fbpx

Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.

SIGN UP FOR SNEAK PEEKS OF MY NEXT BOOK + NEWSLETTER-ONLY UPDATES.

Stuff I loved in 2016

Happy New Year, my friends! I’m sure most of you are as relieved as I am to have a fresh start.

I always do a round-up of the greatest products I discovered during the year, but I figured everyone would appreciate a break from blogs last week, so here it is–better late than never, I say!

I am not affiliated with any of these products, so I don’t receive any kickbacks from mentioning them, sadly. 🙂 They’re just too good to keep to myself.

Best Products

Mysterious Package: If you’re looking for a unique gift, look no further. The Mysterious Package Company will send the “victim” of your choice pieces of what appears to be a real-life mystery. If the recipient hasn’t heard of the Mysterious Package Co., so much the better–he or she will believe the mystery is genuine until the final reveal letter. Most of the packages are creepy, but there are a few with a science fiction flair. Some recipients have even called the police, who confiscated their packages as evidence–that’s how genuine they seem.

Imagine having a starring role in an adventure!

Word to the wise: These adventures don’t come cheap. The least expensive one is $99 USD.

Focus: This distraction-eliminating program is super easy to customize and saved my butt during the 2016 NaNoWriMo. A free trial is available, or you can download it for just $19 USD–well worth it. It comes with a long list of pre-banned websites, but if you have discovered other time sucks, you can add them too. I love the ability to schedule the program in advance. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, I will not be able to access Google, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Watch my productivity skyrocket! If you really need to get out of the program, you can, but for those with no willpower, there’s a special setting that won’t let you access the blocked sites during your “Focusing” time–even if you restart your computer or turn the program off. So far I haven’t had to resort to that.

If you slip and try to access a banned site, Focus will show you a motivational quote. You can customize those as well, deleting the ones you don’t care for and adding your own.

TeeTurtle: While settling on my brand, I found myself conflicted. I write dark fiction, but I also have a weakness for all things adorable. Did I have to sacrifice my love of kawaii? As it turns out, no.

Friday the 13th T-shirt by TeeTurtle

TeeTurtle is proof that horror doesn’t have to be scary or gory. They have a wide range of soft, irresistible shirts for all genders, and almost every Thursday everything on the site goes on sale for $12 USD. Even if you don’t love horror, there’s tons to choose from. Narwhale socks, perhaps? All I know is, I’m set for any horror con in the foreseeable future.

Word to the wise: Do NOT put TeeTurtle shirts in the dryer–hang them instead. They shrink like crazy. Also, their “Women’s Fitted” shirts are in junior sizes.

Dragon Draper Necklaces: When I first saw a photo of one of these necklaces on Facebook, had to have it. I was thrilled to discover these wearable works of art are handmade by a fellow Canuck. While the site warns that it will take a considerable amount of time to receive your custom necklace, I believe I had mine in less than a month–not bad at all. She makes lots of other lovely pieces as well.

Dragon Draper Necklace - photo copyright Aelia Petro www.artbyaelia.com

Photo copyright: Aelia Petro www.artbyaelia.com

Word to the wise: I got the Aurora Borealis model shown above, and while beautiful, the colors aren’t quite as bright or dramatic as they appeared in the photo.

Rocky Mountain Soap’s Root Beer Bubble Bath: A bath is a real treat for me, and this bubble bath makes it even more so. It really does smell like root beer, results in tons of fluffy bubbles, and best of all, there are no icky chemicals, no sodium lauryl sulphate or other irritants. Pretty awesome treat for $14.50 CAD. Now, if they’d only make a bigger bottle….

Best Helpful Blog

Roland Yeomans authorI’ve gotta admit, the first time I visited Roland Yeoman’s blog, I was taken aback by all the different fonts and colors and graphics. I had no idea what I was in for.

Over the past year, Roland’s posts have become some of my all-time favourites, as he cleverly uses the words of history’s great thinkers (Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, etc.) to dispense writing and life advice. Each post is written as if Roland is interviewing the subject’s ghost, and I always find at least one gem of really helpful advice while being in awe of his skill–it really does seem like Mark Twain is giving us advice from beyond the grave. What a clever idea! Definitely worth checking out.

Your turn! What was your best find of 2016? Have you tried any of the items on my list? If so, I’d love your opinion. What blog helped you the most last year?

If you’d like to see my picks for 2015, you can find them here.

1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.

36 Comments

  1. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor

    I’m intrigued by they mysterious package. Sounds like a great gift idea, especially for those people that I never know what to get. Nice shout-out for Roland. I enjoy his blog as well. All the best for the coming year.

    Reply
    • JH

      You too, Ellen! I hope you had a great holiday.

      My bf and I actually inadvertently purchased a Mysterious Package for each other. His was pretty cool, and I’m looking forward to receiving mine. Mine’s supposed to be really scary! Can’t wait.

      Roland is so creative. I always get inspired by his posts.

      Reply
  2. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    You could really freak someone out with that Mysterious Package.
    Roland’s posts are always intriguing and make you think.
    Welcome to 2017!

    Reply
    • JH

      Same to you, Alex. All the best in the New Year!

      I’m hoping this will help more people discover Roland. He deserves to be discovered.

      Reply
  3. Mary Aalgaard

    The Mysterious gift sounds crazy good. And, I’m intrigued by the unique gift site. In 2016, I got connected with more theaters in the twin cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul). There are hidden treasures there, for sure.
    Happy 2017!

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s awesome, Mary–good way to work towards your goals. I used to have a subscription to the main theatre here, but it got to be really challenging to find people to go with once my main theatre buddy got hitched. I hate to go alone.

      I always make it to at least a few Fringe festival plays in the summer, though. Have you ever been to a Fringe? I think you’d love it. Your blog would have fodder for months!

      Reply
  4. Randee

    Thanks for these! Some I knew about but some I did not and I’m checking out the blog now. Happy 2017!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks, Randee! You as well–all the best in the New Year.

      There are so many blogs I love, yours included. It’s hard to pick just one.

      Reply
  5. Richard Martin

    Enjoyable read. Thanks.

    Reply
    • JH

      You’re very welcome, Richard. Glad to have you here, and hope you return! I post every Tuesday.

      Reply
  6. Tami Von Zalez

    A great wrap up post!

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much, Tami. Happy New Year!

      Reply
  7. Rebecca Douglass

    Love that dragon necklace! And I’ll trot over and check out Roland’s blog.

    I really need to get Focus or similar software.

    Reply
    • JH

      I’m glad, Rebecca. I figured someone else would be similarly awed by her work.

      And thanks for visiting Roland. I hope you love it!

      Focus is amazing. It is definitely having a huge impact on my productivity.

      Reply
  8. Roland Yeomans

    Thanks so much for the shout-out, J.H.! What a nice New Year surprise gift! Have you heard about Lootcrate? https://www.lootcrate.com/

    You receive monthly a box of surprise goodies based on your interests — shirts, figurines, and posters from Groot, Batman, to Firefly. Neat idea. Gives you something to look forward to every month as each box contains multiple items.

    Reply
    • JH

      You’re very welcome, Roland. Surprise! And well deserved.

      I have heard of Lootcrate–came across it on my hunt for unique gifts over the Christmas season. I didn’t take the plunge yet, but you’re right–it is a really neat idea, and a great addition to my list! Thanks for suggesting it.

      Have you subscribed, or did you get anyone a gift subscription?

      Reply
  9. A.P. Fuchs

    That Focus thing sounds interesting. I’m on social media hiatus for the winter and recently decided to do the same for 2017. I use Hootsuite and the free version let’s you pre-program up to three social networks with stuff. My 2017 is covered and I’ve enjoyed being off the feeds for the past couple of months. I’ve done more writing and art than ever thanks to losing the social time sucks. Highly recommended.

    Reply
    • JH

      Wow, A.P. Do you mean to tell me you scheduled your posts for the ENTIRE year already? That’s mind boggling. I use Tweetdeck for Twitter, and schedule Facebook posts manually, but I still like to get into those accounts in real time…AFTER my work is done.

      However, I think I’m going to limit my leisure time on social media too. Last night I had several free hours and I felt like they were wasted puttering around Facebook without accomplishing or enjoying anything. Could have kicked myself.

      I’ve been resistant to Hootsuite for some reason, but I really shouldn’t be. It could save me even more time. Happy New Year!

      Reply
  10. Lisa S.

    Haven’t tried these items, but they sound like great finds. I can totally see you wearing the dragon wrap-around necklace (and falling in love with the teal-blue combo).
    Great finds of 2016? I purchased an AKG C414 Condenser Microphone and am loving it to pieces. Other favourite score was pink fluffy unicorn onesie pajamas I found for munchkin #2 at Giant Tiger. Super cute. Also found a tie-died pattern ukulele for munchkin #1 at Long & McQuade which she’s loving up. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      What cool gifts, Lisa! Along I’m disappointed the unicorn onesie wasn’t for you. Now THAT is something I would pay to see!

      Hopefully someday you will see me wearing that dragon necklace. It’s pretty damn awesome. 🙂

      Reply
  11. A Chaos Fairy

    I love TeeTurtle!

    Reply
    • JH

      I know, right? Aren’t they awesome?

      Do you have any favourite shirts or other items? I love my ‘Exorcising Ghost’ one.

      Reply
  12. Lexa Cain

    That dragon is really lovely and the mystery package is such a cool idea (for someone with a lot of time on their hands). I’m glad you wrote about these discoveries since I don’t have the time money to investigate cool things myself. Thanks!

    Reply
    • JH

      All you need is social media. That’s where I found most of these.

      The Mysterious Package really doesn’t take much time. At least, the one I got for my bf didn’t. We haven’t deciphered everything yet, but there’s no rush or time limit, so we’re not feeling any pressure.

      Until very recently, I was juggling three jobs with a heavy training schedule and other responsibilities, so I figure that if I could find the time, anyone could…as long as they want to.

      Reply
  13. Birgit

    The mystery package sounds neat but I would have to tell my friend otherwise he would freak out. I love the necklace! I will be checking them out for sure and will head over to Roland’s blog. I haven’t been to this shop yet, which is in Niagara falls, but they hand make all these fairy homes etc… and I got one for a gift. Happy New year!

    Reply
    • JH

      Do you have a link to share, Birgit? That sounds awesome.

      As for freaking out, well, that’s part of the fun.

      Thanks for checking out Roland’s blog. Happy New Year!

      Reply
  14. L. Diane Wolfe

    I love Roland’s blog.

    If that Focus program could block out all household stuff too, I’d be sold.

    Reply
    • JH

      Great to see a fellow Roland fan, Diane.

      As for Focus, I’m sure they’re working on that. 😉

      Happy New Year!

      Reply
  15. Samantha Bryant

    Nice finds! I went for small comforts in 2016. Crafters gloves really helped with my arthritis pain. Some days, they’re the only things that get me though. I also fell in love with Numi Golden Chai tea. So aromatic and lovely.

    Reply
    • JH

      Thanks so much for sharing, Samantha! I imagine lots of writers suffer from arthritis and would find that helpful.

      Thanks for the tea recommendation too. 🙂

      Happy New Year!

      Reply
  16. Tamara Narayan

    Actually, I like coming here for the mysteries and spooky stuff. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • JH

      Aw, thanks Tamara. I so needed to hear that today.

      Reply
  17. Madeline Mora-Summonte

    How can I not check out something called TeeTURTLE?! 🙂

    Also going to look at Mysterious Package and the artist who made that necklace. Thanks for sharing all of these!

    Reply
    • JH

      Ah yes, the turtle connection! Thankfully, they have many turtle-related things too. 🙂 Which you may have guessed.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the list, Madeline! If you get something, I’d love to hear how you liked it.

      Reply
  18. Liesbet

    I see why you need to be blocked from Facebook and other social media. 🙂 The mystery package and the necklace are very special and unique. Best finds of 2016? I guess the house sits we did, otherwise we would have been on the street! Seriously, one of the most enjoyable things 2016 has brought me is a wonderful group of virtual friends through blogging.

    Reply
    • JH

      Aww, that is a perfect one to add to the list! What are the sites you use again to find house-sitting gigs? Perhaps readers would like to follow in your super adventurous footsteps!

      Yeah, there was a seismic shift at the latter part of 2016. Facebook ads went from being irritating and generic (Depends, tampons, weight-loss aids) to being super targeted and interesting. The bastards! 🙂

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.