The Peculiars // Maureen Doyle McQuerry...

Before I jump into this review, small story. I actually first discovered this book a few years ago, when I had found it as a free eBook download. I had downloaded it, even though I didn't have a Kindle or any form of reader other than my computer, and remember opening it, and reading the first little bit. But then it was such a pain to read it on my laptop, so I stopped, keeping it in a folder somewhere on my computer to be forgotten about. But then I was in the library the other day (okay...so the other month...my library books may be overdue) and I spotted it and it seemed super familiar. When I realised that I actually had started out before to read this book, I was excited that I had actually found a hard copy of it. So much easier than staring at my computer screen.

Anyway! The Peculiars, by Maureen Doyle McQuerry is an awesome book. Set in a slightly alternative late 1800s, it tells the story of Lena, a girl of 18 who leaves her home that she shares with her mother and grandmother, and sets off towards Knob Knoster, the last town before the border into Scree. Lena wants to find her father, who left when she was very young, and who might be able to explain her abnormally long feet and hands. Her grandmother always told her she was part goblin, and while Lena always accepted it was just a birth defect, she starts to wonder just who her father really was. In Knob Knoster, Lena meets Jimson Quiggley, a young man off to become a librarian at Mr. Beasley's large house. Lena eventually goes to work there too, so she can save money to pay for a guide to lead her into Scree, the land where Peculiars (people with oddities about them - goblinism, wings, etc) are exiled to, where she hopes to find her father.

I don't normally like main characters in stories - no entirely sure why - but I really liked Lena. She was strong but cautious, her actions were only what she thought was best at the time, and her need to find out the truth is rather...well, determined. Sure she makes mistakes, and at times I felt myself thinking 'don't do that!' but for someone who is on such an adventure at such a young age, that's to be expected. I really liked the other characters too, like Jimson, and loathed others. While I did love the plot and the descriptions of scenery and objects, I did find the end went a little too fast, and before I knew it, it was the end. And the end was a little disappointing. But I think the rest of the book made up for that. Once I started reading it (properly, not like last time), I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading it, and reading it late into the night to find out what was happening.

It's sort of a Steampunk YA novel, which isn't what I usually read - in fact, I don't think I've really read anything Steampunk before (though perhaps Cassandra Clare's Clockwork series might come under that genre) - but I actually really enjoyed the change. I've given The Peculiars 4 stars.


DIY Felt Camera Lens Case...

So this was actually a bit of an accidental DIY last week sometime. I was asked to photograph an event, and I was pumped and ready to go. And then I realised I didn't have a camera bag (I have yet to buy a nice camera bag/satchel thing...but I really want one), so my work satchel would have to do. But then I realised I didn't have a cover or case for my lenses, and I didn't want to just chuck them in my bag, unprotected, as the bag isn't padded at all. While this isn't the best way to carry lenses around, I'm sure, it was definitely worthwhile for the day, and I'm really glad I quickly put this cover together a few hours before the event (hence the bad photos - sorry!) So if you don't have a camera bag like me, but want something in the meantime to give a little more protection to your lovely lenses, then here's a super easy felt cover option.

You'll need:
Thread (I use embroidery thread for these sorts of things)
Glue (just stick glue is probably fine, or PVA)

First you want to cut the felt to the size you need for you lens. I didn't even bother measuring or anything, I just simply popped my lens onto the felt and sort of made a pretend case around it, so I could see how much I needed. You'll want it snug, but loose enough you can take your lens in and out easily, and also with a little room so you can sew the edges. You'll always want it long enough that it can be fooled over, and then with extra still for the flap that will be folded over.

If you want to add a little something-something to your case, go nuts. I created a simple camera shape with different coloured felt, but obviously you can do whatever you'd like. If you want to go for the camera option, you'll need the following pieces of felt (image on the left, below).

Then you can either sew the layers together or grab your glue and stick them down. I went with both. As you can hopefully see, I sewed (just a simple in out in out stitch) along the line that runs across the camera, and then the rest I just glued on.

Again, you can either glue or stitch your shape/s to the cover. I sewed mine to the cover. When you are attaching it, make sure you don't sew the layers of the case together. You actually want to be open it  :)
If you lay your cover felt out so you know exactly where the fold should be (and how much you want at the top that's extra for folding over), then you'll know where you can place your camera/shapes.

After it's sewn on, you can sew up the sides of your cover. I went with a simple over-through type stitch. So instead or going in out in out right along the edge, I always pushed the needle through from the same side each time. In one side, out the other, but then back over the two edges and into the same side as before. I hope that makes sense.

Sew right around the top and down the other side, and you're done! Bam! One super easy lens case. I hope this actually made sense. Feel free to ask anything if it doesn't make sense :)

Happy sewing, friends!


Pushing Daises...


If you have never heard of Pushing Daises, it's a show that aired it's Pilot back in 2007, and ended after only 2 short seasons (Season one had 9 episodes, and season two, 13). But it should have continued. I never actually saw it on TV (perhaps it didn't even make it to NZ), but my friend had them on DVD and so I borrowed them a few years back. Recently I found them in the Warehouse for only $10 each, so I bought both seasons and have been re-watching them. I forgot how much I loved it.

Pushing Daises is about Ned the pie maker (played by Lee Pace) who has a special ability: he came bring things back to life. With a single touch, Ned can bring things back from the dead, but when a minute is over he has to touch them again to reverse it, and they remain dead forever. There's another catch - they can only stay alive for 1 minute, or something else will die. When Ned discovers that his childhood sweetheart, Charlotte (aka Chuck, played by Anna Friel) has been murdered, he can't help but bring her back to life...and keep her alive. Yes, someone else dies, and Ned and Chuck can never touch again (or she'll be dead forever), but it means they can be in each other's lives again.

Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) is a private investigator, and discovers Ned's secret ('before' the show begins) and they team up to solve murders and collect the rewards. With a single tough, Ned can bring a dead person back to life, ask them how killed them, and voilà! Cases are solved, money is collected, pies are made, and ex-dead-girl's aunts are avoided.

It's a fantastic show, that is not only wonderfully quirky and visually adorable, but each of the episodes' plots and who-done-its are fun and silly, and the dialogue is fast-passed and often full of great metaphors. With crazy synchronized swimming aunts, Olive the waitress (played by the incredible Kristin Chenoworth - yes, she sings occasionally), Digby the dead-but-alive dog, guest stars galore and a whole lot of pie making, it's such a fun show.

If you haven't seen it, do check it out sometime. It's a lot of fun, and because there's only 2 seasons, it doesn't take long to watch.

If you have seen it, what did you think? Love it? Hate it? 


Sunday Song // Easter Edition ...

Another year, another Easter, another time to remember the cross. Really we should be remembering the cross and what Jesus did for us every.single.day. But Easter is possibly the greatest celebration of year. Yes, I know Christmas is amazing, and we celebrate Jesus coming into the world (and open presents, who doesn't like presents?), but what is truly amazing happen 33 years later when he took on the weight and sins of the world, and paid the price for you and for me. And that's pretty darn incredible. So today for Sunday Song, I thought I'd share with you some songs that I find myself remembering and singing along to at this time of the year.

Jesus Died My Soul to Save, by Pocket Full of Rocks:

I Will Rise, by Chris Tomlin:

The Power of the Cross, by Keith Getty, sung by Stuart Townsend:

In Christ Alone, version by Owl City:

That's possibly my favourite version of In Christ Alone. I love that song a lot, and I love Owl City. I think I may have shared that before, but there's no harm in sharing again. 

So, dear friends, I hope you are having an amazing Easter, and I pray that you stop in amongst your chocolate eggs, and remember what Jesus did for you. Happy Easter all. 


The Bookshelves :: A Tour...

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, then you'll know that I have some great bookshelves in my room in the new house, and that I have been giving them a bit of a makeover. I started by putting wrapping paper on the backs of the shelves, to create a cool background for books and things (coz let's face it, bookshelves are for more than just books), and I really love how they came out. Of course I overestimated just how much wrapping paper I would need, and so now I have an endless supply of the sweet blue bird paper. Presents for the next 5 years will be wrapped in this. People, you have been warned.

In my room there is a great set of in built shelves (the larger of the two shown in the pictures, on the right), and the other bookshelf is one that my parents got me from Ikea for Christmas. Yes, I asked for a bookshelf. How cool am I? Oh dear...anyway! I've got both in my room, and though it took a while, everything is finally in it's place and I love it a lot. I thought that I'd give you guys a little tour of these bookshelves. It's not really a tour of the books I have, just the the sort of layout and ornaments and things that I've put with the books. Most of my books you've already seen anyway, and if you missed that, you can read about books 1 // 2 // 3.

I'm going to start with my Ikea bookshelf, as it's the first thing you see straight ahead of you when you walk into my room. I've sort of sorted them...but not really. The Ikea shelf is more YA/dystopian and some fantasy/supernatural novels, whereas the other is long series, books that I have a lot of the same author (Jodi Picoult for example), and standalone novels that aren't YA. Make sense? Well, it makes sense to me.

This is possibly my favourite shelf on the bookshelf: The Harry Potter shelf. That's right. A whole shelf just for Harry Potter. On here, as you can see, I have all 7 books (excuse the very well loved Order of the Phoenix - my sister lost the outer jacket of the book...it really needs taping), as well as Quidditch Through the Ages, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I also have the postcard, the Marauder's Map mug, and the chocolate frog box that I got at the Warner Bros Studio Tour last year, and the antelope I painted, because it's similar to a doe...and a stag.

This is my other favourite shelf (above). I have the Under the Never Sky series, a cute as canister (which is actually for tea, I believe) that a friend gave me, a giant A, two kissing giraffes, and my Diana F+ lomography camera on top of some of my 'other books', including the A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book and the Young House Love home DIY book.  

These are actually on two different shelves. This funny looking lady was scored for a pound in an opshop in Gloucester, England, and even though she's a little strange and my friends don't like her, I do and I love what she's wearing. I also have my film camera which I got for free, on a box that I bought at Wilko. 

Other things I have in the Ikea shelving is my boxes with Anjali Kay Creations bits and pieces in them, my art folders and books, and box of nail polish. 

On to the other bookshelf now! This one is probably twice the size, but that meant it was twice as hard to know where to put things and how to arrange them. Turns out it's quite a challenge getting things to look good, and it took me all day and a lot of arranging, rearranging, replacing, getting rid of and moving to get it how I wanted. But it was totally worth it and I love it. 

You may recall me painting that vase in the top left. I did it that dark teal colour at the time just because I liked it, but it worked really well with both that shelf, and the rest of the bookshelf, so that was handy. The white rhino was one I painted with the antelope, the swan I bought in an opshop, and that card was one that Anne gave me because she thought it looked like me. Book wise, I have random ones together in the top left there, Cassandra Clare has a shelf to herself (top right), as does Jodi Picoult (bottom left), and then...other (bottom right). I just have to say, normally I would alphabetise my books by author, but because I had wanted to create bookshelves, and not just put all the books on them, it was going to be better looking to group them differently. My DVDs, however, are very much in alphabetical order. And they shall remain that way.

I bought this succulent a few weeks ago, and I already had this great red pot. And that snake looking thing is actually a small Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) which I bought in Scotland. You may also recall me having that stripy A in my craft room in England. I was going to paint the rabbit white, but haven't got around to it yet. It's actually growing on me the colour it is. And that tiny little cactus! Eep! I love it!

A couple of details from the shelves. That teal-y coloured round vase thing I discovered in our things when we were unpacking, but mum was just going to put it back in storage. So I grabbed it and I love it! I don't think I'd actually put flowers or anything in it, but I really like it just sitting there. That cat I actually found and cleaned! I can't remember where that bottle came from but I always liked it because it was a  bit wonky and misshapen. P.S Still haven't read The Casual Vacancy.

This is one of my favourite shelves on this book shelf. It has Doctor Who Annuals (geek, right here), and a Lord of the Rings movie guide book, and two Beatles books, topped with a cow I found at Wilko. And of course, it has my lovely TARDIS which I bought in an opshop in England in the first month I was there.

And to end the tour, this is my other favourite shelf. It actually took me the longest time to get this shelf right, and I know that it's not wonderfully clever or magical or anything, but for some reason I just couldn't get it how I wanted. It has all 13 books of the A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket (which I love love love, and managed to get for a pound each at the opshop about a week before we felt!), an old film camera, the painted feather in the painted opshop frame, and the adorable panda I bought in Bristol with Roz. This shelf makes me happy. 

And that's it my friends! I hope you've enjoyed a little snippet into my room and ...well, me. I do have more to show you, but that will come later! 


11 Reasons a Rainy Day is Amazing...

Original image source

Much like my love of autumn, the colour yellow, a good book and anything involving the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, I love rain. And yesterday, boy did it rain. It rained, and rained and rained. And while I have just got a job (yeehaa! Part time at the library), that doesn't start until next week, so I'm at a loose end at home. Normally on a rainy day I would actually go outside, maybe take some photos, take my gumboots for a walk, but yesterday's rain came with an almighty wind that was tearing trees down and ripping the guttering off the house. No, yesterday was a stay inside-and-don't-come-out day. This meant, of course, that I could write this post. My friends, I give you 11 Reasons a Rainy Day is Amazing.

1. You don't have to water the plants
Yup, starting off with an obvious one. We haven't had really good rain in a while (other than Cyclone Lusi a few weeks ago) and they days are still sunny and warm - like I mentioned yesterday - and the plants need watering. But not on a rainy day!

2. No one will judge if you stay in bed all day
A rainy day is the best time to get away with staying warm and cosy under your duvet all day, only emerging to get food...to bring back to bed with you. Staying in bed all day also means you can wearing your pyjamas all day. It's pouring with rain outside, and no one expects you to venture out - you might as well stay in bed.

3. Books books books
While in bed, you can be curled up with a hot chocolate, or tea, and read the day away. You can even read an entire book in one sitting. Sure you may close the cover at the end of the day and feel like you're still in the story because you haven't done anything else all day, but that's part of the joy and the fun.

4. Watch a movie
When we were kids, we weren't allowed to watch movies during the day if it was sunny outside. And fair enough; kids are supposed to run around, climb trees, fall out of them, get grass stains and eat sand. But if it were a rainy Saturday, it was movie day, and we got to sit in our pjs in front of a good movie...in the day time. Much like staying in bed and reading, staying in bed or wrapping yourself in a blanket on the sofa to watch a movie is one of the best things about a rainy day. You could even watch Singing in the Rain, if you like.

5. If you do go outside, gumboots (kiwi word for wellingtons) are optional...
If you want to keep your feet dry, gumboots are obviously the footwear of choice...but if it's the middle of summer (or at least feels like it), you don't want to wear socks because then your feet will get too hot, but if you don't wear socks in your gumboots, you'll likely get blisters. Take.Them.Off. Here in New Zealand, it's a common sight to see people wandering around without shoes on, even in the rain. In England, not so much (as I discovered). But that's something I love about a rainy day - walking along the wet pavement and sloshing through puddles in bare feet.

6. ...but take an umbrella with you.
...if you don't want to get so wet you get sick. I love umbrellas. A lot. I have a bright yellow umbrella with see-thourgh plastic holes in it, so when you have it right down near your head, you can still see out, through the holes. I don't know what it is, but there's something about walking around with an umbrella that not only makes me feel like grabbing a lamppost and having a swing, Gene Kelly style, but I want to skip through the puddles, and twirl my umbrella around, and I generally feel cheery.

7. Or don't...it's really up to you
There's something exciting about getting caught in the rain (with or without piña coladas) and having to run from one building to another, or to the car...sure you'll get super duper wet and you'll probably get a cold, but if you do a little dance while you're running, then it would have all been worth it.

8. Find a giant puddle and float paper boats in it 
Or in the gutter out by the road. Seriously, this is the best thing ever. It's actually so much fun, and sure you feel like a 3 year old doing it, but that's half the fun. It'll make someone's rainy day if they suddenly see a paper boat or a rubber ducky floating by their house or their car. It's well worth it.

9. At night time, you can fall asleep to the sound of rain on the roof
This is one of my favourite things about a rainy day/night. We have a two story house, but my room is on the bottom floor (the lounge, kitchen, dinning room is upstairs...it's a confusing layout) so I don't really get to hear the rain on the roof. But if my windows are open then I can hear it on the deck outside, and that's nearly as good.

10. People watching
If you live somewhere where you can sit inside and watch people rush by outside, then people watching in the rain is hilarious. It's funny watching people run past the window, using different methods of keeping dry. There's the book on head; the hoodie; the jersey without a hood, but pulled up over the head so the lower back gets wet; the awkward umbrella that doesn't keep your legs dry; the "I'm too cool to try and stay dry so I'm soaking wet"; and the fantastic weave-between-the-rain-drops dance. It's highly amusing and great rainy day activity. 

11. And the final reason that a rainy day is awesome is that you can stay in and read blogs all day
Okay, so maybe you wouldn't do this all day, but you can at least catch up on all the things that have been happening in the blogging world that you somehow missed. I often find myself with a back log of all my favourite blogs on Bloglovin' that I haven't read for a few days, and so what better time to read them than on a rainy day. Pop on some music, grab a cuppa and read until the sun starts shining.

Original image source
P.S Happy Good Friday!
On this day last year: Good Fridaygo ahead and eat your Easter eggs and have a great time this weekend, just remember the real reason for this holiday is Jesus and the price he paid, not a fluffy bunny with a basket of chocolates. God bless! 

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