Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Swap Goodies Sent to Me

I received my swap goodies from my partner on the fairy tale swap. Knowing that I collected frogs she used the "Frog Prince" as a theme.

First of all she made me this bag. How amazing is this? She decorated one side with a heart and buttons (I love buttons) and on the other she painted this lovely image of the frog prince.

The plastic frogs have magnets attached to their feet so that they stick to the fridge.

I have just finished watching the third series of STNG. I am working my way through these fairly quickly. By this point the characters are well established and the actors are more comfortable with themselves and each other. The end of season 3 also sees the first use of a cliffhanger double episode. It sees the return of Gates McFadden and the return of the Borg. I am going to come out as being completely unoriginal and say that the Borg cliffhanger episode was my favourite. Watching it again reminded me of just how good it was. One of my favourite things about these DVDs is watching the actors and crew talking about their experiences. Extras is not something I normally enjoy but I loved this series when it was out and I am enjoying hearing everyones opinions on it from when it was being made. What I found interesting was that Michael Piller who wrote "The Best Of Both Worlds"wrote what he felt was an impossible situation to get out off. he had promised the producers of the show that he would write for them and run the writing team for a year and that was it. He had no intention of coming back and saw the second part as someone elses problem. However, he then reconsidered and his biggest problem was going to be to write a part two. It does seem that way as you watch it and I remember sitting open mouthed as I watched it the first time. This is also the first time that the Borg mentions assimilation

Gates McFadden being back was something I was glad about when I watched this the first time. I didn't like Diana Muldaur as her replacement. Now I can see what they were trying to do. They were trying to bring a character into the show who was more like McCoy from the original series. It just didn't work, at least not for me. McFadden had been asked to leave the show after her first year due to disagreements over the development of her character. She was asked back for the third season as her replacement was not that popular with fans. There were continued disagreements over her screen time especially in the movies. None of this was mentioned on the extras though.

Obviously what I am mainly excited about is the return of Dr Who to our screens tomorrow. Sadly I will be working so I will have to rely on it being taped. Watching it will be the first thing I do when I get home. I am looking forward to seeing new companion Martha Jones. It will be interesting to see how different she is from Rose and how the Doctor and herself work together. From what I have heard this characters is more independent and they tend to be my favourites but we'll see. Disappointingly there is going to be that romantic link between the two of them as there was between Rose and the Doctor although in a different way. I guess it will always be like that now.

Timewarden, I haven't watched any of the movies apart from the TV movie of IT and Needful Things. It was It that got me reading King in the first place. After that I found going back to It to be disappointing and never felt the need to watch any of the others. I do vaguely remember watching bits of The Tommyknockers too. So many people tell me that Carrie and the Shining are fantastic but they just never appealed to me. I liked The Dead Zone but Kings books do tend to waffle a bit and have been criticised for that. I have been tempted to watch the TV series based on the book but have yet to get round to it.

Lili, I am glad that you are enjoying the book reviews. My reading has slowed down a bit thanks to work so it will be a while before there are more I'm afraid. I haven't stopped reading, it's just finding the time to fit it in. I am glad that you liked all the Next books and that you are going to pass them on to your family now that they have been translated into French. I am very excited about the next instalment too. I have a couple of his books signed so I am hoping that he will be here in Glasgow to sign his next book and this time I might actually get to meet him. I hope you are enjoying "Girlfriend In A Coma". Coupland has a simple writing style so you should have no problems with his other books should you go on to read them. My only recommendation is to leave "Jpod" to last if you do decide to read the others. This is my favourite of all his books and it puts the rest of them to shame (as good as they are). I got everyone I work with to read this (although I made sure that they had read the others first). He has a new book out at the end of this year. So it will be interesting to see what it is like. In your letter you asked me about the reviews in my previous blog. I didn't delete them so I'm not sure why you can't access them. Maybe it's because the blog has been inactive for so long.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

Book Reviews

"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak

Death is going about his own business when he comes across the book thief. He doesn't know why but he is intrigued by her. When he comes across her story years later he decides that he should tell it to everyone. Liesel is a little girl who has been separated from her family and is now living with her foster parents in Germany during WW2. Her only comfort is the book she stole at her brothers funeral. That book becomes the first of many and each one stolen highlight significant parts of her life. Soon she learns the comfort of friends and a family she grew to love.

This author has been described as the next Philip Pullman thanks to this book. I don't know about that since both have very different styles of writing. What I can tell you is that I loved this book. At first I was a little unsure of the fact that the story is written by Death. In the first few paragraphs I was reminded of Terry Pratchett's Death but that soon went away . This is such a sweet story and so very sad. I warn you that you won't be able to keep a dry eye reading this and it is very much worth it.

"The Ruby In the Smoke" by Philip Pullman

Sally Lockheart has just suffered the loss of her father at the age of 16. Having to face life with out him she also has to solve a mystery regarding his death. She is being sent strange messages and when she tries to investigate a man dies literally of fright. Unlikely friends help her as much as they can but her very life is in danger and she has no idea why.

This is one of the many books that I have been meaning to read but never quite got round to it until now. I missed the TV adaption with Billie Piper which is what spurred me to read it in the first place. Now that I have read it I can't imagine Billie in that role. Mind you, I couldn't imagine her in the role of Dr Who companion before the series aired. The book itself was a great teen read but not a touch on His Dark material trilogy. If you aren't much of a fan of young adult fiction then you probably won't enjoy this. If it wasn't for some of the content I would probably have classed it in a younger age group. I still enjoyed it though and will probably read the rest in the series as great group of characters have been brought together for that. Too many other books I want to read so it will be a while before I go back to Pullman again.

"Stardust" Neil Gaiman

Young Tristan Thorn has promised his love that he will bring her back a shooting star and she will give him her hand in marriage. Tristan takes this seriously and with the help of his father crosses the wall into the fairy woods. When he finally finds the star he sets out to bring her home despite her reluctance. On the way they come across many a strange character and many a danger. Tristan perseveres however and doesn't doubt his ability to bring her home to the one he loves.

If you are looking for something a little bit different in the fantasy genre then this is it. It is dark, funny and full of magic and fairy tales. There isn't a single part of this book I didn't enjoy. I liked the idea of a village which rarely changes or sees the outside world. A village that has contact with the fairy world only during market time. I loved all of the characters within this village and equally I loved the characters in the fairy world. A quick read but fun. I highly recommend it.

"Carrie" Stephen King

I'm sure most people know the story line to this one. Young girl is an outcast in her school. An incident in the showers causes her to discover her talent for telekinesis. To make up for the abuse she has received one of the most popular guys in school asks her to go to the prom. Someone else is looking for revenge however with disastrous consequences.
A while back I said that I was re reading King which is why I picked up "Carrie". The first time that I read this book I was very disappointed with it. This was in my early teens and I had not long read "It" or "The Stand". It didn't have the detail that I had come to expect with King and I was impatient to get to the good stuff at the end. This time though I saw more to it. I enjoyed the build up. It is really true, you grow to appreciate things more as you grow older.

Timewarden, the Big Finish audio I listened to was out a while back. It is from series 1 and Philip Gilbert was still alive. They are still being produced though and are about to release the second title in season 6. I haven't really talked about it here but yes I am looking forward to the new series of Dr Who. It wounds like they have some good story lines put together. I am most looking forward to seeing Captain Jack back together with the Doctor. I loved his character and it will be interesting to see how he and David Tennant's Doctor get along. I am also looking forward to seeing new companion Martha and the differences between her and Rose. I am hoping that she will be very different from Rose. I liked Rose but she did start to grate on me near the end. I am hoping that Martha will be more independent and less needy.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Sock Monkey and Big Finish

This is my first attempt at making a sock monkey. I got the instructions from "Super Crafty". I have been wanting to make one of these for a while now. I happened to mention it to a friend who insisted that I made her one (she also requested the skull and cross bones). It was a good incentive to get going. It took a few hours to put it all together. It's not exactly the neatest but I'm quite proud of it for my first go.

Once I finished the monkey I then made a start on this snowman Christmas decoration. The lovely Lili sent me the kit this week and I had to make a start on it. I tend to make Christmas tree decorations for other people but I have one or two of my own. Since Lili sent this kit to me I have decided to add it to my own little collection. I did forget to add the fringe to the edge of the scarf. I didn't realise it until I had cut out the snowman and by then it was too late.

After watching season one of STNG I went back to "The Tomorrow People". There were only a few episodes left so it didn't take me long to finish. The last few story lines weren't that great to be honest. They seemed to get stranger as time went on. The use of puppets at one point brought the whole tone of the show down. Overall though I still enjoyed it and liked the whole concept.

Since I enjoyed it so much and really didn't want to see the 1990's remake I decided to give the Big Finish audio stories a go. I had meant to order the first one but I accidentally ordered the fourth. Not that it makes much of a difference as the story lines aren't connected. In this one John, Paul and Elena discover a new TP breaking out. John and Paul go to Wales to investigate only to discover a dampening field which interferes with their abilities. Elena meanwhile discovers a ship above the same area are linked. Trouble comes when she goes to the ship to investigate. Clare Buckfield and Gareth Thomas star in this one. I did enjoy it. It was more like the first episodes of the series.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Cat #3

This is the third MS cat to be finished. I had made a start on him before I started with the crafts for the swap so he was finished quickly. These cats do seem to have little characters of their own. I think this one is looking up at a tree and wondering if it is worth the effort to climb it. He remembers getting stuck in it last time and receiving lots of attention which was good. But can he be bothered in putting in the effort to get up there in the first place? I need to get out more, lol.

I was at the craft fair on Saturday. There I bought this bookmark kit by Sue Hawkins as I thought it was a little different. It uses mostly long and satin stitches on canvas. I actually only opened it up to have a look at the content. A few hours later I had finished it. I very much enjoyed stitching this one and think I will hang on to the pattern. The colours can always be changed to make more.

I was a little disappointed with the fair itself. I hadn't been for a few years as work has got in the way. This year I promised myself I was going and was really looking forward to it. However, there seemed to be fewer stalls than before. I wasn't intending on buying much in the way of cross stitch as I have a lot here at home. I was wanting to pick up one of the Mirabelia packs to go with one of my charts. They didn't have them at all this year. I actually only saw one stall that even had the charts. The second hall with the different crafts was even more disappointing. I had been intending to buy quite a bit in there as I have been leaning towards paper crafts a lot lately. The selection wasn't that great. In the end I bought a couple of pads of lovely shimmery paper but decided that if I wanted anything else I would find a better selection on line. Everything seemed so bland.

I still had a good time though and managed to spend more than I thought I would. I had taken my mum as part of her mothers day and then took her out for lunch afterwards. It was a nice day out.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Craft Swap

As I mentioned a few posts back I was working on another swap. This one was called "New Take On Fairy Tales". We were to take a fairy tale, rewrite it and then craft some gifts to send along with it. My chosen fairy tale was "The Snow Queen" as I always loved it as a kid. Most of the swappers were more taken with the crafts than anything else. The story really became the little thing to add in. I had planned on writing mine in more detail. Almost like a short story. Unfortunately I ran out of time and so I wasn't able to do as much as I wanted. So I won't be publishing it here.

As you can see I went for a scarf again. I decided that since it was about the Queen of the snow a scarf would be ideal. I also made some note cards. These three are part of a set of six. I printed some snowflakes onto OHP transparencies. Painted them and covered them in glitter and of course cut them out. It was something I saw at a craft fair and wanted to try out.

As promised I said that there would be some cross stitch involved in this swap. I took some designs from my "Cross Stitch Myth and Magic" book which I felt fit in perfectly with the theme I had chosen. The fairy I have stitched before as a Christmas card. This time I decided to use the same fabric but stitch it onto a pillow. The notebook I used acetate snow flakes and ribbon to decorate. I then stitched this queen for the top. It's the first time I have stitched something onto a pillow or even a notebook although i have been meaning to do so.

I do have one more swap that I am taking part in but once that is over that will be me for a while. The next one I don't think will take up as much time.

Lili, thank you so much for your lovely letter. I got it today. I would have sent you an email but I haven't been able to access my email in three days now. Is anyone else having problems with hotmail?

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Dr Who Swap

I received my parcel from my swap partner in the Dr Who swap I took part in. Wait till you see the amazing goodies I received.

As you can see my swap partner is mainly a crochet crafter. She designs most of the things she does herself. The Tardis top comes off to reveal that the Tardis is hollow. She had filled it up with sweets (which are now gone, yum). The unmistakable fourth Dr was also in there. I honestly can't decide which I like best. My mum and sister got a kick out of these too. In fact I had to rescue them from them both.

Christine our scanner isn't working and for some strange reason all of our graphic programmes on the computer is missing so I wasn't able to upload a diagram of inside the crochet hook holder. I did try to photograph a diagram but it didn't show well. I will just explain what I did and hopefully it will make sense. I took a piece of felt the same size as the outside cover but in a different colour. I then trimmed away 1/4 of the length of the felt. I stitched it to the inside of the cover to make one large pocket. I then divided this up using pins and the stitched to create lots of smaller pockets. Does that make sense?

Lili, I read Alice in Wonderland after reading the Thursday Next stories too. I am sure there were things in those books that I missed from not knowing the stories too. If you have any questions though I will be happy to do my best to answer them. I hope you like the Jack Spratt stories. I enjoyed the first one and I have the second one there still to read. A friend and I got another friend in work to read them and she is impatiently waiting for the third. Although I think his next book is another Thursday Next story. I have watched one or two Avenger episodes when it is repeated. I mainly remember the ones with Joanna Lumly as during my phase of watching them these were the ones that were mostly repeated.

I am one of the few people who favour DS9 over all the other Star Trek series. Next Gen comes a very close second though and Picard will always be my favourite Captain. I'm not sure what my favourite episode is from the first series. I did like "conspiracy". I remember seeing the unedited version for the first time and felt cheated in discovering some of it had been left out when I first watched it. I quite like "Datalore" too. I also found myself laughing while watching "Haven" and "The Big Goodbye".

Saturday, 3 March 2007


Here is the second of the Margaret Sherry Coaster Cats. I am also halfway through the third one but it might be a while before I finish. I am taking part in another swap and I don't have as much time to send out as I did for the last one. As soon as I am finished with it I will post pics of what I made. There will be some cross stitch involved in this one.

Thank you for all your comments on the Dr Who swap. I'm glad you liked them. Christine I'm afraid that I didn't photograph the inside of the crochet hook holder. I will draw a diagram of what I did so that you can get an idea of what I did and will post it in my next entry. Lili I will try and email you some authors to look out for.

I read on notebookism that it is National appreciation letter writing week. This sort of leads on from last weeks booking questions. I love handwriting letters. I think with everyone these days so reliant on email that letter writing has become rare. I email as much as most people but I do appreciate a handwritten letter. There is just something more personal about it. You have more time to think about what you are writing this way rather than when sending an email. It shows that more thought has went into it. I also like the idea of bringing crafts to letter writing. When I was little I had a number of penpals. I was limited to how much pretty stationary I could actually buy. Plain paper wasn't a problem though and I used to decorate it myself. Something I don't really do anymore. Anyway, I know that it is probably an American thing but I challenge everyone to write a letter of appreciation. I bet it will make their day. I have just about finished my letter and will send it out Monday.

I have yet to finish "The Tomorrow People" but I needed a little break from it. My mum received all the Star Trek Next Gen series on DVD as a birthday gift. She has almost finished watching them herself and so I made a start on season 1. I remember watching all of these episodes when it first aired on TV. I loved it from the start. At the time while I liked the original I wouldn't have said I was a huge fan (I have grown to appreciate it more since). This however was so much better. There were more female roles and there was actually a kid who got to help out on the bridge. It was sleeker and so much more up to date (this was important to me then as I turned my nose up at anything I considered old although funnily I never saw Dr Who like that). Now watching it I remember all of those things but I am seeing more. I am enjoying watching these characters that I know so well develop again. You can see that these actors are still getting to know their characters as well as each other. Something I wouldn't have noticed the first time round or maybe I see it more now because I know how they develop. I'm having fun watching them. I will go back to the TP after I have finished season 1.