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Archive for the 'Potpourri' Category

Behind the Mask…

Chinese Masks

Masks in a Chinese craft shop

Since I’m off on a mini holiday and leaving before the birds even think about chirping tomorrow morning, I thought I’d give you a virtual tour through China during the next four days. I hope to pop in and chat during the day, so I’m going to leave you with a question.

If you could pick any mask to wear what would it be? Something elegant, something silly or something else?

My husband would probably pick a snorkel mask since he loves snorkeling. I have trouble getting him out of the water when we’re on holiday! I’d pick a half mask–one that would be perfect for a Regency masquerade ball. A mask to conceal yet seduce…

What would you choose?

Twelves Pieces of Advice For First Dates

Going out with someone new can be nerve-racking and stressful. I’m currently researching a new story where first dates are involved, and here are some commonsense suggestions I’ve discovered to get through that date without breaking a sweat. I’ll definitely be using these in my fictional first date…or not!

1. Don’t call it a date. Keep it casual and keep the pressure off.

2. Limit the length of the date. If the date is a disaster, it’s best not to prolong it! Choose an activity such as coffee or a walk in the park or go for a drink.

3. Have a backup plan in case something goes wrong.

4. Don’t be late. It sets a bad impression.

5. Agree on what to wear so neither of you are surprised when you meet for the date.

6. Groom appropriately i.e. wear a deodorant and make sure you don’t still have lunch stuck in your teeth.

7. Don’t drink too much alcohol.

8. Be assertive without being aggressive. Make decisions but don’t be too bossy!

9. Go somewhere quiet so that you can hear each other talk and get to know each other.

10. Don’t talk about your ex! No one wants to hear about the one who got away.

11. Offer compliments if there is something about your date that you like.

12. Don’t do all the talking. Listen as well.

I didn’t date that much, since I met my husband when I was quite young, but I do remember a first date where the guy reeked of garlic and wanted to kiss. Yuck!

Do you have any advice for first dates or any first date horror stories?

Twelve Facts (?) About Werewolves

1. Legends of werewolves have been with us since Greek times and even earlier.

2. European folk law in particular is full of tales of men shifting to wolves.

3. In one of the legends, Ovid (Metamorphoses) served human flesh to Zeus. In punishment, he was changed to a wolf.

4. Lycanthropy is a mental illness where a patient believes they have transformed into a wolf.

5. Curved fingernails, red hair, eyebrows that meet, hair that grows beneath the skin are all signs of a werewolf.

6. Werewolves have superhuman strength but are vulnerable to silver bullets.

7. The vulnerability to silver only appears in tales after 1935.

8. Werewolves are very active during a full moon.

9. In some tales, a special salve is rubbed over the body and this transforms a man to werewolf.

10. Some werewolves transform after donning a wolf skin or a wolf skin belt.

11. If a werewolf bites a human, the human will become a werewolf. This method of turning is a modern invention and does not appear in early legends.

12. Many of our recent thoughts/perceptions are due to Hollywood movies and popular novels, and they bear little relation to the old legends.

Today kicks off my Lone Wolf tour. My first stop is at Book Junkie. I hope you’ll pop over and visit. Don’t forget – every time you comment on one of my Lone Wolf VBT posts you’ll go into a draw to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

What do you think about werewolves? Do you have any tidbits to add to my werewolf list?

Want to Grow a Bonsai Tree?

Yesterday Mr. Munro and I were listening to the radio while driving down the motorway. Hubby listens to a fuddy-duddy station with lots of chat, but it turned out to be interesting when the discussion turned to bonsai trees.

The lady speaking about them made growing bonsais sound very easy. Hubby and I like projects, so this weekend we’ve done some research.

Although bonsai is a Japanese word, bonsai trees were first known in China back in 1000BC. They were grown as gifts to give to the wealthy and were called pun-sai.

Bonsai Tree

Bonsai are grown in shallow pots and usually kept outside. They should be kept out of direct sunlight because there’s not much moisture in the pots. Quite a few varieties of trees are suitable to turn into bonsais, including several New Zealand natives such as the pohutukawa and kowhai. The lady on the radio mentioned Japanese maples are very pretty since their leaves turn color with the seasons. Basically you choose a seedling or small “junior-sized tree” from the plant nursery. Trim one-third of the roots off the tree and also trim the leaves so you gain a nicely shaped tree. The branches can also be wired to attain an attractive shape. Special soil is required – check at your plant nursery – and of course you need your special shallow pot. Once the bonsai are established, they require yearly root trims and shaping.

We have lots of small seedlings underneath our hedge, and we thought we’d try growing a pohutukawa bonsai.

Here’s a video on how to make your own bonsai tree

Do you like bonsai trees? Have you ever grown one?

Attending a Cocktail Party? Make Your Own Fascinator Hat!

I’m really excited to introduce my guest today. Maddy Barone writes romance and has a love of all things paranormal. In her own words, “I’ve been writing since junior high. Werewolves, time travel and handsome princes who can wield magic and lead armies are my thing. Any damsel in distress that I write can darned well rescue herself and if the hero’s ego can’t take that, then he’s not a hero. I want strong men who can respect their ladies and treat them like partners, not dainty little dolls. Is there anything sexier than a tough man who finds that one perfect woman and is willing to do anything for her?”

Maddy is also a keen member of SCA, a non-profit education organization that studies the renaissance and middle ages. She gets to dress up, mainly in garb from the Italian Renaissance but she has Japanese, Viking and Byzantine garb too. Just quietly – she has a rather cool steampunk outfit that I have my eye on. I’m very tempted to launch a surprise attack from New Zealand to nab it for myself!

Today Maddy is taking us through the process of making our own fascinator hat. Give her a warm welcome. Over to Maddy…

How to Make a Fascinator Hat

HRH the Duchess of Cambridge (nee Kate Middleton) has made fascinators the newest rage in headwear. Appropriate for every social event from weddings to the races to cocktail parties, a fascinator can add the perfect finishing touch to any outfit. But –gulp!—have you seen the prices?! Wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper to make it yourself? I made this one for $10.00 (USD) in 40 minutes.

Fascinator Hat

Fascinator

Do you think you need to be a milliner to be able to make a fascinator hat? Well, you don’t! All you need are a few things you already have around the house and a couple things from a craft store.

Fascinator Materials

Materials:

A round base. This can be a ready-made sinamay base available from some millinery supply stores and Etsy.com, or a small plastic lid covered with fabric.

Veiling. About 12-15 inches (30-37 cm) This can be purchased from bridal supply stores, eBay, Etsy. But you can do without it too. Use tulle or take a veil off some old hat from the thrift store.

Feathers. I bought mine at JoAnn Fabric & Crafts. I used:
a half-pinwheel of black feathers
a 3 inch piece of black and white marabou feather boa
2 red feather clumps

A focal piece. I used a brooch from my grandmother. You might use a silk flower, a fancy button, a cute bow, a rhinestone earring or clip.

Fastener. I’m using an old black plastic headband. You could use a comb, a clip, a barret or elastic.

Needle and thread or glue. I sewed my items on so I could remove them and re-make the hat with other items and colors, but you could easily use a glue gun if you prefer.

Directions:
1. If you will be using veiling, gather it to a length that will go half way around your base. Stitch or glue in place along the back edge. If it looks a little wonky that’s okay. The wearer can use hair pins to put the edges in place.

Fascinator 1

2. Begin adding your feathers, layering them in whichever fashion you like best. I sewed the pinwheel on first. See what big ugly stitches I used? I plan to take this off and remake it sometime to go with a different outfit. Big stitches are easier to remove, and who is ever going to see them?

Fasinator 2

Fascinator 2

3. When the feather layer is secured by stitching or glue, add your focal piece. I used my grandmother’s brooch. I can take it off and replace it with another one to change my color scheme.

4. Stitch or glue the fascinator to the headband or whichever fastening method you chose.

5. Try on the fascinator. Pretend your hair is perfect, your eyes are dramatically made up and your lips have that 1950s red pout. Use hair pins to arrange the veil in the most flattering way.

You’re done!! Congratulations! You have a fascinator hat to wear to your next cocktail party!

Fasinator Fascinator

Wolf's GloryWolf’s Glory

After the Crash, Book 2

When goth-girl Glory Peterson’s plane crashes she walks to find help. What she finds are people living in teepees like it’s the Old West. Wolf’s Shadow knows Glory is his mate. Glory’s happy to take a roll in the hay with him while she’s waiting for transportation back to civilization, but when she finds out she’s gone fifty years into the future and Shadow is a bossy werewolf who thinks he owns her, her attitude changes fast. Shadow is used to giving orders that are obeyed. Glory hasn’t obeyed an order since kindergarten. When two strong-willed lovers clash, who will win?

Available from Liquid Silver Books Now

Visit Maddy Barone to learn more about Maddy and her books.

CONTEST: Book one in Maddy Barone’s series, After the Crash, is actually one of the ebooks in the ebook bundle I’m giving away. The contest closes soon. Details of how to enter are on my contest page.

Make Your Own Hand & Foot Scrub

During our last holiday one of the special activities on board the cruise ship was making beauty products using items from the pantry.

Below is one of the recipes:

Sweet Brown Sugar Scrub

1 part milk
4 parts brown sugar

Mix the sugar and milk together.

Apply to hands, scrub and rinse. This scrub makes the skin soft yet avoids the use of artificial ingredients. You can also use on elbows, feet, knees and other rough skin. Replace the milk with cream to make an extra silky, rich scrub.

Five Plus a Day!

Peppers

In New Zealand we have a five plus promotion that encourages us all to eat at least five servings of fruit or vegetables per day. It’s surprising how many people don’t eat much in the way of fruit or vegetables. I know at times cost can be a factor. At other times it’s diet choice.

During the eighteenth century it was quite common for people to eat a diet consisting almost entirely of meat. Tourists from France and farther afield were very surprised at the lack of vegetables in the English diet. British seamen died in large numbers with scurvy, which is caused by a lack of vitamin C. We obtain most of our vitamin C in fruit and vegetables.

Today, I just scraped in eating cranberries with my porridge, 2 x mandarins, mushrooms, onion, garlic, red peppers and tomato on our homemade pizza.

I know it’s difficult to get kids to eat vegetables some times. I remember having to sit at the table and not being allowed to move until I’d eaten my vegetables. Luckily, my tastes have changed with age and I enjoy most vegetables these days.

Do you manage to eat five plus fruit or vegetables per day?

I Have A Mushroom Farm.

We went to the Farmers’ market last week. We haven’t visited for a while and there were some new stallholders plying their trade. One of them was selling fresh mushrooms and small mushroom farms in buckets. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at growing mushrooms so I purchased one straight away.

Mushroom Farm

This is my mushroom farm on the day I purchased it.

We keep the farm in the lounge because it’s the warmest room in the house. It only needs a misting of water every two to three days and needs to be kept out of draughts and excessive light.

Mushroom

Here’s one of the mushrooms. Mr. Munro said I needed the kiwifruit for a size comparison. We’ve eaten about three of our mushrooms so far, and they were delicious.

The bucket is meant to produce mushrooms for 6 – 8 weeks under ideal conditions. It’s been very cold here but there are actually some tiny pinhead mushrooms appearing. At one stage we thought we were only going to end up with five mushrooms.

Do you like mushrooms?

Lost in Austen.

I’ve been watching a UK drama called Lost in Austen recently and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s based on Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice. Here’s the blurb from the TV New Zealand site: Bored bank worker Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper – The Black Dahlia; As If; Hex) literally becomes lost in her favourite Austen book, after she finds a strange portal in her bathroom and swaps places with its heroine Elizabeth Bennet. As she gets to know the Bennet family and encounters the famous Mr Darcy (Elliot Cowan – The Golden Compass), how can she keep this celebrated romance on track?

In the last episode, Amanda and Darcy had a moment and Darcy told her he loved her. Of course, Amanda is worried because he’s meant to marry Elizabeth Bennet, but she does get him to go into the pond and get his shirt wet. It was a very special moment for both Amanda and me!

Here’s the trailer to watch if you’re interested:

Purchase link for DVD: Lost in Austen

I’d like to step into Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series or Eloisa James’s Desperate Duchesses series or Scarlet Woman from my Middlemarch Mates world.

If you could choose a book, a movie or a tv program to step into, which one would it be?

Ah Choo! It’s a Sneeze Fest

I was thinking about sneezing the other day because I scared the dog with a loud sneeze. We’ve all experienced the prickling, tickling sensation that heralds a sneeze. Sometimes they explode out of nowhere at the most inconvient times, such as when you’re driving. I was curious so I googled sneezing…as one does.

A sneeze is your body’s way of expelling an irritant from your nose. It can be dust, pepper, cold air, allergies or viruses that cause the explosion.

When you sneeze you use lots of different muscles — your abdominal muscles, chest muscles, the diaphragm, vocal cords and muscles at the back of your throat. You also use your eyelid muscles since sneezing makes us shut our eyes. Remember that sneeze while you’re driving? Yep, not so good because you automatically close your eyes.

Sometimes we want to sneeze but it doesn’t quite happen. There’s nothing worse! They say one out of three people sneeze when they’re exposed to bright light. I haven’t found that. They also say it’s an inherited trait and runs in families.

Do you sneeze after exposure to a bright light?

Sources:
www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sneeze
www.kidshealth.org/kid/talk/qa/sneeze.html