Monthly Archives: January 2012

What NOT to do on the weekend

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Don’t you just hate it when you are trying to do the ‘right’ thing, and you go and blow it straight away.
To go along with our new lives in Queensland, we really need to make some healthy lifestyle changes and I have been really determined to make it happen this week.
We MUST…
1. Be more thrifty and stick to our budget
2. Eat more healthy food and less ‘convenience’ food treats
3. Be more active

Oh, it all went so badly wrong over the weekend though.
On Saturday we went in to the Museum which has just opened after it’s refurbishments. This was great, and free, but the trouble was we didn’t get away from our house until about 11.45, so we ended up finished at the museum, in the city, and all starving at about 2.30 in the afternoon. This happens to us all the time, and it is obviously a recipe for disaster. We headed to Southbank and ended up with pizza for lunch because that’s the best value thing you can get at Southbank, but of course it still ends up costing heaps and I was cringing at the unhealthiness of it. To make matters worse, we then went on and had Churros from the market – even more expensive and unhealthy than the pizza. I’m not really sure why we did this, except that it seemed a bit early for our day out to be over and it was raining and I think we just couldn’t think of anything else fun to do.
On Sunday we had been planning on having a day at home, but it was raining again and I thought the kids would be going stir crazy, so I said we could go to a movie. This turned out to be another mistake because when it was time to go, everyone had headed outside and I was washing the car and the boys were having a lot of fun sailing boats down the gutters in the rain, so the last thing I wanted to do was stop and go to spend more money and sit in a cinema. But, I had already said it and everyone was excited, so off we went. Unfortunately the movie started at 12.50, which meant we had to leave our house at 12 noon and although I suggested that everyone should have lunch before we left that wasn’t really practical. So there we were again, coming out of the cinema at 3pm with everyone starving. Groan!
I wanted to show Greg around the suburb of Bulimba which is near the movie theatre and has a lot of nice cafes and bookshops and homewears stores, so of course we ended up at a lovely cafe/ bakery with coffee and cupcakes.
This is quite tricky I think. The cafe culture is so big in Australia now, and going out to a cafe for coffee and a treat is such an easy and fun activity to do with the family – it is one of my favourite things to do and I know I am too quick to agree to this, ‘just for a treat’.
So this morning I am lying in bed feeling really bad about all these mistakes I made this weekend but I realise that I need to turn this into something positive by thinking about what we have learnt from the lessons of the weekend.
Here are some things I think we could do differently so that we don’t get caught in these situations again.
1. Only go out on one day of the weekend if possible. I find that my youngest son doesn’t cope so well when we do things on both days of the weekend and this leads to him whinging for us to buy things and generally stressing everyone out, which is of course when I am more likely to make bad decisions and give in to treats.
2. Get going early, or don’t go until after lunch. We can do this more if we plan what we are going to do on the weekend instead of deciding at the last minute.
3. Take our own lunch and drinks with us. We can do this more easily if I make sure I do my menu plans and grocery shopping, so that we have food available that is easy to pack. I could cook some lunch type food and have in the freezer, or we could just have sandwiches (my guys don’t eat sandwiches very often). When I do my menu plans I could especially plan lunches that are easy to pack on the weekends.

Food is such a big part of what we do for fun on the weekends – markets, cafes, festivals, all of these activities revolve around buyng food. I thought it would be useful to make a list of activities we could do that are fun and active and don’t involve buying food.
1. Go to a beach
2. Go for a bike ride
3. Go Bowling (more expensive)
4. Go to a swimming pool
5. Play Laser tag (more expensive)
6. Go for a walk in a bush area
7. Go fishing
8. Go skating
9. Go to a rock cimbing place
10. Go to a creek or river
11. Go canoeing (expensive)
12. Go horse riding (expensive)
13. Explore new parks and playgrounds
14. Play tennis
15. Go to a skate park
16. Go to the science centre
17. Go to a museum
18. Go to the library
19. Go to the Art Gallery
20. Go on a boat trip on the river or in the bay (expensive)
21. Go to one of the islands
22. Go orienteering or geocaching
23. Go to an animal park or zoo

Does anyone have any other ideas? I would love to hear them if you do.

I’m looking forward to lots of happy and healthy family weekends in the future and I hope you are too.
All the best,
Sharee

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Manly Pool and the Jetty Kiosk

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Recently, I have started writing articles for Weekend Notes which is a great website to visit if you are looking for fun things to do in any of Australia’s capital cities.
One of our favourite places to go since moving to Brisbane is the Manly Swimming Pool. You can read my article about the Manly Pool and the Jetty Kiosk here.

Unfortunately it has been raining pretty constantly here in Brisbane for the last week so we haven’t had much pool time. I hope you are getting some great summer days where you are.
All the best,
Sharee

Doodles on the Train

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If you thought this post was going to be about dirty old men in trench coats flashing their family jewels at people on the train – sorry, you might as well stop reading now lol.
What I’m talking about are the drawing type of doodles, you know, the ones we all do when we’re talking on the phone.
My daughter drew my attention to doodles a little while ago when she pointed out that I always write Hello in fancy cursive and then draw a box around it when I doodle. This led to me pulling out the notebook I keep near the phone to check out other recurring themes in my doodles.
As well as writing Hello, I often write the word ‘alphabet’ and the actual alphabet. I just like the way it feels to write these loopy words in the old fashioned cursive that I learnt at school.
Another common element in my doodles is flower petals. Sometimes these make flowers and sometimes they just make scallops around boxes and sometimes they are petals upon petals.
Often things are put into fancy boxes, and more rarely I will draw cubes or squares. (looking for examples of these to post but of course I can’t find any right now!)
I have been reading ‘Sew Wild’ by Alisa Burke and in this book she suggests doodling as a starting point for creating fabric designs. She says “Drawing – and even doodling – is the simplest and purest process you can incorporate into your daily creative routine”. Another book I am reading is ‘Art at the Speed of Life’ by Pam Carriker. I bought myself this book for Christmas and I love it. In the book different artists talk about ways of finding opportunities to fit art into your everyday life, and the importance of finding creative outlets for yourself.
Now, when we moved to Brisbane I had this vision of myself whenever I caught the train, working away at my writing on my iPad and getting heaps of work done. In reality, it is a race between the two boys to see who can be the first one to ask me if they can play on the iPad as soon as we get on the train. I don’t even get a look in. So, my new plan is that while the boys are busy with the iPad, I will take the time whenever we are on the train to do some doodling. I have packed a little Sketch book and drawing pen into my bag and I am set to go.
I quite like this, because I am not really a very confident drawer, but calling it doodling gives me license to relax and draw freely just for fun, without having to worry about how good the results are.
Here are a few pages I have done so far – remember, it is not meant to be great drawing, it is more about a flow of ideas and experimenting with different motifs and shapes.

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This was the first one I did, before I put my drawing book in my bag, so it’s on an envelope. I quite likes the crab drawing and I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with ways to draw jellyfish.

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Some of the flower motifs that are often in my drawings.

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This one had a bit of a dance theme.

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This one had a water theme, but it was inspired by the sad sight of a little boy being treated quite horribly by his parents, that’s why it’s a bit sad.

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And finally the one I did today. I was trying to draw the design I saw on a trivet in a gift shop, it came out completely different, but I really like it – I think I’ll add some text to it on my next trip.

I am already seeing that I can now pull a lot of the elements of these doodles out and build them up into fabric designs or prints, so it is working really well. It also gives me something to do on the train – perfect!
I hope you get a chance to do some doodling today – grab a pen and some paper and do some doodling now while you watch this great TED talk by Sunni Brown, Doodlers Unite
Happy doodling to you,
Sharee

Poor Fergus

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My poor dog Fergus. He has been having trouble with itching for a few weeks now, but yesterday it really took a turn for the worse. I hunted all over him for signs of fleas or any other bugs, but couldn’t find anything. Then I went to the pet shop and they recommended some anti-itch shampoo which I bought but didn’t even have a chance to try.
Last night I got home from getting some groceries at about 6 pm. I had bought some bones for Fergus, but when I went to give him one, he didn’t jump up excitedly as he usually does, all he could do was sit on his bed madly scratching at his groin and looking pitifully at me. Poor boy, he was just going crazy with it. I was really worried about him too because he was really panting and breathing heavily and so distressed.
I had a bit of a mad panic, with it being after 5 o’clock, and a public holiday the next day, groceries needing to be unpacked and children needing to be fed! Fortunately, our lovely across the road neighbour had given me the name and card of her favourite vet. I pulled it out to check it, and found to my huge relief that they were open until 7pm. It was 6.30 at this stage but when I rang them they said to come straight down.
Here is the result…

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Poor Fergus, still feeling very sorry for himself, but at least relieved from the crazy itching which the vet said was a ‘moist skin infection’. As well as the collar, he has ointment and medication so hopefully he wont need the collar on for too many days. The worst thing is that we have stairs onto our deck. He can go down the stairs alright, but when he tries to come back up the collar crashes into the steps, so now he just sits at the bottom and cries until I come and hold the collar up for him lol.
Oh, and when I got back from the Vet, my darling daughter had started cooking the dinner too, so it was all good in the end.
Poor Fergus.

Neglected blogs and busy lives

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Dear Blog,
I am sorry I have neglected you. We have been busy, in a lazy stay at home, do things that you love, kind of way. It gets to this stage of the holidays and I feel like I am really on top of everything – house is tidy, bills are paid, meals are planned, exercise done, artwork is in full swing. Unfortunately I know from experience that it all ends next week when school goes back, and we go back to juggling schooly stuff, and homeschool groups and after school activities, so I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.
Here are some things that we have been doing in our house…

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I have been doing lots of fabric dying experiments. I am going to use these pieces to make a birthday present for my son’s girlfriend. I have just tried a technique using flour paste from Jane Dunnewold’s book Art Cloth, and I loved the results.

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This is one of my favourite pieces. It was tie dyed and then I added a mono print using dye paste.

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I am planning to do some more work on these pieces using discharge paste today and then maybe some printing.

The other thing I have been experimenting with is encaustic work. I borrowed Encaustic Workshop by Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch from the local library and was so inspired by it that I rushed out and bought some basic encaustic supplies. Encaustic is painting with wax, and all you really need to get started is a bag of wax and a heat gun, so it’s fairly cheap. I really enjoyed the technique and I can see lots of potential for using this technique in some of my artist’s books, especially the Specimens series that I am working on at the moment.

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My boys have been creative too. Axel raided my box of sculpture goodies and came up with a beetle and a dog – gorgeous!

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And Zac made this cool bug, notice he has a tiny antenna so he can be remote controlled.

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And while they had the gear out I made another crab and added some updates to some of the older ones.

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Not to be left out, my teenage daughter made a doorstop and this gorgeous bunting using vintage fabrics.

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Gotta love creative days of summer. I hope your summer is creative too.
All the best,
Sharee

Post Christmas cooking

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Yum, Christmas food is soooo good, especially those leftovers that seem to last until New Years. I still have a slab of Christmas cake and a slab of fudge in the freezer that I have managed not to eat, but I am saving these for my big son who was overseas for Christmas this year. Other than that, all the Christmas food is gone. I know this is a good thing. I have started exercising more seriously again this week, and I need to get back to eating healthy.
I just find it really hard to go ‘cold turkey’ on the sweet food after Christmas. I am already craving just one more fruit mince tart lol. So, today I decided to make some Dried fruit truffles. They are a bit healthier than the fudge and fruit mince tarts. I stared with a recipe but didn’t have half the ingredients, so a new recipe was born! Here it is.

Sharee’s Post Christmas Fruit Truffles

1 cup seeded chopped dates
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts pieces
3 heaped tablespoons light cream cheese
3 tablespoons liqueur (I used Amaretto because I had some left over from Christmas but you could use any liqueur
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

I put all of these ingredients in a bowl and processed them together using my stick blender but you could use a food processor if you have one. Stop processing as soon as the cream cheese and fruit is all smooshed together. It’s good if it still has a few bigger bits in it.
My mix was still pretty sticky, so I crushed up all the left over sweet biscuits I could find in the house. This was about

1/2 packet of sweet biscuits, crushed

Stir these into the fruit mix.
Use your hands to roll into balls with about 1 teaspoon of mix in each ball (this gets pretty messy as the mixture is still quite sticky).
Roll balls in

Almond meal (I had some Almond Meal left over from Christmas, but if you don’t have any you could use coconut or cocoa)

Store truffles in a container in the freezer and eat straight from the freezer when you need a post Christmas sugar hit.
Enjoy!

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Speaking of Almond meal, I must show you a photo of the macaroons that my daughter made for Christmas.

Salted caramel macaroons

She makes the best macaroons ever. We weren’t sure how they would go in Queensland’s more humid weather, but I think they turned out even better.
She learned how to make them from this great little book.

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These ones were salted caramel flavour – yum. To do this she made vanilla flavoured macaroons onto which she sprinkled a little bit of rock salt. Then after they had cooled she filled them with Nestle ‘Top’n’fill’ caramel which worked great.

Here is another healthy treat that we have been enjoying today.

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Did you know about this? I didn’t, but my Mother in Law introduced us to Watermelon with ginger. You just chop up some watermelon into a bowl, sprinkle it with about 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger and wait 5 minutes for the ginger to soak in before eating. It is really yummy – you should try it. I bought a whole watermelon this week so I think I will make some watermelon sorbet tomorrow.
I hope you are eating yummy things too.
All the best,
Sharee

My Artwork in progress

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It’s taken me quite a while to come around to this. I’m just not a person who feels all that comfortable sharing my artwork ‘in progress’. Even when I have been involved in art classes I always preferred to take my things home and work in privacy when I could. Often when I was doing painting at TAFE, people would come and stand behind and look at what I was doing and boy did it make me squirm! Partly it is because I am self conscious and I don’t want people to see the ‘unsuccessful experiments’ that are an essential part of the art making process. A big part of it though, is that I just like that ‘da da’ moment when you show your work for the first time – I get a real buzz from that.
Having said all that, I have decided to share this work in progress, just between you and me.

I am working on a series of Artist’s books at the moment with the theme ‘Specimens’. These will hopefully be my main pieces in a group exhibition that I am involved with in May.
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My journals are not very fancy, although I have had a bit of a play with adding watercolour to this one. Mostly they are places for quickly scrawled notes, stuck in photos and printouts, and rough sketches. I am envious of those amazing journals that are works of art in themselves.
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Here are some of the goodies I am using to make my books.
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The wires and electrical components I pulled out of the old electric organ that I played as a kid. I just love them – so pretty.

And here are some of the crabs I have been working on. These will be part of a book in the end.
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‘Da da!’. I hope you like them. I’ll post photos of the finished products soon.
All the best,
Sharee