Christmas Cake and Competitions – Win A Symphony of Dragons

This is the time of the year we start to think of cakes and Christmas decorations.
Today I’ll be making our cake – and considering my decorating plans!

Christmas Cake and Competition 2017 - The Last Krystallos

I’ve always used the same recipe, tried and tested, but when my daughter became vegan over a year ago, I tried to make it with an egg supplement powder, so she wouldn’t miss out. The cake was still delicious, but it was very crumbly. This year, I’m going to try using chickpea water as an egg replacement. 3 tablespoons of drained chickpea water is the equivalent to one egg, lightly whip to a foamy texture for baking. I’ll let you know how well that works.

It was a great pleasure to have my Melting Snowmen Christmas Cake included in DotComGiftShop’s blog post How to Decorate your Christmas Cake. My Melting Snowmen was one of my favourite cakes to decorate…here are the other Christmas cakes I’ve already decorated over the last few years.

Which is your favourite?

Favourite Christmas Cakes - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

So, as it’s Christmas, and gift giving is fun, and we’ve done this before… here’s a little competition.

Next week I’ll be decorating this year’s cake. The design is planned, drawn up, and sealed away. We have this competition in my family. I keep the cake under wraps and my husband and children guess how I’ve decorated it, then they discover who’s right with the unveiling.

Symphony_of_Dragons_Lisa_ShambrookI will send a paperback copy of A Symphony of Dragons to the reader who correctly guesses the design that will appear on top of my Christmas Cake this year!

(In the event of more than one correct guess, I will put names in the proverbial hat and draw one winner.)

Leave your guesses below in comments, or on my Facebook Author Page.
No guesses on my personal FB share will be counted as we’re not allowed to promote competitions on personal pages.
Be sure to comment your guess here or on my FB Author Page. I’ll add a final comment here to add FB guesses, so it remains transparent.

I don’t give clues, much to my children’s chagrin, but I haven’t repeated a design yet, so maybe that is a clue!

What will be on my Christmas Cake this year?

How are you decorating your cake?

What was your favourite Christmas Cake ever? 

Vegan Christmas Cake Recipe - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

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When We Judge Others Unlikable – Starring Strictly and X-Factor on Social Media

I’ve been watching Strictly Come Dancing and X-Factor
and people are very complimentary about the male contestants in general,
but the women are another story.

When We Judge Others Unlikable... Starring Strictly and X-Factor on Social Media - The Last Krystallos

Why do we judge people so much without true information? And why are confident, talented women so easily branded unlikable?

I’m very confused at the amount of judging someone’s personality on talent or media perception alone, especially women. For a start, personality is not based on talent or what we do, it’s who we are and we should never judge personality on hearsay, or without knowing someone.

Let’s take Alexandra Burke and Grace Davies. Both very talented at dancing and singing – their style might not be your cup of tea – but there’s no doubt they are amazing at what they do. However, I’ve seen so many Tweets and Facebook statuses branding these women unlikable, up themselves, over-confident etc… and it’s disturbing.

Both are open, friendly, confident, bubbly, talented, and much more, all the things we encourage our children to be when they are growing up. Yet these women are perceived as unlikable.

Grace Davies X-Factor Alexandra Burke Strictly 2017 Images- YouTube, BBC, PA, ITV

Grace Davies X-Factor and Alexandra Burke Strictly 2017: Images- YouTube, BBC, PA, ITV

How can women win or become equal when internalised misogyny is so prevalent? It appears that the majority of the comments come from women about women. Why are we tearing each other down over alleged personality?

Alexandra has danced beautifully in Strictly, been confident in her ability, smiled, wept (she lost her mum just weeks ago, so being emotional is expected), yet is judged an unlikable diva. Aston Merrygold (who lost his place a few weeks ago) was at a similar level of talent and confidence, and was widely liked and applauded. It’s been the same with Grace on X-Factor, another confident woman writing her own songs and singing with passion, bubbly and excited at the place she found herself in. The all-male group, Raksu, who won X-Factor also wrote their own songs, sang with confidence, and were friendly, fun and open, receiving much praise. Why is it different for women?

Both these women have fought, trained, studied, and worked exceptionally hard to become as good as they are in their fields, and yet, when it pays off we are so quick to judge their personality on appearances in the media.

If we show confidence in ourselves we’re branded unlikable.

I would hate to be judged on my public persona. It’s not me. I remember my form tutor at school in 4th Year (Year 10, I think) writing in my school report that I was aloof. I was devastated by that comment. I have never been aloof, shy, yes, aloof, no. It hurt me for years. I’m quiet, I build barriers, I live with crippling anxiety, yet I can be very confident teaching, speaking, and working in public. I hate being judged on a brief appearance, and a judgement is not valid until you know me.

We all have a personality, good and bad, and we can like or dislike who we want – I don’t like everyone! But I’ve become very disturbed at the way people, women in particular, have been branding other confident, successful women unlikable without knowing them.

 

Social media offers us an instant way to comment, to offer our opinion, to voice our thoughts without thinking (I do it too), and to become what X-Factor calls the fifth judge. We are armchair commentators, but we need to be charitable and kind to those we talk about.

I wouldn’t dream of tweeting that I dislike Alexandra, or claim that Grace is a diva – how would I know? I don’t know either woman. I can see that they are strong, confident, focused, and fighting for their place in an overcrowded world, but unless I know them personally, I won’t judge them on a few hours of edited television or a sensationalised newspaper article. We often comment without understanding that people in the spotlight are just like us. They may have developed a thick skin, but what we say can hurt, and our discernments are often flawed.

Say and believe what you wish in the privacy of your own home, but let’s be careful and kind online, and in our expressions of judgement.

Can we – and all those around us both in real life and in the media – not be happy and confident within our own bodies and minds without it being mistaken for being aloof and arrogant?

Lumia Selfie Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Have you ever been judged unfairly?
How did it affect you?

Winter Woollies – Feeling Cosy

When Winter arrives and Jack Frost’s delicate graffiti embellishes our mornings,
and we begin to breathe dragon smoke as we leave the house –
it’s time to wrap up warm and dig out our woolly hats, scarves, and gloves!
I love Winter’s chill…

Winter Woollies - Feeling Cosy - The Last Krystallos

I’m not a Summer Babe, I’m an Autumn/Winter Squirrel…I prefer hunting out my warm, cosy woollies to wandering around in next-to-nothing in the heat of summer! When I get too hot I get irritable and depressed, there’s nothing more to take off, and I hide from the sun, but in the winter I blossom. And the best thing is when it gets too cold I can layer up, curl up beneath a duvet or soft fleece, and venture out wrapped up warm in a hat, gloves, and scarf.

I need a separate closet for winter sweaters and jumpers! My go-to mild winter hat has pussy-cat ears and I love it. Then, when it’s colder, I move to my brown hat with a fluffy bobble – I stole this hat from Bekah *gazes innocently* I steal lots from Bekah…

Woollies - Cat Hat - Furry - Squirrel Hot Choc

© Lisa Shambrook

My leather jacket, Joe Browns, is a must, my trademark look, and for years I adorned it with a green scarf, and the cutest black leather gloves. My gloves are now a good age and sadly wearing out, but I love the little Victorian style buttons, I need to search TKMaxx again!

Mirror Selfie - Hat Scarf - Pine - Leather Button Gloves

© Lisa Shambrook

When the colours I wore switched up, I searched for a red scarf to match my green one, and ebay came up with the goods. The furry hood hat came from River Island some years ago and was a birthday gift. I love the tassels so much.

Reindeer - Leather - Furry Hood - Red Scarf

© Lisa Shambrook

Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway. Even at home I’d rather cosy up beneath a soft fleece, and wear fingerless gloves to type, than turn the heating on for one! I adore the pair I bought up in the Scottish Highlands at the Balnakeil Craft Village in Durness.

Natural Gloves - Frost - Furry Top - Gloves Woollies

© Lisa Shambrook

What are your favourite pieces for staying warm as Winter’s chill gets nippy?
Your favourite hat or scarf, or do you love your gloves?

Jack Frost - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos.jpg

© Lisa Shambrook

Stepping softly, he shivered as he wandered the urban streets,
his dancing fingers furtively composing a silent masterpiece.
He performed his second trick of the night and vanished with the first rays of day,
exposing his intricate works of art.
All the glass of the town lay beneath a delicate lattice,
a coating of glorious filigree workmanship…
all signed, sealed, and delivered by Jack Frost himself.

(Lisa Shambrook – Clandestine – Five Sentence Fiction – January 2012)

Alone – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Purple tinged the sky where the setting sun met twilight above a swathe of burnished gold. Sarah rubbed her thumb over her loose ring and smiled. The large amethyst set amid its gold band twinkled, as the last of the day’s rays glanced across its surface. Sarah sighed. The Milky Way already arced across the night, stars more infinite than the seconds in her life. It was perfect. It couldn’t be more perfect.

She gently slid down the tree’s rough trunk landing in soft hay, and drew a deep breath into her rattling lungs. Crisp oxygen, clean and cold, rushed up her nose and down her throat. The breeze gently wafted the nearby lavender crop. She closed her eyes and let the scent intoxicate her. She smiled again. She couldn’t have planned it better.

Sarah was tired; the walk had taken all day. She was alone, frail, and exhausted, but happy.

Her gnarled knuckles shook as she clasped the metal bottle in the rucksack that had dropped from her shoulders. She opened her eyes to do what she needed to do, and gently pulled the plastic tubes from her nose. The bottle and its tubes slipped away into the grass, and Sarah let them go. The bottle was almost empty anyway; it would never have seen her home.

The night air that now moved about her was softer, lighter, and dipped in lavender, and as it infused her body she let the fragrance calm her thumping heart. Sarah brought her hands together and gently rubbed the amethyst. The ring rotated easily, the band too large for her thin finger, but the soft touch of quartz comforted her and she relaxed.

The final glimmers of the sun faded beneath the horizon, and the full blanket of purple and indigo night slipped across the field. Only the stars still glittered as lavender wafted and Sarah allowed her curtain to fall.

She’d said her goodbyes, letters were signed and sealed on her mantelpiece, and she was ready to go.

The frozen, star-filled, lavender dusk claimed more than just the day that night, but Sarah would walk free from mortal constraints into a brand new dawn.

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Beautiful picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, from Javier de la Torre. Gorgeous colours…

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

A Symphony of Dragons, A Winter’s Romance, and Human 76 – Christmas Book Choice

Books are the perfect gift for Christmas
Short stories are ideal because they fit into your life
and you get to discover new authors to thrill you!

Symphony Dragons - Winter's Romance - Human 76 - Lisa Shambrook

Short stories are the perfect way to find new authors, to discover new favourite stories, and to see who you want to read next… No matter which genre you love one of these three books will hit the spot, either for you or for the bookworm in your life.
Three collections of short stories guaranteed to delight you.

Symphony_of_Dragons_Lisa_ShambrookIf you adore dragons and an eclectic choice of stories my latest release: A Symphony of Dragons contains seven stories that are linked through the theme of dragons.

Soar on dragon wings within a collection of fantasy, contemporary, romance, steampunk, and post-apocalyptic tales composed with the gossamer threads of dragon fire.

You’ll find yourself lost amid a lyrical quartet of seasons as you discover the dragons that bring you Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Read a short steampunk tale of magic and love potions… My sweet, icy romance (also found in A Winter’s Romance and too good to leave out of my own book!). A beautiful conclusion to my Hope Within novels, find out what happened to Freya, Meg, and Jasmine. Witness the passion of dragons as they twist and soar through a glittered sky. My longest story (also found in Cutthroat and Curses) will entrance you with steampunk pirates raiding to save their lives, and the last post-apocalyptic tale will introduce you to The Seren Stone Chronicles and a whole new future…and you will find dragons in every tale.

AD A Symphony of Seasons - A Symphony of Dragons - Lisa Shambrook

You can buy A Symphony of Dragons, featuring my own cover art, in eBook or paperback at most online stores. You can also buy a signed paperback (at a discount price) in my Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy.

A Winter's Romance BHC PressIf you are looking for romance, this is a beautiful book to cosy up with this winter: A Winter’s Romance by BHC Press. A Winter’s Romance – When winter and romance mix, the elements are anything but predictable…

This book gives you 19 beautiful stories from amazing authors. Tales that will enchant you, and stir you and some that will terrify you. You’ll get dragons, music, and thrillers, history, and laughs. You’ll shiver and tingle and giggle and smile. You’ll get a whole variety of short stories and the one thing I can promise you is that you won’t regret reading them!

A Winter’s Romance features authors: J.S.Bailey, LaDonna Cole, Drea Damara, Sara Daniell, Natalie Gibson, Bibi Hamblin, C.R.Hiatt, Kaite Jennings, S.R.Karfelt, D.M.Kilgore, Alice Lakewood, Elise Manion, Emmie Mears, Melissa Hladik Meyer, Tom Mohan, Patricia Paris, Lisa Shambrook, Hannah Steenbock and A.D.Trosper.

My own tale Between Ice and Fire is a captivating chance meeting on an icy winter’s morning – and you’ll want to know what sends shivers down Laine’s spine…You can find

AD Between Ice and Fire -Lisa Shambrook - A Winter's Romance AD

A Winter’s Romance in a gorgeous Paperback and Kindle on Amazon. And find it at all online stores at BHC Press.

Human 76 - Lisa Shambrook - Michael WombatAnd if you prefer adventure, the brilliant post-apocalyptic thriller: Human 76 put together by myself and Michael Wombat is perfect.

Human 76 – An unprecedented set of stories set in the fragments of a fractured world…

You can read about how this collaboration came to be in two of my blog posts: Human 76 – Ghabrie is on her way… and Human 76 Release as this is a project very close to my heart having been inspired by a photograph of my own daughter on our family post-apocalyptic photoshoot!

15 stories from 14 authors written without knowing how they would intertwine. Ghabrie loses her little sister in a raid and sets out to find her. On her journey she discovers eclectic communities, enemies and allies. Ghabrie and her search is the theme that threads through the book, but what you get is a gorgeous vignette of many lives, some struggling and some prospering, in the Post-Blast world.
What leads them to Ghabrie? How do they meet her? Does she affect them? How do their stories impact hers? You’ll have to read them to find out.

Human 76 features authors: Lisa Shambrook, Michael Wombat, Alex Brightsmith, Denise Callaway, KJ Collard, Alison DeLuca, Michelle Fox, Rebecca Fyfe, Jeff Hollar, Nick Johns, MS Manz, Julia Rios, KR Smith and Steven Paul Watson.

My own tales Leaving the Nest and We Make the Future open and close the book and you’ll need to read it to discover how all the tales entwine in the most amazing way…

AD Ghabrie Intro Human 76 - Lisa Shambrook

Human 76 is available in Paperback and Kindle on Amazon UK and Amazon US and your own Amazon store, and in Paperback and Download on Lulu. All proceeds from this book go to Water is Life (a global charity that provides clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education programs to schools and villages in desperate need worldwide.)

Seriously, you cannot go wrong with any of these book, so, order a paperback and slip it into a loved one’s Christmas gifts, let them discover a great read in their Santa Stocking, preload a Kindle, or buy it and give yourself a well-deserved treat!

L_Shambrook_The_Hope_Within_Novels

You can also pick up my Hope Within novels… available on Amazon and online bookstores. Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star are books that will lift your spirit and steal your heart. All three are available as signed paperbacks at a discount in my Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy.
Beneath the Rainbow signed 1st edition paperback is currently priced at only £2.50 + P&P a true bargain at Amaranth Alchemy!

So, find your Christmas books, your gifts, and your next read, and enjoy!

 

 

 

Surviving Suicide…

November 18th is International Survivors of Suicide Day, a day when we should celebrate life and talk about mental health. September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day, but why isn’t this something we talk about every day?
(* Trigger Warning – Suicide is discussed frankly.)

Surviving Suicide - International Survival of Suicide Day 18th Nov - The Last Krystallos

In 2016, 5,668 suicides were recorded in the UK – just under six thousand deaths each year. Male rates of suicide are still the highest at 75% but the rate of women dying by this method is growing significantly. 10 in 100,000 in the UK and roughly 13 in every 100,000 lives in the US are taken by suicide.

The Mental Health Foundation reports that 1 person in 15 have made a suicide attempt at some point in their life. This is sobering and worrying. It’s hard to find official statistics for survivors of suicide, but I believe many people would be shocked to discover they probably know someone who has attempted to take their own life. I know several people.

Light and Dark - Surviving Suicide - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Survivors of suicide are not just those who attempted to take their lives – they are those who have lost someone to this disease, those who can still hug someone who attempted suicide but lived, and those who tried to kill themselves and survived.

Please watch the film below about Kevin Hines who survived a leap from The Golden Gate Bridge:
‘I ran forward and using my two hands I catapulted myself into freefall. What I’m about to say is the exact same thing that nineteen Golden Gate Bridge jump survivors have also said – the millisecond my hands left the rail it was an instant regret and I remember thinking “No one’s going to know that I didn’t want to die.”

Please check out – Suicide: The Ripple Effect and its accompanying video for more information about Kevin and his work increasing the awareness of suicide attempts.

Mental Health - Surviving Suicide - The Last Krystallos

Original Photo © Caitlin Shambrook

If, in the UK, 1 in 15 have thought about, planned, and attempted suicide, but survived (including those who did die), the first question people often ask themselves is why and what did I miss?

‘Suicide is complex. It usually occurs gradually, progressing from suicidal thoughts, to planning, to attempting suicide and finally dying by suicide.’International Association for Suicide Prevention.
You may never know what drove someone to suicide or an attempt, due to its complexity.

I wrote a post on Understanding Depression a month ago, and explained that even though life can be good, mental health problems can overcome every good intention and persuade the sufferer that they are not worth saving. Mental Health services are getting better and more accessible, but it’s slow, and though the stigma is fading, it still needs more awareness and compassion.

Guilt often accompanies a suicide attempt, both from the person who tries to take their own life and their family who wonders why. Answers are hard, and sometimes impossible, for both parties, and support is vital to recover and move forward.

Tunnel Vision - Surviving Suicide - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Kevin Hines says: ‘Suicide, mental illness, and addiction are the only diseases that we blame the person for, perpetually, but people die from suicide just like they die from any other organ disease.’

He also talks about surviving, recovery, and creating a network of support.

We have to change the narrative, mental health has to be something we talk about, something we try to understand, something we care about. How we do that has to be across the board, from government, to schools, to parents, teachers, leaders, and all of us need to take responsibility for caring and understanding. Kevin Hines sits on the boards of the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), the Bridge Rail Foundation (BRF) the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF), and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s Consumer Survivors Committee, and tells his story wherever he can. He has touched lives and continues to do so.

I wish I could talk about my experiences with suicide (I touch on my own in the article I mentioned above), and with those I love who have experienced or attempted it, but that’s not my place.

Conflict - Surviving Suicide - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Just two days ago it was World Kindness DayKindness, compassion, love, understanding, and caring go a long way to help those who live precariously amid mental health conditions. You may know someone with suicidal tendencies, someone who self-harms, someone who can’t see through the fog of depression, someone who doesn’t know that anyone cares.

Be the one that does. Live with kindness and love.

If you are suffering, please find help. I did, and it saved my life. See your GP, find a counsellor, phone The Samaritans on UK 116 123, anytime, anywhere. If you can’t do any of these, please talk to a friend, partner, parent, or someone close to you.

Kindness-has-a-beautiful-way-of-reaching-down-unknown-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Being Kind – World Kindness Day

November 13th will be World Kindness Day –
How will you be kind-hearted the whole year through?

World Kindness Day - Be Kind - 2017 - The Last Krystallos

I wrote about how Kindness is the recipe for keeping romantic relationships alive, The Most Valuable Way to a Happy and Successful Relationship, and it appears it is perhaps one of the best ways to be happy in all our relationships – whether they are life-long or just passing.

Kind words are easy to speak - Mother Theresa - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

In Charles Kingsley’s tale of the Water-babies, Mrs Do-As-You-Would-be-Done-By was a lovely lady who treated the babies as she wished to be treated, with unconditional love and treats. In contrast, Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did was hard and sharp and treated the babies as they treated others, until they learned the lesson of treating others well. Which would you prefer to have around?

We have turned into a society of people who wish to do whatever we want without consequences and that includes how we treat those around us. We need to reassess our ethics. We can fight for and rise to catch our dreams, we can work to succeed, and we can push ourselves, but we don’t need to do it at the expense of others. We can fight to help others reach their potential, help them to succeed, and support those who need it. We can work together, and kindness and compassion are paramount to achieving that.

Unexpected-Kindness-Bob-Kerrey-the-last-krystallos-photo-bekah-shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Kindness is a base response, it’s automatic, it’s a default we should all have.

Kindness doesn’t need explaining. If you ask any child, especially small children, how you should treat others they will almost always say with kindness. Be kind. If they get it, why don’t we?

Kindness covers so many things – when you search the thesaurus you come up with a plethora of words, including:  affection – altruism – benevolence – courtesy – decency – compassion – gentleness – goodwill – goodness – grace – graciousness – hospitality – humanity – patience – sweetness – sympathy – tenderness – tolerance – understanding – unselfishness – charity – consideration – heart – helpfulness – kindliness – philanthropy – tact – thoughtfulness.

Let’s allow our hearts to pick one of these words, one of these qualities, and put it into action in our lives…

Kindness-is-more-than-C-Neil-Strait-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word,
a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
– Leo Buscaglia

What are you going to do today…and tomorrow?
Make Kindness your built-in default.

Blades – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Blades - Photograph Sarolta Ban

Photograph: Sarolta Ban

They were my weapon of choice.

Words cut deep, words wound, but mix words with blades and you have the perfect weapon.

They say Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me – they’re wrong.

It wasn’t even what others said, lost amid my world, inside my own head, is what brought me down.

There were words, plenty of them, but they were mine. No one else uttered them; no one else spoke them, but me. Words simmered below the surface, whispering and murmuring, digging and muttering, piercing and cutting. They moved through my bloodstream, through my veins, seizing and taking hold inside my brain – until they cut like knives, like blades determined to bury themselves deep within.

Nothing could dislodge them and their commitment to destroy was flawless, and they worked into my wounds like burrowing wasps brandishing scalpels. No parry was enough to deflect and I was soon forced to choose my own weapon.

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Blades - Photograph Andy Bate

Photograph: Andy Bate

I would dig them out, thrust and plunge, and drive my own blades deep. And I did.

I gouged and lanced and met those words until they flowed like red silk, until they ran and poured like rivers of crimson, until they gushed in cascades of scarlet ribbons, and I could hold them no more.

They say words don’t hurt.

They do.

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Another great picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, from Sarolta Ban. This hits home.

The second picture, by Andy Bate, was last week’s prompt and certainly sat alongside this week’s for me.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

 

The Beast Bits of Halloween

See what I did there? The Beast Bits…
Posting a day early to celebrate the Spookiest Time of Year – Halloween.
Trigger Warning – There is (not real) Blood in this Post…

The Beast Bits of Halloween - The Last Krystallos

I love Magic and the Moon, and Pumpkins, and Blood and Gore (when it’s not real), and lacy Spider Webs, Bats and Potions, and Haunted Houses, and CatsI always love cats! And they all come together for October 31stHalloween.

So what is Halloween for you?

Bats flying free, Trick or Treat, or Hot Chocolate in a cosy coffee shop decorated with pumpkins. Do Dragons sparkle across your Autumn sky? Gargoyles and Demons slink about amid the curl of Death as flowers and leaves dry while the Fae hold court. Pumpkins, carved and soup, Potions and Poisons, beware and be careful!

Halloween - Trick-or-Treat, Demons, Pumpkins, Potions, Poisons - The Beast Bits of Halloween - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

We’ve never shied away from blood and gore… Bekah’s make-up artist years have served us well with Guts and Zombies, and Slit Throats, Bullet Holes, and Pencil Protrusions. As a family we embraced our Halloween Evil. Do you fear Clowns, Darth Maul, or Vampires, or does the Grim Reaper haunt your soul?

Halloween - Zombies, Evil Clown, Darth Maul, The Grim Reaper - The Beast Bits of Halloween - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook © Bekah Shambrook © Cait Shambrook  © Dan Shambrook 

We’ve also embraced the softer side of Halloween, I mean, who doesn’t love a Black Cat? We’ve rescued Bats, listened to Owls and kissed Toads! We love the Magic of Harry Potter, and any chance to Cosplay.

Halloween - Black Cats, Owl, Toad, Bats, Demon, Harry Potter - The Beast Bits of Halloween - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook © Bekah Shambrook

And then there’s the Creepy side of Blood, and Skeletons, and Black Magic. Can you deal with Creepy Crawlies, and their fragile Webs? Full Moon and Darkness fill the Autumn night and take us into chilly Winter. Toadstools, Candles, and Cauldrons, and have you ever stayed in a Spooky Haunted House?

Halloween - Blood, Skeletons, Magic, Moon, Trees, Haunted House, Cauldrons - The Beast Bits of Halloween - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

What makes Halloween for you?

Visual Sensory Aid…

How do we process life? How do we learn and how do we cope?
Are you Visual, Auditory, or Kinaesthetic?

Visual Sensory Aid - The Last Krystallos
I recently discussed this with my daughters, and we found that we each work/cope/learn/love differently according to our Neuro Linguistic Programming, NLP. It is thought that 60% of us are Visual, while 20% are Auditory, and 20% Kinaesthetic.

I posted a piece How to Feel Loved – Discover your Love Strategy back in 2015 helping us to find out how we feel love. My love strategy is Kinaesthetic, but overall my outlook on life is Visual.

Visual Sensory Aid - Tiger - Bubble - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

When completing a VAK Survey, I score a full house in Visual. You can get an idea of your VAK Visual, Auditory or Kinaesthetic learning style/type here.

We were browsing stores when Bekah picked up a sensory toy and thrust it into my hands, proclaiming it should be mine. She was right. I suffer anxiety and panic, and I have Sensory Processing Disorder which means I often need ways to distract myself from the pangs of panic, the tentacles of anxiety, and the sensitivity of SPD.

Eyes Visual - Bekah Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Bekah Shambrook

I’ve been trying to meditate, but I struggle to stay focused for long enough. I am such a visual person that my imagination goes into overdrive when I settle to meditate and my thoughts stray too fast for meditation to be much use. Meditation does work in the right place, and I can sometimes use my visualisation skills to take me on a journey, and follow through the exercise, but often I fall short.

I need something that will help give me a time out when I get too restless.

I have a stim that grounds me when I’m out or in company – acorn cups – smoothing them between thumb and forefinger help to keep me focused and grounded, but at home it’s nice to find something different to help.

Visual Sensory Aid - Tiger - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

This toy does just that. It’s similar to a lava lamp, and the little toys with coloured oil slipping through water.

A coloured (oil based?) slime falls like an egg timer, and slips through a hole in the centre of a container. It runs through, creating bubbles that rise and coils of slime as it falls. The whole process in this version (£3 from Tiger) takes about six to seven minutes.

I use it as a grounding tool, a time out, a relaxation moment, a focusing tool, and just time to think. And it works!

The movement stimulates my brain, both calming it and opening it. I can shut out the world and just watch it, or I can focus on the green kinetic movement and allow my brain to clear and alleviate anxiety, or clear my thoughts and let me move forward. It works with my visual programming!

Watch for just one minute…I love how calming this is!

Are you Visual, Auditory, or Kinaesthetic?
Do you have any little tips, toys, stims, which help you remain grounded?