img_5330

Pinkie Pie Cosplay:An Update

A few weeks ago I posted about planning a low-budget Pinkie Pie based cosplay. My aim is to create the whole outfit for £30 but with some elements that can be reused for other outfits.
I found myself some plush ears reduced in the sale to $2 (about £1.50ish) at We Love Fine (still available but now full price) and bought myself a £10 wig from eBay. 

I’ve got to admit I was rather worried about this wig. £10 is a really low price and although spending that little money was intentional I didn’t want the wig to look too cheap. However, once I tried it on I was really impressed with the quality, the colour and the bounciness of the curls.  

  
Sourcing the ears and wig were fairly easy really. The problem has been finding the right clothes to wear. I really wanted to riff on the character but still stay fairly true to her personality. I had a pink jersey top that possibly could come in handy but I really liked the idea of creating a 50s style outfit for Pinkie- kind of Grease-esque, turning her into a Pinkie Lady (if you will). The issue was finding pink circle skirts or rockabilly dresses that would suit my budget. I searched eBay and charity shops to no avail and after a while took to online retailers of repro dresses just to dream over the gorgeous but too expensive for this project items. However, on the Lindy Bop website, I found this gorgeous dress reduced to just £9.99 and it was in my size!!! I couldn’t believe it! It’s not turned up yet but I can’t wait until it does! 

   
 
Current spend- £21.50.

Still to go… shoes, petticoat, cutie mark, any other accessories (fake moustache, party cannon etc). 

I’m not totally convinced I’ll manage it for £30. In fact, I’m sure I won’t as decent petticoats are expensive but I’m going to give it a shot!!! 

img_5211-3

Message to Teachers Everywhere

I’m writing this post whilst sat on a train travelling to have lunch with friends before going out for the evening with family. I’ve made a point of demarcating this weekend as time off. No marking, no planning, no surreptitious googling for great resources or child initiated activities ideas. In fact, no teaching related activities at all. I need a weekend off.It’s actually really hard for a teacher to make the decision to do no work. Our brains are always swimming with “how can I ensure little Johnny uses finger spaces next time?” or “I wonder if I need to change my seating plan?”

It is due to this that teachers end up burned out. We are under such pressure from the government, Ofsted and (in my case especially) ourselves that it’s so easy to spread yourself too thinly and end up frazzled.

This weekend I plan to see friends, see family, read, listen to music and just chill out. Just sitting on this train looking out at the Peak District and listening to Joan Armatrading is allowing me to feel more human. I can leave behind my over the top Mrs H teacher persona (because teaching is an act to an extent) and just be. Reading my book this morning just allowed me to take some time out from phonics, behaviour management and basic skills maths sessions.  

I need to be Genevieve, not just Mrs Holpepper. I need to allow myself time to do this and you do too. Take some time to forget your job, forget your work persona and just be you! 

img_4831

Planning For a Pinkie Pie Cosplay

This year my husband and I are planning to attend several conventions- both as visitors and as stall holders.  Mr H isn’t really into getting dressed up but I am a really big fan of planning and designing costumes.  The only problem is that cosplay can be really expensive! Wigs, make-up, clothes, accessories- it can cost an absolute fortune.  Even if you are handy enough with a needle to make costumes yourself you still have the outlay on craft supplies and fabric.  This year I am planning to create cosplay/character inspired outfits that I can wear to conventions but that won’t break the bank.  I’m not always going to go for show/comic/film accuracy… but instead want to have the opportunity to play around with the character.

The first cosplay that I’m planning this year is based upon Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  Pinkie Pie is absolutely my favourite character because she’s cute, funny, breaks the fourth wall, is really ditzy but also has real insecurities and anxieties about her friendships.

When my husband first saw the above clip of Pinkie checking the mailbox his response was “she’s just like you after sending a text to a friend.” I love how she is not just portrayed as fun-loving but she’s a fully rounded character with flaws and worries too.

My first step in developing a Pinkie Pie cosplay is to gather inspiration.  I’ve put together a Pinterest board full of pictures of Pinkie and examples of other people’s Pinkie cosplays.  My Little Pony is an interesting cosplay to do as unless you are going to dress up in a furry pony suit (or dress as the humanised Equestria Girls version) there’s always going to be an element of interpretation in the costume… and that’s really exciting to me.  I’ve seen so many different types of Pinkie both based on the show (Gala Pinkie, Chicken Pinkie etc) and those which take inspiration from her and twist it somehow (80s Pinkie, Pinkie Pool).  I actually like the idea that there are so many different ways of portraying Pinkie- it means that I might be able to get several outfits out of one wig!

I’m still shopping around for a wig and haven’t yet fully decided on the actual outfit but I have bought my first item- a pair of ears from We Love Fine– $2 in the sale, regular price $5.  I was buying items from there so would have been paying for the postage anyway.  I plan to try and source the outfit as cheaply as possible, often using items from my own wardrobe, from charity shops or bought cheaply from eBay.  I’ll write an update post when I’ve got more of a firm idea of the actual outfit.

Amount spent so far on outfit: £1.36 ($2- USD)

 

Christmas with the Holpeppers

How has your Christmas been?

I had all sorts of plans for my Christmas.  I was going to take my Mum away for a few nights as part of her present.  We were going to eat lovely posh food that we wouldn’t usually splash out on and drink a few cocktails.  It was going to be lovely.  And it was…until a stomach bug that must have come from one of the kids at my school caught up with me, and I ended up vomiting for the entire last night we were away.

Following this, both my husband and my Mum got the bug too (well… sharing is caring!) meaning that Christmas day was a very low-key affair… with Mr H’s Christmas lunch comprising of three ginger biscuits.  Classy!

Then, at just after 4pm on Christmas Day all of our electricity disappeared! The burglar alarm started blaring out (as did many others on our street) and we realised that there was a major power outage in our area.  Luckily we had no more cooking to do (none needed for Mr H’s biscuits anyway) and that we had plenty of LED based Christmas decorations and candles to light our way into the evening.  It actually was really Christmassy… although the romance of the day was ruined by the fact that my husband was still feeling like he could throw up any minute.

Anyway, Christmas Day itself (or the run up to it) didn’t go as planned but now that everyone is no longer throwing up it’s actually been really nice just to chill out and relax and not really do very much.  Just enjoying being with my Mum and husband has been really nice.

A Letter to my Readers

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged.

I went back to being a full-time classroom teacher in my very own class (not covering maternity like I was in June) in September and it completely took over my life.  I went in to work, came home, fell asleep (often on the couch) and that was about it.  This was the first time since my breakdown that I had fully thrown myself into being a classroom teacher and I found it so exhausting! I kept meaning to blog and even started composing blog posts in my head but just never got around to writing anything down.  If I had any energy for work I felt I needed to use it on planning and assessment… which to be honest is the way it should be.

Another reason that I haven’t blogged for so long is that I kept feeling the necessity to write book reviews.  Reviews take ages to write and I often find that my reviews don’t actually say what I want them to because of the whole spoiler issue.  Basically, I don’t think many of my book reviews add anything to critical discussion about literature and this just makes me wonder why I write them.

So… during my blog hiatus… I’ve done a lot of thinking about the direction that I want this blog to go.  I think I need to draw a line under reviews.  I’m happy to do book-based discussion and essays but reviews… they’re not working and don’t tend to be the parts of my blog that people tend to read anyway.  Instead, I’m going to focus on lifestyle and fashion pieces… especially those which refer to geeky and literary trends.  I think this will be much more sustainable alongside a full time job (no more fretting about reviews!!!) and will ultimately be more enjoyable for me to write (and hopefully for you to read).

Hoping to see you about a whole lot more,

Mrs H.

IMG_4179

Me-Date

I took myself on a date today. I started doing this a year ago when I was off work with anxiety problems.   Going out for an extended lunch on my own allowed me time to practice mindfulness techniques and just allow myself to ‘just be.’ 

I decided to take myself out for a trip out today to just try and re-group after a hectic few weeks of DIY and helping to organise my Mum’s house move. I didn’t go out for too long, just a few hours, but this was all I really needed to allow myself a little thinking space.

I went to the library to swap some books and just took in the atmosphere. I prefer to go to the library on my own rather than with my husband because I can really take my time over my choices and enjoy the whole experience. I then went to Carluccio’s and made the most of their 2 courses for £10.99 deal. It felt really self-indulgent to sit on my own and eat a starter as well as a main.  It’s interesting how you really focus on the flavours when dining on your own. I suppose it’s because you’re just eating and focusing on the experience rather than also having a conversation too.

Don’t get me wrong, I love eating in company but from time to time a good leisurely meal on my own is a real treat.

IMG_4173

Top Five Authors on my Auto-Buy List

The lovely people at The Broke and The Bookish hold a weekly feature/web-meme/ link up entitled Top Ten Tuesday. Each week has a different theme where bloggers from around the world contribute their own top ten and are able to discuss each other’s choices. This week we are looking at the authors whose new books go straight on an auto-buy list- “I must have this!!!” I found this really hard as I don’t often auto-buy so I have capped it at five.

Neil Gaiman

It’s strange to think that I only started reading Neil Gaiman’s work in 2014. It’s the sort of writing that becomes like a friend- it stays with you and takes up your thoughts when you are sad, scared or bored. Neverwhere has gone straight onto my all-time favourites list and I’m now trying to keep one eye on new releases whilst working my way through his back catalogue of writing.

J K Rowling/ Robert Galbraith

I didn’t enjoy The Casual Vacancy (I just couldn’t get into it) but that hasn’t stopped me from automatically wanting to reading everything else that Jo Rowling writes. The Cormoran Strike books are a great combination of old-school detective writing and contemporary literary style, and I can’t wait until the next one is released.

Jon Ronson

I watched The Men Who Stare At Goats    at the cinema. It wasn’t the best film I had ever seen but the underlying issues really intrigued me so I bought the book it was based on. This plunged me into a world of weirdness that I didn’t want to leave meaning that I have since read all of Ronson’s available books and continue to pre-order any that come out. His last, So You’ve Been Publically Shamed, was really thought-provoking in this age of constant online social media trolling.

Louise O’Neill

OK, Only Ever Yours is the only book of hers that has yet been released. Her next YA novel, Asking For It, doesn’t come out until September but I already have it pre-ordered. Why? Because her writing for a teen audience is dark, unpatronising and razor sharp. The topic of her next novel (sexual abuse and victim shaming) shows that she doesn’t back away from controversial topics that teens need to be aware of. 

Joe Hill

It must be hard writing dark fantasy and horror because authors are always being compared to Stephen King. Well, what about if you are his son? Joe Hill has definitely become a respected fantasy and horror in his own right for a reason- he is great! Try the short story ‘Pop Art’ (20th Century Ghosts) for a great example of the strength of his writing.

IMG_4146-0

Returning to reading

Just over a month ago I posted about the reading lull that I had been going through. I was exhausted with work and just trying to keep going until the end of term. I wanted to read but just couldn’t maintain my concentration. Now we’ve reached the holidays I’ve now reclaimed my reading mojo! 

Since school broke up on 21st July I’ve read quite a few books across a range of genres:

Short Story: In The Tall Grass- Joe Hill and Stephen King (horror)

Horror: Nos4R2- Joe Hill; The Venus Complex- Barbie Wilde

Graphic Novel: Wraith- Joe Hill and CP Wilson III (horror); Sally Heathcote Suffragette- Mary M Talbot, Bryan Talbot, Kate Charlesworth (historical fiction)

YA: Am I Normal Yet- Holly Bourne

Comic novel: Funny Girl- Nick Hornby

It’s just been really nice to jump back into reading with both feet. 
 

nos4r2

FAN FRIDAY/REVIEW: NOS4R2 and Wraith: Welcome To Christmasland

Summer. Massachusetts.

An old Silver Wraith with a frightening history. A story about one serial killer and his lingering, unfinished business.

Anyone could be next.

We’re going to Christmasland…

I’ve been trying for a while to write a review of the book NOS4R2 (known in the US as NOS4A2). Sometimes it’s difficult to write a review when you don’t really know what positive things you can say… however, I struggled to write this review for the opposite reason… it’s just so good that I risk just filling paragraphs with “Read it! Read it! Read it now!!!”  However, I was going through Twitter today and noticed that Joe Hill had tweeted this: “If you love a book, album, app, restaurant – write that good review for ’em. Balance out some of that ever-present online negativity.”  Now, I’m absolutely and completely sure that he didn’t mean it to be a plea for good reviews of his writing.  However, I took it for a sign- just get out there, write that review that you’ve been umming and aahing over and share your love for his writing.

The first Joe Hill novel that I read (well… listened to) was Horns, last year, briefly before the movie came out.  I really enjoyed it and couldn’t wait to read more of Hill’s work.  I’m currently listening to Heart-Shaped Box on audiobook and have also started reading the Locke and Key graphic novels.  I’ve really enjoyed all of these but… NOS4R2 and it’s prequel Wraith, they were probably the best works of his that I have read so far.

The title of NOS4R2 makes you think of Count Orlok and vampires.  You would be right in thinking that the villain of this piece is a vampire, but not the type that you are used to.  Charlie Manx doesn’t suck blood, he sucks the soul of young children, turning them into fun-loving killing mini-monsters with fishing hook teeth!!  This may sound a bit crazy and a little shlocky, but Joe Hill makes it completely believable.  I tried explaining the concept of the book to my husband and I could tell that he just thought it sounded like a strange drug trip but when I was reading it, it all made perfect sense.

The book hinges around the concept of inscapes, a concept developed by Gerard Manley Hopkins referring to worlds built of thought.  Charlie Manx’s inscape allows him entry to Christmasland, a world where every morning is always Christmas Day and every evening is Christmas Eve.  In fact, Hill makes references in the novel to other inscapes including ‘The Treehouse of the Mind’ from Horns, Lovecraft Keyhole (Locke and Key), The Night Road (Heart-Shaped Box) and even Pennywise Circus (IT- Stephen King, Joe Hill’s Dad btw).  There are actually quite a few little nods to King in both NOS4R2 and Wraith, which a really nice touch for the dedicated horror reader.  I really love the interconnectedness of Hill’s world and the relationships he creates with other literary works (both those of his father and other authors/poets.

There are several of Hill’s characters that I just absolutely fell in love with completely.  Hill’s heroine, Vic McQueen is both kick-ass and messed up and thus makes for a really interesting character.  I loved the concept of her own inscape, a bridge which she can cross on her bike in order to find lost items.  She was so well-written; Hill really evoked her feelings for her son beautifully.  My other favourite characters in the novel were Maggie, the librarian who uses special Scrabble tiles to discover the future, and Lou, an overweight comic-book fan.  I don’t want to give too much away about these characters but I could really happily read more about both of them!

wraith

I possibly liked Wraith even more than NOS4R2… I’m not sure it’s such a tough decision.  Again, I don’t want to give too much away about the plot because it’s so wonderful with so many twists and turns.  What I will say though is that Hill actually makes it possible to (briefly) feel sorry for such a monster as Charlie Manx.  It takes a very talented writer to create such a well-rounded unusual villain.  The illustrations by CP Wilson III are just perfect, the right balance of Christmassy twee, frightening as hell, and absolutely gorgeous.  Just the best horror comic that I have read yet!!!

wraith2 wraith3

So to sum up, I have nothing left to say except “Read it! Read it! Read it now!”

fear

Fear, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Horror

Following a trip to the cinema to see Inside Out my husband and I spent some time discussing which of the five emotions featured in the film would probably be in charge of our control panel. Perhaps not surprisingly for a person with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, I chose Fear. Chelsea Mirze recently wrote an insightful piece for Bustle which relates Inside Out to her own experiences with GAD and is definitely worth a look. Like Chelsea, I too feel like the little purple guy is at the helm in my control centre. With the help of friends, family, fluoxetine and CBT techniques, I’m learning to live with my GAD but there are still times when Fear does become my go-to emotion.

Over the last year I have begun to understand my anxiety more and thus become able to deal with it. Interestingly, this increase in control of my fear/anxiety has correlated with a marked increase in the amount of horror fiction (books and film) that I have been consuming.

I didn’t use to like horror… or in fact anything frightening whatsoever. I spent several years avoiding the ‘Haunted Liverpool’ column in the local paper after reading a few articles led to a fear of looking out of the window at night time. The obsessive nature of my fears meant that avoided particular areas of the city (in case I saw an evil floating monk). So… why on earth is a person with problems with fear now regularly reading horror literature and watching horror films? Why is a person with anxiety issues considering attending a horror film festival? And why on earth is a person who for years (and years and years… since childhood) had a fear of clowns considering buying a Captain Spaulding Funko Pop?

One thing I have realised over the past year is that anxiety in itself is nothing to be scared of. We need it. Human beings experience anxiety as an emotion in order to keep us safe. As cavemen being scared of wild animals meant that we would know to avoid going near a hungry one! What happens in people with Generalised Anxiety Disorder is that the anxiety becomes over-active and can stop sufferers from living their lives in the manner that they desire. Indeed, I tried to actively avoid anything scary but basically ended up being scared of the possibility of being frightened (erm… a bit meta? Sorry!). What I realised is that I can’t just get rid of my GAD but I can try and face some of my fears.

Realising that anxiety (in small amounts) can keep us safe made me realise that (to an extent) it can be healthy to be scared. Horror fiction and cinema has given me an outlet to explore this, to feel exhilarated and excited by it. I still don’t think I’m up to scare mazes and horror experiences. I don’t think I ever will be… but to explore the nature of fear and what it feels to be scared through words on a page or pictures on a screen… I think that’s a good start!