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Lessons learned from a Film Noir/Grayscale Halloween

Gray scale is a really fun way to make people on the street do a double take, and you can basically choose your favorite fashion era from between the 1920s and the 1950s to get the job done. We’re talking flappers up to I Love Lucy!  Jon and I were embarking on our first year dressing up together (well…except for this one time in Korea right after we began dating which doesn’t really count at all), and this is what we decided to go for! In the end we didn’t really have to buy much, as we had all the costume stuff on hand already. I did end up buying some satin gloves, and a charity shop vintage purse to suit the retro vibes, and other than that all we purchased was hairspray (black for him, white for me) and some face paint. Oh, and some suspenders for Jon too, which he couldn’t stop playing with all night. Fun!

It was hard to decide what to do with my blonde hair – if you do a quick Google search for gray scale costumes, you’ll see that nearly 100% of them involve women with already dark hair who dye it black, or the wearing of a black wig. But I didn’t want to! I did some 1930s style rolls in my hair, and the white spray made it look white/silvery, particularly in photos.

We used Snazzaroo paint, and I don’t know if we’d use it again – it was so hard to spread on, which is why Jon never got around to doing his hands. Oops! Maybe we needed more water or something? We used black mascara for his eyebrows and regular black eyeshadow and liner for both of us to define our eyes. I wore some false eyelashes to make sure my eyes didn’t completely disappear, and we ended up using a creamy black eyeshadow crayon for lipstick, after trying and failing to get eyeliner to work as lipstick. Ideally, I would have liked a gray lipstick, as the effect is less harsh and more useful for men specifically, but ah well. A learning experience! Black eyeshadow also served to do some light contouring/blush on both of us. The main thing is that black and white can quickly zoom into dead/zombie territory, and you’re really aiming for shades of gray.

If I did it again, I would have chosen a full updo to make the most out of the white hairspray. With long hair like mine, it ended up being super crunchy and thus not hanging very naturally, plus you could see the blondeness of it all. Either that or I would suck it up and throw on a black wig. I also would have ordered a gray or silver lipstick online beforehand (maybe Kat von D, as her lipsticks are lovely and very high quality and don’t taste gross on your lips like eyeshadow does!). It ended up being impossible to find any gray or black lipsticks in the shops in the week leading up to Halloween. Oh, and use a primer to make things last longer! grayscale halloween costume couple

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We had a really really fun night out with our friends, and even though the costumes didn’t work out perfectly, I feel good about what we made with very little in terms of props, and no dress rehearsal before the night of to figure out what we were doing. And surprisingly, our clothes didn’t get ruined or anything – with some run of the mill makeup remover and a couple of showers, we were back to our normal, pasty selves, the memories of our old timey Halloween only commemorated on the internet. Till next year!

2014: A year that happened

I wasn’t sure I wanted to carry on with my usual “year in review” thing this year-the ebb and flow of blogging for me seems to ebb more than flow, these past few months. But I also figured that come February, or come January of 2016 or 2026 or something like that, I may wish I’d done it, so where’s the harm in a little recap?

This year was a good one, overall. Much better than 2013, really. But it was almost hard to enjoy, in that there were rough times for so many of our loved ones, and really the world in general. And while these events did cast shadows over the lives of our friends, and the shadow was further cast on us- it seemed strange to revel in our good luck. That being said, it is good to remember the wonderful things and reflect on them before plunging into the new.

Jon and I went to Germany, and Spain. I went to a hippy dippy music festival in Wales and camped under a beautiful Welsh sky in the valleys. I got a shiny new Indefinite Right to Remain visa, so I can stay in the Uk for the long-term. We bought our flat (!). Celebrated a year of Bruce owning. I turned thirty, and unexpectedly found myself quitting a still fairly new job to take up a job offer for another position that I love, and that I’ve been doing for about ten months now. Weird! We painted and I worked out and read books and took beach walks and skyped with my family in Ohio and went to live gigs and listened to music and ate weird stuff and celebrated a measly but very good three years of marriage and drank way too many drinks with friends and overall, yeah, it was good. Very good. Thanks 2014.

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Green Man Festival Wales 2014

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books I’ve been reading

 

my bookcase

In a concerted effort to spend less time in front of a glowing screen of internet, I have tried to up my reading game this year. Come mid July, I’ve read a dozen or so books, which is less than I wanted but hey, that’s that. I will try to do better in the second half of 2014! Some scattered thoughts on some of what I’ve put into my brain this year (oh, and if you are a reader too, or you have an interest in seeing what I am reading/have read/want to read, you are cordially invited to connect with me on goodreads here https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1717563-ashley) . Yay for books, forever!

 

What I’ve read this year:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane-awesome, thanks Neil Gaiman.

The Fault in Our Stars-cheesy cancer teen schmaltz, I felt annoyed the entire time I was reading it and have no intention of watching the movie.

Escape from Camp 14-heartbreaking non-fiction written by an American journalist with a North Korean defector.

Grimm Tales-love, obviously. gruesome, original fairy tales are my favorite and this one is a collection of the original Grimm tales, with footnotes about their origins and similar versions of the story that exist across the globe.

Room-whoa. this is written from the perspective of a little boy born to a mother who has been kidnapped and locked away in a secret hidden room. his whole world is her and the room, and they are rescued when he’s five. it’s crazy.

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly-a Korean best seller translated into English. didn’t love it, all about a hen who only wants to have an egg she can keep and hatch on her own. allegory much? too pushy for me in terms of THIS HEN IS A REAL WOMAN GET IT-SHE JUST NEEDS A BABY TO COMPLETE HER LIFE. very Korean though.

The Penelopiad-Margaret Atwood, another gem from one of my favorite authors. this is Penelope’s story while Odysseus is off on his travels. short, sweet, very good.

The Red Tent-womanhood! i never would have picked this off a shelf but my boss’s wife gave me a second copy she’d accidentally bought. an imagining of the life of Dinah, brother to Joseph -of technicolor dreamcoat fame-and his twelve brothers way back there in Genesis. very good, very powerful, and very very into the strength that women gain from women.

Home-maybe not Toni Morrison’s best, but this novella stuck with me after I finished it nonetheless. she is amazing.

What I’m currently reading:

The Female Eunuch-bought this after seeing Germaine Greer in a documentary a month or two ago. Still making my way through it. I can see it’s importance as a seminal work, and can see stuff I disagree with too. Glad to be reading it though.

Americanah-if you listen to Beyonce, then you have heard the author of this book giving her ted talk on feminism (at the beginning of “flawless”). this book is hefty, but I’m really enjoying it so far. her voice is mesmerizing.

 

So what are you reading? Any suggestions for this little bookworm over here? And have you read anything powerful and life changing lately? Or just something fluffy? I’m interested!

a farewell to a good dog

 

When Jon was 16 he and his sister went to a local rescue shelter and picked out Maxine. She had a wonky paw from getting hit by a car, and the rescue people thought she was 2 or 3 at the time, and had been used and abused as a breeding dog. They took her home and while she eventually became a very good girl, she was always a bit skittish, and always hated men in hats, probably because of her first, abused life.

The past year or so she’s been having issues with her kidneys, and while she’d gone completely deaf a while back, she was still as sweet and loving as ever. Last week Jon and I were at Jon’s parents’ house for some birthday celebrations, and she was looking particularly fragile-fur coming out, trouble standing up, let alone walking. Things were getting worse. Yesterday Jon’s mom called him and let him know that she had died, that her kidneys had packed it in and the vet couldn’t do anything for her. We were out running errands in Shoreham at the time, and walked into the St Mary de Haura cemetary to sit down and hold each other and cry, with our own little dog looking at us, very confused.

The very first summer I came to England, I wasn’t allowed to work. Jon had a job and we were staying with his parents. I spent whole days holed up with gentle nurse Maxi in Jon’s room, reading books and watching tv and not knowing what I was doing with my life. She was a good companion and I don’t know what Spud’s going to do without her. But 15 (or 16? or 14?) is a good life for a good dog, I think. We miss her. She was such a good girl.

this guy

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I don’t talk about him much on here, because while it’s one thing to put my own shit on the internet, it’s another to put him out there too.  But I love him very, very much. I haven’t been having the greatest time, personally, lately. But I am so thankful to have him. A real partner in crime, among all other things. He’s the best. (And he is a consummate good sport while I take lots and lots of phone pictures of the two of us).

painters painting

painting the living room

Since we moved into the new flat two months ago, we’ve been working on one thing after another, little bit by little bit-the things that need done (or that we want to do) compiled onto a list that just keeps getting longer and longer. And it’s fine that way, and even a bit fun. But it’s also a little overwhelming too, and frustrating, in that we do not have Donald Trump-style endless piles of money laying around, or expertise in literally anything, but we have brains full of ideas and stuff we would like to see happen and I have watched a lot of HGTV in my day, mind you.

So painting? Yep, sure, let’s do it. Easy, cheapish, and with the biggest pay-off!

The actual physical labor involved in painting all or part of every day of a 4 day weekend was something I didn’t really think of until I kept waking up all sore and stiff in the mornings, my old joints creaking and crying. In the end we painted the kitchen, the living room, a wall in the bedroom, and the bathroom door. We also took the bathroom cabinet off the wall and moved it higher, replaced the broken toilet seat, super-glued the crack in the back of the cistern, filled many a hole with poly-fill and sanded it down, framed and hung innumerable pictures, put together a sofa bed for the second bedroom/home office….it was a busy few days. But things are coming together now, and it makes me very very happy, despite the terrible weather outside. We’re having a little silly Eurovision viewing party on Saturday, and I’m looking forward to having people in the house now that it’s looking a little more “us”, and a lot less yellow-and-brown walls.

Now even though it’s already Thursday, having Monday off threw me for a weird loop this week. And since I also haven’t had any meetings yet (none till tomorrow!) I’ve been doing all my work from home. Basically, Sunday was the main day spent out of the house, food festivaling, but Saturday, and all of this week have been completely house-bound. I’m getting a slight case of cabin fever. Also, the rain. Wind and rain. It’s gloomy, is what I’m saying, and I haven’t left the house in 4 and a half days. Tomorrow morning I have two meetings in a row and then a lunch date, and I am seriously looking forward to getting out there in the world and leaving my freshly painted walls behind. But then again, on a day like today with gale force winds and the sea melting into the gray sky, I’m glad to have the solace of spending a day barricaded inside, typing away on my little laptop. Silver linings.