neverwhere by neil gaiman

rae's days neverwhere illustration

When I was little, I played a game with a friend of mine who was a very talented artist. We would design a house for her iguana (his name was Mikey) and draw rooms on different sheets of paper. She and I would hatch different designs, and she would turn our ideas into pictures. We’d end up with pages and pages of rooms and hallways that we could move and reshuffle to make a mansion-sized house of cards. In Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere (Kindle here), Door’s family’s entryway to everywhere reminds me of this game. When Door enters this room, she sees images of all the rooms her family has access to as part of their home. No matter how far away these rooms are, Door’s family can open the door and walk in.

Door’s family can open doors, and this game opened our imagination. (Essentially, I guess, that’s the same thing.) When you’re little and playing pretend, the world is full of possibilities. But as Richard Mayhew finds out, the adult world can often leave you feeling trapped–trapped in a loveless relationship, a dead-end job, or without a home and on the street.

When Richard stops to help Door, he opens his heart and mind once more to new possibilities–but like any new opportunity, it begins with Richard facing extreme difficulty and unimaginable torment.

Because after Richard recognizes Door as a person, one who happens to need help, he is thrust from his world in London Above and into her world of London Below (which are, pretty much, exactly what they sound like). As a result, no one in London Above notices Richard is even there. His ex-fiancee draws a blank, his desk at work is gone, and his home is sold right out from under him despite his cries of protests. (Is there anything more demoralizing than being completely ignored?)

So Richard heads to London Below, where he finds the rest of those who slipped through the cracks. Like Croup and Vandemar, two peas in a murderous pod, or Hunter, the beautiful guard focused wholly on her prey. (I’d have to watch my back, but I feel like I’d like to meet almost everyone in London Below.) Richard does his best to find his way, but this world is completely new to him and he doesn’t understand what everyone else seems to inherently know.

Everyone, at some point or another, has felt like Richard Mayhew. We’ve all felt ignored and abandoned, and hopelessly lost.

But Richard has the gift of recognizing the humanness in others (even if, in London Below, they aren’t all exactly human). To recognize another person, to say, “I see you, and I respect you, and I accept you,“ is the greatest gift we can give and sometimes the hardest thing to do. But respect saves lives (and souls), and this is what keeps Richard safe through his journey in the underworld of London.

Richard has a gift, but he let it get buried in the everyday nothings of everyday life that can weigh us all down. Lucky for him, and for those who pick up Neverwhere, Door opens his imagination once again to fun–and funny!–adventures.

Illustration is pen and ink; links are affiliate. 

ralph lauren fashion illustration

ralph lauren fashion illustration

I love fashion week, even from afar. (It’s not like I went to shows when I was in New York anyway, so the separation’s pretty easy.) Looking at pretty things for inspiration and for fun will never get old for me.

This fashion week coincided with roughly the same time I got sick of everything in my closet. My new style inspiration Keri Russell has inspired me to pare things down to simple, cool basics. (I mean, she looks good, right?)

While runways tend to be known for going over the top, there’s still great inspiration to pull from if you keep your eyes open.

This look from Ralph Lauren is a wonderful example of simple and cool. A ribbed sweater and pants in the same color family are perfectly coordinated basics, and the bright yellow trench is a fun and surprising update to a classic wardrobe staple.

So this is what I’m aiming for these days: classy, simple, cool.

My illustration is pen and marker. I tried something a little different this time and used a sepia pen since my colors were light and bright. I like it! My video slideshow shows some of the coloring process.

I’m liking these videos, but practice will make perfect I suspect. What do you guys think?

To Do Lists of the Semi Adult: episode 8

to do lists of the semi-adult

In episode 8 of To Do Lists of the Semi-Adult, Jewels and I talk about traveling. Jewels is heading to California to see her family–which is super exciting, but packing and navigating  the airport is not.

We also talked about what we can do to help new moms. Jewels and I are not expecting, but friends and family of ours are, and we want to be able to help as much as possible without being a nuisance in an already emotional time. There is tons of advice on the Internet, and I suggested making yourself available, bringing drugstore supplies, and dropping off food on the front porch. Do you have any advice for us? Let us know.

Jewels and I had great Labor Day weekends: I went to the Field Museum and went to a goodbye for Anana the Polar Bear, who is taking a trip while the zoo redoes her habitat. Jewels went to the Narcisi Winery in Gibsonia and had a great time.

As for the lightning round, I am reading Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer, and Jewels read John Green‘s The Fault in Our Stars, which I’ve heard I should definitely pick up.

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or by using our feed link. You can also always find them on my Podcast page. You can find me right here at Rae’s Days, on Instagram, and on Twitter. Jewels is at Oven Lovin, on Instagram and on Twitter.

illustration of melody from without a summer

illustration of melody from without a summer by mary robinette kowal

I am working my way backwards through Mary Robinette Kowal’s glamourist histories about one of my favorite literary couples, Jane and Vincent. (I started with the latest book in the series by happenstance, and I’m just going with it.) In Without a Summer (Kindle here), Jane and Vincent travel with Jane’s younger sister Melody to London to work (Jane and Vincent) and to find eligible bachelors (Melody). It is full of smart relationship drama that is true to the flawed but honest characters, which I totally love.

By honest, I don’t necessarily mean truth-telling. I mean that these characters are fully formed, believable, and make decisions that makes sense for who they are. This, in turn, makes every plot twist believable and the drama earned. (And for those averse to romance, there’s political and courtroom theatrics, along with a revolt brewing in the streets that was just as interesting and fun.)

It was a pleasure for me to spend more time with Melody in this book–her charm and beauty worked just as much on me as any man she met in London. It was also a pleasure to learn more about manners and clothes in the Recency Era, which Jane and Melody needed to use to their advantage if they were ever going to find Melody a good match.

In one particular outing, Melody was an icy blond vision in blue as she went ice skating at a party of the Prince Regent himself. Melody often donned a blue pelisse (sort of a coat for your dress) that set off her eyes, and with her hat and muff to guard against the cold, she was a vision.

My illustration is pen and markers, and my video slideshow shows a bit of my coloring process.

I can’t wait to keep reading about this family! Other posts on this series:

(I choose to write about this book on my own, though the links are affiliate.)

diy decorative mirrors and my office space

desk area with diy mirrors

I have been wanting to hang a big mirror in this corner of my living room for a long time. But big mirrors cost big money, and I wasn’t ready to commit.

But I was in trouble–isn’t it so drab with nothing on the wall?

desk area: before

So instead of one big mirror, I used six mirror tiles from Home Depot. I thought several little mirrors might have the same effect as one big one, and Home Depot (and Lowes, I think) sells a pack of tiles for just $10.

After looking for some frames, I realized 6 little frames would be just as much as one big one. So to save money but still look good (I hope) I got some decorative paper from Paper Source. I measured so that the mirrors would have a two-inch border of paper, and I used double-sided tape to adhere the paper to the mirrors.

diy mirror with decorative frame supplies

decorative papers

And then I used 3M picture hanging strips to get them on the wall. The whole project cost less than $50–way cheaper than the mirrors I had been eyeing. Actually, the most expensive part of the whole project was the 3M strips, so if you used a different method to hang them, it’s possible to make this even cheaper.

I’m so much happier to get to work now that my little corner office is bright and cheery!

desk area with diy decorative mirrors

inspiration for planning new projects

inspiration

Since I’m not going anywhere for the long weekend, I’ve been perusing some of my favorite magazines and catalogs for inspiration on projects I can do at home. I am thisclose to my home being totally done–whatever that means–but right now there’s still a few blank walls I want to fill with something more interesting.

The images pictured are from the most recent Ikea catalog (bottom) and HGTV Magazine (top; one of my favorites because it meshes with my style so well).

Hopefully next week I’ll have some finished spaces to show you, but until then, I hope everyone has a great long weekend!

to do lists of the semi-adult: episode 7

to do lists of the semi-adult

In this episode of To Do Lists of the Semi-Adult, Jewels and I talk about sending birthday cards–because Jewels and I are really bad at it.

We have tried many, many ways to keep track of birthdays and send cards on time (like this birthday card book Jewels made), and our best tips are to keep cards, stamps, and envelopes on hand; keep addresses as handy as possible, and set reminders on your phone. I also talked to Michael, who is really good at this, and he said he adds birthdays to his regular to do list and sometimes sets email reminders. Do you guys out there who are great at sending birthday cards on time have any tips for us?

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or by using our feed link. You can also always find them on my Podcast page. You can find me right here at Rae’s Days, on Instagram and on Twitter. Jewels is at Oven Lovin, on Instagram and on Twitter.