Emily the Strange Make Up Tutorial

So I’m still waiting for the white hair to arrive for the Lily Munster tutorial, in the meantime, here’s another thing you can do with a black wig (or straight long black hair if you’re so blessed), white foundation and black eyeliner.  Enjoy:

Wednesday Addams: Full Cosplay Tutorial

So I had a long black wig and Morticia was too easy for the first use of the black wig (plus I need something resembling an evening dress before I can do Morticia), so I decided to do a hair, make-up and costume tutorial for a Wednesday Addams cosplay which I uploaded to Youtube.

Here’s the pictures:

wednesday4
Wednesday Addams cosplay.
Wednesday Addams cosplay tutorial
Wednesday Addams cosplay.
Wednesday Addams cosplay tutorial.
Wednesday Addams cosplay.

And here’s the link to the Youtube video with the full Wednesday Addams tutorial. Enjoy.

Click here to find out how to get picture perfect skin for cosplaying.

8 Pictures of Pretty Flowers

So I thought the world needed more pictures of things, and decided to post these pictures of flowers to inspire and delight you all (and me, I like looking at pretty things too).

Dandelion clocks, on the verge of telling the time.
Dandelion clocks, on the verge of telling the time.
A dandelion clock.
A dandelion clock.
Another dandelion clock.  I love this moment in time, when such a delicate natural process is taking place.
Another dandelion clock. I love this moment in time, when such a delicate natural process is taking place.
Bluebells in a forest.  I was amazed at how the depth came out in this picture.
Bluebells in a forest. I was amazed at how the depth came out in this picture.
This is another moment in time that I really love - that brief time of year when the bluebells come out.
This is another moment in time that I really love – that brief time of year when the bluebells come out.
Bluebells in the forest from a different angle.
Bluebells in the forest from a different angle.
They're prickly to touch but beautiful to look at.  Although, unlike Eeyore, I don't think I'd want to eat thistles!
They’re prickly to touch but beautiful to look at. Although, unlike Eeyore, I don’t think I’d want to eat thistles!
Another set of thistles.  The pink is so striking against the green that I had to get a picture.
Another set of thistles. The pink is so striking against the green that I had to get a picture.

Like with the pictures of clouds and sunsets, feel free to use them although if you can link back to me in some way it would be appreciated.  I don’t modify or retouch or colour-up any of my photos, this is just how they looked in real life.

Meat Free Monday: Lentil Moong Dal

The first time I had dal (or dhal, never sure how to spell it) I hated it!  I was at a fancy restaurant where they served up mushy, flavourless stuff that was like yellow mash potato!

The second time I had it, I was at a Nepalese restaurant (the Yak and Yeti Gurkha Restaurant, York, loads of vegan options and very good value for money) and it was wonderful.

Tasty dhal at the Yak and Yeti Gurkha restaurant, York.
Tasty dhal at the Yak and Yeti Gurkha restaurant, York.

I went home and did a few experiments before landing on my own lentil dhal recipe, something delicate but tasty:

1. Yellow mung dhal (moong daal) lentils.  I buy the ones that don’t need to be soaked.

2. Fresh (chopped) or dried coriander (aka cilantro) (2 tsp)

3. Bhuna or balti paste (a tablespoon is ample), or if you can’t find the paste, use a quarter of a jar of the sauce instead.  Patak’s do a nice one.

Get a fine meshed sieve and wash your mung dhal lentils until they are clumping together – this removes some of the starch.

Pop them into a saucepan and cover with boiling water.  Add a teaspoon of coriander (cilantro).  Simmer for about 30-50 minutes, depending on how mushy you want it.

When it has softened enough, drain and add the bhuna paste or sauce (or balti), and stir it into the dhal, stirring in the rest of the coriander (cilantro).  Leave on a very low heat for at least 10 minutes so the flavour penetrates the lentils.  Stir regularly so it doesn’t burn the bottom of the pan.

Serve in a bowl, either on its own or with rice.

Nutrition: Gluten free, dairy free, 80g of moong dal lentils are one of your five a day (and a separate one to regular lentils because they come from different species of plant), 30g of protein per 100g of uncooked moong dal lentils and 45g of carbohydrate per 100g of uncooked moong dal lentils.

Fantasy Dragon Scale Wedding Armor For the Groom

Have you ever dreamed about getting married in a fantasy armor that you could wear again and again to LARP or comicon for many years to come? Ever wanted to make your own leather (or faux leather) dragon scale mail to really stand out in your wedding photos? Bored of suits and ties, cravats and cummerbunds? Looking for inspiration in a world where women are vibrant peacocks and men’s attire is designed to be as prominent as the tableware?
My future husband decided to design and make a leather suit of armor to wear to our wedding.  Photos are at the bottom of this article.

He was still making it on the day of the wedding.
One word of advice to any brides whose intended decides to make his own wedding outfit: Shut him in a room with his project about two months before the big day and don’t let him out till he finishes it. Nobody needs the kind of stress on the morning of their wedding that comes from hearing the words “I just need to finish the shoes.”

He made his outfit out of fake recycled leather pieces** that had a backing which looked a bit like cardboard. He cut out every single scale separately in oval shapes that were all the same size, that he cut out with a craft knife and sponged very lightly with silver acrylic paint to give them a dragon scale glow. He then riveted them together onto a cotton shirt for an anti-chafe backing, using metal rivets, and set it all off with a belt with a dragon design on it, and he made a pair of boots made from the same material, using a pair of flip flops for insulating the soles. Underneath, he wore one of his pairs of suit trousers.

**I was adamant that no cows or other animals be harmed for our wedding but when this recycled leather arrived, I decided to compromise on it, because it had already been someone’s sofa or coat, or something else, and was reformed and reconstituted and held together with a polyvinyl derived glue which all meant that nothing died for this to happen.  Even though it wasn’t to the letter what I had expected when he told me his plans, it was at least in the same ballpark, and my husband eats meat so I decided he had really thought this through.  He had looked extensively at PVC, and realised it wouldn’t give the same rigidity and would make the whole garment a waste of effort since he would not be able to wear it regularly to go to LARP where it would get subjected to all sorts of things that I don’t know about because I don’t LARP.  Throwing a useless worn-once PVC wedding outfit on a landfill would probably harm more animals than using recycled leather that would be kept until it fell to pieces, so I reluctantly agreed this was ok.

I haven't cut his face off to be mean - he has asked to not show his face on the internet as he works in a job where he doesn't want people seeing him on the internet, which is also why I don't refer to him by name.
I haven’t cut his face off to be mean – he has asked to not show his face on the internet as he works in a job where he doesn’t want people seeing him on the internet, which is also why I don’t refer to him by name.
Here's a full length look at the whole outfit.
Here’s a full length look at the whole outfit.
Here's a look at the buckles and shoulder pad detailing
Here’s a look at the buckles and shoulder pad detailing
Here's the detailing in black and white and colour so you can see the silver patina which didn't come out too brightly in the photos but looked fantastic in real life.
Here’s the detailing in black and white and colour so you can see the silver patina which didn’t come out too brightly in the photos but looked fantastic in real life.

Click on any of the pictures to enlarge to their original size.

Wedding Wednesday: The Entertainment

This week I want to tell you about the entertainment.  This post contains affiliate links for those people who don’t know about certain games I’m referring to.

Minimalists are often portrayed as serious, quiet, dull (dare I say brooding), innovative if a little bland, so it’s no wonder that keeping guests entertained is often cited as the biggest worry for brides who want a minimalist wedding.  The Swedish Design Collective Sven from How I Met Your Mother are minimalists. If you don’t know who they are, here’s a clip (sorry it’s the only one I could find on YouTube): Sven.

Of course, anyone who really understands what minimalism is all about would laugh at the idea that a minimalist wedding has to be boring.  Our wedding was a far cry from the dull, short, grown-up affair that everyone was expecting when they heard our budget was £500.  Here’s what we did:

1. We had bubbles for people to blow instead of confetti.  A multipack of small tubs of bubbles costs surprisingly little, and keeps adults entertained through all those boring photo times after the actual legal bit.  Anyone who’s ever got married in the UK in a registry office (I guess US courthouse weddings are the same), you know what I’m talking about.  I was unbelievably bored with all the photography and it was my wedding!

2. We had our picnic at a public park.  While we weren’t near the apparatus, it was only a short walk away should anyone have wished to play on the swings.  Nobody did, which was a little disappointing but hey, apparently grown ups can be entertained without impersonating a pendulum.

3. We had an outdoor game called Kubb, which is a Viking game where you throw bits of wood at other bits of wood (as far as I could make out).  This kept guests entertained.  In addition, there was a re-enactment of the wedding ceremony for those people who could not come to our actual legal bit due to distance.  This was originally going to be for us to get all slushy and say our real vows etc but when we tried to write some we ended up with something resembling the wedding at the end of Spaceballs.  So we did that instead.

4. After the outdoor bit was done, we invited everyone back to our house, and loaded up Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U.  After a couple of hours of this, after my husband’s family had left, we moved onto Wii Spin The Bottle (ambiguously titled “Bumpy’s Party” for some reason, and doesn’t resemble the teenage house party game and no kissing or other ickyness is involved; I don’t know if this is available in the US), which is also highly entertaining for participants and observers.

And that is how we sorted out entertainment using things that we already had.  Total expenditure: £0.00.

You obviously won’t have the same games and console as us, but if you’re looking for ideas, here’s some other games and things that could provide entertainment, you may even have these already:

Indoors:

Twister Who doesn’t love Twister? This game is fun for children and adults, your gran might just amaze you (she also might refuse to participate, I don’t know, I’ve never met her).

Ticket To Ride Okay, so Ticket To Ride is a board game, but it’s really easy to understand.

Playing cards There are loads of possibilities with playing cards. There are loads of card games you can play with guests, the best idea is to get a few packs of cards because one pack won’t go very far even with the smallest wedding (unless it’s just you two and the witnesses).  Games you can play include any that you know the rules for, or are able to explain to someone else.  Beware: Don’t try to play a game that needs more explaining than it takes to play, because as soon as someone is bored of hearing the rules, they’re going to tune out and be bored of the actual game.

 

Outdoors:

Lawn bowls, Aka Bocce in the US. An outdoor game that you can often find at a reduced price at Aldi or Lidl type supermarkets, you roll a ball at some other balls a bit like a giant sized game of marbles.

Volleyball, all you really need for this is a big Inflatable Beach Ball (or an actual volleyball) and possibly a net such as a volleyball net or a badminton net, if you have one, but plenty of people play without a net if you’re not playing super-competitively.

Hide and seek (especially if you’ve got a big outdoor space to play with),

Sardines (variation on hide and seek – where the seeker who finds the one person who hides shares their hiding place),

Guitar/musical singing times (we considered an open mic but decided against it as we couldn’t find a park with a pavilion).

Treasure hunt (if you have exclusive use of the outdoor space, you could hide some items around the grounds, give people a list of them and even a map of the area, and get them to find the items.  A prize for the winner??)

Scavenger hunt (if you don’t have exclusive use of the outdoor space, you could make a random list of things for people to find, then they need to go around the area and find items to satisfy the list, a list for this would include things such as “a leaf” “an empty coke can” “take a photo of a person with blue hair” and if everyone gets the items, you could give out points based on how closely the items resemble the things on the list, so for example, for the empty coke can, if someone got a red and white empty Coca Cola can, they would get more points than someone who got a Diet Coke can, and the person with the Diet Coke can would get more points than someone who brought a Fanta can.

 

One thing worth remembering is that your guests don’t need to be entertained at all times.  They’re not at a holiday camp, they’re (for the most part) independent adults who like to have time to talk and wander off and check their phones.  There is a danger in over-entertaining your wedding guests because entertainment can get in the way of social interaction.  That said, nobody likes to be bored.  And there is often a limit on the number of players of indoor games, meaning people could feel left out or people could take the opportunity to talk to each other.  It’s entirely up to you where you strike the balance between the two, as you know your guests better than someone who has never met them, who writes wedding articles (I hope).  You don’t need to spend a huge amount of money on entertainment or hire an expensive local band or get someone to release 1000 doves to have a great time on your wedding day.

[wellness] How to write the PERFECT New Year’s resolution that will stick – and avoid giving up on it.

How to design New-Year’s resolutions that stick:

This time of year, many people are looking back on the past year and wondering how the new one could be better. It’s a time for self-reflection and honesty. Here’s a step by step of how to write some New Year’s resolutions you can really take forward into next year:

dieting for new years never works

1. Remember that change comes from inside yourself, not from other people. If your resolution requires someone else to swoop in and change your life, you’re setting yourself up for failure from day one. So how does that affect a resolution such as “find love” or similar? Instead of focussing on “getting” a partner, “starting” a relationship etc, let it happen naturally, make sure you like the person you’re seeing for something more than the relationship status, and don’t place the burden of your internal emotional wellbeing on their shoulders, whatever relationship configuration you might be in – that is your basket to carry and it is unreasonable to expect other people to take it – they have their own!  Perhaps “go on more dates” or “meet more people” would be more achievable because there’s a definite touchable thing you can do about these resolutions, whereas “find love” is very needy and you can’t really make it happen by yourself.

2. Ask yourself, “do I actually want to change the habit, or just the end result?” For example, if you eat too much of the wrong things, do you really want to stop doing that or just lose weight? If it’s the latter, your resolution won’t stick. You need to want to have a life without donuts, cigarettes or meat for that resolution to work, otherwise it’s just forcing you to be something that you’re not. Can you re-write your resolution or re-vision it so that it’s achievable?

3. Can you actually control whether or not you get the thing you want? For example, if your resolution is to have a baby or to drive from Morocco to Algeria (Algeria’s borders have been closed for years), these are beyond your control. A New Year’s RESOLUTION is something you RESOLVE to do next year. Something you can control and make happen. So “taking snowboarding lessons” is a great New Year’s Resolution, while “winning the gold at the Winter Olympics” is not (that’s a dream or an ambition). Ditch a resolution that’s too fatalistic.

4. Do you have the means to achieve your goal? On my “things to do before I’m 30” list, I had “Circumnavigate the globe in a boat.” I can’t afford a boat or yachting lessons, so it wasn’t an achievable goal. Is there a more affordable goal you could work towards instead?

5. Are there elements of your life which will conflict with your resolution, and will you have to make far greater lifestyle changes to enact that resolution?

For example, when I worked at McDonalds, I could never have quit smoking because I needed that time out of the store, where I got to go outside and just think and time my escape, and as a non-smoker it’s awkward to just go outside and stand there for ten minutes when you work at a busy train station. On top of that my housemate smoked like a train – indoors. When I quit McDonalds, moved in with a non-smoker and got an office job, quitting smoking was easy. What would you need to change in your life to make your resolutions work? Are these changes realistic and how long would they take?

6. Make your resolution really specific: Word it so you will know what it looks like when it’s been achieved.  Once you’ve got a resolution, write down three things you are going to do to achieve it – one should be right now, the second should be in the next couple of weeks and the third should be in a month or two; regular work towards a goal helps it materialize.

I hope some of this provokes some introspection about your resolutions so you can write stronger achievable resolutions that will make you feel really good about yourself this year. What do you think? Have you re-written any of your resolutions or are you keeping to them?