Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Playlist: Swear Forever

Okay guys - this will be my last proper post for a few weeks as I'm going on holiday! It is the playlist I listen to whilst writing my latest feature, Swear Forever, a haunting, psychological horror about...

"Love that refuses to die, like a dream that long since became a nightmare."

  1. Will You Love Me Tomorrow? - The Shirelles
  2. Without You - Lana Del Rey
  3. Magic Summertime - Eleni Mandell
  4. With or Without You - Keane
  5. If You Want Love - K.S. Rhoads
  6. My Love Won't Wait - Two Gallants
  7. Woke Up Dead - Kyla La Grange
  8. Tokyo Transfigured (from X The Movie)
  9. Run Boy Run - Woodkid
  10. Coming Undone - Korn
  11. Sea to Sky - Dream Boat
  12. Cradel (Cradle) of Forest - Akira Yamaoka featuring Joe Romersa
  13. Catalyst - Kyla La Grange
  14. No Rest - Dry the River
  15. Run - Blonds
  16. Snake Eyes - The Milk Carton Kids
  17. Here Be Monsters - Ed Harcourt
  18. Mein Herz Brennt (Piano Version) - Rammstein
  19. Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? - Paloma Faith
  20. Flowers in December - Mazzy Star
  21. I'll See You in My Dreams - Joe Brown

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Recipe - Oh No! Avocado! Guacamole

I'm going away for a few weeks so here's something for you to do whilst I'm gone. It's called 'Oh No! Avocado!' because I always buy avocados in groups and either get bored by the time I get to the last one or out right forgot I have one left and it gets over ripe etc. I like this recipe because it is more flavoursome and filling than shop bought guacamole.

Ingredients (makes one portion per avocado)
1 ripe avocado
1 1/2 tbsp lemon / lime juice
1 diced medium red onion
1 diced medium tomato

Optional extras
1 handful fresh herbs (eg coriander, chives)
jalapenos / chilli sauce
diced cooked chicken
diced hard boiled egg
tortilla chips
granary bread / bruschetta

  1. Halve the avocado, remove the stone and scoop the pulp into a bowl.
  2. Add the lime / lemon juice and salt and mash until most of the pulp as gone smooth but there are still chunks.
  3. Stir in the diced onion and tomato. If you don't have red onions you can use spring onions (otherwise known as scallions / salad onions). If you prefer really smooth guacamole it's at this point you can blend it instead of stirring everything in.
  4. Add your optional extras. I don't like coriander so I stir in other Mediterranean herbs instead. I also like my guacamole to have a little kick so I usually add a drop of Nando's Extra Hot Piri Piri sauce (other hot sauces are also okay lol) but only a drop because it goes a long way. If you are making this for people who don't like chilli you can leave out the hot sauce and just garnish your helping with jalapenos instead.
Guacamole is usually a dip for chips but I like to eat this version as a meal on a slice of freshly toasted granary bread. It would also work as a bruschetta topping. If you wanted a more substantial meal you could use it as a baked potato or sandwich filling bulked out with cooked chicken or hard boiled egg.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Friday Feature - It Came From Japan / Dancing After 1 A.M. / Coba-U PUNK

What do you think of when you think of Japanese popular music?

Probably this huh?

Yeah I actually can't listen to it. I mean I get why people like THIS video (heh heh heh) but I find it really hard to like the music style...which upsets me because I love Japan. The idea that I couldn't cope with their shrill-pitched, fast-paced, over-worked, sugar-coated pop music made me gutted. I seriously tried to like it. I did. Every so often I'd find something more indie or acoustic but I really had no idea what to look for. I came to the conclusion that if was picky with British pop then I was never going to like the (dare I say it) more generic sound of J-pop...

Then It Came From Japan entered my life.

It Came From Japan is a British pod-cast featuring the best indie, rock and punk from the Japanese underground music scene. Though each pod-cast usually features a full range of styles most of the music (whether acoustic, punk or electronic) is easy on the ear with only the odd more experimental track for hard-core fans.

It is a little hard to pick out certain musicians that the pod-cast features as It Came From Japan features so many however I was very lucky to win from them a copy 'Dancing After 1 A.M.' by Call and Response Records which nicely sums up the edgier side of the music they play.

'Dancing After 1 A.M.' has a strong indie punk feel and is a complete roller coaster ride. For every calm melodic track such as Dance by MIR is an abrasive sound clash such as I Want More (Massive) by POP-OFFICE. Even though I don't like the more dissonant music I still love the compilation and fully recommend it to anyone who, like me, was giving up on Japanese popular music. It is raw, it is rough, it is fun and it is anti-pop at its best! You probably won't like every track but there will definitely be at least one artist you will want to hear more of. Ditto for It Came From Japan. After listening to one of their pod-casts featuring Coba-U's creepy cover of the Talking Head's classic Psycho Killer I downloaded her whole PUNK EP (available from iTunes UK...don't expect much punk on it's mostly a chilled out slightly poppy homage to New Wave and a very easy and enjoyable listen).

Best of all, if you like the music featured on It Came From Japan and by Call and Response Records, most of it is available to buy (It Came From Japan has a great list on each pod-cast page for how you can find out more about the featured artists and their music) and both companies bring bands to tour the UK!

Featured Song: Collapsing New Buildings by Extruders

What are their websites?

Next week: I'm going to be on holiday so you get the day off ;-)

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Versatile Award

Super lovely Blythe of Blue Roses has nominated me for the Versatile Award! Thank you Blythe!
The rules are:
  1. Nominate some other bloggers
  2. Let them know you have nominated them
  3. Share 7 random facts about yourself
  4. Thank the blogger who has nominated you and link back to them in your post
  5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award to your post
My nominations:
I haven't filled all my slots for the Liebster Award yet - once I have then I'll nominate for this one!
7 random facts about me:
  1. I always play computer games on 'easy' the first time through so that I can enjoy the story without worrying about getting stuck on the game play.
  2. I own every Minx comic published.
  3. My top five played songs are: Lullaby covered the Editors, Shoelaces by The Submarines, You Sexy Thing covered by Stereophonics, Pursuit of Happiness covered by Lissie and Mein Teil by Rammstein.
  4. I LOVE cookery competition shows!
  5. My bedroom is bright amaranth.
  6. I really dislike my legs - you'll never see me baring them above the knee.
  7. I think fingerless gloves teamed with rolled up sleeves looks UBER sexy on men! Nothing says, 'I mean business' than rolled up sleeves <3 Seriously, seriously hot! Even hotter when teamed with glasses too *faints* <3
What do you mean he looks like your creepy geography teacher?!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Silent Hill Dartford

Ten years ago supermarket giant (and consumerist bully) Tesco was given consent to build a new store in Dartford. Part of the deal was that Tesco had to build X-amount of housing to create an actual need for the new supermarket (at that point four already existed in the town centre alone). Shortly after, they bought up a huge chunk of Lowfield Street to build these homes on, forcing out businesses and (ironically) pre-existing home owners alike. Ten years on, due to a combination of the recession and Tesco's apathy towards Dartford once they won the battle to build there, Lowfield Street remains untouched and abandoned - a ghost street, a sad reminder of better times and an embarrassing first image to anyone new to Dartford.

Here are my photos of Ripleys Market. It was once a small market full of independent it wouldn't look out of place in a run-down area of Silent Hill. I find it both eerily beautiful and melancholic. Part of me hopes it never changes now, it touches me so much. I was too young to appreciate Ripleys when it was still open but I never imagined its fate would be this. When it finally does get demolished for 'Little Boxes' housing at least there will be a memory of Silent Hill Dartford to show the price we paid for them.

To cement the Silent Hill feel there's even a map of the town on the Life Foods wall!

What are the secrets hiding in this abandoned town? Are you brave enough to find out?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Kyla La Grange - All Saints Basement Session

So we all know that I love All Saints and that I love Kyla La Grange so imagine how happy I was when I found that Kyla had done an All Saints Basement Session.


Friday, 15 March 2013

Friday Feature: The Avett Brothers

This week's Friday Feature are The Avett Brothers a folk rock band from North Carolina, USA. Though folk rock like last week's Dry the River they have a fresh spin on the British folk inspired sound made so popular by Mumford and Sons. Coming from America The Avett Brothers have access to other folk genres such as country, honky tonk and bluegrass. Combine this with their completely acoustic sound featuring a heavy use of lower register string instruments (Scott Avett on banjo, Seth Avett on guitar, Bob Crawford on double bass, Joe Kwon on cello and Jacob Edwards on drums) and listening to them becomes a mellow yet passionate and soulful experience.

Where will I have heard them before?

"If It's the Beaches" was featured in Season 2 for the television series Friday Night Lights. "Kick Drum Heart" featured in MTV's World of Jenk's and with "Slight Figure of Speech" also featured in comedy-drama series Parenthood. "I and Love and You" was featured in comedy series Men At Work and teen drama One Tree Hill. "Live and Die" appeared in the 2012 comedy film This is 40.

Featured Song: Laundry Room

Where can I hear more?

The Avett Brothers sometimes feature on music samplers and in Paste magazine however there are ten years of their music for you to explore: seven studio albums, three live albums and four EPs. All of these are available to buy via iTunes and if you prefer hard copies the most easy to lay your hands on are The Carpenter (2012) and I and Love and You (2010).

What is their website?

Next week: It Came From Japan...!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Videos to escape to on a sick day

Hi guys, I'm ill at the moment. If you're ill too (or just bored or curious) please enjoy these videos. 

These Calender of Tales videos come from the BlackBerry10 Keep Moving Neil Gaiman project. Please visit the website to watch all the other videos, look at all the art and read / listen to all the stories <3

April Tale

May Tale

July Tale

September Tale

October Tale

80s Video Dating Montage (reblogged from Rose + the wolf).

I know I'm supposed to find this funny (and I did laugh) but I also found it tragically beautiful. I wonder what kind of relationships they're all in now?

Courtney Stodden's Tweets Read by Janvier

Dirty Girls (a short documentary from 1996)

Amanda Palmer's 'The Art of Asking' TED video

Have a lovely day and if you are ill too, get well soon :-)

Saturday, 9 March 2013

D.I.Y. - Poison Ivy's Arkham Asylum Shirt

Hi guys, here is the second part of my Poison Ivy DIY! In this part I'll talk you through painting the Arkham Asylum symbol onto the back of your shirt (this tutorial works for any kind of stencil, not just the Arkham Asylum symbol).

1) Make sure you've followed PART ONE!

2) Design your stencil! To do this you'll need an image, cardboard (I used the side of a cereal box), glue, scissors / a craft knife and some toothpicks. If using scissors you may also need some tape.

If you wish to make the Arkham Asylum symbol into a stencil you can print off this one and stick it onto your cardboard. You can print off almost anything and make it into a stencil but remember the more complicated the picture the more difficult it will be to make the stencil! Of course you can also design your own stencil and if you're feeling brave you can draw it straight onto your cardboard. Once again remember the more complicated you make your design the more difficult it will be to cut it out!

The Arkham Asylum symbol is a complicated design as it involves letters with holes in which need to be magically attached.

3) Cut out the black bits. If you have a craft knife (only use one if you are old enough to and are confident with one) this shouldn't be too much trouble (remember to use a board so as not to damage the surface you are working on) however with a bit of creativity and blind faith you can also neatly cut out a fiddly stencil with scissors. If you are careful you can make extra incisions into the white of the stencil and then patch them up with the tape (I used a water proof tape and stuck it onto both sides of the stencil for extra security). For example the letters were far too thin and angular for me to cut them out smoothly. By making an extra incision into the white around each letter the scissors had more freedom of movement and could get into all the points.

Remember I talked about magically reattaching the holes (they are officially called 'islands') in the letters? Well I taped thin lines cut from the scraps to create 'bridges'. Here is a much clearer example of what I mean. For extra sturdiness I used toothpicks on the big As.

When the stencil is completed it should look like this when held up to the light:

4) Paint your design onto the back of your shirt!

Spread your shirt out onto a piece of newspaper (so as to protect the surface beneath) - remember to undo the shirt! If you paint onto a buttoned up shirt the paint will go straight through onto the front! If you are painting onto a t-shirt put newspaper / card into the shirt to protect the other side.

Because my shirt was quite flimsy I pinned the stencil onto it to prevent extra folds. I put old padded envelopes between the shirt and newspaper for something for the pins to go into.

Paint on that stencil! I used Dylon Fabric Paint and a small everyday paint brush. Leave to dry.

Once dried you can apply another layer of paint to even the colour out. If you wish to paint with more than one colour paint each colour as a separate layer. Leave each layer to completely dry before painting the next.

Leave to dry again then remove the stencil.

5) Set the paint. This next step depends on the instructions of the fabric paint you used. With Dylon Fabric Paint you must iron the paint to make it permanent. Because my shirt is made of a thin material I put it between two tea towels when I ironed it. Don't use a steam iron!

6) Wear it! Wear it! Wear it!

The cat is called Freya. She actually belongs to the people across the road but prefers it with us lol
For extra Poison Ivy touches wear the shirt over green and with floral accessories (especially in your hair) though of course all of Batman's greatest foes end up in an Arkham Asylum shirt at some point in their lives so you could also match it with colours and symbols worn by any of your favourite villains!
P.S. - I haven't forgotten about my short comic tutorial - I just haven't finished my character designs for the next stage yet. D'oh!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Friday Feature - Dry the River

This week's Friday Feature is Dry the River a folk rock band from Stratford (London), UK. You'll know the sound - it's the Mumford and Son's sound - yet though Dry the River weren't the band to make the sound big they still own it. Peter Liddle's lead vocals are beautiful - pure, gliding and lilting - delivering often deep and complex lyrics soulfully. He is supported by tight backing vocal harmonies and almost completely acoustic instrumentals. And what a variety of instruments they are! Songs include everything from the obvious guitar to the mandolin and tenor horn! This combination of acoustic / orchestral instruments and almost angelic vocals results in one track being a playful take on traditional folk to the next being a ballad absolutely throbbing with heartfelt passion.
Where will I have heard them before?

After the release of their first single, the absolutely beautiful No Rest, in 2011 Dry the River have appeared at every big UK festival possible! In 2012 they continued touring, this time doing the world wide festivals. Throughout 2011 and 2012 they appeared on all the British 'best of new talent' lists.

Featured Song: The Chambers and the Valves (cutest idea for a video I have seen in ages!)

Where can I hear more?

No free songs at the moment. Their first album is called Shallow Bed and is available to buy as a hard copy and download. If you find you love Shallow Bed you can then buy the acoustic version of it but as download only. A second album should be coming very soon!

What is their website?

Next week: Let's continue the folk sound with The Avett Brothers.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Holy Riddler Freak! Mr Green

So I was reading the news on yahoo when a banner for a gambling site called 'Mr Green' popped up. The mascot looked kind of familiar so I clicked on it.

"Hmm," I thought, "he's totally cute but still very familiar..."



Tuesday, 5 March 2013

I Thought You Left Me Alone - July Tale Illustration

Eep! Double post! But for good reason!

This is my illustration for the July Tale which is part of BlackBerry's Keep Moving Neil Gaiman calendar.

No books were harmed in the making of this picture! (I don't believe in using books as art / craft.) To create the look of book pages I took the words from the original story and formatted them to look like book pages.

I think this would make a really swell desktop wallpaper! If you click on it you'll be taken to a bigger picture you can download. Let me know if you do so that I can feel smug!

Holy Bat Freak! Batman-Bradford

It looks like before Batman Inc got hit by the recession Bruce Wayne expanded his company as far as Bradford:

This is not the first time I've spotted a local Batman though. When living in Beaconsfield a man dressed as Batman used to cycle the streets...yet no one else ever saw him.

Have any of you guys seen Batman on a bicycle in Beaconsfield?

Have any of you guys got a local Batman? I'd love to see pictures!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Friday Feature - La Sera

This week's Friday Feature is La Sera is an indie pop band from Los Angeles, USA featuring vocals from Katy Goodman of Vivian Girls. La Sera's sound is much gentler than that of Vivian Girls. Their first album La Sera in particular is a dreamy affair, seeking inspiration from 1950s and 60s pop but even more bouncy second album Sees the Light is filled with summery instrumentals, a touch of reverb and Katy's gentle, breathy, flowing vocals. Listening to La Sera is like all the fun of a midnight beach party but without all the sand getting in your shoes.

Where will I have heard them before?

Katy is a member of punk rock band Vivian Girls.

La Sera spent the majority of 2012 touring, including opening for Father John Misty.

Featured Song: Devils Hearts Grow Gold

Where can I hear more?

You can sample two songs on La Sera's Hardly Art page and another two on their page. You can then download their two albums La Sera (2011) and Sees the Light (2012).
What is their website?

Next week: Because I'm enjoying them so much...Dry the River
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