Handbook for the Recently Diseased

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Deceased.”

Hey, so check out this awesome Christmas gift I got from Mr. Finger Candy!  As the little (removable) sticker in the top right-hand corner states, this is a set of note cards and other stationary-type items (oh, how I love paper products!) housed in a box designed to look like the battered Handbook for the Recently Deceased from my favourite movie, Beetlejuice.

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Inside there’s a mess of Beetlejuice-themed goodies, including cards, envelopes, stickers and a cute little notebook with an MC Escher-esque Sandworm on the cover swallowing its own tail.  Careful, buddy – I’ve got it on good authority that you’re 100 percent non-natural polymer clay, so you might want to take smaller bites.

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And because this is me, I just had to do some inspired-by, matching nail art.  I’m not sure how successful I was at capturing the very retro design on the cover of the Handbook; things got quite muddled once I added the matte topcoat.  It *did* lend the manicure that sort of undone, shaggy appearance that cloth-bound books begin to take on after a millennium or so of sitting about, but it’s not a look I deliberately set out to create – just one of those random moments of nail art kismet.

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I’m so delighted with this present!  I actually wasn’t expecting anything this Christmas, because my husband and I decided pretty early on in the season that we’d instead put our earmarked funds towards another trip to Disney in the new year.  But if he’s not as big a Beetlejuice nerd as I am (he’s not) then he’s definitely just your garden variety nerd (he is) because I think this awesome gift speaks to him as well – who wouldn’t want this sitting all nonchalantly on an end table?!  My man knows me – us – so well. 🙂

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The Challenger

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Hey, so would you look at that – I once again biffed my friends’ annual reading challenge, working through a measly 12 books!  I very nearly made it to 13, but Christmas came, and the time for leisurely reading fell by the wayside.  So 12 it is.  Sorry Julie, sorry Jay, I’ll try, try again in 2019 with your next, just-announced reading challenge.  Maybe next year I’ll get to 14!

But it’s not a numbers game, and it’s important to value quality over quantity, and some other trite expression that’s not coming to mind right now, but I did read a number of excellent novels this year, including The Night Circus, which was a beautiful, dreamy revelation; easily one of my favourite books of all time.  Too Big to Fail was another bright spot; I was proud to have tackled a book about such a dense, weighty and frequently boring subject matter as the American financial system.  I’ll Have What She’s Having was probably the most pointless of all the books I read this year; a humour novel without the humour is a puzzling animal, indeed.

Below you’ll find all of the books I read this year and the matching, inspired-by manicures I did for each one.  If you click on the titles, a link will take you to my thoughts and reviews of each book, plus lots of pics of all that nail art.  Once again, The Night Circus was the big winner here, its sumptuous, Victorian-esque carnival atmosphere providing ample inspiration for five different manicures, although I’m really quite partial to the gothic lettering of those Petunia (of Stephen King’s Christine fame) nails.

The Burning World Collage

The Burning World by Isaac Marion – Another Warm Bodies novel, this one a sequel to the first Romeo and Juliet zombie romance, this entry suffers from having to act as a bridge between that novel and a third, planned book to be released later on this year.  It’s a big exposition dump, and much of the bedrock on which Warm Bodies – a gentle, thoughtful novel about the downfall of humanity – is based is blown viciously asunder (presumably so it can be pieced back together in the final novel, but dang if some of those new revelations don’t smart extra hard; now I know how old school Star Wars fans felt during the overlording of George Lucas.) 😉 I read this book for week 26’s challenge theme of “A book title that sounds like the cool name of a band.”

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling – Hey now, another thing to be proud of in this reading challenge – I FINALLY finished the Harry Potter series!  Just 15 or so years off the pace, no big.  I read this novel for week three’s theme of “The next one in a series.”

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – I burnt the edge of a page of one of TWO forewords to this novel and applied the singed bits to my nails.  I think I might have missed the point of this book.  I read Fahrenheit 451 for week 11’s theme of a banned book – it doesn’t get more banned than being torched with gigantic kerosene fascism hoses, now does it?

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Not the most uplifting of stories, but so beautifully written.  I was just in awe of Atwood’s writing.  I re-read this novel for week 30’s prompt of “a book picked up in a thrift shop.”  I got this copy of The Handmaid’s Tale from the university bookstore in second year, and there’s nothing thriftier than an English student trying to stretch their book budget.

I'll Have Collage

I’ll Have What She’s Having by Rebecca Harrington – I’ve had this little humour novel sitting on my bookshelf for years, and I finally got around to reading it this year for week nine’s theme of a book from your to-be-read pile.  I think there’s a lot of good comedy to be mined from mimicking the wacky diets of image-obsessed celebrities, but this slight book was less observational humour and more straight up observation.  So Karl Lagerfeld is a (self-described) grumpy bastard.  That’s most likely because he starves himself stupid and consumes nothing but Diet Coke.  We’d all be grumpy bastards, too – this is practically a given.  So wither the funny?  Ultimately, there was not much humour here, just tepid commentary on predictable outcomes.  Cute cover art, though.

Bazaar of Bad Dreams Collage

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King – Every ’80s kid’s favourite author is getting old, and he’s super worried about the real world things that go bump in the night.  I read this zippy anthology of short stories for week eight’s theme of “A collection of short stories.”

Gawain Collage

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by anonymous, edited by W.S. Merwin – A 14th Century epic poem – both in its original Middle English and translated forms – for week 23’s challenge theme of “An epic tale.”  Go medieval or go home, right?

The Night Circus Collage 1

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Oh my goodness, I adored this book!  It was utterly enchanting – appropriate given that it’s a tale about star-crossed magicians plying their trade at a mysterious, after hours Victorian carnival.  This was a very gratifying read; I actually sighed with contentment as I closed the back cover for the final time.  I read The Night Circus in service of week 28’s theme of “a work by a debuted author.”

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Christine by Stephen King – I continued filling in the gaps in my Stephen King education this year by reading Christine, one of his earliest works.  It was appropriately unnerving and gory in all the right places, but absent the killer car, I was struck by the simple human heartbreak that formed the core of Christine, which was just your average, emotionally deadlocked family trying – and failing – to grapple with shifting family dynamics.  Whilst being hunted down and murdered by a sentient – and very vengeful – 1958 Plymouth Fury.  As you do.  I read Christine, a book I nabbed from my condo’s community bookshelves, in service of week 15’s theme of “A book from the library.”

Too Big Collage

Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin – I hate these nails (too heavy-handed, and the lighting is crap) but improbably, I really loved this book, which I read for week 14’s theme of “non-fiction to tickle the brain cells.”  More like set my brain cells on fire – I spent a lot of time shouting out various aghast “OMG, did you know”s to Mr. Finger Candy as I stomped about the house, raging at the inequalities of the global financial system.

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Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith – After the M.C. Escher-esque financial mindf**k that was Too Big to Fail, I was in need of a literary palette cleanser, which I found in Blue Shoes and Happiness.  My mom loaned me this gentle little book from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series, a favourite of hers set in rural Botswana.  I read this book for week 27’s theme of “A book that was gifted to you.”

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Small Spaces by Katherine Arden – Jay of The Scented Library gave me this spooky little book, ensuring that I’d absolutely hit week four’s theme of “a purple hued tome.”  Also that I’d be thoroughly, delightfully creeped out, and also get some great nail art inspiration out of the bargain.

Sunset Snowflakes

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I think this could be a refrain sung right ’round the world these days, but here in the Ottawa Valley, we have been experiencing some very odd weather as of late.  Way early snow (we always get it, but it rarely sticks this fast), sub-sub-freezing temps and mini blizzards alongside the winter’s setting sun.  So inspired was I by this latter event (pretty for the grand total of about 30 seconds before the endless frozen precipitation obliterated the sunset’s gorgeous pastel hues) I did some nails!  Anything to cheer m’self up weather-wise, ’cause it’s only November, and we Canadians in this for the long haul. :/

Sunset Snowflakes Collage

Disney Girl Challenge: Woah-o-oh, Vampirina!

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Well, would you look at that – actual nail art on this nail art blog!  However, owing to the fact that my brain now seems to be permanently stuck in Disney auto-pilot mode, you know there’s gots to be some House of the Mouse in here somewhere.

This is Vampirina.  She may be blue, with pointy teeth, but she’s just like you!  Or she’s like the three to six-year-olds who are her target television audience, where she has a cute namesake show about her family’s spooky adventures in Pennsylvania.  It’s a Disney Junior production, though fairly new, which means the kids haven’t quite lost their wee minds over Vampirina and her friends as much as they have over, say, Doc McStuffins or those weirdo PJ Masks critters.  Give it time; I feel like this one is going to be big.

I’m a good 35 years off Vampirina’s targeted age range, but I just find it utterly adorable.  Vampirina Hauntley’s a spooktacular little baby goth, and she’s the kind of thoughtful, self-possessed and totally normal kid anyone would be delighted to call their own.  That she’s a blue-skinned, pointy-toothed vampire from a strange country filled with unfamiliar customs is a metaphor for anybody who may think of themselves as an “other,” although the show doesn’t whap you over the head with its message of acceptance and friendship and understanding.  Or maybe it does and I’ve just been brainwashed after staring into Vampirina’s unmoving purple eyes for too long (my one complaint with the show – the animation is flat, although the rich colours and design of the show are straight out of a Tim Burton movie.)  It’s a terror-ifically delightful and non-irritating children’s show with a kind heart, a great message and a colourful gothic look, and I love it for it, child(-at-heart) or no.  Also, James Van Der Beek voices Vee’s father, Boris, Lauren Graham her mother, Oxana, and Wanda Sykes Vampirina’s 473-year-old gargoyle best friend, Gregoria.  It’s so insanely charming.

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I nearly gave myself a case of the battys when we walked out of a ride on a recent trip to Hollywood Studios and Vampirina was right across the street holding a character meet-and-greet!  We jumped into line and didn’t feel the least bit weird about the fact that we were the only adults around. 🙂

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And oh my gosh, she was SO cute!  On the show, Vampirina plays guitar in a band with her human friends Poppy and Bridget.  The Ghoul Girls thrash out in Vampirina’s stone tower bedroom, and Vampirina’s all about those rawk fingers.  She actually got so excited here after we asked about her band that she nearly stuck her devil horns straight up Mr. Finger Candy’s nose!

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Is there something wrong with us that we’ll stand in line to meet real life plushie representations of fictional animated characters?  Yeah, probably!  But it’s a lot like Vampirina unlocking her inner ghoul – it feels good, so we’re doing it.  Family motto of the last 365 days, actually.  So glad we got to meet this cutie – one day it will probably pay off in cool-loser Aunt Sandra stories for some delighted six-year-olds. 😉

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They’re Coming to Get You, Barbara

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Call this updated Night of the Living Dead-esque manicure the inevitable sequel to a design I always thought I could do a little bit better.  I’m sure George A. Romero thought likewise when he attempted Dawn of the Dead.  Ooh, sick zombie burn!

But real talk?  Wonkus hand position aside, I actually prefer the original design; it’s clearer than this muddled black-and-white cemetery, and the tiny details are more delicately rendered.  Here, take a peek!

Not entirely unfortunate, right?  Like I said, slightly sideways hand position aside (it took a long, long time to nail down a position that both felt and looked good) I think this 2013 manicure is far superior to the one I did today.  What’s old is new again!  Or maybe I’m just regressing?  Hard to tend to my nail artabilities when I’m running off to Disney every 20 seconds (slight exaggeration, but only slight – we’re leaving for our anniversary trip in two days!  So 172,800 seconds.)  Anyhow, perhaps I’ll have to update the update of the original, just to put these black-and-white zombie things six feet under where they properly belong once and for all. 😉

There Can Be Only One

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Jack-o-Lantern face, that is!  Growing up, my pumpkin dictator mother decreed that there could only be one expression carved into the side of a ripe Halloween pumpkin – triangle eyes, half-moon mouth, the end!  It’s a classic for a reason, to be sure.  All the same, she was (jokingly) aghast the year I came along and added two pointy fangs to the half-moon mouth; what the hey was this kid doing messing with tradition anyways?!  I attempt to be a glass-half-full kind of person, so I’m going to say I was just respecting tradition.  In fact, I respect it so much – well, just take a peek at last year’s tiny Jack-o-Lantern.

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Weegie is a non-conformist, and she thinks my later work has grown repetitive.  How rude!  Also, says the cat in the lobster costume!  And yes, that is a 16-year-old torbi dressed as a crustacean, sitting beside a lit Jack-o-Lantern on my diningroom table; what of it? 😉

These happy Jack-o-Lantern nails are for my mom, both the classic, proscribed expression and avec fangs, just to mix things up and drive my mom a teeny bit bonkers.  Happy Halloween!

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