Monday, 18 October 2021

Vote Bat for Bird of the Year

Every year, New Zealand Forest & Bird runs the native Bird of the Year contest, but this year features a special and controversial contender for the title, the Long-Tailed Bat or Pekapeka-Tou-Roa

"But it's not a bird!" I hear you cry, and to that I answer indeed, but it lives amongst birds and flies, and the point of the contest is to raise awareness around native species and their conservation. Many people don't even know our native bats exist, despite being New Zealand's only native land mammal. Our bats are critically endangered, the most vulnerable level before extinction. They're as rare as the Kakapo, winner of last year's contest, and also one of the rarest mammals in the world.

In Maori folklore, Pekapeka are associated with the mythical nocturnal bird Hokioi, which foretells death or disaster.


Photo: Colin O'Donnell (DOC)
Long-tailed bats have been in New Zealand for between 1 - 2 million years. They were common throughout the whole country in the 1800s, but were already becoming rare by 1930. Now, they number only in the hundreds. I've personally never seen one. Without a concerted preservation effort, they may be extinct within a decade. Fortunately, the Department of Conservation and Forest & Bird have been working hard to protect these tiny winged treasures.


Photo: Diana Noonan (This NZ Life)
Why are they so endangered? Long-tailed bats produce only one offspring per year, which cannot fly for the first few weeks of life. They are threatened due to habitat loss caused by logging, land development, and felling of their preferred old-age roost trees. They and particularly their offspring are vulnerable to attack by predators such as possums, stoats, and cats. A single feral cat can kill an entire colony.

Bats roost during the day in the hollows of native trees, under peeling bark, in tree stumps, in caves, or fractures in rocky bluffs. They are insectivores, enjoying mosquitoes, midges, moths, beetles, and other nocturnal flying insects. They weigh about 10g and are only the size of your thumb with a wingspan of about 25cm. Their echolocation is at such a low frequency that some people can hear it. They're social creatures, living in groups of 20-60.

In the contest, you can pick your five favourite birds in order, so by all means pick your other favourites as runners up, but I do urge you to give your top vote to the dear bat this year to help give them the attention they deserve and very much need. Voting begins on October 18th and closes on Halloween October 31st. Vote bat, and raise awareness of this critically endangered (and very cute) native creature to help keep them around. This year, trade feathers for fur and beaks for cute fanged snoots. Spread the word: vote bat for Bird of the Year. CAST YOUR VOTE HERE.

Other ways you can help:







Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Penta-Pretzels DIY

 I had this idea for ages, ever since being in Germany and eating so very many delicious Brezeln, and wondering if I could make them a different shape. Over there you can buy them unbaked and frozen in the supermarket in big boxes to bake at home, and I'd thought about just thawing those out and reshaping them. But no, that would be cheating, and it turns out they're exceedingly easy to make, and this recipe tastes exactly like the authentic thing. I didn't take this exact recipe from anywhere in particular, but rather watched a bunch of videos in German and read several different German recipes to get the gist of how they're made. These are awesome for picnics or parties. You can use a different amount of dough to make them larger or smaller to your liking. You can of course use this recipe to make pretzels in the traditional shape, but because we're weird, let's make them pentacle shaped.

Video:


Ingredients/Zutaten:

  • 3 1/2 cups (500g) plain flour
  • 1 cup (250ml) warm water
  • 1 Tbsp dry active yeast or a cube of fresh yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 25-50g butter
  • 3 Tbsp baking soda

Method/Zubereitung:
  1. Put flour into a large mixing bowl (or bread machine if you're lazy like me) and make a little well in the centre.
  2. Into the well pour your warm water. You can also use slightly warm milk instead of water. 
  3. Sprinkle the yeast onto the water (or crumble if using fresh yeast), then add the sugar. Give it a wee stir.
  4. Having ideally let it soften first, add the butter.
  5. Knead the dough until well mixed. Leave the dough to rise for about 20 minutes, it should hopefully double in size.
  6. Divide the dough into about eight equal pieces, but this will depend on how big you want your pretzels to be.
  7. Between your hands, roll the dough out into very long, thin sausages. The part for the ring should be thicker, but the star part shouldn't be much thicker than a pencil.
  8. Make a ring and twist the ends together. Carefully lay the thinner sausage over the ring in the shape of a five-pointed star. Pinch the corners and mush the dough carefully into the ring to ensure a good shape and a good stick.
  9. Be careful here! Boil a litre of water in a pot. Add three tablespoons of baking soda to the hot water, and turn down the heat so it stays hot but not boiling. If you are making a big batch, remember to use three tablespoons of baking soda per every litre of hot water. 
  10. Gently place each pretzel into the water, and leave it there for 30-60 seconds. Make sure the whole thing gets wet. This process is what gives the pretzel its lovely brown exterior. With a slotted spoon or similar, lift the pretzel from the water and place it on a baking tray.
  11. While wet, sprinkle thick chunky salt on. You can use other toppings too if you really want.
  12. Preheat oven to 180˚C (360˚F) and once heated, bake your pretzels for 20-25 minutes. They should be brown and properly baked. 
  13. Best enjoyed warm and fresh, but they'll keep for a day. Guten Appetit!

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Makeup, Music, Gore - Favourites!

 Hi! It's been ages since last I did a 'favourites' vid, just mentioning a few holy grails from across the board. Watch the video, and below is a list of everything I mentioned, with links if I could find them. Enjoy :3 



Here's the stuff I mentioned if you wanna go have a look:

Thanks for watching, see you next time!

Saturday, 4 September 2021

BIG Korean Skincare + Beauty Review

Phew! I fell down the Korean skincare rabbit hole and I can't get out. But that's ok 'cause I don't want to. Here's a review of lots of products that I've been trying over the last few months, plus a few cute things I haven't opened up yet! Korea seems to be very strict on what is allowed in skincare products, and there are online resources to check the safety of all ingredients. I used to have a "less is more" approach to skincare, but since discovering and going fully into Korean skincare, I've resolutely switched to "more is more" and my skin has never been happier. Maybe it's a bit excessive, but I've really been enjoying it, and a lot of people I know swear by it too. Watch the video, then below is a list of everything I showed you, separated by brand. 

Tony Moly:

CosRX:
Some By Mi:

G9Skin:

BadSkin:

Etude House:

Others: 

See you next time!

Friday, 25 September 2020

Korean Skincare Haul

Hi! I was so looking forward to this parcel arriving that I wanted to share my excitement with you when it finally came. Wanting to try a 10 step Korean skincare routine, I picked up everything I couldn't find locally from a most excellent and highly-recommended website Jolse. I had originally ordered a bunch of stuff from another site, Stylevana, but unfortunately they don't ship to New Zealand or to PO Boxes, so I had to cancel the order and get a refund. I also had a good look through YesStyle but couldn't find everything I wanted. Fortunately, I discovered Jolse which was probably even better. Join me opening a box of carefully chosen skincare products from Korea! Links to everything under the video!

 Here are links to the items I showed you:

Bonus:
Going to make a video after a full month of using a full Korean skin care routine every day and see how it went! Until then, thanks for joining me, cheery-bye! x

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Latest Greatest Books

I've really got back into reading this last few months, I suppose many of us have due to being quarantined at home. I'm a very slow reader so many books I "read" by listening to them on Audiobook. I've become a loyal fan of Audible for this reason. I was also fortunate enough to find loads of good books at second-hand shops recently. I'm always looking for recommendations, and supposing you may be too, I've decided to henceforth share with you which books I've recently read which turned out particularly topping. 


If you're a word nerd then this book is for you. It's not long, easily-digestible, and thoroughly enjoyable. Reading The Etymologicon is like listening to a long string of consciousness from someone who is really, really interested in etymology. It beautifully links one word to another to another until you've come full circle. You may find yourself uttering an "oh" aloud many times as the interesting origins of so many English words are revealed. Not only is this book fascinating, it's also very funny. For example it has a chapter called 'Sausage Poison in Your Face'. I wouldn't call it particularly educational, but more entertaining than anything. The audiobook version has a great narrator, Simon Sherpherd, who expresses the humour perfectly.



Also from Mark Forsyth, as I was so impressed with the above, I also got Elements of Eloquence. It's wonderful and important. Once upon a time everyone was taught the art of rhetoric. For some reason this stopped being a thing, despite it being an important part of speech. This book explains why we think pretty words are pretty. Why memorable phrases are memorable. It also touches on prosodic metre, if you're into that sort of thing. I don't imagine this sort of book would excite everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and now know the difference between anaphora and anadiplosis, thank goodness for that. Simon Sherpherd narrates the Audiobook once again, and again perfectly expresses the humour. It's very funny as well as educational. Perfect for the poet, writer, or orator in your life. 


I knew I would like this because I know historian Ruth Goodman from many BBC history documentaries. She's super sweet and extremely knowledgable. This book is very thorough. It covers pretty much every element of life from dawn til dusk and beyond in the British Victorian period. What I like most about it, is unlike other history books which tell tales of Kings and noble courts and battles, this describes the ordinary people. The everyday man and woman and the intricacies of their everyday existence. Food, clothes, medicine, childcare, work places, and more, How to be a Victorian breaks all these things down and talks about them at length. I can't wait to read more of Ruth Goodman's books.
£13.56 on Book Depository 



Lastly, something non-non-fiction. Made into a (rather excellent) film in 2012, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is surprisingly believable. It mixes real life events and people with supernatural gore. It's easy to imagine Lincoln saying and doing the things he does in this book, and I expect the man himself would have found it pretty funny. Like all of Seth Grahame-Smith's books (I've not read others but heard nothing but praise), it's a shining example of good historical fiction. The story is exactly as the title states; we follow the life of Abraham Lincoln from his boyhood to his death, not only his political career, but his deadly mission to rid America of evil vampires. It's not a long book, even a slow reader like me can get through it fairly swiftly. 
£17.67 on Book Depository




Have you read any of these books, and if so what did you think? Feel welcome to suggest books that you think I or any of our Belfry Bat family might enjoy, or just anything exceptional you've discovered lately. I've linked to Book Depository as well because it offers free international shipping, and is usually where I buy books from, being that Amazon is not available everywhere. 




Thursday, 27 February 2020

Store Spotlight - Sick Soaps

Sick Soaps brings new meaning to the words "hand soap". If everyday soap is not gruesome or creepy enough to match your home or personality, then you might enjoy some of the horribly cool creations to be found in this store.

Severed hand soap, lavender scented.
Horror and slasher film fans will appreciate the soaps themed after their favourite movies, such as The Exorcist, Halloween, or IT. Lovers of curios and gross stuff in bottles as decor will enjoy the encapsulated brains, fetuses, teeth, and bloody body parts. As they look so amazing, and many of the reviews say that the photos don't do them justice, I think these soaps might fall into the category of "too beautiful to use." There's something so sad about gradually destroying something so cool looking, but these soaps are intended for everyday use. They're full of lovely scents and moisturising ingredients too. Why bring a boring bottle of soap into the shower, when you can have a fetus in a popsicle instead?



Strawberry & champagne scented serial killer soap
There's also a category dedicated to the Haunted Mansion, plus lots of other dark Disney. And it's not just soaps, there are sugar scrubs, body and room sprays, scented oils, and dishes to store your creepy creations.

I have yet to try them myself (I definitely will be) but more than a thousand reviews singing Sick Soap's praises can't be wrong. I'm so keen on trying the 'curio' looking ones. The prices are reasonable compared to other fancy handmade soaps I've seen at markets and such, and as these are individually handmade, one can imagine how much time and work goes into each. Definitely not the sort of thing you will find in any normal bath and body section.


Coconut, lime, & verbena scented brain specimen soap



Every time I visit this shop to oogle, there seems to be even cooler designs than ever. The large coffin soaps with removable lids have to be the most sophisticated soaps I've seen in all my life.

So if you're looking for a gift for the weirdo in your life, or maybe just your wonderful weird self, visit Sick Soaps and have an oogle yourself.