Tuesday, 30 December 2014

So Long 2014 ❤

Hello dearhearts, Christmas has been and gone for another year and now we turn our selves towards the imminent New Year ready to see what 2015 will bring to us all (hoverboards hopefully).

I for one am fairly happy to say goodbye to 2014, it's been a bumpy year for me, lots of tears along with times of laughter, some ups and even more downs. So I thought I might take some time to look back over the year and share a bit of it with you all.

To kick off the post, here's a recent illustration I did...

 In case you can't tell, it's supposed to be me, only as a member of the Candy Doll Club. I've never been very good at making my girls actually look like real people but I tried to make this one resemble me (although i'll admit I was very forgiving at times with the design!) so there you go, something vagulely resembling what it's supposed to look like, just like all of my work.

So what else have I been up to this year? Well do please allow me to tell you via the magic of bullet points!

 in 2014 I...
  • started the year with an amazing job as an assistant Librarian at a really lovely Library
  • slowly but surely continued to unravel mentally (as i'd been doing for the last ten years) resulting in the inevitable need for actual treatment and medication
  • carried on working and socialising with real people
  • dressed up as Mary Poppins and got to hold a real live Owl
  • got to spend some time with my amazing nieces
  • kept taking the many prescribed pills
  • tried to keep calm and carry on
  • failed miserably and got signed off from work indefinitely
  • cried 
  • read some books
  • bought a lot of crap I really didn't need
  • began to enjoy creating again, painted, produced new work, started to feel a lot better
  • found out my contract had been terminated and suddenly lost aforementioned amazing job
  • spiralled lower and lower and lower and lower and lower and lower
  • moved out of my flatshare in town
  • moved back home with my very generous and nice and understanding parents
  • read some more books
  • spent over two weeks indoors without leaving the house once (i'm not proud, but it happened)
  • cried
  • watched more than my money's worth of netflix
  • ate my way through more pizza and popcorn than is ever necessary
  • started writing a book
  • gave up on that and started writing another book instead
  • realised how ruddy difficult it is to write a book
  • read a LOT more books
  • spent way too much money on Ghostbuster Lego (so worth it though!)
  • only left the house for appointments and trips to the cinema
  • tried to get old job back
  • failed to get old job back
  • continued trying to keep calm and carry on
  • failed miserably once again
  • cried
  • went for long rambling walks alone (*sad violin music*) 
  • went for long rambling walks with friends and had stick and conker fights
  • lost touch with new friends while reconnecting with old ones
  • truly learned who my real friends are (dramatic pause)
  • visited my fabulous nieces again and again
  • read even more books
  • ate too much chocolate
  • cried
  • dressed up as a Ghostbuster
  • painted and drew and designed and sewed and created
  • cried
  • ate more pizza
  • read all the books
  • wrote this blog post
so yeah, that's pretty much it. 2014 in a slightly unstable nutshell. If You know me in real life then you might have already heard about some of the ups and downs i've had this year, but if you don't know me 'irl' then I guess now you know a bit more about me than you did before!

so THANKS for listening/reading new found friend! (oh look it's my face!)

but hey let's not dwell on those silly negatives, oh no, for there have been many positives this year, none more fulfilling than my ongoing attempts at illustrating ladies with colourful hair and painting them onto bits of wood, but other than that one of the main things that has kept me going this year has been my ever growing 'to read' pile of books.

as I often mention on here, i'm rather fond of reading (understatement!) and for the past few years i've tried to challenge myself to read as many books as I can in the space of a year.

Well last year I set a challenge of 50 books... but by NYE i'd only managed 42 (boo!)

so this year I thought i'd better up the ante and on January 1st I set myself the challenge of reading 100 books before 2015, keeping track of them all via Goodreads.

I'm happy to report that this year i've read 116 books (yay!) and i'm currently on the 117th which I will no doubt finish at some point tonight or tomorrow (I actually surpassed the challenge about a month ago, only when I hit 100 books I decided to try and push to 111 instead).

Right about now i'm thinking I should probably have pushed to 120 but i've run out of time and although I do love to read if I overdo it I tend to give myself vile headaches and that's not really how I want to see in the New Year tomorrow night thank you very much!
no i'll no doubt be seeing it alone wrapped in several blankets surrounded by chocolates and toffees and of course, books.

I've ready some really teriffic books this year and I thought it might be nice to share a few of them with you all.

Now i've never been any good at writing reviews for books as often once i've read a novel it grows to exist tightly inside my mind and I struggle to explain it to people without rambling or giving away the plot. So these 5 books rated particularly highly for me this year, they kept me gripped and continue to stick out in my mind and so I can only recommend them to you purely on that basis along with a sentence or two!

The Martian – Andy Weir – 2011 – if you like Space, science and sarcasm then read this book. Very funny, very clever and very gripping! That's all i have to say, it's really good, read it.

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline – 2011 – Packed with more 80's Pop Culture references than you can even begin to comprehend, perfect for anyone who likes movies, music, tv shows, video games or the 80's (So basically everyone!).

The Girl With All The Gifts – M. R. Carey – 2014 – A clever twist on the Zombie genre this one's a Zombie story like no other, really heartbreaking stuff. Dark, chilling and undeniably haunting. Will probably stay on your mind long after the last page.

Red Rising – Pierce Brown – 2014 – Dystopian civilization, a cruel ruling upper class, the planet Mars, rebel uprisings and rebellion along with lashings of greek mythology and heaps of fierce combat and savage brutality. It's hard to describe this book but it's brilliant! It's like Dune meets the Hunger Games with parts of Brave New World and Ender's Game sprinkled in for good measure. Cannot wait for the next book in the series!

Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – 1990 – The end of the world is nigh and now it's down to angel turned book seller Aziraphale and too-cool-for-his-own-good demon Crowley along with a host of other brilliant (and hilarious) characters to find and stop the antichrist before he tries to destroy the world! Also, let me say that I am appalled it took me this long to actually get myself a copy and read it, i mean i was born in 1991 the year after this came out but still, that's 23 years i've neglected to read it! But take it from me that this book is great and that it will make you laugh your socks off!

if you're particularly nosy and you would like to see the full list of all 116 books i've read so far, click HERE, some of the books on the list are actually dreadful but some are utterly marvellous!

ironically enough the book i'm currently reading (and subsequently the last book i'll read this year) is Then We Came To The End - Joshua Ferris which was honestly a total coincidence but seems like the perfectly titled book to see the year out with!
next year i'm wondering if i should set the goal at 150 and see what happens! I already have a teetering pile of books to read and i'm eager to get cracking so roll on 2015, let's read ALL THE BOOKS!!!

and on that note, i'm going to sign off for today. This is the point where i should probably make a lot of promises I won't keep about how i intent to blog more next year and post better content etc blah blah blah. But i'm not going to do that.

I will try to blog more frequently but that's about as much as I can offer, so until next time, or in this case next year, so long and thanks for reading

and I would also like to wish you the Happiest of New Years tomorrow evening, however you do or do not decide to spend it!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Geeky Wish List 2014

Someone asked me today why I don't blog very much anymore. To be honest I don't think there was ever really a time when I blogged 'very much' (except maybe when I briefly attempted a blog-a-day challenge back in 2010 which i'm not even going to link because it was that terrible!) but i'll admit that lately I manage maybe 2-3 posts a month. Which probably isn't very good is it?!

The answer as to 'why I don't blog very much anymore' is simply this: I don't know what to blog about.

Ah but let me explain, it's not that I don't know what to write about, heck I write barrels full of wittering stuff on a near daily basis on all manner of subjects and themes (all stored up on my computer never to be read again) but I never really know what to blog about aka what to share on here with all of you.

As I often mention, I lead a very dull life (even duller since I lost my job) and looking back over my earlier attempts at blogging (during my college days) I really don't want to go back to being a blogger who just rambles on about what she did, where she went and what she bought. Which is precisely what I used to (and sometimes still occasionally) do.

So now if and when I blog it's usually about something i've drawn or something i'm trying to sell.

So today I thought 'sod it' i'm gonna write another daft Xmas Wish List like I did way back in December 2011 only this time, knowing me, everything will have either a book or a comic book theme or you know, just generally geeky and stuff!

so here we go... LET'S GET FESTIVE!!!

Number 1 - This very brilliant and accurate sweatshirt from Look Human

 Because of my eternal and undying love for books and the printed word, I feel as though I need this sweatshirt in my life, because it is 100% true and correct.

Numbers 2 and 3 - a nifty little Nevermore necklace from Sugar and Vice.

It's no secret that i'm a big ol' book geek, i'm also a HUGE fan of Edgar Allan Poe's work and I love his famous poem The Raven most of all so i'd really LOVE to own this necklace!

And what would I wear it with I hear you ask, well of course it would go perfectly with this Edgar Allan Poe jumper from Archie McPhee!
Glorious isn't it?! I know, it's brilliant. I should own one and wear it all the time! Nevermore will anyone be able to say that i'm not geekily fashionable!

Number 4 - a pair of Ghostbuster lounge pants from Truffle Shuffle.

if you've ever visited my blog before then i'm pretty sure this one doesn't need any explanation or justification (I dressed up as a Ghostbuster for Halloween don't forget!). I just really really really LOVE Ghostbusters and i'm fairly sure that if I had a pair of these I would be eternally happy. Obviously.

Numbers 5 and 6 - a very very very cool Hobbit book cover skirt from Frockasaurus

 Oh my Smaug how epic is this skirt? VERY epic is the correct answer. I particularly like the way it's being worn in the photo... exactly how I myself would wear it if I owned such a marvellous creation! The perfect thing to wear on my adventures through Middle Earth (or Ballaglass Glen, whatever)

and do you know what? I reckon I would totally wear it with this Ravenclaw tee from Truffle Shuffle.

Why?! well because the colours would match AND i'm a Ravenclaw (clearly) and I like to show off my House Pride. Oh and also because i'm not afraid to cross the (fandom) streams! I'll make it work!!!

Number 7 - an insanely awesome Wonder Woman apron from Bambinoamore

the very thing I could wear in the kitchen to protect my clothes (pyjamas) while I whip up a batch of kick-ass cupcakes or if I want to cook something. You know, if I ever cooked or if I actually knew how to cook. Perfect.

Number 8 (technically there are 3 things but... bugger off this is my list!) - I would like a Jane Austen action figure from Archie McPhee

 and a William Shakespeare one...

oh and an Edgar Allan Poe one as well...

 Yeah I was going to pick just one but I couldn't choose and then I was going to pick Jane but I thought, oh but what if she get's lonely?! Better get Will and Edgar as well so they can all hang out and talk about books and poetry and stuff + you know, they'd look pretty darn cool on my bookshelves!

Number 9 - The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy from Barnes and Noble

Because what would a wish list of mine be like without an actual book on it somewhere?! It goes without saying that there are literally dozens (if not hundreds) of books I would like to own, but if I listed them all on here we'd be here until next year.

So instead here I am listing my all time favourite book instead. Now of course I already own all of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy trilogy of five books as i've read them all so many times, but I do not own them quite like this! I do not own them leatherbound and covered in silver and green and actual MAGIC! So yes, I would quite like to have this special omnibus edition, pretty please!

Number 10 - I suppose it is Christmas so i'll need something fancy to wear to dinner with my Ghostbusters pants and Poe jumper, which brings us to... last but certainly not least (because I saved the best till last... duh!) I would like a pair of Santa Jingle shoes from Irregular Choice.

Now I know what you're thinking, Jade those shoes look normal enough, and I can't see any Santas, and you'd be right my observant friend.

I mean look at them, lush red velvet, satin ribbon laces, soooo pretty right? But they're even more awesome and epic because when you turn them around you get...

mini Santas for heels!!!!!

Yes that's right, let Santa lift you to new heights this festive season and strut around in these AMAZING ruddy shoes! I am not fooling, I think I kind of NEED this in my life! So Majestic. I don't even care if YOU don't like them, because I do and I think they're brilliant.

So there you have it, my top ten geeky-ish things on the wishlist this Christmas. I think we can all agree that i've outdone myself this year, although unlike the 2011 list, this one doesn't consist of ridiculously overpriced bits n bobs! So it's an improvement in that respect anyway.

Now I don't actually expect to wake up to ANY of these items on December 25th, mainly because I know my family and friends have probably already gotten me presents (or else!)

and obviously because if wish lists actually worked like that and you woke up to find everything on the list there on Christmas morning then I would have added Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston to the list as well.

but that's not the point of this list...

no it's just a bit of festive fun, so ho-ho-ho and all that, and don't worry i'll shut up now!

until next time, goodbye my little cherubs, hope to see you here again soon if I haven't already scared you away with all of my nonsensical ramblings!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Maybe It's Mabel

hello chums, i'm away at the moment in Coventry visiting my family but i've been working on a new illustration in my hotel room in the evenings (before I lose myself to the stack of books I brought with me!).

now I should explain beforehand, this is another fanart piece, so most of you probably won't have a clue what it means or who it's supposed to be!

I'll do my best to help you out in that department but in the meantime, I present to you... Mabel Pines

Mabel is a character from the cartoon show Gravity Falls

now for those of you that don't spend inordinate amounts of time watching cartoons and animations, Gravity Falls is a very brilliant show created by Alex Hirsch full of all sort of mysterious yet hilarious goings on. It's sort of like a cross between Twin Peaks and Adventure Time with lots of other good stuff thrown in...

Mabel is one of the main characters in the show along with her twin brother Dipper Pines + various other brilliant characters. The show mainly focuses on the adventures (or misadventures) of Mabel and Dipper as they explore their home in the town of Gravity Falls, where they've been sent for the Summer to stay with their Great Uncle Stan.

I absolutely LOVE this show! I've mentioned my eternal love of other amazing animated shows before (like Adventure Time, American Dad, Bob's Burgers, Family Guy, Archer, Monkey Dust, Rick and Morty, Bravest Warriors and Bee and Puppycat to name but a few!) and Gravity Falls is another one that is definitely on the list.BECAUSE IT'S SO VERY BRILLIANT!

Mainly because it's impossible not to like Mabel, she's utterly brilliant in every way and she might just be one of my absolute all time favourite animated characters... ever! Her total enthusiasm for life is unwavering and she looks upon everything as an adventure

in the show Mabel is a precocious and super creative twelve-year-old with braces + colourfully outrageous taste in jumpers/sweaters. She never lets anything faze her and she's always proud to be herself no matter what. She's a bit of a fangirl herself and she loves to sing and draw and paint and make things, actually we have a bit in common... that's probably why I like her so much!

as you know i'm a MASSIVE FANGIRL (it's true) and from time to time I like to have a go at drawing existing characters I like in my own style. So naturally my Mabel is a bit older than twelve, she hasn't managed to put candy colours in her hair yet (I know... I did an illustration WITHOUT rainbow hair?!) but she still loves wacky jumpers, and it's nearly time for those braces to come off!

in case you're wondering what she's holding, that is a lolly stick covered in 'Smile Dip'

in one very memorable episode Mabel comes across a stack of old unsold 'Smile Dip' candy which she immediately devours... unfortunately the out-of-date sweets set off a strange candy induced reaction causing her to hallucinate bizarre (yet highly amusing) sugar fueled visions (it sounds bad but I promise it's all for fun, it's a kids show after all!)

although Mabel swears off 'Smile Dip' at the end of the episode I couldn't resist giving her a packet, you might also notice her funky bead bracelets (handmade) and cryptic tattoos...

 the bracelets feature names of some of the other characters, Mabel's closest friends in the show. There's the infamous Smile Dip + a little tattoo of Bill Cipher (you'll have to watch the show to find out who he is)

Mabel's other little tattoo pays homage to her beloved pet pig Waddles

Waddles, a pig Mabel wins at the local Mystery Fair, is her near constant companion and sidekick

Initially I attempted a version of her with some hot pink in her hair (in fact I accidentally gave her my own hair!!!) but I wasn't sure if I liked it with the pink, so she stayed a Brunette for this one which was strange, I'm so used to giving my drawings pastel hair, it felt weird leaving it all a normal hair colour!

anyway it was HEAPS of fun to draw another existing character and I can't think of one more deserving to be drawn than Mabel Pines!

in case you want to know more about the eternally wonderful Mabel, click below to watch the first episode of Season 1 of Gravity Falls

Thank you Mabel, you are my spirit animal

Sunday, 9 November 2014

deck the halls?!

Hello chums, thanks for stopping by, don't be put off by the title of today's post but I have to warn you, if you're a bit of a Grinch or total Ebenezer Scrooge then you're probably not going to enjoy the rest of the blog...

Unless you've been living under a rock (or staunchly ignoring any and all traces of the festive cheer quietly brewing in virtually every shop) then you might have noticed that Christmas is on the way again at last! Now it's no secret on this blog that I am a HUGE fan of all things festive and Christmassy, I've blogged about my love of Xmas in the past many times (see here if you're interested).

Love it or loathe it, I don't think you can really ignore it! It might still be a bit early for me to get away with putting up my Christmas tree or breaking out the light up earrings but I figured it was as good a time as any for a festive themed blog post!

Now I know most people don't like seeing Christmas stuff this time of year (only 45 days to go...) but I get so excited when places start filling up with festive goods and playing Christmas songs! And well... I DON'T THINK IT'S TOO EARLY!!! Why?! because I LOVE Christmas of course!

Do you know who else loves Christmas? Well i'll give you a clue, their names begin with 'A' and 'I' and they love to dress up!

That's right, little Aalish and Illiam also can't wait for Christmas!

 So today they tried on all of their new festive costumes while I warbled along to Santa Baby and cleared away all the scraps of card from the Christmas clothes sheet.

Although technically it's actually a Nollick Ghennal sheet! In case you couldn't guess, 'Nollick Ghennal' means Merry Christmas in Manx Gaelic, so once again this sheet will be sold exclusively in Sweet Ginger Emporium in Ramsey here on the Isle of Man. 

the A3 sheet has a set of nice Christmas outfits for both Aalish and Illiam to try on, including a jolly snowman + a festively decorated tree

there's even a Rudolph the Reindeer mask to go with any of the costumes

 + the sheet also has a bunch of fun accessories to go with the outfits

and just like the Hop-Tu-Naa/Halloween sheet all of the clothes are interchangeable to fit both paper dolls meaning each of them can have a go at being Santa or one of his Elf helpers

are you feeling Christmassy yet? If you are then that's BRILLIANT! There's no shame in getting into the spirit of things because Christmas is such a fun time of year isn't it!

It is without a doubt my favourite time of the year, and not for the reason you might be thinking (namely PRESENTS!) but because I just LOVE all of the cheer everywhere, the decorations, the lights, all the glitter, the music, the carols, beautifully wrapped gifts, advent calendars and all of that special Christmas magic and joy that fills the air.

that's my mum Joy holding a lovely festive pillow with her name on it! You see I'm not from a very religious family so for me Christmas is more a time that heralds the arrival of my favourite season and an opportunity to buy or make lovely things to give to my friends and family. I just adore giving presents!
Although this year will probably be my most frugal Christmas since reaching adulthood (arguable really considering what a big kid I am!) but what with my no longer having a job + being unable to work at the moment this lack of income means I won't be able to spoil my loved ones quite as much this year.

Despite this, I've still been excitedly gathering gifts for them all (albeit on a much tighter budget than previous years). For a while I worried that this might put a damper on things for me this year, there have been times in the past when i've been in such a low mood come December that I haven't even bothered to put up any decorations (meaning my parents never bothered decorating the house either) but this year i'm determined to make the most of the situation and conjure up as much festive cheer as I can. If that means oodles of lopsided homemade gifts then so be it!

I visited the Christmas Shop at Tynwald earlier this week with my mum and my nephew Josh (over for a few days visiting from Coventry) and I think seeing all of the decorations and gifts and lovely tress really started to get me into the spirit of things! 

 don't worry, I'm not about to tinsel bomb the house or pull on my Christmas jumper (not just yet anyway) but i'm beginning to feel the warm fuzzy glow of the approaching holidays, hence why I wanted to share Aalish and Illiam's new clothes with you all today. 

So I'm going to make Christmas 2014 a fun one, even if I don't have the funds for all the fabulous frivolities I usually get at this time of year. Homemade cupcakes and gingerbread for EVERYONE!

and on that note, i'll sign off for this evening. I'm popping out the Cinema to see 'Interstellar' because i'm a big sci-fi geek and I love movies!

so until next time, a very merry toodle-ooh to you and you and you...

Friday, 31 October 2014

Trick or Treat?

Hello my lovelies, how are you all today? I hope you're having a brilliant day! Once again i've been the most neglectful blogger I know, I haven't posted anything on here in weeks, but it's been a busy time and i'm also incredibly lazy!

SO SORRY! But i'm here now so let's crack on with it shall we?!

So it's that time of year again, whether or not you celebrate it in any way shape or form you'll no doubt still be aware that today is Hop-Tu-Naa (or Halloween if you're not from the Isle of Man) which means trick or treating, turnips (or pumpkins), dressing up in fun costumes and gathering ginormous heaps of SWEETIES!

I mean just ask Aalish and Illiam, they know all about trick or treating and they just LOVE Hop-Tu-Naa!

I'm well into the Hop-Tu-Naa festivities this year, or at least my desk is! I might have gotten just a little bit carried away decorating it for Halloween...

 you might be thinking, 'Jade what do you mean you decorated your desk for Halloween, are you insane?!' in which case the answer is a most definite and resounding YES!

Yeah so I was (attempting to do some) tidying up and I found a bag full of Halloween decorations that I didn't even realise I had! So I kind of HAD to put them all up. I mean I have mini spooky fairy lights and pumpkin garlands and ghost gingerbread!!!


SORRY NOT SORRY! (although I do promise to take it all down tomorrow on November 1st... and i'll try to leave at least a bit of time before I break out the Christmas decorations!!!)

oh but that's not all, you see I also dressed up this year!

I couldn't decide what to be so I put together a sort of spooky eyeball witch type thing (any excuse to wear my beloved Meadham Kirchhoff for Topshop eyeball dress!) with homemade eyeball headband + matching brooches

And then naturally I dressed up as a Ghostbuster, because come on it's ME and really what did you expect?!

WHO YA GONNA CALL?! well not me, obviously!

I'm not actually leaving the house tonight as it is utterly vile weather outside, but that doesn't mean I can't still dress up right?! I'm going to stay in and watch 3 or 4 different versions of Frankenstein and consume my body weight in butter popcorn!

you might have spotted Aalish and Illiam as part of the decorations on my desk, both in their fave spooktacular costumes. Ah but they aren't the only ones up to spooky Halloween shenanigans this year!

As has become tradition over the past few years, this October I decided to have a go at a special Halloween themed illustration and this year I thought it might be fun to design a Candy Doll.

Only this time I came up with two instead of one! I started out by drawing a girly candy doll but as I gave her the angel wings I thought 'hhm maybe I should draw a Devil girl as well!' so... I did.

So meet Trick and Treat, they both love Halloween and dressing up but it's up to you to figure out which is which...

oh alright i'll make it easy for you, technically this is Trick... hence the Devil horns and tail + killer red lipstick!

so I suppose this is Treat... but don't let the halo and wings fool you, that doesn't necessarily mean she's that much of an angel!

I guess they're kind of twins, or at least sisters?! I'm not sure, but they were fun to draw + colour and add in all the colourful brooches and badges on their outfits.

I also decided to have a go at painting Trick and I actually finished the painting late Wednesday night, so here's the result...

What do you think? you can't really tell it from the photo but it's a pretty sizeable board! It felt good to work on a larger board again, although this time it was 2x4 foot instead of the 2x6 foot boards I worked on in quadruplicate for my Degree show last Summer.

It was fun to paint but I'd totally forgotten how tricky it is to manoeuvre a board this size when trying to carefully draw in details and patterns! I had to lug it on and off my desk and twist it around all the time as I added in the lineart. And as you can imagine, the polka dots were 'fun' to do! (spoiler: they were so fiddly and time consuming I probably won't do any like this ever again!)

In case you're wondering, I haven't decided whether or not to paint 'Treat' as well. I suppose it makes sense painting them both (and I do have another board this size, primed and waiting to be painted on!) but i'm not sure if i'll paint her or something else instead.

* * *

so I think that's it for today, I can't really think of anything else to tell you. Despite the massive gap i've left between blog posts since last time, nothing has really happened worth mentioning.

+ I think i've blathered on for long enough, see you next time (hopefully!) byeeeee