Monday, September 2, 2013

The Vegan Stoner Cookbook: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes to Munch

After a year of some medical mishaps, I was faced with a laundry list of life-style changes that literally frighten me. And there are so many, I didn't know where to start. I decided to start with nutritional changes, such as limiting my salt intake and cutting out red meat. Eating a different variation of the same salad or sandwich after a while just gets old. I was so excited to get a sneak at The Vegan Stoner Cookbook. It boasts 100 vegan recipes so easy a stoner prepare them. Sounds like my kind of cookbook and just what I was looking for in trying to navigate this bacon-less world.

Right away I had to chuckle at the illustrations. More than adorable little stoner vegetables grace each page and introduce each chapter. Each ingredient and tool is illustrated and easy to identify. Most of the recipes call for less than 6 ingredients, making each recipe more than affordable for the budget minded.

The Vegan Stoner Cookbook raves it's recipes are fool proof, so over the course of a month I decided to put that claim to the test. But where to start? There's everything from biscuits and gravy to Aspara-Guy Sushi to Shroom Ceviche. So far I've made 12 of the 100 recipes and nothing was too far out of my reach. I did have to go to the reference section a few times. The reference section is full of tips and directions on things like "How to Roll Sushi." My favorite recipe is the Fruit Tortilla Wraps. It is so simple, but so bloody brilliant and sooo yummy! It's in the dessert section if you want to check it out.

The Vegan Stoner Cookbook comes out September 3. I definitely recommend picking it up. Even if you're not vegan or a stoner, you'll find something to your liking.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

DIY:Crafts with Corks

I absolutely love wine corks. Wine corks provide a sophisticated and unique look over a basic cork board. With such a variety of uses, you can cheaply add some design to a wine theme in a kitchen, replace that old cork board in your office, or even provide organization to your jewelry.

I decided to try to make myself a cork board for my kitchen. I knew I wanted a round or oval frame because I love the look and I can never bring myself to cut a picture to fit into one. But first things first, I need corks. I put out a call on Facebook and the corks started rolling in, it was amazing. I never imagined I would get such a fantastic response. For those that donated their corks to my project, thank you! You are awesome!

 I started by getting the gaudiest, cheapest round frame I could find at a thrift shop. Make sure to get a frame that screws shut or is easily reconstructed. If it was professionally framed, you will need to know a little bit about framing to get it back together and a staple gun. It is much easier to go with a screw back one. I took it apart, took some sand paper to it and got to painting. Since I was going black, I didn't use a primer, but you will want to use it if you are going darker to lighter in your project. I used acrylic craft paint on this one. This will take longer than spray paint, but I had it on hand and my apartment isn't well ventilated. I didn't know any better on this one, but you will also want to paint your back piece during this step as well.
Once the frame is dry, you can seal it. For this piece, I used Mod Podge Matte. The black I used wouldn't have looked as good with a glossy finish. Don't panic if you see white like in the picture. It will dry clear. I know that it seems like you can skip most of these steps and hurry the process along a bit, but don't. Each step has a reason that will ensure long life to your project. If you don't sand, the paint has nothing to stick to and will be unevenly coated. Primer will ensure your color will show true. Two coats or more of paint will ensure proper coverage. Sealer will allow you to clean it without endangering the paint. Take your time and do it right the first time.
Once the sealer is dry, arrange your corks. Don't start gluing until all your corks are placed. To cut a cork, I had success with both an Xacto knife and a paring knife. Of the two, I preferred the paring knife. I felt like it was easier. I had more control and I could go at a faster pace. Once they are placed, use a glue gun to place the corks. It's not going to fit perfect in a round frame, so don't stress, but this is the reason it's important to paint your backing. It was in my kitchen for a day before I had the idea to make it into a cameo. I geek out over cameos and don't have any in my house. I cut the silhouette out of card stock and glued it to a pushpin. I put it in my bedroom. I often change the look of my bedroom and thought I can easily change out the silhouette for something else in the future. It was a really easy project, but it does take a lot of time with drying time and a lot of patience to place the corks. I decided to make them as Christmas presents. For most I switched to quick drying spray sealer. I made a silhouette for each as a sort of gift tag. With each silhouette made out of card stock, they don't have to feel bad about throwing it away and just using it as a cork board. I still have a few to go before they are all done, but I have a good start so far.
For my second project, I made a jewelry organizer. I wanted something I could put my over-sized hoops and extra long earrings that don't fit in my jewelry holder. I remembered seeing someone in a craft forum make a key holder out of champagne corks and thought that would be perfect for the big hoops. On the other half I put wine corks which works perfect for earrings with stems. This was made from a standard 4x6 easel back photo frame with the glass removed. Corks were glued with hot glue. This is a really fast project if your nervous starting out with a big cork board.

For my third project, I got another easel back frame. It was matted for a 5x7 photo. Without the matte, the opening was 6.5x9 inches. It came in black, so no painting required. Instead of hot glue, I used super glue and GOOP. When heated, hot glue will remelt and i wanted this to handle a hot pan sitting on it. When not in use, it doubles as a candle plate on my kitchen table.You will need to remove the easel for it to lay flat. Make sure to remove it before you glue your corks.
There are so many more ideas I have that I want to try out, but for now I need to finish all my Christmas presents. The last thing I did was refashioned an old candle holder that I painted to hold the unusable corks, like the plastic corks and the champagne corks to bring another wine element into the kitchen. I have had two people request coasters, so be on the look out for another cork DIY coming soon!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Only The Thunder Knows/East End Girls

Only the Thunder Knows – East End GirlsOnly the Thunder Knows – East End Girls by Gord Rollo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love the idea of packaging two connected novellas into one package. JournalStone publishing is doing just that by taking an established writer in the genre and pairing them up with an author new to horror. The two novellas are centered around real life events with some twists and turns.

I read the first novella Only The Thunder Knows in record time. I really enjoyed it and was engaged throughout. The twists always kept me on my feet.(If I reviewed this story alone, it would have gotten five stars.) The second story East End Girls, I kept putting down and forcing myself to pick it back up. It took me a bit to get through it. Looking back, it was a really solid story on it's own, but the bar was set to high for me after finishing the first story.

I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but for fans of horror it will make an interesting read.

I received a review copy of this title from LibraryThing

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Dark Discoveries: Issue #23

I keep asking myself how I didn't know Dark Discoveries existed. Now that I do, I know that I need it in my life. Dark Discoveries is a quarterly magazine published by Journal Stone Publishing and focuses on the Sci-Fi/Dark Fantasy/Horror genre.

Issue # 23 is dedicated to Dark Fantasy and guides bibliophiles through the genre including listings of Bram Stoker Award Winners and a recommended reading list. Along with the informational, the pages are packed with interviews, articles and short stories.

Being a Dark Horse fanatic I was excited to see Talking Shop: Dark Horse Comics' Scott Allie on Robert E. Howard, Hellboy, and Abe Sapian listed in the table of contents. I love seeing comic book writers and artists being recognized in the same publication that features the best artists, TV shows, and literary artists of the genre. The article was entertaining and informative. It was written as a Q&A so much of the article was straight from Scott Allie.

Another standout was a noir short story about a PI that promises to protect a damsel that is being threatened by her ex, with a twist. Like Part of the Family was written by Jonathan Mayberry. I definitely need to read more of his stories. I was hooked from the first page.

Dark Discoveries does an amazing job at showcasing the genre. I can't wait to see Dark Discoveries: Issue #24 featuring Forgotten Horror & SciFi TV on sale July 31. Both issues can be purchased at

Thursday, July 4, 2013

How to Not Murder your Grumpy

How Not to Murder Your GrumpyHow Not to Murder Your Grumpy by Carol E. Wyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How Not to Murder Your Grumpy won't tell you to take deep breaths and step away from the gun. It won't suggest marriage counseling or make you take a million personality tests. Instead, it will alphabetically lay out 700 hobbies and activities to distract your grumpy old man while coping with retirement. From aeroplanes, art, and archaeology to yoga and Zumba, it is chock full of ideas to keep your grumpy occupied. Packed with puns, it will make you giggle. At 108 pages, it's a great, quick read for anyone dealing with a man suffering from "Irritable Male Syndrome."

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Fade to Black

Fade to BlackFade to Black by Jeffrey Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received an early review copy of Fade to Black by Jeffery Wilson from LibraryThing. At first glance, this isn't a setting I would normally be interested in reading. I'm not an avid war novel reader, but the plot really piqued my interest. By day, Jack is a family man and teaches high school. By night, he is plagued by vivid, life-like dreams smack in the middle of combat in Fallujah, Iraq. Jack may be losing his mind, unsure if his nightmares are real.

This is an amazing book! I was absolutely immersed in the story and couldn't put it down. I ended up reading it in one setting. It's suspenseful, thought provoking, and at times heart breaking. Jeffrey Wilson crafts a reality that jumps off the page and scrambles you head. Amazing writing. I look forward to reading more from Jeffrey Wilson.

It's hard to say to much without giving away major plot details and I don't want to ruin it for you. Fade to Black was released on June 14th, so go grab a copy. It is worth the experience. I'm still reeling!

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Stupid By Choice

Stupid By ChoiceStupid By Choice by Leighton Summers

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Melanie St. John perfectly fits the stereotype of a southern socialite. As the daughter of a wealthy oil lawyer, she travels all over the globe to hob nob with the snobs and snag a husband. After she leaves her abusive husband and embarks on single motherhood, Melanie looks back at her choices and the poisonous relationships that have brought her to this point.

This is definitely a chick lit book. While the story is interesting, I just didn't connect to the southern theme. With the writing style, I couldn't picture it as modern. I just kept picturing "Gone With The Wind" and I'm not sure that's a good thing. Also, I'm hoping that more proofreading was done when it was published. I received an ARC copy from NetGalley and the formatting was just a mess, so distracting.

Even though Melanie often displayed an aura of entitlement, she had some real deep, human moments that gave her character a depth that I wish I had seen more of through out the story. I don't want to give anything away, but I was happy to see her character grow and see that you don't have to just let things happen to you. You can take control of your life. Don't be Stupid by Choice.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Rise and Fall of Tres Wisdom

Image Credit: R Nial Bradshaw
As a relationship comes to a close, all the warning bells go off, a little nagging here, some irritation there, a voice in the back of your head that says, "I can't delay the inevitable."

I have been ignoring an irritating, but not unbearable tooth ache, in one of my two wisdom teeth, off and on for the last two weeks or so. Today was the day that my tooth(we'll call him Tres Wisdom) decided to throw up his middle finger and tell me to go fuck myself. So I finally gave in and went to the dentist to get the treacherous tyrant ripped from my skull. 

 Original Image: Orange John,

Upon arrival, they took my blood pressure. Wait for it...180/120, they thought I was stroking out and wanted to call an ambulance. Instead, we tried some Novocaine to see if it was the pain of Tres. I just knew in my heart of hearts that Tres was behind this nefarious plot to thwart our impending separation. Second go around 160/103. Doc said he couldn't do anything until the bottom number was under 100. He said he could give it one more try. He gave me a shot and kindly let me take a Xanax (Break-ups are never easy, ya know). 20 minutes later, my bottom number was 72! Woo freaking Hoo, Allons-y! Two hours later and Tres Wisdom finally met his demise. The dentist starts to do his thing and Tres, being the obnoxious bastard that he is, breaks. The Doc got almost all of it out, but the root of one was broken under the gum line. Sooo he sliced that shit open. That shit hurts, I don't care how much Novocaine they give you, nothing prepares you for that. So I have a gaping hole in my gum and stitches on the back side of my gum. NO SOLID FOODS FOR AT LEAST 48 hours and soft foods for 24 hours after that. Can bleed up to 24 hours. The nice Doctor gave me vicodin to ease the pain of the break up, but I'm not sure I like them, might just stick with ibuprofen And Last but not least, I have one wisdom tooth (Quatre Wisdom) left that hasn't even tried to break skin. The reason? It is completely sideways. I'm hoping that Quatre and I never meet, because I hear he is an asshole, just like all the other Wisdoms I've met.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Day of Decor

#1- T.A.R.D.I.S. Wall Art

After reading so many books lately, I thought it was time to take a break, do some things around the house and finally tackle some craft ideas. A few years ago, I purchased a set of three frames. After decorating my living room, I had only used two of the frames. One has a print of Hand and Apparatus by Salvador Dali that my dad bought for me at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. The other, a print from the final page of the comic in Chasing Amy, signed by Kevin Smith.

I knew I wasn't going to use the frame in the living room, so I tried to find a place in my bedroom that the frame would fit and go from there. I found a perfect fit on my geek wall and tried to think of what would go well there.  To me, art is like putting together a puzzle when you don't know what the end picture is supposed to be. I decided to start with the background. I had bought some scrap book paper on sale and it matched my bedroom with a purple pattern on a cream background. I wanted to do a cameo of sorts, but I wasn't sure if I should draw something or go with a magazine or comic picture. I went to the comic book shop and started looking through the damaged and reader grade comics, when I saw a Doctor Who comic with a T.A.R.D.I.S. on glossy paper. I sat down, cut out the picture and used Mod Podge to attach it to the paper. It took all of maybe 5 minutes and I like the way it turned out.

Since that literally took less time than a commercial break, I felt inspired to keep going. I already had the Mod Podge and scrapbook paper out of my craft closet, so I finally went to work on adding some pizazz to a plain photo box where I keep my crafting notions.

#2- Decorated Craft Notions Box

If you are anything like me, when you are in the craft store, you have to hit up the clearance. There are so many great deals and cute things that I will most likely never use, but absolutely have to have. Like this felt chandelier. I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought it. There's not much you can do with a felt notion like this in any of the crafts I have done. I decided to use my Mod Podge to put the chandelier centered on
a purple square. Nothing flashy, simple design, but I love the way the chandelier pops off that purple. Plus, organization is a lot funner when you have cute storage supplies. With the left-over Victorian scrapbook paper, I re-purposed a gift box for more storage. By this time, I was only through two parts of The Mind Robber, so I decided to tackle another project.

#3- Painted Fan

I saw this idea on Pintrest a while ago. Like most things on Pintrest, I pin it and forget it. But I figured what the heck, I have a fan, I have paint, at the very least I thought it would help me get over the guilt I feel pinning 50 things that I promise myself I'm going to try and then forget it ever existed.
I decided not to take the whole fan apart. I just took off the front and laid it down. If your worried about spills and drips you should put something underneath. I only do for spay paint, but it doesn't hurt. It hasn't finished drying in the picture. I am adding some scrolls in white.

Not every project needs to be a huge ordeal, but it seems like those are the ones I am most likely to tackle. I finished all three projects in under 2 hours, leaving me some time to try to catch up on the stacks of review books I need to read. Hopefully, you'll feel inspired to tackle some of your own small projects.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Stumptown, Vol. 2Stumptown, Vol. 2 by Greg Rucka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever since I’ve widened my scope of reading materials to include comics and graphic novels, I have stumbled across some pretty awesome stories to add to my library. I was initially worried that starting a series on Volume 2 would leave me lost and confused and not able to give an accurate opinion of the overall story. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could jump right in and enjoy the story.

Stumptown Volume 2 collects “The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case”, a Dex Parrios mystery. Dex is a P.I. who has been hired to find a precious guitar. While on the case, Dex finds herself trying to dodge some skinheads and the D.E.A. Greg Rucka crafts a fast pace, intense mystery that takes you on a wild ride from beginning to end and leaves you wanting more.  The intense action made it hard to put down. Couple Rucka’s writing with the art of Matthew Southworth and you have a beautiful book to add to your collection. The colors perfectly set the mood for a great mystery story.

The hardcover edition of Stumptown Volume 2 will release on September 4, 2013. I read a digital ARC from Netgalley, but I still prefer print to digital. I don’t think my computer really does the art justice.  Until then, I think I’ll go pick up Volume 1.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Arrival

The Arrival (BirthRight Trilogy, #1)The Arrival by Nicole MacDonald

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I requested an ARC copy of The Arrival by Nicole MacDonald, I was so excited to read it, a paranormal fantasy/ romance with not one, but four kick ass heroines, bring it on! Unfortunately, a clever story was not enough to pull a five star rating with me.

This story is about a group of four friends, with extensive martial arts training, that can’t seem to find love. So they do what any strong, independent woman would do, they cast a love spell. But, as they must, the spell goes awry.  They are transported into another world where they find themselves lower on the food chain then they are accustomed.

My highest praise for the book is the amazing world that MacDonald has crafted. She is able to allow the reader to fall into the world right along side the main characters and experience the new creatures and surroundings with the foursome. Also, MacDonald really conveys a strong girl-power message, even though the story revolves around the want/need for a partner. Every action scene further solidified the strength of the heroines.

To tell you the truth, I almost stopped reading the book a few different times out of boredom and an inability to connect to characters due to the constant, rapid changing points of view. Now, I think a shift in character perception can enhance the story on many different levels, but changing points of view multiple times per page can get confusing and leave the characters feeling a bit one dimensional. The characters personalities were lost among the shuffle. Eventually, the action would kick back up and pull me back into the story, but that is not enough to make me want to continue with the series.

Those that are fans of the genre, for the price the story is worth the read, despite my criticism, the writing is very well done, with just a few errors here and there. Just be prepared for the revolving points of view. Once you get used to that, it’s not a bad read.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

The Angel's Kiss: A Melody Malone MysteryThe Angel's Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery by Justin Richards

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Melody Malone sets up a detective agency in 1930's Manhattan and is hired by an actor in his prime. She is tasked with uncovering the mastermind of a murder plot. Although the title is used in the Doctor Who episode The Angels Take Manhattan, there are very few similarities between the two. The Melody Malone character is spot on and a perfect setting for her sassy attitude. I thought this was a great story. But at 54 pages, it is way too short. For the low price, it's worth a read by Doctor Who and noir mystery fans.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How Possession Can Help You Lose Weight by Chris Dolley

After a few crappy days, I really needed a laugh. So I picked up How Possession Can Help You Lose Weight. I have been reading a few short ebooks here and there. I never really gave them a shot before, but I'm growing quite fond of them. I can pick it up on my lunch hour and be done before I'm back to my desk. It's a nice little escape. How Possession Can Help You Lose Weight was no exception. At 53 pages, including recipes, calorie counter, testimonials, and a demon dating questionnaire, this is a very light read and great for a giggle.

How Possession Can Help You Lose WeightHow Possession Can Help You Lose Weight by Chris Dolley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How Possession Can Help You Lose Weight is a hilarious parody of modern diets books. The chapters walk the reader through all the steps to making your thin dream come true! Sharing insight from Science and Clinical trials to Exorcism and Side Features (they aren't side effects, they are opportunities) all the while injecting humor and not a small amount of infomercial talk. They even include a helpful calorie counter, which you can access easily through the links in the Table of Contents.

This is a great pick for a quick chuckle and as I found out, a great little pick me up on a bad day.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Random Fandom- Poetry

As National Poetry month comes to a close today, I realized I have done absolutely nothing this month to celebrate my passion for Poetry. But it is not to late, good souls, as today is still April, so I can still get in some celebrating. Trying to narrow down my favorite poem is an impossible task, so I give you not one, but five poems that I truly enjoy reading over and over again. Just a few suggestions to get your poetry palette wet. Happy National Poetry Month!

A Dream Within A Dream by Edgar Allan Poe
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream? 

Do not go gentle into that great night by Dillon Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

I carry your heart with me by E.E. Cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Fire and Ice by Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Reluctant Messiah by Eric Guindon

My favorite book of all time is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I absolutely adore the mix of comedy, adventure, and quirkiness. The collection, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe, is the first leather-bound collector's edition I ever bought. Now it sits a long side many of my favorites in a book shelf I reserve only for collector's editions or my absolute favorites that I just can't seem to stomach giving away or donating.  I am very excited to add another book to the shelf, The Reluctant Messiah by Eric Guidon.

Occasionally when I'm on Goodreads, I will check out a section of the site where they have contests and giveaway books. I like to check out books coming out and authors I may not have heard of yet. The Reluctant Messiah caught my eye. I especially liked the tag line, "A Darkly Comedic Tale Of Prophecies." I entered the contest and actually won. I wasn't sure what to expect.The back of the book reads:
 ...and Oliver?
Oliver Kirkle had a normal life until prophecies got in the way. A multitude of cults, each with its own interpretation of the prophecies, think Oliver is their messiah.                                             Unfortunately for Oliver, that's the only thing they agree about...
I instantly fell in love with Guidon's writing. He reminds me of Douglas Adams or Neil Gaiman. Tackling  dark subjects like cults and doomsday prophecies and injecting it with witty banter and a lighthearted playfulness. Right away I noticed how well the book flowed from chapter to chapter, guiding the reader through the story with ease. During Oliver's introduction to the story, I actually visualized his budding romance with Bunny as a movie montage. I thought it was a brilliant way of covering  the formative years of Oliver's life, giving a glimpse into what makes him tick.

I loved the story and can't wait to see where it is going. I only wish it was a little longer, but happy to see book two is out already. I will definitely be following this series.

You can pick up The Reluctant Messiah here and the sequel An Unexpected Apocalypse here.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Serendipity is probably my favorite word in the English language and I so rarely get to use it.

I am always reading and always on the look out for good books. Occasionally, I just browse the shelves at Barnes and Noble, but usually I find my books by recommendations or newsletters. A Goodreads user in an online book club I joined suggested I pick up Fated. I have a horrible habit of not writing down enough information. Wasting time at the bookstore one day, the recommendation popped into my head, but I just couldn't remember the name of the book or the author, all I remembered was it was part of the Soul Seekers Series. One thing I love about bookstores, much like movie stores, is the ability to walk up to an employee and say, "Hey, do you know that book with that guy that does that one thing?" and their response is, "Oh, yeah, that one book. I love that book. It's right over here."

I allowed the sales associate to guide me to the Teen Paranormal section of Barnes and Noble, which I was not expecting. First of all, I didn't even know there was a whole section devoted to Teen Paranormal and it's about three times the size given to the Poetry section, which really makes me sad. Second, I didn't know the book was a Young Adult book when I went into the store. Don't get me wrong, there are some brilliant YA books out there. Harry Potter and Pendragon were both amazing series'. But when it comes to YA, I am skeptical that I will enjoy it or be able to relate to characters. The sales associate handed me the book and felling a little deflated, I just threw the book onto my pile. There was no standing and reading the back or looking at the picture. I checked out and headed home and kind of just forgot about it. A couple of weeks ago, I found it again and realized I had bought the second book in the series. Being a bit OCD about reading books or watching movies in order, I decided I would rectify my mistake and go buy the first book.

The next day I went to Target on my lunch hour. I was a bit distracted and rushed. This time the book was in the Best Sellers row. I located the book and got a phone call. Totally immersed in conversation, I grabbed the book and headed to the check out lane. So, after many books and a few months after the recommendation was given, I finally set down to read Fated. I opened my red and white bulls eye Target bag and pulled out...
 Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. Oops, for the second time in a row, I bought the wrong book and I am so glad I did.

The book follows Abby Abernathy as she arrives at Eastern University and reinvents herself into the good girl stereotype in order to escape the life she left behind and mold her future into her vision of normal. As soon as she arrives, she meets Travis Maddox, an underground fighter and campus man-whore.

Even though I rarely read chick lit, once in a while I'll indulge and take a break from Sci-fi and mysteries. This one has definitely moved into my favorites bookcase. I immediately related to Abby. I found myself on an emotional roller coaster ride. Quickly falling in love with Travis, but hating him at the same time. I found myself rooting for him and then a few chapters later, wishing I could jump in the book and tell Abby to run as fast as she could and don't look back. From the moment I read the first chapter, I was hooked and didn't put it down until I had read the whole book and the next day I went back to Target and bought...

The sequel, Walking Disaster, tells the exact same story as Beautiful Disaster, but it is told from Travis' point of view. Still a good story the second time around and dammit, Jamie McGuire made me like Travis. At the end of the first book, I wished it had ended differently. It didn't distract from my enjoyment of the first book, but the relationship was dysfunctional and poisonous. The second book had me looking at the relationship from a different perspective, understanding why actions were taken and conversations never heard from the other perspective.  I couldn't put this one down either and read it in one night. Two books in two nights does not make for restful nights. By accident, I stumbled upon two amazingly written books. It truly was serendipity.

I recently picked up Fated. I haven't read it yet, but I am absolutely sure I got the correct book when I got home. But so far the road to acquiring it has been well worth the effort.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Crafting with Crayons

School's been cancelled, it's cold, it's snowy and you have kids running around stir crazy. Here is a craft you can do with kids that is fun, super easy, and only uses supplies you have on hand, multicolor crayons.

Broken crayons or crayons you aren't going to use
Muffin/Cupcake tin or paper muffin cups

Get together all of your broken bits of crayons or some crayons you aren't going to use anymore. Make sure to get all of the paper off the little suckers. If you are using full size crayons, you will want to break them into smaller pieces.

If you are using a tin, lightly grease the tin. I used a ceramic, heart shaped muffin pan. I really liked how they came out. I tried to keep certain colors together, like pink, red, and orange. I also mixed a couple up and used blue with purple and white and black together. Another way to go is paper or individual muffin tins. Just slap a couple down in front of your kids and let them go crazy with color. Just make sure to put them on a cookie sheet to melt, not just on the rack. (I know, common sense, right? Wrong. There are pictures all over the place of crayons melted to racks and the bottom of the oven. Come on people, think first.)

Preheat your oven and throw them in. Once you see they have melted, take them out and let them harden. I'm super impatient, so I threw them in the freezer. Worked like a charm.

I have seen so much Crayon Art floating around on Pintrest. I'll keep you updated if I try one of these beautiful projects.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Sweet Goodbye

Image- Dark Horse Comics
A few months back, I was walking around the comic book shop and saw Colder #1 on the racks and was taken aback by the cover art. It was gory, intense, and unbelievably beautiful, but I moved along out of the Dark Horse section and kept on looking. Before I could get to the end of the new release wall, I was back to Dark Horse looking at Colder. I was intrigued and, once I opened it and started reading, I was hooked. Nimble Jack. What a glorious introduction! Soon, Colder awoke in me a renewed love of the lost art of horror comics. Each month, the story was alluring, thought provoking, and creepy. I was always looking forward to the next issue. But all good things must come to an end and ,since it only had a five issue run, it's time to say goodbye. Issue #5 came out today and it did not disappoint. The arc was wrapped up nicely and many questions were answered. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking, "This is perfect. This is the perfect ending. Perfect, perfect, perfect...awwww." I still want more, but if that doesn't happen, it was a sweet goodbye.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Random Fandom

#1- The Answer
I love Dark Horse comics. When I go to the comic book store, the first area I go to houses the Dark Horse selection. Yesterday, I picked up a copy of The Answer #1 of 4. I absolutely loved this first installment. The lead heroine is a puzzle obsessed librarian. I knew very early in the book, that this would be a keeper. As we glimpse into our leading lady's life, Jeopardy is being played in the background. Devin answers all the questions, while finishing a crossword puzzle with ease. Before long, she's thrown into a world of action. I am very curious to see where this is going to go. Written by Dennis Hopeless. Art by Mike Norton. Colors by Mark Englert. Letters by Crank!

#2- The Snowmen- Doctor Who 2012 Christmas Special

My obsession with Doctor Who just continues to grow. I can't stop watching this episode. To watch Matt Smith go from such a dark place into an excited little boy was absolutely beautiful. And Clara, wow, I instantly liked her. I liked her in Asylum of the Daleks, but this episode really let her shine. So many questions that need to be answered. March 30th is way too long to wait.
Issue #1

#3-MIND MGMT by Matt Kindt

 This is the book that got me back into monthly books. A clever, mind bending, spy series that pulls the reader into participating in the story through secret messages strategically placed through the book. Issue #7 went on the rack yesterday. This is the issue to pick up. It is a new story arc so you don't have to try to hard to understand what is going on. The art is absolutely gorgeous and the covers are just intriguing to me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Finally a Perler Bead Tutorial

After a long period of not working with crafts of any kind, I was looking for a way to relax with some kind of hobby or craft. I came across Perler Beads one day, looking at Doctor Who crafts, and I was absolutely hooked. I love the retro look of 8 bit art. A lot of memories for me are held in the games of my childhood. So many of these games perfectly translate into patterns. Just type NES Perler into Google Images and see how many people are bringing the video games of our childhood back to life. But its not just limited to video game sprites or cartoons. Look at a cross stitch pattern, Kandi bead patterns, or Pixel art and compare it to a Perler bead pattern. They are(or almost are) identical. Your design can be as detailed or as simple as you want it to be, but the more detail you want, the larger the project will be.

Perler is actually a brand name that sells fusible wax beads. They can be sold under the names Hama, Fuse, Melt-a-ways, and Perler to name a few. The most popular in my area is Perler and many just refer to them by their brand name. It is pretty much impossible to find Hama beads. I've only seen them for sale from the UK. I have used Fuse and Melt-a-ways. They are ok, but I like the way the Perlers melt. I mixed Perlers and Melt-a-ways once, but it was horrible. They have different melt times so one would be over ironed while the other had barely started melting, so I wouldn't recommend using multiple brands.

  • Perler Beads
  • Peg Boards
  • Iron
  • Ironing paper
If you are going to make your own pattern, you will also need grid paper, but if you don't feel up to drawing an intricate pattern yourself, there are tons of other resources out there There is a really cool app out there called Pixel it that will make the pattern for you from a picture.I love Kandi Patterns. It has hundreds of free patterns, people upload new ones all the time. Many stores sell patterns pretty cheap on Etsy. Also, you can get patterns from Google images. Most don't mind, as long as you don't try to sell some one's pattern or claim it as you own. Just give credit where credit is due if you are going to publish or sell. In my experience, people love that others are creating and their pattern is out there in the world.

My first attempt was the TARDIS, go figure
Do you already cross stitch or make 8 bit digital art? If the answer is yes, you already have a leg up.Many argue that cross stitch was the first 8 bit art, so it is really easy to convert a cross stitch pattern to a Perler pattern and vice versa. With Perler beads, look at each bead like a pixel. When the pixels come together they form a picture. Since I used to cross stitch I dove right in. For the first few projects, I used Google Images. As I got braver, I started experimenting with making my own patterns, going off pictures with no patterns, and just making it up as I go along. With larger, more intricate projects, it's best to use a pattern, which I found out the hard way. It's not impossible, but it will take quite a lot of time.

Let's start you off with an easy one. If you are going to make your own pattern, now is the time to grab your grid paper and get creative. I really love 8 bit bows, so I drew a couple out and this is what I came up with. I've seen different stores sell foam barrettes so I thought it would be a really cool project with Perlers. Its a pretty easy design and you can finish really fast. This is really a versatile pattern too because you can change the colors to what you would like and not worry about mucking up the design. You can get really creative and do designs within the bow.

Chose your colors, grab your peg board, and go to town. A peg board will hold your design steady while you create, making sure no beads go running away. If you buy a kit, you may get shaped peg boards like flowers or animals. These come in handy if you are going to this as a project with a child. They can go crazy within the shape and still come out with something looking really nice. Now the beads can be slippery little suckers, but you can place the beads with your fingers, a special tool that has scoop on one end and plastic tweezers on another, or as I prefer, metal tweezers because they're not as flimsy.

Once you are finished with your design, it is time to melt the beads together. While still on the pegboard, place the ironing paper over your project. Now you can iron your project. Put light pressure the iron and gently go over the design, moving the iron in circles to evenly distribute the heat. The ironing is the hardest part of the project. You will see the beads start to melt through the paper. It should take about 15- 20 seconds according to the directions, but I find it takes longer with my iron, but you can't over heat it or the project will shrink and bend in places. Once you've melted the first side, you should let it cool down before you flip it. I am too impatient and use the peg board to flip it and do the other side right away. Be Careful, because the flipping is when you find out if you haven't heated it evenly. My first project broke right away when I tried to flip it. Sometimes it is an easy fix,sometimes you have to nix the project completely and start over. Most will say that in 8 bit art, you should be able to see each individual bead. I happen to like the look when it has been over-melted, some projects I think it just suits it more. You will have to practice and play to see what you like. Let it set for a while so it can cool down.

It's time to sit back, relax, and enjoy a job well done, right? Well, some projects end here, but it depends on what you are making. Are you making coasters, magnets, something to put on your wall? Do you need to buy a stand or can you make one? With this project I was making barrettes. I got out my trusty hot glue gun and attached the bows to barrettes. I made one for my sister, one for my niece, and for me, well...I made a bow tie. Why? Because bow ties are cool. These are great little gifts to add to a homemade gift basket, or a nice gift to your girly gamer friends.

When you get more confident, you can go after bigger projects. The largest one I have done so far is a Detroit Red Wings logo with a stand. I printed out a picture and just eyeballed it. In the end, I wish I had drawn a pattern first, but you learn as you go.
The hobby stores in my area don't carry a huge variety of colors, so I used pink as the highlighter color. I hadn't yet discovered Kool Stuff 4 Kids.
Now every time I look at it I think, 'I should have used cranberry.' If I had only known. Maybe someday I'll redo it. Anyway, back to Kool Stuff 4 Kids. They have every shade you can imagine, peg boards of all kinds, and some free patterns. If you sign up for the email club, they e-mail you a coupon you can use right away. Every week they have a new special and their normal prices are lower than my local stores. Plus,  you can buy just one color. Most of my stores only sell by the bucket and I don't have time to sort thousands of beads.
Finished the design, just needs the iron.
I'll definitely make a pattern next time. In my haste, I ended up not centering right. I shouldn't have needed to use so many pegboards. Also, since I didn't have a pattern when it broke during the flipping, I had no idea what went where and I made some huge errors that I didn't notice until after I had ironed it. I thought I was going to cry when it broke. This took so long for me to make. I had to do it in five different sittings.  Can you spot the difference?

After ironing, breaking, and ironing again
Before the project was complete, I had to figure out a way to make it stand. So I looked around at what other people were using and figured out how to make little legs for it.
I will be posting more of my Perler Bead projects here and there. I am hoping to make a 3-D TARDIS that lights up using LED's so it won't get hot enough to melt the beads. I saw one once on Etsy, but it sold, so I'm going to make my own. I'm still trying to work out the details, so if you know about little LEDs, let me know, so far I can only find little individual units for sale bulk.