Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tolkien & Tea Tuesdays: A preamble, photo

If you asked me what books shaped a good portion of my life, I'd tell you Harry Potter. But if you asked me what books were the foundation for my love of fantasy and imagination, Tolkien's works--The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion--are definitely the building blocks.

I discovered Tolkien when I was a child. The Hobbit was a book I read  over and over and the animated cartoon Gollum continually haunted my nightmares. When I was older, flying back and forth to visit my dad in California (on a short flight from Arizona), Lord of the Rings was my companion. It wasn't a bad time in my life, but it was unremarkable, and the fantasy it gave me while I disconnected from my third high school of my senior year and tried to fathom the idea of moving again.

On the early mornings before my family awoke, I'd page through the book with my second breakfast and lose myself with hobbits and elves.

More recently, I discovered fandom tea blending. Specifically the idea of blending teas to embody an idea, character, or place in an already established intellectual property. I began blending teas with the inspiration of Tolkien's works in mind through Adagio, and I completed them with my own original artwork.

I began a shooting specific photo sets to show of my Tolkien collection, paired with tea, and the photos turned out lovely enough for me to want to try my hand at shooting them weekly. Here is a taste of what you can expect to see every Tuesday...

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I LOVE BOOKS #7: Tell me what you're reading! (win a book by Laini Taylor!)

Hi book fiends!

Just want to take a pause in the book features, because I really, REALLY want to start featuring books I love in a more unique way. While I'm thinking of ideas, though, I'm always on the lookout for more book recommendations, so let this be a blog post of sharing book loves and thoughts.

Leave a comment on this blog with what you're currently reading, what you've read recently and loved, or what books EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ, and you'll be entered into a drawing to win one of the books *I* can't wait to read.

Aw yiss. Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the third book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by the inimitable Laini Taylor. *****

Hardcover or Kindle version--your choice!

So drop a comment, talk about great books, and make sure there's a way to contact you--twitter/email/sounding pigeon--if your name is drawn from the fancy hat.

You have until next Tuesday, April 30th, 11:55pm Pacific time to leave a comment to be entered to win (though book suggestions are welcome all the time and everywhere)

Winner will be announce on the next edition of I LOVE BOOKS!


***** Look, if you haven't read the series yet, it's cool! If you haven't read the second book yet, okay, that's fine! If I contact you as a winner, let me know, and I'll buy you the first or second in the series. Let's just read the crap out of these books, okay?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wake up, Monday! #7: ipsy

Hi friends!

I've been doing a lot of posts about nail polish, nail strips, etc, but I wanted to do something quick to highlight a product/service I'm really excited about.

ipsy has been around for a little while, and I'm only just three months into my subscription, but I look forward to it every month. I mean. I basically dance around the mailbox summoning the mysterious, metallic pink package to magically appear.  It's a monthly makeup sampling subscription package where you take a quiz to customize what types of products you'll receive. The quiz is pretty quick, and once you're off the waiting list, you will receive 4-5 items tailored to you by your survey. ALSO. You get a cool makeup bag with every package! MAKEUPBAGSGALORE!

I've heard some criticism regarding the bags and that some people receive a certain type of product that they never selected in the survey, but you can re-take your quiz again if your preferences change.
My March bag :D

The products seem to be a good mix of well-known brands and brands that seem under the radar, and the quality--as I've seen in the last three months--is pretty great. I have incorporated a few of their samples into my daily makeup routine. (You may have seen my strange textured nail polish featured on the blog!)

They have a points system which I haven't quite taken advantage of where you can review items, post those reviews and products to facebook, and earn points when people join using your referring URL. These points tally up and you can use them for special offers that are revealed each month. 

Overall, this is a good subscription package at 10$ (plus tax) a pop for 4-5 make-up items that can be anything from skincare, nail polish, lip liner, eyelashes, I mean, anything and everything. Some brands I've seen in my packages have been Zoya and Urban Decay, and there are often ipsy deals like coupon codes or buy one, get one if you decide you like the package and want to purchase more. If you like makeup, surprises in the mail, the opportunity to try something you maybe wouldn't have thought to pick out, and want to own a billion makeup bags, ipsy is perfect for you ;)

If you can join using my referring URL here. Let's be ipsy friends!


Friday, April 18, 2014

12 Photos #6: Watercolors & Legend of Zelda

In today's 12 photos, I'm continuing to branch out of the normal 12 photos to depict my day, and using the photos to show a work-in-progress of some art I did this morning.

I'd like to consider myself both a painter and a writer, but trying to find the time to satisfy both creative outlets can be tricky. It's been a while since I've done some artwork, so I'm easing myself back into painting with 4"x6" watercolor 'sketches.' They are small pieces of art that just take 10-15 minutes to complete, and no real worry about messing up ;)

The topic for this one is Legend of Zelda! Yesterday I completed a watercolor sketch of a blue rupee, and today I've aimed to do the big twenty ;)


 Hooray! You can find the final scan of my rupees on my facebook page!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I LOVE BOOKS #6: The Darkest Minds

Hi book fiends!

Welcome to my weekly update of what I've read, what I'm reading, and what's up next! Apologies in advance, my thoughts are mostly "wow" and "such write" in an attempt to not spoil any of the books I'm posting about.

Finished: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

 "When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government "rehabilitation camp." She might have survived the mysterious disease that's killed most of America's children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

With twists and turns and action galore, this book--first in a trilogy*--was one I couldn't put down. Having followed Alexandra Bracken's blogs for some time--before the release of this book--I was really excited when my friend, Lauren, at Honey Bee Manor had very highly recommended it. (You're sensing a trend here, right? Lauren has fabulous taste in books ;) )

Interestingly, I hadn't planned to read another book that involved powers/superpowers, but this one was definitely miles different from Vicious by V.E. Schwab.

The tension builds throughout the book as Ruby tries to understand her powers and how to control them, and her newly-found friends are endearing, funny, and each very different except for the fact that they are all trying to reclaim their lives. Happiness and lives are not spared on this journey to find answers, and perhaps escaping the rehabilitation camp wasn't the freedom Ruby imagined she'd have.

It's definitely a darker story, and maybe the ending had me throwing my book across the room. ;)

Buy on Amazon/    B&N
 Follow Alexandra's Twitter / Blog

* hey guys, hey you can buy short story in the same world--In Time--and also the second book in the series, Never Fade, if you were hooked by the first book.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Wake-Up #6: Yay! Organization and setting GOALS. FUN!

Life’s a jerk when it comes to being a time suck—you know what I mean. Maybe there’s a doctor appointment getting in the way of your morning blog routine (*COUGH*) maybe you have a ceiling leak that requires your precious time be jack-hammered into submission. I don’t even know. These things are varied and mundane and sometimes exciting but mostly not.

If the last few years have taught me anything, having a full-time job, a significant other, a household, a life, and maybe 5 side jobs means trying to slice down your time in the most accurate way possible. Unfortunately, while I’m organized to a POINT I am also a tornado. I whirl around and create and destroy things and then I’m the clean up crew afterwards. Also being prone to ideas (which need to be ACTED ON OH GOSH RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THEY ARE GREAT) means being in the midst of a lot of projects all at once!

I’ve spent a good deal working with calendars, weekly planners, and trying to make things as fun as possible, but I inevitably toss the planners and calendars by the wayside because my life is often very unpredictable—plotting out time, unless it’s habitual/work/food, is very hard for me.

The only two things I’ve really felt have worked for me are simple, colorful, and fun for me.

Option 1: Calendars & Stickers & Pretty Colors (for I am very goal-oriented and need to see visual results)

But things aren’t always visible, are they? Especially if you’re stuck in a project for a very long time. It can be daunting to keep track of progress, how much time you’ve utilized, how much time you have left over. If you’re working on a book, maybe a word count is a good indicator of how much you’ve worked, but what about editing? Reading? All of that time means something.

Okay, do you think I’m crazy yet? No? I’m about to prove it.

An author I’ve featured on this blog before, Victoria Scwab, has a method she’s shared, and it involves calendars and stickers. You can read her post here.

Essentially, you have a monthy calendar, you have a stack of stickers, you put a sticker down for each time you accomplish whatever goal it is you're trying to work towards. A star can be an indicator of how many words you've written (1 star = 500 words) etc, but if you aren't writing, you can translate it in a way that fits you best.

I’ve taken it a step further, though, and have expanded my own to five calendars.

“Five?” you ask.

Yes, five.

  • One for Reading (how many nights did I get a chance to read)
  • Food budget (what days did I eat at home?)
  • Comic work (social media, planning, coloring pages, script editing)
  • Writing/Editing (how many words did I write, how much did I edit?)
  • Social Media (something I’m not sure I really need, but running multiple accounts for different projects can be difficult, so it’s good to see where I need to do more work)

The best thing—or worst—is the end of the month when I can tally up all the stars and see how productive I was. It’s interesting. More like seeing what I did in the past to see where I need to get to in the future.

Option 2: GAME YOUR LIFE (for I need to be entertained and possibly, actually level up in life)

My friend Lauren, at Honey Bee Manor, is an excellent and organized fellow writer. She pretty much keeps the busiest of lives organized, and when I asked her for tips for my own, she shared with me a website that I’ve grown to love/loathe. It’s a website/app called Habit RPG. It’s been around for a while, so far as I can see, but it’s definitely helped me through some tough times.

If you ever wanted to gain experience for remembering to flush a toilet or spend points you’ve earned taking out the trash on cool pixel swords, this is seriously the thing for you.

It takes a minute to get acquainted with the format and set things up, but once you do, damn, you’re ready to start earning points for menial tasks.

I have to admit I haven’t used it much in the last couple of weeks.

But for good reason—some things have actually become habits.

I clean the bathroom every Saturday, go grocery shopping every Sunday morning.

Crazy right? Actual habits!

I’ve found (as indicated by the red to-do list) that it’s less effective for me for finishing projects that require days/weeks/months to finish because inevitably they turn red and then I’m just discouraged. I’ve tried breaking it down into smaller, planned steps, but it’s tough. Being a tornado and all.

Option 3 (untested): Time travel (for cool people)

While the first two are things I’ve actively been using to manage my time/track my life, I feel like a better option is to forget planning every second of the day and just make MORE time. I’ve invested in multiple time turners and have blueprints to build a TARDIS. I’m not entirely sure how it will all pan out, but I’ll definitely keep everyone posted once I’ve got this time-saving technique in play.

;) Anyhow, I hope that these techniques inspire you to add some color into your daily to-do, whether
it’s fancy pens, sparkly stickers, or just a game for life. Inversely, I hope this post is a reminder of how crazy I’ve let my life become, and maybe you should just throw away all the planners and calendars and jump in a car with a book and a food and head to wherever makes you the happiest.

Happy Monday, friends!

Friday, April 11, 2014

12 Photos #5: Adventure Memories

On this 12 Photo Friday, I'm taking a look back to one of my favorite vacations--a place I still long to move to--Costa Rica! Enjoy these images from 2012, and may your weekend be full of adventure!



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I LOVE BOOKS #5: Estari, the webcomic

Hello lovely book/tea/fun friends & fiends!

I generally post about the books I've been reading, but I wanted to do an introductory post about something you'll be hearing more about over the next few weeks.

For the last two years, Jenn Lee--a great friend and co-conspirator--and I have been creating a webcomic set to launch on June 4th. It's called Estari, and is the journey of an impossible girl named Estari who yearns to learn the forbidden art of Dragon Whispering.

The idea sparked from a conversation, and it tumbled out of control until we realized it was a story we had to tell with Jenn drawing and translating the story to script, me coloring and writing the tale, and both of us forming the story and lore together. We've planned extensively to make it a very immersed experience, and we are excited (and holy WOW scared) to finally release it to the world.

Estari will begin releasing on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 at http://estaricomic.com. Posting a page a week every Wednesday, the story will carry on through the end of the year.

It's not only about dragons but the experiences she has and the people she meets with magic, dragons and fantastical goodness. Light-hearted with dark turns into harrowing alleys, and we hope to tell a tale worth ensnaring minds and feeding imaginations.

Estari launches June 4th, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wake up, Monday! #5: Thinking about writing but not actually writing.

(Oh! Where it's actually me waking up on a Monday!)

I've been meaning to do a status post for a while, seeing as the blog just started up again without notice and is now full of books, life, and wonder. It's been an interesting two years since I stopped blogging. I've found blogging is an extension of my writing, and when I do not write, I do not blog.

The thought of writing, however, never escaped me. Not a single day went by I didn't think about writing. Or why I wasn't writing. Not a single day I didn't torture myself with guilt for not. I understand two things now: 1) I should've never stopped writing. 2) Everything happens for a reason.

If you've been a member of my blog for any length of time, you'll have known that my life is just like everyone else's--highs and lows. The two years I've been absent here I've been working, taking care of an ill family member, and trying to revive a dying art.

Well, my own dying art.

A lot of it was distraction from writing. Some of it was distraction from life. All of it was exactly what I needed at the time.

I cannot begin to say how many pieces of advice I've read about writing. Thousands of pieces of advice, all different, all extremely personal to the experience of the person sharing it. I've come to the conclusion that one (me) must write to write a book, and one (me) must live to fill that book with the emotional experience that connecting with both the characters AND the readers requires. That isn't to say a book cannot be written without having lived a full, long life, or that the book is any less wonderful than any other book. I'm saying I am no genius, I am not a great writer--almost, maybe, possibly an okay one--so my books require me to pull an exhausting amount from my life experiences.

When my father died yellow and unexpected, I spent a month trying to understand what my place was anywhere. Writing was the only conclusion. I dove into writing my book (wow, what an amazing funeral scene at the beginning of the book!) and didn't stop until it was 'finished.'

Finished, in this instance, means 'when I could no longer write the story because I fucked it up so badly the forward movement hit reverse before I knew it.'

What happened, after that?

Well. Everything you didn't see here because I stopped writing.

I made a lot of earnest attempts at writing. "Maybe if I try a new, fun idea that isn't this stupid book."

A lot of grudging attempts at editing. "But I can't let go of this book yet, so I'll try and rewrite it."

Mostly, I singularly dreamed about writing.

When I started blogging again, I started writing again. Or when I started writing again, I started blogging again. I'm not sure which came first--which FEELING came first--the want to write or the want to blog. In any case, here I am. Writing and blogging again. The blog posts will continue to be what you see now with a scattering of wordy posts like these. Writing posts won't be as often, though, because I'm monitoring my personal word reserve very carefully.

There's something exhausting and amazing about creating something and hammering out a world and people and things formed from your mind. It will never get easier, but if one continues on--pressing forward, even if it isn't writing but the THOUGHT of creating--the writing will happen and the memory of failing to write will be replaced by something shaped like a story.

Friday, April 4, 2014

12 Photos #4

12 Photos Preamble: I really love photosets, particularly ones that are a little bit different from the norm and ones which tell a story. While I wanted to do an hourly photoset, but life really does have a way of moving at it's own pace, so this isn't your typical photo-an-hour. Some photosets will be more mundane, others adventurous (conventions! faires! adventure!) Here are 12 photos across a 12 hour span that best tell the story of my day.

 Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I LOVE BOOKS #4: A Vicious Winner!

Hi friendly friends!

Thank you to everyone who entered to win a copy of Vicious by V.E. Schwab! :D All of the superpowers were really interesting--I had never even considered some of them!

Without further ado, the winner of the hardcopy or ebook of Vicious is ...

Sarah Chang!

Yay! Congratulations! I'll be sending an e-mail your way today!

To everyone else who entered--thank you, again! There will be more opportunities to win awesome books, so keep your eye on I LOVE BOOKS! And if you'd like to buy Vicious or follow up on what Victoria is up to, check out the links below! :)

Buy on Amazon /     B&N
 Follow Victoria's Twitter / Blog