Getting back on the horse – and a ‘taking stock’ of sorts

Well hey there! Here I am! I tell you, it feels like it has been a while since I have had the chance to sit down and immerse myself in a blog post. Not to say that this is going to have any earth-shattering insights. Rather it is me climbing gently back on the horse – or the bike – whatever takes your fancy! The kiddies – can I still call them that now that they are both adults?- have started back at uni this week and my brain is beginning to find some breathing space again *sigh*. Usually we have a week down at the beach over the summer to allow for chill time but this year we headed overseas, which was excellent, but it’s a different kind of holiday, isn’t it, when you are out and about, taking in the sights? And when we returned, my girl was ON A MISSION to clock up her driving hours so she could go for her driver’s licence (note for non-Aussie readers –  under 21s need 120 hours of driving practice before they can take the test) so we were driving here, there and everywhere around Melbourne and beyond chasing those hours! Want to see a movie? Great, Lion is on at a cinema 35km away (left the cinema with tear-stained cheeks). Let’s drive for half an hour to see La La Land (both felt a bit ‘meh’). Coffee? There’s an excellent cafe on the other side of town. Love being with my girl, but it was quite time consuming, and ate into those long summer days with nothing to do but mooch around the house and do a bit of self-reflection!

Anyhoo, the last couple of weeks have had a few less commitments and I THINK I’m now back in a place where I can plump up the old brain and get some creative juices flowing, where I can absorb a little more of what I’ve been reading, and I can get out and about to explore what is going on in my lovely city. A nice way to balance the other responsibilities of life!

So this is how things have been chugging along so far.

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Started this cosy stripe blanket. Pretty happy with its progress!
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Joined in with the weekly challenges for The Collage Club
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Went to the David Hockney exhibition at the NGV
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Borrowed Truly Madly Guilty from the library. Nearly finished it. I’ve never read Liane Moriarty before so was keen to give her a try. A page turner but I’m getting a little impatient for it to wrap up.
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Dipped my toes into doing a little bit of journalling. This one was from a lovely summer’s evening sitting with my boy whilst waiting for my girl.

Feeling a bit more content within myself with this under my belt. The last few months, I felt a bit shrivelled inside! Think I fell into a bit of a rut with the whole end of year commitments, beginning of year activities, and then this sort of PARALYSIS sets in where you don’t feel you have the time to create, and then when little spaces open, there’s no ideas in the head, so you just sit like a BLOB scrolling through Facebook and Insta feeds. Or maybe that’s just me!

But now I’m back on the horse and hoping to keep cantering along!

Catch up again soon!

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The Sketchbook Project update!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about taking part in The Sketchbook Project. So. Have I been brave enough to put pen/pencil/paint to paper! Indeedy, I have! Here’s how it’s coming along!

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I’m pleased with how it’s coming along so far. It’s been really nice taking time creating an image rather than just banging out a quick sketch ‘to keep the eye in’. And it’s made me think about trying out different mediums. Maybe they won’t all make their way into the sketchbook but it will be fun playing!

The pages aren’t very thick so I avoided watercolour at first but then had the light bulb moment – my dimmer switch was on way too long! – that I could paint on watercolour paper and simply stick it into the sketchbook! My theme is Long Stories, Short so I’ve decided to use one page for words that tell the story of my picture. There’s not really a link between each page, other than they are little snapshots of a scene or thought that has stoked my imagination.

Do you have a favourite pic? I’d love to hear what you think!

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Taking Stock: June ’16

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Don’t these Japanese windflowers look pretty? I’m loving opening my front door to find these blooms waving their pretty little heads at me. They provide a lovely bit of cheer on a grey, wintry day. Halfway through the year, and with the days becoming ever shorter, outdoor delights are harder to find and we need to look for them indoors. Personally, I quite like snuggling down inside, slurping soup and listening to rain pattering on the roof. Here’s where I’m at the moment.

Making: a start on my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project. You can read about that here.

Reading: Reckoning by Magda Szubanski. I’m really enjoying her memoir. Much to take out of it about our search for our identity.

Watching: Hugh Laurie in both Veep and The Night Manager. Chuckling at him in the first and a bit wary of him in the second!

Cooking: lamb saag. Yum on a winter’s night! I use this recipe from Gourmet Girlfriend but add a bit more meat for my protein loving man and boy. And I use baby spinach instead of the kale.

Eating: my mum’s fruitcake baked for us at my man’s request. What a gem she is!

Drinking: English breakfast tea. Lots of mugs!

Listening: to Bowraville. If you enjoyed the first season of Serial, you will enjoy this. It investigates the murders 25 years ago of three aboriginal youngsters over a five month period from the one street. Aside from the murders, it is an interesting commentary on race relations in Australia.

Enjoying: watching this Carpool Karaoke. Lin, Audra, Jesse, Jane and James having a singalong is pretty ace!

Looking: forward to the school holidays

Coveting: this dress. I think it would be a perfect trans seasonal frock but how much can I afford to spend?

Feeling: pleased with myself for pulling lots of weeds out of my back garden this morning before the rain came down.

Wondering: if I can make it to see this movie this week.

Waiting: for my wool order to arrive so I can start making this cowl

How are you going as you head towards to mid-winter? Or are you looking forward to long mid-summer days? Maybe you want to take stock too?

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Being creatively brave!

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When the little yellow envelope arrived in the letterbox yesterday, I felt super excited. Finally, it had arrived from Brooklyn, my little sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project! Yay! Have you heard of this art project? It started ten years ago and is run out of the Brooklyn Art Library. People from all around the world have filled sketchbooks with their creative work, be it sketches, printing, painting, collage or words, which are then housed at the library (or mobile library for touring purposes). The books can also be viewed through the online catalogue and are searchable by artist name, theme and tags.

I tore open the envelope, read through the instructions, jumped on the iPad and registered my little book. There’s a list of themes to choose from but you are free to come up with your own too. I decided upon ‘Long stories, short’. I turned the front cover and stroked the paper of the first page. I love the feel of fresh clean paper. Is that weird? I turned the next page and the next. Thirty two blank sheets of paper to fill! That’s right. Thirty…two…blank…sheets…of …paper…to …fill. The fear, the trepidation started to set in. Those pristine sheets of paper looked so pretty in their unadorned state. Oh yes, they would look beautiful filled with colour and lines and images, but mine? Who am I kidding? I’m not an artist! Shani is an artist, not you! Her book was GORGEOUS because she knows what she’s doing. You have NO IDEA! Gah! Imposter syndrome, here you are! So…I had to give myself a little bit of a telling off, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’, ‘there are no mistakes’, all that sort of stuff, you know.

Anyhoo, my excitement is starting to bubble back up a little now. Tomorrow, I’m going to head to the library and scour the children’s section for some picture books for illustration reference and inspiration. I’m trawling through my instagram and loving looking at the work of some of my favourite illustrators, such as Rebecca GreenMarianna Marx and Lauren Merrick. I have a few ideas for a couple of pages and have done some practice sketches. There is loads of time to complete the book (February 2017 is the final date for submission) so I don’t have to try and squeeze it into my daily routine. I will have time to think and explore, and, hopefully, the images that are in my head will be reflected on the page. But in the end, they will be what they will be, and they will be something, which is better than being nothing! I’ll share some of what I come up with with you. And if you haven’t seen me post anything, give me a kick up the bum to make sure I do!

Have you ever had to fight the ‘imposter syndrome’? Been creatively brave? Or do you think creativity and bravery go hand-in-hand?

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One + Four = Life: home life

Hi there! Well, it’s been a funny old weather week in Melbourne! We had a gorgeous spring day on Tuesday but aside from that we have seen quite a bit of rain and wind. It’s pretty much kept me indoors, puddling around – what a pun! – doing homey things. Which isn’t all bad. It’s nice to have a quiet week, isn’t it?

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When we were out on our morning walk on Tuesday, – the nice day! – we spied this lovely lady. There she was, decked out in silky red pyjamas, diamanté clip in her hair, sunnies on, preparing herself for tai chi. I tried to take her photo a little surreptitiously but just as I was about to take the snap, she turned in my direction. Felt a bit awkward!  Hope she wasn’t offended!

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During the week my man cooked his specialty – also known as the only meal in his repertoire! – chicken parmagiana. So nice when I don’t have to cook dinner! He likes to serve potatoes with dollops of sour cream and snipped chives as an accompaniment. Yep, he’s pretty fancy, my man!  I needed to do some baking the next day so decided to combine the left over sour cream with lemon to make some cookies. I do love a lemon/sour cream recipe combo! I used this recipe and, I have to say, they have gone down a treat! They’re not a crispy cookie, more cakey in texture, like the base in jaffa cakes.  I deviated from the recipe a little bit and topped mine with a smear of a simple lemon glaze.

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I’ve been joining in with the tinkersketch challenge this month. I like to keep up a regular drawing practice but I find it a bit tricky sometimes to think about what to draw. My mind draws a blank! Haha! Such a wit! Having daily prompts from someone else helps to keep me motivated. Is there a creative pursuit you try to practise daily? Are you a ‘challenge’ person? I quite like this one that I did for the day five prompt ‘drip’. Probably also could have drawn one inspired by the rain that kept drip, drip, dripping outside!

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And what do you do when it’s like this outside and you have painters in your kitchen? Can’t bake, can’t cook, can’t get out for a walk or do some gardening – not that I’m mourning the last option! I caught up on a couple of podcasts and a little bit of TV viewing whilst doing some knitting.. Carly drew my attention to this podcast which was a great chat between Wil Anderson and Annabel Crabb. Lots of interesting stuff about their lives in journalism, feminism, politics, school life. Really excellent. And I listened to more Annabel on the birthday edition of Chat 10 Looks 3. I loved Leigh’s rewording of Tim Minchin’s song ‘When I Grow Up’. That has to be one of my favourite songs. Very poignant, very Tim. Did have a little tear up when Leigh played the original version! Equally poignant is Josh Thomas’s show Please Like Me. His writing is so great. I love the way he can capture the comedic, angsty, vulnerable moments of life all in one little episode. The characters are all so beautifully portrayed. Very natural, very relatable. Is there a TV show that touches your heart?

Sunny days ahead are promised so I’m looking forward to stretching my legs a bit more this week. Has your week been out and about or a bit more housebound? Pop over to Isabel’s blog to see what others have been up to.

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