Wednesday, 26 February 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH CATHY'S CHOCOLATE FAIRIES...

If you've ever been to one of Cathy's bookstore signings, you'll know that Cathy's 'chocolate fairies' help to make the queuing more fun by handing out chocolate, friendship bracelet threads and book-samplers or bookmarks. The idea is inspired by the Tanberry-Costello sisters who dressed up as chocolate fairies for a food festival in the book Cherry Crush. But how does a reader get the job of chocolate fairy? We asked some of the girls who helped Cathy on her last tour to tell all...

Elfie says:

I couldn't believe it when cathy posted on her Facebook Fanpage that she needed chocolate fairies for her tour. I applied straight away and was amazed to be offered the job, along with my friend Isabella. The date of the event seemed ages away but it came round so fast, and soon it was the day of the signing and we were kitted out with wings and tutus, standing in the middle of Waterstones! It was great fun handing out bonbons, chocolate and friendship bracelets to the people waiting to get their books signed - the queue went right out of the shop and into the shopping centre!
The best thing about being a chocolate fairy was getting to meet Cathy, get my books signed and have a picture taken with her. It was brilliant, too, to see Cathy wearing the fox badge I made her! It was a FANTASTIC day - I'd recommend it to anyone!

Cathy says:
The fox badge Elfie made me was EPIC - it now has pride of place on my favourite Cath Kidston bag, so I see can keep it with me all the time. Big thanks to a very special chocolate fairy!

Morgan says:

I found out that Cathy was looking for chocolate fairies for her event in Bristol because it came up in my news feed on Facebook. I instantly commented and offered to help, along with my half-sister Darcie. It turned out that Cathy had offered the chocolate fairies job to two other girls, but she asked if we'd like to be 'roving reporters' and take pics of the signing queue and do little interviews for DREAMCATCHER. Of course, we said yes!!!
We dressed up as chocolate fairies to look the part, and met Cathy beforehand for a chat so we knew what to do. By this point, the queue was already snaking out of the door! Darcie took photos on Cathy's phone and posted them straight to Instagram, and I jotted down little interviews; the feature then appeared in DREAMCATCHER, which was very cool! Overall, I loved the day - I wish I could do it all over again!

Annie says:

I was a chocolate fairy for the Leeds Waterstones event, along with my friend Leah. We got the job because we saw it on the Facebook Fanpage. The best part of it was meeting Cathy but it was brilliant to meet fellow Cathy Cassidy fans, too. Our job was to hand out friendship bracelets, chocolate and booklets that had a sample chapter of the next book, Sweet Honey, and folded out into a poster. I had an amazing time - the day was lots of fun!

Cathy says: 
Spot the yummy handmade biccies Annie made for me and the soft toy mascot Leah gave me in the picture!
Katy says:

Recently I was a chocolate fairy in Gloucester Waterstones. My Auntie Annie organises Cathy's tours for her and asked if I'd like to help! I had read some of the books so of course I jumped at the chance - Cathy was lovely and gave me some really cool fairy wings with butterflies on to wear!
There was a long queue of fans all waiting to meet Cathy and have their books signed, and my job was to go up and down handing out chocolates, book samplers and friendship bracelets. Once the last book had been signed it was my turn - Cathy signed all my books before dashing off to catch a train, ready for the next leg of her tour! It was a brilliant afternoon!

Would YOU like to be a chocolate fairy at a future CC signing? Keep an eye on the EVENTS page on cathycassidy.com and watch out for the bookstore public signings on my June tour; they'll be announced in early May, and I'll be looking for helpers then! You can apply via my Facebook Fanpage! Have you ever been a CC chocolate fairy? Or been to one of my signings? Why not comment below to tell me? 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

BOOK CRAZY... MEET BLOGGER AMBER!

Another in our series of chats with inspiring teen readers... meet Amber, who runs her own book blog!





Hi Amber! You're a well-known book blogger - how did you get started?

Aw, thank you! I started blogging at seven, when I left school to be home educated; a few years in I began my book blog, which has been running four years. I'm 15 now and it's like I've grown up with my blog. As my tastes have changed and matured, so have the books I review. I even did a post to help people start their own blog, which you can see here!
Why books... and how do you get your review copies?

I've always loved reading, plus I'm always on the internet so I thought I'd combine the two! I'm in touch with lots of publishers who send me books to review. In the last three weeks I've had almost 30, so I'd better make a start on that pile!

Have you met/interviewed any authors?

I've met Cathy Cassidy several times at book signings, but I've interviewed lots by email. They include Cathy, David Levithan, Maggi Gibson, Natasha Ngan and even Malorie Blackman!

What else do you do on your blog?

I do reviews, giveaways, interviews, guest posts, features and videos, plus themed weeks to fit with the seasons. I chat to other bloggers, mostly on twitter - the book blogging community is really kind and supportive and of course we all share the same passion - books! I consider some of them my best friends and don't know what I'd do without them!

What are your ambitions for the future?

For he blog, my ambition is to reach a wider audience and to continue spreading the love of reading, For me? Well, I'd LOVE to be a publicist, an author or a journalist. So many possibilities!

What advice do you have for readers who might want to start a blog?

I highly recommend Blogger as a format, as it's much less complicated than Wordpress. Next - well, write about what you care about! For example, if you blog about music but hate it, your blog won't work. It sounds obvious, but I once knew a book blogger who admitted they disliked reading - I mean, how???!!! 
My final piece of advice is never let it stress you out... blogging is a hobby, not a job, and it should be fun. Enjoy - and good luck!





Check out Amber's book blog, The Mile Long Bookshelf, here! Happy reading!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

RED FACES ALL ROUND... readers share their cringiest moments!

Kiki says:

A few years ago I was in a production of Peter Pan, and my mum made my costume. The skirt was too big, but there wasn't enough time to stitch it up, so my mum put a safety pin in it. Just before I went on stage, my teacher spotted the safety pin and took it out, saying it was a safety hazard. Predictably, my skirt fell down mid-dance and I tripped over it. I fell headfirst off stage, right into the Year 1s... they scattered like bowling pins. Needless to say, I didn't get to appear in the later performances...


Blue says:

My first day of S6... I got to breaktime without realising I had a huge streak of toothpaste on my lip. Nobody thought to tell me! Thank god for my friends, or I could have gone through the whole day like that. People probably thought it was my eccentric fashion - they didn't tell me when I got blue felt tip pen on my face in drama. They thought it was a deliberate choice. The shame...


Heather says:

I was out with my friends for the day, and just about to get onto a train. As I stepped onto the train, my shoe slipped off and fell down onto the track... just as the doors closed! I had to go home wearing only one shoe.... noooo....


Nicola says:

This happened when I was only two, so thankfully I can't remember it - but boy do my family like to remind me of it! Apparently my dad gave me a boiled egg for the first time, and left me happily eating it while he popped into the next room. When he came back his face fell - I'd eaten it all, even the SHELL! Oops!





Annabel says:

Me and my friend took my dog for a walk, and it was a nice day so we didn't take jackets. But suddenly it began to rain... it absolutely poured down! By the time it stopped, we looked like we'd just jumped into a swimming pool with our clothes on. People were starting at us from their cars as we sloshed through the streets going home... we waved at them!



Do YOU have an embarrassing story to share? Tell us here - and attach a head & shoulders pic if you'd like to be considered for DREAMCATCHER. We'll add the best to this feature!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

 Does YOUR name stand out from the crowd? We asked some CC readers what they think about having an unusual name...

TRUELY says:
I first met Cathy when she came to my school on a book tour - she was signing a book for me and asked about my name, and if I'd like to be interviewed for DREAMCATCHER! My full name is Truely Scrumptious (not including my surname!) but everyone just calls me Truely. I'm named after a character from the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. There are positives to having an unusual name - like being the only one in the school - but on the downside, you're easier to make fun of. You do get used to the teasing and the jokers, so in a way it can make you more confident in the end, but if I could choose my own name I'd pick something more 'normal'. I'll never find the name Truely on a keyring or a drinks bottle!

IMOGEN says:
I met Cathy on that same school visit! I'm actually Truely's step-sister, so we're not related, but my name is a little bit different. And my nickname is IMAGINE, which I really love! It can be good having an interesting name as you do stand out from the crowd - but I'd rather stand out for my personality than for my name! I turn bright red when I'm embarrassed, so it can get tricky... but in spite of it all, I'd rather have a name that's a bit different than one that everyone else has. I'd love to be an actress one day so maybe having a name that's a bit different will come in handy!

VASILINA says:
The thing I like about having an unusual name is that if someone's talking about you, you KNOW - because there aren't that many Vasilina's around! The thing I don't like is that my name sounds a little bit like the word 'vaseline' and some people wind me up because of that. The name is Russian; my mum had loved the name for years and always planned to give name her daughter Vaselina... and that was me! I like having a name that's a bit different. It means 'fun' in Russian, and that's quite cool, too!

CHI says:
My name means 'little bird' which is quite cute, and it's quite common in Vietnam where I come from. It's pronounced 'Chee' but people often get it wrong and call me Shay, Chin or even Cheese... not so good! That does bug me a bit! I guess my name isn't common in the UK, so I'd better get used to that!



APRIL says:
When my mom was born, my gran wanted to name her April but my Grandpa disagreed. So my mom decided that one day she'd name her daughter April in honour of my gran, and there'd be an April in the family like she'd always wanted. And it just so happened I was born in April too... how cool?



VIOLET says:
I was named after my great grandma. The best thing about my name is that I'm the only Violet at school, and the worst is... well, there isn't a worst, really! I like my name! And I love that it's a flower name, too!







Do YOU have a cool or unusual name? Tell us in the COMMENTS section below, or email here... we might mention you in a future issue of DREAMCATCHER!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

WHAT GOES ON AT A CC BOOK SIGNING?






My book signing at Bristol's Waterstones shop at Cribb's Causeway was extra special because sisters Morgan and Darcie came along to act as roving reporters. Darcie took photos and Morgan  interviewed the signing queue as they waited to help me make a DREAMCATCHER feature about what it's like to come to a book signing! Here I am with my 'fairy reporters'!

Morgan says:
'We had to photograph and interview some of the readers in the queue, which was really interesting - and hard work! It was SO busy and the queue went right out of the door, but Cathy's chocolate fairies made sure everyone had chocolate and friendship bracelets so they didn't get fed up waiting in the queue. My favourite story was an elderly lady, Esther, who queued to buy the books for her grandchildren in Hong Kong. I thought that was so cool!'

Of course, an event NEEDS chocolate fairies to keep the queue happy. Lovely Elfie and Isabella applied via the Facebook Fanpage to help Cathy out in Bristol, and were given the job. They came dressed the part in cool tutus and fairy wings just like the sisters did in Cherry Crush, and their job was to offer chocolate, friendship bracelets and samplers of the next book, Sweet Honey, to the girls waiting!

So who else came along? Well, here are just a few of the readers from this event!





Abby:
'I love the chocolate Box Girls. I admire Summer's determination - I can really relate to her.'







Ameera & Isabelle:
'We first started reading the books last May, and we love them! We quite like Skye because she loves vintage, but it's impossible to choose a favourite - they're all fantastic!'

Asha:
'I think Coco's book is going to be amazing... she feels really strongly about things. Can't wait to read it!'

Barbara:
'It's so exciting to actually be here... it's awesome! I think Gingersnaps was the first Cathy Cassidy book I read...'


Bella:
'I love the books. I can really relate to Summer because she loves ballet - and so do i!'


Beth:
'I've met Cathy a few times! Two years ago, when she was nominated a again for the Queen of Teen competition, I won the comp to be a 'Superfan' and came along to the ceremony... we both have fab memories of that!'

Cathy says: I loved meeting reader Caitlin and her little sister... they reminded me of how the Chocolate Box Girls might have looked when they were younger, very cool and bohemian!

Charlotte & Lucy:
'We've travelled all the way from Ascot to be here... it was a two hour journey, but it's been worth it!'

Daisy:
'I love Cathy Cassidy's books - they're always so exciting! I think Skye is my favourite sister from the series because she loves vintage!'

Ellie:
'When I pick up a Cathy Cassidy book I just have to read on and on... I can't put it down!'

Emily:
'I think Summer is my favourite character... she's got so much determination!'

Emma & Charleey:
'I think Cherry Crush is the most magical of the stories... I love the gypsy caravan!'

Georgia & Fran:
'The books are really cool and you can relate to the characters. I think I like Cherry best out of the sisters so far, because she's just really nice.'


Grace & Nerys
Grace: 'The books can be sad but awesome too... you can't put them down! I like Marshmallow Skye...'
Nerys: 'I absolutely love the book Dizzy!'

Hannan & Raian:
'I LOVE the books! I think I like Summer's Dream best. Summer is my favourite character because of the dancing!'


Iona, Alisa & Kiera:
'We're really excited to have something new to read - the books are creative, funny and cool!'

Mary:
'I really love reading about the Chocolate Box sisters... it's fascinating. I think Skye is the sister I like best so far...'

Sophie:
'I really love Coco from the Chocolate Box Girls series... I like her personality and style!'

Cathy says: This was the very first time I'd ever signed a book using 'FaceTime'... a live link to a reader who wasn't able to be there on the day! Bradi was able to take part via the iphone her family brought along, and even chat to me as I signed... how cool?

Zoe:
'My favourite Chocolate Box Girl is probably Cherry... she's independent and cool. I feel really close to the sisters when I'm reading!


Alexandra:
'My favourite sister from the series is Summer - well, so far, anyway! I can't wait to read Coco Caramel!'

Alicia:
'The Chocolate Box Girls series is sooo interesting and the books are really hard to put down! I like Skye, because I'm a daydreamer too...'









Amanda:
'I just love the Chocolate Box Girls series... brilliant!'

Cathy says:
My readers sometimes bring me presents, pictures and letters, too! I got lots of amazing gifts from my readers at the Bristol signing, but this handmade fox brooch was one that I just had to share with you! My chocolate fairy Elfie made it... how cute? I'll be wearing this all tour!







Have YOU ever been to a CC signing or school event? Share your photos here and tell us what you thought about it... we'll post the best in a future issue of DREAMCATCHER!

Monday, 10 February 2014

VINTAGE DREAMER... CC reader Zoe shares her inspirations!

Here at DREAMCATCHER we think you lot are super inspiring... so now and then we'll be profiling cool teens who are living life THEIR way! Meet Zoe S, vintage chick and singer-songwriter...

Hello Zoe. You're a member of the CC Dream Team... does that mean you've met Cathy?
I've met Cathy a few times - I went to some book signings before I was a member of the Dream Team and then I met her again at a Dream Team party in London!

How old are you and what are your hobbies/ interests?
I am 17 and my interests include history, reading, writing and music. I'm a massive bookworm and I'm always reading. I like everything from Cathy's books (Driftwood and Marshmallow Skye are my favourites!) to the classics. I've even written my own children's book for a college project! Music is a huge part of my life - if I'm not playing it myself, I'm listening to it!

You have a very cool and unique style. Are you into vintage?
I am definitely into vintage! It's a huge part of who I am. I have a passion for 50s style but the 20s, 40s and 60s were also pretty cool!

Any advice for readers who love the vintage look but don't have lots of cash to splash?
Work with what you have - add turn ups to skinny jeans or vintage jewellery to plain tops. Check out vintage fairs and charity shops - you'll find great vintage pieces at low prices and get some great staples too. Pick things you can wear different ways, like a circle or pencil skirt to pair with tops you already have. Remember the high street shops have lots of vintage-inspired styles, too!

We've been hearing brilliant things about your singer/songwriter skills. How did you get started?
I've been singing for as long as I can remember! I began learning guitar when I was eight, and as a child I'd write silly songs, but I didn't properly start songwriting until I was thirteen. I had a melody and some lyrics that I just couldn't get out of my head, so I grabbed a pen and notebook and started writing. For me, music is a way of expressing myself and saying the things that are sometimes hard to say!

How do you find inspiration for writing a song? 'Hey Julie' for example?
I take inspiration from anything and everything! 'Hey Julie' was inspired by watching the film 'Letters To Juliet'. In Verona, Italy, there's a wall, part of what's thought to be Juliet's house. People have been pinning letters there for centuries, asking advice on matters of the heart. I began imagining who might have written to Juliet asking for help, and the idea of a woman whose love was away at war just came to me. That's how I came to write 'Hey Julie.'

You can listen to 'Hey Julie' here... it's AWESOME!!!


Do you enjoy performing in public?
I love it - music is a great way of connecting with people. There's almost an understanding between you and the audience because you're all feeling the same thing. Seeing people's reactions gives me such a buzz. I do get nervous beforehand, but once I'm playing my music I get lost in the moment!

What are your ambitions in life?
The plan for now is to get some good A levels and get into uni to study history... but my biggest ambition in life is to be happy and make those around me happy!

What advice would you give to readers who'd like to get into music?
It isn't necessarily the way it seems on TV shows - a lot of effort goes into getting noticed! Find YOUR style and get out there and perform. Most schools put on shows and there might be local talent shows you could enter. Get involved, start a band with your friends, and use social media to spread the word by putting your songs on Youtube, Facebook and Sound Cloud. Oh, and enjoy!

Find out more about Zoe's music here... https://www.facebook.com/ZoeScretiMusic
...and here! http://www.youtube.com/zcs16

If you like vintage, like Zoe and of course like Skye Tanberry from the Chocolate Box Girls series, check out this Cathy Cassidy TV clip to see how you can get Skye's style! Click here to watch!
_______________________________________________________

Do you have any style secrets you'd like to share? Or do you know an inspiring teen we should profile on DREAMCATCHER? Email your suggestions here with DREAMCATCHER as the email heading... we can't reply, but we'll share the best ideas in a future Dreamcatcher Mag blog!



Saturday, 8 February 2014

By Special Request... PANDA CUPCAKES!

Lots of you have asked for the PANDA CUPCAKE recipe from COCO CARAMEL... so here it is! When you've perfected it, why not hold a panda cake-sale like Coco, to raise money for endangered species or a local animal sanctuary? Think of it as a RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS for the animals... ;o) 


INGREDIENTS:
150g self-raising flour
200g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
3 tbsps fresh lime juice
zest of 2 limes
30ml milk
1/4 baking powder
chocolate buttons
white confetti sprinkles or white fondant          

for the buttercream:
150g butter
200g icing sugar
3 tbsps coconut milk
2 tbsps coconut cream
dessicated coconut

and also:
a muffin tray
paper cases
Edible black ink marker


METHOD:

Cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 160c/320f/gas mark 4 & line muffin tray with 12 paper cases
2. Add lime juice to milk and leave to one side
3. Cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy, add eggs and beat again
4. Add 1/3 of flour & baking powder with lime juice and milk and mix until just combined; repeat until all the flour and all the lime juice & milk has been added
5. Fold in lime zest with metal spoon
6. Fill cases 2/3 full and bake for 25 mins or until golden. Remove & cool on wire rack

Buttercream:
1. Combine icing sugar, butter & coconut cream in bowl, mixing till smooth. Add coconut milk to loosen mixture
2. Use palette knife to spread buttercream over cupcakes and sprinkle with dessicated coconut
3. Decorate with chocolate button ears & eyes
4. Add confetti sprinkles or small blobs of white fondant for whites of eyes; dot with the black edible marker.
5. Snip choc buttons into triangles and press into place for the noses

Now for the best bit - the taste test! Remember to take a photo and send it to us here! (Special thanks to readers Susan and Eloise for the pics of their yummy panda cupcakes!)