Teaching the Pig to Dance: A Memoir of Growing Up and Second Chances

This is the book I picked for the ‘Farmyard Animal’ category of the whimsical reading challenge.

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This is a memoir written by Fred Thompson (actor, lawyer, politician). I'm completely torn about whether I like it or not. The first few chapters centred on clichéd 'words of wisdom my father/grandfather/toothless neighbour told me', and the middle section was also not to my taste (anecdotes of a troublemaker… the kind of boy I would have loathed at school). However, I found the later chapters much more interesting- the development of his career promised a much more unique story, he was involved in so many fascinating things! I just wish there had been more of a focus on that part of his life.

It's very hard to criticise someone's memoir, because it's their life… literally! There's no way you can do it without getting personal. Unfortunately I was expecting a bit more from this book… I thought that with a title like 'Teaching the Pig to Dance' it would be hilarious. I imagined that there'd be a scene where someone actually tried to teach a pig to dance, but there wasn't. However, after briefly mentioning a few of the cases he worked on he prompted me to do a bit of Wikipedia research; as usual I ended up stuck in a link pit…

He does however get a giant gold star for starring in Curly Sue.

If you've read any books with 'Farmyard Animals' in the title leave me a link in the comments below!

D x

Whimsical Reading – Numbers

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Today I feel sooooo free! This is the biological reaction I seem to have whenever I press the ‘submit’ button for an assignment… and as this one was about one of my least favourite subjects (‘representations of women’) I think I got a double dose. I’m definitely giving myself a couple of days off from anything even remotely academic! I’ve decided to share a few more reading suggestions for my whimsical reading challenge, this week on the theme of ‘numbers’:

1. Number9Dream by David Mitchell
TO BE READ. I’ve downloaded this on my kindle as I intend to read everything the mastermind behind Cloud Atlas donates to the world. Described as a ‘Dickensian coming-of-age’ set in the Tokyo underworld, how can I not give it a try?!

2. One Day by David Nicholls
I love, love, loved this book. I saw the film before I read it, so I knew what was coming… but I still had to reread the ending just to make sure! You really can’t help but fall in love with the characters, and the story is so grounded and believable that you feel like you’re living it.

3. Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab
TO BE READ. I was given this book, and I’m umming and ahing about whether to read it or not. As a general rule, I don’t enjoy current day war stories, for me to enjoy any battley books they need to be set around the time of the Vietnam War or before. This has recently been adapted into a film that my boyfriend promises is great, so I may read a few chapters to see if I get into it.

4. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott
I adore this book. I have read it probably at least once a year since I was eleven, and it still brings a tear to my eye. In my opinion this is FAR superior to Little Women, but sadly doesn’t seem to receive as much recognition. If there’s one book I’d bully people into reading, this is the one. Indulge my nostalgia… try it and let me know what you think!

5. Three Ways to Capsize a Boat: An Optimist Afloat by Chris Stewart
TO BE READ. This is by the same guy who wrote Driving Over Lemons etc. I don’t think I’ve ever read a single one of his books, but I seem to have ended up with a copy of all of them… this one chronicles his attempts to captain a boat (having never sailed before). Apparently he is a really funny writer, so I’ll definitely try him out when I need a bit of uplifting.

So what about you guys? Picked any ‘number’ books yet?

D x

Happy Anniversary!

Just a quick note to say that today is officially my two-year anniversary as a blogger! I started of slowly… posting about ten times before July 2012 but now I can’t imagine my life without my own little corner of the internet! The feedback and support I’ve received from so many of you has been amazing, and I hope to keep writing and making e-friends for a long time to come!

(A page from my ‘Teesha Moore’ inspired journal)

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend and are ready to hit the salt mines again tomorrow!
D x

Rainy Days and Awesome Quotes

This has been a long week… I don’t know about you but I’m definitely ready for the weekend. If only I could be looking forward to a weekend of reruns and cupcakes rather than deadlines and laundry!
Today I thought I share a page or two inspired by a couple of One Year Art Journal prompts:

The first prompt I played around with was “drip some paints on your page, and share a little bit about what the perfect rainy day looks like to you”. This is what I came up with:

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I started this page off in my usual way, by creating a spontaneous background from left over paint on my brush, palette or stamps. I constantly have 5-10 random backgrounds in my sketchbook, perfect for when I want to get stuck in! My next step was to scrawl everything I love to do on a rainy day using an inexpensive felt tip, I think it was a Crayola one. Then it felt like time for a bit of messing, so I sprayed some paint in random splotches and let it drip all over the place. After gathering some scraps of paper (mostly off the floor) I cut out some raindrops and pasted them to the page and (after letting the glue dry) I gave them an outline in black pen.

The second prompt was “find a quote you love and journal it”, I love using quotes in my art so it was quite hard to pick one… but after I came across the following quote on Pinterest I knew I just had to use it somewhere!

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This began as another random background, born from my reluctance to waste any beautiful paint. The process of this page was massively simple… I grabbed a correction pen, a CD marker and a pencil crayon and added my quote (accompanied by the necessary doodles of course!). I also decided to add a border so there would be a little more balance across the page.

I’m sorry about the glare on these pics, the light was not cooperating with me this morning!

I hope you’ve all had a less stressful week than mine!

D x

The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud

This is the book I read for the “Boy’s Name” category of my whimsical reading challenge.

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In brief, I'd describe this book as short and sweet. It only took me a day or so to get through (and that was reading at a leisurely pace, not feverish reading in every spare second). Sherwood conjures a world full of those eccentric characters that make for great TV. The subtle undercurrent of the supernatural was an added bonus, as I had no idea what the book was about before I started reading. I think from the cover I might have been expecting something Nicholas Sparks-y.

The one thing I must stress is that it's much, much, better than the film. I had an unfortunate incident at the weekend when I sat down to watch it with… I suffer from that well-known mental disorder known as ‘Reader Regurgitation’ and proceeded to tell my boyfriend every single minor detail that didn’t live up to the book. Needless to say, that is not why he loves me. There’s no point even apologising, because we all know it’s going to happen again at some point!

Anyway, back to Charlie St Cloud… it’s a good read. It has a few heartbreaking moments but ends on an optimistic note (which is the only reason I can tolerate the sadness… in general I’m a ‘happy endings’ girl).

Any ideas what you’ll be reading for your “Boy’s Name” book? For a few other suggestions, read this post.

D x

Whimsical Reading – Food

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Good afternoon my pretties! I’ve spent the past week or so wading through the seemingly endless pages of The Woman in White so I can’t wait to back to the whimsical reading challenge! Today I’m going to share a few more reading suggestions with you, this time on the theme of “food”. There is truly a limitless supply of books with food in the titles, these are just a few calling to me from my bookshelves:

1. The Mango Season by Amullya Malladi
TO BE READ. Set in contemporary India this promises both passion and controversy as a woman must choose between the man she loves and her very traditional family. It may not be set to win the Nobel prize for literature, but it looks like something I would enjoy (ie it has a gorgeous cover). It also has a great description on goodreads: “as sharp and intoxicating as sugarcane juice bought fresh from a market cart”, I feel like I’ve been swept into an exotic world of dust and spices already!

2. Watermelon by Marian Keyes
Admittedly, this is chick lit. But I promise you it’s funny chick lit. This is the first in a series chronicling the lives of the eccentric Walsh sisters and although Rachel’s Holiday is my fave, this is still worth a read.

3. The Ramen King and I: how the inventor of instant noodles fixed my love life by Andy Raskin
TO BE READ. My Granny would describe this as the memoir of a philanderer (and accompany said statement with a withering stare) but I how could I not get myself a copy with a title like that?! It sounds entirely bizarre, and I entirely can’t wait to read it!

4. Reality Sandwiches by Allen Ginsberg
In short, this book is intended for a more evolved mind than mine, because to be quite honest I considered it a pretentious waste of a bus journey. It kills me to say it, because I really want to love all poetry I come across, but I just can’t. Free verse can be a work of genius or a work of self-indulgence, and I have to say I think this is the latter. I did enjoy one line: “a naked lunch is natural to us/we eat reality sandwiches”, but other than that it’s quite un-memorable.

5. You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up: A Love Story by Anabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn
TO BE READ. This is a memoir of a couple of married comedians, so I’m hoping for some laughs. This is essentially a comparison of their perspectives on marriage and commitment, so I’m expecting The Ballad of Tom Jones in literary form (which in turn suggests absolute magnificence!), I’ll let you know!

As I said, there are mountains of books you could pick for this category, even if I just look up to another shelf I can see Chocolat, Toast, Driving Over Lemons, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Crocodile Soup…

If you’d like to share you choices, leave me a comment below!

D x

A Supernatural Love Story

Today, my first ever Quirky Crafts Challenge has gone live, to see the details of the challenge and the awesome Design Team creations click here.

I made two things for this challenge, a card and an art journal page:

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This was my attempt at a non-girly Valentine’s card. I printed out a couple of black and white photos of my old art journal pages, cut them into strips and randomly stuck them on a piece of card. Using a purple ink pad I smudged a bit of ink along the edges before adding the Goober digital stamp from Limited Runs. Goober was coloured in using watercolour paints and prismacolor pencils for definition.

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As usual, this art journal page is made up of lots of layers:
1. Scrapings of leftover acrylic paint from my palette.
2. A watercolour wash.
3. The lyrics from a song from The Little Mermaid scrawled across the page in gel pen.
4. Prints made from dipping bubble wrap in acrylic.
5. A digital stamp from Limited Runs (‘Coral’) coloured using watercolour.
6. Finishing touches- coloured pencils to add detail to my mermaid and a border to the rest of the page.

I had a lot of fun with this theme (well I should, it was my idea!), and I really hope you’ll consider joining in with this one!

D x