November 27, 2014

Black Friday Sale on Etsy 2014--Get the Coupon Code and Start Saving Now!

Black Friday SPECIALS start NOW! Use Discount Code: BlackFriday14 at these participating shops to $AVE now thru the Holiday Weekend!

Be sure to click and scroll through everything--there are lots of shops and lots of amazing items on sale!

In my shop, Aurelas get 15% off any order $5 or more with code BF2014 or BlackFriday14 through December 8, 2014.

Happy Holidays!

November 7, 2014

300 Posts and Pandora Hearts

I admit it. I wasn't planning to post anything today, because I have so many things I'm supposed to be doing. But I happened to notice that I only had 299 posts. That just bugged me. I know, very silly of me, right? So here is post number 300.

To celebrate, I'll share one of my best finds from the last few months.

I would have to say the best find I have made in the realm of books is actually a manga series called Pandora Hearts. If you love Alice in Wonderland, this one just might be for you as there are constant references!

Don't click any of the links to images or there will be spoilers!

Image source

The first volume starts off with a mystery--what is 15-year-old Oz Vessalius's great sin? Who is buried under the mysterious stone cross? What is so special about the pocket watch hanging on the cross? When Oz is dropped into the nightmarish Abyss

and meets a cute girl with a temper, Alice,

Image found here.

it seems as if things are going to become fairly normal for a manga story. However, the plot is absolutely byzantine, with new mysteries worthy of Agatha Christie constantly being introduced and weaving into the others. Who is Alice and how did she become the "Bloody Black Rabbit?" Why are her memories shattered so that she has no recollection of anything but her name? Who is beheading members of the Nightray family? Why does Oz's father say that Oz should never have been born? And what on earth caused the Tragedy of Sablier?

Image found here

I could go on for paragraphs, but I will leave it for you to read and discover all of the mysteries and their truly surprising solutions for yourself.
I read the manga here

The characters are very interesting on their own, and the reader will soon learn that nothing and no one is what they seem! My favourite is Xerxes Break (Mad Hatter), who has as many layers as an onion, with a lot of odd, creepy, and endearing habits that make him into a real show-stealer.

Image found here

Image found here

Image found here

I will say, though, that this is a series I would recommend for people 14 and up. It is dark and sad and at times pretty gory and disturbing, especially later in the series. Some readers warn others not to read it because their hearts will be broken. I can understand that.

Image found here.

Also, my husband and I both agree that listening to the music from the anime version (it covers only a few volumes of the manga, which has 20 volumes) really adds to the reading experience. The soundtrack is so beautiful that The Precious asked me what ballet it is from, and my mama was sure it was the soundtrack from a blockbuster movie!

Image source

You can listen here. Be sure to listen to the last track first as it is the tune from the music box inside the pocketwatch and it really sets the tone for the whole series. "Will" and "Contractor" are both very good too. For just the gorgeous violin theme, listen to "Turn."
Pandora Hearts Original Soundtrack

So there it is. My 300th post and my latest book (series) recommendation. Almost all images come from the anime, which is worth watching too, because they're so nice and colourful. Hope you enjoyed it, and that you enjoy the series as much as I do.

July 1, 2014

Book Review: Fledgling by Octavia Butler

FledglingFledgling by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Brief synopsis with no spoilers: A non-human wakes in a cave injured and with no memory. She hunts and kills animals with her bare hands/teeth and eats them raw until she is strong enough to get to a road and meet a young man driving a car. Upon biting him she is told that she is a vampire. She sets out on quest to find out what she is, who she is, and why she is all alone. But someone is out to kill her and everyone around her.

It is hard for me to figure out how to review this so I will stick with the problems I had with the book and the things I liked about it rather than dissecting the plot in detail. While I found it very hard to put this book down, at the same time I sometimes felt filthy for having read it.

Probable spoilers!

There is something very squicky about the multiple sexual relationships this little girl vampire has with humans who do not always even know that she is not a normal little girl at first. Perhaps it is normal for vampires who are still children to have sex with humans like crazy? But for humans it is not normal to have sex with what appear to be children. Yet none of them seem worried or grossed out or anything except the very first and he just keeps calling her jail bait. At least these encounters are not described in any detail.

I also found her relationships with her "symbionts" disturbing because they had so little choice in whether or not they became permanent blood donors/sex partners. Yes, apparently they each get one chance to walk away, but this is at the point that they are already addicted to vampire venom and willing to give up everything they have ever known to get it.

I liked that Shori was intelligent and strong (oh boy is she strong!) and that she was a person of colour. Yet that last bit...somehow the way she was a product of genetic engineering and the insane racism and anger it generated rung false to me. And that is a really important part of the story. I am not saying that in real life none of this would ever happen, just that to me it wasn't convincing in the story so it's a shame it wasn't better handled. Considering that they are at the heart of the mystery regarding Shori, I would have liked to see the Silk family fleshed out a little. It seemed like there were so many families thrown at us right at the end and even the main ones were pretty vague. The ending isn't really an ending (makes sense to find out that the author died before being able to write sequels).

I liked that this book forced me out of my comfort zone, but I am not sure that I really got anything out of it beyond some uncomfortable entertainment. I think I will try to see if I can find some of Butler's other work and give it a try because everyone seems to find her earlier work to be much better.

View all my reviews

June 17, 2014

This Sale is Hot, Hot, Hot!

The weather is toasty to the point of roasting, so we're having a...wait for sale! I know, it's awful, but it works for car dealerships. lol.
Check out some of the items that will be discounted during our

Pre-4th of July Sale-A-Thon!

Use Discount Code: 7414SAVE

Participating shops and their links here

In my shop you can use the code to get 20% off of any purchase $10 or more!

This sale will last until July 2nd (or July 5th in my case) so grab your oven mitts and snap up one of our *sizzling* deals.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Oh No! I've Discovered Fanfiction!

I've been a Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler fan for several years now. As I can no longer afford to buy manga I am stuck at Volume 13. I have watched all of the anime, even the OVAS. Even that really weird fanservice one that has Sebastian leaning over and trying to take the viewer's hand, etc. I wonder, was I the only one who finds Sebastian sexy who was kind of creeped out by that thing?

Anyway, having exhausted every official resource, I have turned to fan art and fanfiction with an increasing intensity. I have been amazed at the amount of talent lurking out there, and admittedly also at the very weird and terrible things that some feel they need to inflict on the public. Just as it is incredibly exciting to find a writer who beautifully captures my favourite characters and invents fascinating scenarios for them, it feels something like a sacrilege to come across those horribly-spelled, half-punctuated tales that involve the author travelling back in time and becoming Sebastian's wife. And don't get me started about most of the "poems!"

Overall, the experience has been very positive. I have come to understand characters in new ways that give me insight into actual humanity. The depictions of Grell Sutcliff (my favourite), have been especially helpful in that respect. I feel as though I am starting to connect to some of the writers through the reviews and messages, though I am very shy at the thought of much interaction with people who are so gifted! They are my new celebrities, since I don't really have many "real celebrities" to lionize.

I have even been inspired to start writing my own fanfiction with my own original character--oh yes, there will be more about her later. I promise she will NOT be me, though she will share my favourite colour. And she will not be a Mary Sue, or Sebastian's future wife. I promise.

The problem with all of this is probably obvious to anyone already hooked on fanfiction. But in case you are not, let me spell it out. I had started a challenge to read 125 books this year on Goodreads and was pretty much on schedule. Until now. Now I am about 12 books behind. I am reading, but obviously, fanfiction doesn't count, no matter how well-written it is. I am in the middle of something like 7 books and almost never finish one. One reason is that I keep losing books before I can finish reading them (I am starting to think I will never be an organized person). The other is fanfiction.

The other problem is that most of these stories are published in installments. So the reader goes and gets all interested in the story and then it stops until the author has time to post more. Sometimes that never happens. Being left hanging drives me crazy! I know these writers are very busy and have many other things to do, so I'm not blaming them. I'm just expressing frustration.

If you are interested in venturing into the world of fanfiction, let me just issue one warning: make sure you understand the terminology before picking a story. For example, you will need to know what the word "yaoi" means! And "lemon." And if it says "non-con" that means rape. Knowing the terms can help you to avoid specific things that you don't want to read about or find stories that are about your favourite concepts. Expect some really awful stuff, but be prepared to be impressed as well. For me the journey has been worth it.

Do you read fanfiction? If so, do you have a favourite author you would like to share? Post your experience in the comments!

June 14, 2014

Friday Favourites from Etsy Meet n Tweet

Be sure to click for more!

June 4, 2014

Come on Everybody: Reset the Net!

Show the US government that you don't appreciate having your 4th Amendment rights violated. Help us to block the NSA from spying.

To quote Bob the Builder (yes, you can tell I watch a lot of toddler tv now!): Can we fix it? Yes we can!

May 24, 2014

Memorial Day Facebook Party with Sales, Giveaways, and More!

Our Memorial Day Facebook Party is in full swing! We have 11 shops participating, with each offering a coupon code or special offer.

Find it all here

Click here to read ZzzonkOwl's post and see some of the items on sale!Memorial Day Facebook Party!! 20-30-40% off Etsy Items!

The links for the shops participating are as follows:


Carto Creative

Laris Jewelry Designs


Lovely Like the Sun


Petrina Blakely





So please come to the party and check out our sales! There are deals here you won't want to miss. And don't forget the giveaways!

May 23, 2014

Memorial Day Giveaway! (and Sales and More)

You could win this sweet patriotic Holly Hobbie mug made in 1976!

Click here to read all about the item.

The lovely little Rafflecopter thingy is here :) It's so easy to enter and there are several ways to get extra entries. Following me on Tumblr will get you the most extra entries!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can begin entering at midnight tonight (or technically tomorrow morning 5/24/2014 at 12am CST.

This contest is open to people 13 and up living in the USA only. Sorry!

And don't forget, tomorrow starts the EtsyMeetnTweet team's Facebook Party!

There will be discounts and giveaways from lots of great shops. Click here to attend!

My shop, Aurelas, will be offering 20% off any purchase $10 or more with the entry of the coupon code REMEMBER upon checkout. This code will be usable tonight at midnight CST, just like the giveaway! More info here.

It's going to be a busy weekend. Hope yours is lots of fun :)

May 8, 2014

Who is the Fiercest Fighter in Middle-Earth?

I stumbled across this article (argument?) and just had to weigh in.
Weekly Throwdown LOTR Battle Who is the Fiercest Fighter in Middle Earth?
In case you don't feel like reading the article, the question is as follows: Which of these four is the best fighter in Middle-Earth: Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, or Gimli?

My problem with this article is that it seems to be based entirely on the movies. If you go by the book things are a little different. To me, though, in some ways Gandalf has to be out of the running. It's not because he is absolutely amazing; it's because he is a much higher form of being than the rest--he is one of the Maiar. He also has the red ring. Comparing him even with Legolas is kind of like saying "Who's the best fighter--the archangel Michael or Sir Lancelot?" I mean, Lancelot, though a formidable knight, has issues. When you think about his very human foibles, especially all of his lady problems and that whole insanity incident, he has no chance against an archangel. So, to me, skip Gandalf altogether and look at the rest. And then it gets hard.

Who has the true heart of the warrior? Probably Gimli. He definitely wins for sheer ferocity and verve. Who can fight, track, and still be the leader who can inspire multiple races to go into what looks like certain death? Aragorn. That's pretty darn special.

But...of these four I end up settling on Legolas despite his poetic nature. Nothing scares him because he's an elf--not even the dead bother him. He's been around a long time--3000 to 5000 years, and it is to be assumed that living in Mirkwood, he has seen more than his share of fighting evil. If you read the Silmarillian (or was it the Book of Lost Tales?) you will know that he was instrumental in saving lives during the fall of Gondolin, when he was entrusted to leading the refugees to safety in the night. Unlike everyone else in the fellowship, snow is no obstacle to him and he needs no sleep. Like Aragorn, he can track, but he also can see unbelievably far into the distance. While his main weapon is a bow--a long-range weapon--in the book he wields a long knife with deadly efficiency. In the movies he becomes a dual-wielding whirl of blades that is sheer awesomeness. No, you can't throw him. But he can jump on his own, which does seem a little more reliable. To me of this bunch, Legolas is just the most versatile and the most generally useful.

However...who is the best fighter in Middle-Earth? If you take the books into consideration at all, you'll probably end up choosing Lord Glorfindel, that elf who REALLY rescued Frodo at the Ford of Bruinen with his amazing battle skills while Lord Elrond works wonders with the water from The Last Homely House. If you read the passage it is hard to make any other decision. It is a real shame that the movie makers chose to cut this glorious elf in order to give Liv Tyler a little more to do.

Finally, why is Eowyn not even on this list? After all, she was a trained warrior who defied multiple orders and rode into battle certain of death, even embracing it. She spent that battle cutting down anyone who tried to harm Theoden King and of course ended up defeating the apparently unbeatable Witch King, which turned the tide of battle and allowed the forces of Aragorn and Eomer to win the day. For sheer courage, tenacity, loyalty, and, yes, ferocity, she surely deserves consideration here. I can only come to the conclusion that she is left out because...sigh...she is a woman.

May 2, 2014

It's a Sale!

Not a trap. I promise.

On Sunday I'm having a "May the Fourth Be With You" sale for the 24 hours of May 4th 2014CST. The coupon code (which will not be activated until it is time) will be MAYTHEFOURTH

This code will grant 10% off of any purchase!

Here are some of the loverly items you can get at a discount.

1989 Pillsbury Party Time Recipe Book

1949 Columbia Record Catalogue

E.T. Limited Edition Pizza Hut Glass

There are over 100 items in my shop, so you are bound to find something interesting. And remember, 10% off--even on already-marked-down items like this!

Vintage Patriotic Holly Hobbie Bicentennial Mug

So get ready to order like mad, and of course...


April 19, 2014

This is Progress (Believe it or Not)

We have lived in our new house for two years now, but I still have things in boxes and rooms that are almost impossible to walk through. So I took advantage of the holiday weekend to work on the room that is the worst of the lot. It is also, unfortunately, my favourite room in the whole house: the library.

I should have taken "Before" photos because the "After" ones look pretty bad. But trust me, this is WAY better than it was! You can see the floor now, for instance.

After several years of smothering in the box, my American Girl dolls are finally breathing the (relatively) fresh air again. I just wish they had a little more room--I could barely fit them onto the shelves. On the shelf under them is my collection of unusual books--it needs a little bit of editing, but trust me, there are some humdingers in there! In the middle of the floor you can see the stand for our old kitchen table. It is going to become a library table for me to work at.

Immediately as you walk in the door, if you turn left, this is what you see. Nearest is the children's book shelf and then there is the shelf that is currently stuffed with poetry, classics, history, and oversized books. That is not going to work. I need about three more bookshelves, stat! At least they are great at keeping my board game collection off of the floor. On the other wall is the science fiction and fantasy shelf, with science (and dolls) on top. And yeah, there's the table top.

If you look closely you can see my mythology shelf. It is rather buried by other objects at the moment. That does not make me happy. But at least now it is no longer buried under an avalanche of Babysitters Club books!

Ignoring the huge pile of totes and boxes in front of the closet, turning to the right is the horror (top shelf so The Precious can't get ahold of anything with really scary pictures yet), general fiction, mystery, and religion shelf. Yeah, I know. We really need more shelves so I can split this stuff up! You would not believe how many unshelved books are sitting around in boxes.

As I turn around to squeeze out the door, I can get a good look at both the work I've got done and the work that remains. And the Doctor. That reminds me...I wonder where my Sonic Screwdriver is? I'm pretty sure it's in here...somewhere...

This morning, I could barely walk into the library and shut the door behind me. Now, I can get to some of the shelves and have most of the previously loose items corralled. Key word: most. So it still looks like an absolute nightmare, but I am proud of the progress I have made.

Someday this room will be filled with bookshelves, each filled with books according to genre and then author. There will just be many steps on the road to that. As I get more work done, I'll keep you all (I'm not really sure that anyone is reading this, but I must pretend or stop bothering to write at all) updated.

Happy Easter!

April 12, 2014

Dance into Spring

Tumblr is Addictive

For a couple of months now I have been playing around with Tumblr. It is so easy to use and so easy to build up a bunch of followers that I am turning to it more and more. There are so many interesting people on Tumblr, and lots and lots of gorgeous and fascinating images, but boy, there is some messed-up stuff too. I have become a little afraid of clicking on the names of my followers as it seems a good half of them run porn blogs...

So by all means, check out Tumblr if you haven't already, make yourself a blog, and have fun. But be prepared!

Oh yeah, please follow me on Tumblr if you get the chance :)

Aurelas Observes

I promise there will be nothing on my blog that will make you wish for mind bleach unless you are afraid of reptiles (or cats).

April 10, 2014

What Has Changed Since Last Year Part 3: It's Okay to Change

Change is an Adventure, Not a Weakness

Now this one is going to be a no-brainer for most folks, but it was a big revelation for me. I have always felt that I had to stay true to everything that I was, including everything that I loved and enjoyed. For instance, I felt guilty for getting tired of a song that I initially liked but heard too many times on the radio. Worse, it seemed that my opinions on important subjects were supposed to never change. If I said something that was different than the way I thought back in high school, it would be jumped on and my inconsistency pointed out. And I would feel guilty. As if a 30 year old shouldn't know more than a 15 year old and have opinions that have matured with experience.

I had planned to have 3 children. After my horrific birth experience, I realized I couldn't go through all that again and come out halfway sane. So we have taken steps, and The Precious is to be an only child. Sometimes I feel guilty, but then I have flashbacks. Maybe that's one of the things that brought about this change in attitude.

Over this past year I have come to realize what most people already know: it's okay to change as you get older. Of course you're not going to want to wear the same clothes you wore when you were 13 once you are 30! It's okay to get rid of your amazing headband collection if wearing headbands now makes you feel like you're "mutton dressed as lamb." There's nothing wrong with not wanting to watch movies that made you laugh ten years ago but are annoying to you now--you're not being disloyal. It's called growing up.

I expect others to change their opinions based on new evidence but hate myself if I do so. Now I see how incredibly silly that is. To not change as you learn and explore is to guarantee stagnation. Rather than sitting around wondering how on earth I ended up being someone who plays video games as often as reading books and has elevated Tolkien to the same level as Jane Austen in my estimation, someone who loves anime as much as my dear old Britcoms, someone who has gone from believing Audrey Hepburn the ultimate icon to idolizing Helena Bonham Carter...I can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

I admit I am not always sure who I am now, but it should be interesting to find out.

PS. I am leaving out some rather important and huge changes in my ideology as I think most would find them uninteresting if not downright offensive. I had thought about making this a much deeper article but don't feel like dealing with hate mail right now. It is much too early in the morning.

February 11, 2014

Clothes for my New Phone

I finally have a phone! And it's actually a smartphone. It isn't hooked up yet and I dont' know how to use it, but I am excited because now I will be able to take photos wherever I am. Also because now when I get lost or the car breaks down or the keys get locked inside, I will be able to get help! YAY!

I was also excited because a new phone means I have to make it a case--aka excuse to drop everything and make something. I was already designing the case in my mind on the way home from the store and put the finishing touches on it today. I didn't use a pattern, just winged it.

Out of my insane yarn stash I ended up choosing this nice purple cotton Peaches and Cream yarn. I love it because it washes without pilling, so no matter how filthy the case gets I will be able to get it clean without ruining it.

I made a hole in the side so I can keep it safe even when it is plugged into the charger.

My Precious helped me go through every button I own until I found just the right one--a golden teapot with a purple center. It turned out looking pretty nice, no?

Now to make one for my husband's phone...I have already chosen the yarn.

But what kind of a button do you put on a guy's phone cover? What makes a button masculine? Maybe I better just let him pick one out!

January 21, 2014

Yet Another Way to Make a Difference

I promise, I will get back to "books, bowties, and balls of yarn" one of these days. But this is important.

Did you know that Lakota children in South Dakota are ten times more likely than Caucasian kids to be taken from their families and put into foster care or institutions for the *mentally ill?

The reason seems to be the usual one where Native Americans are concerned: there is money to be gained, and the government can get away with it. But let's not let them get away with it. Please watch this video, sign the petition, and spread the word. Let's get these kids back with the families who love them and start focusing on removing children who are actually in danger from their homes!

Sign the petition here
There is also a link for donations through Paypal.

*(Sorry, I can't remember what the new word is we are supposed to say now instead of "mentally ill" is, and as I have no problem calling myself mentally ill I hope you will forgive me. I mean nothing bad to anyone).

January 20, 2014

A Way to Make a Difference

I said I would share information about ways we can change the lives of Native Americans and the way they are perceived, and I am happy to say that I have found something! There is a very intersting project on Kickstarter that needs backers.

Here's what its founder says (and yes, I copied and pasted--these are not my words!)

For the past year I have been fulfilling the project’s goal of photographing citizens of each federally recognized tribe in the United States (there are now 566). Most of the time, I’ve been invited to geographically remote reservations to take portraits and hear stories from a myriad of tribes, while at other times I've photographed members of the 70 percent of Native Americans living in urban settings. My hope, is that when the project is complete, it will serve to educate the nation and shift the collective consciousness toward recognizing our own indigenous communities.

Imagine walking through an exhibit and realizing the complex variety of contemporary Native America. Imagine experiencing a website or book, that offered insight into every Tribal Nation in the United States. What if you could download previously untold histories and stories from Apaches, Swinomish, Hualapai, Northern Cheyenne, Tlingit, Pomo, Lumbee, and other first peoples? What if you had heard those stories in grade school?

If this isn't a step in the right direction, I can't imagine what is. Please check out Project 562, give if you can, and spread the word!

Project 562 Changing the Way We See Native America.

January 13, 2014

What Has Changed Since Last Year Part 2

I think a big change for me has been that my Etsy shop is much much more successful! I have gone from being lucky to make a sale every month to having had a day when my husband had to take two packages to the post office on the same day :D I have even run out of my business address labels and shipping labels and am trying to figure out how I can make some more. We have actually managed to pay off some decent-sized medical bills due to my earnings from Etsy. It has been such a blessing! And I feel more and more independent and useful as the money trickles in and I can say "I earned that." Being a stay-at-home mom has been a huge challenge for me and this is definitely making it a little easier to accept not having a job. Well, a job with a salary, that is.

I think the increase in sales can be attributed to better photos and keywords, but also to my wonderful team members in the Spotlight Promotion Team! Etsy Meet n Tweet has been helpful as well. Learning how everything works is an ongoing process, but I think I'm slowly getting it. Expanding my horizons onto Twitter, Wanelo, etc has been challenging as each social media site takes bites out of a day that is already pretty busy, but it has been worth it. And of course, having said all of this, I have to show off some new listings from my shop. You knew it was coming, right?

This has to be one of the prettiest things I've found all year!

Vintage Blue Green Depression Glass Votive

It took me ages but I finally got all of my Royal Doulton Summer Days stoneware listed. (No, it does not have "handpainted periwinkles!") Anyone who buys it all will get 10% off! These are only 2 of the 6 listings.

Summer Days Royal Doulton Oval Platter

Summer Days Royal Doulton Teacups Mugs Set of 6

I'm starting to think I will never be finished destashing! I'm trying to sell the costume patterns I will likely never use, like this hoopskirt pattern.

Victorian Steampunk Hoopskirt Crinoline Simplicity 7621 Fashion Historian Uncut Pattern

And the same goes for crochet patterns...

Fantasy Princesses Crochet Pattern for 14 inch Doll

dollmaking supplies...

Doll Face Iron On Transfers "Natalie"

and kits!

Ballet No Count Cross Stitch Kit

I have decided that I want to get my craft supplies all into the same area instead of two separate rooms, so I am really trying to be tough with myself. It will probably take years but maybe at the end I will not be a craft hoarder anymore. Maybe. When I remember that I just hit up a sale at Hancock Fabrics this week, I realize I may never be able to shake the addiction!

I have goals for my Etsy shop as well. Obviously, I want to get all of the stuff I have sitting around waiting listed before the year is out! I want to have over 100 items in my shop all at once. I will be partnering with a friend to sell some lovely vintage linens and clothing her mother left her--very excited about that! And I would really like my shop to include more items that I have actually made rather than just vintage items and craft supplies. Sometimes, especially when combined with my other duties, it all seems like more than I can handle. So this year I will just have to remember to breathe and then pick up the pace!