Popular

I cannot deny that I spend FAR too much time perusing my blog stats… not necessarily because I’m obsessed with how many followers I have, but more because I’m baffled by the stuff that interests people. Sometimes my lovely readers rave about posts I blasted out in five minutes, and the ones I adore, the ones that I’ve been thinking about and planning for ages are met with deathly silence.

One thing really surprised me today as I trawled through all those bar charts… my arty posts get all the views, but my book posts get all the comments. So how do you judge which are more successful? The short answer… you don’t. You make yourself a cuppa, you sit back down and you write about the things you love. Most of the time I will so confidently scream that I write for myself and nobody else, but like every blogger out there, sometimes I question myself. It’s completely natural, especially when you’re doing something as public as blogging, and if anyone says different they’re a big fat liar.

Hmm. What started out as a summary of my most popular posts in July seems to have morphed into a slightly obsessive blog analysis, so let’s get back to it. These are the posts most visited by you guys; you’re all clearly nuts but I love you anyway!

Windows of the Soul

An Octopus's Garden

Honouring Your Feelings

Going to the Zoo

[Click image to visit post]

 These are the ones picked by my stats page, but I also wanted to share a round-up of my Love Triangle 101 posts – these are the ones I’ve had the most fun with recently… so I hope you’ll take a second to check them out, but more importantly, check out the hosts of this great event over at A Novel Idea.

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{Love Triangles 101} An Introduction

Under the Microscope: Before I Met You

{Love Triangles 101} When They Just Don’t Count

{Love Triangles 101} The Formula

{Love Triangles 101} From Story to Screen

Have a browse and let me know your views on love triangles… yay or nay?

And if you’ve written any posts you’ve really loved over the past month, leave me a link below… you know me, I’m always looking for new reading material!

D x

Readarama Update

I have some news… I’ve passed my GoodReads reading target of 50 books! I have to admit I’m pretty pleased with myself… that’s more than double what I read last year. Seems like I’m almost getting back to normal…

Unless you’ve been following for a while, you won’t know about the other reading challenge I’m taking part in, Penguin’s Readarama (which involves pledging to read at least one book per week for the whole of 2013). The last update I gave you was back in March, so I thought I’d do a quick run through of some of the other lovely stuff I’ve been sticking my nose into…

w/c 8th April

Council of Dads – Bruce Feiler

The Mango Season – Amullya Malladi

w/c 15th April

700 Sundays – Billy Crystal

w/c 22nd April

The Wildwater Walking Club – Claire Cook

The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress – Beryl Bainbridge

w/c 29th April

Unexplained Fevers – Jeannine Hall Gailey

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum

All My Friends are Superheroes – Andrew Kaufman

w/c 6th May

Someday, Someday, Maybe – Lauren Graham

w/c 13th May

Driving Over Lemons – Chris Stewart

Mother’s Curse – Thaddeus Nowak

w/c 20th May

Daughter’s Justice – Thaddeus Nowak

w/c 27th May

The Circus of Ghosts – Barbara Ewing

Before I Met You – Lisa Jewell

Two month seems like a big enough chunk to bombard you with in one go, so I’ll be back with more later. As you can probably see I have a fair few reviews pending, so stay tuned!

D x

Art Haul

So a couple of weeks ago I went to visit my friend Hannah in Norwich. On my way back, my trusty gladiators broke, so I ran into Matalan (which, conveniently, is across the road from the train station) to get some flip flops. Then something bad happened. I had to get past Hobbycraft to leave. Not only was it Hobbycraft, but there were also ‘sale’ stickers plastered across every window. Not good. I couldn’t resist. And as I only had twelve minutes before my train pulled out of the station (and a non-refundable ticket), I was able to somewhat limit myself to these:

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[Self adhesive lace paper – will be used primarily as stencils, and when it can’t take any more paint it will be reincarnated as collage fodder]

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[This is my fave brand of felt tips so I was just dying to try out their glittery pens… the nibs are quite hard and rounded so it’s difficult doing detail, but they’re sooo pretty]

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[Mini letter stamps, they do a bunch of different fonts, I just picked the nearest two! Ideal for art journal, card making, scrapbook pages and ransom letters!)

I have to say I impressed myself with my willpower. But then I pulled into Nottingham. And discovered the Papermania sale:

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[Heavy duty wood mounted rubber stamps, a total steal at £1ish each]

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[Ok, not in the sale. But I saw these paper tapes on my way to the till and decided they were a very necessary addition to my stash]

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[Roller stamp pencil toppers. Fine, so I’m twelve, but at 90p for the three, HOW COULD I NOT?!]

If you’ve ever been to Papermania, the stationery Valhalla, then you’ll know it’s extremely unusual to leave the damn place spending only a fiver… so again, I was pleased with my self-restraint… before rounding off my day with (even more) pens from WHSmith:

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[Literally the best pens for doodling. Ever.]

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[Replacements for my beloved Sharpies that seem to be dying a long-awaited death. I can’t believe I’m going to say it but these actually seem to work better]

I know I promised you a load of art journal posts this week, but I’ve been having some camera issues (GRRR) so bear with me, and come back next week!

D x

P.S. Laura over at Cardboard Cities has instituted an #abloggers hashtag for arts and crafts bloggers. You can add it to your tweets to help other arty people find you, or search using the tag to discover people yourself. She is also in the process of arranging #ablogger chats, where we can congregate and talk about all things messy!

The Sea Sisters

The Sea Sisters, by Lucy Clarke, is one of the books from Richard and Judy’s Summer Book Club (and as such, one of the books I’ve pledged to read by the end of August). I’m also using it to tick off a couple of categories of my Whimsical Reading Challenge – ‘body of water’ and ‘family’.

The novel starts as our protagonist, Katie, is told that her younger sister has died while travelling around the world, (This is not a spoiler, it’s on the blurb!) and after being told that Mia actually committed suicide while in Bali, Katie decides to shrug off her life and follow in her sister’s footsteps, in the hope of proving the police (and everybody else) wrong.

The narrative is split between Katie’s current day perspective, the entries in Mia’s travel journal and the occasional flashback. Sometimes I find this kind of ‘hotch potch’ irritating, but I thought that Clarke managed to weave together a pretty seamless patchwork of events, offering the kind of polarised perspectives only sisters can! (Just ask mine…)

From the very beginning we are made aware that both sisters have done something terrible to the other; we have no details, we just know they’re both crippled by guilt. The mistakes the girls made are not ludicrous, or hard to guess, but by only illuminating the reader as each sister finds out the truth, Clarke helps us to bond with her characters. In fact, even though I knew how Mia’s story was going to end, I was desperate for it to be different. I wanted them living happily ever after in a house full of cats. I pretty much convinced myself that Katie was going to get to Bali and discover that it was actually Mia’s doppelgänger that had mysteriously died.

This book provides a great example of ‘background love triangles’, in other words, love triangles that a merely a sub-plot, not a virus that pushes everything else into the shadows. Clarke made reference to my favourite kind of love triangle (don’t you agree Paola?), the mobile octagon. The overlapping feelings and general confusion were totally accurate representations of actual love and relationships, and really helped reinforce the bubble of intense emotion already surrounding this story. The couples we root for changes multiple times, and there is definitely no clear-cut ‘winner’ from the get go… all made for good reading!

The Sea Sisters is predominantly a story of self-discovery, and how we’re forced into action by life itself. We have no control over grief, betrayal, guilt or love, the thing that creates ‘character’ is the way we deal with all the messy stuff that gets hurled at us. Was it heartbreaking? Yes. Bittersweet? Definitely. More than that, it was just a beautiful, beautiful book. Now go read it.

D x

An Octopus’s Garden

Hello all, I had a heat induced blonde moment yesterday and forgot to post about the latest Quirky Crafts challenge! It was my turn to come up with the theme (An Octopus’s Garden), so I can’t wait to see what everyone creates! Basically, I want all entries to incorporate something from a garden and something underwater. Quirky enough? I hope so!

For more Design Team inspiration and info on how to link up, visit the original challenge post. For now, here’s the art journal page I came up with:

I started out this art journal page by copying out the lyrics to Octopus’s Garden with a Sharpie, and then covering it in an acrylic wash. I then added another layer of paint, by sponging it over an octopus shaped mask. I coloured the ‘Butterfly Blossoms’ image from Paper Pretties with felt tips and gel pens, and added a few smudges of craft paint and gesso, to make my garden seem like it was under the water. Originally the butterfly was joined to the flowers, but I snipped him off and moved him, because I thought a butterfly flying around under the sea was appropriately whimsical. My final touches included a doodled border, and a sentiment borrowed from an old copy of Cosmo. All completed while watching the feat of cinematic genius (and appropriately themed) Deep Blue Sea.

Remember, any arts and crafts can be entered into this challenge… scrapbook pages, ATC’s, cards, embroidery, sculptures, doodles, cake decorations, posters, canvases, wall hangings, beadwork… anything that inspires you!

D x

P.S. Listen to this song for more ideas.

 

{Love Triangles 101} From Story to Screen

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I think that the one thing that everyone could say about love triangles, whether they love them or hate them, is that at best, they can be very unrealistic. As a reader, I consider this a capital offence… I want to be convinced by the words on front of me. I want to believe that there are vampires, and princesses, and aliens, and talking bears, at least while my nose is still between the pages. So yes, it infuriates me when an author thrusts a handful of two-dimensional characters into an insipid love triangle, just for the sake of it.

My favourite book of all time (Gone With the Wind) provides an example of a truly phenomenal love triangle. It ticks all my boxes (check out this post for more info on those boxes). Even so, and as a ‘book person’ it truly pains me to say this, but I think love triangles turn out much better on-screen than on paper. Assuming the acting and the dialogue are halfway decent, it’s so much easier to be drawn into a love triangle that can quite literally see before you.

It would take a real effort for me to come up with a list of compelling love triangles I’ve found in books, but in films? There’s a thousand! And such a variety! Is there anything more bittersweet than Juliet and Simon kissing in Love Actually, even though she’s married to his best friend? Or Jules’s hilarious attempts at sabotage in My Best Friend’s Wedding? Has there ever been anything more heartbreaking than the ending of Pearl Harbor or more hopeful than The Notebook? What gives you more tingles than Nicole and Ewan serenading each other in Moulin Rouge? And is there really anything sweeter than Sweet Home Alabama?

pearl harbor my best friend's wedding notebook sweet home alabama moulin rouge love actually

 

[Images borrowed from http://www.imdb.com]

These are just a few of my faves, but what do you think? Are love triangles more addictive in a book or on the box? What a your favourite movie love triangles?

D x

P.S. A post on my favourite TV love triangles will be coming your way soon, so stay tuned!

Windows of the Soul

Has anyone else noticed how sweet the word ‘Friday’ sounds? I can’t wait to get out of the office and enjoy a little bit of this heat wave… locked in a room with lots of big windows but no air con is not bringing out the best of me!

Today I wanted to share another art journal page inspired by the Life Book course I’m taken. This page was a product of a bonus lesson from Kelly Hoernig (of the Game Board Page), called ‘Eyes Are The Windows Of The Soul’.

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the eyeball is actually made of teeny tiny scraps of paper, collaged together and painted to add extra detail.

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I feel like this page is a little… naked. I’m not really a minimal journaller, I’m more of a ‘keep piling crap on there until there is literally no room for more’ kind of artist. Having said that, I enjoyed trying something a little bit new. I like that the eye really stands out (especially as it took so long to do… I think I’d be a bit miffed if it blended into the background!), and I like that I got to showcase my new favourite stencil (which is actually just a piece of lace paper).

I seem to have accumulated quite a few Life Book pages that I haven’t got round to blogging about…  I’ve also done a bunch of spreads inspired by 21 Secrets (which is on sale right now – check out the link for more info!), and made a little journal filled with juicy stuff as part of Doodle Camp 2013, so expect lots of arty goodness over the next couple of weeks!

D x