10 Things I Loved in 2015

Well, as I said, 2015 was not my best year ever – but that doesn’t mean I didn’t see some good movies, hear some great music, and even make some cool stuff.  I couldn’t let the tail end of December go by without my annual list of things that didn’t suck.

It’s probably telling that it took me all day to come up with ten.  I think part of that is because of my warped grasp of the passage of time. Anyway:

1 – Favorite New Art/Craft Supply:  Distress MicroGlaze

I sang the praises of this stuff a while back, but it bears repeating.  This little pot of waxy goodness protects inks, stains, pencils, and more without smearing or changing the color beneath it.  It might seem pricey for such a little tub (I think it’s like $6) but I’ve been using mine for several months and have barely made a dent in the stuff.  In fact, using more than teeny bit isn’t a good thing, because it’ll take days to soak in and dry.  I find it especially useful in my shrines, both on interior elements and the outside decor itself, as paper is really easy to scuff or get dirty and needs all the protection it can get, but traditional polyurethanes always end up ugly .

2 – Favorite Book from that Genre I Keep Trying to Pretend I Don’t Like:  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Imagine my delight when I found out this weird novel is being turned into a movie that I hope is equally weird.  It’ll be out in December 2016 and features such fringe unknown actors as Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, Judi Dench, Rupert Everett, Eva Green, and Asa Butterfield (I’m not entirely sure who he is but as I understand it that’s cool.).

3 – Favorite Silly Digital Thing I Made: Little-Known Facts

These were just too fun.  I’m working on the next in the series – Miranda’s – although it’s not as entertaining to list facts about someone who’s only been alive 30 years or so.  The older vamps are way more interesting.  In case you missed them, click on the wee image to see it up close:

little known ds  lkfdb

4 – Favorite Meaningful Digital Thing I Made: Seven Secrets to Body Positivity

I realize that my interests, and therefore the things I blog about, are kind of all over the place.  They say you should pick a subject, or a theme, and go with it most of the time for coherency and to attract more readers; I’ve tried, and just never figured out where I fit.  I don’t talk about writing enough to be a writing blogger; I’m not out there promoting my work like I’m supposed to be (apparently), so this isn’t a promotional author blog; I can’t focus on any one art form long enough to make it The Thing; and my ability to stay passionate about anything is kind of…well, bipolar.  I can, however, say that body image issues will always be important to me – as long as I’m living in a body that society wants to write off as aberrant and unhealthy just by looking at me, and wants me to give up control of my body to big corporations and a media gone insane, I’ll write for body positivity at least once in a while.  The linked list is a free printable, so, have at it!

5 – Favorite Not-Planner-Related Etsy Purchase:  Printable “I Have Loved the Stars” Quote from ClementineCreative

As I’ve said, this is one of my favorite quotes of all time, and the watercolor and lettering are gorgeous.  I’m particularly pleased at the correct attribution.  I’ll go to my grave yelling “GALILEO DIDN’T SAY THAT!”  Best of all, since it’s a printable, it was cheaper than a physical print, and I got it instantly.  Since the shop is in South Africa that’s nothing to sneeze at.

6 – Favorite Extremely Useful Website: Wordmark

What would I do without this site?  Wordmark is a simple tool, but powerful for a person with tons of fonts with subtle differences. You just type in a bit of text, tell Wordmark if you want it capitalized, all caps, or lowercase; pick positive or negative background; and go! It loads that text in every font you own so you can see which one works best.  You can switch specifications and sizes at any point.  You can also select a group of fonts to compare on their own page if you find several are close to what you’re looking for.

7 – Favorite Random Thing I Can’t Stop Giggling At:  This gif.

8 – Favorite Album:  Ed Sheeran, X

(It’s written as X, but you say it Multiply.  I have no idea why you’d do that to people.) I don’t know what I love more about Ed Sheeran – his 100+ tattoos, his scruffy ginger adorableness, his clever lyricism, or the fact that he’s pretty much a one-man band.  But I judge a favorite album by how many songs I want to skip – can I just put the album on and let it play without scrambling for the remote four or five times?  There were two albums this year that fit that criterion; the other was Taylor Swift’s 1989, which you may have heard of.  Hey, I never said I had sophisticated musical taste.  (I realize this album came out a while back, but I didn’t really get into it until this year.)

A clip from his sold-out performances at Wembley Stadium in London (first solo artist to ever play there, let alone sell out 3 shows of 80,000 people each):

9 – Favorite Celebrity Crush: Tom Hiddleston

With Benedict Cumberbatch off having babies and out of the spotlight, I found myself increasingly hot for another sex-voiced young Brit.

T. Hiddleston as Henry V in The Hollow Crown
T. Hiddleston as Henry V in The Hollow Crown

He’s kind of everywhere these days – and as for me personally this year was the first time I’d seen The Hollow Crown, showcasing Tom at his royal Shakespearean finest.  That’s not even mentioning the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where he plays everyone’s favorite sassy screwed-up villain.  And did I mention last year he played a vampire?  Add to that a role in Guillermo DelToro’s gorgeously creepy Crimson Peak, and, well…this particular girl didn’t stand a chance, especially since in interviews he comes off as an erudite, polite, genuinely nice guy, which we Scorpios like to refer to as “lunch.”

10 – Favorite Movie I First Saw This Year:  Big Hero 6

Technically BH6 came out in November of 2014, but I didn’t see it until it hit DVD in February.  It’s also technically part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since it’s based on a Marvel comic series of the same name. It drew broad acclaim and was quite successful, but I’d never even heard of it until a friend recommended it.  Not only is it insanely funny, it’s a very warm and loving movie; the plot twist wasn’t exactly hard to figure out, but a movie like this is about the characters.  I want my own Baymax, and not just because he’s good for laughs – I don’t like being touched by most people, but sometimes even I need a hug.  My own Baymax could do that for me without that whole personal space squick thing I get with real humans.  If Baymax is programmed with mental health protocols for, say, bipolar, he’d be even more awesome.

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And Now for Something Completely Different: Sylvan Points at Stuff

While I’m mining my personal history for yet more delightful material, let’s have something a bit more fun.  I haven’t pointed at stuff in a while.

Let’s start with a song.

Next, have you ever made a recipe from a book and thought it was pretty good except for a couple of minor things, and you don’t want to forget your tweaks but you have a strange aversion to writing in your books much like my own? Worry not. There’s a sticky note for that.

Girl of All Work has so many fun fancy sticky notes it makes me salivate.  The page flags alone are like crack to me. But then, I clearly have a problem.

Taking a different track, though still involving paper because that’s pretty much all I’ve got going these days:

As I’ve said, I haven’t experienced any sort of conversion lately but I’ve come to appreciate a much broader definition of “sacred” and what I’m willing to learn. One of my favorite art journalers is a devout Christian, and recently she acquired this new kind of Bible that has a huge margin for making notes in. She and other artists have taken the opportunity to turn their Bibles into modern illuminated manuscripts reflecting their interpretations and connection to the words, and they’re gorgeous. Valerie (said journaler) has a whole pinboard on the subject, but hers is still my favorite work:

I mean holy crap!  Er…holy wow.

I’ve been making stuff lately too, though perhaps not as inspired as Valerie’s journaling:

I have another set of quote/inspiration stickers up on my Etsy shop – they were designed with the EC Life Planner in mind, but hey, they’re rectangles. You can stick ‘em wherever they fit. I really like how these turned out; again, it’s all my own work, not art swiped from other artists.

I’m hoping to have some new shrines soon as well.  I’ve got a Kwan Yin going that will knock your socks off.

Speaking of sock-knocking, while we’re on Etsy, I love love love this watercolor print that features one of my favorite quotes – not only does it match my bedroom, it’s properly attributed. If you see someone say that Galileo said this, they’re WRONG.

I’ve seen so many lovely pieces of typographical and calligraphic art with a quote misattributed – worse yet is when people are selling those items (the only thing worse is massive spelling or grammar errors in something you’re trying to sell people – my peeves, let me show you them). Anyway, I downloaded this piece and printed it out, and it looks amazing.

Five things is good for now, right?  I’ll point some more another time.  I’ve got some musings to write down from my very first ever solo writing retreat, aka “Sylvan Loves Hotels and Is Easily Distracted but it’s Awesome Anyway.”

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Ten Things I Love, 9/25

Kickin’ it old school on this week’s Sylvan Points at Things. Here are Ten Things I Love.

1 – My new iPhone case.

I’ve a snowball’s chance in hell of being able to afford an iPhone 6 (or even a 5S) any time soon, but my little 4 is still hanging on.  I bought it a new case, though, on what has become my greatest shopping weakness, Etsy.  It’s purdy.  It’s also very me, as lately I’ve been obsessed with teal and turquoise.

2 – These puffy manatee stickers.

Puffy pink manatees.  Wearing pearls.  I mean, come on.

3 – The coolest sticky notes ever.

4 – Amazingly decent strangers.

Last week, I lost my wallet.  The whole thing.  Aside from the pain-in-the-butt that is having to cancel and replace all my cards, I love that wallet; it was a souvenir from my trip to Portland, and came from Herbivore in the all-vegan strip mall.

The morning before I was set to go lose hours of my life at the DPS replacing my driver’s license, I got a phone call from my apartment management – a visitor to the complex had found my wallet in the parking lot and turned it in.  Every single thing was still in it down to the stamps.  I was so incredibly grateful, but of course I have no idea who this guy was, so I’ll say it here: thank you Fantastic Honest Guy! I got back my Starbucks card and a little faith in humanity.

5 – These vegetables I drew.

I’ve been having a ridiculously good time making stickers and such for my Etsy shop; the latest is a 5-a-Day veg tracker.  I drew the happy veggies at the top, and they’ve been making me smile ever since.

vegbunch

6 – Fall premiere season.

Even if you take away the immense relief of the weather finally starting to turn (though it probably won’t be good and Fallish until mid October), this time of year has one huge advantage over any other:  all my TV shows are coming back.  Two of them, Sleepy Hollow and Agents of SHIELD, have already started; the rest are scattered throughout October.  I’m even excited about the ones that underwhelmed me last year…well, except for those I’ve just flat out stopped watching.  There are only so many hours in a week after all and in theory at least I’m writing a novel.

7 – Ed Sheeran.

So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
That maybe we found love right where we are.

A fuzzy tattooed British ginger and clever lyricist – I didn’t have a chance.  You may have heard him on the radio lately – his latest single, “Don’t,” makes me happy for no real reason I can describe.  I think the first hit he had here in America was “The A-Team,” which has the distinction of being the only pop song I know that includes the word “pastries;” as well as a recent duet with Taylor Swift.  This is one of my favorite tracks from his most recent album:

8 – Roberto Mendoza’s goddess prints.

I love his style – it reminds me of Disney’s Hercules (in a good way). His Gaea and his Lilith are particularly awesome to me, but they’re all gorgeous.

9 – Jes, the Militant Baker.

Jes is one of my very favorite body-positive bloggers – she’s whip-smart, funny, thoughtful, and hella brave.  If you’re a body image warrior and you’re not reading her, you’re missing out – some of her most popular posts include Why We’ve Learned to Hate Ourselves, How to Kick Ass on a Daily Basis, and Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls…SO I WILL.  I make occasional posts on body image, but Jes is one of the women who’s out there every day putting herself on the line for us in the face of hate and shaming and a world that wants us to disappear.  That kind of awesomeness is, well, awesome, in the sense of the word that involves actual awe.

10 – It’s That Time of Year Again…

That’s right, it’s Vegan Month of Food (aka Vegan MoFo), when bloggers all over the world tackle tons of amazing food-related posts.  So far my favorite this year is Miss Kitchen Witch‘s series on Harry Potter recipes – she’s cooking up everything from Honeyduke’s Cockroach Clusters (veganized, of course) to her own Patronus Charm Cocktail.  The photography is gorgeous and the recipes are inventive – Apparate over to her blog and check them out!

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Sylvan Points at Stuff, 9/4

Hello again!  Let’s start with what may in fact be the best song ever.

fly1

I love that different parts of the world have their quirky trends – Japan has washi tape, and it turns out Korea has diary stamps. They’re itty bitty (usually 1cm x 1cm x 3cm) wood-mounted stamps with tiny symbols to use in planners and diaries, indicating dates, appointments, weather, all sorts of stuff. If you don’t want to bulk up your planner with stickers, you might try some of these adorable little dudes:

While we’re on the subject of adorable things, I give you puffy manatee stickers.  Pink manatees.  Wearing pearls.

Pink Freaking Manatees!

fly2

Hey, anybody need some Uranium?

Great Product, Poor Packaging.

Seriously, you have to read the reviews.  I love it when Amazon customers gang up on crazy-ass products like those “Bic for Vaginas” pens and the banana slicer.

fly1

All right, stop

(collaborate and listen)

(sorry)

whatever you’re doing because DANCING BABY GROOT CUPCAKES.  There’s even a how-to video.

Don’t forget, you can also find me:

On Pinterest, where I post dozens of images of the same sort of stuff for a few days and then move on to something else.

On Tumblr, where I reblog inflammatory political stuff on occasion but mostly just enjoy the gay porn.

On Flickr, where there are lots of pictures of stuff I’ve made.  This may in fact include the Littlest Tofu Ever once I bust out my polymer clay tools.

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Sylvan Points at Stuff, 7/31

Like most people who get into paper crafting I have become a hopeless washi tape addict.  What on Earth do you do with all that tape, you ask?  Glad you asked.  (Actually if you’re not already into it, your first question was probably “what the hell is washi tape.”  It’s Japanese masking tape, basically, made of paper, fairly low-tack, and comes in a million gorgeous colors and patterns.)  Aside from using it as an artistic accent, there are lots of small practical (and somewhat practical) things you can do with it:

Fun Ways to Organize With Washi Tape

Speaking of crafty business, I have made yet another altered composition book – version 2 of a writing notebook I tried to make a couple of weeks ago that flopped spectacularly.  I stripped it naked and started over, and this time I’m much happier with it.  I do a lot of outlining and scene organizing on paper, and I wanted a single place to kick it analog-style for my current writing projects.  It has dividers for the Shadow World, the Agency, and whatever else I might come up with.  I’m hoping that, now that my sabbatical is ending, having a pretty notebook to work with will help inspire me.

Terrible picture, sorry.  But you get the gist.
Terrible picture, sorry. But you get the gist.
writing notebook 2
I made a pocket for each of my two main universes – this one’s for the Shadow World, obviously. I used pages from a copy of Shadow’s Fall that was misprinted (I’m not entirely comfortable ripping up books for crafts, but if the book would otherwise have been thrown away, I think it’s cool to give it a second life.) I printed out the raven and cut him out. The “blood” drops are awesome little stickers I’ve had forever and have been hoarding because they’re so cool and I will probably never find more.
The Agency pocket is much simpler, but I like it - I may add more to it later if something comes to me.  Again, I just printed out the violin and cut it out.  Everything is inked up with Black Soot Distress Ink.
The Agency pocket is much simpler, but I like it – I may add more to it later if something comes to me. Again, I just printed out the violin and cut it out. Everything is inked up with Black Soot Distress Ink.

Last night my BFF and I saw Tori Amos in concert (our second time), and being there with Tori at her Bosendorfer, watching her play in that hypnotic, dark, lush style threw me immediately into Miranda’s head for the first time in forever.  I’ve been having trouble with my Queen lately – with all the other plotlines going on it’s hard to keep her from getting lost since she’s essentially a well-adjusted pillar of strength (especially compared to everyone else).  I think we’ve reached a better understanding of this part of her story, though.  And as usual I have Tori to thank for it.

If you’d like to see the performance that first inspired Miranda’s character, here it is, Tori Amos on VH1 Storytellers.  (You’ll have to turn the volume up pretty loud.)

Meanwhile, here are 5 Practical, Slightly Snarky-Sounding, Non-Sparkly Ways to Practice Self-Love.

And in case you missed all the Comic-Con hoopla, here are the trailers for the shows I’m most anxious to see this fall – Arrow, The Originals, Sleepy Hollow, Doctor Who, and a fun video from The Vampire Diaries that isn’t a preview but is rather adorable nonetheless.

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