[MailCall Monday] 24th July

(Not so) Lame Mail

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have been entertained by my recent shopping spree on the That Lame Company sale during a trip away. Travelling between the in-laws and my mum’s only takes around an hour but for a large proportion of that there is no phone reception and therefore (shock! horror!) NO mobile internet; so there I was, much to the amusement of all, frantically stuffing things into my basket in an attempt to finish my order before entering No-Man’s Land.

Obviously, my order went through, as I came home from work on Wednesday to a lovely box of goodies.

I love how Chloe always wraps your order up in tissue and seals it with a sticker. ‚ô•

I had actually been eyeing these A4 pads for a while, and wasn’t sure I could justify buying them when “Wouldn’t a notebook just do?” but having spent the past few weeks trying various permutations of double-page spreads, I decided to spoil myself. Best decision ever! These A4 pads will be great for keeping track of the What, Who & When; and then each individual one will have it’s own pages in the notebook (which I will then probably cross-reference to the pad or something….) 

*True Story: when I typed notebook up there, predictive text suggested the next word would be a smiley face with heart eyes….wonder what THAT says about me ūüėā *

I’ve bought some of these cute snailmail cards previously, they are really cute and I thought I should replenish my stock.

I’ve also purchased these recipe cards before, and knowing that Offspring#2 will need to feed himself when he heads off to University in September, I figured they would be useful for writing out instructions for some of his favourite dishes. 

These prints were bought as gifts, but I think one may get misplaced. The one on the left is foiled and rather gorgeous.
When I opened up my order, I found a few things I don’t remember ordering!? So, I can only assume I got carried away (a not insignificant probability!) or the lovely Chloe was adding a lil extra TLC.

Thanks for the cute lil notes!

Mag Mail

I’ve been a subscriber to for quite a few years, and to be honest I’m a bit bored with it. It seems like it’s just a rehash of ideas they’ve featured before over the years.

So, any suggestions for a new papercraft-type magazine?

Beauty Mail

I signed up to the Glamour Beauty Club recently and was excited to receive my first product for review; a nifty little tub of Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads from NIP+FAB on Thursday.

 

Book Mail

This week’s mail brought another ARC from Readers First. S.T.A.G.S. is a thriller written by M.A. Bennett and published by Hot Key Books.

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend. A twisting thriller for fans of John Green’s Looking for Alaska and The Hunger Games.

Greer MacDonald joins the sixth form of exclusive boarding school St. Aidan the Great and is struggling to fit in until she receives a mysterious invitation, from the most popular boy in school, to a weekend of hunting at his family’s country estate.

Once she arrives, she soon realized that the intended prey aren’t quite who she thought they were….

As usual, I’ll be posting a review prior to publication date of 10th August 2017.

Booze Mail 

I’m a product tester/reviewer for Trnd and a current campaign I am participating in is for a new Coconut Jamaican Rum called KOKO KANU.

My box of goodies arrived midweek and included a 750ml bottle, and some promo postcards featuring various cocktail recipes incorporating Koko Kanu. If you’d like me to mail you a recipe-postcard, let me know in the comments! And, of course, I’ll let you know what I think of it in a review shortly!

My mailbox was certainly rather full last week, what about yours?

Hugs, as always,

Crafty xx

A Birthday Bouquet from Prestige Flowers

There’s something wonderful about receiving a delivery of flowers, it makes you feel special, don’t you think?
So, of course, I was delighted when the lovely folks at Prestige Flowers offered to send me a bouquet from their Birthday Flowers range to review for you all.

(I would like to point out that the timing of this was a serendipitous coincidence, and had nothing to do with the fact that it was actually my birthday the following week!

I think…)

Delivery & Packaging

I had been informed to expect delivery on the Friday, I assume if you are the person ordering a bouquet for delivery you would receive tracking information; allowing you to access up to date information on your shipment.

Late afternoon a rather cheery courier arrived at the door, carrying a substantial cardboard box.

The Contents

On opening the box, the first thing I noted was how snugly the large handtied bouquet was secured inside the box.

On removing the bouquet, I discovered it was wellwrapped in thick cellophane and had a damp cotton pad secured around the cut stems. This struck me as a particularly efficient and thoughtful way to keep the flowers fresh during transit.

Here’s my glamorous assistant showing how well wrapped the bouquet is.

I then found another intriguing package inside the outer box….

Closer inspection revealed that this contained a large clear glass vase!

The correctly sized vase, and the already prettily arranged & tied bouquet meant that in a matter of minutes (long enough to trim an inch off the stems and mix the enclosed flower food with some water) I had a lovely floral display to admire. 

Also included was a handy care guide; complete with detachable voucher offering £5 off next purchase, another voucher featuring a discount from Naked Wines, and a lovely little gift card bearing a sweet note.

I did indeed enjoy the flowers Michael, thanks very much! ūüėÄ

Finally, nestled right at the bottom, I discovered a cute little box of chocolate truffles. These are an optional extra which you can choose to add to your floral gift, completely free of charge. 

The Bouquet

This particular bouquet is entitled Blue Lagoon; a name perfectly in keeping with the stunning selection of flowers, in various shades of blue and white, which it features.

The Blue Lagoon bouquet is currently available to order for £29.99, with medium & large versions an additional £5 & £10 respectively.

Blooms included are:

  • Fresh Lilies,
  • Eryngium,
  • White Chrysanthemums,
  • Reagan Chrysanthemums,
  • Statice,
  • All framed with the beautiful fronds of two palm leaves.

I thought the almost marbled-like colouring on the brightly dyed chrysanthemums was particularly enchanting and loved the fact that they had kept white petals here and there for added interest. I also love that they include the eryngium, I’m a sucker for some prickly sea-holly!

How did it compare to the website?

When I compared the bouquet I received with that which was advertised, I felt it was a reasonable replication.

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The Blue Lagoon bouquet as it appears‚Äč on the website.

The bouquet appears significantly fuller in online‚Äč shots (which feature the medium-sized version of the bouquet). I can only assume that the stems are cut much shorter and the bouquet is presented in a far smaller vase than that which I received. That being said, I think the number of blooms included in my bouquet was more than satisfactory.

My bouquet, straight after unpacking.

After 10 days.

 

How well did they last?

I received the bouquet on the Friday, the first lily didn’t open until the Tuesday and the next on the Wednesday; the final one finally bloomed on the following Sunday, by which time some of the other flowers were looking a little tired.

After dead-heading and a quick rearrange, the flowers lasted another couple of days.

I have now had this bouquet for two weeks but, whilst it was definitely starting to look past it’s best, I still have a reasonable looking bunch after again removing the tired heads before rearranging the remainder‚Äč into a smaller vase.

 

How Would I Rate Prestige Flowers?

  • Quality: Very impressed.
  • Value: When compared to other online floral delivery services, they are towards the less expensive end of the spectrum, a fact belied by the high standard.
  • Appearance: A varied selection of blooms, some more unusual ones are included. More delicate headed flowers are sent in bud form for freshness.
  • Delivery/Packaging: Packaged carefully to ensure arrival in good condition.
  • Longevity:¬†2+ weeks seems reasonable, especially as during this particularly warm spell, there have also been a few periods of temperature fluctuation.


I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend ¬†Prestige Flowers¬†to anyone wishing to purchase and send a bouquet via a delivery service.


Disclosure

I received this item free of charge, in return for a blog post including an honest review of the product and service.

When is the last time you sent or received flowers? Which are your favourite blooms? 

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,

Crafty xx

[Book Review] TREAT YOURSELF! by Jessica Siskin

TITLE: Treat Yourself!

AUTHOR: Jessica Siskin

PUBLISHED BY: Workman Publishing Company

PUBLICATION DATE: 27 June 2017

EDITION: Paperback

GENRE: Cookery, Crafts & Hobbies, Food & Wine

ISBN: 9780761189800

PRICE: $14.95 (USD)

Jessica Siskin, AKA talented food artist; and Instagram sensation; @mister_krisp, invites you to ‘Treat Yourself!’ in this beautifully photographed & easy to follow book detailing 

“How to make 93 ridiculously fun no-bake crispy rice treats”


About The Book

One of the first things I noticed was the copious amount of clear photographs spread through the book. The instructions themselves are detailed yet concise and each stage is accompanied by a corresponding photo. 

The opening chapters include an introduction from the author, explaining a bit about how and why she got into Rice Krispie Treat modelling, and detailed descriptions of the equipment and ingredients necessary. Everything is well documented, with additional links, recommendations, and hints & tips where appropriate.

Another genius idea is that every single treat uses the same basic recipe. In the introductory part of the book, Jessica supplies us with a helpful table listing how many cups, tablespoons & drops are required to make batches of set sizes (named A-H for ease)

Each individual‚Äč recipe then states which size batches you need and which colouring drops are required. 

The writing style is friendly and easy to read, chatty and full of puns, it’s like reading a letter from a friend.


The Recipes

The recipes themselves are laid out alphabetically; starting with Apples and a ridiculously realistic looking 11 inch tall Avocado, includes Balloons, a BBQ complete with kebabs, a dinosaur, lollipops, a pi√Īata, a star-spangled wizard’s hat, and of course finishing up with a Zebra. 

There are even instructions for how to make Yourself  out of Rice Krispie Treats. I repeat, MAKE YOURSELF, OUT OF RICE KRISPIE TREATS. We’ve all seen those cakes with the photo of the birthday girl/boy/dog printed on top, but imagine the look on their face when they see themselves; in all their Krispie treats glory; taking centre stage at the party! (Coincidentally, this book is published the same day Offspring#2 turns 18. I’m already looking for a suitable snapshot to utilise this idea!)

The individual recipes are easy to follow, each step is clearly explained and any additional equipment or decorating ingredients are detailed at the beginning, alongside the required number of differently sized & coloured batches. The top of each page is also clearly marked denoting how hard each particular build is; bearing Easy, Medium or Advanced coloured banners. 

Also included are traceable (or downloadable) templates to make moulding your shapes easier. They are easily transferable to the reverse of baking parchment, then you can set to work moulding each batch of mixture.


How Did I Get On?

Of course, I had to give it a try, and since I was reading this book over National Doughnut Week (6-13 May), I just had to plump for misterkrisps Donuts recipe.

 I used chocolate crispies and didn’t add colour to the mix, if I was doing this again, I would probably add brown colouring or cocoa to my mallow mix.

I had 6 mini donut silicone moulds, so I used those. A ‘G’ Batch of mix filled those, plus I had enough left to mould 2 more by hand.

Half were iced with melted dark chocolate before being dusted with glitter sugar & coloured sprinkles, whilst I topped the remaining four with a coat of pink candy-melts and a drizzle of milk chocolate.

Jessica’s instructions were simple to follow and the opening chapters even include photographs of what the contents of your saucepan should look like at each stage, along with appropriate timings for a midsized batch. Speaking of which, I cannot believe how easy the cleanup was at the end; I filled my saucepan with hot soapy water whilst I put away my extra marshmallows etc and when I came back to it 5 minutes later, the remaining butter/marshmallow/crispie mix just wiped off!! 


What Did The Victims Think?

The Other Half: “Yummy!” and “mmmm..marshmallow-y”

Offspring#1: “I liked them, I guess!?!”

Offspring#2: “They were some good doughnuts” whilst simultaneously reaching for a second

& Me? I found it a bit on the sweet side but yummy, and I’m sure I’ll be making lots more Rice Krispie Treats in the coming months!

Rating

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars, as it is a real treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds! 

Disclosure: A free ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


As always, thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you here again soon, and in the meantime; have you tried anything from an interesting new recipe book lately, or have you got an old favourite to share? 

Hugs,

Crafty xx

[Monday MailCall] 12 June 2017

BookMail

Monday brought Bookmail from two different sources.

I finally won¬†a goodreads giveaway! I¬†know¬†that the actual number of individual giveaways you enter make no difference to your chances of winning, but still… you’d think I’d win something after hundreds of entries!! Well, finally, I did!

Published by Bloomsbury Kids, Countless is Karen Gregory‘s debut book. It tells the story of Hedda, a young woman who; whilst suffering from an eating disorders; discovers she is pregnant. Countless then proceeds to weave a tale about the strength of love, heartache, and human resilience.

I was very taken with the beautiful cover, the pictures really do not do those lovely glossy embossed colour drops justice.

As usual, I’ll be sharing a review after I’ve read it, so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks!

The next bit of book mail was another ARC via ReadersFirst. I actually won this one a while back but as it has only just arrived, I guess it got waylaid somewhere in the mail!

Exile is the sequel to James Swallow ‘s spy thriller Nomad. Recommended for fans of ¬†Robert¬†Ludlum’s Bourne¬†saga, and also TV series such as Homeland, it’s sure to have plenty of action and intrigue.

(And, you know the drill by now … Review coming soon ….)

That’s so LAME!!!

This bright pink parcel of prettiness is from That Lame Company. I might have spoilt myself a little as a pre-birthday treat.

IMG_20170606_171412415

I ordered the May #Box of Lame. It is most definitely NOT lame!!

You can see my full review here, but in the meantime, I can share a little extra that I couldn’t‚Äč resist adding to my order…

How cute are these snailmail cards?

Cards

As last week was birthday week, there were also a few birthday cards dropping through the letterbox.

So, what about your mailbox? Did you receive anything exciting last week?

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs, 

Crafty xx

Paperhaul May Review: FLAMINGO FLAVOUR

Our postie misdelivered my #Paperhaul to a neighbour, luckily she’s a nice one, so she kept it safe until we got home from our weekend away!

I’m still loving the updated look of these! The white card envelopes look brighter and fresher than the previous brown cardboard boxes, and I appreciate the way the whole set is tied together by the large accent sticker on the outer packaging and the inserted business card echoing the month’s design.

The May Paperhaul theme was Flamingo Flavour, and featured lovely pink flamingoes, hibiscus flowers and lush green ferny palm fronds, all in tropical shades of coral pinks and deep forest greens.

Included in May’s superb stationery selection were:

  • A cute noteblock, with a colourful flamingo illustration down the side of the pages

  • 2 postcards, one featuring a cute illustration of a pair of flamingos and the other bearing a bold leafty print, incorporating a ‘hello‘ greeting.

I think the matching reverse is a lovely additional touch to these postcards.

  • 3 mini flat cards, featuring prints co-ordinating to the set,  all with beautifully textured matching cream envelopes.

And finally,

  • A jazzy A6 notebook, featuring dot grid pages and all over leafy printed cover.

I think the noteblock with the lovely illustrated pages is my favourite item in the Flamingo Flavour collection, what’s yours‚Äč?

Want Your Own?

If you are interested in a Paperhaul Subscription, you can find out more here

Subscriptions are ¬£10/month, with p&p extra (¬£2 UK, ¬£5 Europe, ¬£6 Rest of World). 

Don’t forget, you can use code ” 25OFF ” to receive a 25% discount off your first Paperhaul box. 
So, what do you think of the May collection, or Paperhaul in general? If you were familiar with the previous style, which do you prefer?

Thanks for reading,

Hugs,

Crafty xx


[MailCall Monday] 22 May 2017

The last week started off pretty slow in terms of interesting mail…

Like everyone else’s letterbox in the UK at present, there were a fair few electioneering flyers & some very tempting takeout menus.
Towards the end of the week, however, the fun stuff started arriving.

This is a NinjaBookBox‚Äč Month.

NinjaBookBox is a quarterly subscription that includes a book and a selection of associated goodies. The items are all sourced from Independent publishers and small businesses, making for an unusual & exciting box. 
You can see my full unboxing post later this week, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek…

Also, feel free to use my referral code HEATHER15 to get 15% off any purchases over ¬£5 in the Ninja Book Shop. You can even use it to get a discounted ‘A Grand Adventure’ Summer Reading Box

The Rest of This Week’s Bookmail 

The Chalk Artist by Allegra Goodman is a contemporary fiction tale, full of love, obsession, and alternate realities.

Twins Aidan & Diane live in a small American town, next door to Collin; artist, actor, misfit.

Collin becomes involved with Aidan’s teacher, Nina and this is where the web woven by Arkadia; the large gaming company which dominates the town; tightens around it.

Nina, is the daughter of Arkadia’s owner.

Both Aidan & Collin become increasingly immersed in Arkadia’s online gameworld, Everwhen.

When Aidan receives a mysterious black boX which allows him to physically enter the gameworld, he finds both the reality and his perceptions of the two worlds become skewed.

As Collin also finds himself pulled deeper into the game, Nina begins to suspect there is something far wrong but doesn’t know how to help.

When the two world collide, everyone involved find their lives changed, and their loyalties torn.

 

In exquisite detail, Allegra Goodman explores what happens when an alternate reality takes over one boy’s life, and the forces at work behind his obsession: the all-encompassing gaming realm that becomes more authentic than his real world.

This gritty and thought-provoking read seems to me to be reminiscent of the storylines of Tron, or the Spy Kids 3D movie; or Superpowerless, by Chris Priestley. 

It is recommended to readers who enjoy works by Margaret Atwood, Lionel Shriver, Maggie O’Farrell, Donna Target, Jonathan Franzen, or Anne Tyler.
I was very taken by the gorgeous cover, and I can confirm that that bright explosion of colour is even more beautiful in real life!

Look out for my review of it nearer the publication date of 1st June 2017!
So, that was the contents of my mailbox this week, what about yours?

Hugs, 

Crafty, xx

[Book Review] ‘DEAD LETTERS’ by Caite Dolan-Leach

TITLE: DEAD LETTERS

AUTHOR: Caite Dolan-Leach

PUBLISHED BY: Corvus

PUBLICATION DATE: 4th May 2017

GENRE: Fiction, Suspense/Thriller

EDITION: Paperback

ISBN: 9781786491305

PRICE: £12.99

Dead Letters is the debut novel of, writer and literary translator, Caite Dolan-Leach.  Although now living and working in Paris; she grew up around Finger Lakes, New York’s largest wine producing region, which probably explains why both areas are described in great detail and so vividly.

What’s the story?

We meet Ava, midflight from Paris to New York, her first trip ‘home’ to the family vineyard in two years. It’s a trip she’s only making because her mother (who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s) emailed with news that Ava’s twin sister is presumed dead after a fire broke out in a barn on the property.

We know that Ava fled to Paris to escape both her discordant family life and a significant act of betrayal by her sister. The family business is failing, their absent father had distanced himself from them, and they were finding it increasingly difficult to cope with their mother’s illness. 

Ava likes to think of herself as the sensible twin, whilst Zelda was the wild one; but as she starts receiving emails, notes and letters purporting to be from the presumed dead Zelda; Ava too starts to lose control. 

Whilst caring for her mother, attempting to mend relationships with her father & paternal grandmother and trying to come to terms with the original betrayal; she finds herself in the midst of a strange alphabetical scavenger hunt, spiralling all the way from Ava to Zelda. Convinced that Zelda is still alive and in hiding, Ava and her ex-boyfriend (& Zelda’s… remember that betrayal!?) try to uncover the truth. Believing Zeld has manipulated those around her to play along with her devious scheme, Ava gets drawn further and further into what she sees as a game her sister is determined to win.

Unsure of what to believe, and drinking heavily, Ava’s behaviour becomes erratic; and she starts wearing Zelda’s more Bohemian clothes. She gradually uncovers more truths than she is comfortable with and as the alphabet progresses, discovers more about herself, her sister and their wider family.

What I thought

Prior to receiving a physical copy of this book, I had the opportunity to read a digital download of the first few chapters; isn’t it interesting how some books so often turn out entirely different‚Äč from how you originally envision they are going to? My original thoughts, two chapters in, were: 

I really enjoyed reading the first few chapters. I particularly liked the author’s‚Äč descriptive style of writing. The scattering of emails throughout the prose adds detail. The cover hints at mysteries to be unearthed. 

The title ‘ Dead Letters ‘ intrigues me as the postal service uses this term for undeliverable damaged or lost mail. It has left me wondering if there will be missing correspondence…. Perhaps Ava is correct in her assumption that her twin sister Zelda, already famous for her erratic and eccentric behaviour, had faked her death; but the loss of some important piece of mail puts her in danger. 

I am eager to find out what the betrayal was (it has been hinted at previous infidelity, did Zelda ‘steal’ Ava’s boyfriend; or date someone she knew her sister liked) and to discover more about the dynamics of this discordant family. 

So far I think i agree with Ava’s belief that Zelda wasn’t dead, but don’t think she will still be alive by the end of the book (or indeed, even at the present time in the tale!) 

This First Look has left me wanting to read more.

However, now that I have finished reading, I think differently. The story that I imagined was going to be a suspense-filled thriller full of twists turned out to be more of a family saga. There was a lot of character development and A LOT of wine. Gallons of the stuff. At first the wine descriptions and tasting notes were quite fun (& thirst-inducing!) but whilst the vast quantities of alcohol drunk by the Antipova family are a necessary plot point, the continual stream of booze got a bit wearing after a while. 

Ultimately, this book wasn’t what i thought it was, however i still enjoyed it; in particular the idea of the alphabetical scavenger hunt and the descriptive prose used by the author. I did not like the main characters, I found them unlikeable on the whole! 

I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars; the high concept intrigued me, but ultimately didn’t deliver it to me in a way i personally found enjoyable.

Disclosure: A free ARC was provided by the publisher via ReadersFirst in exchange for an honest review.