A Sunday Summary

A Sunday Summary 2

Hi guys, first of all I’d like to say Happy Easter!

Secondly I’d like to remind you that the next Quirky Crafts challenge goes by today, so don’t forget to head over there!

Thirdly I thought I’d give you a little snapshot of what I’m up to today:

Listening… to Biloxi Parish by The Gaslight Anthem. On Repeat.
Eating… leftover over noodles and the remnants of the mango upside-down cake I took to work on Thursday.
Hoping… I get this essay done soon, only a few more stubborn words to go!
Watching… my new pet fish swirling around their tank.
Thinking… I might crack my art book out for a while.
Planning… dinner and cocktails with my cousin to celebrate her uni acceptance.
Wishing… my friends Michelle and Wen a happy honeymoon.
Thankful… I didn’t freeze last night. Hotpants and icy winds are not an amazing combination!

Enjoy your extra day off tomorrow!

D x

Heart Connections

The next Life Book page I’m going to share with you is from Tam‘s Week 10 lesson:

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There are so many layers to this background. I start off journaling about all the people and things I feel a connection with and then built up layers of paint and collage (the green pattern was done with a handmade foam stamp). The heart is made of rolled up pieces of paper. Each one has a little message on the inside, but they’re just for me… no reading allowed! I added bits of painted tissue paper to round of the edges and fill in any little gaps between the roles, and then sprinkled on a teensy bit of glitter for some shimmer.

I don’t usually make 3D pages, but I do like this one. I’ll have to tear it out of my sketch book though or I won’t be able to work on the rest of the pages. It doesn’t really matter though as I’m planning on binding my Life Book pages together at the end of the year.

I’m gonna link up to Art Journal Every Day – head over there to check out some other cool arty things!

D x

The Draining Lake

This is the book I chose for the ‘body of water’ category of the whimsical reading challenge.

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When I first started reading The Draining Lake (by Arnaldur Indridason) I didn’t like it. I couldn’t pronounce any of the character names or any of the place names so whenever I came across one it was a stumbling block, also they sounded like something from Lord of the Rings. I also got the impression that each character had acres of back story that didn’t feature in this novel (I later found out that this book is sixth in a series, so that would be why!). I struggled along for about a quarter of the way through but then suddenly I was gripped! I couldn’t wait for the end of each day, so I could hop on the bus and crack out my Kindle.

If I had to summarise my favourite aspects of The Draining Lake I’d say, firstly, the dysfunctional characters; the hero is a detective called Erlendur, who seems to be an Icelandic version of Sherlock Holmes, but with more pronounced family issues. And secondly, the subtly constructed mystery; in this novel Indridason has created a plot with numerous possible endings so the reader never knows quite how things are going to turn out. I can never decide if I prefer guessing the ending of a book and being right OR being wowed by how things turn out.

The novel is split between three points of view, Erlendur (the lead detective), Thomas (an Icelandic national studying in Leipzig during the Cold War) and an anonymous (until the end) communist. Each narrative perspective performs a specific function; Erlendur creates the pace, Thomas provides another layer to the story and slows down the narrative, prolonging the reader’s journey towards the climax, and then the anonymous communist helps to develop the suspense.

One thing I did notice is that the author writes very much for the Icelandic reader. He assumes that his audience has a much deeper understanding of Iceland’s culture and reputation than I do, but I can’t really blame him for that. I think I could point Iceland out on a map and I know Bjork is from there, but that’s about it.

I would definitely recommend this book to a fellow crime novel enthusiast; it’s very different from the crime novels I usually come across, and who doesn’t love a bit of variety?

What have you guys been reading recently? I’m always looking for recommendations!

D x

10 Things

On my endless procrastinating trips around the blogosphere I’ve noticed a post that keeps popping up… ’50 Things About Me’. It occurred to me that it might be a good idea for me to do something similar because, as it stands, you know a lot of my opinions but you don’t really know much about me. Also, if I make people a little more aware of my weirdness I may be able to make e-friends with some equally weird people. And that’s always fun. I’m going keep this as a ’10 Things’ post because I don’t hate you, and too much exposure to me can cause allergic reactions.

1. My name is Daire, occasionally spelt Darragh, always pronounced Dara.

This has caused much confusion over the course of my life, half of that has been my own. I get to hear some really… creative pronunciations, which is always fun. And I’m not Irish, my mum just liked the name.

2. I love tea. As in, love it.

I have a tendency to get vicious if I go for too long without a cuppa. And I start getting headaches. I should probably talk to someone about this addiction… And silly flavours of tea don’t count. Give me bog standard English tea, with milk (and one sugar if you’re putting the kettle on).

3. I’m currently studying towards a Literature degree with the Open University.

Although sometimes I feel like I might be missing something by not going to a traditional university, I only have good things to say about the OU. So far I’ve studied AA100 (The Arts Past and Present), A150 (Voices and Texts), A215 (Creative Writing), A230 (Reading and Studying Literature) and AA316 (The Nineteenth-century Novel).

4. I don’t have a sweet tooth but I love to bake.

My signature cake is probably raspberry cake with a cinnamon crumble topping. Closely followed by mango upside-down cake.

5. I’m ridiculously ticklish.

And instead of curling up into a ball when tickly fingers approach, I kick. And bite.

6. I get giddy when I find penny sweets that actually cost 1p.

I feel outraged when the try to charge me 10p for something referred to as a penny sweet. it’s like charging £2.29 for a 99er. Or 81p for a packet of crisps. Or 20p for a Freddo.

7. I’m extremely messy but I love organising things.

All of my stuff is categorised and I love being able to put everything away, but if I’m going to do something I need to get everything out. It’s not unheard of for me to build myself a nest out of duvets and art supplies.

8. My favourite musical is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

I make as many (affectionate) ginger jokes as the rest of the world, but I still love this film. The songs are catchy, the story is romantic and unrealistic and there are baby animals involved. What more could you possibly ask for?

9. When I was 11 years old I decided I was going to marry Patrick Swayze.

Before that it was Patrick Stewart (Professor X/Captain Jean-Luc Picard). I’m sure the fact that they’re both named Patrick is just a coincidence.

10. I lived in Spain for 5 years.

And now I can speak, read and write fluent Spanish. Much of this was learned by watching Friends, Charmed and Ally McBeal dubbed over.

So do you share any of these quirks with me? Or are you the complete opposite?

D x

P.S. My fab friend Michelle is marrying my other fab friend Wen tomorrow, hop over to her blog to say congratulations!

Life Book Faces

Some art journal pages are like stand-alone works of art, other are pure experimentation… playing with alternative subject matter or new materials. My latest Life Book page falls into the second category. The instructor for this lesson was Danita, and she showed us a technique using gesso, water-soluble crayons and magazine images. I’ve only just added gesso and water-soluble crayons to my art corner, so it was good to get a bit of practice using them… I really like the effect of blending the crayons with gesso, I’ll definitely use that on future artyness.

This is the page I created:

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I used an ad from a magazine as the base for this, some artists would call that cheating but I disagree. If Frida Kahlo could do, I can do it! Sometimes if you’re feeling really uninspired, doing a bit of ‘cutting and sticking’ really helps spark an idea or two, and if you’re not too confident with drawing things from scratch (especially faces) then this technique might give you the boost you need.

Have a great weekend, it can’t come quickly enough for me!

D x

Whimsical Reading – Mythical Creatures

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For the past couple of months I’ve been sharing some suggestions of what you could read if you fancy playing along with my whimsical reading challenge. Some of these are books I’ve read and some I are still staring at me from my bookshelves. I could never refer to myself as an objective reviewer, but I will always be an honest one… having said that I’m refraining from full-blown reviews in these posts; I’ll save those for when I’ve actually read the books!

So without further ado, here are some ideas for the ‘mythical creatures’ category.

1. Kraken by China Mieville

TO BE READ. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Mievelle, but I’m yet to take the plunge. This one sounds aka right up my street, set in an alternate vision of London filled with criminals, cultists and wizards freewheeling down to the end of the world. Actually that sounds pretty much like real-life London…

2. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Click on the link above to see my review of this book.

3. Nightwalker by Heather Graham

TO BE READ. This is essentially a crime novel with a ghostly twist. What’s not to love? It’s not very far up my ‘to be read’ list though as it’s eighth in the series and my OCD prefers me to read things in order!

4. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Erm… Middle Earth is a tricky subject. I have friends who have almost disowned me when I admitted I didn’t like Lord of the Rings. I love, and I mean LOVE, the films but for once the books don’t quite measure up. The Hobbit is my favourite of the lot, it’s much less dense. But I still won’t be reading it again.

5. The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike

TO BE READ. And this one will be read, hopefully soon. I adored the film (Jack Nicholson is a god), I even adored the short-lived TV series, so I have no doubts that I will adore the book.

There are so many more I could suggest… The Phoenix and the Carpet, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Grimm’s Fairy Stories…. What about you? Any ideas?

D x

BLOG HOP – Movies

Today I have decided to engage in my first ever blog hop. And already I have encountered a problem… The idea is to post your top ten films of all time, and I have discovered that I’m completely unable to do that. I like too many films. My second problem is that I’ve finally had to accept that I have pretty abysmal taste in almost everything.

Top Ten
(in no particular order)

1. Heathers
Think Mean Girls but with shoulder pads. And murder.heathers

2. Practical Magic
Watching this always makes me feel better, I just adore it. Plus Nicole Kidman has really great hair.practical magic

3. Forrest Gump
Epic is an understatement.forrest gump

4. Moulin Rouge
Genius! Fab mashups, fab costumes, fab elephant-house thingy. Plus, it made me cry.moulin rouge

5. Breakfast Club
Best. Detention. Ever.breakfast club

6. The Fifth Element
When DVD players first came out I used to watch this with my Grandad. I’m not sure if I love it because it’s amazing or because I’m nostalgic. Possibly both.5th element

7. The Patriot
Nobody ever remembers this film but I have seen it sooo many times. Heath Ledger and Mel Gibson, need I say more. the patriot

8. Blade
See, I liked vampires before they got pathetic. No offence Twilight.blade

9. Girl, Interrupted
I love crazy people and this film sums up why. Angelina shines as Crazy Lisa and comes out with some of my all time favourite movie quotes. Watch and see.girl interrupted

10. Any of the first three American Pies
No explanation needed. Classic.american pie

Top Five Six Guilty Pleasures:

1. Road trip

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I literally could not stop laughing at this. And I do not have an attractive laugh.

2. John Tucker Must Die

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Don’t lie, we’ve all thought about it.

3. Ice Age

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I looove it. I used to watch this over and over with my baby brother and I still think it’s hilarious!

4. Cruel Intentions

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Modern twist on Dangerous Liaisons… sooo evil!

5. 10 Things I Hate About You

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You know what it’s about, we’ve all seen it. Very, very teenage, but sometimes so am I. Plus, Heath Ledger sings.

6. Grease

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If you tell me you don’t know all the words, you’re lying.

This was by no means easy, I leaving out some films I adore (Lord of the Rings, X-Men, many a musical…) but I had to stop somewhere. what do you think of my choices? Tell me a couple of your faves, or (because it’s more fun) those you hate to own up to.

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D x

(All images borrowed from imdb)

All about boys

It’s time for the next Quirky Crafts Challenge. This time we have to create something on the theme of boys, using ric-rac, buttons, ribbon and a sentiment. I’m not going to lie, I was dreading this one, if there are three things I NEVER use it’s ric-rac, buttons and ribbon. And I challenge you to find anything I’ve ever made that’s even remotely boyish!

I decided to just view this as a way to stretch my creativity… and here is what I did:

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1. Stuck items with different textures to a piece of thick card. Used very strong glue and left to dry for an hour or so just to be on the safe side.

2. Covered the whole piece in a couple of coats of gesso. Allowed to dry over night.

3. Added lime green and white acrylic (in an attempt to avoid ‘girly’ colours).

4. Added some collage elements, blue tissue paper and then white tissue paper with a quote written on in sharpie (“A new baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.” – Eda J. Le Shan).

5. Final touches: stuck on a few aeroplanes I’d cut from stamped paper using a Cutting Cafe digital stamp as a template. I also added a border and few other doodles across the piece with a black pen, a white pen and a lime green brush marker.

Although I really wasn’t excited by the challenge at the start, I really love how this turned out. I definitely enjoyed experimenting outside of my comfort zone… check out this post to see what the rest of the Design Team/Guest Designers came up with, and I hope you’ll consider entering!

D x

Bravery

Today I’m going to share another art journal page with you. This was a product of Jane Davenport‘s Life Book lesson, which was all about ‘unstumpifying’ the female figure:

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These are not colours I would typically use together but I love them! I love the swirliness of the figure in the background, someone told me the other day that she looks like an octopus, and now I can’t help but compare her to Ursula from The Little Mermaid… There’s something about the other girl that I’m not too keen on but I can’t quite put my finger on it… something about the shape of the body doesn’t seem quite right…

But I suppose that’s the beauty of creating something whimsical right? It doesn’t matter if things are a bit wonky!

Have a great weekend (and think of me while I’m toiling away at my next assignment)

D x

The Jewel Box

This is the book I chose to for the ‘precious stone’ category of the whimsical reading challenge:

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The Jewel Box tells the story of Grace Rutherford, a copywriter by day and a columnist, known as Diamond Sharp, by night. We see her struggles with balancing her jobs, keeping her secret identity hidden, taking care of her family and trying to find the perfect cocktail (not to mention the perfect man). I think that if the story had been told chronologically I would have detested this protagonist, but the flashbacks to her youth give her much more depth and a history that really tugs at your heartstrings. I still imagine her looking like Velma from Chicago though.

To me the characters seemed very credible, but that could be because they reflect the stereotypical images I have in my head of people from the 1920’s (all gleaned from watching Poirot); we have the eccentric suffragette, the aging flapper, the mysterious American player… I think you could be the most incompetent writer on Earth but if you set your novel in the 1920’s it would still seem glamorous. Fortunately Anna Davis is not the most incompetent on Earth, so she has more to offer than simply the glamour of the age.

There are a couple of themes that recur throughout The Jewel Box that, for me, elevate it from the status of historical chick lit to something much deeper. Most significantly, the woman question; in one household we see a broad spectrum of women in different states of freedom. Catherine, barmy widow and hardcore suffragette; Grace an ‘aging’ single woman who has two careers and has a social life Serena Van Der Woodsen would be jealous of; Nancy, the demure younger sister, stuck in the house with two young children and not even old enough to vote. It’s weird, nowadays we don’t really think anything of popping down the pub, or smoking in public, or having a decent job so I always find it quite bizarre reading about women who couldn’t do any of these things. What’s more bizarre is that they don’t even seem to question this… I have to say though, I took great pride in voting as soon as I was old enough, I’m just glad the age has lowered from 30 to 18!

Now, there are more boyfriend swaps in this book than in an entire season of Gossip Girl but that’s what makes it fun. One of the things I expect from a book is for it to make me think. Even if it’s to think of something as silly as ‘which one will she pick’ or ‘oooh, what if she finds out what they did’. The not knowing, but wanting to know, is what propels you to the end.

I do have one negative thing to say about The Jewel Box. There are little snippets of dialogue that make me visibly cringe… whenever someone says ‘Oh, rather’ instead of ‘Yes’ I want to throw up in my mouth. I know that the author is trying to be authentic to the way people spoke at the time, but I hate it. It’s just a personal thing… the same happened when I read the Famous Five books.

Other than that, it was great fun. It definitely provided me with the respite I’d been craving after all my academic reading. I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys ‘girly’ books, because it is pretty girly, but who cares?!

Enjoy whatever you’re reading this week!
D x