100 Happy Days 9 – drawing princesses

I know I’m late by a day, but I couldn’t find my SD card yesterday and I’d rather take the photographs myself than find images online.

So here’s my sketch of Rapunzel – it looks wonky on the photograph, but I promise it’s not THAT bad in real life:

One of my favourite princesses

I’ve been pinning a lot of game and film characters on my Pinterest, but I have found a particular interest in princess stories at the moment. I still remember the film “A Little Princes” (haven’t had the pleasure of reading the book) when she says all girls are princesses deep down. I do think the idea is rather romantic, and I do accept that a lot of the princess character portrayals in Disney films kinda fail a little at times. But I like to look at the strengths of the girls instead of the negatives.

Snow White, for her time, is quite assertive. Aurora does do a whole bunny-in-headlights vanishing act but, to be fair to her, she’s lied to her whole life, told she’s forbidden to marry the guy she likes, and the bombshell is dropped that she’s a betrothed princess who now has a tonne of expectation on her, not to mention the imminent meeting of the parents she’s not seen since she was a baby. And she’s only 16 in the film! While Snow White is only 14. Cinderella takes her life of servitude with a level of grace and good-humour that I find quite inspiring. She takes so much stick, and just keeps taking it, while still finding the inner strength to keep her spirits up right until she’s pushed too far. Everyone has a limit, after all.

And, once again, bearing in mind the times these films were made, the characters are actually fairly fleshed out. These days we demand more from our characters. And, before my fellow feminists jump on me – what EXACTLY does Prince Charming do, apart from dance, have a stupid name and carry shoes? Snow White’s prince doesn’t even have a name! Only Phillip really does anything much, bless him. I know the princes in Disney films aren’t “meant to be role models” in the same way society seems to want the princesses to be. but I also know the first thing you do to decide if something is sexist is compare men and women in the same context. And I can’t honestly say Charming did half as much as Cinderella. Nameless Snow White Prince doesn’t do anything! Apart from scare doves and kiss girls. How is that a role model? Most boys can do that at 7!

And I’m not just entranced by the princess characters from the franchise, or even from Disney itself. Look at Anastasia! That film’s stunning! And I don’t really like The hunchback of Notre Damme much as a film, but Esmeralda is amazing! I had a doll of her when I was a child. I had an Ariel doll too. Now, there’s a girl who isn’t afraid to fight for what she wants, even if it means leaving everything she knows behind.

I’m going to go watch Enchanted again. I do love that film, it’s silly but, at the same time, really romantic and touching. Bless him, Prince Edward is such a clueless little bobcat!



100 Happy Days 6 – pictures on the wall

So this is one of my more DIY moments. I hung some string in lines on my wall the other week, and I finally got around to putting up pictures on them:

A line for artwork

The idea was to give myself the freedom to add as many of my art pieces as I wanted and move them around without damaging them. I’m just glad I got some work up there, I’ll be sure to keep adding to it. The line is in my bedroom, so not for “public viewing” as it were. But it brightens up an empty space above my bed, so I’m happy.

Also, on an unrelated note, I took Sheena (my 3-month-old pet corn snake) to visit Kerri today. She’s the one who let me hold her snake a year ago – and is, as a result, directly responsible for me buying me own. I fell in love with Linkin, and now I have Sheena I couldn’t be happier. I was so proud today with how she handled so many people.

Finally, I completed Professor Layton and the Lost Future today – cried at the end, finished all the puzzles, and now I’m waiting for the next one. Until then, I’m going to listen to Bill Bailey’s stand-up comedy show while I play Dungeon Keeper!


100 Happy Days 3 – arts and crafts

Today I woke with a bit of a sore head and a lack of, to quote a favourite film of mine, “gumption”. So it became a crafty day:

Arts and crafts

Firstly, in the foreground, you can see a bowl. It’s not the neatest of bowls, but I made it myself using clay. I’m hoping to use it under a plant as a water dish when it’s finished.

Next, we have the lampshade. My old one was broken when someone put a foot through it (don’t ask) and the new one was rather dull, so I decided to spruce it up with some decoupage. Finally, the box is a work-in-progress project intended to house some folders when it’s finished.

I was reading a crochet book last night. I might start a new blanket project later on, or pick up my cross stitch again. See what we feel like as the day winds on.


My six little boxes

I’m writing this post to accompany a challenge I’ve set up on an organisation website called HabitRPG. I’ll blog more about Habit another time, because it’s amazing and I love it and everyone should check it out! But for now I want to explain what I mean by my six little boxes.

We’ve all heard the spiel of the self-help guru. Sometimes it works for us, sometimes it doesn’t. When it does we rejoice that some other person has told us how to fix our lives. When it doesn’t we either change everything to someone else’s plan, change the existing plan repeatedly until it does work, or promptly give up, go home and never again speak of the whole embarrassing situation.

Basically, I made up my own. I’ve never told anyone about it, never really saw how it might work for anyone else – but it works for me. So, since I was feeling brave and made a challenge for others to try and do it on Habit, I thought I’d write a nice blog post explaining the idea more thoroughly.

I looked at my life. I looked at what I needed to do more of or pay more attention to. And I split everything into 6 categories, or my “little boxes”. I try to do something for each box as often as I can – if I’m feeling great and have lots of free time, it’s every day. If I’m busy or unwell or life gets in the way I aim for one significant thing from each box a week. That way I always feel like the plan is ticking over.

So here are the boxes:

1# Health and Wellbeing

Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to eat better or exercise more. What you do is up to you. This one’s about what ever makes your mind, body and soul feel better. It can be physically tailored, of course – go for a walk or a swim, do some dancing or yoga, even cleaning can break you out in a sweat at times. Just make sure you say to yourself – this is for my health and wellbeing box. If food is more your thing then you can cook healthy meals, do the diet logs, try to drink more water. Then there’s the mind and spirit activities, like meditation and relaxation, even prayer and bible study is something I’ve placed in this box at times. It’s about variety of choice just as much as it is about discipline and keeping the ball rolling. Never be afraid to shake it up a little, and remember that your body is more than just the vessel you live in. So experiment with different ways to take care of it.

#2 Education and Acheivement

We’re never too old to learn, and I’m a massive fan of retraining and expanding my skill base. So for this box we’re looking at new things or building on existing things. Perhaps learn a new language in preparation for a holiday abroad. Take a class for a hobby you enjoy or find a new qualification you can sit for in your local area. I use this box for learning my programming or doing research for stories I’m working on – because when the research is in-depth enough it’s still learning. I have a few history books I often read from the middle ages and medieval period because one of my stories is set in that era. I can tell you so much about 1400’s England that I didn’t know before all because of the time I’ve spent working with this box. Also, if you’re a parent or older sibling, don’t be afraid to tick this box for sharing your own knowledge, such as helping with homework. Or, as a student, doing your own. Pop down to the library for book on new skills or read up on the internet. I’ve taught myself how to do pixel art online using a handful of tutorials and a lot of patience – and every pixel I’ve placed comes under this category. And, if you really can’t think of anything you’d ever need to or want to learn because you know it all – blog about it, and show someone else. Make some tutorial videos. Be the teacher.

#3 Organisation and Productivity

Here’s our box for the household and all those niggly chores we don’t like doing, such as hoovering the carpets, cleaning out the bathroom, washing that mountain of clothing you wish wasn’t hiding in the corner. But it’s about so much more than just mediocre things you’d do every day – hence the organisation part. Spend a bit of time detailing your diary and making sure you know when all your appointments are for the next week. File away all those wage slips and bank statements so they don’t keep falling off your desk and all over the floor. If you’re getting cluttered up there’s always spring cleaning, emptying boxes you never open and can’t remember what’s inside, or sifting through your wardrobe and admitting to yourself at least half of those clothes never see the light of day. Whether you work from home or not, lots of little things in your career can also count under this, like clearing your desk, computer files and email inbox. Even checking your emails is organised, since it’s better not to miss anything important. And don’t forget shopping, of course! Making sure there’s enough food for any hungry mouths, products for dirty faces and everything your house needs on a weekly basis can sometimes take more organisational skills than you’d think.

#4 Creativity and Art

Some people are daunted by this one but it covers a broad spectrum so don’t be afraid. If you’re an artist, fantastic. Drawing or painting, sculpting or crafting, even decorating and DIY, building furniture and other items, knitting and crochet and quilting all counts as making something. Then there’s performance art, such as dancing, singing and drama. I count my fictional writing as creative, whether it’s short stories, poetry or even spoken word art. Video editing and, in some ways, blogging can count. Cooking or baking can be very artistic, especially when something’s made from scratch or decorated really well. Even gardening has elements of art in there. For those of you who cannot think or find or feel their way with this box, perhaps art and cultural enjoyment would be an alternative? Like a visit to a theatre, art gallery or museum. Remember the photography mentioned earlier? That’s artisitic too.

#5 Socialising and Making Connections

I know some people need no encouragement here, but others do, and I’m one of them. It can be friends, family, strangers, work colleagues – anyone you like. But try to find a way to push just a little connection here every so often. Call a relative you’ve not heard from in a while and ask how everything is. Make arrangements to have that coffee with that person you keep running into and forgetting to get back to. Meet your friends for a drink or invite them round for dinner. If your career involves a lot of social media elements this one’s a great box for your contacts and meetings. Go mad on twitter telling everyone how your new project’s going. Log into your favourite forums and spend some time bending the ears of others on things that matter to you. Even taking a walk to the shop with the dog and buying your bread and milk counts as opening the door to the outside world and another person. Assuming there’s a shop keeper. And a dog.

#6 Entertainment and Personal Space

We’ve had the time for others, now let’s have the time for me. This one is such an easy one to miss out, but it’s so important! You have to look after yourself and make sure that you do something that makes you smile, no matter how unusual or random you might think it is. Relax in a cafe with a good book and a slice of cake – you’ve done the healthy bit, now be naughty. Have a lie-in on a Sunday morning or spend a really long time soaking in a bath. If you really are the biggest extrovert ever and nothing alone makes you happy then go out on the town with your friends and get giddy, invite people round for a film night, or shut them all away and watching it on your own with a hot chocolate and your favourite pyjamas. listen to music and dance when nobody can see you – this is something I do far more than I should! But it makes me feel silly happy, and that’s the point.

So there we have it guys. My six little boxes, and a few ideas of what you can do to fill them. Everybody’s different, everybody will have contrasting tastes, and everyone will find some boxes easier than others. It’s part of life. And there are a lot of things that can fit under more than one box – I mentioned reading more than once. Reading for pleasure can be entertainment, reading aloud can be education for others or even for yourself. If it’s reading something you’ve written, that’s creative. Don’t be afraid to find your own way to fill those little boxes.

And let me know what you do! I’d love to hear how other people find this structure works for them.


Pixel craze

So recently I seem to have adopted a new vocation in pixel art. I’m very open with everyone who knows me about my health troubles, physical limitations and, dare I say it, “disability” (although I am not disabled, do not see myself that way, and fish).

I have a social and physical disorder known as dyspraxia. If you’ve no idea what that is, here’s a handy link to explain. And, no, I can’t ride a bike.

I am an artist at heart, but not in body. I can’t train my hands to get any better than they are. Sure, abstract things work okay, but that’s not always what a person wants to achieve.

Then, one day, I found a wonderful tutorial on how to make a very snazzy-looking pixel cube. And, from there, the world exploded into possibilities I didn’t have before. I don’t think my art is brilliant, I know I’m still just a beginner. But I managed to make things in a week that were better than anything I could draw by hand in a month. And I’m even getting brave enough to try animations now.

I’m proud of my pixel work. It’s less complicated for my brain than learning the programming, it means I can be useful to my friends in the computer world, and it’s even given me some opportunities to contribute to bigger projects and communities. And I’ve been doing it for a matter of weeks.

I can’t wait to see where this goes.


Hiatus over!

Wow, I’ve been such a lame blogger! But we’re back for now.

I’ve been doing loads in the past few months:

* I helped organise an event with a charity

* I’ve begun working on my stories again, and I tried taking part in NaNoWriMo – didn’t get very far, but I started it.

* I found a new passion in pixel art.

* I’ve redoubled my efforts at learning programming.

That’s all for now, I am still in Lancashire for those of you who might be wondering. We’re saving hard and making as much effort as we can to make it happen. But at our own pace. Which, today, isn’t a very fast one because I’m quite sleepy.

Oh, and I made a hammer: https://f.cloud.github.com/assets/5843898/1565904/4cfd8218-5086-11e3-932d-7bfb46c647bd.png

I shall be back with updates soon, but for now I’m having a me-time rest.

Happy November everyone!