New Design: Frangipani  July 11, 2014

A new design! Here’s the flower that I based it off of:

And here’s my design:

This is a frangipani flower, though you may also know it as plumeria. I had never encountered it before doing my study abroad in Australia, and then I fell in love with it. It’s still my favorite flower, both for appearance and for scent. This design took me a bit of a different route from my norm, very minimal. But still stylized and bold, so it still fits with my other designs. Right now I only have the customizable listing ready to go, but I have a stack of art prints waiting to be photographed that should go up in the shop soon.

What do you think? Did I capture the flower well? What’s your favorite flower?


Book Review: Dark Paradise  July 10, 2014

Dark Paradise (#1)

by Angie Sandro.

I received a free copy of this book for review from NetGalley.

Dark Paradise If you’re in the mood for a New Adult murder mystery romance with ghosts and Louisiana swampland ambiance, you might want to give this book a whirl. It’s the story of Mala LaCroix, last in a long line of “witch women” – except she doesn’t believe in any of that nonsense, and wants nothing to do with it. She just wants to get by: working, saving up for her criminal justice classes, crushing on George the deputy, and avoiding her drunken mother. But when she finds a dead girl on the bayou, everything changes. She’s being haunted by what is undeniably the dead girl’s ghost – and so is the victim’s hot brother, Landry (who, unbeknownst to Mala, has had a crush on her for years). Now the two are thrown together trying to solve a murder, while the ghost’s rage grows alongside their attraction to each other. Between the ghost attacks and whoever really killed Landry’s sister, and the ever-present prejudice of the small town’s residents, Mala is not sure she’ll make it out in one piece. Or with her heart intact.

I will say this for the the author – she doesn’t pull her punches when it comes to hurting or putting her characters in danger. Not to a GRR Martin level, but nothing to sneeze at. Particularly towards the end of the book, there’s a good amount of adrenaline and oh-shit moments. The down side of this book is that it falls prey to oh-so-overdone Love Triangle syndrome. Not every male-female relationship in books for young people needs to be a romance! The chemistry between Landry and Mala is believable and built well over time (though Landry is a bit bipolar-seeming with his mood swings). The chemistry between Mala and George is very much not believable or built up well, which makes certain scenes in the latter part of the book just baffling. But the ending did throw some intriguing curveballs, and the southern bayou atmosphere comes through strongly throughout. And I liked how the narrative switched between Mala’s point of view and Landry’s – I like getting to see both sides. Overall, I enjoyed reading this and do want to see where the story goes, so it’s a successful first-book-in-a-series hook.

I give it 3.5/5 stars.

Dark Paradise

Try the World  July 9, 2014

A few weeks ago I got wind of a new subscription box that intrigued me. It’s called Try the World, and every two months they send you a box full of gourmet foodie goodies representing a particular city around the world. They call it ‘A Taste of the World in a Box’, and for those of us not rich enough to be jet-setters, this seemed like the next best thing to taking a trip. So I signed up, and awaited my first box, which was all about Paris. This is what I got:





It comes with a handy list of everything included in the box and some history on each item, and also a little culture guide with music and movie suggestions to help set the mood of the place in the box. I particularly liked the French playlist they included. Now, we haven’t gotten around to trying everything yet, but so far, my favorite is the caramels (they melt in your mouth!) and the boy’s favorite is the genuine Dijon mustard. I’m not sure we’ll actually use the chestnut spread, as that’s not a flavor that appeals to either of us, but the teas and hot chocolate and jams are right up our alley. The salt… tastes like salt. I’m never really sure what to do with specialty salt. It’s got a cool story (harvested by hand from the seas of France, etc.), but it’s still just salt. :) But overall, this was a fun mini adventure in a box, exploring what they sent. I’m going to keep my subscription going and see what they have in store for the next box – Tokyo, Japan!

What’s your take on subscription boxes? Love ‘em or leave ‘em?

Tuesday Treasure Trove  July 8, 2014

Tuesday Treasure Trove: this week's round-up of read-worthy links.

Things of Note:

Not much this week, as I spent most of last week working on the patio instead of browsing the internet for links. :) This week, I’m back to focusing on regular work, and printing a lot of stuff for the upcoming craft show. I did sit down over the weekend and get most of the stuff I need for my booth display in order, so now I just need to focus on printing. I’m also taking a little break from house projects this week, but next week I’m going to tackle the fridge with stainless steel paint. Mwahahahaha.

What are you up to this week?

Outdoor Revamp  July 7, 2014

Ok, you guys have heard me talking about how I’ve been working on the back patio and the front flower beds for awhile now, and it’s all. finally. DONE. So today you finally get to see the big before and after reveal! Be warned, this is a photo-heavy post. Take a look:

The Back Patio

back patio before

back patio after

All of those flower pots in the before picture are the same exact ones as in the after picture, just sealed and spray painted. And with stuff, you know, actually planted in them instead of them just sitting there empty. Add a new bistro set (complete with ice bucket!), some plant stands, a new doormat, and (the most labor intensive step) re-painting the cement base, and we have a patio that looks completely different and 100x better. I’m pretty thrilled with how it turned out. Next step: refreshing that white paint on the siding. But that can wait til later this summer. Here are some detail shots:







And now on to the front yard:

The Front Flower Beds

front driveway bed before

front driveway bed after

front beds before

front beds after

Goodbye ugly black rubber borders, hello pretty stone! And lots of baby succulents and cacti – most of them are so teeny tiny right now but will grow into themselves eventually (and be visible over the new stone borders, haha). Ian needs to trim the bushes again, but overall, I love the new look. And all of our new plants. Our jasmine vines are the only non-succulent/cacti plant out there that we planted ourselves, but I’ve managed to keep them alive for two years, so I have hopes they’ll co-exist peacefully. And you know it wouldn’t be my garden without an appropriate garden statue:

garden dragon

The expression on this dragon reminds me so much of Sienna, it’s ridiculous. But here’s some more detail shots from the front:




This last one was the hardest to find, but I love it. It’s called a Black Rose (aeonium arboreum Schwarzkopf). I’ve never seen anything like it. And the crazy looking one in the top left of the above picture will eventually be all reddish colored, as will the one in bottom right. And all of the little agaves and spiky cacti bloom with different colored flowers, too. I was trying to get some color variety but still keep it all in the hard-to-kill family. We’ll see how all of the colors play out once they’ve been in the ground longer. :)

What do you think? Good transformation? Any fellow aspiring green thumbs out there?

Book Review: Northanger Abbey  July 3, 2014

Northanger Abbey (The Austen Project)

by Val McDermid.

Northanger Abbey This is the latest in the line of Austen adaptations I was eager to try out. This version of Northanger Abbey takes place in the modern day, complete with texting, British slang and Facebook stalking. It’s the story of Cat Morland, a teenage girl with a penchant for paranormal novels and Gothic imaginings. She visits Edinburgh for the first time with some family friends for the Fringe Festival, and quickly falls in with a group of young people who, of course, are not all as they seem. Cue potential romance, social gaffes, and miscommunications of varying degrees of fall-out. The original was definitely the most YA-like of Austen’s books, as far as the age feel, and this one follows suit.

To be fair, the original Northanger Abbey isn’t my favorite of Austen’s work, so my lukewarm response can’t be blamed entirely on McDermid’s adaptation. The characters who were annoying in the original are still annoying in this version, and my exasperation with Cat was also the same in places. I did feel like the modern setting was done well, and I definitely want to visit Edinburgh even more than I already did. So kudos to the Scottish author for that. But the sheer volume of British/Scottish slang and the way that text messages were conveyed were just overwhelmingly off-putting. I know these characters are teenagers, but Cat especially is supposed to be a really smart girl, and her texting style was just painful. It read much more like an older person (ahem, the author) trying to imitate teenage speech than actual, authentic teenage speech. For me it was jarring and took me out of the story.

Overall, if you really liked the original Northanger Abbey, you will probably like this version. But if you were only so-so on the original, probably give this one a pass.

I give it 3/5 stars.

Northanger Abbey