpkins come first!) Being home alone and not actually having any plans isn't a great feeling and so to cheer myself up, I took a trip into the attic to find my Halloween decorates, yesterday. I found one box that had some stuff in, but nothing worth getting it and the second box had only my large pot lit up pumpkins, Spider chase lights and a box of parrot lights from my 21st birthday party. I'm really not sure where the rest of my stuff has gone to. There must be another box in the attic or else it's stored under my bed. Anyway, I decided to do what I could, but in handing the pot pumpkins to my mum their cardboard box completely split and she got whacked on the head by them. 

I was a little upset that they both smashed but then more so about my mum. She got a concussion and went into shock. I was really thinking my dad would have to drive her to the hospital or a walk in center. But once she had sat down and didn't feel sick and dizzy any more, she seemed okay. That though led to a small argument with my dad as my parents at that moment were getting ready to go away for the weekend and to a Halloween party with my dad's diving club. I felt pretty bad about the whole thing and my dad moaning about my 'wrong time'. I should be use to that over the years, but once again I had been going through the whole debate about not going into the attic and not decorating the house, but deciding that I really needed to. (This enters into another long story, which I'm hoping to write about at some point in November / December) I was hoping to find some super glue and get them repaired, but I can't find any and I've so not had the time today.

Anyway, here's a photo of the front of my house; 

I was hoping to do a little more decorating, but it rained heavily in the night and everything was soaking wet still. It's not meant to rain tonight, but it's been looking like it might do. I wanted to put my skeleton dog out tied up on the grass with an bowl and a bone, but I got scared someone might steal him. Which I know is a bit of a silly thought to have, but yeah.....issues. Don't think most of the kids would have seen him anyway because the front wall is high. Also, I never found the rest of my decorations.

Lastly, I'm about to burn my favorite candle; Happy Halloween from Yankee Candles. I know I've wrote about this one before, but I just love it so much. I got luckily too because I found it at a really good price on Amazon and after deciding there was a high chance I'd never find one at that price in the future due to them now retiring it and the fact they only released a limited number around Halloween anyway. I've got three of them now and one of which I'll never burn because I'm hoarding it away! Also, the photo isn't mine because my camera has run out of battery.  

Thanks for reading! Please remember to follow and share. Also check out my other blog: and get ready for a new month of stories starting tomorrow. 

Preview for next month;

The Little Paris Bookshop Review 
Welcome To Night Vale, A Novel Review
November Update 

Possible posts:
My long term health problem
Youth Centre work 
Preparing for Christmas  

Monday, 26 October 2015

October Update : Counting Down To Halloween, Part 3

 Hi readers,

I've got a mixture of things to share with you today in the third and finally count down to Halloween post. Kicking off this time are these Halloween lanterns ; I fell in love with them and really wanted to give them ago. As soon as I started buying and gathering everything I needed, I had all these ideas to make different ones. The one above is my practice one as art/drawing/painting is a weak spot for me. I'm so glad I decided to have a practice first because I learnt a lot from it. 

I'm pleased with how it turned out, though I wish I couldn't have got the orange background paint a little bit better. There are lots of different ways to make these lanterns and I guess depending on things you might find one way easier then the others. So, how did I make my practice one? Firstly, I printed out some designs that I found free to use online then I cut them out and arranged them on my clean dry jar. I stuck them to the outside with some tape then got a Sharpie permanent marker and drew around them all. I also drew a bumpy line to connect them all and represent a hilly landscape. Next, I painted in the outlines and the bottom of the jar. I used glitter black paint because I love how the candlelight catches of glitter and it just enchants it a bit more. I put on three coats because the paint was thin and I wanted there to be no leakage of the candlelight. 

I then mixed orange glitter paint with water and placed it inside the jar. I swirled it around and tried to get a good coverage. I was happy with it when it was done and left it to try. An hour later, I noticed that the orange paint and water mix hadn't stuck and had pooled at the bottom of the jar. I swirled it around again and spent time rolling the paint around to try and get it to stick. When I went to bed, I left the jar on it's side and whilst most of the paint had settled, it still hadn't dried. I added more paint, because I think I might have used too much water. I left it to dry and though it turned out a little bit patchy in places, it still looks good enough. 

My other one I made today was this The Nightmare Before Christmas image. The photo is a bit bad and I'm sorry about that, but my other problem was I didn't actually get the spray paint right!   

I sprayed too close and too much and thus really didn't get the right effect I needed. The other jar did spray alongside this one, was to make a lantern using the witch/ moon cat village scene from the above link. However, I used too much was was unable to trace the images through. I don't know what I'm going to do with that jar now, maybe just do like I did with my first one and trace them on the outside? 

However, I please to say that I learned from my mistake and I got another jar, which I'll be using for the scene correct, if not a little under colored, but to be honest after all the troubles I've had with stuff today, I don't mind. I did my two others jars which are actually cookie /kitchen food jars that I brought for £1 in ASDA Homewares, at the same time and got a nice effect on them and their lids. I've this awesome idea all set to do with them. I just ran out of time and I don't want to rush them. 

That's the biggest thing I found out about doing this project; not to rush. I'm really bad at drawing and I think my worries about these turning out how I really wanted them has been playing a big part in my mistakes. Now, I'm going to try and stop thinking about that and just get them finished. I want the two cookie jars to go outside on my front porch area - somewhere! I wish I could but the others in the front window, but that's going to be hard to do as it's a jungle of plants and ornaments. Plus we have colored glass so they won't be easily seen. Hopefully, by Halloween I'll have made them and be able to post them up.   

The other project I completed last week was this one. I made a bat and a ghost out of toilet roll tubes. I thought they'd be a good idea for the kids at the youth center as I went back to work since being off ill last Tuesday. I didn't get a chance to do the activity though as I wanted to take it easy and someone else had already set up a dot-to-dot drawing art for the kids to do. I shall be doing them tomorrow though with my felt pumpkins - see part 1 for them- and I know the kids will love them! 

There's lots of different ways to make these. I didn't follow anyone else's pattern and I just free handed it. I got a cardboard tube and flatted the top part. I then shaped the corners into points for the ears. I covered the whole thing in black tissue paper then drew bat wings and cut them out from the same tissue paper. I stuck them on the sides before adding white and black circles of the eyes. I decided to complete the bat with a strip of red and two white fangs. 

For the ghost, I balled up some white tissue paper and stuck it on the top, before measuring out enough white tissue paper to drape across the tube. I stuck it down at the top with some tape then made some black eyes and mouth, which I taped on too. 

I'm happy with how they turned out and just wish I had enough time to make a witch - I've seen one on Pinterest or maybe a vampire or a pumpkin too. I've seen some spider ones which look pretty good too. They are so easy and simple to make, yet look effective. I also thought about getting some white string or thread and hanging them up. A collection of bats would look nice in the hallway.

Today in the kitchen I made Headstone Biscuits. The recipe for these came with a chocolate moose tray bake graveyard in the third cooking book I own. I made the tray bake three or four years back and it turned out really well. However, I like making the gravestones more! These turned out so good and am way pleased with them. They are a vanilla butter biscuit with a hint of ginger and cinnamon, which I added myself. I spent awhile decorating them too and thinking about what to put on them. I don't think they are going to last very long around here though! My parents have been sneaky eating them since I told them they were like my test run and not for any purpose. 

I've got two other recipes for gingerbread Halloween shapes to try later on now. I'll be writing about them in my Halloween post. Hopefully, I'll get time to make at least one of them, because I've signed up to be a stand in member of staff at work over the half-term holidays, so I might get called in. I so need the money for Christmas and to put towards a car. Anyway, moving on.   

Of course, my candles this week have to be Yankee Halloween ones! I'm still annoyed that there's only the choice of two this year; Witches Brew or Candy Corn. I do like the smell of the Witches Brew as it's just patchouli, which is dark and spicy but not overpowering. The Candy Corn on the other hand isn't sweet enough for me, nor does it fill the room and linger like the Witches Brew and other scents do. I really hope next year Yankee brings out some new candles and/or works on improving the smell. I'm loving my new pumpkin wax tart melter though! The whole range can be found here;

Comparing these candles to the set I brought off Amazon, I do have to admit that I was more impressed with them. I like the mixture of smells and the different choice I can pick through. I'm burning the purple Witching Hour again, mainly because it was already in my white wax melter. It smells like patchouli, cinnamon and jasmine, though I know there's a few other things too. I've still not tried Witches Brew, Tricks or Treats and Mulled Cider. I'm sure I'll have time before Halloween though. Here's the link if you are interested and please read count down part one for more information.

This week I'm writing my novella Trust. The six parts will cover everyday (starting yesterday and ending Friday) expect Halloween, on which there'll be a Halloween night themed story. Trust is the story of newly made vampire Fern and her maker/lover Brook. It's about Fern's changing and growth as a vampire. It's also about the conflict between other vampires and the challenges they have to face in 2015. 

These next parts -19 to 24- are about the arrival of another vampire, who Fern and Brook have already had a brush with. Fern seems to be falling in love with this other vampire, but has Brook become too distracted trying to defend his home/territory to notice Fern's wondering attention? 

If that's got you as interested as it has me, you can find the full listings here;

I finished reading The Little Paris Bookshop last Wednesday and I've written a small review to be published sometime in November. I also re-broke my not buying any books promise. It's a bit too late anyway as I've brought about 12 books, which for me is actually good because it should be double or triple that really. I brought The Welcome To Night Vale novel and I'm so into reading it right now. I've posted about Night Vale before, but here's the link to them on YouTube anyway. It really is worth checking out; I'm sure I'll be reviewing it as soon as I'm done! 

Lastly, I brought two pumpkins at the weekend, sorry there's no photo of them, there was meant to be one but they are currently being stored in my mum's car and I forgot to take a photo and now it's too late. But I'll do one before I get carving them. I've still not decided what to carve actually. I wanted to do a wolf but then saw I'd done that last year. I also wanted to do something that children would recognize, like with my 2013 Minecraft pumpkin. I was thinking of a Disney character, but I'm not that big a fan of anything Disney or animation to motivate me enough. I did think about doing a vampire because I've never done one of them, but I've yet to find a design I like. It'd be interesting to do a matching or connecting pair of something though. I'm sure more research would give me more inspiration and now I've got the pumpkins I can really start doing that. 

Thanks for reading, feel free to leave comments and check out my other blog. I'll be posting next on Halloween night and putting up lots of more photos, so be sure to come back then.    

Links To Me;

Photos; My own. 
(The Frankenstein lantern stared in last week's post, but I got a better a photo of it to share today; )

Monday, 19 October 2015

October Update : Counting Down To Halloween, Part 2

Hi readers,

So, Halloween is nearly here (12 days) what have I spent the last week doing? Well, shopping, baking, writing and sleeping! Also, planning where to put decorations and doing a practice Jack 'O Lantern! (It's the above photo, btw) And this next week it's looking like more of the same things, though I'm returning back to work and I need to sort my last driving lesson out, but more on that next time. 

Okay, so firstly and because I need to get this out of the way, let's talk about my baking 'disasters'. My mum really wanted to make a dinner meal out of a pumpkin and though we had found a few different recipes, I decided to make a lasagna. Normally, it's a dish I can make from scratch or tins/jars etc and it turns out fine. This one; turned out okay, but it so needed more flavor and it took twice as long as I thought it was going to. 

I'm not sure what happened, but I do know that having to sort out the pumpkin took up sometime and the fact that my oven is broken. That never helps anything, but we get by. My parents expecting it to be done when they came home and not having to wait two hours, got me a bit stressed out too. I wasn't that big a fan of the texture of it either and there wasn't enough sauce. (I'm a big fan of sauce) I think this will be a recipe I might not be returning to. To be honest the lasagna wasn't a disaster, these however were; 

So, these didn't turn out, but I should be grateful that they taste okay. I've made pumpkin muffins before, but when I saw this recipe I really liked it. Here;
Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the recipe, it's just that I didn't get it right. I've a number of reasons; 

1. I don't think my oven was hot enough nor did it stay at the right heat. 
2. I really should have tried to get more water out of the fresh pumpkin because the muffins were soggy and sank. 
3. I didn't adjust for the use of my silicone mold and I probably put too much muffin mixture in.
4. I accidentally tipped too much cinnamon into the frosting. (I love cinnamon, so that doesn't bother me, but I don't know how that effected the overall taste of the topping.)
5. Piping icing and me just don't see eye to eye, but knifes to the rescue! 
6. I ran out of time baking and decorating them, due to other things I had to get done.  

Really, it's a good job that my boyfriend isn't big on sweets nor baking, because I was kinda making them with him in mind -since he stayed the weekend- but I knew he might not like the cream cheese or the pumpkin. My parents, well my mum, grabbed two (without frosting and just out of the oven) as they were leaving to go to Scotland for the weekend. Their verdict; they were okay but weren't right. My verdict is that if the above list hadn't happened or was less then they'd have turned out better. They are still edible though, but in future I'll be sticking with my normal recipe.

Moving on to something I did get right, though it's not baking -thank goodness- are these pretty cool tissue paper jar lanterns.  

You can find how to make them here; but all you need really is some tissue paper, empty washed jars and some fake or real tealight candles. Then you just cut the tissue paper into strips, glue on to jar and put the candle in. Remember not to put the lid back on if you use a real candle though! I made Frankenstein and a vampire. There was also a ghost and pumpkin, but I have enough decorations of those already and liked the idea of bring more different colors - greens and purples in.

I'm not sure where I'm going to put these yet. I was hoping outside on my front wall, but I'd need to get more fake candles for them as the ones I used to take the photo have already been claimed by another project. Still, they look good just on my bookcase and though the photo doesn't give the lit effect well, they did turn out good and were super fast to make.

At the same time as preparing these jars, I did the others for my next lantern project. This one is more difficult and needs more time, but hopefully I'll try and start them next week ready for maybe next Monday's post? Though I shall be doing one on Halloween night anyway. I'm not sure about timings of things right now, but I do know that due to what I want to do with this next project it's going to take a good few days. Also, I'm still waiting for one item to arrive from Amazon.

I've got two more projects on my list at the minute too. Either are related to Halloween though, so have the moment been put on hold. The first is to finish off making small items for my mum's Christmas advent calendar bag. (I know Christmas stuff once again!) but I need it ready by December first and it does seem to be coming fast. I've got like three or four things on the list to make. Got the patterns and stuff ready, just need to find the time and mood to sew. I'll be posting more about that come November/December. Though I'll have to let my mum know not to read my blog! -she sometimes does and there's nothing wrong with that.

My second project is that I've loved the canvas painted button trees for ages and finally I found a YouTube video of someone making one and saw how easy they were to do. For all my creativity and skills, drawing/painting really isn't one. But now I've seen how to physically make it, it's not that hard and I can make to easier if I need to. So, I brought my first ever canvas -granted it was on sale at a discount art/book shop, but it was the right size and price. I got purple and pink paints for the background at the same time. I have a ton of buttons brought for sewing, but they'll now come in use to make the autumn leaves for my tree. I'm so excited and I'm going to do a post all about it next month.  

If you're looking for some Halloween inspiration for your own D.Y.I projects, check out my Pinterest board as there's lots of stuff currently on there; It'd be awesome to hear about your projects too, so please take the time to leave comments and links below. I love chatting and reply to everyone.

Oh and please check out my other blog 'The Story Files' linked below, I've got a longer short story up at the moment which concludes tomorrow, but you can still read it all. The stories are all Halloween themed and there is something for everyone on there.

That's all for this week, thanks for reading!

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All photos; my own. 

Monday, 12 October 2015

October Update : Counting Down To Halloween


Hi readers,

My favorite time of year has rolled back around and now its' 19 days till Halloween! I'm so excited and have already done nearly all of my shopping. I've got some new decorations - black fabric, lights and a banner for my front door/garden. I've been making things and I got them to show you today! Also, planning out my baking, deciding my costume (I'm staying at home again this year, hopefully with my boyfriend coming to stay the weekend) and researching what design to carve on my pumpkins. The only thing left on the list is to get stuff for the trick-or-treaters. I'm torn between making goodie bags and just putting a random mix of sweets/candy into a bowl. 

There's a few other things I've got to do too; one of them is craft project, which I'll be including in my actually Halloween post. The other is to hunt down the Happy Halloween candle by Yankee candles. I've got two at the minute, but I found out a few weeks back that its' now been officially retried and getting hold of one is like panning for gold. I'm hoping the shop I got my last two from have got one in, but if not I won't be getting one this year. Tidying my house and decorating are of course on that list too. 

So, whilst I seem in a bit of a writing block today, I thought I'd do this post and get myself in the mode of writing. I've got the story and the ideas in my head, but for whatever reason I can't seem to put it down in physical form. That sounds kinda weird, because you'd think you'd just type or write the words and that'd be that. But it's the art of conveying what it's in my head which is the issue. For some reason the right words and the structure don't seem to want to come. There's not much that can be done other then to write through and just try to edit things later. I'll be doing that tonight after eating homemade stew and dumplings! 

That's the other thing I love about autumn, I get to eat all my favorite foods like stews, pies and soups. There's just something so wonderful about getting home from walking my dog in the woods or else having been wrapped up in writing for a few hours and tucking into a hot, filling meal. Speaking of which here's a photo of the chicken, leek and mushroom pie I made last week: 

It took me about two hours all together, but I'm way pleased with how it turned out and it tasted so nice. Everyone enjoyed it and I had the leftovers for lunch which tasted twice as good! I've added this recipe - it was actually a free leaflet in a supermarket that I picked up - to the recipe folder to be used again. I'll be putting up some more baking stuff on my Halloween post as I've got a list of savory and sweet things to make. And I digressed from what I set out to write..... 

Okay, so I'm huge on making things for Halloween, just in case you didn't already know that and Pinterest is my awesome place for discovering things and putting them all in one place. A few weeks back I was looking at some craft ideas for the Youth Centre children to have a go at and I found the pattern for a soft toy/plushie bat. Well, my mum has been helping my dad make his Halloween costume and has had the large sewing machine out, so I thought I'd ask her to help me make the bat. I'm good at sewing and using the machine, but her expert skills are just so useful and the fact that her sewing machine never seems to want to work for me. So here he is:

He is just so cute and looks cool sat on my desk, though I'm tempted to snug him in bed. He's big and fluffy, just what I wanted and he turned out so great. I did think about making some smaller friends, but I'm running low on fabric right now. I've included the link to the website were the pattern and instructions are below. He just makes the perfect Halloween companion and I'm sure kids will just love him, though he's a bit complicated and time consuming for the kids at the youth club to make. 

Instead, I'm going to get them to make these cute felt pumpkins! 

Once again I've included the link below, these are just so easy and quick to make. I added the faces and leaves on and put them in basket as a center piece. I also put some dried mix spices/pumpkin spices in the orange pumpkin on the right and some dried lavender into the purple one at the back -which I just noticed you can't really see.- They do smell nice and I think they'd also make nice little gifts. As decorations they look awesome and I'm half tempted to make some more, but I'd have to buy some more orange felt because I'm almost all out. I'm sure the young people at the youth club will enjoy making them!  

That's currently were I'm up to with Halloween stuff. Like I said before I'll be posting some more stuff next week (depending on things) and then on or just before 31st. Watch this space for all of that! So, now it's time for this month's updates! 

The novel I'm reading at the minute is:

My mum give this book after she had read it and it was actually a gift given to her by a friend to read on her canal boat holiday with my dad last month. She enjoyed reading it and suggested I give it a try, even though she knew it wasn't my normal subject/theme. I've read 50 pages and though I'm getting into it and do find it interesting, I'm not sure there's enough for me to want to actual finish reading it. Which does say a lot about me, because I hardly ever finish reading a book. My mum does say it gets better, so I'm hoping to stick with it. I'll probably do a review when I'm done, so I won't write any more about that now. 

Currently writing: short stories. I'm busy battling my way through writing horror/supernatural/Halloween themed stories for my blog. I had put up a request for submissions throughout last month, but had no luck, beside from an old uni friend helping me out when I was mega ill two weeks ago. So, yeah, luckily I got a few ideas and lots of inspiration, but I keep hoping that I'll open my emails and see that someone has submitted a story to me. I just think I'd be nice to hear other peoples' voices etc on my blog for a change and it'll help bring more people in. (Link is below if you're interested) 

Currently Listening to: I'm still getting through all the new album releases of September and the ones I missed. So, I've still got 5FDP, BFMV, Disturbed and Kamelot high on my music list. I've also been listening to Halloween themed music and my natural sounds still. I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos too, including episodes of The Addams Family and The Munsters. I'm also going to watch some of The Dinosaurs TV episodes too, does anyone remember that show? I was addicted as a kid! 

Candle scent of the month: This is also my favorite time for candles too! Normally, I'm burning Yankee wax tarts and picking Autumn smelling ones. But this year I decided to have a look online and I found these on Amazon and thought I'd give them ago. It was worth taking the risk, because they are really great scents and I love the Pumpkin Crunch Cake one. Right now I'm burning the Witching Hour and I'm looking forward to the Tricks or Treats soon.    

Lastly, though I know this is boarding on Christmas, I just wanted to share with you the knitting my mum has done recently. She got the patterns and the wool in her knitting magazine and after some begging so made them for me. They are so cute and set on my computer desk. I pick them up and give them a hug when I start to feel stressed and/or worried. The next thing on her needles is a werewolf! I can't wait to meet him. 

Thanks for reading and good luck in whatever Halloween activities you're up to. Here's my bat and pumpkins once more! 

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