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Choose Your Own Adventure

Clearly, I am going to use this brick stencil A LOT.  It is just so effective and provides the perfect background for so many things.  It also saves me a lot of time because normally I would be faffing about looking for a suitably patterned paper to use as a background, or mixing up (and wasting) lots of different colours of paint.  Plus, the best thing about using this stencil is that the less precise you are, the more it looks like real bricks.  Yay!

I wasn’t sure what phrase or words to put on the sign, but kept coming back to “Choose your own Adventure”.  It just seemed right.  It almost looks like she is encouraging people to climb through the hole in the wall and find out what lies beyond.

I’m not quite convinced about her hand – I generally do cartoony-type hands (quite often with only four fingers) so I was going out on a limb trying to do a more realistic one.  But, hey, it’s not too bad.  I hope.  Try not to focus on it – Look away now! 🙂

Thanks, as always, for popping 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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Doodling and Squinting

I really need glasses.  It is no longer a case of “I might need glasses…” and I can’t ignore it any longer.  My squint has become almost permanent and I am no longer able to get through the day without a headache or feeling like my eyes are have run a marathon.  I have those crappy specs from the chemist and I use them sometimes but they’re not ideal and I really need a professional to outfit my eyeballs properly.

I have been putting it off because of the expense (tightwad, tightwad…) but it is false economy and I need to just bite the bullet and get some real glasses.  It’s not a vanity thing –  I think I actually look ok with specs on, and think glasses are pretty cool on most people.  Maybe I can even fool people into thinking I am intelligent! 🙂  My nephew has them and he’s gorgeous.  Plus, being a librarian, glasses kinda go with the cliched territory, right?

I have been trying to draw and colour this week, with mixed results.  I find I am not able to focus very well and I am colouring outside the lines with annoying regularity.  Ugh.  SO annoying.  And a waste of time because it renders whatever I am doing a bit worthless and un-usable (especially if I chuck a wobbly and throw it in the bin in disgust).

Anyway, some little peeps to make into cards.  I had already had them drawn (see THIS post) – they just needed colouring.  I am still experimenting with different card stock and marker pens to get the right result.  I like the first little lady the best – she’d kinda cute – but I will keep going and draw/colour some more.  Still wishing I could do eyes…maybe when my own are fixed I will be able to manage them 🙂

Have a bright and colourful day everyone x

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Crazy Amazing Friend

Finally, after many months of doing not-much-at-all (craft-wise), I made some cards this weekend.  My craft studio is now a total mess, but that’s ok.  I am not going to beat myself up about it because the whole point of having an area dedicated to art is that it can be as messy as I need it to be and not impact on the rest of the house.  I have been very good and haven’t taken my crafty supplies downstairs into the lounge room (my usual habit – watching TV and making things at the same time).  I’ve left the mess upstairs.  And it’s been great.  I sit up there for hours and time passes happily but very quickly.  I have a big cup of tea and avoid the fridge (my other habit – eating too much).

Anyway, despite a nasty headache and some eye problems, I made a few cards I am pleased with.  Was kinda hard to get back into the swing of things but once I got going, it was happy days 🙂  I’ve missed it.

So, to start, here is one of the cards I completed.  After I took this photo I actually added some string to her little sign – so it doesn’t look like it’s just stuck there on her front.  She’s wearing it around her neck instead).  I  like her – she’s a bit wacky.  The arms/hands made me laugh and just look at her jazzy shoes and stockings!   I made her up of all different bits and pieces – vintage paper dolls, gift wrap and even a chopped-up doily.  Anyway, I was happy with her – so nice when that happens!  I’m easily discouraged, so it’s really a relief when I create something I am satisfied with.

I have been invited to participate in a Christmas Craft Market in December so I am now madly getting stock together. I am seriously low on everything and I don’t want to have a table with nothing on it! I don’t have a lot of time and pesky work gets in the way.  I am trying to utilise my evenings better and not waste the hours just watching TV or faffing about.  Now the weather is a bit warmer, I can sit comfortably somewhere other than right on top of the heater, and get stuff done.

Hope your day is happy and creative x

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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)

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Sweet Process

Creating a card can be tricky
You start off with papers and thoughts
You fuss and you fiddle and change things around
Probably more than you ought

Then you decide on an image
Something that’s pretty and sweet
You shuffle your papers, add and subtract
And hope it forms something complete

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You ink up the edges carefully
To add some vintage distress
Your fingers are getting quite grubby
And the table is looking a mess

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You position all the pieces
And figure out what will go where
Should they be on an angle somehow
Or centred and straightened with care?

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Pieces all glued together
And suitable text added in
You try some little embellishments
To give it some sparkly bling

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Nothing says cute and jaunty
Like a birdie wearing a hat
You’re finished now, and everything’s done
And that, my friends, is that!

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Ok, so I am no poet… I won’t give up my day job any time soon 🙂
I’ve just come home from celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday – lots of delicious food and lovely company (as all birthdays should focus on!).  Happy Birthday MD 🙂

It’s late but I had to wind down before going to bed (I don’t know about you, but I can’t just go straight to bed after being out…my brain is too hyped up, especially after social occasions which, despite being enjoyable in this case, are stressful and nerve-wracking for me). Why I thought writing a poem would help me, I do not know.

But it’s off to bed now, with a hot water bottle (mandatory), some flannel jammies (very necessary) and strict and stern instructions to myself to get up early
(I have a breakfast to go to – seriously, all I do at the moment is eat).

Hope you’re having a happy weekend x

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Little Peeps & Night Owls

A lovely long weekend has just passed, which means I didn’t have to deal with the dreaded Monday-it is.  Every Monday should be a public holiday – how would I go about getting that made into law?  Who can I call about that?  I’m sure it would be a popular decision…

I went to the movies (Lady in The Van) and spent time with my friend – we went for a VERY long walk on a windy beach and my calves are still hurting three days later – and had an impromptu dinner at her house.  I visited my brother and his family and went to a David Bowie tribute night at a local pub.  It was so loud, I ended up stuffing bits of napkin into my ears.  I’m not very good with super loud stuff – I am paranoid about my hearing.  My friend came with me, as did my brother and his partner.  My Mum babysat the four rugrats while we were out.  Little Miss Two stayed up until we got home – she just wasn’t having any of that “It’s time for bed” nonsense.  She’s becoming a bit of a night owl which is problematic…but I stay out of it!  But my Mum got to spend a lovely evening having mini tea parties, playing with blocks, and reading books (over and over).

On Monday, I took my Mum home (she had stayed the night with me as it was too late to take her home the night before) and then I spent the rest of the day crafting and mucking about at home.  I couldn’t settle in to anything for a bit, but eventually started doodling and colouring some little people for cards.

I drew them out of watercolour paper and then coloured them in with Copic markers.  Then I cut them out with very sharp, tiny scissors.  Which almost sent me blind and a bit crazy, but I got there in the end without snipping off anything I shouldn’t (including my own fingers).  I edged them with a black marker so there wasn’t any white showing.  Just makes it look a bit neater and helps the design “pop”.

Then I assembled them onto a card using scrapbooking paper for their dresses.  I used some rubber stamps to add sentiments and some extra accents here and there.

I’m quite pleased with them.  They’re kinda cute and make me smile.  I’m trying out different hair on my Little Peeps at the moment so there will probably be more as the weeks go by, with varying styles and dos.

Anyway, it was good to finish a couple of things and be satisfied with them – I’m trying to do that more often these days.  I’m also trying to use up more of my brighter papers and embellishments, so they will feature more and more often I think too.

Hope you had a good weekend – enjoy your week 🙂

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