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Taking Stock : October

I have been meaning to do a “Taking Stock” list for ages.  Pip Lincolne posts them on her lovely blog Meet Me at Mike’s and they always inspire me to do the same.  But I have yet to do it.  So here goes…..

Cooking : Curries – I am trying to make a decent one.  I have a delightful library volunteer (she’s Indian) who brings me equally delightful meals and I am pretty sure she uses some kind of witchcraft on them because they are SO GOOD.

Drinking : Yorkshire Tea.  I always drink tea but am finding I need an extra strong brew these days, so Yorkshire Tea it is.  That, or I dunk two regular teabags in my cup. And then walk away, forget about it, and come back to a cup of tea that is so strong the spoon stands up in it.

Listening to: Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton John Seriously – two of my fave artists combined?  Hello!?  Awesomeness. Have you never been mellow, indeed.

Reading: The Little Paris Bookshop  It’s a lovely story about a floating bookshop in Paris and the owner who “possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers”.

Next read: Haven’t made my mid up yet, because I have SO MANY books to read at home.  But I think I will tackle The Wonder by Emma Donoghue.

Making: Lots of collages.  Which, in turn, means I am making lots of mess.

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Wanting: An electric drill.  It is time I made the commitment to proper DIY projects and got myself some power tools.  It will probably end in disaster, let’s face it.

Looking: For old drawers.  Of the furniture / storage variety.  I don’t mean knickers.  I want to make some groovy storage / shelving thingies from them.  Have a look at some of the ideas HERE

Deciding: On what to do with my life.  This is a recurring theme for me.  But I feel very anxious about it all.  I am thinking about going to a career counsellor.  I can’t work out if they are a load of nonsense or actually quite a good idea.

Wishing: For world peace, obviously.  But also a Lotto win, a flatter stomach, reliable hair and comfortable (yet fabulous) shoes.  Mostly the Lotto win – I really need that.

Enjoying: Strawberries.  We’re in the midst of a bit of strawberry scare at the moment in Australia (some fool has been putting needles in them as some sort of disgruntled-ex-employee protest) but I have been bravely soldiering on and enjoying these luscious little bites of sweetness.  They are so tasty right now.  I could eat a whole punnet in one sitting.

Waiting: For Spring to really kick in.  We’ve had some lovely sunny days, but they’ve been interspersed with very rainy, cold, miserable, ugh kind of days that make me ache and want to hide under a blanket.

Loving: A new discovery, The Rustic Gallery  Full of lovely old and not-so-old STUFF.  Rusty yumminess – everything from furniture to homewares, garden pieces, hardware, tools etc.  Beautifully set out, really well organised and very reasonably priced.  There are treasures around every corner.  You must visit!

Considering: Joining a gym.  It’s a ridiculously scary idea for me.  My physio wants me to start strengthening up and is encouraging me to go to the gym to work on this.  It is freaking me out.  I am not a gym person.  If I could work out in the dark, with no one else around, I would be ok.

Buying: DIY stuff.  Spray paint and house paint and staple guns (!) and all manner of handyman-esque items.  Injury is imminent.

Watching: That should read “binge-watching”.  Because I am overdosing on episodes of Lee Mack’s hilarious sitcom Not Going Out.  I admit to loving him just a little bit.  I have several years of the show to catch up on so it’s nightly viewing for me at the moment.  I’m also watching Jamie Ray Vintage on Youtube.  Her videos make me want to paint and upcycle everything in sight.

Cringing: At my thighs.  Sigh.  I don’t know how they happened.  And also at Donald Trump.  I don’t know how he happened either.

Needing: A hug.  I am not a touchy-feely person and everyone who knows me knows I am not a hugger, so when I say I need a hug, things must be getting tricky.

Smelling: The last remnants of my favourite perfume from Somethin Special.  It’s called Butt Naked.  Which is a horrible name that I am embarrassed to tell people about, but it smells like heaven on a stick.  I must order some more directly.

Wearing: Trousers and jeans.  Ugh, I hate them.  But I have put on weight and none of my skirts fit right now so I have to wear pants.  Many of them with elastic waists.  Which make me cry and want to hide in a cave somewhere.

Worrying: About the future.  A LOT.  Everything seems so unstable and scary, both personally and around the world in general.  I don’t remember there being a time like this, where nothing makes sense and everything seems crazy and upsetting.  The wrong people are in power and it frightens me.  We seem to be evolving backwards.

Knowing: I need a haircut.  Every day I have the same conversation with myself about booking an appointment, but do I do anything about it?  No.  I do not.  I am starting to look like a bedraggled yeti.

Thinking: Way too much.  How do you switch your brain off?  I am attending a Mindfulness workshop next week to see if I can learn to be more “in the moment” and all that stuff.  Most of my health issues are connected to my inability to relax, both physically and mentally so I have to try and do something about it.  Fingers crossed! (and then uncrossed…and relaxed…) 🙂

Sorting: Lots of sorting!  I have just gone through three ENORMOUS boxes of paperwork and shredded/sorted/filed it.  It’s a job I had been meaning to do for YEARS.  Like, why did I have receipts from car repairs I had done 15 years ago?  Why???  I am culling books and clothes and STUFF as well.  Just trying to get in some sort of order.

Getting: Into meditation and mindfulness.  I am trying so hard to calm my mind and stop being so anxious, panicky and sad (usually all at the same time).  I have bought a new little CD player, so I can do some guided meditation at night before bed and I am trying really hard to stay mindful and BREATHE during the day.  It’s not easy.  But at least I am trying.

Coveting: Phil Collins tickets.  I tried to book tickets (the crappiest, cheapest seats I could get) and they had all sold out within minutes.  The next class of tickets was too rich for my blood so I had to bow out.  So sad. *cries*

Disliking: The way people behave on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.  Who are these people who like to troll and abuse folks they don’t even know?

Feeling: Tired.  Tired.  Tired.  And middle-aged.  That one crept up on me…

Admiring: My dear friend for packing up her unsatisfying life and moving on to bigger and better things in a faraway location where she will know no one and have to fend for herself in an isolated location.  She is so much braver than me.  But I will miss her 😦

Snacking: Way too much.  I recently made these three-ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies and it wasn’t so much snacking as a cram-them-all-in-my-gob-at-once kinda scenario. They. Are. Delicious.

Giggling: At the antics of my temporary lodger, Ella the guinea pig.  She’s my niece’s little piggy and she’s adorable.  I am looking after her while her “people” are away.  She never stops eating.  I believe we are kindred spirits.

 

So, that’s my October.  What are your plans?  Are you looking forward to Spring cleaning, Halloween and the start of Christmas shopping?  Or is October just another month to you – one that flies by like the rest of them?  Whatever you are doing, I hope your month is creative and happy.

Thanks for dropping in x

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Bee Happy (and a bit about Laughter Yoga)

Hello, everyone 🙂  I was back at work this week after having an extended Easter break.  Can’t say I was overjoyed at the thought of returning to work, but very grateful to have a job to return to (the current economic climate being what it is, every extra day of employment is a bonus).  It took a while to get back into the swing of things, and I was horribly nervous when people came in to ask questions about our services etc ; after just a week off, I was a bit brain-dead and stupid.  But I got through it ok and people seemed happy with my responses.  It’s probably just me who thought I was useless!

One of my tasks today was to write a book review.  The book, “Love Laughter and Longevity : the Art and Science of Wellbeing” by Janni Goss, talks about laughter and its positive effects on our health, longevity, and quality of life.  As my organisation assists people with dementia, and encourages positive thinking and celebrating the small joys in life, this book could benefit many people who are dealing with the difficulties that dementia inevitably brings.  But laughter is a well-documented medicine for many of the things that ail us, whether we are experiencing illness or not.

There are physical changes that occur when we laugh : blood flow increases, endorphins are released, cortisol levels are lowered and the immune response is improved.  Intense laughter (whether faked or not – the brain can’t tell the difference) also provides aerobic exercise, which is far more enjoyable than time spent at the gym.

Janni is an advocate for Laughter Yoga and its benefits.  Over 100 countries around the world have Laughter Yoga groups, and its positive effect on people with illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to cancer has been studied and reported in numerous medical journals.  It’s certainly an interesting topic to read about (a lot of my reading-for-work tasks are pretty dull and make me go a bit cross-eyed) and worth further investigation if you’re into self-improvement and inner health (whilst improving your outer health at the same time!).  You can read more from Janni HERE or learn about Laughter Yoga throughout Australia HERE

All that laughter and being happy reminded me of this little canvas I painted on the weekend.  At first, when I had finished it, I felt a bit unsure about the whole “bee happy” thing.  Sometimes we’re just NOT, right?  Sometimes we are decidedly unhappy and a bit down in the dumps.  But I guess what Janni’s book and philosophy encourages is to embrace the small joyful moments in life and use them to promote well-being in our bodies and minds.  It’s kinda like faking it til you make it.  Not avoiding dealing with sadness but, rather, using joy to combat it and face it head on.  And you might as well have a few extra happy hormones to help you, right?

Having said all that, it’s important to let people know you’re struggling.  No one should suggest you “pretend” to be happy if you’re not.  That’s way too much pressure!  I believe happiness itself is a bit of a myth.  It’s such a vague concept.  No one is happy 100% of the time ; how can you be, when there is so much suffering and pain in the world?

But I think it’s important to be content with your situation, be in the moment, and be happy about the small things in life, focusing on the good, and doing what you can to minimise the “bad”.  It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sad or upsetting moments in our life, but how often do we give the same amount of energy to joyous moments, savouring them and replaying them in our minds?  The brain can’t differentiate between something that is a memory and something that is happening now.  So, we should try and hold on to happy memories and use them to boost our spirits when we are down, rather than re-living those moments that caused us pain and distress.

Easy to say.  But I think every extra weapon we can have in our arsenal against the blues is a bonus and worth a try.  I don’t think I will be doing a class of Laughter Yoga any time soon (I’m not a joining-in kinda gal and I would spend the entire time worrying about what I look like when I’m laughing and whether or not I was doing things right) but there are definitely principles that I could use to be more positive or, at least, trick my brain into feeling happier, until I am able to feel it for real.

Be happy today.  And if you can’t be, I’m sending good thoughts your way and a wish for a happier tomorrow.  Hang in there x

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Quietest and Most Constant (Collage)

Another day, another collage!  I actually made this one a few weeks ago but forgot to post it.  I really like the sentiment – books are constant friends and, for me, a house without books is just not a home.  Of course, being a librarian, I am surrounded by books all the time, so it is hard to imagine a life without them.  My house would probably be a lot less crowded though…but that’s another story!

The bird-lady in my collage has a lovely dress (from a Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone book of prayers) and her head is from a vintage book of bird illustrations.  She’s a Eurasian Hoopoe.  And she’s pretty fabulous with her freaky-deaky feathers.  You can read more about Hoopoes HERE.  They’re quite delightful.

The quote is from Charles William Eliot

Thanks for dropping by 🙂

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First Rate Second Hand Buys

Hello everyone.  I’m so glad it is Friday.  This week was my first back from holidays and, boy-oh-boy, what a long week it was!  Work has been hectic and stress-filled and I don’t feel as though I have even just had a break.

It’s been a while since I did an op-shopping (thrifting) post so I thought I would show you some of the things I have picked up lately.  There is a lot more than is featured here but, in the interest of brevity and not wanting to scare myself with how much stuff I bought, I’ll just show a few.  A selection of goodies, if you will.

  1. Canvases – I recently participated in a school fete (had a little stall selling my cards and other wares) and, at the end of the day, the White Elephant stall was selling all its leftovers for $1.00 (fill a bag for one dollar!).  I had a quick look around and found some kids’ canvases – two sets of five.  The lady at the stall told me they were $3 a set and the price could not be reduced to the $1.00 special.  I figured $6.00 for ten canvases was still pretty awesome anyway, so I went to the counter to ask the lady to hold them for me while I went back to get some money.  Before I could ask her, she said “That’ll be one dollar love…”  I queried whether they should actually be the higher price and she assured me that no, they were reduced.  So I happily paid the dollar and went off with my purchases.  But it didn’t feel right.  So, after feeling guilty for a while, I went back and told the lady I didn’t think the price was correct – that I should have paid more.  She assured me it was ok but I felt bad, like I was ripping the fundraising off, so I gave her a few extra dollars anyway.  So, I think I paid $4.00 in the end for ten really good little canvases – nice and study, ready to paint over, ready to hang and everything.  I’ve already used a couple for paintings.

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2. Vintage soup bowl  – such a pretty little thing, this bowl.  I love the design, and how it is different on each side.  I liked the little bee on it 🙂  I saw the bowl outside an antique shop and I just had to have it.  It’s not in perfect condition, but for $5.00 I can look past that.  I will just use it as a display piece.

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3. Pink shoes – Very pink for me…but super comfy and soft.  I only wear leather if I can buy it second hand (because I’m a vego).  These shoes are tiny too.  I am sure my feet are shrinking.  These were only a size 5 (36).  Plus, they were half price so I only paid $3.00.

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4.  More canvases (and books) – I keep finding old canvases in op shops and, if they’re cheap enough, I snap them up.  Especially if they come in sets.  There’s a selection here – different shapes and sizes.  I also got a few old children’s books for cutting up.  I think this lot cost about $10.00 all up.

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5. Floral Jacket – I recently attended a friend’s wedding and I had to buy something appropriate to wear.  In my search for a nice jacket, I picked this one up for about $5.00.  I didn’t wear it to the wedding though (I borrowed my cousin’s faux leather one for that – it went with the navy blue dress I wore much better) but I will happily wear it to something else.  It’s quite fitted and cropped but nicely made and not too heavy.  Oh and please excuse the bandaged thumb.  My dermatillomania is a bit mental right now so I am picking my fingers to pieces.  Not very attractive.

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6. Books.  Mum and I went to the annual Save the Children Fund Book Sale.  We look forward to this every year.  It’s the highlight of Spring 🙂  This year they didn’t seem to have as much stock, which was a bit disappointing, but I still managed to pick up quite a few bargains.  The books ranged in price from 50c – $4.00 (unless they were antique etc).  I bought about 30 books for roughly $60.00.  I got lots of animal and bird titles, for cutting up for collage etc.  So many lovely birdies!  The “British Birds” volume features beautiful vintage images so I will probably not cut that one up – will colour copy instead.  So of the pics are worth framing.  Books make me happy!

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So, that’s just a few of the things I picked up over the course of a few months.  I love a bargain, but I am trying to only buy things I know I need or will use.  I don’t do the buying frenzies I used to do 🙂  I am trying to not fill my house with more crap, and just because something is cheap, doesn’t mean you necessarily need it.  Books are the exception, ha ha.  I always need those!

Thanks for stopping by x

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Book Bargain Bonanza

I had a day off this week.  A glorious, nothing-scheduled, I-can-do-what-I-want day off.  Work has been very stressful, I’ve been having lots of migraines, and life just seemed a bit craptastic in general.  I’m always exhausted and just needed a break.  So, a day off was necessary, for my mental health if nothing else.

I got up early (not too early – it was a day off, after all!) and hit the op-shops.  I wanted to visit some I hadn’t been to before, and expand my “territory”.  I didn’t have much luck in finding anything good to start with, but eventually I hit book heaven at one particular Salvos store.  Lordy, lordy, they had the BEST book selection, AND it was in alphabetical order so you could actually search properly in the section you were interested in.

I am always on the lookout for Alice Hoffman titles.  She’s one of my favourite authors, but I never buy books new (who can afford them???!) so I have to wait until I find them in second hand shops.  Normally, I don’t find any of her books or, just as annoying, only ones I have already read and have in my shelf at home.  But on this day, dear readers, I found FIVE!  Woo!  I’d already read a couple of them, but I did snap up two for myself – White Horses, and The Museum of Extraordinary Things.  So happy!  I’m cross at myself because I left another one behind – Blue Diary – because I thought I had it at home, but then found that I didn’t.  You know you have too many books when you can’t remember what you have!  Hopefully it will still be there if I visit the shop again…but I’m glad to have found these two anyway 🙂

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Craft books are not always easy to come across in op-shops, and really nice ones are like hen’s teeth.  That’s why I was thrilled to find these two – French-Inspired Jewellery and The Adventurous Scrapbooker.  The latter has lots of off-the-page ideas for scrapbooks and similar projects.  I actually don’t like scrapbooking at all – I don’t do it and have never liked the concept of it – but there are always awesome ideas and techniques you can apply to other crafts.  So this book is great for that.  The jewellery book is gorgeous – not just for the pretty projects inside, but for the beautiful background layouts they have used for display.  Vintage papers and ephemera, ribbon and other embellishments make for beautiful pages, that are works of art in their own right.  So glad to have found this one!  Especially for the bargain price of $2.25!

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I love dogs.  I had them all my life, right up until I was in my 30s.  But now, with full-time work and a little house of my own, on my own, a dog just isn’t practical.  Maybe one day…sigh…  In the meantime, there are books like Rachel Hale’s 101 Salvations to keep me happy.  Rachel Hale’s photography is always a delight, and this book of doggy pictures is gorgeous.  I want to start doing some proper drawing and thought I might start with some canine-inspired sketches (might as well begin with a subject I know and love!) so I am hoping to use the photos as guides.  In any case, it is a beautiful book in excellent condition and, again, at only $2.25 – I’m sure the original RRP would have been well over $35.00 – I got another bargain.

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As I just mentioned, I am trying to improve my drawing skills (such as they are) and need all the help I can get.  So, with that in mind, I picked up this next book – You Can Draw in 30 Days. I’m not necessarily convinced I will only take 30 days, but hey, it’s a start.  I desperately want to be able to draw eyes so I am really hoping this book will help me.

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I also picked up a couple of titles for my Mum, who is a  voracious reader and is always running out of her own books to read.  So, all in all, a very successful visit to this particular op-shop.  I didn’t have room in my basket for anything else, which is probably a good thing.  Didn’t stop me from going to a few more op-shops afterwards though! 🙂

Hope you are having a good day – thank you for dropping by x

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Quote for the Day : Bees

“… the world is really one big bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places: don’t be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don’t be an idiot… If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates, while whistling melts a bee’s temper… Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved…”

— Sue Monk Kidd : The Secret Life of Bees

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Blogging Challenge – Day Twelve : Favourite Childhood Book

Howdy folks.  Yes, I am skipping challenges on the Blogging Challenge.  Just pretend you haven’t noticed ok?

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I was a big reader as a child.  From the age of six onwards, I always had my head stuck in a book.  I was the annoying kid in class who always finished the assigned reading way before schedule and had to be given other books to read while everyone else caught up.  Yeah, THAT kid.  I was like it in high school too.  It’s very possible I was the only one who actually READ the books we were assigned.  But I enjoyed them – everything from
Catch-22 to 1984, To Kill a Mockingbird and Animal Farm.  I loved them all.

My Mum always read to us when we were little and I suppose that’s why we always enjoyed books in general.  As a child, I loved stories with animals in them, but didn’t like anything scary or dark.  I remember one book I read gave me nightmares and actually made me physically ill so my Mum had to go to the school and asked for it to be removed from the library.  I don’t remember what it was called, but it was a book of so-called fairy tales, and it had one story in it where a witch rips the faces off pretty young girls so she could disguise herself as them and get up to mischief.  Kinda gross.   A less sensitive kid might not have been bothered by it, but it frightened me and my Mum took action ha ha.

I know I had a book about a dog called Barney, that my Mum used to read to me (until it fell to pieces) but I haven’t been able to find it since.  Another favourite was “The Golden Egg Book” by Margaret Wise Brown.  It too fell to pieces from being read to death.

When I was a bit older, I read voraciously on my own.  Enid Blyton was an early favourite, particularly the “Magic Faraway Tree” and “The Secret Seven” (my Mum won a set of these in an art competition when she was ten years old – I have them now 🙂 ).  I still secretly read Enid Blyton books, when I am needing some comfort or just to take some time out.  There’s a been a bit of a backlash about them in recent years, with regard to them not being very politically correct, but I love them.

Of course, Judy Blume was a HUGE favourite as I entered into that tricky pre-teen period.  My best friend and I loved her books and read all of them.  “Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret,” was probably devoured by more 10-12 year olds in the 80s than just about any other book ever written.

I also loved Ursula K. Le Guin and Paul Gallico, Beverly Cleary and Diana Wynne Jones.  I read all the classics – “Charlotte’s Web”, “Watership Down” (a little bit adult for me but I trudged through it when I was seven, not really understanding all of it I’m sure) and “Little Women”.

I read non-fiction too.  Mostly about animals and magic and art.  I Loved poetry and silly rhymes, and books about mysteries and fascinating facts.

I have a favourite children’s book now though.  It was given to me by a friend when I was in my twenties, and I dearly love it.  I would give it to my own children, if I had any, and have actually given it as a gift to friends and family (both children and adults).  My favourite children’s book is “A Little Bit of Winter” by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.  It’s just GORGEOUS.  The story of Rabbit and Hedgehog, best friends in the wood.  It’s Winter and Hedgehog has to go and hibernate.  Rabbit is worried that Hedgehog will forget about him during the long, cold months that Hedgehog is asleep.  Hedgehog himself does not know what Winter feels like and so they are both missing out on something.  It’s a story about friendship, mostly, but it is SO ADORABLE and the illustrations are the best.  I love it.  I have to do the voices when I read it, which is quite sad, but it’s just so darn cute.  There are other books in this series, but this one is my favourite.

Do you have a beloved children’s book that is dear to your heart?  There’s so many great ones out there, new and old, modern and classic.  Don’t let the kids have all the fun – try a few titles for yourself.  They’re comforting and calming and make you feel better about the world.  And, if you do have children of your own, get them in to reading early – it’s SO important.  My brother’s children all love to read and it makes my librarian heart proud. I’d be proud of them, whatever they did, but the fact that they love books and often can be found with their little heads buried in one is just icing on the cake.

Happy Reading Everyone x

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(Picture : The Book Depository)