Sunday, 30 December 2012

150+ Book Challenge for 2013

I've decided to take a 150+ book challenge for the next year!  I thought that sounded like great fun in challenging (and motivating) me to read more (and maybe reading a bit more fiction too!).
150 books is actually quite a lot I realise... but even if I don't complete it, I'll benefit from trying!

Lets see... 150 books in a year is an average of more than 10 a month... gulp... and how many did I read in December?  I'd estimate 5.  Uh oh!  Time to more than double time spent reading :)  But it's what I should be doing anyway!
I've made the decision to apply for a PhD in the New Year... and I'm taking 'books' to not include journal articles, as that's the majority of what I need to be read.  But... hmmm maybe if I bend the rules a bit and include them.  Would that be cheating?  The rules state "as long as the book has an ISBN or equivalent or can be purchased as such, the book counts."  And individual journal articles don't have their own ISBN, but I think the journal itself does.  Hmmm.
OK I'm going to cheat a bit with this and include journal articles!  Then it will be a most useful challenge :)  And one that I can fathom meeting.
So in this post I will keep a running tally of books/articles that I have read towards my challenge, starting January 1st! 
This blog challenge is being held by My Overstuffed Bookshelf.  Do you want to join too?  The page is:
Happy Reading!

2013 Completed Reading List

1. The Wild Life: a Year Living on Wild Food by John Lewis-Stempel

2. The Social Brain and the Shape of the Palaeolithic (Cambridge Archaeological Journal) by Clive Gamble, John Gowlett and Robin Dunbar

3. Human Evolution and the Archaeology of the Social Brain (Current Anthropology) by John Gowlett, Clive Gamble, and Robin Dunbar

4. Origins and Revolutions by Clive Gamble

5. Language the Cultural Tool by Daniel L. Everett

6. The Importance of Conveying Visual Information in Acheulean Society. The Background to the Visual Display Hypothesis (Human Origins) by John McNabb

7. The Identity Model: A Theory to access Visual Display and Hominin Cognition within the Palaeolithic (Human Origins) by James Cole

In Progress
-Breakfast with Socrates by Robert Rowland Smith
-The Origins of Grammar: Evidence from Early Language Comprehension by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff
-The Seamstress by Maria Duenas

Saturday, 29 December 2012

New Logo... But No Squirrel!

I've sat down and worked out a bit of branding.  I've made a new logo for my Etsy shop as well as my blog here, and tweaked the colours.  My next task is to make a 100x100 banner and see if anyone wants to trade advertising space on their blog ;)

When I originally sat down to make a logo I wanted to have a cute little graphic and I came up with this squirell I scribbled out by looking at a photo:
I like squirrels...
I want to have a squirrel as a logo but squirrels have nothing to do with bookshelf necklaces or crafting.  So I'm not sure how I could achieve this.  Unless the squirrel is at a bookshelf.  That could work... I will have to mull this over.  If anyone has any logo suggestions I welcome them :)  Especially if they include my squirrel.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

A History of Bookshelves

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

I found a really interesting blog post in The Paris Review about the history of bookshelves.  Books weren't always stored vertically with their spines outwards...
Sometimes the pages of the book were painted so as to be recognised

"The first spine with printing dates from 1535, and it was then that books began to spin into the position we’re familiar with."   Read the article

Sunday, 23 December 2012

15% off until the 28th!

Hooray!  I'm comfy and enjoying Christmas holidays with the family.  As I'm away from the workshop until the 28th, I'm offering 15% off with the coupon code XMAS15 (just enter it at point of purchase in the coupon field).  Then I'll have lots of work to do when I return :)

So if you're not getting a bookshelf necklace for Christmas... it's the perfect opportunity to gift yourself! :)

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Recipe: Gluten-Free Apple Almond Cake

The husband and I are off to the 'rents house for Christmas holidays today, so I'm planning to bring a cake!   My mother in law is gluten-free, and so I wanted to try and make an almond cake - I searched around for a few recipes, and chopped and changed a few things, and thought I'd share my take on one with apples!

3 chopped apples
Juice of 1 lemon
300g golden caster sugar
8 eggs
325g ground almonds
icing sugar and flaked almonds to sprinkle on top

-In a pan, cook apples with lemon juice and a bit of the sugar.  Mash them when they are soft enough, but leaft them a bit lumpy for texture.
-In another bowl mix the eggs, and then add the ground almonds, rest of the sugar and lemon juice, and the apple mash.
-Grease a baking tin and pour in the mixture, sprinkling the flaked almonds on top.  Bake for 40 minutes.  After cooling, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve!

I haven't actually done this yet, but I'll check back with a picture of how it turns out.  It sounds like an easy recipe though!!  What could go wrong...?

Oh, I had better buy a baking tin.

[Update: It baked like a dream, and tasted amazing!  Definitly going to make this one again!!]

Friday, 21 December 2012

I love wrapping presents!!! ...don't you?

I possibly love wrapping paper
as much as this species tends to
Present wrapping is one of the delights of the Christmas season in my opinion.  You get the living room to yourself, a nice drink ready and the Christmas tunes on, and then you sit down with pretty paper, scissors and tape and have a crafty time.  It doesn't matter if the end product looks a bit like something you might have made in second grade - it's FUN!

I notice a lot though that I might be in a minority of people who like this chore awesome way to spend an afternoon.

In the office I worked at in recent months, I was quickly passed gifts that needed wrapping (ex a boxed bottle of wine was a common thank you gift for speakers etc.) - and I felt not only just because I was the team assistant!  I got the feeling that no one else relished the chance to sit down away from the monitor and play with paper and ribbon for a few minutes.

But why?  I mean, the tools all look pretty, and you stick em all together and it just ends up looking great.  The reason for not liking wrapping surely can't be embarrassment at a lack of skill?  There is none!  It's supposed to look like you just rolled them up and stuck on a bow!

washi tape - better than sliced bread
This year I had pretty washi tape with patterns on it to accentuate my wrapping.  It's honestly thrilled me more than cheesecake or a new dress could.  It's tape!  It has butterflies on it!!!

Come on people... wrapping!   It's so fun!

...isn't it?

Monday, 17 December 2012

Unique, Cheapest or Best: My 3 rules for success on Etsy

I've chatted to a lot of interesting and creative people about starting up a site on Etsy to sell crafts, and what the secret ingredient it is to making sales... it's unfortunately all too easy to have lovely items but still not make any sales, since there's just so much competition out there. 

From the conversations I've had and the people I've met and tips I've picked up in my own experience, I've developed a rule of three (since in our culture we just love threes, dont we...!).  A sucessful item on Etsy (or any other online selling site really) needs to fit into one of the three categories to make good sales.  It needs to be either:

1. Unique
2. The Cheapest
3. The Best

I've always prided my bookshelf necklaces as falling into the first category (and therefore, also the third haha).  But since I've stumbled across another bookshelf necklace seller (*sob* see previous post), I'm afraid I'm just going to have to hold on to 3 very tightly!

How am I going to do this?  I need better photos, more communication with everyone through social media, and I need to roll out my new bookshelf necklaces (I have some really cute themed ideas cooking!).  I also need to bring this blog a bit more up to snuff, and get back into giving YOU lovely readers free swag.  Ugh, I just used the word swag.

But I'm committed to being number three.  I will stay number three!!!

Friday, 14 December 2012

Christmas Gift Guide: Gifts for Book Lovers

I've sorted a collection of great gifts for those who love books and reading.  Enjoy!

English Poem tights by Zohara
I'm loving book purses at the moment.  This one is Sherlock Holmes, by

This Stack of Books Pullover is by LittleAtoms
These are very sweet bookends!  By DesignAtelierArticle
Make your Kindle look like a hardback!  By KleverCase
Sneaky stash boxes to hide things on the shelf by Eric Ervin Woodwork
Trim your tree with miniature books!  By Watermark Bindery
This pretty art print of a little bird on a stack of books is by ContemporaryEarthArt
So if you'd like to get me any of these I'd be quite happy!  Are any on your Christmas wish list?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Special Necklace: Breaking the Nexus

I was recently commissioned to do a special necklace for a giveaway by author Lindsay Avalon, for her upcoming debut paranormal romance novel, Breaking the Nexus (out today, 12/12/12, available to purchase on Amazon for Kindle or in paperback!).  You can visit her website here:  And, here's a synopsis:
Breaking the Nexus' cover

Throughout history, myths and legends of extraordinary creatures have been told and retold. Fantastic tales of demons and banshees, gryphons and dragons, and of course, magic. Stories that every child grows to learn are nothing more than fantasy…or are they?
Beyond the world you see lies a hidden realm, the Mythrian Realm, inhabited by all of the creatures you’ve been told are mere fiction. Only one thing lies between humans and the truth: the Nexus. A magical barrier erected millennia ago to separate the two realms, it has stood the test of time. Until now.
For Mythrian Sha Phoenix, magic is nothing new. But when she stumbles upon a portal on the verge of collapse, her fate will forever change. Pulled through the portal into the Human Realm, she lands in the middle of Detective Connor Flynn’s brutal murder scene. Soon it is obvious someone is using blood magic to try to bring down the Nexus. Together, Connor and Sha must work to unravel the secrets before the barrier falls and the realms collide.
The Nexus is breaking and all hell is about to unleash…literally.

And here's the necklace!:

I painted a continuation of the forest scene from the front cover, set in a bronze rectangular cabochon, and the blue pheonix (the series' symbol) is in the corner. It is strung on an 18" bronze chain.  Who will the lucky reciever of the prize be...?

Monday, 10 December 2012

It had to happen sooner or later...

I do my research from time to time, tentatively searching Google and Twitter for mentions of 'bookshelf necklaces', hoping that I only find links so mine (since for the last year and a half, that's all that existed!)

A couple days ago though, during a routine Etsy search, I came across something that looked very familiar:

Nope, that's not one of mine!  The second ever bookshelf necklace seller has appeared :(

Now I can't REALLY be all that sad or angry - I mean I can't have a copyright on a necklace that looks like an every day object (and even if I can I think it's a bit unfair...).  And it's a free world, right?  

They look remarkably like mine - three shelves (with an optional tall model), glued to a silver flat pad bail and strung from an 18" (or 19 in his case... I should switch to 20!) chain.  Even the photo shots, like above, seem remarkably like how I model my necklaces.  I think I've been copied the source of some inspiration.

There are some differences - these necklaces are made out of recycled leather, and have gold embossing on lots of the parts (which makes me wonder how durable it is?).  They're also conveniently priced just a few dollars less than mine are.  But I like mine better, I stand by their quality and their crafty creativeness, and... I do get defensive when I take a look at this site!

I don't know if this will mean big competition for my little bookshelves, as so far they haven't sold all that many, and it seems they've only been doing so for about a month.  But, they are located in the USA - and since most of my customers are in the US, it might be tempting to buy one of his instead of mine and wait for the longer shipping times, eep...!

But again, I'm telling myself not to worry.  Good luck to them as an Etsy seller, maybe we can form a bookshelf necklace makers guild or something.  There's plenty of people in the world that love reading and books and bookshelves.

...but if I see them featured on bookshelf porn I'll be green with jealousy!!!