Sunday, 30 December 2012

An offer I couldn't refuse...

Henry and I are ENGAGED!!!

I wanted to write about this a bit earlier than now but everything got so busy in the run up to Christmas that I didn't have time! Still I am writing it now, mainly so that I don't forget the details.  Feel free to skip this post as it may get rather long!

So last Friday- which was the 21st of December- midwinters day, I was working away in my room as normal trying to get a sketch done for a publisher by midday. Henry kept coming in asking when I was going to have lunch and I kept saying 'I just have to get this done, I just need to send it off before I eat lunch.'  So Henry went and ate his lunch and I finished my sketch and sent it off and then went downstairs to eat lunch myself.

As I was eating my brother came in and asked me to come and look at this music video he was working on. So when I finished eating I went upstairs to take a look. I was sitting in front of the computer with headphones on watching the video when the phone rang.  My brother ran downstairs to get it. Then he ran back up again and said 'I think it's for you Harriet.' I went downstairs to get it and the phone was sitting in the middle of the floor on top of a wrapped present and a card which said 'Harriet open this now!'

I opened the card which contained two ten pound notes and said something along the lines of 'don't bother looking for me but open this present now, you're against the clock, from Henry'

I opened the present and it was a little wooden chest that Henry had painted with black and white stripes and had a picture of us together on the top in a heart shape.  It was locked so I couldn't open it but attached to the side was a bit of paper with a web address on it.

I typed the web address into the computer and a youtube video came up. It was a video that Henry had compiled of pictures with comments from all our time together.  It was lovely to watch although I'll admit it did make me tear up a little bit- probably because the first half of it was set to 'the power of love.'  The second half if you're interested was to the snowman theme song which is my favourite song!

Towards the end of the video, among all the other pictures, there was a photo of a key inside a nintendo game case.  I had to go upstairs and find the case the key was in and then open the stripy box with it.  I actually had to force the box open with a knife in the end as the paint had jammed it all together!

When I got the box open I saw that inside there was an origami paper rose made from a map which Henry had printed out.  The map was of the place where Henry and I really like to go walking.  In the middle of the map/rose was one ruby heart earring.  There was also a note which said 'Be ready at the end of the drive at 2.20pm with your coat and wellies and Celestine.  Also there is a little present in my sock drawer for you- go and find it.'  In the rush to get ready and put on some make up and Celestine etc I actually forgot to go and get the present out of the sock drawer. (which I found out later was Henry's MP3 player with some music on it for me to listen to and some novelty reindeer earphones) 

When I got outside I saw that Henry's car (the car he had borrowed from his Gran for the week) had gone from the drive. I naturally thought 'oh he must be coming to pick me up to go somewhere at 2.20,' so imagine my surprise when a taxi pulled up outside the house!

After a discussion with the taxi driver about whether the taxi was for me or not (it was) and where we were going (I had no idea and nor did he so he had to ring the taxi office and ask) we were on our way.  I found out that we were going to Pegsdon hill- the place on the map.  Whilst we were driving along I studied the map more closely and noticed that Henry had drawn a picture of a bench and a cross on the map.  I recognized that the bench was the one that we like to sit on sometimes when we walk there.  As we drove along I chatted with the taxi driver who seemed very bemused by the situation.

When we arrived at Pegsdon hill I got out and paid the taxi driver with the money from the card (good job I remembered that!) and then began to walk up the hill, past all the sheep towards the bench. I could sort of see Henry up there though he was only a tiny speck.  I walked the direct way so the hills were very steep and as I was fast I was a little puffed out by the time I got there!

(Henry thoughtfully thought to bring a camera! He took photo's of me as I got closer and closer. In some of them I am just a tiny speck.)

When I got to the bench I saw that Henry had put a white napkin on it and there were two cups of hot ginger tea from a flask. (my favourite tea) In the middle of the napkin was Celestine's Christmas tree which Henry must have whisked from my room without me noticing. Underneath the miniature tree were five tiny miniature presents. Seriously my heart skipped a beat! You know I love anything miniature! Also on the bench was a candle in a lantern, some star fairylights and a big silver box.

Henry (who had also changed into some smarter clothes from the ones he had been wearing earlier) told me to open the bigger silver box first.  Inside there were m&ms, magic stars and lots of different hand picked chocolate truffles from the chocolate shop.  Henry knows that I adore chocolate truffles- they're my favourite.

Then Celestine/I had to open the tiny presents underneath the miniature tree. Inside the first one there was a tiny silver star necklace. Inside the second there was a tiny gold chain. And inside the third one where was a miniature pair of scissors that actually open and close. These were all presents for Celestine of course. She's done pretty well out of this proposal I must say!  And then inside the fourth tiny present there was the other ruby earring. I love the fact that Celestine received miniature jewellery at the same time I relieved real life jewellery!

Then I got to the fifth, gold box which Henry had said to open last.  I opened it and inside was... nothing! Ha ha very funny Henry! But then he gave me a letter which he had written back in March sometime saying how he was planning for us to both be on Pegsdon hill at this time (well it was actually supposed to be Christmas day originally but then plans had to change as I found out I was going away for Christmas) and then a lot of other nice stuff. It was nice to know that he had been planning this for so long! Then he actually got down on one knee (after putting a plastic bag under it as it was muddy) and proposed to me with a ruby heart ring.  The ruby ring and earrings were actually ones I had seen and loved whilst we were out in Dubai in March. I always wanted to have a ruby heart engagement ring ever since I was little! I like the idea of a ruby heart.

Anyway the whole day was actually perfect. I can't actually think of a more perfect day in my life so far. There I was just having a normal day like any other and then I was suddenly swept along on this what seemed like magical treasure hunt!

We walked back down the hill together after a while as it was getting quite cold and Henry explained to me how he had snuck off to buy the ring and earrings one day in Dubai when we were in the mall. I remember the time because it was the day we went to the aquarium. We met my mum afterwards who had been shopping but Henry said he had a stomach ache and needed the toilet so we waited for him.  We were waiting ages and thought that he must have quite a stomach upset!  Little did we know he had snuck off to the gold souk to get the ring and earrings!

In the evening (of our engagemet) we went out for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant that Henry had discovered and booked.  It was really good. We both love Lebanese food a lot! We plan to go back there again.

So yes that's the story! Well done if you've read this far! I just wanted to get it down on paper really so that I can remember the details and then thought I may as well share it on my blog as I think it makes quite a good story what with the treasure hunt and everything.

I am very happy :)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Night Before Christmas

My favourite version of The Night Before Christmas is illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa.  I just absolutely love her artwork- especially the way she draws reindeer with spindly delicate legs. I also really like the colours she uses and the softness of the illustrations. To me these pictures are just beautiful.  Unfortunately I was unable to scan any of the double page spreads as I don't have an A3 scanner but I think you can still see the beauty and detail of the illustrations from the single pages I have copied. 

What do you think of them? Are these illustrations your cup of tea? Or do you have your own favourite version of 'The Night Before Christmas'? I'd be interested to know- I always love to discover new books!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

More Christmas...

Last week Celestine decorated her tree.  I made all the little baubles by covering bead in pva glue and them coating them in glitter. Then I glued a bit of wire onto each bead so that they could be attached to the tree.  It worked well and the fairy lights set the whole thing off nicely. The star at the top is a bit of an anticlimax but I ran out of time to make anything else.  Ideally I would have made a miniature angel to go on the top. Maybe next year!

We also made a gingerbread house last week which was fun. Well, we decorated it at least. My friend Nicola came round with a kit where all the bits were already cut out and baked so we only had to assemble it. I am a fan of making things from scratch but I've made a gingerbread house from scratch before and it took literally hours! If you're juts doing it as a fun evening activity with a friend then I think getting the ready-to-assemble kits are the way to go!

This weekend Henry and I went up to Nottingham and Derby to see his parents. We had a mini Christmas celebration with his mum and also with his dad and grandmother.  So that was two big Christmas dinners in two days with presents and crackers and everything. It was extremely festive!  I got a beautiful sparkly charm bracelet from his mum and some chocolate truffles and spotted ladybird fleece suit from his dad and gran among other things.  We listened to Christmas music and ate mince pies and watched Christmas things on the television. It felt like actual Christmas day! It was nice especially because Henry and I are going to be apart on the 25th.

I brought up some of my sparkly fairies for Henry's mum's tree as you can see below.  I like the way the light shines through the wings. 

Now I'm back home and I have a week of work ahead of me!  I am hoping to fit in at least a few festive things though...

What Christmassy things have you been doing this weekend?


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

'tis the season to... STEAL PRESENTS!

...if you're Victoria Stitch!

Unlike Santa who flies around giving presents, Victoria Stitch follows in his trail stealing them! What a naughty, greedy Queen!  And as she goes she sings (to the tune of 'Deck the Halls) :

'Tis the season to steal presents! Mua ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!'

She gets her special winter sleigh out for this occasion.  Normally Victoria Stitch would ride in a black sleigh but at Christmas time she makes an exception and switches to a silver one.  Can you see Pink Rabbit's ears sticking out of the boot? He's getting quite squashed by all the presents!

Originally I did give Victoria Stitch a black sleigh in this picture (I even drove out to the craft shop for an emergency black glitter run late at night!) but it didn't show up enough against the dark background so changed it to silver.  I am planning to re-photograph this image at some point with my star filter to see if i can get the glitter to sparkle more... For now though I am pleased with how it looks!

As usual I created this image by making everything in 3d out of paper and then photographing it. 


Monday, 10 December 2012

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

Christmas preparations  are well underway here. Celestine has been helping to do all sort of things like decorate the tree (ahem swing on the baubles)

As you can see she has got her Christmas quilt out for the festive season too! I made this quilt for her a little while back out of fabrics and scraps from my material box.  It is lined with green fleece and is very cosy. I also made the little red dress with fur around it and matching Santa coat (Celestine likes to be in season with her clothing.) I think it contrasts quite nicely against the snow.
On Tuesday (I think) last week we woke up to snow outside! Celestine immediately wanted to go and play in it. She would have made a snowman but it wasn't the right kind of snow- it was too thin and already beginning to melt. It was already dripping out of the trees.  Still, maybe next time!

I have been working on some Victoria Stitch pictures which I will post about shortly.  I have been racing to get them done as I will probably be taking on a project with a very short deadline in the next day or so which is going to be very time consuming.  Nothing like a deadline to get you motivated! haha.

Anyway, I hope you are also enjoying this Christmassy season.  I am hoping to make (well, decorate) a gingerbread house this evening. Also Celestine wants to decorate her own miniature tree so we will see about that too... Better get to it!


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A miniature advent calendar and a snowy scene

I finally managed to finish making Celestine's advent calender- two days late but better than never!

Celestine is very pleased with it:

As you can see she is in the festive spirit. She has put tinsel in her hair!

Here's what the calendar will look like when all the doors are opened: (I made two- one of them was a tester to make sure it would work properly)

I have to admit that all the pictures behind the doors are pictures I found on google.  (There's even a picture of the Grinch there and little Cindy-Lou) BUT I did paint the main image myself!

I began by painting Santa (he looks like a very small Santa but never mind) and his reindeer flying across the sky as a spot illustration.  The original reason I painted this picture was for my grandmother who likes me to paint a Christmassy thing every year for the front of her church carol service programme.  See last years here. Ideally it would have been religious themed but after about seven or so years of drawing nativity scenes I had run out of ideas and so went with reindeer instead.  Also I really wanted to draw some reindeer. They always become my favourite animal come December!

ANYWAY so I drew the reindeer and Santa and then thought 'hmm, this could be a good image for an advent calendar if only it had a background...'

And so then I drew a background (thinking it was also a good excuse to practice drawing a snowy village scene from above seeing as I had never drawn one before) and then put it underneath the reindeer picture on Photoshop and voila!

here's the template/design I used to make my calendar. I thought I would upload it here in case you wanted to make one too- even though it is already the 4th!

Unfortunately i had to draw the outline and all the little boxes by hand because I can't work out how to draw a box in Photoshop.  I know it looks messy here but once it's made it looks fine.

You need this template too (below) to place exactly over the front part so that you can cut the boxes (with a scalpel) in the right place. I hope that makes sense...

I also put a bit of silver glitter on the front of mine when it was finished. I added a bit of sparkle to the trees and snow.  Not sure it really shows up in the photos though... maybe a tiny bit.  Gotta love a bit of glitter- especially at Christmas time.

And you know what, I realised I don't actually have an advent calendar of my own to open this December! I will just have to share Celestines....

Have you been doing anything to get into the Christmas Spirit yet this season?


Saturday, 1 December 2012

This and That (including Celestine goes to an exhibition)

Hi everyone! Sorry I've been a bit MIA lately, I've been really really busy these last couple of weeks.  I kept really wanting to update but with no chance. So here's an extra long post where I just smoosh everything in together!

Yesterday I went to London to see some friends and an exhibition at Foyles bookshop gallery. It was called 'The Enchanted Forest' exhibition.  All the illustrations were on a fairy tale theme which I liked very much. There was a lot of talent there.  It was interesting to see because a lot of the artists are artists who's blogs I follow so it was nice to view their illustrations in the flesh!

Anyway, Celestine of course wanted to come too.  She is also an artist you see, so she enjoys exhibitions as much as the rest of us.  She's also only every been to London once before and that time she had to stay inside my bag the whole time because I had meetings.

Celestine in her favourite coat (she wears it ALL the time!) and stripy french dress.
Which one to look at first?
Adam and Anna peruse...
Celestine in front of Sleeping Beauty by Yelena Bryksenkova
There were some books for sale on the table...
Celestine reads her own book for a while (she has a short attention span for looking at paintings)
Celestine sitting on Adam's shoulder.
So that was fun! And it was nice to catch up with uni friends too.

Today I helped out at a school Christmas fair, making snowflake fairies, soldiers and baubles with the children.  It was 'make your own Christmas decoration,'  I designed the decorations myself and the children could decorate them however they liked. I bought tons of glitter and sequins so they had a great time turning the table into a complete glitter bomb site- not that I am complaining, I LOVE glitter.  The fairies went down an absolute storm- the little girls really loved them. I showed them how to make paper snowflake skirts and wings for them.  Then we attached some string to the top of each decoration so they could hang them on the tree. I was crazy busy the entire time- I barely had time to eat lunch!

Here I am with my example decorations- fairy, bauble and soldier- before the fair started.
I was most pleased with the snowflake fairy I made.  She is so sparkly.  I am planning to make a few more before Christmas and put them on my tree.  I thought I would upload the pattern I drew and some instructions on how to make her in case you wanted to make one too!

Here's the pattern (below)  Hopefully it will come up full size if you click on it and then you can download it to your computer to print.

1- print the fairy onto some card

2- cut her out

3- decorate her however you like!  I coloured my one with black hair and then gave her a strapless glittery silver bodysuit. I also put spots of glitter in her hair and gave her a silver tiara.

4- make a paper doily- preferably looking like a snowflake.  Decorate it if you wish. I put snowflake sequins on mine to go with the theme.

5- cut a slit halfway into the doily and slide it onto the fairy's waist. Secure it with some glue or tape.

6- cut two wing shapes from tracing paper and glitter them up if you want to. Stick them onto the fairy's back and bend outwards so they look like they are sticking away from the body a little. 

7- attach a loop of string to the head.

8- hang her up and enjoy!

I was very pleased to be able to do a crafting session with the kids as I will be starting an after school craft club (at a different school) in January so it gave me some practice!  On Monday I had to prepare a 15 minute powerpoint for a school assembly to promote my new club. It was scary!  But also good to do. It made me realise that I still can get up in front of a room full of people and talk if I need to.

I have also recently: celebrated thanksgiving with some of my closest friends (I know we're not American but any excuse to get together and eat food is fine in my book!)  been hard at work on a character design for a publisher in the hope of getting a potential commission, got an agent!, watched Lord of the Rings for the first time (why have I not seen it before? It's so good!), welcomed my sister back home from being an air hostess in Dubai for a year and a half, been awarded Sharon's Sunbeam Award (thank you!), won a giveaway from Jennifer at Plushpussycat which I was absolutely thrilled about, got some fairies in the post which I will write about some time soon, made extremely chocolatey cookies which I discovered on Pinterest (I actually love Pinterest so much it's silly- so much inspiration on there!) and been desperately trying to find enough time to make Celestine a miniature advent calender before December the first! I obviously have failed at this last task but I m still planning to make it as soon as I can! In fact maybe I should go and do that now...

Hope you've had a good Saturday and listened to at least one Christmas song as it's officially allowed now. I know I have!