Saturday, 31 October 2015

My Geek Box - Afterlife Edition!

October 'Afterlife' My Geek Box c/o The Hut Group
mygeekbox afterlife

Happy Halloween everyone! 

To celebrate my favourite holiday I have a Halloween-themed subscription box review to share with you. My Geek Box* is a subscription service where a box containing 5-8 themed mystery goodies arrives at your door in exchange for £19.99 per month. The box has been on my radar for a while now and always looks like a lot of fun, so naturally I jumped at the chance to review the latest one - the fact that it happened to be Afterlife themed to coincide with Halloween was a total bonus!

One item that is always included in the box is an exclusive t-shirt and this month's 100% cotton tee features a simple but cute white 'BOO!' design. When you sign up to the service you are asked to select your t-shirt size - they offer a wide variety: Men's S-3XL and Women's S-XXL - and not being a fan of super fitted t-shirts I opted to size up which was definitely the right decision. I love the perfect-for-Halloween design and in all honesty will most likely be wearing it as a pyjama top!

As you know I love a good book so when I opened up the box I was very pleased to see a graphic novel included. Although the website states Twisted Dark (Neil Gibson, 2010) is a #1 Kindle Bestseller, I have to admit it's a title I hadn't actually heard about before so I'm looking forward to finding out more! According to the blurb the graphic novel is about the darker side of humanity and contains eleven interconnected tales - very intriguing!

mygeekbox afterlife

Also included were a few zombie inspired goodies! First up is an awesome metal 'warning' sign from UK-based company The Original Metal Sign Co. and alongside this was a zombie-themed window sticker - both of which would be great for Halloween decor! The third and final item that had a zombie feel to it was a tea towel decorated with bloody hand prints. Similarly to the t-shirt this is a simple but effective design that's well-suited to the theme. I like this one so much it will be going straight into my 'box of homewares' I've been gathering for when I (eventually!) get my own place.

The final item included in the box was a Dracula-themed puzzle game. The idea behind this is that you should be able to turn the little wooden figure into a cube by moving around the individual blocks which are held together by elastic. I think is a brilliant idea and definitely adds something a little bit different to the selection, plus these type of items would be great as stocking fillers.

Overall there was a fun selection of items in October's box, with lots of variety which I think is always important with any 'mystery' box. All of the items included were very different yet they each match the Afterlife theme perfectly, and the box was definitely a lovely treat for me to receive on the run up to Halloween!

If you like the sound of these items there's still an opportunity to pick up the Afterlife box over on the website. Next months theme is Movies & Television and if you want to get your hands on it you can subscribe by visiting mygeekbox.co.uk
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Sunday, 25 October 2015

October Reads & Reviews

Cover images via goodreads.com

Whilst most people were probably picking up darker tales in time for Halloween I opted for the more, well... what you might call October-inappropriate choices. Which actually seems quite ironic considering I've spent most of this year reading darker tales.

Wildflower (Alecia Whitaker, 2014) tells the story of Bird Barrett, a sixteen year old musician and songwriter. Whilst Bird can usually be found playing the fiddle as part of her family's band, one night she has to step up to take on the lead vocals and is offered a solo record deal. Bird soon finds herself in Nashville, playing at the famous Bluebird Cafe where she receives an offer from another record label and suddenly her life is flipped upside down.
Mainly due to the novel's Nashville-esque vibes, I found that I quite enjoyed reading something a little 'nicer' for a change. When it came to the end of the book I felt the story seemed incomplete and quickly discovered that a sequel was released just a few months back. Although perhaps not my usual sort of read, I'm sure I'll pick up the sequel at some point.

Continuing with the lighter reads I took up the offer to borrow my friend's copy of Since You've Been Gone (Morgan Matson, 2012), a title it seems all of my Goodreads pals have given either 4 or 5 stars - meaning it had a lot to live up to! Luckily I wasn't disappointed and really enjoyed following Emily on her journey to complete a list of tasks left behind by her best friend Sloane.

I'm currently reading Amy & Roger's Epic Detour (2010), another of Matson's YA novels and am looking forward to finding out how the pairs roadtrip will end.

If you have any book recommendations for me I'd love to hear them!
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Saturday, 17 October 2015

Top 10 Halloween DIYs

Halloween is just around the corner and in all honesty I'm disappointed that I've not had huge amounts of time (or sadly, inspiration) to put together any DIY tutorials for you this year, despite it always being my favourite time to craft for. Behind the scenes I have been working away on a Halloween-themed quilt although sadly it's unlikely to be finished by the end of the month. Since I haven't been able to create any new tutorials, instead I thought it might be fun to re-share some of my favourite projects from years past...

halloween diys eeliseetc 2

1. Decorated Pumpkins - where better to kick off than with pumpkin decorating? Last year myself and Skye decided to set a pumpkin challenge over on our shared blog Eight & Sixteen. i really loved the end result of my project and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to top them this year!

2. Cobweb Coasters - my most recent Halloween project (a themed quilt) was actually inspired by these cobweb coasters I made last year. As it turns out it's a lot more difficult to stitch big cobwebs onto a quilt than a tiny coaster (I definitely didn't think that one through, but that's a story for another time!), but this is a great beginner project to try if you're interested in quilting.

3. Spooky Ghosts - back in 2012, long before we started Eight & Sixteen, myself and Skye decided to set each other Halloween-themed DIY challenges and share them on our own blogs. These little ghosts were the result of my first challenge in the series and I loved how they turned out. In fact, I actually still have one of these little guys. He lives in my garage window, looking out across to the bunnies' house mansion!

4. Pumpkin Lantern - simple yet effective this lantern DIY is a great upcycle project which doesn't require many supplies and that's what makes it one of my favourites. This one is actually another project I still have out on display - this little lantern lives happily on my windowsill all year round!

5. Upcycled Candy Corn Earrings - another upcycling idea from last year are these super cute candy corn earrings made from paperclips! The idea was inspired by Pinterest where I had seen other paperclip earring projects. The triangle shape just screamed candy corn to me and I decided to create my own Halloween-themed version.


6. Wands - although not strictly a Halloween project I really enjoyed making these Harry Potter inspired wands. Whether you use them as the finishing touch to a magic-inspired costume, as table decorations or little favours for your party guests, they're sure to go down well with fans and are a lot of fun to make!

7. Candy Corn Bunting Necklace - when it comes to jewellery projects this one is definitely one of my favourites, and having created it a whole nine months prior to Halloween I was excited to finally be able to share the tutorial. If you played with hama/perler beads as a child you'll love this new way to use them!

8. Felt Bat Bow - this super simple bat-inspired bow can easily be turned into several different accessories that are all perfect for Halloween. My favourite way to wear it was as a bow tie but it would work well for decorations such as a bunting garland as well!

9. Wire Skulls - over on Eight & Sixteen I had a lot of fun trying out projects I stumbled across on Pinterest and this is one of the most fun. All you need for these is some wire and pliers so if you make jewellery you'll like this one as you'll already have the supplies! Also, there's definitely a theme here but this is another project that I still have on display now.

10. Shrunken Heads - if I were hosting a Halloween party this year I'd definitely be making another batch of these awesome shrunken apple heads! They're so much fun to make and you can be super creative with the face designs. They look amazing served up as a surprise in the top of a mug or glass and are sure to impress your guests!

halloween diys eeliseetc 3
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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

(Halloween) Character Style Inspiration - Coraline Jones

Movie stills via imdb.com

In a first for this style series, today's inspiration comes from an animated character! Although she may not be real, Coraline Jones certainly has a pretty awesome wardrobe. Full of bold colours and lots of stripes, Coraline's looks in the 2009 adaptation all suit her adventurous nature perfectly.

From bright green tights to orange polka dot pyjamas and those famous yellow wellies, Coraline sure isn't afraid of a good pop of colour. Her signature colour, as shown by her cute heeled boots, nail polish choice and arguably her best accessory (her hair!) is of course bright blue.

Shop the look: Cashmere Star Sweater, Harrods £385 | Blue Cowboy Boots, Amazon £52.78 | Striped Tights, Amazon £12.36 | Bomber Jacket, Coggles £391 | Boucle Skirt, The Outnet £156 | Red Converse, Surfdome £44.99 | Nails in 'Bohemian', Little Ondine £8.40 | Gilet, John Lewis £29.50 | Crazy Color Hair Dye in 'Sky Blue', Attitude Clothing Co. £3.99 | Messenger Bag, Bags Earth $59.87 (approx. £40) | Striped Tee, John Lewis £20 | Striped Gloves, Matches Fashion £115 | Wellington Boots, eBay $27.52 (approx. £18) | Skinny Jeans, New Look £7.99 | Dragonfly Hair Clip, Amazon $7.95 (approx. £5) | Yellow Mac, M&S £55 (no longer available online)
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Saturday, 10 October 2015

#beadhaul Bonus Project #1 - Wrapped Shell Earrings

As promised a couple of weeks back, today I'm sharing an additional tutorial to accompany the very first #beadhaul box! These bold turquoise shell beads, which I used in one of my necklace tutorials for the Crafty Creatives website, were one of my favourite items from the September selection so I've decided to use them again for box one's bonus project.

To make your own pair of earrings you will need: 2 x square shell beads (you can find the ones I used in the Crafty Creatives online shop), jewellery wire, round nose pliers, flat/chain nose pliers, wire cutters

beadhaul bonus tutorial earrings

1. First cut length of wire around three times the height of your bead. Use pliers to create loop at one end of the wire

2. Place the length of wire flat against one side of the bead and wrap it around (as shown above). Make sure to hold the wire down as flat to the surface as possible and when wrapping make sure to keep it tight

beadhaul bonus tutorial earrings

3. Wrap the wire around the bead again so looks like photo above with one piece of the wire on each side of your loop

4. To hold the design in place and create a neat finish wrap some of the excess wire around base of the loop and use wire cutters to trim off any excess
 beadhaul bonus tutorial earrings

5. Repeat steps 1-4 for your second bead

6. The final step is to add on earring wires which can be purchased pre-made or created from your basic wire. If you want to have a go at making your own try using my 'Jewellery 101' guide (remember, if using wire you'll need to create the loop for hanging) - making sure to file down any sharp edges on the wire before wearing!



If you're interested in finding out more about the #beadhaul box and how to get your hands on the next box hop on over to the Crafty Creatives website for information!
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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

(Halloween) Character Style Inspiration - Dark Swan (Once Upon A Time)

Images of Jennifer Morrison via imdb.com

With Halloween just around the corner I thought that it might be fun to share some holiday-appropriate style inspiration throughout the month of October, kicking off with an all-new version of a character I've featured before.

If you're all up to date on your Once Upon A Time viewing you'll know that lead character Emma Swan has had a little bit of a makeover for season 5. The all-black ensemble shown above is the first sneak peek we've had at the character's new wardrobe and it's perfectly suited to her new role as the 'Dark One'.

I'm a huge fan of Emma's usual comfortable-yet-stylish wardrobe, mainly consisting of skinny jeans, knitwear, boots and a trusty leather jacket. Her bold new appearance takes everything we know and love about Emma's look to the extremes. Here everything including the leather is black (no more signature red), the accessories have gone statement (a huge contrast to her simple hoop earrings), the boots are taller and have gone from practical flat soles to sky-high heels. To complete the look Emma is also sporting a bold red lip and striking pulled back white hair.

Shop the look: Over-knee Boots, Amazon £137.38 | Leather Jacket, My Theresa £1,199 | Leather Belt, Amazon £20 | High-Waist Leggings, Topshop £25 | Chevron Rings (part of a set), Forever 21 £6 | Lipstick in 'Wicked', Topshop £8 | Metal Cuff, Jaeger £35 | Nails in 'Marshmallow', Little Ondine £8.40 | Coat, Long Tall Sally £110

Love Once Upon A Time? Check out my other Character Style posts: Emma Swan | Mary Margaret Blanchard
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Sunday, 4 October 2015

Podcast Starter Guide: The Black Tapes Podcast

the black tapes podcast
Screenshot via theblacktapespodcast.com

As mentioned in my last post I'm very excited that we're now finally into October, meaning Halloween is almost here. With that in mind I can't think of a better time to share the love for another of my favourite things to listen to; The Black Tapes Podcast.

The podcast is a gripping scripted docudrama with a perfectly creepy twist. When journalist Alex Reagan sets out to make a show about people with interesting jobs she finds herself drawn into the world of the paranormal.

"The Black Tapes Podcast is an exploration of life, belief, faith and occasionally the paranormal. This season we're focusing our lens on the work of the Strand Institute and it's enigmatic founder and president Dr Richard Strand." - Alex Reagan

In the first episode Alex meets a group of ghost hunters and ends up heading to a site where a hospital used to stand in order to watch as they attempt to make contact with a spirit. With every ghost hunter she speaks to Alex begins to hear more and more about a mysterious man named Dr Richard Strand, a paranormal investigator... who doesn't believe in ghosts.

After managing to arrange a meeting with Strand she discovers a bunch of VHS cases in his office, each corresponding to solved or 'debunked' cases. Alongside these are a small selection of 'black tapes' which stand out from the others and Alex learns that these contain cases Strand has not yet been able to solve. From then on the podcast follows Alex as she explores these unsolved cases and discovers more about the mysterious man that is Dr Strand.

If you're not into the idea of watching horror movies this Halloween season, why not sit back with your headphones and check out The Black Tapes Podcast instead?
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Friday, 2 October 2015

5 Years Of e-elise etc!


blog turns 5 cake

October might just be my favourite month of the year. With Autumn on the way I can start to dig out my beloved knitwear, Halloween goodies start popping up all over the shops and it also marks some big blogging achievements. Not only does Blogger's Bookshelf turn three later this month (already?!) but today also marks five years since I started writing e-elise etc!

In honour of five years of blogging I decided to bake a gluten free treat! After much stress over trying to find a recipe that, a) I had all of the ingredients for, b) I really wanted to eat, and c) actually rose as it was supposed to (I'm looking at you failed first attempt!), I settled on this chocolate creation.

The recipe I used was the Chocolate & Almond cake from Cake Angels by Julia Thomas which happens to be both gluten and dairy free. As the tins I had were smaller than those suggested for the recipe, I ended up with three layers rather than just two and decided to add some of the filling mixture on top of the cake along with a few hazelnuts. To finish off I added a couple of decorations; a washi tape garland (made using some tape & string from a #paperhaul box) plus a cute number 5 candle.

Whether you've just discovered it recently or have stuck around for a while, thank you all so much for taking the time to read e-elise etc!
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