Crafty Update

After feeling like I never get anywhere with my crafts I actually have some things to show you all.img_4418

It was one of my best friends birthdays this week. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

I was going to show you her present but I’m not sure its gotten to her yet and I don’t want to spoil it. Sending things to the other side of the world takes a lot longer than I would like. But I can show you the card I made her.

It’s probably the most complicated card that I have designed and made since starting this card making lark. But I’m really pleased with how it came out and I hope she loves the punnyness and its random harry potter reference. Owls are awesome.

(edit: It had gotten to her! Yay! So here it is.

It’s the first time I’ve ever really made anything with my sewing machine and the first time I’ve followed a pattern. I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I used scissors to cut the pieces of fabric and made quite a hatchet job of it meaning the seams probably aren’t great as its difficult to seam straight when the edges aren’t straight!

It’s ridiculously hard to get a good picture of a bag. There’s a little pocket inside, the bottom is boxed and it’s fully lined in the pale butterfly fabric. )
I’ve made a little progress on my mums lap blanket. It’s going to be a Christmas present so hopefully I’ll have plenty of time to finish it. I am starting to worry I’m going to run out of some of the colours before the end as I’m using up stash yarn for this. But if some of the colours get a little more sparse by the end then I’ll just say its a design feature.

img_4585It’s working up quite quickly which is such a change from my Tunisian blanket. I know this is a hell of a lot smaller but still, I’m pleasantly surprised. Maybe I should make more lap blankets! I don’t manage much crochet nowadays as there is so many different things I’m doing but this is nice a relaxing. I don’t have to think about it as the pattern is really easy so whenever I have a magical day where I’m not doing anything else I’ll do a few rows of this.

I’ve also been focusing on trying to get some more cards up in my online shops. This is a pack of 3 greetings cards for £4. The vinyl is a really lovely glossy gold which I’m not sure I’m doing justice in the photos.

I’ve been working on Christmassy things. Tags and cards. Which are also up in my shops. I’m sure I’ll be adding some more Christmas cards too as we get nearer but I can’t guarantee it as I have presents to make as well.

So as for the actual shops. I’m on etsy at Blue Gecko Crafts so if you have an etsy account you should check me out there and favourite the shop if you want to see new stuff going up (or simply to support me and I’ll love you forever).

My other online shop is at Conscious Crafties.

Conscious crafties is a selling platform for people who live with chronic illnesses, disabilities or carers of those who do. So by buying something through there you’ll not only be supporting me but the community too. You don’t have to sign up or anything so if you don’t have an etsy account this one will be easier for you.img_4510

There are a handful of cross stitch designs up on my etsy shop as well. All of the designs I’ve been stitching in my stitchalong posts this year are my own designs and are up there, including my latest one. I have lots of designs planned but these are slower to go up as I want to test each design myself to make sure there are no mistakes and it takes me quite a long time to cross stitch things due to illness. These will all be available through conscious crafties soon but I haven’t gotten around to it yet as the process for selling digital items isn’t as clear cut.

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Guest Posts, Spending Sprees and Chocolate

I want to start by mentioning that I’ve done a guest post over on THIS blog. It was really fun to do and if you wanna know about me, my crafts, my writing, my favourite books then your should check it out. It was really fun to write and while you’re there you should take a gander around the rest of the blog.

Before I go on to tell you about my spending spree (which I guess I’m trying to avoid talking about) I wanted to mention a discovery that I’ve had recently. It involves chocolate bars. More specifically, an amazing one called a Moro bar. Now I was in love with these as a child. My aunt from Ireland always use to send us them because they don’t sell them in the UK. One of the many things I’m annoyed about (ice cream sandwiches anyone?). But the other week (after well over a decade) I found out that apparently there is an equivalent, it’s just branded differently.SONY DSCEnter Boost.

So obviously, I immediately sent out my dad to buy me one. He came back with a pack of mini boosts but these weren’t very good. (Are mini versions ever as nice?) The proportions were all off. I even ate one that had no biscuit in at all! So while it was technically the same thing as a Moro bar I couldn’t tell if it was as good.

I’ve finally had a full sized Boost bar (okay so I had half as I split it with my dad) and I can say it is the same thing. But, my verdict is that it’s not as nice because Irish chocolate is just nicer.


Right, enough avoiding.

Do you ever get those weeks where you just want to buy everything? Well I had one of those weeks last week and unfortunately I wasn’t very good. It started by my new foray into using vinyl in card making. I decided to try a new brand of vinyl that was better value than the sample pack that I’d been using till now. wp_20161007_15_24_45_proUnfortunately, after I’d gotten some black vinyl I thought wouldn’t it be great if I could get gold. And oooh, Green and red would be good for Christmas stuff too….

Well it turned out they had 20% off if I bought three rolls so that’s what I did. Whoops. But no, it didn’t stop there. I decided now would be a good time to buy more thick card to make my new Christmas ideas with. So that order went in as well. I’ve spent too much money this month and I’m probably going to need to buy some more cross stitch stuff soon too. Oh and some batting for my quilting…and some more fabric for a christmas present…. eeek.

Hopefully I’ll at least have some lovely new Christmas cards and Christmas tags going up in my shop over the next few days.

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It’s finally time to eat some cake

It’s time for our stitchalongs three week post and I have a finished piece to show!

Get the cake out:IMG_4431.JPGI’m going to be having some yummy lemon cake I think. How about the rest of you? What’s your favourite cake?

It’s obviously not washed or ironed yet as you can see where its just come out of the hoop but I only just finished this one.

I really loved stitching on this fabric. It’s a lovely colour and it was 16 count so no tiny holes to make my eyes go square!

As for what’s next, well. I said last time I had no idea what I was going to do but thankfully that’s cleared up. I saw someone (I have no recollection who I’m afraid) post about a biscornu pin cushion they had stitched together a couple of weeks ago. So rather than finish one of the 5 designs I have on the go I decided to start a new one for a pin cushion, which is just what I need as I’ve started using my sewing machine and at the moment I’m using a cheap ball of yarn as a pin cushion.

It was really quick to design and its ready to get stitched. It’s harry potter themed, because why not? (which brings me to another question actually, where do you stand on selling copyright stuff? I’ve always stayed away from designing anything that isn’t public domain. But one search on etsy brings up hundreds of harry potter cross stitch patterns for sale which tells me no one else bothers with this.)

I just have to decide which fabric I’m going to use. I’ve never made anything 3D before so this should be interesting. Hopefully it goes well.

Here’s everyone else who is taking part in the Sal. They should have loads of great stitchy posts up today too that you can check out. We also have a new member, Margaret. Hi!

Avis / Claire / Gun / Carole / Kate  / Wendy / Lucyanne / Sue / Constanze / Debbie / Christina / Kathy / Susan / Margaret


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Top Ten Tuesday

The crafty blog post that I had planned for today has been waylaid by, among other things, a doctors appointment, so instead here’s a bookish post.full

Top Ten Tuesdays is a book tag hosted over at The Broke and The Bookish.

The theme this week is top ten books you’ve read because they’ve been recommended to you.

So this post has some books that have been specifically recommended to me (i.e people have handed them to me and said read this), books that have been recommended by people online (whether I’ve seen them on peoples blogs or on forum rec posts) or, and I was grasping at straws a bit trying to get to ten, books that have just been everywhere and therefore I’m saying the world and society at large recommended them to me.

So without further ado:

Superpowers by David J Schwartz

I’m starting with this one because this is the earliest book that I can remember someone recommending to me. It was about 6 years ago (I’m a very fussy reader so people tended to not bother trying to get me to read things), my brother returned home from his gap year in Thailand/China/that part of the world and gave me, a rather battered, copy of this book saying he’d read it and thought I’d like it. I do remember liking it. Though I don’t know how much as it was before I was really keeping track of books. Basic premise: A group of collage kids drink a load of craft beer and wake up the next day with superpowers rather than hangovers.


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Skipping forward to the present day. I wasn’t really expecting to read this book, well not this year anyway as I wasn’t that excited about it (well not excited enough to spend £10 on an ebook). But a fellow potterhead sent me their copy so we could talk about it. (*raises butterbear* – Cheers)


The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

So I saw this one over on bluchickennijas blog. I haven’t really read that many books recommended by other book bloggers. I guess because I’ve only recently started to follow more people in this community. They are starting to add up on my TBR list though so I’m sure that’ll change soon. I really enjoyed reading this one.


The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Nail Gaiman

I’ve read a couple of Neil gaiman books before (and listened, the radio plays of his books are amazing, totally go and listen to Neverwhere if you haven’t already. I’m really looking forward to Stardust) but this one hadn’t really been on my radar much until my dad started reading it. He gave it to me to read after him or, well, I took it but I did wait until he had finished first!


The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

On my brief stint on reddit (I can’t remember my login and I don’t have enough time in the day anyway) I was following a fantasy book reddit and this book came up all the time (as well as pretty much every book Sanderson had written). I’m counting that as recommendation by whole forum and I decided this one was most to my liking. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. There were scenes in it that really Killed me but large swathes of it that didn’t live up to my expectations. Which is a shame because a couple of years on I’m still reeling from some of the feels the good bits gave me (Are they good bits if they hurt?).


Eragon by Christopher Paolini

This was vaguely recommended to me by the internet at large. It seems like every time it comes up people rave about it. They shout about how bad the film was and how everyone should read the book because it was so much better.(They also shout about how it’s a complete rip off of Tolkien and Star Wars but I really don’t care about that) So I did read it. And yes, it is better than the book but…. Eh. It was alright. But I haven’t bothered with the rest of the series.


Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden

So this was recommended to me by my Aussie best friend. It’s a post apocalyptic/WW3 childrens/YA book set in Australia. Which was an interesting take on it as I don’t think I’ve read any of these kinds of books set anywhere other than the UK or the US. I liked it, I kind of wish I’d read it when I was younger as it is right up teenage me’s ally. As it was I enjoyed it. But I haven’t gotten around to reading the rest of the series yet. I’m sure I would have gobbled it up when I was younger.


The 100 by Kass Morgan

You can be recommended something by a TV show trailer, right? The 100 was on my radar and then I found out it was going to imminently become a TV show so I whipped it out right quick and gave it a read. Unfortunately some of the characters got on my nerves way too much and I never read the rest. (Likewise, I really didn’t like the show. Oh well.)


The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

So I mentioned previously that I’m really difficult to buy books for. It doesn’t tend to happen all that much. And even less of them are successful even to the stage where I’ll give them a go. My parents bought me this book for Christmas a couple of years ago and I was actually pretty surprised (sorry parents, my fault not yours) that it sounded awesome and I was looking forward to reading it. I read it. And I’m still mad at this book. This had so much potential and then it went all lovey dovey Stockholm syndrome on me. I should give The Mime Order (the next book in the series) a go purely on the small chance it gets back to the potential it had but….I haven’t. At least not yet.


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Okay so another vague one here for number ten. But seriously, everywhere recommended this to me. It was one of those books where you couldn’t turn without seeing something about it. Whether it was a photo edit or quote or a lovely pic of the cover. Every time I went on goodreads or Amazon it would come up in my recommended, other people who liked this liked, other things you may like…. So on and so on until at last, after I don’t know how many times of ignoring it (on principle you see, I don’t like things being shoved down my throat) I finally gave it a go and Holy Cat. I had to keep putting the book down because I think I was actually in pain from how much I loved it. (My review of this book is here)


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Quilting Questions

I’ve wanted to give quilting a go for so long but its always been something that’s not been possible. Whether because of time, money, or mainly because of my illness but I’m at a stage now where I might actually manage a little

I’ve seen some great tutorials for quilt-as-you-go so I wouldn’t have to try and work on anything unmanageable which had definitely given me the motivation to give this a go.

My sewing machine is out, it has a quilting plate to cover the runners, I don’t have a free motion quilting foot yet (will have to figure out what machine I have and get one) but will look into it.

I’m planning on trying to make some placemats (maybe even a table runner) to begin with. Don’t want to jump in the deep end with a full sized quilt and I don’t know anyone with a baby!

I think they’ll be good projects to practice piecing and quilting.

But my main question is: Batting.

It all looks very confusing and I have no idea where to start. I’ve read that you shouldn’t use polyester batting for hot stuff because it will melt and stuff. But other than that what batting should I be getting? I guess I need some kind of heat resistant stuff because hot plates and pots will be placed on them. If you have any specific brands and recommendations that’ll be great.

The top material doesn’t have to be anything special to resist the heat, does it? Plain cotton is fine?


A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I wanted to get a rotary cutter to make cutting the material as ready as possible. I got one, and a cutting mat too. I ended up going for the fiskars even though a lot of you suggested olfa. But I couldn’t find one with a hand guard and I think that might be important for my foggy head and weak arms. If I don’t get on with this one then I’ll definitely go for an olfa next, maybe as a Christmas present but we’ll see. The cutting mat is A2 and it’s slightly bigger than my table but fits well enough.

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Memo Pad: Book Reviews


I’ve been reading quite a lot of short books recently which has meant that I’ve gotten through quite a few in the last couple of months. Having reached four books this month I decided to combat that by tackling the longest book wallowing unread on my kindle. That prize goes to Malice by John Gwynne. It comes in at 672 pages which is the equivalent of the last three books on this review post put together (actually it’s over a hundred pages more than those books put together). I haven’t finished it yet so you can see what I think of it next month….hopefully!

Read: 4

The Hand of Raziel (Daughter of Mars #1) by Matthew S. Cox *****

Risa Black will decide the fate of an entire planet. After all, an angel told her so.

Orphaned young, she grows up among the resistance, fighting to give the people of Mars command of their own destiny. Two governments from Earth vie for control of the Red Planet; she wants them gone, regardless of how many explosives it takes.

To the outside world, she’s an emotionless, broken marionette. Inside, her father’s fiery end haunts her every waking moment. She never cared for destiny or politics, until the angel Raziel focused her anger. Whenever her adrenaline wears off, guilt at what her bombs did cuts deep, as does the apathy of the citizens she wants to liberate. Torn between duty and desire, she learns change never comes without loss.

Even to the Hand of Raziel.

The plot and action was very exciting. World building: brilliant (maybe too brilliant. I don’t really need to know that she sat upon the deflector plate of an ancient air scrubber and leaned her check against the warm plastisteel strut connecting the corner to a hydraulic actuator).

Unfortunately the writing lets it down, especially in the first part of the book.

I found the switch between third person (which most of the book is) to first person thoughts pretty jarring and I also felt that it was mostly needless. There are large swathes of the book written only in third person and it’s obvious from these parts that the author doesn’t need to switch narrative to explain what Risa is feeling. I wish he hadn’t.

Characters are all over the place in the first half of the book and not in a emotional/erratic way but in an I don’t understand these characters way. Which brings me back to the writing. Some of the dialog tags just didn’t make sense with what the characters should be doing. They did get much better as the book went on and with the building action I did enjoy reading this book.

If you like sci-fi with brilliantly built in depth worlds then read this book. If you like character driven books with a well thought out and portrayed protagonist then maybe give it a miss.


Prince Charming Must Die (The Grimm Chronicles #1) by Isabella Fontaine and Ken Brosky *****

On the eve of her 18th birthday, high school junior Alice Goodenough feels on top of the world. Classes are almost finished. She’s about to start her summer job at the local library, where she’ll be surrounded by all of her favorite books. And she has a wonderful boyfriend.

Then the rabbit shows up. The giant talking rabbit. He has a message:
200 years ago, the Brothers Grimm unleashed their stories upon the world.

With the help of a magic pen and paper, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm brought all of their characters to life. The world was a more magical place … for a time. Cinderella found her prince. Briar Rose’s spell was broken. The dancing princesses spent their nights hidden away in a secret underground city. The old miller’s boy found true love. Then, slowly, the Grimms’ characters began to change for the worse. They became Corrupted. Evil. They didn’t belong in our world, but it was too late for the Brothers Grimm to destroy them.

Only a hero can save the day. Every generation for the past 200 years, a hero has been chosen to fight the Corrupted and rid the world of the Grimms’ fairy tales. To her horror, Alice has been chosen as the next hero. As her 18th birthday nears, she begins to realize life is never going back to normal. As for her boyfriend, Edward … well, he might be hiding a terrible secret.

That sounds like a pretty cool idea, right? I was expecting this to be a solid three stars but I was a bit disappointed.

The main character is billed as smart and strong like Buffy the vampire slayer. Unfortunately, she didn’t really come off as such. I think my main gripe was how we were told what every single person was wearing in every scene. Now, this is a teenage girl, and it could very well be that she’s the kind of person that notices that kind of thing but it got pretty annoying. I wanted more plot.

They are mini books for younger readers (this one only took me a couple of hours from start to finish) and I’m probably going to read at least the next one to see if the character evolves much and if the books get better as I got this as set.

I am intrigued to see how the other characters from the Grimm stories go bad.


Flux (Ennek Trilogy #2) by Kim Fielding *****

Ennek, the son of Praesidium’s Chief, has rescued Miner from a terrible fate: suspension in a dreamless frozen state called Stasis, the punishment for traitors. As the two men flee Praesidium by sea, their adventures are only beginning. Although they may be free from the tyranny of their homeland, new difficulties await them as Miner faces the continuing consequences of his slavery and Ennek struggles with controlling his newfound powers as a wizard.

Now fugitives, Ennek and Miner encounter challenges both human and magical as they explore new lands and their deepening relationship with each other.

This was a 3.5 out of 5 but I’m going up instead of down purely because of the improvement from the first book in the series. I really didn’t like it that much (you can see my review of it here) but I already had the second book so gave it a go.

I’m really glad I read this book. Ennek and Miner grow so much as characters. I found them extremely passive and a bit bland in the first book but they come into their own here. They both bring something to the story and are on a much more equal footing than in the first book. The other characters and cultures we meet along the way are also great.

I’ll be picking up the last book in this series. Maybe that one will be even better. It makes a nice change from books getting worse as series go on!


Fall Far From The Tree by Amy McNulty *****

Terror. Callousness. Denial. Rebellion. How the four teenage children of leaders in the duchy and the neighboring empire of Hanaobi choose to adapt to their nefarious parents’ whims is a matter of survival.

Rohesia, daughter of the duke.

Fastello the son of the “king” of the raiders.

Cateline, an orphan raised by a convent of mothers.

Kojiro, new heir to the Hanaobi empire.

When the paths of these four young adults cross, they must rely on one another for survival—but the love of even a malevolent guardian is hard to leave behind.

I wanted to give this book a higher rating. The characters and the world drew me in. But we just aren’t given enough of any of it. This book is short. It’d be short for any story but to try to tell four different characters POVs in a pretty in-depth world with different cultures and religions…. It was just too short. I wish there had been more if it, as it is, I was in the middle of the climax before I’d even gotten settled down. The characters are beautifully imagined and each had a very distinct personality but there were so many possibilities for great scenes that just got jumped over. It felt like as soon as we got to know the characters we were almost at the end of the book.

I would love to read a book 2 though. And hopefully we’ll stick with the characters a bit more and see where they go next.


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Stitchalong Update


I’ve managed to get quite a bit done since I last shared an update. Here’s where I was last time and where I am now.WP_20160825_21_21_42_ProIMG_4413.JPGI said that I wanted to aim to get the top right part finished and I managed that and a little bit more on the left side too.

I might even finish it by the next update. We’ll see.

Someone pointed out last time that Ake was a name so I just want to add a disclaimer: Do NOT eat Ake.


I currently have no idea what I’ll be doing next because I have about 5 designs in very early stages and none of them are going to be ready to stitch any time soon. I get distracted by new ideas too easily. I feel like I’ve been delaying finishing this one and doing other things instead so I have more time.

These are the other people taking part in our stitchalong. You should check out their blogs and see what projects they very up to.

Avis / Claire / Gun / Carole / Kate  / Wendy / Lucyanne / Sue / Constanze / Debbie / Christina / Kathy / Susan

We post every three weeks and ate always open to having new members join. It’s a great way to stay motivated.

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