Love, Lydia - Notes from a geeky, plus sized artist.: comics
Showing posts with label comics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label comics. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Photo Bucket List + Book Reviews

Hello again everyone,

So I read a post a while back from a photographer from the Rising Tide Society which contained her photo bucket list.  I thought it was such a great idea that I wanted to make my own list.  It's a really great exercise in being mindful about my goals, and since two of my goals are using my DSLR more and getting my home darkroom set up this goes right along with them.


My Photo Bucket List

  1. Set up my home darkroom.  Right now I have an unfinished bathroom that's just the right size for a personal darkroom.  I also have an old enlarger, some small trays and tongs, a beaker, and some other small things.  So what I really need to complete this is a sink/cabinetry for the wet side, a redlight bulb, chemicals and jugs to store them, a heavy duty trash bin, a table for my enlarger, some shelve for storage, a couple of large trays, and a proper seal for the door.  
  2. Go back to Ireland and photograph more of its beauty.  
  3. Photograph a castle, even better if there are costumes involved. 
  4. Go out west and photograph the milky way.  
  5. Photograph all the national parks I visit in my quest to visit all the ones in the US.
  6. Photograph a North-South tour of Chile.
  7. Visit some of the towns in Germany that my ancestors are from and photograph them.  
  8. Get better at editing digital photos
  9. Get better at using DSLR settings to optimize the amount of work to edit photos
  10. Become more comfortable photographing people
That's my list, and I'd love to hear about yours!  Comment below, or write your own blog response and tag me.

On to the Book Reviews!

From here on out every Wednesday you'll get a comic review and a novel review.  Today's novel is Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer.

Image used under Fair Use guidelines

In Off To Be The Wizard our protagonist Martin discovers a computer algorithm that controls all life as we know it.  He does what more any guy would and messes with it, first to get cool stuff, and then once authorities are on to him to jump back in time to the middle ages where he has plans of becoming a wizard and living well.  Only it's not quite as easy as he thinks to pull off.  I found this book to be a really fun read, and have already started on its sequel.  The only problem I has with it was the severe lack of female characters, this book would in no way pass the Bechdel-Wallace test.  It left me feeling that the author just didn't know how to write women.  However this next book may change that, we'll see.  In any case this book is sci fi, nerdy, light-hearted fun, that's also very accessible to readers of all kinds.

Image used under Fair Use guidelines
Next up is Princess Ugg Volume 1 by Ted Naifeh and Warren Wucinich.  Princess Ulga is urged by her mother to find a better way for her people to live, so she goes down into the valley, leaving her highlands for a princess academy.  What follows are misunderstandings, a community that looks down on her and many obstacles for her to overcome.  Ulga has the determined heart of a warrior however, and is set on learning from all the encounters she has in the valley.  It's a cute, mostly light-hearted, and rather witty read, that is welcoming to both younger readers and adults.  It has just enough twists and excitement to keep what could have been a very formulaic read more interesting.

Thanks for reading, I'll see you all again Friday!

Love,
Lydia

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mac and Cheese + Good Reads

Hello again!

Today I've got a new recipe for you.  I decided I wanted to tackle something new for the guys this week for our tabletop RPG night.  I love recipes that make things easy and one of the easiest ways I know of doing that is crock pot recipes.  I looked at a couple different versions of crock pot mac and cheese before coming up with my own.  Here is my version:

Leveled Up Mac and Cheese


What you'll need:

3 3/4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (we tried Sargento's 4 State Cheddar because it sounded good/was on sale)
2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese (we just used Kroger's version)
3 cups of milk
5 tablespoons butter
16 oz elbow macaroni
8 oz cream cheese

Optional:

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 cup bread crumbs (we went with garlic and herb seasoned)
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 package of bacon

Total time: about 3 hours

First boil the pasta until it's al dente, or if you're like me as soon as you look in the pot and see they've grown, then drain the noodles.

Then add all the items in your crock pot except the parmesan, bread crumbs, and bacon, stir them a bit and set the crock pot on low.  Come back and stir every half hour and in 2-3 hours it will be done.  You can tell it's done when everything is melted, smells good, and cheese starts browning on the sides of the pot.  When it's at that point just add a layer of the parmesan and bread crumbs on top, put the lid back on and set your crock pot to warm until you're ready to serve.

If you want to add bacon to the dish cook the bacon separately in the oven.  My favorite method is by putting the bacon on a foil lined pan, into the oven and then setting the temperature to 375F for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes if it's not done just check it every few minutes until it's done the way you like it best.  You can then chop the bacon and add it to your bowl of macaroni.

We found that as a main dish this recipe feeds 5 adults, as a side dish it would feed 10.  It is very cheesy and fill you up more than you'd assume because of this.


And now for the book reviews:

Cover image used under fair use guidelines

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson was a really interesting read.  I had picked it up at a thrift store a while back knowing Bryan had enjoyed some of the author's books and thinking a book about the trail so close to where I group up in Roanoke would be interesting.  And it was!  The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, with an extension trail that goes on up into Canada for those who wish to keep going, and Bill and his friend are about to tackle walking it all.  I think I ended up enjoying some of the more thoughtful sections of the book on history, nature, and the influence of man on it all better than I did some of the parts about the experience of walking the trail and the humor involved (the humor actually put me off a little at times).  I could mentally picture what it might have been like to see the huge old chestnut forests.  All in all it makes me want to go out and walk some parts of the trail and photograph it.  This is the kind of book that many readers will enjoy, but there will be parts you can take or leave along the way.  However, it's all worth the trip.


Cover image used under Fair Use guidelines


Velvet Volume 1 by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Bettie Breitweiser is the quintessential spy story.  A spy is framed and has to revisit past memories to find out the secrets that will allow them to clear their name.  Only in this case it's a middle aged female spy who was just working as a secretary at the time she was framed.  Over the course of this first book we find out just how much she knows and doesn't know about those she has spent her life working with.  And all this while she's on the run from her own agency.  This was one of our reads for the Word Balloons discussion group at Fight or Flight Comics (my local comic book store in Raleigh, NC), which I probably would never have picked up otherwise.  It reads like most spy movies and has a fairly formulaic feel, but undeniably left me wanting more the moment I finished reading it.

That's all for today, but I'll see you again Friday!

Love,
Lydia

Friday, September 18, 2015

All About Color

Hi friends,

Today I have a couple of outfits to share, plus I wanted to talk a bit about color.

Pantone's Fall 2015 Colors


Pantone, a design company whose work revolves around color releases apparel color trend reports for each season.  And I wanted to show you all the one they created for fall.  They call it Fall 2015's "An Evolving Color Landscape"  They basically try to predict what colors will be popular in a given season, and honestly at this point they are some of the people who are setting the color trends because they're so widely viewed.  Over the last few seasons Pantone has noted a trend for men's and women's clothing to use the same color palette, meaning that sometimes colors don't have to feel feminine or masculine because they're using more muted colors overall.

I think it's interesting to look at what they choose and compare it to the colors I wear and also look at it in light of various skintones.  For example, I'm a cool skin tone, my skin has a lot of pinks and blue shades in it so I tend to wear cool or neutral colored clothing.  Those with warmer skin tones have yellow, tan and rich brown shades, some folks are more in the middle with no obvious yellow or blue tones, but they might have olive or green undertones and they can wear many colors well with their base being in neutrals most often.  You can check by looking at the veins on your wrist what you skin tone might be, and you can find out more about this on Pinterest too by searching cool, warm or neutral tone clothing colors.


Personally I can't wear all the colors on this wheel, and maybe you can't either, it depends on skintone as we discussed above.  My personal favorites are 3 Amethyst Orchid and 6 Biscay Bay.  However the ones I definitely can't wear are 9 Oak Buff and 10 Cadmium Orange.  They're very warm and are shades it's hard to influence with surrounding colors to look cool.  Because yes, you can surround one color with another and the lesser color will seem to change in appearance because of what it's next to.  In fact, 7 Desert Sage is the perfect example of this.  Let's take a look:


Reflecting Pond makes Desert sage look nice and cool as it we were preparing for a storm, now let's make it look warm.


Well look at that, now that Desert Sage resembles nice warm sand when it's put beside Cadmium Orange.  Color is magical you guys!  Want to have your mind blown again?  Scroll back up to the color palette.  The text describing each word looks like it's the same color shown in the big circles right?  Nope, it's actually the color shown in the smaller circle, a darkened version of the real color that I made because the white background changes how we perceive small amounts of color on a mainly white background.  The text color works the same way as the small squares of the Desert Sage do.  Because you're only seeing a small amount of color it's influenced by the main color taking up so much more space.  So if you want to make a neutral look warmer or cooler just pair it off with A brighter color, B a greater amount of that bright color, and C if you can place the neutral in the middle of the brighter color rather than at the edge of it.  All of these will help change your neutrals into colors that you can make look just a bit different when you need a "new" look from old clothes.

Hopefully you all enjoyed this, and if you'd like to learn more about how to manipulate and pair colors let me know in the comments and I may come back to this subject again soon.  I really love talking about color, and when I went to art school we spent a year in one class completed devoted to learning to use color in ways like this.  I'd love to share more with you all.

And Now the Outfits!


Tunic - Isabel+Alice/Gwynnie Bee, Necklace - The Rafiki Foundation, Leggings - Target, Flats - Torrid


 The Rafiki Foundation is a Christian organization that works in Africa providing homes, medical  and educational services to orphans, training to teachers, and helps widows in the community learn various crafts to support themselves.  Their end goal is training communities for a better standard of living that's sustainable and entirely run by the community members themselves.  The widows there make jewelry, bags, clothing, baskets, and home items and then teach others what they've learned.  I heard of them through the church my family went to when I was growing up and love how passionate they are for the work they are doing.

Tunic - Isabel+Alice/Gwynnie Bee, Necklace - The Rafiki Foundation, Jeans - Lane Bryant, Boots - Trendsetter/Hushpuppies 
I'm reading one of the selections for Fight or Flight Comics (My local comic book store! Raleigh, NC) "Word Balloons" discussion group.  Bryan snapped this shot of me last week when we stopped by the store, and tomorrow we'll me up for the discussion group.  I'll tell you all about what I think of the 3 books we're reading by reviewing them next week!
Finally a nice cool day with perfect coffee drinking, flannel wearing weather!  Mug - Mesa Verde National Park, Flannel Shirt - Walmart, Doctor Who/Harry Potter Tee - Once Upon a Tee, Jeans - Lane Bryant, Flats - Torrid
I really love that mug, I got it when my friend Holly and I were on a road trip and visited Mesa Verde National Park.  The designs are from Mimbres tribal designs that originate from the cliff dwellers that used to live at the Mesa Verde site.  You can get a better look at it here◊, I have the one with the quail design, but they're all really lovely!  I had just been studying Mimbres and other Native American pottery the semester before our trip, so I was thrilled to find a keepsake with one of the designs on it.

Top - Forever 21, Necklace - Forever 21, Shorts, Levis/Amazon, Flats - Torrid



9th Doctor Dress - Her Universe, Leggings Target, Boots Trendstter
And lastly here's a peek into my bedroom.  My husband was sweet enough to let me get this big shoe rack so I could store my shoes more easily.  I love having them all visible and it allowed my to go through them all one final time and everything else is going to be donated or sold!  I'm so glad, I was hanging on to shoes I had from 15 years ago, and shoes that didn't even fit me well.  Speaking of things selling my Thred Up order was processed and if you'd like to see the items they accepted (about 1/2-2/3 of what I sent) you can have a peek here and maybe even catch a sale if you like what you see.  (Thred Up is an online consignment shop to buy and sell clothes from, you can get $20 off your first purchase from this link if you want to check them out)  I found that the good stuff goes fast, and you can hold items in your cart for up to a day (thought admins may remove them in some cases).  So you can put some things in your cart that you like, do something in another window, and reload the first page of new items and find new things every 10-15 minutes.  This works especially well if you shop in the evening.  And since I had some credit I did buy a couple of things!  I'm nervous to see how they work out, but will let you know.  Let me know what you think.



Let me know what you think of this batch of Pantone colors in the comments.  Anyhow, that's all for today ladies and gentlemen, thanks for stopping by, and I will see you next week!

Love,
Lydia

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Mixed Bag

Hi everyone,

So today's post is a bit of a mixed bag with a couple comics and other things in store.

First off there's news:

Bryan and I had been planning quietly to go to Texas for a little vacation, but we hit a snafu almost as soon as I announced it.  Because Bryan changed jobs in the last year he makes a little more, maybe 15% after taxes.  However when I sent in my income based repayment information so good old Sallie Mae, oh wait, I mean Navient (their sad rebranding to try to shed the image attached to their other name) I got the results in the last week of what our adjusted payments would be.  Somehow a 15% jump in income means we can suddenly afford double the payments each month.  I don't know how their system works, but it sure is confusing!  What this mean is we're giving Navient an extra round trip flight to Texas each month.  So only I will be able to go for the wedding, and I won't spend much extra time there.  Maybe I'll be able to do something fun while I'm there meeting new friends and seeing old ones, or perhaps Bryan and I can go on some other adventure closer to home.  Either way I'll still be working on the travel series, but it will just end up different than I initially thought it would be.  Overall it's a little disappointing, but not the end of the world.  It leaves plenty of other possibilities open closer to home.  I'll have the next part of my travel series up either September 21st or 28th, so be on the lookout for that!

Secondly I'm thinking about how I can keep moving towards having a more ethical wardrobe and habits in general.  I've been testing out Thred Up ($20 off for you in the link there!), a way to sell or buy second hand clothes online and plan to do a comparison for you all, since I think Poshmark is also a site you all might be interested in.  They do basically the same thing, but with Poshmark you do more of the work and make more profit.  We'll see if it's worth it.  I started comparing my summer wardrobe, which at best has about 5% as ethical.  I'd have to check tags to know for sure, but I'm lazy and haven't yet.  However, with my fall wardrobe there's at least 5%, maybe a little more.  So that's progress of a sort.  And as I look at buying anything new I'm trying to check options from my ethical clothing list first these days.  Then there's Etsy, which is a fantastic place for gifts as well as clothes.  (I start my Christmas shopping early!)  And I'd also like to visit local thrift stores more often, which may turn into a new goal if I can get my husband, Bryan, on board!  I really like the ideas for repurposing and glaming up thrift store finds in this video below:


I think this means I'll be featuring some more Pinterest and DIY projects here soon!  Also my studio is slowly starting to get unpacked.  Finally!  haha  That's been a long time coming, and I'm glad to have work space again.  I also have the challenge of decorating it, so decor DIY here I come!

And now for the book review of the week:



This week I picked up The Ancient Magus Bride Volume 2 by Kore Yamazaki and it was just as good as the first volume!  There are more secrets, depth, and character development packed in this volume.  Chise finished things in the town of cats and meets some new fae.  We see her learning magic and find out how it drains her.  And finally she begins to make allies of who we thought might be enemies before we get to the edge of your seat ending.  I'll be honest, I kind of wish I hadn't heard of this series until all the volumes are published, because now I have to wait until December to read more!  haha Really though it's a great series and I'll have another pick for you all next week.

Love,
Lydia

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Comics of Many Kinds

Hi  everyone,

I'm back with some more comic reviews!  We'll start off with Lumberjanes Volume 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen.  This is a fantastic comic that's great for all ages, and follows the adventures of a group of five girls at their summer camp.  The woods are full of mysterious stuff, and this camp holds both secrets and excitement as the girls start exploring.  They're a very diverse group in both looks and interests/talents, which makes them great role models for younger readers and a pleasure for those seeking more realistic characters.  I can't wait for the next one!

Bride of the Water God Volume 1  by Mi-Kyung Yun, is a Korean graphic novel about a yound woman named Soah who is chosen to be sacrificed as a bride to the water god.  She is indeed taken to him, but who he is and the place she now lives is more complex than the villagers might have assumed when they sent her off.  She begins to meet the inhabitants of her new home in the first book.  This book was a harder read, because Korean books are harder to translate to English.  Supposedly this is one of the better translated ones and I still find it hard to follow at times.   If you're experienced reading manga and want to branch out I think it's a good start, but it's not for beginners.

Bride of the Water God Volume 2 picks up with more of the delicate art and Soah getting to know and starting to fall for the man who might be her husband?  It's rather confusing for her, but she's starting to find her place within the house of the gods, and the story starts to pick up.  It's no easier to read, but I find it interesting enough that I'll be sticking with it for at least another volume.

The Ancient Magus Bride Volume 1 by Kore Yamazaki  I know the title of this is a bot similar to the one above however they only have a bit of plot that's similar.  Chise has lived a hard life and she makes the choice to change her circumstances.  She ends up bought (weird, but voluntary) by a very powerful old wizard.  She's whisked away into a world full of magic, and if you love Harry Potter it's likely you'll enjoy this!  Her master teases that she will be his bride, yet she is also his apprentice and a powerful magic wielder in her own right.  This book is Japanese, and mostly set in the UK.  I loved this and am eager to get the next volume.

Avengers & X-Men: Axis by Rick Remender, Adam Kubert, and Leinil Francis Yu is a Marvel event book that I've heard had mixed reviews, but I really enjoyed.  I think part of the problem was how the situation was set up, but most of that is in another book, so I didn't worry too much about it and took this arc for what it was.  And it's a fascinating look that brings out dark in the hearts of our best characters and brings morals to the ones we thought the furthest from them.  I agree with some of the reviewers who would have liked more in depth stories with some of the characters....like Loki for instance.  I really enjoyed it, and recommend it heartily if you're familiar with the basic cast of characters in the Marvel universe.

Secret Wars by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, and Bob Layton is a volume we read for last months Word Balloons meeting at Fight or Flight Comics.  I tried so hard to read all of this one, but the dialogue was so bad.  It was written mostly in 1985 (it's a pretty big volume) and was the first big Marvel crossover event.  So it's a big part of their history as a company and all, and many people around my age get nostalgic for this sort of classic comic feel.  And the art isn't particularly bad, it's just more the classic style rather than the more realistic paint colors we see in recent comics.  I'm glad I read what I could to see some of the history, but I'm glad we've made progress too!  I can't recommend this one unless you have a kid who likes comics (it's pretty tame) and won't mind the corniness or you have a nostalgia you need fulfilled.



On another note I really need to get these posts written ahead of time so when I have a health issue I'm not up late trying to write when I don't feel well.  However, this one's done and I'll see you again Friday!

Love,
Lydia

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Comics - Lady Heroes

Hi again friends,

So I'm back with another batch of comics to review and recommend.  I'm going with a theme this time and showing off some more lady heroes.  I'll start off with Captain Marvel Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez, and Lee Loughridge is my first time reading Captain Marvel.  I've been interested in reading about her for a while since I heard she'll be the focus of the first Marvel movie with a female lead (currently slated for November 2018 release, which can't come soon enough!).  This volume is sort of a restart to her storyline, as she ventures into space whereas her previous exploits were on earth.  Carol heads out to prove herself and isn't afraid to work hard along the way.  While diplomacy isn't her strong suit she still ends up helping settle interplanetary squabbles while teaming up a bit with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Captain Marvel Volume 2: Stay Fly by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Marcio Takara, and David Lopez continues from the past volume as Carol fights over her cat with Rocket and soon another party.  She teams up with a rockstar while rhyming, and then comes home just in time for Christmas after a letter from home reminds her of all she left behind.  This volume has lots of humor, and mostly lighthearted storylines to offer while also expanding on her background for newer readers.

Captain Marvel Volume 3: Alis Volat Propriis (She Flies With Her Own Wings) is the work of Kelly Sue DeConnick, Warren Ellis, and David Lopez.  With only 4 issues this volume feels a little sparse compared to the previous ones which had 6 & 5 respectively.  We have space maneuvers, a bit more rescuing, some more fighting over the cat, introspection as Carol is faced with the prospect of more power, and a touching story of her mentor to wrap things up before Secret Wars picks up with a new storyline.  I really love Carol, but I wish some of these stories were a bit meatier and less such short arcs.  Still, I heartily recommend it to all who like a tough lady who gets the job done.

Ms. Marvel Volume 2 by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Jacob Wyatt sees Kamala growing into her powers and teaming up with another hero for the first time....and taking a selfie to remember it by too!  She gets a new pet who just happens to be sent from someone who's got information about her powers.  And all the while she's trying to protect her hometown.  This volume progresses things so nicely, that it made me really glad to have the third volume ready to read as soon as I finished.

Ms. Marvel Volume 3 by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Elmo Bondoc, and Mark Waid has lots of interesting twists and Kamala has a Valentine's special with another great cameo, and gets to deal with a crush who seems too good to be true!  She learns of others like her and a resistance movement, while proving her character.  And finally she meets some SHIELD agents who have to contain a nearby issue, but may be helping to shape her future...or not, since that's where this volume ends things.

And my last review was a pick from Fight or Flight Comics' discussion group, Word Balloons, which Bryan and I got to join over the weekend.  Batgirl Volume 1: The Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, and Brenden Fletcher.  This, similar to Captain Marvel has a character starting up a new storyline, and in this case moving to a trendy new neighborhood. Barbara has to balance school, her secret identity, a bit of a party girls lifestyle, and some crazy social media hijinks as she tries to get her thesis work back after having her computer stolen.  She's got good friends, a photographic memory, and the tech skills to tackle the job, but new kinks keep getting thrown her way, including some identity theft.  Batgirl is more mature reading than Ms. Marvel, but equally well written.  I really love the feel of the art here, but am simultaneously turned off by how much it seems to be drawn for the male gaze (despite how her costume is perfect, the rest of the clothing is not so true to life).  Still, I can't wait to pick up the next volume.



This is a bit of a late post, but it's all done.  And since Bryan and I stopped by the comic store over the weekend I have even more fodder for the next comics post.  So stay tuned, dear readers, for more!

Love,
Lydia

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Comics Part 1

Hi folks,

Here's some reviews of comics I've been reading lately, with another post on the way!




Let's get started with Manifest Destiny Volume 1 by Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts, and Owen Gieni.  I wanted so badly to like this comic, and with a quick scan of the art and the general premise I thought it looked great.  However, despite the cool idea of Lewis and Clark actually finding and dealing with more supernatural obstacles the way women were treated in the book was a huge turnoff for me.  And I can't say that minorities were dealt with much better, which if you're rewriting history to add monsters and such...why not make things more interesting by making more strong characters we might not historically see on those roles?  So this book left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth and I'm on the fence about reading the next one.  If I do it will be at a library because I don't think I want to fund people who think this way, because honestly I'm not sure if all the crudeness they added is even historically warranted.  Le sigh.

Amulet Volume 1 by Kazu Kibuishi is the start of a great YA graphic novel series.  It starts as many in the fantasy genre do with a couple kids finding family secrets that could potentially be dangerous, plunging into a new world, and maybe getting in over their heads in a tricky situation or two.  

Amulet Volume 2 sees the siblings growing and dealing with more responsibility as they try to save their mother from her predicament.  The story builds up the world more and continues developing just who our antagonists are.  I was slightly underwhelmed by the first book, but felt that this one started to build the pace nicely.  Bryan selected this series, and I think it's a pick worth checking out, especially for kids 7-12 who might be interested in comics.

Thor: Godess of Thunder Volume 1 by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman is a comic I picked up out of curiosity since I'd heard about it via The Mary Sue (a great website for female centric geeky news!).  This book does not disappoint, if you've been watching the various Marvel superhero movies you'll find this book pretty easy to approach.  There's a bit of backstory, but it's explained enough that I didn't feel the need read previous stories covering it.  Pretty much all you need to know is that the new Thor is a lady, but not Thorita, She-Thor, or Ms. Thor, just Thor.  I can't wait to read more of this series!

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud is a great book by a classic comic book author.  I'd read his book (which I recommend) Understanding Comics as one of the texts for my college course on the history of comics and animation.  Anyway, The Sculptor is a love story from the male perspective, first and foremost, but it also looks at the act of creation.  As an artist I love that part of the book.  Meg's story gets the short end of the stick here, but I still really enjoyed this book and recommend it.  Be warned you may cry.

Rat Queens Volume 1 by Kurtis J. Weibe and Roc Upchurch is a comic for those who love tabletop RPGs and games like Dungeons & Dragons.  The twist this story takes is that our heroes are actually all heroines.  The 4 ladies can kick butt, deal with rivalries, a town council that might be out to get them, and some romance on the side.  Each chapter could easily be seen as a roleplay session, and I must admit it makes me want to start an all lady game group just to get awesome scenarios like these going.

Rat Queens Volume 2 by Kurtis J. Weibe, Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Sejic, and Ed Brisson is the follow up story that continues developing our heroines.  We see bits of their various backgrounds, which include some surprises and depth to the world.  The story arc that was started in the last book is continued to a dramatic conclusion.  Oh and there's a subversion of the "damsel in distress" trope.  Win!

So, I hope this gives you all some new ideas for comics to pick up, or perhaps steer clear of.  I'll see you all Friday with some new outfits, and thoughts on fashion!

Love,
Lydia

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Summer Book Report - Overview

Hi guys,

I've been doing lots of reading, and also rereading books while moving.  But it's been a long time since I've written you all one of my bigger book review posts.  So this one is long past due!

The books I've read since my last post in February (oh man...so long ago!) are as follows The Weekend Homesteader by Anna Hess, Call The Nurse by Mary J MacLeod, and Paradise Lot by Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates - these are all non-fiction.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen, and Philip Smiley, Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood, Celebromancy by Michael R. Underwood, The Long War by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, The Long Mars by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter - these are adult fiction.

Fuse by Julianna Baggott, Burn by Julianna Baggott, Gifts of the Blood by Vicki Keire, The Swap by Megan Shull, Cipher by Aileen Erin, Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger,  plus the books I reread The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine, and Wild MagicWolf Speaker, and Emperor Mage by Tamora Pierce - all YA fiction.

And finally with many more entries than I've had before comes the graphic novels/comics section.
Manifest Destiny Volume 1 by Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts, and Owen Gieni, Amulet Volume 1 by Kazu Kibuishi, Thor: Godess of Thunder Volume 1 by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman, The Sculptor by Scott McCloud, Rat Queens Volume 1 by Kurtis J. Weibe and Roc Upchurch, Rat Queens Volume 2 by Kurtis J. Weibe, Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Sejic, and Ed Brisson,   Captain Marvel: Marvel Now, Volume 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez, and Lee Loughridge, Lumberjanes Volume 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen, Ms. Marvel Volume 2 by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Jacob Wyatt, Ms. Marvel Volume 3 by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Elmo Bondoc, and Mark Waid, Bride of the Water God Volume 1  by Mi-Kyung Yun, Avengers & X-Men: Axis by Rick Remender, Adam Kubert, and Leinil Francis Yu, Batgirl Volume 1 by Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, and Brenden Fletcher.

Also here's an updated list for my more complex reading challenge.  I'd love recommendations for books, and if anyone can think of a book set in Roanoke, VA that'd be fantastic!  I don't want to have to cheat and use a book about the lost colony, but I guess I could if I have to.



The big reason I have so many graphic novels on my list is because back in February Bryan and I happened to spot a new comic book store in a strip mall we often passed going on errands from our old house.  The place is called Fight or Flight Comics and it was exactly the kind of store we didn't even know we were looking for.  We always end up in some great conversations when we go in, and find new things to read too.  6 of the 13 comic titles are entirely thanks to them!  If you're in Raleigh or the Triangle area be sure to check them out, their shiny new shop is well worth the trip!  You'll probably hear more about them in the future as Bryan and I are hoping to get involved with a discussion group they have going.

Anyway, back to the books - I don't want to overwhelm you all, so I'll be breaking the actual reviews into 6 entries of 4-7 items each since there are 42 books in total on this list.  I'm very close to hitting my yearly goal of 52 books, because with all these I'm sitting at 51!  I imagine by the time I get around to writing the last of the 6 sets of reviews I'll have topped that and should be adding a couple more books to the lists as I go along.  Till next time.

Love,
Lydia

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Pins!

Hi everyone,

So, I'm geared up to show you some new Pins and give an update on older Pins too.

4. Bryan and I put away all our Christmas decorations and used this method for keeping our light strings untangled.  It bends the flexible plastic hangers, but they're just the cheap ones so it's no big deal.  Not a bad Pin!

5. I'm already thinking about the new house and what moving will involve, so I made of list of things to do at/before moving based on this Pin.

In fact over the past few weeks we've picked out what colors we want to paint the walls (pictured below)!

Plus we've also chosen the cabinets, countertops, carpet, linoleum, sink, backsplash, and tile colors.



6. I tried out this quick little cleaning idea using a dryer sheet to swipe at the floorboards, catching the dust bunnies and supposedly keeping away future dust.  I'll update you all about whether this works.

7. I've been cleaning out my fridge and setting it up along the lines of this Pin to try to make things easier to find.  So I'm grouping items in ways that make more sense and keeps things visible.  Which will hopefully cut down of waste too.  Picture to come!

8. Since I've been doing so well on my 52 book challenge I'll be tackling this themed book challenge as well.  Starting the the Pulitzer Prize winning book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.  So far it's really great, I recommend it to any other comic book fans as it really seems to catch the spirit of the Golden Age comic book era.  It covers some heavy subject matter compared to many books I read, but I'm really enjoying it and keep finding excuses to go off and read a chapter or three instead of whatever I should be doing.



I'm editing the photo challenge together, so expect to see that in the next week or so.  And now it's time for feedback on the month of no shampoo.  Overall it was a pretty good experience.  It took a little getting used to in terms of getting the right amount of baking soda and handling it right, but after the 3rd wash I figured out a routine (for my small hands a palmful works about right, with a bit of water dripped on it to get the consistency just right.)  So, I felt like it was ok for my hair, but not optimal.  My hair tangles a little too easily to do it long term, and the lack of body and so-so shine wasn't helping.  However on the good side of things it made my lavender hair color last twice as long without as much frizz when blow drying!  So in the future I'll be alternating baking soda/vinegar washes with shampoo and conditioner ones.  Here's some shots of how my hair looks with the baking soda washes (taken several weeks apart with little variation in color):



And this is how my hair looks with shampoo and conditioner for reference.  I can tell the difference with frizz, but not shine usually:



Thanks for reading, if you have any great Pins to share let me know!  I'm open to ideas for new projects.  And I'll see you all again soon!

Love,
Lydia

Monday, February 2, 2015

Books!

Hi folks,

Thanks for all the kind words and responses to my last post.  It really does mean a lot to me as we try to be patient about the timing of having kids.  And I'd be happy to talk to anyone else dealing with infertility; I find it's really important to be able to talk to someone outside of your husband about it, or else feelings can get bottled up.  I tend to find people online through message boards (Babycenter) and other groups, though I'm less involved lately.

Anyway, I've been reading like crazy and have lots of additions to my reading list so far.  I'm up to 10 books finished so far this month, with a half dozen more started.  Apparently I'll be knocking out the 52 on the early side if I keep this up, though in some ways I'm not surprised.  There was a summer around 6th grade when I read nearly 100 books thanks to a fellow library patron who decided to challenge me more than the reading program at the library was.  I feel awful that I don't even know that woman's name, but perhaps soon I'll challenge a young reader myself and make it a tradition!

The books I've added are Injustice: Gods Among Us Volume 1 and Injustice: Gods Among Us Volume 2, which are comics involving the Justice League characters (Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, etc).  The storyline was written as a prequel to a video game (I didn't know this when I read it or I might have hesitated), but it was so well received as a comic that more volumes are being published to continue the story.  Most of the story revolves around the idea that the superheroes with all their power are nearly gods, and to some people are as one group takes over ruling the earth.  It's really well written and I highly recommend it.

Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont is a great guide to the natural trees, shrubs, and small plants of the south grouped by how they're found in nature.  It was a fantastic read (if you're into plants like me) and I'll be using several of the plants I found in here to craft my garden with.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale was a light read, that was fun and a follow up to her first Austenland book, with more of a mystery twist.  These books aren't as well written as the YA books she's known for, but I enjoyed them anyway.

The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country was a book that I had high hoped for, but was mostly disappointed by.  It had a lot of information that wasn't useful to me interspersed with a bit that was.  It read more like a textbook than anything though, making it dull enough that I skimmed it for what was interesting and finished it fast despite it's large size.

Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome by John Scalzi is a prequel to Lock In, and more of a novella than a full book.  It's available to read online for free here, which is how I read it.  I thought it was definitely as good as Lock In, if not better in some ways.  It reads a lot like World War Z by Max Brooks, giving a great historically styled narrative.


So, that's a bit of what I've read in January and I have so much more to update you all on regarding the Pins, but that will have to be in a follow up post.  If nothing else this post shows just how eclectic my tastes in books are, and it's just the tip of the iceberg!  More interesting book choices to come, including a Pulitzer Prize winner and more gardening books, plus a new comic choice.  I'll see you all again soon.

Love,
Lydia

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pins 1, 2, and 3!

Hi everyone,

So the new year has started out a busy one for me.  I've been in talks about Starting a blog about art supplies with a new friend.  It could be pretty fantastic, and I'll be keeping you all in the loop about it if it works out.  I've also been taking care of Bryan as he's been sick with the flu, and then I came down with it myself.  As much as I'd started this new year with lots of hopes for fantastic projects and lofty goals of being productive they all got put on hold for about two weeks.  At the moment I'm getting caught up on life, things like the cleaning I'd put off over the holidays.  That was a huge mistake, don't put off cleaning like that.  It makes it so much worse to get back into things when the unexpected happens like this flu did!  And is just a horrible idea in general.  No Procrastination, please.

And when it comes down to it, maybe that's my true goal, to beat down procrastination and be more productive.  I'm just trying to be inspired by great ideas others have found work for them as I get there.  That's the beauty of trying all these great projects from Pinterest.  So here's a bit on my first few pins, with another post to come very soon.

Pin 1 - As briefly mentioned in my last post I'll be doing a January photo challenge!

I'm a little behind on it, but will be doubling up to make sure I get all the shots.  More on that to come at the end of the month.

Pin 2 - Trying a month of no shampoo.  This is a pin I've seen many times and have been curious about trying for the past 5 years.  So, with much trepidation I'm testing it out.  I've been using baking soda/water for shampoo and vinegar/water as conditioner.  You can find more on that here.  I wanted to do it for at least two weeks, and started January 3rd.  While I was sick I used regular shampoo once because I was feeling awful, wanted a fast shower, and hadn't got into the routine as well yet.

So, I've met my goal of two weeks, and feel like for my hair, which is very fine/prone to be oily it's just ok.  It's not better than shampoo so far, but I'll be going to the end of the month to see if my body is still adjusting to it.  I definitely am not able to go very long between washes, but I was never able to with shampoo either.  I pretty much have to wash my hair every day.  Overall the pros so far are that it's gentle on my body, got rid of frizz, even with blow drying, and it's seemed to make my hair color go farther (especially the purple!).  So that's all pretty good; and the cons are that it takes a little more time and thought in the shower, leaves my hair with less shine, and leaves my hair without much body (it has very little anyway, but I can get a little more with shampoo than with baking soda and vinegar).

I'll give another follow up on this at the end of the month to see if there's been more change as my body adjusts, or if it's stayed about the same.  However, so far I'm still in the shampoo camp, though ladies with thicker hair than me may want to try this out!  It's super cheap compared to shampoo/conditioner and not that hard to get used to.

Pin 3 - 52 book challenge!  I'm excited for this one, as I love to read.  It comes out to being a book a week for the entire year.  I'll be sharing each of the 52 with you and probably doing some theme challenges within the 52 using another interesting pin.  Thus far I've read:

Week 1 - Lock In by John Scalzi, which is fantastic!  The premise is in a speculative future where a disease has rendered about 1% of the population locked in paralyzed bodies.  Technology has helped these individuals reconnect with the world, but brought it's own fair share of problems to complicate things as a mystery is solved.  (before the new year I'd read one of his more famous books, Redshirts, a Star Trek parody/love letter.  While fun, it hadn't sold me on his writing skills because it was so light, Lock In proved to have a much richer world.)

Week 2 - Ms Marvel Volume 1 written by G. Willow Wilson, art by Adrian Alphona- A great start for what looks to be a fantastic series.  It's got many classic elements of the teenage superhero storyline as our heroine finds her powers and chooses how to use them much in the way of Peter Parker.  Some things that add interest are the heroine's background as a Muslim and woman of color.  It brings up the idea of being true to oneself as the most satisfying path, and follows Ms Kahn as she learns how to be herself, and not the superheroes she idolizes.

and a bonus since I was sick - Landscaping with Fruit by Lee Reich - This book is a pretty thorough look at a good collection of fruits for home gardens.  The author's a little biased towards what he enjoys, but it's given me a great start to my plans for the garden at our new house.  It's an easy read that's good enough to pick up as a reference book if you're interested in this kind of gardening.  I borrowed it from the library, and may buy it eventually myself.

Week 3 - The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough - I love history, and had been curious about just what made this flood so tragic, and when I saw the book as a Kindle Daily Deal I snapped it up.  Getting over the flu gave a good time to read it.  McCullough is a great researcher, and keeps fact and fiction separate while writing a book that's easy to read.  The events surrounding the flood were in some ways relatable to the current events of today with big companies allowing less than safe conditions for the public, while happily paying very little consequence for their actions later when people are hurt.  Additionally there are some great firsthand accounts of the experience that McCullough weaves together masterfully creating a seamless story from them.  I didn't realize until after the fact that the book was written in 1968, which is a bit amazing since it's quite sensitive to social issues of all kinds.  Though it does lack the voice of anyone besides white Americans, and I would have loved to hear accounts from the immigrants or African American people as well.   Overall it's a great read, and I'll be reading more of his work in the future (I've been meaning to for a while!)


I keep a record of the books I read on Goodreads.com, feel free to friend me there!

Speaking of following, please follow me on Pinterest if you'd like to keep up with the pins I'm working on over the course of this year, you can find me here.  I'll be seeing you all again soon as I share more pins and projects with you!

Love,
Lydia

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Summer of Reading

Well folks,
I have indeed been reading the summer away.  I couldn't resist bringing a box full of books along to the beach a few weeks ago, though I only managed to get through a couple.  Even Bryan has been getting in on it all, he's been reading the graphic novel series Fables as I get caught up on some of the volumes I've missed and has introduced me the comic series Promethea as well. (I'll be starting to read that next!)

So here's the lineup of all I've read since my last post!
Fables Volumes 17 & 18, the related Cinderella Volume 2, Y The Last Man Volumes 7, 8, 9 & 10, Changeless by Gail Carriger, along with Blameless, Heartless, and Timeless by the same author, Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup, Storm Front and Fool Moon by Jim Butcher.


Fables Volumes 17 & 18 continue the storyline about the various fairy tale characters, mostly focusing on the children of one of the central couples in the series.  At one point a prophecy was made about their futures, we see 3 parts of that play out over the volumes.  The storyline in the second book leans darker than the series has run in a while, and overall I found these volumes to be quite good.  I only wish the local library had the next two volumes, but alas, they don't, so it may be a while til I get completely caught up to currently published material.

Cinderella Volume 2 is a spinoff of the Fables series.  I was pretty underwhelmed by this one.  I believe this series hasn't printed any more issues, which makes sense given it's lack of a strong storyline.  The antagonist wasn't very believable to me, which might be a personal bias, but I felt the character's actions were completely off for someone who used to be completely one of the good guys.  I wouldn't waste my time on this series knowing what I do now.

Y The Last Man Volumes 7-9 were really great additions to the series, and things were starting to come towards what could have been a very interesting ending.  Unfortunately volume 10 involved what seemed a very rushed ending that was ultimately unsatisfying to me.  A lot of the character's actions ending up being sad tropes when there was so much potential for more.  I like what happened to Yorick in the final chapter though.  However, I found myself wanting to see more of what this new world had developed into, and wish that aspect of the series had more forthcoming.

Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series on the other hand, did not disappoint!  The whole series is 5 books long (I read the first, Souless, a while back before this blog existed.)  When I noticed Blameless on the library shelf I snatched it up right away.  The series is a great romp through a steampunk Victorian world where there are...yes, vampires, werewolves, and ghosts.  Plus Alexia Tarabotti, who's souless.  The books strike a good balance between adventure and a touch of romance, with lots of humor as monsters are expected to behave with impeccable manners since many are members of gentle society.  Alexia deals with married life, clockwork assassins, children who most emphatically do not want to take baths, secret orders, vampire adoptions, horrible hats, and werewolf retirements.  If this sounds at all interesting to you please, do yourself a favor and go read it!

Solomon Northrup's Twelve Years a Slave is a perfect example of why I enjoy and value reading so much.  The book chronicles the actual experiences of a man who was free and wrongfully stolen away as a slave.  Yes, there is a movie of the same title, which I have not yet seen, but it did inspire me to read the book when I spotted it on a Kindle book sale.  I have read that the story was ghost written by a white man, however I still found the story to ring true.  This is another I would recommend to people because it does what great books should do, puts you within the shoes of another individual.  It allows you to better understand how the prejudice and racism prevalent in pre-Civil War America has been twisted into what still exists in many people's thoughts today.

Finally, I also got around to reading the first two books in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series - Storm Front and Fool Moon.  While I enjoyed these books they were definitely a bit outside my norm as they have one foot solidly in the detective genre.  The other, however, is securely in the realm of fantasy as the protagonist Harry Dresden, wizard detective for hire, goes up against magical murders and werewolves.  It's very gritty stuff, but well written, which keeps you on the edge of your seat as Harry somehow manages to stay alive through all the crazy things his enemies throw at him.  I'll continue reading this series for sure, though I'll need breaks between each book to help cope with the dark tone of it all.

Coming soon to my reading list: Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Scout's Honor by Henry Vogel, The Promethea graphic novel series, and a variety of selections from Bryan's brother Michael's personal library!  Michael is about to head to Jerusalem for a year where he'll be doing all kinds of exciting stuff.  I'll be keeping his books warm for him, which should prove a great change of pace as he just got his degree in English and journalism from UNC.  You can read more about his adventures at -  http://michaelchecksin.blogspot.com/

On a completely different side note, I realized lately that in many ways I have grown far more private in the last year or two.  Pretty much since I got married, but even a little bit before that while working on my masters.  I don't think it's something I intended an any way to do, but it's a trend I've seen in my life when I'm a little more isolated socially or when I'm living with people who like to be more private.  Bryan is definitely a more private person than I am, which I value, but I'm sorry when it cuts back on how much I might share all the good (and sometimes not so good) parts of my life with others.  This is part of the reason I find myself blogging less than I'd like.  Other reasons are depression, and then days when I have so many ideas that I just don't know where to start.  I end up with loads of ideas, and when I finally get the mental energy to write I find myself pouring it all out and I always have more I don't want to overwhelm people with.  So I'm going to try keeping a file of partially written posts so I can write more overall.  I've had several people asking me when I'm going to post again, and I really want to keep up with this.  Some days it's just hard for me, so I keep trying to find good solutions to make better habits with.

Thanks for reading everyone, I know know this was a long post with all these books.  If I keep up my pace with reading I'll probably end up with two book posts a month.  Before that I've got some pictures and summer experiences to share.

Love,
Lydia

Saturday, July 12, 2014

June/July Books!

Hi folks,

June was a good month for reading, however July might beat it.  After over a year and a half of living in Raleigh I finally got a library card July 3rd.  I strongly believe that the reason it took me this long is because my husband decided to use his library card as an ice scraper this winter completely destroying it, leading to him not really wanting to go and ask for a new one.  It was just too much bother.  I ultimately got Bryan to take me to a library by finding a great trivia night event to go to for our double date night with his younger brother Davey & Davey's girlfriend.  (Post trivia, which Bryan and I actually won, we headed to Mellow Mushroom for an awesome dinner.  Then we headed back to our house to introduce Davey's lady friend to some anime she would like in the form of Fruit's Basket, an all too adorable series that involves a cute overload and decent amounts of comedy to balance it out.)

Anyway, since then we've swung by the library twice and I've loaded up on books big time.  But I need to recap the June books before I get too absorbed with the news ones I've picked up.  So, as I mentioned before I was reading Pinterest Power, which I have not yet finished, and The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.  I was really enjoying The Long Earth with the aspects of possible earths, other species, and exploration with what is essentially a fully sentient android.  I was enjoying it a lot....and then it came to a fast cliffhanger ending, because it's the start of a series, which I did not realize until it was too late.  I don't really mind, but will now need to go find the next book.

Other things I've read recently are Changers: Drew Book One by T. Cooper and Allison Glock, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Reluctant Reaper by Gina X. Grant, and Relish by Lucy Knisley.
Changers: Book One Drew was an interesting read that revolves around the idea that a small part of the population will spend a part of their life living in different bodies to experience being both male and female, as well I would assume other races in future books.  So in part this book looks at sociological issues that accompany differences in appearance.  It's a pretty good read if the idea of being in someone else's shoes is something that intrigues you.

The Fault in Our Stars, which the recent movie of the same name was based on is a book I've been looking forward to reading for a while.  Bryan, however, had convinced me to wait until after watching the movie to read the book.  Usually I read before watching the movie, but I agreed to try out Bryan's idea this time.  I feel that the book isn't all the different from the movie, and enjoyed both pretty equally, for various reasons.  The additional characters in the books and more teenage feeling conversation between characters was an interesting contrast to the slightly older and more lonely feeling movie characters.  I like the individuals cast in the movie quite a bit though, and felt they did a great job translating the book in a way viewers could connect to.

The Reluctant Reaper was a fun little read that reminds me of the TV show Dead Like Me (a good series headed by one of my favorite writer/producers Bryan Fuller).  To summarize, a stolen soul gets sent to hell and starts to understand living for the first time.  It's a light book targeted to a YA audience, and the start of a series, which I'll probably get around to reading more of eventually.

Finally Relish by Lucy Knisley is a graphic novel I've been looking forward to reading for a while now.  The book is a bit of an autobiographical look at how Knisley grew up and the large part that food and cooking played in shaping her experiences.  There are recipes included at the end of the chapters that I look forward to trying out in the future, as this is a book I'll probably be buying soon (if it's not something I get for my birthday anyway).

I've also started reading Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup, Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel, The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean, and am about to pick up volumes 17 & 18 of the Fables series of graphic novels, plus many other things from the library!  All the library choices will be prioritized by what I feel like at the time, as I really like being spontaneous and having several book options available at a time so I can choose as my mood dictates.

Til next time....
Love, Lydia