Tea blog: the travel bug

I have been working my butt off for the last few months in prep for June, a month which was supposed to be purely full of birthday fun and travel. Although I realise that you have seen very little of it as life, as it tends to do, has decided to throw a few curve balls in my path. So far I have just had to learn to work within my limits and focus on one project at a time- otherwise I may end up putting myself round the twist.

My plan for June was all about about friends and family- and while I have managed to do all these it has not all been as relaxed as I had hoped it would be. I am currently typing this post from a shady sun bed by the pool in Portugal so to say that there has been no relaxing would be an exaggeration. However events at home have made it more difficult to turn off and appreciate where we (as a family) are at.

My birthday was on the 23rd of June and part of my celebration was a visit to friends living in London. Just a few days of hanging out and sight seeing with my girls who I haven’t seen in person since last October. However the highlight of the trip was going to see the two shows of Harry  Potter and the Cursed Child which is currently showing in London on Saturday the 18th of June. Now respecting JK’s wishes and not wanting to ruin it for anyone waiting/wishing to go see it I won’t write a review/spoilers. However I really enjoyed the experience, re-entering the HP universe and the characters we all love. The special affects in particular were amazing. However the plot in my opinion wasn’t what I was expecting – but in agreement with my friends – it is best to view the play as a Christmas special. Something out of the norm, which allows you a special glimpse into the world however the events have no effect on the story or really progress the plot in anyway. Overall, truly worth a visit and really funny.

While in London we also managed to squeeze in a couple of visits to West End live which was happening the same weekend in Trafalgar Square. We saw Wicked, Matilda, Guys and Dolls, Stump, Triller and The Lion King. They each performed a couple of songs from their performance (although it felt like we saw the entire Thriller play) and they were all great. However the stand out by far for me was The Lion King. They performed three song and the music, the performance, the choir were just amazing. I have seen glimpses of the play from tv etc but I would truly love to see the whole thing if they ever tour again or when I manage to get back to London.

After this it was almost time to go, however we squeezed in a cinema date to see the new X-Men Apocalypse which was great, really taking the plot back to the days of the cartoon which is where I developed my love of the series. And quick pop into the udderbelly comedy festival before flying back into Belfast.

After a very quick repack we (as a family this time) flew out to Portugal we landed on the 22nd and the EU referendum for the UK was on the 23rd and waking to hear that the UK had left the EU has been a source of much stress and fear over the last few days, not only for myself but friends and family. This turn of events compounded changes with work which had conspired the week before my holidays began.
I have been forced to relocate or ‘transfer’ with work to a branch were I have had some negative working experiences which is also further/more awkward to reach. And this relocation is almost immediate, as I am to start work there upon my return from annual leave, which is stressing me out quite a bit. I am also returning to work after being out of the loop quite a bit, as the company I work for is an EU based company was branches in the UK and so far, I have not heard what the consequences for Northern Irish companies has or will be, which is just adding to my stress levels. I am only 24 but with job offers, rejections, relocation’s and political upheaval I feel this might be what a quarter life crisis feels like. However I am staying positive, continuing to work on my c.v., applying to jobs where I can use my skills more and working on myself mentally and physically.

Thank you for taking the time to share in my mental debrief.

Sincerely,

Maebhe

Tea Blog: Sewing adventures

So the blog has been quite for a couple of weeks now because i have attempted a couple of big projects as part of my sewing adventures and as creative fodder for the blog. One turned out quite well, not quite perfect but i am very happy with it. Another was completed but didn’t turn out as well as i hoped and it was this project which swallowed up the majority of my time. These projects were a kimono/cardigan and a huge tulle skirt- none of these designs were my own i took a lot of advice from an awesome blog/Youtuber called WithWendy as well as an amalgamation of advice from numerous Pinterest posts.

Kimono/Cardigan

So…. sensible Maebhe went out the window when it came to experimenting with my new sewing machine and i went straight to a huge project with many complicated seams and techniques. Now it was eventually able to complete the cardigan ( this is project 2 mentioned above) however the shape, fit and look of the overall piece is a little rough and unpolished & therefore isn’t something i will probably ever wear. However i am proud of how much i learned in the process and would genuinely feel less intimidated when it comes to taking on another big project in the future. I also learned that velvet is one of the worst fabrics to try and learn to sew on. It sheds while being cut, it sticks to itself constantly when you put the right sides together to try and measure any templates out and is super slidie when the satin side is down.

However since completing the cardigan i have been thinking on how to use it as i don’t want it to go to waste. So i’m thinking since i heading to London in June to see the Harry Potter theater show i am going to purchase a Gryffindor patch to attach and make it a Gryffindor…. dressing gown…? 🙂 I will be wearing potter stuff from head to toe with my besties so i doubt anyone will judge but its an idea, we will see.

 It’s Sunday which means no make up and therefore my face ain’t made for the blog right now.

Tulle Skirt 

I was really happy with how this project turned out despite losing an entire weekend sewing layers of tulle together. Now before you judge, i realise its not perfect – the waistband needs a little work, and its very puffy therefore making me look a little bit like a Gothic cupcake but i really love it.


Like i mentioned in the intro- i got a lot of the basic skills from WithWendy and she tutorial are awesome but i still felt like her work was a little advanced for myself (see project 1) so when i came to creating this project i adjusted the foundation for the skirt by skipping the creation of an underskirt and used a body-con skirt that i never wear (it was a random purchase during high school). And then created the rows and rows and ROWS of tulle. Running two single stitch rows along the top of each of the rows and then pulling the opposite end of each row to create scrunching and then attached the accumulated layers to the skirt in a slightly tiered design.

9 layers of fine tulle in 3 rows / 4 layers of course tulle in 2 rows

 This ultimately resulted in a huge puffy skirt which i adore – which totally gave me flash backs to high school and my My Chemical Romance days and Helena – leave me a comment if you see it! And my Nike tee is probably not the best combo but who cares, because after all the rows of stitches i had used to attach the tulle it had affected how stretchy the skirt was, so it was a small miracle that i was able to get it on over my more than generous butt. And i loved my Princess Leia hair buns this day, they totally haven’t turned out this well since.

Please check out Wendy’s blog she can properly advise how to do something like this compare to me who depend on rough doodles example above.

I hope you enjoy and i will hopefully take you on my next fabric shopping trip and keep you up to date on my sew adventures.

Maebhe

 

 

December Book Haul

So Christmas is over, the madness of the new year has passed, resolutions have been made and broken and life is slowly returning to normal. So this felt like a good time to pull out the books i received over the holiday period and have only recently had a chance to properly look at.

To any who have followed my book related content for a while now these have a slightly different theme from normal, as most of my books to date have been heavily focused on fantasy and urban fantasy with little straying. In comparison these books were gifted as part of my plans for this year, inspired by my recently purchased Sewing Machine.


I bought this with absolutely no background knowledge of sewing, only a passion for vintage and a long held wish to give sewing a shot. A little bit spontaneous for me when it comes to my usual shopping habits but i am really excited. So as part of my Christmas pressies my family got me a few sewing machine and general sewing books starting from the foundations of using a machine through to simple projects and tutorials.

I also bought myself this book called the Teeny Tiny Gardening book by Emma Hardy which includes inspiration for the little terrariums i love the grow/design as well as a lot of inspirations for using succulents in small places. Its a lovely little book with some beautiful photography in it.
   My last purchase was a more recent one, last weekend to be precise and it appealed to the book nerd in me so much that i simply could not walk away without purchasing it for myself.

In the following picture you can see the Harry Potter book clutch i managed to purchase at the local St Georges Market in Belfast. Now sadly i don’t know where else you would be able to purchase this awesome bag but if i can find a link i will add it below or share it on my social media somewhere.
   When i saw this book clutch it was the only Harry Potter one left in between a couple of other random books. only after i purchased it was a shown by the lovely lady at the stall that it  came with a Harry potter coin purse as well as a long shoulder strap chain which suits me better than just a clutch bag, because i am usually too lazy for clutch bags.

The only slight peeve i have with this purchase is that the cover is the american title version, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone rather than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. But i still love it and can’t wait to use it, but i don’t think i’ll be using this as a work bag.

So I am going to start a new series to keep a record of how my sewing experience develops and share any skills i manage to develop as part of this adventure. If any of you would like to learn how to use a sewing machine alongside me and i hope this is something that you would be interested in, i would love to hear what you think about this idea and what you would like to learn about if there is anything specific.

Short but sweet,

Maebhe

Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Illustrated Edition 

Published by: Bloomsbury 

Author: JK Rowling

Illustrated by: Jim Kay

Review

  I feel that over my two years here my love for the Harry Potter series has been well document however recent stressers in my life have caused a resurgence of my Harry Potter usage (sounding a little like a smoker trying to quit here, however this is not an addiction I would ever give up!). The HP audiobooks are amazing tools for falling asleep too when you cannot get your brain to turn off. I also have amazing friends as they have managed to get some of these extremely difficult (& this is quite an under estimation of the ticket stalking process) to purchase ticket for the Harry Potter sequel theatre production, The Cursed Child next June. Which I will 100% blog because it’s one of the preview tickets – so early! Plus we are also prepping for this trip, 7 months in advance so hopefully it will mean some good costumes!

As part of this I recently purchased the new hardback, Illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone! And it is simply gorgeous!

  

  Having created two children’s books through the completion of my masters I have had time to research a lot of children’s books, both written and illustrated. So I was extremely happy to see how the illustrations for this book turned out. I had heard about this book’s potential release a long time ago, and having seen the thousands of beautiful interpretations of the Harry Potter universe online, like those on Tumblr and Pinterest, and having followed the movies which were already visually beautiful, in my mind there were a couple of ways the illustrated edition could turn out.

  Firstly, illustrated books, like I just mentioned, being very closely associated with children’s publishing despite the growing adult illustration industry, i.e graphic novels and manga, could have been very ‘childish’ in style. Which in my mind this could be very daunting to adult individuals, like myself, who had grown up with the novels, but who could possibly be put off due to this style. Although I also realise that the diehard potterheads would enjoy it regardless in most cases.

  In a complete juxtaposition the style could have been too graphic, focusing of the older reading audience. Which could put off adults who want to introduce the books to younger readers or equally make it more difficult for younger reads to connect with the imagery.

  So I was genuinely so happy to see how they turned out when I saw the early sneak peaks which are even more glorious in the physical print. The paper quality is also REALLY nice (sad publisher issues). The illustration style is a happy medium making is accessible and beautiful without being childish.

  

This is one of favourite images from the book as they were able to capture an image I have always had in my head but have never seen, as this was an element of the book which wasn’t in the movie. The books use of imagery especially scenes which weren’t in the films is, in my opinion, why I am loving the illustrated edition so much and why it has been such a success. As it was difficult to imagine adding to the HP world, but this book and hopefully the whole illustrated series, has added to the visual ‘reality’ of the written books.    

  This is my last image but as you can see, it is a perfect example of how the illustrated edition has been able to expand our knowledge of the potter world. Not only illustrating the physical story/plot but treating the reader like a hogwarts student, educating you and allowing the reader to be fully immersed in the Harry Potter world. 

  I realise my photos genuinely aren’t doing this book, the quality and the imagery, justice. But I just wanted to share my thoughts and maybe inspire some Christmas ideas, because if I hadn’t bought myself it, it would have been an amazing gift to receive. 
Be back soon

Mwah, Maebhe x

Reads of 2014: A Review

While the rest of the Internet has long since shared their best reads of 2014 I’ve been a little late getting in the writing game this year. I have already acknowledged that the last year was a difficult reading year for myself due to university commitments & work resulting in a lot of re-reads rather than new reads. This doesn’t mean I didn’t read any good books. I have to say a couple of my favourite books from the last year include;

1. Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone
This was a great book, took two attempts to really get into the book. However I fully understood the plot and the heroine I was hooked. I have already purchase book 2 & I can’t wait to read it- see how the plot progresses!

2. Kresley Cole’s Dark Skye
While I can admit that this hasn’t been my favourite in the series. I realise that this for me, became one of those over anticipated books which couldn’t match up to my expectations. However it was still enjoyable & I love the IAD series.

3. Thea Harrison’s Nights Honour
This book was a nice change in pace for this series. While a lot of the reviews I have seen on this book have been pretty poor I have to disagree. While it’s not the fierce (or semi-fierce) female protagonist that is customary in the as books- Tess is still strong in a quieter way as is Xavier. It also lay a strong foundation for the next book in the series which I am now itching to read. 🙂

4. Karen Maire Moning’s Dark Fever
This is a new author for me, discovered through Thea Harrison’s Facebook page. This series in set in Dublin which is practically local for me & therefore a complete novelty. However it is also a really good book with a lot of room for growth, in book 1 there has already been dramatic growth in our lead character MacKayla who initially drove me crazy. However perseverance has paid off &now I’m really excited to see how the plot will progress.

I also rediscovered Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series after an extended break. I had struggled with how the Anita Blake series had progressed in later books, specifically how Anita had lost some of her Bad-assery in favour of an incomprehensible number of men, lovers, boyfriends, etc. but I plan on writing an author review on Ms. Laurell K Hamilton’s books very soon. So keep an eye out.

Finally but most importantly I discovered the joy of the audiobook. Specifically the Harry Potter books, allowing me to rediscover all the depth and nuances from the series that I have forgotten.

These have been my favourite reads if 2014 however I have high hopes for this years reading endeavours. But Thank you as always for taking the time to read my little piece & I would love to hear what you’ve been reading or are looking forward to this year.

Maebhe

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My Audio book Experience

So it has been ridiculously long since i have been blogging regularly and i am struggling to pick up one of the now numerous books in my to be read pile while which is growing dangerously tall. However it is not for any loss of love for reading, as i continue to read about new releases and purchase the odd book which i am fascinated enough about to purchase – which has been a much stricter process in recent months as i am on a very limited budget as i have only  started back to p/t work and i am currently on the job hunt. A miserably place for any book lover and graduate to be as i am once again in limbo regarding what to do with my life and i am developing a severe case of ‘itchy feet’ – “the need for travel”, which has only been made worse by all the people around me who are going adventuring at the moment.

I feel that this amalgamation of factors has led to some of my reading melancholy – as books are adventures in themselves (or they are supposed to be) and i think i might be jealous of their fictional lives…. George R. R. Martin says it best;

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

I’ve put this one down to ‘Problems associated with Readers Addiction’, gave myself a good boot in the backside and a reality check! So my solution has been to delve into the world of audio books and it has been to much success. As i mentioned in a previous the Masters dissertation referenced to the Harry Potter series and this re-fueled the desire for a re-read and resulted in my listening to my first ever audio book (excluding a read-a-long copy of Bambi from when i was very little) – and i loved it!

So much has been released recently regarding J. K. Rowling on social media for example the ‘Harry should have ended up with Hermione’ scandal to the resurgence of ‘Pottermore’ and the Quidditch World Cup coverage which allowed a fresh insight into the on going lives of our much loved characters that i began to realise that much of my Potter knowledge was starting to be replaced by the film edition of how this developed rather than the books – as i have gone back to the films many times in recent years to fix any potter cravings rather than dive into the time warp that the books can be, and this had caused me to forget some of the best bits of the books.

Starting with the first Harry Potter book in audio this was highlighted by the extended run from Harry’s acceptance letters through to how much of the book was changed for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I new personal favourite has to be Harry’s singing valentine from Ginny in The Chamber of Secrets which – when read by Stephen fry has had me in stitches.

His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,

His hair is as dark as a blackboard.

I wish he was mine, he’s really divine,

The hero who conquered the Dark Lord

While i haven’t finished the series (again) yet. Its renewed my love for the series and J. K. Rowling writing but has also shined new light on the Harry & Hermione vs. Ron & Hermione debate which i discussed in a Tumblr post HERE.

Overall i feel that the audio book and the animation and effort which has clearly been put into the reading has alleviated my fears that i would be listening to someone drag on and ruin some of the experience (Like experiencing Professor Bins History of Magic first hand –  The Potter references are coming back 😀 ) and created a true fan of the medium.

This has encouraged me to go on and try other audio books, resulting in the discovery of H. G, Wells’ The Time Machine which is currently downloadable on Random House Audio Books Facebook page in celebration of H. G, Wells’ birthday.

“It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning.”
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

I am honestly not that far into the recording but it is wonderful and i am very excited to see how much it differs from the film. As it is a move which i watched numerous times growing up and its different editions. Already it is quite different from one my favourite film versions which has a strong romantic element to why the ‘Time Traveller’ developed the time machine however this hasnt stopped my from enjoying it. And as an admitted sci-fi fan I feel i need to add this book to my read list (listened list??) – as Wells is acknowledged as one of the fathers of the genre.

I would love to know if anyone you are audio book fans and how they compare to paperback/kindle etc?

Be back soon!

Maebhe

Tea Blog: Scotland Week 1

Welcome the country whose national animal is the Unicorn!!
portal

So the move has been made, I took a little time before writing this piece to give myself a little time to get situated and break in my new living quarters.
It has been an odd and emotional experience moving, not only out of my family home for the first time but leaving the country on a more permanent basis than every before. Its been a transition for me and my family but I’m feeling more comfortable now than initially but I’m still adjusting so full judgement will be withheld at least until I start my classes just before the end of the month.
UKunicorn2

So my first week I actually ended up being the only person in my flat for the whole week, people only started arriving yesterday! It was a little weird & seemed to make the moving experience a little more daunting for my parents as I was alone. However this did allow me to be a complete tourist for a week, just walking about & finding my way around.

My first adventure took me into old town. This kinda lives up to its name because all the buildings have maintained their old stone appearance which is just too cute & just has a whole Harry Potter feel. Which just made my Nerd-tastic little heart flutter!! 😀
old town
This also allowed me see the beautiful Edinburgh castle. It sits upon what is a plug from a long extinct volcano which the castle was built upon. Initially this castle was called The Castle of the Maidens where supposedly Morgan Le Fey, the sister to King Arthur, who also attempted to kill him. It was then rebuilt during the 12th century by David I, son of Saint Margaret of Scotland.
edinburgh castle

I actually have planned a small adventure for this week, as my friend Sio who I’ve mentioned here before, just left after a little weekend visit to help me settle in which I am incredibly grateful for, as of course, I caught fresher’s flu or for cough this week & have been a little miserable. But now that I’m gonna be on my own again I want to visit The Elephant House, the café and restaurant where J. K. Rowling wrote a majority of her first couple of books, especially Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I will find this place & attempt to sit where she sat & bring a blank journal- if writing inspiration hits me I will let you know. 😀
grassmarket

And to make my first week here even more eventful, my first night on my own, my parents had literally left that afternoon & I was already an emotional mess. But to add to my state, at 6am that next morning the fire alarm went off. The boiler had broken in the student accommodation & had apparently been leaking into the ceiling before breaking through into an apartment on the floor above me. This lead to steam causing the alarm to go off & the whole building to be evacuated. It was scary & stressful.
However on an oddly positive note, it was this set of circumstances & being trapped outside on Freezing Scottish morning for an hour gave me my first real opportunity to meet people from my floor & I actually befriend a couple of people this way – Not that I ever want to repeat that ever! But Silver Linings as they say…

That’s all for now, I know I’ve been promising a lot of things in my last couple of posts but I know I have a lot to makeup for and to catch up with. I’ve allowed myself to be distracted by the stress of moving a million other little things. Now that, that is over I will use this time to make up for as many as possible.

Also Edinburgh Central has to be the best Library I have ever seen! And of course I immediately joined, its fantasy & Sci-Fi section was amazing so I have a couple of books I have on the go at the moment as well as a couple including Christine feehan’s Dark Storm which was really good.

And Holy Marshmallows Batman – Robin Hobb is coming to Edinburgh I am going to work my hardest to be there!! Fingers crossed!! So I will make it up to yous.

Mwah!,
Maebhe x