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Muted happiness. June 20, 2014

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, Creativity, MA, Principessa's story, writing.
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The mintball train is chuffing again, but it’s not chuffing at full speed. It’s been about ten days now since the results were returned for the MA… While I’m happy that I passed with a grade good enough to merit a merit, I’m definitely kicking myself for not taking the time to read through the origins and development essay and simply write it better. I had the time so it’s all my own stupid fault, but I was so frazzled by the time I’d finished both essays that I only gave it a cursory glance over. Stupid, stupid me. Oh, the tortoise would be laughing his socks off at this stupid hare. Hmph.


Anyway. I passed! Yay! So I get to continue with the course. Good fun… Except I’m now crawling deep inside my impenetrable shell in anxious anticipation of the creative writing module. Argh! The evil cur known as the inner critic has already returned while the muse has definitely gone on a bender in the fantastical realms of the unreachable (therefore making them unwritable). Thankfully, I have the summer to massage the stress from my creativity – so out have come all of the creative writing books, writing prompts, and other ‘kickstart your brain into wondrous leaps of imagination’ paraphernalia. I must, I must, I must improve my… muse. One thing, though. I have company on this writing jaunt – Princi has also jumped onto the creative writing wagon and has joined her writing club at school. I am hoping that I can encourage her to continue with it once school breaks for summer. And I am also hoping she manages to retain her innate sense of irony (I will explain this to her one day), as she has already made me laugh with her most recent short story:

Once there was a small, little Veedramon. He was strong but not very special. He went on a short walk but thought “Why am I not special?” After he thought that, he went home and watched TV.



I know she won’t understand what she has done here, but it made me giggle somewhat when I read it this morning. I hope she can learn how to use this purposefully in her writing as she gets older.


So I’m worried about the writing. But I am looking forward to the second half of the next academic year as that’s when I’ll be studying picture books. I love, love, loved the picture book block of the OU children’s lit course, so to delve deeper here will be a joy *fingers crossed*. I can’t wait to dissect picture book codes again, to re-investigate endpapers, to draw meanings from different fonts and their associations to the images in the texts. I am planning to get completely lost in the module and try to absorb as much as I can. And I want to redeem my essay writing and rectify the embarrassment I felt when reading the feedback for these latest essays. And on that note, I’m off to give my muse a workout by doing another writing exercise.

Building hats. March 20, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Creativity, Easter, Easter bonnet, The Principessa Files.

After the misery of constructing last year’s Easter bonnet, what with me being ill and only having two days to make it, I decided to get a head start on it this year.



Auntie K and I sat down and started brainstorming how we were going to sort out the first step. We had a long piece of cardboard that we were planning on making a top hat with. Guesstimating the size of Princi’s head, we drew around some plates to make the top hat brim, then used the rest when we had decided on how tall we wanted it to be. Then the wrestling match with the remnants of the box ensued as we fought to manipulate the cardboard into some semblance of a cylinder.

Eat your heart out, Mad Hatter!

Eat your heart out, Mad Hatter!

As you can see, it didn’t end up perfect. But hey ho! On we went, painting and a-sticking, and generally just hamming – or should that be chicking? – it up. Thankfully, Princi had made the chick a few weeks ago.

Hides some of the imperfections ;)

Hides some of the imperfections 😉

The evil chick-tator on high!

The evil chick-tator on high!

But we weren’t finished yet. Oh no! With Princi home from school, we set about sticking glittery rabbits all over the hat, making hanging Easter baskets with little boxes and pipe cleaners, and creating foam daffodils….

It’s a good job the bloody thing was correctly guesstimated and was a perfect fit for Princi’s head.

The completed top hat.

The completed top hat (Easter bonnet).

It’s World Book Day today, and oh! What a day! But the fights you will have about what to dress up as today… March 7, 2013

Posted by phoenixaeon in Children's Literature, Costumes, Creativity, Parenting, Pirate Penguin, The Principessa Files, World Book Day.
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And so the Hell that is the World Book Day dressing up party rained down…

The letter came home on Monday.

Your child can come into school dressed up as their favourite character from a book.

I dread these words every year. What is she going to choose this year? Please make it simple. But no. Gone are the days where she wanted to dress up as Lola from Charlie and Lola. She flat out refused to go in as Solstice from The Raven Mysteries. “How about Edgar the Raven instead?” But she’d done that one already and lost the beak from last year’s costume. Matilda was mentioned, but quickly binned. No. There was only one clear winner. Only one character that would cut the mustard.

Pirate Penguin.

The search was initiated for Princi’s pirate costume. The hat was a no-go: wrong shape, wrong colour. The hook-hand was broken. The cutlass was lost. Fab. All we had was the jacket and pants. Yarg! Scurvy seadogs!

I tried again to convince her to go in as someone else. Maybe Stephanie from Skulduggery Pleasant? No, if anyone, Princi wanted to go in as Skulduggery. Therein lay a whole new set of problems – skull mask, suit, tie. But still, Pirate Penguin was who she wanted to be. *SOB*

Thankfully, my very arty cousin visited last night, so we spent a couple of hours working out how to transform a Princi into a Pirate Penguin.

It turns out that red card, copious post-it notes, glue, and selotape all safety-pinned onto a baseball cap makes a good pirate hat. Tin-foil, cardboard, yellow plastic wrapping, and white paint make a fabulous cutlass. Tin-foil, cardboard, selotape and elastic perform well as a hook hand. Cardboard, elastic, purple tissue paper and selotape transform into a fabulous eye-patch. And elastic, torn-up paper and orange tissue paper make a wonderful beak. We had done it! A makeshift costume for a makeshift day…

Princi Pirate Penguin!

Princi Pirate Penguin! Yarg, me hearties!

Wreck This Journal. December 28, 2011

Posted by phoenixaeon in Art, Creativity, WTJ.
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Just before Christmas I came across this book, Wreck This Journal, that looked quite interesting. I had a look through some of the pages on Amazon’s look inside feature and decided that this might be a fun thing for Princi and I to do. So I bought one for me and one for Princi as a Christmas pressie. And I’m glad I did. We spent a lovely couple of hours looking through all the instructions and choosing things to do.

Wreck This Journal

For those new to WTJ, the idea of the book is this: to open it up at whatever page and do what it says on the page. It could be filling the page with circles, or making a paper chain, or even eating colourful sweets and then licking the page. It’s supposed to help you unlock your reckless abandon, which if you’re like me has been hidden away somewhere deep and unfathomable for years, and open you up to more creativity. It also gives you permission to damage a book – something I’ll do here, but it’ll not encourage me in any way to deface regular books! Nah-ah. I just can’t bring myself to do that.

Beginning the defacing of the cover.

So here are a few more photos of my day of destruction with the journal.

Make a paper chain. I coloured the paper with water-soluble crayons first, then smuged the crayon by licking my fingers!

The first ink/paint blot print.

Yep. I was disappointed with this, so when it was dry, I did it again.

The second ink/paint blot print.

I was much happier with this one.

Scratch with a sharp object. I used the sharp end of an interdental stick. The photo is a little out of focus as it was taken in near darkness.

And there we have it. I will do some more tomorrow, and I’ll update the blog as I go. And if you want to see Princi’s efforts, go here.