A Gaiman-esque birthday

Neil Gaiman is probably my favourite author; certainly my favourite living author. Even so, I was surprised (and very pleased) with quite how much Gaiman featured on my 29th birthday yesterday.

Jen got me Norse Mythology, which hadn’t really been on my radar, despite being released this month. I was delighted with the present, of course, but didn’t know what to expect – in just over 24 hours I’m now 3/4s of the way through and thoroughly enjoying it. Essentially a series of short stories, light-weight and a bit mad, they are none-the-less engaging and a fun read.

Then my parents went and got me two Coraline prints, both signed by Chris Riddell. They are from the 10th-anniversary edition – which I have signed by both illustrator and author, and which I consider an important part of my book collection – so I’m chuffed to bits with them. They framed one, the other will have to stay unframed for now.

All this Neil Gaiman talk made me think about American Gods. When I think about American Gods, I have to read American Gods. I consider it my favourite book ever, and this time around I decided to listen to the audiobook. It is very well done. Shadow has just been busted out of train-prison by his dead wife – if that doesn’t make sense to you, do yourself a favour and read the book.

Then, to end the birthday-day, we watched the film version of Coraline – one of the few films which I consider to be better than the book (only other one I can think of off the top of my head is Shutter Island, but I’m sure there are others) whilst eating homemade red Thai curry and dumplings by Jen.

On a non-Gaiman front, I also got the final Tribe Called Quest album, which is fantastic. 

Not a bad birthday all-round.

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New plants!

Oh how I love plants.

I used to be dreadful, killing most of them, but over time I’ve developed the useful ability of being able to keep them alive and even help them thrive. As such, I’ve gradually amassed quite a range of greenery.

This month I’ve got some new fellas, including a tiny little cactus in concrete pot by HiCacti which was a new-home present from friends, a rubber plant (Ficus Elastica Robust), and a lovely succulent (not sure what he is, exactly).

During the photo shoot for these fellas (using our new feature wall in the living room, which is Hicks Blue by Little Green and looks great for still-life photography) Ziggy (cat) decided she wanted some of the action but wouldn’t sit still long enough for a nice photo).

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Lego Sweets all the way from Montana

Jen has just got back from visiting family in Montana.

As a reward for not burning down the house in her absence she brought me back a set of lego style building sweets from The Parrot Confectionary in Helena. These Pez-like sugar sweets are colourful, fun and taste pretty good!

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And, in honour of our American cousins, I built a wall for Donald Trump. It cost a little less than his proposed wall, but hopefully it will keep him entertained whilst the grown-ups get on with running the country.

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LG 42LF652V Smart 42 Inch TV with WebOS Review

For the last 3 years I’ve been using a 40″ Samsung LED backlit TV which cost around the same price as this lg. Naturally technology moves forward, so it is no surprise that the lg has better picture quality and more advanced features. What is a surprise is the massive difference in design and build quality. The Samsung is very much plastic in look and feel, has a wobbly base and very few input/output sockets. The lg had none of these problems; it feels premium and hardwearing, with 3 hdmi slots, headphone jack, digital audio output and much more. It looks and feels like a much more expensive set.

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The picture quality is another strength for this TV, with deep blacks, bright whites and popping colour. Sound is strong, too, though it is never going to be fantastic with a flatscreen tv.

The real standout is the WebOS smart-tv system. It is intuitive and simple to use, despite being feature packed. The system controls everything, from switching HDMI inputs to using one of the several content providers installed (Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Wuaki are the main ones). One click of the Home button (using the remote that feels nice and has good clicky buttons) and up pops the self-explanatory menu, with the first option being the most recently closed option – perfect as I think most people will have, like I do, a couple of options that they use more than any other.

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There are plenty of features that I’m yet to explore properly, and the TV keeps surprising me. For example, I was recently browsing YouTube on my iPad after a DVD had finished. WebOS has YouTube installed, but I wasn’t really planning on watching anything in particular so the iPad was fine. I played a video and a little icon I’d never seen before popped up… naturally I clicked it, and with one confirmation tap the video appeared on the television in full size and excellent quality. It blew me away, to be honest!

Not everything is quite perfect, though. My one key fault is that the Sky remote doesn’t control the TV like it should, so changing volume and turning on the TV from it are not possible. I tried the set up twice, but it was unsuccessful, so I’ve become more reliant on having two remotes than I would prefer, but I’m sure a bit more playing about in menus and I’ll figure it out.

Overall I can’t tell you how much I love this TV. I had expected a slight improvement on my old Samsung, but this £500 LG is lightyears ahead in build, picture, sound and features.

Images copyright and courtesy of LG.

I received the LG 42LF652V free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Order from Amazon.co.uk with free UK delivery.

Bee9 iPad Mini Stand

I type this sitting on my sofa, with a bluetooth keyboard on my lap and my iPad Mini propped up on the coffee table. It’s the way I’ve been doing the majority of my typing of late, having despaired one too many times over my 5 year old windows laptop. Tonight it’s different though, tonight my ipad is propped up in style. Rather than the usual plantpot-coaster-glass combo, this time my ipad rests like a king in its beautiful hand-crafted wooden stand from Bee9 Design. Oh it is a happy ipad.

I had originally planned to get an apple folio case, like the one that adorns Jen’s Mini. However, although it works well enough, I’ve never been a big fan of holding the ipad with the case still attached, flapping around and getting in the way. So I looked for an alternative and found the Bee9 Design Groove. Crafted from bamboo, the design is ridiculously simple, but does the job perfectly and has a smooth and pleasing finish.

You can find out more and order yours (they come in a range of sizes, for iPhones, iPad Minis and iPads) by Clicking Here.

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All images copyright Bee9 Design.