Saturday, 28 July 2007

Illustration Friday - Moon

I've been getting the Illustration Friday topic emails for a couple of weeks now, but today was the first Friday that I actually got my butt in gear and did something.


Just something quick I did in Photoshop - was even too lazy to pull out my tablet, meaning I basically drew it with my finger on the laptop-touchpad-mouse-thing - but I kinda like it. And hopefully I will be more likely to get creative every week now I've started.

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Friday, 27 July 2007

getting my craft on

I have no idea what project numbers these are, but I've taken photos and I may as well put them up while I'm motivated to do so - I need to go through and sort out more photos and posts of my progress towards my 50 projects in 2007...

Spurred on by the release of HP7, I did some serious crafting last week. Firstly, I made this wand, based on the instructions here. Mine's not as pretty as his because, well, I started it in some spare time in the workshop at the school I was working at and then had to finish it at home where I am very short in supply for things like paint :( But I still think it's cool.


At the same time, I was working on making a new batch of SPEW badges and some Sickles out of polymer clay so that I could share the love with the other fans waiting in line. Of course, I also needed something to carry them in, so I used some red satin from my very small stash (mostly leftovers from the school musical costumes I made last year) to make a cute little pouch. Considering I just winged it, I'm really happy with how this turned out - I even used eyelets for the cord to go through and made the cord and tassles out of the leftovers from my scarf.

spew badges and sickles
the contents

top view

see - tassles

I still have plenty of badges and sickles left - there weren't as many people to share the love with as I thought there'd be. So if you want one, let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Then, since I was on a roll, I used every inch of this piece of black cotton drill I had to make a basic bag that would work with my outfit (which I stupidly didn't get a photo of). It was a bit boring plain, so I made a couple more badges, based on the ones worn at Hogwarts during the Triwizard Tournament.

black bag

So that's like 5 more projects completed and I have a couple more in various stages from concept to almost done. Now I need to clean up the table and do some more scrapbooking. See ya.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

(apologies to my friends who have no interest in Harry Potter, I promise to post some more non-HP stuff in the next couple of days)

If you have not read book 7 and don't want anything to be spoiled before you read this, do not read any further. Don't be tempted to click on the link or scroll past the empty space because there are spoilers here. Once you know, there are no memory charms available to make you forget, so don't say I didn't warn you.

OK, this review has been a long time coming, I know. I've been writing, re-writing, deleting, trying to work out how to say what I want to. My original first paragraph was this:

I want to talk about book 7, but I'm finding it hard - I think I'm still processing, still grieving in a way, not any one particular character death so much as the end of something that has been going on for so long. I feel like I need to do this, to say the things I want to say, before I dive back into the internet and start seeing what other people are saying. I want to say my own thing, un-influenced by what I read or hear from others.

…but I've taken so long in writing that I have seen some things that others have said and so part of my mind is now occupied with rebutting those people who said bad things, not because they don't have a right to dislike the book, but because so much of what people are saying seems so off-base to me. I was talking to my sister though and we kind of agreed that it's not so bad if some people didn't like the last book as much. It kind of makes me feel a little more justified in saying things like this because it shows that some of the people who claimed to be massive fans maybe didn't really "get" what was going on in the books and where they were headed.

For example, Jo makes it quite clear, even in earlier books, that killing rips the soul apart and is the most evil act that a human can perform. Why then, did people want Harry (or any of the other 'innocent' characters) to kill anyone? It would have been devastating if Harry had killed Snape and then found out the truth about him. I thought the way in which Voldemort was destroyed was fantastic - he remained arrogant to the end and as Harry continued to adopt his Dumbledore-esque method of reasoning and communication, he essentially forced Tom Riddle to destroy himself. Oh and I loved that he stopped calling him Voldemort.

I was in the "I hope Neville gets Bellatrix" camp as well, but she got what she deserved and Neville was still a hero, so does it really matter that he didn't kill her. Speaking of Bellatrix's death - I thought it was frickin' awesome that Mrs Weasley took her down and that she called her a bitch in the process. Let's face it, if any woman deserves to be called a bitch, Bellatrix does. And in the grand scheme of things, I don't think the use of that one word is going to scar the kids who might read it. C'mon people.

My last major rebuttal is about the epilogue and the complaining I have seen that it doesn't give enough detail or something. I loved the epilogue. I loved how their kids echoed so many of the things we'd seen in the trio's first trip on the Hogwarts Express. I thought it was great that it just jumped in and didn't explain too much, so you just made the assumption that Victoire was Bill and Fleur's daughter, that the cousins got along really well, that they all still hung out on a regular basis. I loved the conversation about sending love to a professor and Harry's reassurances to his second son. You don't need to know everything in the epilogue - Jo has already started revealing more specific details about what jobs she sees them doing and things like that if you really want them - you just need to know that it's been a long time in which nothing horrible has happened and Harry has ended up with a family that's ten times better than he probably ever imagined.

And now that's out of my system, here are the other things I feel I should say:

I loved Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I understand completely why JK Rowling called it her favourite of the series, although I haven't made that same decision myself just yet. Obviously, the fact that it answers all the questions, resolves all the plot lines and sees the final downfall of Voldemort means that it is bound to rank highly in its enjoyment.

The story just didn't slow down. In the 14 hours I took to read it, I only felt even a little sleepy a couple of times, but it never hit me bad enough that it won over the inability to put the book down. And before you say anything, I know I took a long time to read it, but it was a pretty thorough first read I think, judging by the amount of info I retained that others didn't seem to.

Anyway, after feeling sorry for Draco, renewing disgust for Rita, then wanting to hug Dudley, I couldn't stop laughing when everyone turned up to transport Harry and began morphing into him. And then suddenly, they're being attacked and its all moving so fast that you're not sure that you're catching/understanding everything, but your eyes won't slow down because you have to know what happens and who gets out alive. And all that in the first 50 pages. I'm not going to give a blow-by-blow, because if you've read it, you know, and if you haven't (what are you still doing reading this?) I don't want to ruin everything. Suffice it to say that I doubted that she'd really be able to sum everything up in 600 pages, but the continual movement of the plot and the rate at which information is thrown at you means I wasn't left with too many questions at the end.

All the goodies' deaths were sad. And she always makes it so sudden, like "Bam, they're dead" and it takes you a few pages or more to really believe it just happened. I actually thought the good side got off quite well though - I expected much more tragedy for the Order and the Dumbledore's Army kids. I think the hardest to accept are Lupin and Tonks, because you don't even see them participating in the final battle, you just see them dead in the hall. But, like Lupin said, he died trying to make the world a better place for his son and I find it hard to believe that Tonks would've been happy living on without him. Plus, it's somewhat poetic that the whole Marauders generation are together in the afterlife. That said, I think it was Dobby's death that made me cry the most, probably because the funeral and everything made it so much more drawn out.

OK, a random list of some of the other things I thought were great (I'm getting sick of trying to form proper sentences and paragraphs and stuff):
- Kreacher becoming friendly and helpful and THEN leading the house elves charge into the battle.
- Neville being all champion and continuing Dumbledore's Army "still recruiting" and his Gran showing up to help him fight
- Hermione's 'Mary Poppins' bag (I really was struggling with how she thought she was going to bring that big pile of books) and her amazing preparedness for the task ahead
- Harry using the super wand to mend his Fawkes one
- Ron faking Parseltongue
- Harry saying he loves Hermione, as a sister, because that's always how I saw their relationship too (and I could just imagine all the crying people who wanted them to end up together :D)
- Harry's reaction to Ron and Hermione's kiss while the battle was raging
- Hagrid NOT dying (I was pretty sure he was a goner and then she managed to make me think he'd been killed not once, but twice)
- Being right about Snape
- Correctly predicting more stuff as the story went on, like how Harry needed to go into the fight thinking he would die, but he wouldn't really
- The trio saving a bunch of people (and Moody's eye) from the Ministry while they were there
- The combined effort that was involved to destroy the horcruxes and therefore Voldemort

Alright, I'm sure I could go on and on, but I think I'm out of things to say for now and it's about time I put this out there for you all to read. I might be back when I've done a re-read, or even as I do it, but for now, feel free to use the comments to discuss...

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Monday, 23 July 2007


I'm still mulling over exactly what I want to say about HP7, but in the meantime, I followed this tutorial to do this... (don't worry, no spoilers here)

Hopefully, you just clicked on the read more link and it took you to the post's unique page, which is where you are now. I figure I can use this to post potential spoilers and then it will be up to you whether you read them.
It seems to work, yay.

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Sunday, 22 July 2007


I've finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and it was great!
It took me 14 hours, almost to the minute, from start to finish.
I'll probably be back tomorrow when I've had time to gather my thoughts and actually had some sleep to say more.

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Friday, 20 July 2007

Two days before the end

Don't worry, no spoilers here.

In just 32 hours we will be standing with a (hopefully not too large) group of people waiting to get our hands on a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We are aware that we could travel the short distance into the centre of London and attend a massive party that will probably be quite cool, but instead we have decided to get it from the local bookshop and get back home as quickly as possible. The reason for this is that our primary concern is reading the book and finding out what happens without any key plot points being spoiled for us. The likelihood of us making it home from the city without being spoiled seems ridiculously slim, especially given that I have just found out that even the New York Times is not above acquiring a copy and posting a review full of spoilers. No doubt there will be people who will think it's highly amusing to find ways of spoiling it for people (such as the morons who drove past bookshops shouting out "_____________ dies" as book 6 was released).

Part of the problem with being caught up in the hype that is Harry Potter is that not all fans are created equal. To quote Graeme, in a conversation we had just this morning, "some people are just followers - not real fans... they are just caught up with the 'in' thing, ie. Harry Potter - and they don't really enjoy the books like true fans. because any real fan will want to know next to nothing about the book." As much as Harry Potter has been held responsible for encouraging children to read, the films and other related merchandise seem to have been responsible for teaching kids to not bother with the book, because you can just watch the movie. The number of students I have spoken with about Harry Potter is large. The number of them with whom I can actually discuss theories about book 7 is tiny. When they find out I'm a fan, they claim they are too, so I ask them about stuff only to find out they've never actually read the books and are basing all their information and adoration on the movies.

In fact, I'm not sure how many people out there are fans in the same way as I am. I'm not interested in fanfiction, I don't obsess over characters as if they were real people that I had some chance of marrying or sleeping with, I don't haunt Harry Potter fan communities and pretend I attend Hogwarts, I see the movies purely as one person's (or group of people's) interpretation of the book condensed into two and a half hours rather than something to be taken as additional information for the story and as much as I love the story and the characters my future happiness does not rest on the outcome of book 7. Sure, I've made a few crafty things inspired by HP, but they generally come out of my head and the way I've imagined the things described, rather than a book or website that is trying to make money by jumping on the HP bandwagon.

I guess its that I'm just a fan of JK Rowling and her books. I would be enjoying the books and anticipating the release of the next one just as much, even if there weren't hundreds of websites dedicated to it. I'd much rather discuss theories and interpretations with my family and friends than try to gain some sort of 'street-cred' by spending all my time on HP forums. I'm sure I will continue to re-read the series, even after it stops being "cool".

And why do I love the books so much? Because the characters feel real, the story makes me laugh and cry and scream and think. Because no matter what those "literary critics" say, they are well-written and captivating and even on a 5th reading I find it hard to put any of the books down. Because I think the story says a lot about humanity and some aspects of society without being preachy. And because it's just damn enjoyable.

I am excited about the release of the 7th and final book. I think it is an awesome thing to have experienced the phenomenon of Harry Potter - the eager anticipation of the next book, getting up early/staying up late to get the book the minute it is released, the mad sleepless day(s) spent reading it as fast as possible to find out what happens, the discussion of what happened and what it means for the next book, the re-read looking for more clues, the growing excitement as JK Rowling announces where she's up to in writing the next one, and so on. I admit I'm a little sad that it is coming to an end - I think it's about 7 years since I read the first one and that's a long time to be emotionally involved with a bunch of characters - but I am SOOOO looking forward to Harry kicking Voldemort's butt once and for all (and no, that's not a spoiler, just my assumption about what will happen).

OK, back to my spoiler-free, internet avoiding day.

Happy Reading!

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Thursday, 19 July 2007

The end is near

I wanted to write a post about Harry Potter and what it means to be living through the phenomenon before the 7th and final book is released this weekend, but I woke up this morning with a killer headache that sent me back to bed for several hours and I'm still not feeling too hot (this is pretty much what happens to me every time a school term/year ends and my body stops using stress to hold off disease). I may still write it and come back to post it tomorrow, but I'm not too sure...

See, I plan to have a self-imposed internet ban for the next few days - it has been confirmed that some people have already got their hands on a copy of the book and I really don't want anything to be spoiled before I get a chance to read it on Saturday. Besides that, I want to make some little bits and pieces, like finishing a wand and making some more SPEW badges, by Friday night, so not having my computer to distract me will be handy. So I won't be around, to write here (although I've been slack about that anyway), to read your blogs, I may even avoid email until I've finished the book, which I'm expecting to probably be Sunday. My internet presence will be virtually non-existent until then, but I will be back.

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Sunday, 15 July 2007

Is it really only 5.30pm?

I guess we've just had a much more productive Saturday than we have in a while... We went out for breakfast, did some shopping, came home and hung out some washing, went back out to watch the Acton Carnival parade then into the park to check out the actual carnival, walked along Acton High Street to get some cash and do some 99p store shopping and came home. We've been back home for about 2 hours and in that time I've sorted out a bunch of photos and even uploaded some to flickr FROM TODAY! It's ages since I've uploaded photos the day I took them, so go check them out by clicking on this one of a golden old-school bus.

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Saturday, 14 July 2007

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix

I'm not going to post any spoilers, so I'll just say:
- We saw it last night (Friday 13th :D)
- It was the best Harry Potter movie so far by a long shot, I reckon
- Sure there were bits that they changed/deleted from the book, but they did it in such a way and kept the story moving fast enough that the changes didn't annoy me as much as when I saw the others for the first time.
- I'm glad that the same people are making movie 6
- It made me even more desperate to get my hands on book 7

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Thursday, 12 July 2007

My husband is old...

...ok, so he's only a month and a week older than I am, but for 38 days, starting today (sometime - I don't know what time of day he was born and that would be Australian time anyway, so who knows), he is 27 and I am still 26. 27 does seem pretty damn grown-up right now, especially when you consider that we were both 17 when we started going out - scary. Oh well, we're both still kids at heart :)

Happy Birthday Graeme


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Monday, 9 July 2007

Happy July

I've been slack and this is my first post this month. I can't believe 2007 is half way over...

Anyway, we went to Lisbon last weekend and had a great time (excepting the last few hours when we spent way too much time in the airport). You can read about it here, if you like. The rest of the week was quite uneventful - working, paying too much money to get the car fixed, etc.

Yesterday we went into Hyde Park to see some of the Tour de France.

tour de france

It was very crowded and hard to see much. And really, there wasn't much to see anyway, once you'd seen one little group go by - police bike followed by cyclist followed by team car carrying spare bikes, sometimes accompanied by a brave guy on the back of a motorbike with a tv camera - you'd pretty much seen all that was going to happen for the whole day. We ended up on one of the big open areas watching the coverage on the big tv screen, which seemed kind of silly, but at least London was getting one of the first real warm, sunny days of the year, so it was nice to just soak up the sun for a bit.

On the way back to the bus, we saw a swan with a bunch of furry grey signets - they were so cute.


Last night we watched the first Harry Potter film. We were going to watch some special on itv about the fifth film, but after watching 5 minutes, it seemed it was going to spoil too much (it was showing a LOT of the scenes) so we decided to just watch the first film - we're going to watch all 4 this week before we see the fifth, just for fun :) Or maybe just to get our heads in the right space where we're not expecting it to be too close to the book, so we're not too disappointed.

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