Tag Archives: Etsy

January 2012 Books Read

1 Feb

My new year’s resolution for 2012 was to read more books. I used to love reading, but I’ve fallen out of the habit (even though I have much more free time than I used to). I read embarrassingly few books in 2011 – not including cookbooks and re-reads of old favourites, I think I read a grand total of 6 books.

I figured that buying a Kindle would help me read more, and I was right! In January I’ve read 13 books.

To keep the Kindle dust free I ordered a sleeve from The Office of Minor Details.

As everyone told me, if you own a Kindle (or other e-reader) Calibre is absolutely indispensable. I have a system where if I enjoy a book I keep it on the Kindle for easy access, but otherwise I delete it from the Kindle and just keep the book in Calibre. So here are the books I read in January 2012:

*** Deleted ***

Crimson Kiss by Trisha Baker
Crimson Night by Trisha Baker
Crimson Shadows by Trisha Baker
Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Laughing Corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton
Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton
Bloody Bones by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Lady Most Likely by Connie Brockway, Eloise James and Julia Quinn

The Crimson Series was truly awful. I forced myself to read it because it was a hassle to get ahold of the mobi files for an out of print series, and the secondhand copies are sold for $40-70 on eBay so I thought there had to be some redeeming element. Nope. It wasn’t well-written, and the main character kept shouting at everyone, which the author probably felt made her passionate, but actually made her seem deranged. I wanted to punch almost every character, and the ones I didn’t were all killed off anyway. If the book hadn’t been so earnest (and didn’t pre-date the explosion of the vampire romance genre by about a decade) I would have assumed it was satire.

The Anita Blake books by Laurell K. Hamilton are pretty easy reading, and after the Crimson books they seem like great literature. Apparently a couple of books from now the author loses her nut and her personal life spills into the books in a toe-curlingly embarrassing way. I read five of the series to see if would grow on me (like I said, it’s easy reading), but I’m not really getting into it. If this is as good as it gets I’m don’t think I’ll stick around for the downturn.

The Lady Most Likely was pretty “meh”. I normally enjoy Connie Brockway for escapist romance but it wasn’t one of her better efforts.

*** Kept ***

Wool by Hugh Howey
Wool 2 by Hugh Howey
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

I’ve always thought that Stephen King’s best writing is in his short stories and novellas. His full length stories often suffer from bloat, but his short stories are much punchier and the endings are much better. My all time favourite ending of King’s is The Mist – absolutely sublime. Full Dark, No Stars is not his strongest collection of shorts (that goes to Skeleton Crew), but they are solid King and well worth reading.

The Wool series is my happy Kindle find. It’s a series of novellas priced at 99c each (except for Wool 5 which is full length and $2.99) and is about a future where humanity lives in an immense underground silo because the world outside is too toxic to sustain life. I have a soft spot for dystopian fiction, and Wool is good at sustaining its quietly oppressive atmosphere. I already have Wool 3-5 loaded, ready to go for February.

Stories of Your Life and Others is one of the best collections of short stories I’ve ever read – pretty much every one is a winner. A must-read.

Sony Vaio Z Sleeve From The Office of Minor Details

3 Jan

I thought I should update my previous post with actual photos since I’ve been getting a bunch of searches for Vaio Z sleeves. There isn’t much out there about the one from The Office of Minor Details, so here is a detailed review in case people want more information. There are pre-made sleeves for Kindles, iPads and Macbook Airs, but you can get custom sizes to fit any gadget.

The sleeve is made in New Zealand from New Zealand leather. It is completely handmade – the seller Iain cuts the leather from a pattern and hand stitches it (which apparently is the most laborious part). The process took about a week and a half from ordering to finish, and shipping to Australia was 4 business days during the Christmas season. The sleeve cost $155 USD and the monogramming was $10 extra ($5 for every 3 letters).

Here is a photo of the Z in its case. The laptop looks a different colour from the leather, but they’re actually very similar (go by the photo of the sleeve, not the Z in this photo).

The leather is about 1mm thick, and fells all plush and buttery.. Apparently it will develop a nice patina with use. The stitches are tight and the thread is substantial, so zero worries about it falling apart. It has a lovely leathery smell to it as well.

Awwww. =( Just then I was smelling the leather, and James looked at me suspiciously and said “are you hugging it and kissing it?”

The measurements we gave Iain were 33cm x 21.3cm x 1.9cm (instead of the official measurements of 33cm x 1.6-2.5cm x 21cm) and this is the fit we got. =) It’s snug enough that the laptop doesn’t move around, but not such a tight fit that you need to work to get it out. There is no lining, but the underside of the leather is gentle against the surface.

The only slightly loose measurement is the thickness of the sleeve – I was initially a little disappointed at the extra room (which you don’t get unless you pull it out like I am in the below photo) but now I’m quite pleased with it because I’m pretty sure it will fit the case with the sheet battery if I ever get that. Normally it just sits flat against the laptop.

Although the leather is quite thick, this is not a shock protection case. I have a padded laptop sleeve built into my backpack so I just wanted something that would protect the surface from scratches.

I had mine personalised for an extra $10, and I think it looks better in person than it did on the website (the photo of the leather is lighter than it is in real life).

I’m really thrilled with this sleeve  – when the store re-opens in the second half of January I’m going to buy a Kindle case too. There are minor imperfections, like the occasional stitch that is ever so slightly off-kilter, just enough so that you can tell it was done by hand. So much stuff is mass produced and crap, and it’s such a pleasure to hold something that is beautiful and luxurious.

I also like the idea of wrapping my Z in a sleeve that is opposite to the laptop in many ways. Made by hand, not at a factory; custom made, not mass produced; natural, not electronic; and it gets better with age instead of deteriorating! This is a sleeve that will not only outlast my Vaio Z, this is a sleeve that will outlast me. 

(Well ha! Nobody else can have it cos I got it personalised!)

A Sleeve For The Sony Vaio Z

20 Dec

I need a case for when I take my Z away from home – it seems a pity to buy an ultraportable laptop and not take it anywhere! So far I’ve just carried it from the study to the bedroom and also to the kitchen. I’m not really a fan of the official Sony sleeve – the high end one is $179.95 but I’ve heard reports that the leather feels quite cheap.

image from Sony

The 13″ Macbook Air and Pro cases are similar in diameter, but the cases don’t fit exactly right. I don’t need something with a lot of shock protection because my backpack has that built in, but I want something that provides some surface protection while being carried around.

I like the Nero from Hard Graft but they don’t do custom cases.

image from Hard Graft

Plus, the grey felt and leather look is a bit played out now that everyone is copying Hard Graft. And the Z is a laptop that deserves a case as awesome as it is. =)

I ended up going with an Etsy seller called The Office of Minor Details. It was $155 USD (including shipping) for a custom sleeve, so it’s still cheaper than the Sony Case. It’s handmade in New Zealand, and according to his feedback everything is really well made and the leather is great quality. I normally prefer natural coloured leather, but went with black to match the laptop.

image from The Office of Minor Details

Also when James and I measured the laptop it turned out the official measurements weren’t quite right. Sony’s measurements are 33cm x 1.6-2.5cm x 21cm, but our measurements (multiple times with different rulers) were 33cm x 21.3cm (to account for the pins at the back) x 1.9cm. Weird.

image from The Office of Minor Details

James: Nooooo you have to stop buying things.
Me: *shameface*
James: (accusingly) It’s almost Christmas! You have to leave something for the cats to get you!

A New Challenge!

17 Aug

Yesterday Ormi and I were talking about how life seems to be going by so quickly nowadays. We’re more than halfway through this year and I don’t remember all that much happening so far. Also I was reminded of an article I read earlier this year that vaguely horrified me:

We all know, of course, that time seems to speed up as we grow older – but according to studies at the University of Cincinnati in the 70s, this effect is so pronounced that if you’re 20 today, you’re already halfway through life, in terms of your subjective experience of how time passes, even if you live until you’re 80.

I’m not even 30 and my life is (subjectively) almost over!

Luckily the article also talks about ways to make time slow the fuck down. Apparently the solution is to constantly try new things and have new experiences.

This is my new luggage tag from Etsy seller Of The Fountain. I think it goes with today’s theme pretty well.

Also, that reminds me – ages ago when James first found out about Helen Keller, he said “if she was blind and deaf, how did she know her name was Helen Keller?”

But anyway, back to the challenge! I’m the first to admit that my life is pretty damn cushy, and I think because I’m always happy and relaxed I’m quite lazy about getting out of my comfort zone. So I’ve decided that once a week I am going to do something that I don’t normally do. It doesn’t have to be something big like travelling overseas – maybe some weeks it will be almost insignificant, like trying a new exercise at the gym – but the overall goal is to have a constant flow of new experiences.

The week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. I’ve made an executive decision that cooking a new dish does not count, since I pretty much do that once a week (oh yes, there are things I cook that I do not blog about!). Stuff that counts for now includes trying new vegetables, new exercises, and new restaurants, but if I find myself using them as an excuse to not do more exciting things, I’ll cut them out. Also, no carryovers; if I do two new things in one week, that’s a bonus and I don’t get to be all complacent the next week.

Infrequent activities, like going to a farmer’s market or going on a day trip, also count, but unpleasant infrequent activities like going to the dentist do not.

Today is Wednesday so I’ve already lost two days! Today I’m going to visit my mum and on the train ride there and back I am going to make a list of things to try.

Streamlining My Makeup Collection

22 Jul

Sometimes I get temporarily excited by random things, and this week I am excited about paring down my make-up collection. It’s currently overflowing from a plastic box, and I have to rummage around to find the stuff I’m after. Pah!

So I got rid of a bunch of stuff – colours that I don’t like (or are too similar to other ones I already own), and some mineral eyeshadows that I never use.

I want to upgrade some of the make-up brushes I own (I’m looking at the A’Squirrel brushes, which are supposed to be great quality, but their customer service is terrible). I don’t like any of the brush rolls, which are usually black polyester or (horror) imitation leather. So I hunted on Etsy and, after sorting through pages of search results with some truly garish prints, found this little beauty for $20 CAD.

image from Pigeonatelier

And another shot partially unrolled so you can see where the brushes go.

image from Pigeonatelier

So I’m going to offer Cat the make-up that I don’t use, and just keep my favourites. I did make a couple of last minute additions to my make-up collection:

The new limited edition Nars blush/bronzer/highlight trio ($55 USD). Australian prices are close to double what people in the US pay, so I bought it from Kiss and Makeup which has $9.95 flat rate international shipping.

image from Nars

Since the shipping was flat rate I also bought a tinted lip balm from Fresh in Honey, a warm nude colour ($22.50 USD). I have a lot of lip balms but no tinted ones, and Fresh’s tinted lip balm range gets pretty good reviews.

image from Fresh

Unfortunately Kiss and Makeup NY sent me the wrong colour lip balm. They sent me the Rose, which would have been my second choice, but my heart was really set on Honey. When I emailed them to ask about correcting the order, the company was fantastic. They sent me the Honey and told me to keep the Rose. Awesome!

Pretty, Dainty Necklaces

23 Nov

I don’t really have an everyday necklace, but I have my eye on a few from Etsy. These ones from locallibrary are adorable. I have some other necklaces from Etsy bookmarked, but hers are by far my favourites.

This one is $36 USD + $3.75 shipping.

image from locallibrary

I also love this necklace from the same seller. $34 USD + $3.75 shipping.

image from locallibrary

I can’t decide which of the two I prefer – I think maybe the second, but if I could get the first necklace in wood (with the darker chain) I think that would win out.

And just for fun, here are some necklaces I’ve already bought from Etsy that I love. This one is from bbel. The concept of a fox stole as a necklace is so cute and quirky.

image from bbel

I wore this necklace from Precious Meshes for my wedding.

image from Precious Meshes

I get heaps of compliments on this necklace from ejanine.

image from eninaj

I think I’d also like something bright and chunky for a splash of colour when I’m wearing black and white. Maybe early next year if the AUD goes over parity again I might buy something to celebrate. =)

Things I Covet

15 Nov

A couple of years ago:

James: Let’s not do Christmas presents this year.
Me: OK.
Me: (suspiciously) Wait. Is this one of those things where we agree not to give presents, but you buy me something anyway, and then I look really bad?
*awkward pause*
James: OK yeah, you should probably get me something.

James has said that I can have the Aeron if I want it. I’ve pretty much decided that I’ll get it if he starts work in December instead of January (thus providing an unexpected cash influx). I spend so much time at my computer that it’s really worth having a comfortable chair.

Otherwise I’m also lusting after this spike duffel from Etsy seller Warsaw. The photo here is of the small size, ($125 USD + $26 shipping) but I think the larger size ($135 USD + $26 shipping) would get more use.

image from Warsaw

I like the shiny aggression of the spikes contrasted with the beaten look of the duffle. It seems simple enough to put together yourself – buy a suitable black bag, then sew(?) on the necessary hardware (or maybe it uses rivets?), but I’m a bit too unco for all that. I don’t have a machine and can’t sew, so I’d probably glue on the spikes and they would fall off at the first opportunity.

I also still want that gorgeous clutch from Ilemi that I posted awhile back, but she hasn’t put up any new bags in awhile.

I must be in a leather mood because I also love these Moleskine leather covers from Beastly Leather on Etsy. $58.50 USD (or $36 for the pocket sized one) + $15 shipping.

image from Beastly Leather

I don’t know how much the individual plates and bowls from Mud Australia cost – $30? I’ve been meaning to check out the new store on Gertrude street in Fitzroy – maybe James and I will jog down sometime this month so I can decide which of the pretty colours I want. James and I have broken one bowl and one plate between us in the past month, and I’m considering gradually replacing my crockery with something luxurious that is still designed for everyday use.

image from Mud Australia

And these Super Hero shoe attachments are just so fun (and maybe they’ll make me run faster). They’re $24 USD + $2.50 shipping from Small Fly on Etsy. I like the silver!

image from Small Fry

I’m crossing some cookbooks off my wishlist – I’m going on a bit of a spending spree since Book Depository have 10% off their already low prices. Time to stock up!