Operating Systems and Backups

I have been using Linux for almost ten years now. I was a loyal Ubuntu fan until a few years ago when it started changing more than I liked. At that point I switched to Mint, a derivative distribution which kept everything I liked about Ubuntu and cleared out everything that irritated me about it. Lately, however, I was beginning to get frustrated with Mint, so I searched for an alternative.

After reading up on various different options, I decided Mint really was the right distro for me, but I didn’t want to have to keep upgrading every six months. This involved backing up my files, formatting my hard drive and installing the newest version from scratch. I like to be up to date, but I don’t like the hassle. I decided to try Linux Mint Debian Edition, or LMDE. Read more

Positive Thinking with Props

Recently I was asked about paganism and witchcraft, and I thought it about what those things mean to me. This is what I came up with.

Paganism is an umbrella term for a wide range of belief systems centered around nature. Practitioners range from reconstructionists, who aim to follow the traditions and beliefs of their ancestors, to eclectics who mix together bits and pieces from a range of religions and belief systems to create something quite unique to them. Beliefs about god range from polytheism to athiesm, and some also believe in spirits, angels, fairies and demons. Read more

Don’t Wait

With my thirtieth birthday creeping ever closer I’ve been taking stock of my life so far, looking back over the years from the little girl I used to be to the woman I am today. It’s been an eventful journey with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns. I have been thinking about mistakes I’ve made, goals I’ve achieved, opportunities I’ve missed and adventures I’ve shared. I’ve created some amazing memories and learnt some valuable lessons, but the thing that stands out most, that I need to take with me into the next decade, is this: don’t wait. Read more

Keep Warm with Strawberry Moonbeam’s Sale

The UK has been hit with a blast of freezing weather and the ever threatening forecast of snow. To celebrate (for those who like snow) or commiserate (for those who hate it) the occasion, Strawberry Moonbeam is having a sale on hats, scarves, gloves and cowls. Wrap up warm with 10% off winter woolys using the discount code COLD2013, valid until the end of January.

New Year Goals

I seem to have missed making a resolution last year, but the year before I set myself one New Year’s Resolution, which was to actually do the things I put on my to do list. Two years later and that has become something that I do almost automatically.

This year, rather than set a resolution or try to start a new habit or drop an old one, I decided to set my major goals for the year. So here they are:

  1. Learn to drive – Not being able to drive is becoming a problem for me. It limits my ability to get about, it means a very long walk each day for the school run, and it leaves me stuck in the house a lot of the time. It also leaves my other half to get groceries and drive me places when he has other things he needs to be doing instead. It’s time to sort that out.
  2. Finish my course – I started a home study back in summer, and because of a series of overlapping problems and difficulties, I put off getting started. I have now made a decent start, I want to make sure that it is finished in good time.
  3. Apply for university – The home study course is a prerequisite for the degree I want to do, and I have promised myself that by the end of the year I will have at least submitted my application for the degree program.

It’s going to be a good year. Getting those things done will lead to great new things becoming available for me in my future, and I’m excited about where they may lead me. Read more

New ECommerce Platform

My very talented fiance has just released a new eCommerce platform called Egg Basket and I’d like to tell you about it.

Egg Basket began a couple of years ago as I struggled to find an eCommerce platform that I could use to run Strawberry Moonbeam. I tried a few existing platforms but I wasn’t happy with any of them. A wordpress plugin I used broke when I tried to update it. Magento and a few others I looked into had such complicated admin panels that it was difficult to add new products. Read more

Curled Cowl Knitting Pattern

Flat knitting has a natural tendency to curl up on itself that is usually considered to be annoying. It is often “fixed” by adding a few rows of ribbing or moss stitch. For this pattern, that curl is what we’re looking for.

You will need:

  • One 50g ball chunky yarn eg Freedom Wool from Twilleys
  • 10mm circular needles
  • About an hour, depending on how fast you knit

Step One – Cast On

Cast on 60 stitches using your preferred method. Join in the round. Gauge is not terribly important, but you should get about 10 stitches to 10cm.

Step Two – Knit

Continue knitting in the round using knit stitches only, which creates standard stockinette in the round. You should be able to knit about 15-20 cms before running low on yarn. Read more

Truth as the Basis for Belief

I have always thought beliefs should be based upon truth. It seems to make sense. I believe that my house exists because it appears to be true. I see it all the time, I can touch it, other people can see it too. It is definitely true that my house exists, therefore my belief in it is rational and sound.

I have spent a lot of time trying to find a truth on which to base my beliefs about other things, such as my belief that thoughts create or alter reality or that our spirit survives beyond the death of our bodies. I have thrown myself into a search for some ultimate truth about the meaning of life, the point of existence, something on which to base my beliefs. However, I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible for us to know the truth about such things. Either, such a truth is beyond our comprehension, or it simply doesn’t exist. Read more

Needle Felted Bead Tutorial

Needle felting involves repeatedly stabbing a piece of wool with a barbed needle until it has felted. It is quite fun and very easy. Beads are a great beginner project as they are small yet simple. Today I’m going to show you how to make some.

You will need:

  • Wool fibre – other fibres may felt, try at your own risk
  • Barbed felting needle
  • Foam block
  • Thread
  • Large eyed sewing needle
  • About 20 minutes per bead

About the Equipment

Felting needles are completely different to regular needles. They are barbed, which means they have tiny sticky out bits along the shaft. These barbs are essential to the felting process. They catch on the fibres as you stab the wool, tucking them into each other and locking them together, creating a tightly knotted, dense felt from your light and airy fibre. You can obtain felting needles from good craft stores or on the internet. I got mine from Texere. Read more

A Very Potter Trip

Back in July we celebrated the girls’ birthdays with a very Harry Potter themed two night stay in London. It was pretty amazing, so good in fact that I am condensing the highlights of the trip into a one day mini trip with my sister, as my christmas present to myself. I’m so excited about the trip that I thought I would share it with you.

The main event on both trips was/will be the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, a trip behind the scenes of the Harry Potter movie series. If you’re a fan of the series, this really is a must visit. It includes exploring the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office, Snape’s classroom and the Gryffindor dormitory among others. You also get to walk down Diagon Alley and along Privet Drive, and there are thousands of props and costumes on display including the Knight Bus. Read more