Rescuing Kira and EPI in Dogs

It only took one tweet from a Rescue site and seeing a scruffy, forlorn
German Shepherd and I knew she had to be ours.
Dogs with health problems can be harder to home but we wanted her.

Rescuing Kira and EPI in Dogs - The Last Krystallos

Kira, a six-year-old, had moved from home to home, lived long-term in kennels, and had several foster homes before coming to us. She is adorable, but not without her problems.

Finding Kira GSRE - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

At first we concentrated on Kira’s EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency). We knew treatment would be an ongoing cost for the whole of her life and working out our budget and what it would entail was our priority. We were also aware that she suffered anxiety and was reactive around dogs and new people, but having had an anxious German Shepherd before, we felt equipped to deal with that.

In actuality, her EPI was the easiest thing to deal with! Her reactivity around other dogs is the biggest problem as it affects how and where we can walk her. We’ve taken training advice and going back to basics with Kira is the best thing to do. She’s such a good dog, listening and learning fast, so she’s making progress, and had already benefitted from a caring foster parent who took time to train and love her too. We’re now working with our local vet practise to help her acclimatise to the surgery and the vet, and this helps with socialising and encouraging her not to be scared of new people. It’s not going to be a quick turn-around, but she’s getting there.

Kira rescue GSD - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

EPI is a condition, once prevalent in German Shepherds, where the body is simply missing the right enzymes to break down food. If left untreated a dog will eat ravenously but lose weight and eventually become skinny and malnourished. With EPI no nutrients are absorbed from ingested food and it doesn’t get broken down, it just passes through the system with no nutritional value. It will cause discomfort, bloating, severe weight loss, diarrhoea, constant hunger, coprophagia (eating stools), and a complete failure to thrive.

This insufficiency can be diagnosed by a vet with a TLI (trypsin-like immunoreactivity) blood test and your dog will need replacement pancreatic enzymes for the rest of their life. There are a couple of ways to do this. The enzymes are found in animal pancreas and are most commonly available as a powder, capsules, or in raw pig, beef, or lamb pancreas.

Raw pancreas can be bought at your butcher or an abattoir by arrangement. Though hugely cheaper than buying powder or capsules, you must bear in mind that animal pancreas is toxic to humans, so preparation must be done with care. Raw pancreas can be blended or finely chopped and frozen to keep. A few ounces (suggested 2 – 4 oz to every 20kgs of dog’s weight) of raw pancreas given with your dog’s meal can replace the lost enzymes.

Panzym EPI dog diet - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I chose not to go the raw route, my kitchen is tiny and storage space a minimum, so prep and storage health and safety would be difficult. I buy powder and add it to Kira’s food. Enzyme powder or supplements are not cheap. The average price for Panzym at my nearest pet store is over £70 for a tub of 225g and even more at my local vet. We found it supplied for less than half that price by an online *supplier at £122 for 650g (UK only). Shop around.

Panzym powder is added to Kira’s food: one level teaspoon (5ml) twice a day. The only way to judge if treatment is working is by watching her stools. Without treatment Kira has runny poo like a cowpat, but with the right amount of Panzym her poo becomes firm again. The amount you give your dog will be judged on their stools. Kira has had various amounts, and when we first got her she was on double the dose we have her on now. As it settled the dose was lowered to a maintenance amount. Every dog is different some will require more, some less. Some EPI dogs need more small meals each day, some need enzyme added to every piece of food – even treats – some won’t. Kira manages with two meals a day with Panzym, and has a few treats without added enzyme.

We keep an eye on what she eats, and a diary of her meals and bodily functions, so if something new affects her we know straight away. Kira eats grain-free and we add a small amount of tinned meat to her slightly wetted kibble with Panzym. The powder adheres better to meat than kibble. Some enzyme powder needs to be incubated, left to develop on wet food, but Panzym doesn’t need to do this.

GSD red brown fur paws allergies or prophyrin - the last krystallos

Red/Brown fur on paws can alert you to allergies © Lisa Shambrook

Kira’s EPI is totally under control and we barely notice it. She does suffer from other connected issues though, flatulence is one of them, but it goes with the territory! She also has allergies, possibly connected to her stomach problems. Grain-free food helps as many other dog foods have added grain to bulk and it often causes allergies.

Dark-red/brown fur on her paws also alerted us to allergies. Many sensitive dogs have itchy skin, paws, and ears, and her red fur is a reaction to allergies or to prophyrin a protein found in saliva or tears. Directed by our vet we use Malaseb shampoo and bathe Kira’s paws once a week. She’s a paw-licker, probably due to itchy skin and possibly developed a habit. Her sensitive ears are also treated and cleaned regularly.

Kira is a very happy dog, incredibly loyal, immensely loving and affectionatewinding herself about our legs and trilling like a Tribble, her version of a purr – and her anxieties are lessening gradually. There’s something so rewarding about giving a rescue dog a forever home. We had Roxy from a puppy, but Kira has never had that security and it’s beautiful to see her so relaxed and happy with us.

Kira smile - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

She fits into our family like a rediscovered lost puzzle piece.   

If you’re looking for a new pet think about rescuing rather than buying,
if you can, it’s hugely rewarding.

*Note – this post is not sponsored or promoted or in any way connected with Panzym or the supplier I use. Links are for reader’s reference. 

This Winter – from Loss to Joy…

I always enjoy Winter’s colours, chill, the season of giving and new beginnings,
and a time of cosy, starry nights. My favourite season is Autumn,
but is closely followed by Winter and her frosty beauty.

This Winter - from Loss to Joy... - The Last Krystallos

Autumn ended a season of love within our family when we unexpectedly lost our German Shepherd, Roxy, to aggressive cancer, so Winter came with a chill that bit harder and deeper than ever before.

But even tinged with sadness, we found joy and ended the season with a new source of love.

December brought a time of reflection and family. We had many hot chocolates at Pethau Da in town and remembered Roxy.

Roxy - Hot Chocolate - Dr Martens - December - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Christmas is always family based and this one was no different. I buried myself in preparations and came up with a Christmas cake decorated just for us. Christmas was family and quiet, and lovely.

Christmas Tree - Decorations - Cake - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

January arrived quickly and wasn’t particularly easy for any of us, but it had its good points. It got colder and I love the frost, and I finished my trilogy of books, or at least all the first drafts of The Seren Stone Chronicles are now done!

Ice - The Seren Stone Chronicles - Frost - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Then at the end of January, I fell in love. We weren’t looking for another dog, losing Roxy still hurt, but whilst scrolling Twitter I saw Kira… A six-year-old German Shepherd who’d still not found her forever home. She had EPI, a chronic health problem and I felt she’d be harder to home than most dogs.

Kira - Rain - Lisa - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

February, three weeks later and she’s now home, with us. The Super Snow Moon welcomed her and though she has issues she’s bonded beautifully with us and is responding well to a new training routine, boundaries, and lots of love.

Kira - Snow Moon - Kira - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Now, March is upon us and the burgeoning shoots of spring are pushing through and Winter is over. It’s been long and hard, but we’ve found joy and reason and that’s what counts.

What did you love about this Winter?

What kept you going?

 

Finding Myself Beneath… Surviving Hope

Following last year’s release all three Surviving Hope novels are now available,
and I just got my own physical copies featuring their new covers.
I love them and it made me muse on an old post from three years ago.
What have you discovered beneath?

Surviving Hope Novels - Lisa Shambrook.

Writing teaches you a great deal about life, it purges, inspires, enthrals, and opens your mind, and you learn things about yourself. This series – Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star – saw much of myself come to the fore as I wrote about the lives of three girls and the events that permeated their souls and families. What have I discovered?

Dreams - Beneath the Rainbow - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the RainbowThe first book in the series follows Freya after a tragic accident and her desire to achieve her dreams. How important are your dreams? J R R Tolkien said A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities. I concur. Your dreams and what you do with them will define you.

Imagine a life without wishes and goals and the desire to achieve? I’d feel as if I’d lost my very soul if I had no dreams to chase. Old Thomas has a dream that appears pointless and unachievable, but Freya longs to help him and he quips “It’s those silly dreams that keep us alive.”

I began life as a contemplative dreamer… a quiet, shy child with an imagination that spanned so many ideas. It took until I was thirty to turn those gossamer dreams into concrete goals, but I did, and now I’m working hard to keep those dreams-turned-goals alive!

There is a difference between dreams and goals. Putting something in writing or into action changes the aspect of a dream into something solid.

Choose to put your dreams into action, choose to make them happen. Dreams are messages from your heart to chase and work towards to help you grow and become who you’re meant to be.

Oak - Beneath the Old Oak - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Old OakIn the second book Meg has grown up with an erratic mother and her life begins to fall apart as her mother unravels. She seeks solace beneath the wide arcing branches of an ancient oak. I’ve learned that nature is my first port of call to help my mental and emotional health. I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order said John Burroughs.

Trees are my solace, from providing my grounding stim – acorn cups – to allowing me time to rearrange my head when I’m overwhelmed. Both oak trees and willows speak to me and both appear in my books. Trees stand as sentinels, strength emanating from their trunks and boughs, and life – a constant rotation with the seasons – in their blossom and leaves.

How can you not be inspired by trees? I’ve visited Sherwood Forest several times and I’m always emotionally affected by the Major Oak. It’s thought to be between 800 and 1,000 years old and is a sight to behold. It’s so large its boughs and branches are held up with supports, and you cannot walk about its 10m (33ft) girth because its aged root system is so fragile and constant footsteps would damage the ground.

The other oak that serves as my muse lives in Green Castle Woods, close to my home, and is small and broken, but every year it overcomes its hollow trunk and flourishes with leaves and acorns. Trees like this fill me with awe as I wonder at all the history they’ve seen. It makes perfect sense to me that Meg could find answers beneath her old oak.

Stars - Beneath the Distant Star - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Distant Starthe final book in the trilogy finds Jasmine fighting to become herself as she battles the ghost of a sister she no longer remembers. The stars stimulate my mind with both wonder and ideas. If I need to remind myself of miracles, and marvels, and the need to dream I just have to look at the stars.

My favourite constellation will always be Orion, the Hunter. It’s the first formation my dad ever taught me and the one I always look for. You’ll recognise names of Orion’s stars, his shoulders are made up Betelgeuse (one of the largest stars known to us) and Bellatrix, right and left respectively. The Orion Nebula – a mass of dust, hydrogen, helium, and other ionized gases – is a stunning cluster and makes up the middle star in his sword which hangs from his belt made up of the nebula and two stars. The Orion Nebula is 1,600 light-years from earth, and seen through a telescope is astoundingly beautiful. Finally, Rigel, the Hunter’s left knee is a blue supergiant and the brightest star in the constellation.

When Jasmine stares up at the stars she tries to harness their light and pull hope into the darkness of her world.

The stars spread across the inky night sky give me hope and something to reach for. Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the nightSarah Williams’ quote lives right in my heart. I live for reaching, for compassion, for uniting the world, a bit like the Star Trek Federation. I have never seen our world as individual countries; as places to build walls and to live separately. I believe in unity and harmony, and the stars give me hope that maybe one day that’s how we’ll all live – together.

The Surviving Hope Novels - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

So, these three books have inspired hope both with the grounding nature of trees and the celestial shooting stars of reaching for hopes and dreams.

Find out what Freya discovered Beneath the Rainbow,
What Meg found Beneath the Old Oak,
And what Jasmine searched for Beneath the Distant Star…

What will you find?

Surviving Hope Novels - Lisa Shambrook

Find all buy links for paperbacks and eBooks at lisashambrook.com or BHCPress.com

Romance – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Week95PhotoRomance was dead.

It was tough to feel romantic when the world burned about you, but Rourke felt sure he could still conjure up something more than just flames of lust.

His hand reached out and his fingertips brushed Lena’s wrist. She snatched it away, sighing as she gripped her hand and held it to her heart. “Just don’t,” she said with a sideways glance at Rourke.

He shook his head and lifted his hands in surrender. “Wasn’t doing anything,” he countered.

“Don’t lie.” Her eyes twinkled, but the anxiety behind them remained.

He thrust his hands beneath his thighs; sitting on them seemed the best option. He watched her as she gazed about the vast room. Rubble lined the walls, or what was left of them, and smouldering fires sent spirals of smoke up into the open, dark skies. Bombs continued falling miles away, and aircraft hummed in the distance. Lena’s soot-blackened face turned to his, and she spoke with reverence and loss, “There’s nowhere sacred left anymore.”

They jumped as the chapel wall tumbled a few feet away, and a cloud of dust and debris billowed swooshing out the candles that sat at the altar.

“At least there wasn’t a roof, or we’d be crushed…” he offered, staring up at the long-gone ceiling, gazing into the stars that peeped through the smoke-filled sky.

“I didn’t think they’d continue through the night. I thought there was enough destruction in daylight. I thought we’d be safe.” Lena wrung her hands and Rourke moved to touch her face.

This time she let him and his fingers caressed her cheek. He moved closer and the pew creaked with their weight. She turned to face him and Rourke swallowed. Firelight bathed her in flickering shades of amber and crimson, and his heart wasn’t the only part of him that reacted.

“See!” Her throaty laughter lit up his soul and he smiled as demons danced in her eyes. “I told you,” she said, “romance is gone. It’s just survival now.” Her gaze moved across his face and lingered like her hand did as it moved down his chest. His shirt, unbuttoned as he’d dived for cover, was now no match for her fingers as they strayed with insistence that betrayed much more than romance.

Lena gazed down at the floor. Torn white lace mixed with ash and debris, and red petals lay strewn across the scorched scarlet aisle. They’d tried. Old fashioned romance he’d called it, but Lena knew better. She moved her face to kiss his fingers, and her insistent hand pushed against his chest. Marriage called for more than just ceremony – even in times of war and destruction. Rourke didn’t resist.

Romance was dead, and the last cinders of her wedding bouquet confirmed it.

0000. Divider

Amazing photo for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge and a photo created  by a company called Ars Thanea, find out more here.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

The Moon – La Luna – Stirring the Soul

‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass’
summarised from a letter Anton Chekhov wrote to his brother,
this quote has resonated with not only my writing style,
but also with my love of the Moon.

The Moon - La Luna - Stirring the Soul - The Last Krystallos

The moon is paramount in The Seren Stone Chronicles and appears in different phases and forms within all three books. It’s been an inspiration to me since I was small and used to gaze up at the sky and imagine reaching for the silver globeLa Luna has been the muse for many a poet and writer and will continue to stir the soul while she sits and guards our night sky.

The full moon occurs every twenty-nine and a half days, so every few years there are thirteen full moons, this extra full moon – the second in one month – is known as a blue moon, hence the phrase once in a blue moon. As the moon’s cycle is over twenty-eight days, every nineteen years we’ll have a February with no full moon, known as a black moon.

I’m rather fascinated by the names of moons, and each month has a name given by the ancients to describe the manner of plants, animals, and weather during that phase.

Traditional Full Moon Names - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I am equally inspired by the names given to moons that orbit our planets… All my Amaranth dragons are named after moons or myths associated with the moon. It left me with a bit of a problem when I finished rewriting my final novel in the series. A dragon named Sedna had to be renamed, because Sedna in the early 2000’s was thought to be a moon connected to the planet *Pluto, but Pluto’s demotion to a dwarf planet in 2006 meant Sedna then became a dwarf planet too instead of a moon. *Note: Pluto will always be a planet to me…

Did you know that Mercury and Venus have no moons? Earth has just one: Luna. Mars has two called Deimos and Phobos. Jupiter, on the other hand, has seventy-nine moons; her biggest are named Io, Callisto, Europa, and Ganymede. Ganymede is the largest moon in our solar system, larger than the planet Mercury. Europa also appears to be the best suited to finding an environment which could support life within our solar system beyond our earth. These four moons are spherical, but Jupiter’s other moons are generally rough shaped pieces of rock.

Researching moons and planets - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, she has sixty-two moons, and Titan even has its own atmosphere. Titan is huge in comparison with Saturn’s other moons, and a theory believes there may have only been two moons but one broke up possibly creating Saturn’s rings and inner moons. Saturn’s moon Mimas is its most cratered and the Herschel crater gives it a Death Star look!

Uranus has twenty-seven moons which are named after Shakespearian characters: Titania, Oberon, Umbriel, Ariel, Miranda…and more. Neptune has fourteen moons and its moon Triton is as big as Pluto.

I love how Shakespeare has influenced the naming of moons! So many names are associated with our own moon. The Roman’s know Luna as Diana and Juno. Artemis, Aphrodite, Selene, and Hera are Greek Goddesses, Egyptian association with Isis, Hathor, and Seshat. She is known as Sedna by the Inuits, and Shing Moon by the Chinese, and the Celts named her Morgana.

Super Blue Blood Moon over River Towy - Ralph Waldo Emerson quote - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I have a gorgeous teeny tiny book on the moon, which sheds light on this celestial object. This quote from the little book echoes my own romanticism of the moon: The sun pours the light of consciousness over the world; the moon reflects the opposite: the dark of the unconscious. Such a beautiful and evocative proclamation which completely echoes my own sentiments.

Countless myths and legends are associated with the moon giving it an enigmatic and mystical aura, which draws us to moon gaze and contemplate. I love standing beneath it, watching and leaving the world behind.

Moon Dreams and Dew... myths of the moon - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Recently I had my first chance to watch a lunar eclipse in a clear sky. I’d researched eclipses just the day before, for the close of my trilogy, and on 21st January I set my alarm. At 11.30pm when I‘d retired for the night, the wolf moon had glistened large, a super moon close to the earth, in glorious light, and now at 4.30am it shone as a sliver, a bright crescent as the shadow of the earth moved across its surface. Within minutes the shard disappeared and the moon shone as a whole as totality swathed it deep rust red. It wasn’t long before it disappeared behind trees, but the sight of the lunar eclipse will remain with me as one of the wonders of nature.

Super Wolf Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse 21st January 2019 - The Last Krystallos

Super Wolf Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse 21st January 2019 © Lisa Shambrook

The moon is vital to the health of our planet – it rules the tides, and due to its gravitational power must have a subliminal affect over our lives too. We are made up of a high percentage of water ourselves, and where the moon influences the earth’s oceans, it’s scientifically likely it influences us and our moods too. It is said it influences poetry, emotions, intuition, energy, rain, reflections, meditations, memory, healing, plant life, farming, weather, and time.

The moon, waxing and waning, evokes reverence and wonderment.   

How does the moon affect or inspire you?
What do you love about the moon?

Moonlight Dreams - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Gems and Birthstones

Gemstones fascinate me on many levels and are integral parts of my current manuscript.
Gems and crystals speak to me as grounding influences, vibrating with their own energy. Albert Einstein once said that ‘…everything in life is vibration.’
They also sparkle like stars and thus fulfil my sense of connection with the universe.  

gems and birthstones - the last krystallos

I love pretty things and stones of any kind have been a passion since I was small. My interest began when dad got a gemstone tumbler and with birthstone pendants and rings in the Argos catalogue, but I was disappointed when October’s birthstone was always downgraded to rose instead of opal. I desperately wanted an opal of my own.

Recently, my research into crystals has been extensive because of their use in The Seren Stone Chronicles, of which the three first drafts are now finished. I have a beautiful collection of stones and decided, being January, that it’d be fun to post about birthstones.

Birthstones are thought to originate from biblical and ancient uses. Twelve stones used in Aaron’s breastplate are considered to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Later, these twelve gems were linked with zodiac signs. Other ancient civilisations believed these stones had powers connected to luck, health, and power. Modern day lists differ from traditional lists, and some cultures have their own lists.  My list is based on the British more romanticised version.

January – Garnet

Garnet is a deep-red stone of health that enhances energy, passion, and pleasure. It is said that the only light on Noah’s Ark was provided by a Garnet stone. Garnet is a good stone to help with depression, as it brings joy and hope to the wearer and helps lessen the anger directed at oneself. It also cleanses the chakras of negative energy, re-energizing them in the process.

January - Garnet

January – Garnet © Lisa Shambrook

February – Amethyst

A very popular purple quartz ranging from the lightest lilac to deep-purple, the presence of maganese and iron changes clear quartz to amethyst. It has a reputation as a healing stone. It is a crystal of spiritual growth and protection. Ancient Greeks believed it would ward off drunkenness and for centuries, myths and legends have had strong religious and cultural connections with Amethyst.

February - Amethyst

February – Amethyst © Lisa Shambrook

March – Aquamarine

Aquamarine simply means seawater and it’s hues of pale blue conjure up coastal seas. It has been said to embody eternal life and is connected with youth and hope. It was the treasure of mermaids and used by sailors for protection. Aquamarine is a stone associated with the throat chakra and is a stone of cleansing and communication.

March - Aquamarine

March – Aquamarine © Lisa Shambrook

April – Diamond

Diamonds have been long associated with love and desire, known for their strength and value. It was once believed that diamonds were made when lightning hit rock, now we know they are made from carbon. Once known as the Stone of Invincibility due to its hardness crystallising deep underground under intense pressure. Diamonds are spiritual stones and are a symbol of wealth.

I own Herkimer Diamonds, named for the Herkimer mines in the US. They are double-terminated crystals often with inclusions of air bubbles or black carbon. I find them just as beautiful as traditional diamonds.

Diamond - April - Herkimer Diamond stone

Diamond – April – Herkimer Diamond stone © Lisa Shambrook

May – Emerald

Rich green gems known as symbols of love and rebirth. They are said to have been Cleopatra’s favourite stone, symbolising youth, eternal life, and friendship. Emeralds are amongst the rarest of gems, often found with inclusions which can enhance their worth, making them unique. It is a stone of wisdom, enhancing memory and increasing mental clarity.

May - Emerald

May – Emerald © Lisa Shambrook

June – Pearl

Both Pearl and Alexandrite are birthstones of June. Pearl has been much sought after through the ages. Myths in Persia called pearls the tears of the gods. Pearls are the only gemstone created by living creatures.  A pearl is formed when an irritant gets inside an oyster, or a mussel or clam shell, and it exudes fluid called nacre which coats the irritant in many layers eventually creating a pearl. Pearls can be cultured or freshwater and come in a range of colours from white to black.

Alexandrite is very rare and worth more than both rubies and diamonds. It’s a rare colour changing variety of chrysoberyl, changing colour from blue to green, and in artificial light red to pink. When they were first discovered the miners thought they’d found emerald only to bring them out and find by the camp fire they looked like rubies. It symbolises wealth, prosperity, and good fortune. A stone of positivity and self-confidence.

June - Pearl - Oyster

June – Pearl – Oyster © Lisa Shambrook

July – Ruby

Ruby is the most valuable of all gemstones depending on its colour. The most valuable rubies are deep red with a hint of blue. Ruby has always been a symbol of passion, protection, and prosperity. It was known as an inextinguishable flame. Ruby is red Corundum, which is an aluminium oxide mineral with chromium which causes its rich colour. It’s also known as an aphrodisiac.

When Ruby in zoisite was discovered in Tanzania in the 1950’s they thought they’d discovered huge deposits of ruby, but this gemstone a combination of ruby and zoisite crystals produced a more opaque ruby that was much more affordable.

July - Ruby - Ruby in Zoisite

July – Ruby – Ruby in Zoisite © Lisa Shambrook

August – Peridot

Peridot is the gem-quality stone of Olivine. Olivine in dust form has been found on the moon, and in comet dust brought back to earth on the Stardust robotic space probe in 2006. Like diamonds they are born of pressure in molten rock of the upper mantle beneath earthquakes and volcanoes. It’s associated with the sun and used to force back darkness. It has been valued for years as a healing stone of the heart chakra. Peridot is said to bring magic and healing powers to its wearer. It is also the stone connected to the Archangel Raphael.

Peridot is the backbone for my new series of books The Seren Stone Chronicles.

August - Peridot - Peridot on Basalt

August – Peridot – Peridot on Basalt © Lisa Shambrook

September – Sapphire

This is a gem known for loyalty and trust. It is a stone of wisdom and royalty steeped in history and lore and religion. The Ten Commandments given to Moses were said to have been engraved on tablets of sapphire. It is used within many religions and cultures as a stone of spiritual enlightenment, worship, and devotion. Its colour moves from royal blue to indigo and are much prized as a talisman of honesty and purity.

The stone I have is Water Sapphire, also known as iolite, dichroite, or cordierite.

September - Sapphire - Water Sapphire, or iolite

September – Sapphire – Water Sapphire, or iolite © Lisa Shambrook

October – Opal

October is known for two birthstones, Opal and Tourmaline. Opals are known for containing the colours of the rainbow and come in the palest form, almost white,  and as triplet with deep blues, green, and pinks. They can be translucent or as glittery as fire. Pliny, the Roman historian, described opal as a precious stone containing the fiery flame of the carbuncle (Garnet), the resplendent purple of the Amethyst, and the sea-green glory of the Emerald – all shining together in incredible union and exquisite pleasure. It’s been linked to superstitions and bad luck but has remained a favourite gem. The Andean Opal (the stone in my pictures) is considered to be a gift from Pachamama, the earliest Inca Goddess of Fruitfulness and Mother Earth. Opals are known for reflection and are emotional stones.

Tourmaline is found in black variety and pinks, blues, and greens. It combines more colours than any other crystal group. Black Tourmaline is a protection stone, and is grounding. It is also electrical in nature and provides connection between the earth and the human spirit.

Also pictured are opal rings and bracelet which match my birthstone. I finally bought my own opal ring from Castleton in Derbyshire in my teens, and received another from my husband just a few years ago.

October - Opla - Andean Opal

October – Opla – Andean Opal © Lisa Shambrook

November – Topaz

Topaz and Citrine are November’s birthstones. Topaz comes in many colours from clear silver topaz, to yellow, brown, blue, green, red, and pink. Blue used to be the rarest colour but now its colour can be enhanced and it has become the most popular. Natural blue topaz is very rare. Blue topaz draws inspiration from the sky and promotes truth, expression, and confidence. It’s soothing and calm. Silver topaz is attributed to the crown chakra and enhances your feeling of self. A stone of good fortune and love.

Citrine a beautiful golden-yellow quartz known for vitality and is said to be a healing crystal. It contains the power of the sun and is a stone of new beginnings. It never needs cleansing and is a stone of positivity. It’s name comes from the French word for lemon, citron.

November - Topaz - Silver Topaz and Blue Topaz

November – Topaz – Silver Topaz and Blue Topaz © Lisa Shambrook

December – Turquoise

Turquoise and Lapis Lazuli used to be the traditional birthstones of December, but modern calendars now include Tanzanite and Zircon. Turquoise is one of the oldest stones known to us, and was prized amongst Native Americans, Aztecs, Incas, Persians, Chinese, and Egyptians in particular. It is a sacred stone known for protection, healing, and wisdom. It can be robin’s egg blue or laced with spider web veins in cream or brown. It’s a stone of calm and wellbeing.

Tanzanite is a relatively new deep-blue stone with hues of purple, discovered only in the 1960’s in Tanzania. It’s a stone for spiritual exploration and is a soft stone, needing care when being worn.

Zircon comes from the Arabic words ‘zar’ (gold) and ‘gun’ (colour) and is often blue, but is found in clear forms and yellow to red. It should not be confused with cubic zirconia which is a lab made gem stone. It is supposed to be a pain reliever and to protect travellers.

December - Turquoise

December – Turquoise © Lisa Shambrook

Crystals and gems, whatever your belief, are beautiful and evocative, and make me happy.

What’s your birthstone?

The Journey to Becoming Who You Are…

Figuring out who you are is the whole point of the human experience
Anna Quinlan
Discovering who you are is a journey and one that I don’t think has a final destination.
I am a contradiction, someone who hates change and yet, embraces it too…

The Journey to Becoming Who You Are... - The Last Krystallos
I recently posted a selfie on Instagram captioning it: Sometimes, I’m happy with who I am. Becoming who I’m meant to be. A lovely friend responded that I don’t need to change and become anything else, that I am great as I am.

This set me thinking. Self-acceptance has always been something I struggled with – I’ve always felt out of place, odd, different, and just not for this world. For years I felt lost, cast-aside, and solitary, but as I’ve got older I’ve learned to love myself, to embrace who I am and to continually search for my own truth.

To be nobody but yourself - ee cummings - the last krystallos- lisa shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I don’t think this is a journey that has a final destination. We don’t stay the same, we don’t reach perfection, we don’t become someone and remain that person for the rest of our lives. We move on, we change, we learn, we grow, and we become who we’re meant to be at that moment in time.

I write a lot about being who you want to be, about self-acceptance and being yourself: Never Changing Who I Am, Who am I and Who are You, and Belonging, Being a Loner, and Finding your Tribe, are just a few posts.

We must never dilute who we are, because intrinsically, whatever it is that makes your heart sing is you… and that you is exactly who you’re meant to be.

I am so much more than what they see - Douglas Pagels quote - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

In Beneath the Distant Star, Jasmine is fighting to become herself. Jasmine lost her older sister, Freya, in the first book in the Surviving Hope series, but now, at fifteen-years-old, she can barely remember her sister and her frustrations grow as her mother doesn’t seem to accept her for who she is. Jasmine feels she’s always battling a ghost and losing.

In this excerpt Meg, who used to be Freya’s best friend, is offering advice to Jasmine:

Meg took a deep breath and touched Jasmine’s shoulder. “I’m myself, and only myself, no one else, just like you’re you and not Freya.” Jasmine nodded. “But, but, Jasmine, you don’t need to fight it, you don’t need to prove you’re not Freya, you just need to be yourself. Your natural self, not the self that needs to show she’s different, not someone who fights a ghost. Just be you.”

Meg smoothed a twig out of Jasmine’s dark hair. “You don’t need to dye your hair black and red, or even chop it off to avoid being Freya. You don’t need to do the opposite of what your mum wants just to be different.”

Jasmine dug the toe of her boot into the earth and shovelled dusty dirt. Meg took Jasmine’s chin in her hand and brought her face up to meet hers. Thomas drew a nervous breath, people didn’t touch Jasmine, she very often over reacted. Jasmine met Meg’s eyes. “How?” she whispered. “How?”

Knowing and becoming who you are isn’t always easy. I used to think once I’d got out of my teens it’d be easy to discover myself… Not strictly so, like I said, finding out who you are is a journey and as your life changes, so do you.

Goddess, wild child, fragile mess...

S. C. Lourie quote found online

It’s a long standing thing for us – as human beings – to want to better ourselves, and society is always telling us that if we were this or that we’d be better, or if we bought whatever (they’re probably selling) we’d be happy, but life is a rollercoaster, sometimes we’re better, stronger, more confident, and sometimes we’re weaker, less confident, and we struggle. That’s completely normal and exactly as life should be. We rise and fall with our circumstances.

Even when you’re strong, weakness can prevail, those are the times that others need to step in and help you on your journey.

I dislike change. I struggle without a prescriptive routine, and when things change my life melts down. To illustrate that, my favourite body lotion was recently discontinued. I even tweeted to confirm, then I panicked. My favourite toothpaste vanished a year or two ago and I’d been using that brand since I was about twelve. It took me weeks to choose another, just staring at the choice on the supermarket toothpaste shelf wondering if they’d taste okay, feel okay, and just be right for me was hell. Now it’s happening again. I just bought the last seven bottles of body lotion that I could find from several shops in town. I’m not neuro-typical, but that’s okay, that’s my journey.

But when it comes to being who I am, change is appropriate and I embrace it.

Lisa Shambrook 2018

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve been dyeing my hair since my thirties; when that silver strand appeared and wouldn’t go away, I dyed it. Now, fifteen years later, I’m fed up with colouring my hair. I’m forty-seven and all about embracing myself, so I decided it was time to stop and see what hid beneath the dirty brown. Change is scary. Change can point you out as different, buck the trend, make you stand out. I found a supportive Instagram page: Grombre and I went for it. I stopped dyeing.

I used to look in the mirror as my white roots appeared and I believed I looked ten years older. I actually gazed at my face and it looked greyer and physically older. Turns out you can fool yourself. Now, silver highlights are appearing like glittered stars in my hair and I love it. I look in the mirror as my grey grows and I’m no different to who I was when I coloured my hair. There is no age difference, I look the same!

I can’t wait to discover what lies beneath, quite literally, and after a lifetime of dark hair, I will be able to play with colours, maybe I’ll have blue tips, or lilac hair, or maybe I’ll go dusky pink – whatever I choose it’ll be me for a while. I’ll embrace who I am at that moment in my life.

Brene Brown said: Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

Brene Brown Quote true belonging when we're authentic and imperfect - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Accept who you are – right now.
Light up the world by being You. Be the star.
Dance until the stars fall from the sky and fill your hair with sparkle and light – (anon)
Never stop walking, dancing, running through this journey we call life,
discovering who you are today, and who you can be tomorrow…

0000. Divider

Beneath the Distant Star by Lisa ShambrookJasmine knows her very existence reminds her mother of something her sister will never have—life. Craving love and acceptance, Jasmine struggles to become her own person, and her fragile relationship with her mother shatters.

Beneath the Distant Star is published by BHC Press and is a novel that will enthral you.

“Jasmine can easily be related to and she pulls at your heart strings throughout the entire story.” — LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Beneath the Distant Star is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:

Amazon UK, Amazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Google Play, Kobo, iTunes, and other online outlets.

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial

Try making this beautiful Button Christmas Tree ornament.
Simple and festive.

I made these last year after I’d seen them online so often but never got round to making them. I’m glad I did because they’re so cute!

Make yours in only ten easy steps…

Button Christmas Trees - The Last Krystallos

1. Collect an assortment of different sized green and brown buttons and some thin gauge craft wire.

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial © Lisa Shambrook

2. Jewellery odds and ends, tiny beads, or sequins make excellent decorations for the top of the tree.

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial © Lisa Shambrook

3. Arrange four small brown buttons for the trunk and about 9 green buttons for the tree. Cut a length of wire.

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial © Lisa Shambrook

4. Double over the wire and thread the trunk buttons first.

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial © Lisa Shambrook

5. Then thread the green tree buttons largest to smallest. Remember thread through holes opposite as shown not beside each other.

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial © Lisa Shambrook

6. Thread largest through to smallest buttons.

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial © Lisa Shambrook

7. Your basic Christmas tree....

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial © Lisa Shambrook

8. Add a tiny bead or a sequin as a top of the tree decoration.

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial © Lisa Shambrook

9. Add a sequin, bead, old earring back, or odd piece of jewellery as a topper.

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial © Lisa Shambrook

10. Twist the ends of the wire together so you can hang the ornament.

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial © Lisa Shambrook

11. Hang your Button Christmas Tree on your Christmas tree

Button Christmas Tree Tutorial © Lisa Shambrook

Have an amazing Christmas!

Somewhere Between Light and Dark – 2018 Tipsy Santa Blog Hop

Filtered Christmas Lights

© Lisa Shambrook

Somewhere Between Light and Dark

Birdsong filtered through the city noise and a breeze, as cold as the arctic, blustered through the trees. Kira let the chill dance about her feet and pulled her scarf tighter. She rested her hands on the park bench beside her. Frost still coated the wood like icing sugar and her finger tips traced gentle patterns.

She’d had a little tipple or two before leaving the house and a giggle left her lips. She felt deliciously naughty and not nice.

The birds still sang, but footsteps quietened them for a moment before they struck back up in a wintry chorus. Kira closed her eyes and listened to the beat of the shoe – heel, toe, heel, toe – until it faded in the distance.

The cold indicated snow would soon blanket the ground and the faint discord of Christmas music tickled her ears. She focussed on the music so intently that she missed the footsteps sauntering past, but her nose didn’t miss the scent that filled the air: salty, citrusy, and… sandalwood. Her cheeks flushed, but she didn’t move an inch.

Her attention leaped back to the footsteps and her eyes fluttered open again. The man sat down on the bench and Kira’s body tingled as the planks of wood sank adjusting to the weight of two. She was a little unsure if the cider she’d drunk at home caused the tilting warmth in her bones, or if it was something else.

He shifted his weight, somewhat uneasily, and the bench creaked. She splayed her fingers beside her on the wet wood, but they touched nothing. Her fingers retracted and her thighs tensed. His breath came light and shallow, and she imagined vapour like dragon’s smoke swirling before him.

“Hi.” His voice was soft, nervous, and gravelly.

He sounded like chocolate tasted, like coffee and vanilla, and Tia Maria, and she felt her heart skip. “Hi,” she responded, her own nerves tingling. It was a dangerous word, because maybe it wasn’t her he spoke to.

She felt the heat of his smile. “It’s cold, isn’t it?” he commented, staring ahead at the trees in front of them.

She nodded. “It is. Winter is definitely here.” She swallowed and bent her head a little.

He opened his mouth to speak again, but hesitated. Kira barely breathed, wondering if she should turn her head to him.

“I’ve seen you here loads before…” he began, then stopped abruptly, maybe worrying if he sounded like a stalker.

She smiled, recalling booted feet and aftershave. “I’ve noticed you too,” she said.

“You have?”

She nodded. “I know it probably doesn’t seem like I notice anything…”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” his voice betrayed anxiety.

“It’s okay.” She giggled, the cider giving her confidence. “I’m Kira.”

“Like Nerys?” he said quickly. “I’m sorry, that might be a bit too geeky! You might not have…”

“I have, and yes!” She grinned.

“Nick,” he said.

“Like Saint?”

He laughed. “Yep, just like him! But I don’t look a bit like him…” He paused and drew in a breath.

She laughed. “That’s okay, I’m not into the beardy type…” This time she hesitated. Maybe he had a beard.

“Good!” He said firmly, and she let out her breath. He moved a little closer on the bench and it rose and sank beneath his weight. “You’re not usually here alone,” he said.

Her mind whirled with danger, with attraction, and with a slightly tipsy sway. “I know, but I felt like getting out on my own.” She didn’t dare add it was because she knew he spent his lunch breaks in the park.

“Where is he?” he asked.

Kira reddened. He knew. She took a moment to compose herself. He was still talking to her, initiating conversation, even though he was perfectly aware of her situation. “He’s at home.”

“Do you often come out without him? I’ve never seen you alone before. I’d imagine he’s quite protective?”

She nodded. “He is, but I think he’ll like you.” She turned her head and bokeh from several points of light burst into her eyes. Even through a blur of light and dark, his silhouette was attentive and striking and she wanted to reach up and stroke his face. “You should meet him.”

“I’d like that,” he said and his hand moved across the bench to touch hers. “Would you like me to walk you home?”

She nodded. “I think Odin, my guide dog, will love you!”

0000. Divider

This is a Christmas tale for Ruth, Laura, and Cara‘s 2018 Tipsy Santa Blog Hop

750 words max on a tipsy Christmas theme. ‘Bring us your tales of drunken holiday mayhem (no Santa actually required, but the Tipsy part is highly encouraged).’

I’m feeling mellow this year, so not going full out drunk, just romantically tipsy…

Beneath the Distant Star – A tale of Love and Acceptance

Beneath the Distant Star is a story that takes resentment and rejection
and gives you what truly matters in a bittersweet tale of hope.

Beneath the Distant Star by Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Distant Star © Lisa Shambrook

Jasmine knows her very existence reminds her mother of something her sister will never have—life. Craving love and acceptance, Jasmine struggles to become her own person, and her fragile relationship with her mother shatters.

Beneath the Distant Star is released through BHC Press on 11th December and is a novel that will completely enthral you.

Maybe You'd Love If I Was Dead - Beneath the Distant Star - Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Distant Star © Lisa Shambrook

“Jasmine can easily be related to and she pulls at your heart strings throughout the entire story.” — LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Discover what you already have - Beneath the Distant Star - Lisa Shambrook

Beneath the Distant Star © Lisa Shambrook

“Jasmine has never felt good enough for her mother who is still clinging to the grief of losing her first daughter. The emotions Jasmine experiences and the antics she carries out to get attention are spot on for a confused teenager and I really sympathized with her throughout the story. The writing and imagery were beautiful and the story kept me turning the page.”
Riverside Reader on Amazon

Beneath the Distant Star is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:

Amazon UK, Amazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Google Play, Kobo, iTunes, and other online outlets.

Beneath the Distant Star by Lisa Shambrook published by BHCPress

Beneath the Distant Star is the third book in the Surviving Hope novels, following Beneath the Rainbow and Beneath the Old Oak both already available.

If you’ve already read any of this series and not left a review, please do, authors adore everyone who leaves a review and will sprinkle stardust over your lovely lives forever! Reviews can be left anywhere you buy the books online and particularly on Amazon, Goodreads, blog posts and your own Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or blogs. Spread the word and make an author very happy!

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens intro and The Tale of Mrs. Cratchit by Lisa Shambrook

And because it’s Christmas – here’s a gorgeous treat… Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol published by BHC Press. The treat is not only do you get Dickens’ wonderful timeless classic, but you get an introduction and an all-new story ‘The Tale of Mrs. Cratchit’ written by myself for this brand new special edition. Originally published in 1843, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is still considered one of the most beloved stories ever written. It has inspired countless films, book adaptations and most importantly, helped nurture the Christmas spirit each holiday season.

Merry Christmas and happy reading!