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1. Moonglow Mystery, Redux

 

This past fall, I'd painted some mysterious figures on a moonlight mission. I ended up turning it into a pattern, then promptly forgot about it until I spotted a two for one deal on fat quarters on Spoonflower. Exclamation point!

 
A fat quarter turned out to be enough for a detachable Peter Pan collar. And now I feel like I'm ready to go out and solve a mystery or two myself. Move over, Nancy Drew.

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2. The Elf Maiden

 
I started reading Kristin Lavrandsdatter last week, hence, the elf maiden above.

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3. Winter Wear

 
A little warmup sketch. She's dressed exactly like I want to be right now, in the middle of this arctic blast.

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4. Two Thousand and Fifteen

 
Happy New Year! Here's the view from the window by my drafting table this morning. That river's looking mighty cold today.

So Christmas was lovely and New Year's was great -- here's hoping yours was, as well. I visited with family, ate large quantities of baked goods and enjoyed all of the goodwill and cheer. But now, I'm back in the studio, raring to go. I'm working on a new picture book and sketches are keeping me busy. Aside from that, I've been mulling over New Year's resolutions. So here's what I'm going to push up my sleeves and give a go:

* I'm collaborating with my sister on an online comic that we're hoping to share some time this Spring. She's writing, I'm illustrating and we're both pretty darn excited about this. More on that later.

* I want to sew and knit more of what I wear on a daily basis. A party dress with a paper wasp print? Made it. 1920's bathing suit? Done that. But the kind of shirt I'd wear 'till the cows come home? Nope. And in keeping with that goal, I've got my eye on Grainline Studio's Archer pattern and Colette Patterns jersey Moneta dress.

* Take a class or two. I've been thinking of an etching class maybe and I'm trying to find a cake baking one as well.

And besides that, there's vague plans of travel, sit-ups and 25 books that I want to read. So here's to 2015. Insert lots of noisemaker noise-making and clinking of glasses. 
 

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5. Decemberings



Navigating that space between the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

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6. 2014 Books

 

So last January I made a couple of New Year's resolutions. I didn't come through on the jeans (to be honest, I chickened out in the face of flat felled seams and rivets). But I did manage the resolution I really wanted to stick to, reading more. So in no particular order, here's my favorites this year:

1. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, by Douglas Adams. I'm a sucker for sci-fi. I inhale mystery novels. So long story short, Dirky Gently is a detective I can get seriously get behind. Caveat: don't read this on a crowded flight like I did, because your maniacal laughing will be impossible to contain. Sorry, seat mates.

2. The Last Gentleman, by Walker Percy: Armed with a telescope and an insatiable curiosity, Will Barrett is on a hunt for life's meaning. Beautiful prose, wonderful scenes of Southern life and the most gut-wrenching final chapter I've ever read, The Last Gentleman is a keeper.

3. American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang: One of the best graphic novels I've read in a long time. I loved the blending of past and present, fact and fantasy. So very good and well worth the read, regardless of age.

4. The Greengage Summer, by Rumer Godden: A tale of five children fending for themselves in rural France, this one is brilliantly vivid with a pitch-perfect narrator.

5. Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Major Works: Hopkin's way with the English language is completely unparalleled and his later poetry is especially mesmerizing.

And here's the rest of what I read in 2014. Which begs the question: what should I read in 2015?

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7. Calm + Bright

 
I just ate a sugar cookie for breakfast and the lights on the tree are going full blast, which can mean only one thing: it's time for me to head on out and do some fa la la'ing.

Hope you're having lovely holiday seasons! It's been busy here, wrapping up a book cover and starting sketches for something new and exciting (more on that in the new year). I also volunteered for this year's Candlelight Stroll at Strawbery Banke. I had the best time playing a WWII Air Raid Warden (that hat sure does make you feel like you mean business).

But right now, I'm off to spend the next few days with my family. I have pies to bake and tunes to listen to and general seasonal frivolity to partake in.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Peace and Joy to you and yours. I'll pop back in sometime before the end of the year, but in the meantime, here's wishing you the very happiest of holiday seasons.

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8. Tea and Toast


Bits and bobs, sketchbook things. December, I'm liking you (if for no other reason than I get to hear "Snoopy and the Red Baron" on the radio).

  
 Otherwise?

*I made these cinnamon rolls yesterday. Granted my version ain't going to win any beauty pageants, but they sure do taste fine. Bonus: they're grain-free AND sugar-free.

*I have the mermaid tea towels up in the shop! If you don't see any, I have plenty to keep re-listing, so no worries. And if you want one reserved, feel free to holler at me.

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9. 'Tis the Season

 

Because it's almost that time of year, here's some tags I made for your gift wrapping adventures.

  
Fine print: you'll need a PDF reader to open these. Before printing, I recommend fiddling with your printer settings so that it's at its highest output quality (especially if you choose to run these on card stock). Feel free to print as many as you like for personal or educational use. Hope you like 'em!

 

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10. Wild + Free

 
There might be snow and slush on the ground, but I finally finished the last bits of the wildflower print I started work on this past Summer.

But enough with flowers. I need to start thinking about a Christmas tree...

Happy Friday!

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11. Mr. J. Gooseberry

 

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12. Podcast-tastic

 

Like most freelancers, I end up listening to a lot of podcasts. So I thought I'd put together a list of a few of my favorites.

1. After the Jump: Hosted by Design*Sponge's Grace Bonney, After the Jump is a terrific resource for freelancers, creatives, small business owners and the like. A balance of interviews, tips and how-to's, it's definitely given me a lot of food for thought.

2. Serial: When I first heard that This American Life was doing a spin-off, I'll admit I was skeptical. But Sarah Koenig's made a convert of me and I'm counting down the days until each new episode. What I really love about Serial is the way it takes a story and disassembles it, examining all the bits of information we typically zoom past in this soundbite age. Caveat: Season 1 deals with a murder, so heads up if you're someone who listens to shows with kiddos around.

3. BBC Radio 4 Extra: You guys have no idea how much of this I listen to. For reals. I'm a sucker for radio dramas, so Radio 4 Extra is my auditory Shangri-La. Modern book adaptations, classics in serial form, sci-fi, it's pretty much all here. And speaking of the BBC...

4. Desert Island Discs: Stranded on a desert island, what tunes would you take along? Desert Island Discs poses this question to a terrific range of guests, everyone from politicians to actors, humanitarians to academics. You can also search for shows where the "castaway" choses a particular artist (and yes, I did listen to every show where the castaway chose the Talking Heads).

5. Smart Creative Women: A treasure trove of interviews with women in a wide range of fields, everything from surface design to quilting to illustration and more.

And what else? I figure This American LifeRadiolab and All Songs Considered are a given for most people, but if you don't listen, get a move on ASAP. I don't listen as frequently to How to do Everything and 99% Invisible, but when I do, like 'em a lot. And if you have the slightest interest in comics, Jerzy Drozd's Comics are Great podcast is top notch.

Whew. So what did I miss?

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13. Thirty Fathoms Down

 

Things I am painting/stitching lately. I'm also dusting things off and getting ready to pop a few new prints up on Etsy. That should be all good to go the day after Thanksgiving, cross my heart.

What else, what else?

*Some real nice words about OMG: The Spell Bind over on the Disney Nerds blog.

*I saw Murder on the Homefront the other night and it ain't half bad. Granted the plot's a little thin, but oh goodness, the costumes. Seriously. Hats, wraps, teetering heels, even down to the acid yellow knit vest Lennox Collins sports, it's all a visual treat.

*I'm on pie duty again this year, which begs the very important question: what's your go to Thanksgiving dessert?

Happy weekends!

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14. The Granite State

 

Playing around with type and paint today. New Hampshire, you sure know how to pick a state motto.

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15. Anemone Memory


It's 45 and drizzly out, so I'm going to paint anemones instead, m'kay?

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16. The Forest Clearing

 
A little detail of a print I'm working on at the moment. There's watercolor there, colored pencils, bits of washi tape and a smattering of digital color tweaking. To quote Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet."

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17. The Mysterious Identity of the Masked Mademoiselle


A little something for All Hallows' Eve. Hope your plans tonight involve something seasonally apropos. I caught a showing of Nosferatu the other night (CREEPY) and I'm currently imbibing pumpkin flavored coffee (DELICIOUS), so it's safe to say I'm feeling sufficiently October 31'ish at the moment.

Happy Halloween!

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18. Two Thousand and Fifteen

 

Something I drew for this week's Spoonflower challenge to design a 2015 tea towel calendar. I'm planning to print up a few of these and will have them in the shop right after Thanksgiving.

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19. Bespectacled

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20. Halloween Stickers - Free Printable

 
Hey, hey, October! Because Halloween's 'round the corner, here's a free printable for some spooky stickers. I've sized them to fit Avery's sticker paper, but you can always print them out on regular paper and glue them to what have you. These could also be fun printed on fabric transfer paper, added to t-shirts, trick-or-treat bags, etc. In short, have fun and enjoy!

   

 For personal, school and library use only, please. Copyright Abigail Halpin, 2014.

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21. Checkerberry Tea

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22. Woven

 
What's on my desk today.

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23. Chartreuse Chemise

 
More imaginary things I would wear (i.e, opera pink oxfords please and thank you).

And before I forget, The Spell Bind, the next in the "Oh My Godmother" series comes out in a couple weeks (more on that soon). In the meantime, go to here, where there's a Goodreads giveaway of said book going on.

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24. Plate-itudes

 

Plate painting is fun. And by fun, I mean I am now gripped with a desire to paint ALL THE PLATES.

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25. The Big Apple

 

 



 

Last week I was in New York for a whirlwind 48 hour visit with my sister. I've never been before and whoa Nelly, what a city.

Highlights?

*Meeting the nice folks at Disney Publishing, which was a real treat.

*Breakfast in SoHo at Sant Ambroeus.

*Visiting the top of the Empire State building.

*Seeing Matilda.

*Not doing a face plant on the subway. High five, self.
   
 Also, this was fun. I'll catch you for real next time, Brooklyn.

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