Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery (with giveaway!)

Ever since Pam pushed me off a cliff into the addiction that is cross-stitch (last year at the Handmade Fair) I've been slightly smitten with the adorable patterns of The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery that she introduced me to. This is a small company formed by two friends in California, US; Ashleigh works on design whilst Amanda looks after the business side, making a brilliant partnership that creates colourful kawaii designs.The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery logo
If you've read any of my 'Making' posts you'll have seen some of the bits I've been working on over the past few months, mainly Christmas themed as that was the time of year I started stitching. The ladies have a great back-catalogue of patterns including various seasonal samplers to cover any occassion you can think of, as well as a cute 'Pen Pals' series of small patterns that would be great for framing as gifts or making into cards.

The best bits though, in my humble opinion, are the mystery stitch-along groups that you can sign up to. Each month everyone gets sent a section of a pattern that builds up over a few months or a whole year. This year there is a travel theme to the 'Pumpkin Passport' stitch-along and so far we've been to England, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Greece (which I'm currently working on).

Pumpkin Passport stitch-along

By some miracle I'm almost up-to-date and am super excited to find out what June will bring! The bit-by-bit approach makes attempting a larger piece a lot less daunting (especially for newbies like me) and there's a Facebook community filled with lots of other Frosted Pumpkin stitchers to help you out and give support along the way.

I was a bit worried about purchasing at first because I was essentially paying for something I hadn't seen, but the Pumpkins haven't let me down yet! You can also look at and buy patterns from the previous stitch-alongs, and seeing how beautifully these have turned out is very reassuring.

All the patterns are nice and straightforward to follow, with clear instructions and a clean, colourful design. Everything is available as a PDF download, meaning I don't have to worry about UK shipping, although they do sell full kits for certain patterns when stock is available.

Next on my list of planned things to attempt is the lovely Cherry Blossom Festival sampler:

Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery - Cherry Blossom Festive Sampler

I really love the colours and theme, but I'm not letting myself buy it until I've finished the 'Christmas on Gingerbread Lane' pattern I bought last November...

Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery - Christmas on Gingerbread Lane

Having missed my deadline for last Christmas, I still have seven months to go until the next one - I'm sure I can finish it for then... right?

Here's what it's supposed to look like when it's done, so you can see I've got quite a way to go:

Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery - Christmas on Gingerbread Lane finished

It's really great to see a business flourishing based on creativity and building a strong community, so I'm really happy to support them with my custom and this little blog post. I can't wait to see where they go next!

To help kick-start your stitching, the kind ladies at The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery have offered to give two of my readers a PDF copy of a single pattern their choice (excluding their seasonal sampler bundle). I'm also throwing in my own prize of a reader's choice of any PDF pattern or patterns to a maximum value of $20 - enter below for your chance to win! This could be your chance to join me in working on this year's stitch-along - it's never too late to start!

The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery PDF cross-stitch pattern giveaway

Friday, 13 May 2016

NSPCC Big Board Game Day

The NSPCC's Big Board Game Day is fast approaching, so I thought I'd take another look through the fundraising pack they sent over to make sure I'm ready!

NSPCC Big Board Game Day fundraising pack

The NSPCC is a charity that fights against child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands. They help children who’ve been abused to rebuild their lives, protect children at risk, and find the best ways of preventing child abuse from ever happening.

They're asking everyone to join in with their Big Board Game Day on 27th May 2016, playing at work or at home with friends and family to raise some money for a great cause while having an amazing time. Such a great idea!

The fundraising pack has everything you need on the day:

  • Event poster
  • Fundraising guide
  • Sweepstake kit
  • Tournament chart
  • Sponsor form
  • Donation box
  • Sticker sheet

Absolutely anyone can get involved, so if you'd like to find out more about how you can join in take a look at the NSPCC Big Board Game Day website.

All going well, I should be joining in by trying out some games at work as well as playing at home with friends, so I'll post again to let you know how it goes!

Guest Post - Getting Started with Comic Books

One from the archives of the old blog, here! My husband Barry offered to put together a comic-based guest post, because at the time I was complaining that comics were hard to get into and I didn't know where to start. I have no idea how he fits so much information into his brain, but his wide-ranging interests make him really well placed for recommendations, some of which you'll find in the article. He's made some updates since it was originally published, and has been through to make sure he hasn't changed his mind about anything!

If you want to know more about comics or are just looking for something different to read, I hope you find something new and useful below.

Comic shelf - Random Nerdery

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Podcast Love - Polygon Longform

Polygon Longform logo

I used to have plenty of free time that I'd spend playing a lot of video games, and as part of that I kept up-to-date with plenty of gaming news. These days life, work and baby have meant that free time is tighter and there's a lot more to fit in. Audiobooks and podcasts have helped a lot, allowing me to multitask-tetris entertainment into daily life where it wouldn't otherwise have been practical.

Recently filling the videogame void for me is Polygon Longform, a podcast that gathers spoken word versions of feature articles from gaming news and reviews site, read by Polygon's Dave Tach.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Cardboard - T.I.M.E Stories board game review

It feels strange writing a review after completing just one game, but for co-operative story-telling game T.I.M.E Stories by Manuel Rozoy that's what I'll have to do, because each story in this 'decksploration' series is a one-off experience. It's super-important to avoid spoilers for this game, so I've tried to keep everything below suitably vague whilst still letting you know what I think!

TIME Stories box art | Random Nerdery review

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Cardboard - Colt Express board game review

Robbing a train had seemed like such a great idea at the time. You had your plan all figured out: charge into the next carriage, punch the guy in the ridiculously impractical white stetson, grab some shiny loot, climb up onto the carriage roof and escape in generally awesome fashion.

Except that's not *quite* how it went...

Bursting into the carriage, you found stetson-guy already holding the shiny loot. Before you could punch him in his stupid smug face he was already halfway out of the window, making his escape to the roof. He'd cleaned the place out, so you had nothing to do but stand there looking confused as the door opposite slammed open to reveal an angry looking marshal with a gun, which he wasted no time in firing at you.

Scrambling onto the roof for safety, you wondered briefly who you'd upset in a past life as a passing cargo hook caught your belt and swung you (in a rather undignified manner) towards the back of the train where you managed to catch hold of the edge of the roof. So here you are, clinging by your fingertips to the back of a moving train, looking furious but resigned and wondering why on earth you thought 'outlaw' was such a great career choice in the first place...

Colt Express board game review

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Cardboard - Love Letter: Batman card game giveaway

With Valentine's day fast approaching it seems like a great time to talk about Seiji Kanai's tiny-but-awesome card game Love Letter. Not the most original of links, I know, but I'd forgotten how much I loved this game until I got the Batman version at Christmas and we've played it lots of times since! I like it so much, in fact, that I thought I'd share the fun with everyone by running another giveaway.