Sunday, 28 June 2015

Inspiration on Monday

Inspiration on Monday is the brainchild of Trish at  wherein we can share creative inspirations of all kinds.

This week, Trish has offered a theme for this week's inspiration: organisational hacks or tips.

I'll do my best. :)

I don't have anything particularly insightful or life-changing to share, I don't think. I'm pretty disorganised as a rule, and always have been, so putting any ducks in any kind of a row is always an effort.

The one thing I do make a point of doing, is getting Spawn's school uniform and lunch ready the night before, but that's not really revolutionary, is it? I also sort out his hockey gear - he plays hockey once a week - as soon as it's gone through the wash, so it's all ready to go.

For myself, I get my clothes ready, make my lunch if I'm feeling frisky enough (or I hoard leftovers, or convince myself that yes, I can afford that divine $12 chicken burger from that one cafe) ... and I get my accessories organised.

That last thing, I think, is what I want to pick out. It's actually a tip I picked up from this list on UFYH's tumblr:

I had a lightbulb moment. I could sort through my necklaces and earrings the night BEFORE and not two minutes before Spawn and I race out of the house for the day.

(Cue angelic host singing something both inspiring and revelatory. Or Bruno Mars doing Uptown Funk on Ellen. All religions are welcome here.)

I like jewellery and on workdays, I feel slightly under-dressed if I don't have my own personal combo - necklace/earrings/fidget ring/mum's ring/wedding ring on.

Rings and earrings of course, know how to behave themselves and keep to their own lanes. Necklaces and pendants ... they're like headphones in a bag, you know? You put them down for five seconds, blink, and they're tangled.

That one little slice from UFYH has saved me a lot of time and grief.

What's your organisational tip/hack?

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Real Steel - review

I have to admit, my expectations weren't all that high for Real Steel. I'd recorded it out of a sense of mild curiousity, and with Movie Night Sunday upon me, I decided to run it up the flagpole.

I have to say, I ended up ... not hating it. It won't be a favourite and to be honest, it was kind of forgettable, but it was watchable.

In the near future, human boxers have been replaced by giant and elaborate robots who face off in the ring.

Jackman is down-on-his-luck former boxer Charlie, who's looking for the next big score to set himself up.

He gains a top of the line robot, and is looking forward to putting it through its paces, but there's a wrinkle - Charlie's 11 year old son Max, who's mother has just died, comes into Charlie's life.

There's  a nice balance in Real Steel between sentiment and set pieces and enough of a building relationship between Charlie  and Max to keep you engaged.

There's just .... something missing. Like someone's put a really nice meal in front of you, but they've forgotten to season it.

That's it. It's nice, but it lacks seasoning.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Misery review

Another month, another Stephen King readalong ... :-)

This time it was the turn of Misery to be taken out in the carriage and possibly for a dance. Though, of course, Misery is a lady, so home by 11, and no ankle flashes, thank you.

The Misery readalong is hosted by the always lovely Care of

The book opens with well-known writer Paul Sheldon being given CPR by - as he soon finds out - by his number one fan, Annie Wilkes.

Paul also learns, just as quickly, that Annie Wilkes is not wired right. She is, in fact, out and out crazy.

But Paul is at her mercy and there's nothing to be done except take the painkillers and try to survive Hurricane Annie.

It proves to be harder than it sounds - especially when Annie finds out that Paul has killed off his most popular character, Misery Chastain, the heroine of a series of gothic romance novels.

(Aside: Does anyone else want to read that series? Just me? Okay.)

Annie takes the news ... .... badly. Very badly. So Paul is coerced into writing a new chapter in Misery's life.

I've read Misery before, and I remember The Thing that happens in the book. I also remember that they pulled back on The Thing in the movie, because of how horrific it is. I had, however, forgotten about The Other Thing.

I do remember greatly enjoying the book first time around, and it's just as good. It's the mark of a great storyteller who can keep you riveted by little more than a crazy ex-nurse and a very unwilling patient for about 350 pages.

Paul's fight for his life, and of course, for his sanity, takes you on a real spiral. It's like being grabbed by the scruff of the neck and suddenly being in the middle of a car chase. Exhilarating, and you hope that you're intact at the end of the ride.

Monday, 22 June 2015

It's Monday ...

.... what are you reading?

Hosted by Sheila at or, in Sheila's absence, track the #IMWAYR hashtag on twitter to find new reads and also new bloggers :)

I had a productive reading weekend. I finished Misery for Care's readalong at and will hopefully write a review later this week.

I also read the Batman graphic novel, The Killing Joke. It was interesting and I liked the artwork a lot but beyond that ... I'm not sure. I feel like I kind of didn't get it.

Anyway. My lunctime reading at the moment is Lady Knight, by L J Baker. It's a medieval-style lesbian fantasy romance. And, I have to say, I'm really enjoying it.

Romance novels - as my friend says about fantasy and sci-fi - aren't usually my genre, but there's something really likeable and familiar (in a good way) about Lady Knight.

I don't know whether L J Baker would be offended or flattered, but I keep picturing Brienne of Tarth when I"m reading about Riannon even though physically they're very different as far as I can tell.

Anyway. It's a good read for lunchtime at work - not to heavy, and I can snack on a chapter at a time.

Also on the go at the moment, I've got Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb, which I'm not very far into yet. The first person narrative is jarring me for some reason, although the story itself is promising.

Yesterday, on a whim, I picked up My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier - the author of Rebecca. I loved Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel is so far, so gothic.

So. What are you reading?

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Mirrormask - review

At 15, Helena feels trapped in her odd circus-family life. She would rather draw than juggle, but as her parents run the circus, Helena is part of the act.

When her mum collapses, Helena feels responsible and has a new set of struggles to face.

One night, Helena steps through into a very different landscape, and finds out that curing her own mother depends on saving the Queen of Light from the Shadows in this strange world.

Along with Valentine, Helena has to navigate the strange world she finds herself in, so she can find the Mirrormask, return the daughter of the Queen of Shadows, and save her own mother.

I love Mirrormask. Based on a screenplay by Neil Gaiman and directed by Dave McKean, it's a true feast for the eyes.

Once Helena travels to the Dark Lands, it's all on visually speaking.

Everyone here wears some kind of mask, and the land is populated by all kinds of outrageous creatures.

Helena and Valentine have to battle the Shadow and, occasionally each other, in order to save not only Helena's mother, but the Dark Lands as well.

Mirrormask is great if you truly want to escape the every day and be taken on a fantastic journey.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Inspiration on Monday

From Trish at comes the idea of sharing the creative things in our lives that inspire us.

Every first and third Monday of the month, share your inspirations, and link back to Trish's blog.

For this week, I'm going to talk about cross-stitch. Again - lol.

Specifically, I'm going to talk about rotations.

The idea of a rotation is to give a project a set time - several hours for example, or a week, or whatever works for you, before switching it out for another project. And so on.

Here's a pretty good definition:

For myself, I have cycled through various types of rotations with various success. Or, really, failure. Which is my fault, because I'm terrible at focusing on anything. But a few years ago, I decided to give it a real, proper, grown-up shot.

This, of course, meant buying stationary.  I decided to go for an hours-based rotation because I find that easiest to keep track of. So I bought a spiral-bound exercise book and sallied forth.

On the left you can sort of see how I organise it. I break each hour down to 15-minute slots, and when I've filled a slot, I mark it out with highlighter. I strive (ha!) to do about half an hour at a time. It doesn't seem like much, but it can build quite quickly.

I put the rotation on pause in order to finish the X-Files cross-stitch I'm doing for a friend, but I only have the word "BELIEVE" to complete and then that will be done, so back to the rotation.

I've had large, small and medium-sized rotations over the years. I've had ...well, let's just say it took me a while to settle and focus on what I wanted to do.

These days, I stitch for myself, mostly. So I'm invested in the journey if you like, and not the destination. It's a calming hobby for the most part, and I feel reasonably productive. It's something I can do in front of the TV and it gives my hands something to do.

Because I'm ..... me, I have more WIPs than I really know what to do with, so it was important that I had a rotation that was manageable, and had projects I enjoy working on.

I will admit that I have changed out projects more than once. Sometimes, something I've been working on just makes me grit my teeth and I know it's time for a change.

The one project that has remained constant is Circe, which you can sort of see in the above picture, on the left. The finished product should look like this:

I've been working on it since about ...2003? 2004  I think? Very much off-and-on but it's a favourite and so it goes in the focus slot, which means that I cycle through 10 hours of Circe between 10 hours of other projects.

For me, the best rotation is a small one, so I try to stick to three projects. Apart from Circe, those projects have changed, for various reasons.

When the X-Files gift is done, my rotation will look like this:

Circe - 10 hours.
Autumn pic from Stoney Creek magazine (I love autumn colours and it's a really lovely picture) - 10 hours
Circe - 10 hours
Yet-to-be-started Dragon Age project - 10 hours
Circe - 10 hours

Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.

When Circe is finished, I'll likely promote the autumn pic to the focus piece and dig through my other WIPs to keep my rotation constant.

What's inspiring you this week?

Saturday, 13 June 2015

All About Eve - review

I have to say, up front, that All About Eve is my favourite movie of all time.

So "review" may be a misnomer.

The titular character, Eve Harrington, (Anne Baxter) is a wide-eyed young woman, following her big dreams of acting to the big city, and straight into the life of acclaimed theatre actor, Margot Channing (Bette Davis).

Margot is 40, and is starting to feel the creeping dread of not being number one anymore, and Eve is the stark reminder that Margot will never see 20 again.

As Eve digs further into Margot's life and the life of her friends, it appears that nothing is really as it seems...

The true genius of All About Eve - apart from the balls-to-the-wall performance by Ms Davis of course - is the snappy dialogue. Some if it is so very sharp, that you could cut yourself on it.

The most famous line of course, is "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night," but pretty much all of the dialogue in the film shines and sparkles and shows it's very sharp teeth:

(Quotes from

Margo Channing: Lloyd, honey, be a playwright with guts. Write me one about a nice normal woman who just shoots her husband.

This gem, from a very young Marilyn Monroe, with her ahem, mentor, Addison deWitt (George Sanders)

Miss Claudia Caswell: Oh, waiter!
Addison DeWitt: That is not a waiter, my dear, that is a butler.
Miss Claudia Caswell: Well, I can't yell "Oh butler!" can I? Maybe somebody's name is Butler.
Addison DeWitt: You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point.
Miss Claudia Caswell: I don't want to make trouble. All I want is a drink.
Max Fabian: Leave it to me. I'll get you one.
Miss Claudia Caswell: Thank you, Mr. Fabian.
Addison DeWitt: Well done! I can see your career rise in the east like the sun.

If they're not scheming in this movie, they're drinking. And if they're not drinking, they're fighting. And if they're not fighting ... well, you get the point.

And, of course, there's the costumes. I have a weakness for the wonderful dresses and gowns in 1950s-era movies anyway, but the way these dresses swish, and drape and fall - it's like they have their own dialogue. 

*Sunday night, I have decided, is Maree's Movie Night. I'm either going to watch old faves, movies I've never seen, something that interests me - basically, anything goes. And then, obviously, write about it. :-)

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Reaper Man - review

Reaper Man is the eleventh novel in the Discworld series by the late and very much lamented Mr Sir Terry Pratchett.

I have slowly but surely been working my way through all of the Discworld novels over the past few years, and every one of them is a real treat.

In Reaper Man, Death sort of ...takes a holiday. Unwillingly, and it's a working holiday insofar as Death ends up tilling soil rather than souls, but a holiday.

The trouble is, the second you give Death some time off, Life starts to pile up in very inconvienent ways.

One of the first to notice, is venerable wizard Windle Poons, who is beyond ready to shuffle off his mortal coil. Unfortunately, his mortal coil clings to him rather inconveniently.

I actually read this on my lunchbreaks at work, and hoped that no one thought I was madder than a wet hen when I started quietly giggle-snorting.

The shadowy entities who banish Death to work on a farm have no idea what chaos it will unleash on Ankh-Morpork and the Discworld at large.

Let's just say ... there are shopping trollies, upwardly mobile vampires, and of course, the Death of Rats.

Reaper Man is loaded front, back and sideways with Mr Sir Terry Pratchett's biting wit, satire, and his humanity.

A real treat.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

You may be wondering ...

... what I'm doing all the way over here. And by "all the way over here", I mean in a shiny new blog.

It's something I've been thinking about doing on and off for a while. I started in 2007, and it's been great, but I'm starting to feel a bit ... bogged down? If that even makes sense, when I'm starting a shiny new blog.

Lately, when I've thought about writing a post, the thought of adding another one to the rather crowded pile, made me kind of tired.

But that's silly, I thought to myself. Just ... spruce it up a bit. New background. She'll be right!

So, I tried that. And ... nope. I don't want to give up blogging - even though more often than not I'm shouting down the void to myself and only hearing an echo - but it's time to move the blog itself on.

Shiny new home. Fresh paint job. All the trimmings. For whatever reason, it feels like the right thing to do, at the right time.

I'm not going to be doing anything particularly innovative or new, I don't think. I want to start writing book reviews again; and add movie reviews to that list. I want to be more consistent with it, and starting over is one way that I know (hope) will work for me.