Thursday, December 31, 2009

Posh Giraffe, Harold, and plans for 2010

The posh giraffe triptych is finally up in the Etsy shop, and I think it's my best yet:

And here are a couple of pictures of Harold, my first attempt at a crochet plushie:

I just found out that I have a job interview next week, so I'm pretty excited. It's a call center for the NHS, and is fairly nearby. I'm really hoping I get it, if only to feel as if I'm pulling my own weight around here.

I'm working on some ideas for new paintings, as well as something that for now I will just refer to as "Project Twee." More information about that will come in a later post.

2009 has been a long difficult year, from being in a long distance relationship, to getting married, quitting my job and moving to England to be with my husband, going through culture shock and depression, dealing with being unemployed and feeling unemployable, and catching flu after cold after flu. It was a year of massive flux. I'm hoping 2010 will bring a bit more stability, and will be the year I really go for it as an artist.

If I was to make any New Years resolution, it would be to not let myself down or sell myself short. I've spent too much of the last 26 years doing that.

I hope you all have a lovely night, whether you celebrate through the night or have a quiet evening in and go to bed at ten. May the new year give you a fresh start, as I hope it will for me.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just a quick update

Well, I don't have diabetes. (That's what my fasting blood test was for.) I do, however, still have the flu. And the other issues that prompted the glucose test. I'll be speaking to a doctor again on Thursday to try to figure out what exactly is going on.

I have been doing some sketches and brainstorming for other paintings. I'm hoping I feel well enough to get some actual work done in the next day or two. 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I apologize for the lack of posting yesterday. After I had my fasting blood test in the morning the flu I had been developing decided to kick me while I was down. I was a little out of sorts. I'm feeling better now though. Pictures of the new triptych and Harold the bear are still coming, I promise. But for now, I'm going to enjoy watching Christmas telly with my husband. Have a great day, everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twas the night before the night before Christmas

A few things have happened lately, so I thought I would share. First, I've finished both the posh giraffe triptych (finally) and my first attempt at a crocheted plushie (a bear I'm calling Harold). I'll put up pictures of them both here tomorrow, but you can see them on my twitter feed for now.

I went to see a doctor on Monday, and they're having me come in tomorrow for a blood test to see if I have diabetes. I'm a bit nervous about it, as my mom had it and I've kind of had my suspicions for a while. So we'll see how it goes. Hopefully I won't have to wait too long to find out.

In slightly more exciting news, Michael and I were playing 1 vs 100* on xbox live last night, and he got chosen to be the one! Not only that, he went on to knock all 100 members of the mob out and won the game... winning him 10,000 microsoft points and a £1500 holiday voucher! Which means that we'll have enough for our trip back to the States in the summer! What a crazy Christmas gift, eh?

That's all for now, but I'll be back tomorrow with our holiday card, and pics of the giraffe paintings and Harold the bear.

*1 vs 100 is based on a game show of the same name, in which the One goes up against a mob of 100 people in a trivia game. You get to stay in the game as long as you keep answering questions right. If a member of the mob gets the question wrong, they're knocked out. If the One gets one wrong, the game is over and a new One is chosen. The goal is for the One to knock out all 100 mob members. The more mob members that get knocked out, the higher the prize (and like other game shows, you do periodically have the chance to walk away with what you've won so far). In the xbox live version, the mechanics are basically the same, except that besides the One and the mob, there is also the crowd who are playing along, but not for points.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Local farmer's market, Christmas shopping, and feeling dreadful

On Friday, the last day of term, Michael got an unexpected snow day. We went down to the local farmer's market (which was scaled back a bit due to the snow). It was a bit of a treat! We bought fresh eggs, three different types of sausage (some which we had for dinner that night with some mash), two types of cheese (some with black pepper and some with mustard, which will go great with some sausages), Christmas chutney (I've never had chutney before), an elderberry and sloe drink that's like a squash (for the Americans: you dilute a bit in water to drink it), as well as some honey fudge that was lovely. I can't wait to see what they have next month!

We both started feeling a bit ill on that night, but went down to the pub with Michael's coworkers anyway. We had an okay time, but ended up ducking out after just a few drinks. The next day, we didn't feel much better. Michael was feeling especially rough. But we somehow insanely braved the crowds in town to pick up our Christmas presents for each other. Not really a surprising Christmas this year, as I didn't have my own money to spend since I'm still working on getting the shop off of the ground. In fact, all my presents from Michael (per my request) were art supplies to make more stuff for the shop! But keeping busy with that the past few weeks has really made me happy.

That night, though, I experienced the worst bout of insomnia I've had since I've been here. I was up until about 6:30 in the morning. I ended up watching the Hollyoaks Omnibus just because it was on. I used to be on medication for it before I came over, but my doctor here wanted to get me off of it. And I wanted that too... so I decided to try Nytol (as it's herbal) and chamomile tea and the like. None of it works. I have an appointment with a doctor tomorrow anyway (for other ongoing problems), so I'm planning to bring it up and see if I can get something so that I can avoid nights like last night.

Today we were both still feeling terrible. I made Michael go back to bed for a bit, since he was sleepy and needed it. As for me... well, once I'm up, I'm up. I don't nap unless I'm seriously ill, and this flu thing isn't that bad at the moment. I wish I could say I'd gotten some work done, but mostly it's just been TV and a little bit of gaming. I feel like a bit of a failure in that regard, but oh well.

Tomorrow will be more productive, if just out of necessity. I have the aforementioned doctor appointment, I need to run down to the post office to sign for a package (and get a Thank You card for my aunt who sent us a big box of food from back home), as well as finally get some painting done. I need to start pushing myself a bit more, and making myself work even when I feel like crap.

Time for bed soon, as it's a little after midnight. Here's hoping I'll be able to fall asleep and not end up back here on the couch in a couple hours...

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This morning, I saw snow falling for the first time in years. Every other time I've actually seen snow fall, I've been in a car, and it was hard to see. So watching it fall outside my living room window this morning (even though it was just a small flurry), was a wee bit magical. Growing up in the central valley of California and then moving to San Diego, I really didn't get the chance to experience snow all that much. Snow was something you visited, after it was already on the ground.

So yes, I was very excited today. And I found out that it does look just like it does in the movies. I always wondered about that. A bit silly, really, but there you go.

I've finished the ghosty trio, and it's up in the Etsy shop.

I've got the initial sketching done for a posh giraffe triptych, and I'm really looking forward to painting it. I've also found out about Amigurumi, which are little crocheted stuffed toys! I have some extra yarn, and I know how to crochet a bit more than I know how to knit (not to mention the fact that I've crocheted in a spiral several times before), so I'm going to give it a go.

I've just about finished our Christmas/Holiday e-card for friends and family. Instead of drawing something, I took a photo of the lights stung up on the High street. I'll be sure to post it here when it gets closer to Christmas day.

Speaking of Christmas, I got to play the middleman in a Secret Santa delivery thanks to a purchase from my store... which was awesome. It completely made my day, and made it actually feel like Christmas. I love wrapping things and helping spread a bit of cheer. Makes me feel all warm inside.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Projects and other things

I was able to start knitting again recently, which makes me happy. I couldn't for a while because I had tennis elbow. I'm still just learning, but I'm doing surprisingly well! I'm making a scarf just to practice doing different types of stitches. Next I want to try my hand at making little knitted stuffed toys.

I'm working on a ghosty painting trio now, and this will be my first attempt at embroidery on paper... I really hope it goes well, because I think it could look awesome! I'll post pictures when I'm done.

I also put up a new painting trio on Etsy... mermaids! Check it out at the shop.

I'm actually really jazzed about doing some work. It's still not perfect, but I know it'll get a bit better once I get enough stuff in the shop to legitimize spending some money on advertising. And once we move next month, I'll have a lot more space to work in. Things are looking up!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Two new products in the Esty shop: trios of mini paintings!

Today I've put up two sets of three mini paintings in my Etsy shop. One set is hairy monsters, and the other is robots. Check out the listings here!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Teeny paintings and old photographs from Ken's

I'd been eyeing some tiny frames at the pound shop for a while now. Yesterday I say they were on sale, buy one get two free! Bargain! So I picked up a load of them. I'm going to make some little paintings to go in them and put them up in the shop. Michael had the great idea of doing them in sets of three, so I think I'm going to do that with most of them. I'm just sketching loads now, to decide what to put in them. One will probably be a set of robots, another will be ghosty things, and another will be hairy monsters.

I still want to nab some sweaters at charity shops and recycle them into weird little plushies. And since Valentine's is the next big holiday after Christmas, I think after I finish with these mini paintings I'll work on sets of handmade valentines.

I finally made it into a shop called Ken's today, which specializes in vintage magazines, newspapers, printed ephemera and the like. Ever since I saw it, it reminded me of a shop I used to love in San Diego called Paper Antiques. I could have blown so much money at Paper Antiques, mainly on the massive selection of abandoned family photos. One that I've bought, which I like to call Scary Baby*, is proudly hung on our wall. The rest are still packed away for the time being.

Ken's though, seems to have less of a selection of the photos I look for. I did find a box of photos that were doubled up on cards; I forget what they were called, but it's two nearly identical photos side by side. There weren't many with people in them, but I ended up buying two in the end. One of a bustling Victorian street scene that looked a bit dark and creepy because of the lighting, and another of a man standing next to a fountain looking suspiciously like he'd just pissed in it or was thinking about it. That's probably not what really happened, but that's what sprang to mind. It made me laugh.

I will be going back to Ken's for sure. There's a lot there I could use for various projects, and it's a lot of fun just to look around! It's a treasure trove.

*Scary Baby is so called because it is a rather old photograph on card, and it's got the black and white equivalent of red eye... which makes it appear as if the baby has evil, possessed looking eyes. I don't know what draws me to things like that, other than the fact that my brain seems to come up with interesting stories about them.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Things I Heart at the moment: Channel 4 and Kirstie's Homemade Home Series

I watched the first series of Kirstie's Homemade Home (with Kirstie Allsopp) a few weeks ago on Channel 4 on demand. I'd seen her before on Location, Location, Location (and oddly enough Relocation, Relocation, Relocation), and she had such an great personality that I decided to check out the Homemade series. I was not disappointed.

In the first series, Kirstie documents putting together her new house in Devon with handmade and recycled items. Over the course of the six episodes, she learns a bit about how to throw pottery, blow glass, knit, quilt, make candles, make stained glass, screenprint wallpaper, among other things. She also shares tips about looking for older items in local markets (and even skips - dumpsters, to the Americans reading this) and how to brighten them up.

I practically went out straight away and got some yarn and taught myself how to knit using various websites and a book I found at the local library.

This week, Channel 4 is airing the second series: Kirstie's Homemade Christmas. Again, I find myself completely inspired! I missed the first episode that aired last night (I'll watch on 4oD later), but tonight's episode included making soap, teddy bears, boxing day chutney, stockings, and again a trip to a local market for old treasures to make new.

I have about a million ideas for new products for my Etsy store. Thank you, Kirstie, for being so awesome!

If you want to check out the series for yourself (and live in the UK, sorry to those in the States!) Go here to watch both series: Kirstie's Homemade Home

Coloring Pages

Here are the Christmas/holiday coloring pages I drew for Michael's third year class.
They're just quick doodles I made with my tablet, but I think they're pretty cute!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Etsy shop is LIVE!

Granted, I've just got a few of prints up at the moment, but I'll be adding new items over the coming weeks.

Check it out here!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nearly two months later...

I'm still alive. It's been a rough couple of months for me, and that's the main reason I didn't post anything at first. And then It had just been so long that it felt awkward. But fuck it, I still want to do this, and I've managed to (mostly) pull myself out of the major depressive funk I was in.

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be to get used to living in a new country. It still is, actually. Just because our language is (mostly) similar, doesn't mean our cultures are. I'm beginning to feel a lot more comfortable and at home here, though.

It was a bit strange celebrating Thanksgiving when (practically) no one else was. We did have turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and rolls. I also made a couple of pumpkin pies, one for us and one for Michael to take into work. It was a big hit! Many people (including Michael) had never even tried it before.

I'm still unemployed, but I recently received my National Insurance Number (the equivalent of a Social Security Number in the States) in the mail and that should help a lot. Thankfully, I was able to do a couple of commission pieces for a friend of ours for some extra money. I'll post them up after Christmas passes, as they're gifts and I don't want any chance of spoiling the surprise.

I've also got an Etsy storefront set up, so in the next day or two I'll list the prints I have leftover from last year's Alternative Press Expo. I also want to put up some original artwork, commissions, and other handmade goodies; maybe even some baked goods*. Hopefully that will help out a bit. I want to treat that as my full time job for now. I'll be sure to throw the link up when I've put up those listings.

I also want this blog to be part of that job. Instead of just focusing on being an American in the UK, I also want to post artwork and other unrelated things. More of a catch-all. So the name has been changed from Yankee Stephoodle to Oodles by Stephoodle**.

That's all for now, I suppose. Tomorrow I've got to get those commissions printed up, or at least sent to the printers to be picked up on Tuesday. I also need to run to the library, because one of my books is overdue (oops). If I get a chance, I'll post the wintry coloring pages I drew for Michael's third year class.

*I WILL make maple bacon fudge, so help me. And if it's good, I will sell it occasionally.
**Which also happens to be the name of my Etsy store. :)