Sunday, January 31, 2016

Quote for the month - January

I used to find quotes quite frequently and use them here, but not for a while now.  Thought it might be a good idea to rediscover my passion for them and round off the month nicely.  I did read this one out to my hubby and he said he'd read it somewhere recently, but he enjoyed hearing it again and I'm sure the energy from repeated tellings will do more good than harm, so here 'tis:

"Be soft.  Do not let the world make you hard.  Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.  Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place."  -  Vonnegut

I believe :)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Little Red Riding Hood Pencil Case

In an effort to keep up my creativity with as little effort as possible I did invest in some colouring books (always a favourite activity of mine in my childhood and with my own children) and some lovely coloured pencils which I can never resist.  My absolute favourites are the Inktense pencils by Derwent, stunning colours with a real depth and intensity of colour as the name implies.  However recently I discovered the Lyra brand, favoured by Steiner schools I believe - a lovely 'feel' to them when I use them and a similar depth of colour.  I had to buy them individually so no tin to keep them in as with the Derwent brand.  What was I to do to keep my pencils safe?

I made my own pencil case!  Using a tutorial by Noodlehead I slightly altered the measurements to accommodate the gorgeous fairy tale pictures on my retro styled Little Red Riding Hood fabric.  As you would expect from Noodlehead, it is also fully lined, and ... quilted no less ... with iron on wadding so no actual quilting involved, but it is lovely and sqiushy and provides extra protection for my pencils.  I so don't have a problem with over-attachment to  my art materials :)

I love you coloured pencils xxx

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Happy Holidays

Happy Australia Day everyone :)

This cow is nothing to do with Australia Day, but rather is a clue to where we have just spent 2 lovely, relaxing days and nights with friends who moved away from Perth - in the lovely country town of Cowaramup!  It's much better if you say the name out loud, it has a lovely ring to it!  There are plasticky/concrete? cows up and down the high street, and some even have 'moo' sounds emanating from them!  Nearly as impressive as the real camels I saw sharing a field with cows on the return journey to the big smoke.  I kid you not, - yes I thought I was seeing things too, but the other passengers in the car verified it for me.

I had to include a pic of my lovely Christmas present made by my Mum, it slowly made its way here, was unwrapped in a rush and very much appreciated by its new owner.  My favourite mode of transport in my arty dreams, in my favourite colour, on a squishy, soft cushion cover made with lots of love - another little lift for the spirits :)

One thing I did take away from the break was that I really am too stressed most of the time and that I need to make some big changes - will 2016 be my year to stress less?  I hope so.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My 2016 Mandala makes me happy

Today is the 2 week anniversary of my course to make my 'power' mandala for 2016.  Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know how much I love these magic circles and their power to focus intention and heal.  So it would be no surprise to you that when the opportunity appeared to do a whole day workshop on the sacred circle I leapt in with both feet!

The course was facilitated by the gorgeous and beautiful soul who is Dawn Meader.  Please check out her website if you haven't done before, and buy her book (or come visit me and look at my copy!) - it's filled with beautiful images and poems.

I've admired Dawn from afar for a few years and was thrilled to be able to do the workshop at her home studio.  That was the first milestone of the day for me - it was the first time I had driven to Fremantle by myself!  This is such a huge achievement, as when I first became ill a few years ago I was so anxious about driving as I thought that every time I went out I might die in a car accident!  As a result I didn't travel very far, which didn't help my mental health obviously,  These days I am much better, can manage my anxiety around driving, and always give myself a big pat on the back when I get to places under my own steam.  Anyway, I digress, back to the mandalas ...

I shared the time with 13 other wonderful women, which was lovely. We were all there for the same reason; sometimes I worry about being in a group as there is usually someone who wants to take centre stage and it be all about them (may not always be true, but it seems a general group dynamic to me), but this was so not the case.  We all got to talk or simply be quiet if we wished, and it was  all ok.  I won't go into all the fine detail as it seemed a really sacred time for me and the other women present, but there was a genuine feeling of belonging, which I suspect I may have been missing for some time?

Our first exercise was to practise drawing a bird from a picture - we shared the drawing, by starting off with a pastel outline, then moving onto the picture next door when told to by Dawn.  It was all done very quickly, not giving any of us time to think 'I can't do this!' In the end the bird you started ended up being created by 6 people.  I loved mine so much I took it home!  Birds have become a really significant symbol for me since Dad passed - I think they visit sometimes to let me know he's about!  Usually the cheeky ones like teeny blue wrens or the Willy Wagtail :)

Our first task was to make our background using acrylic paint using 3 colours in any combination we liked - red, yellow and white. Then we would complete the mandala using soft pastels, which I have never used before - I've always been put off by the texture, and 'chalk down a blackboard' sounds, but they produce such a gorgeous result.  We completed a visualization before moving onto each 'ring' of the mandala.  Each ring stood for a certain area of our life, e.g. health, finance, play, relationships. Can you see my tiny dragon in the circle for play?  And I made the finance circle pretty in lilac and green as I am scared of money so wanted to represent it as less so in my mandala.  Every mandala needs a centre point, and we also did a visualization for this.  I was determined at the start that I was not going to draw a heart, as I draw hearts in everything I produce, but throughout the visualization the heart image would not go away and was so strong I knew it needed to be at the centre of my mandala.  And I'm pleased with the result.

It was such a wonderful day, real food for the soul - I can't recommend it enough,  And Dawn is gentle, gracious and very humble, you'll be drawing before you know it, even if you think you haven't got a creative bone in your body!  So please go and check out Dawn's website if this post has spoken to you at all (even if in a tiny, quiet voice, as that is the inner powerful you!)   There is a meditation on her blog page too which is good fun - don't give up if it feels odd on the first try - meditation takes a few goes!  But is so worth it :)

You see, the magic of the mandala must be working, as I said yesterday I would write about something that made me happy, and look at me being all creative today!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sadness returning ...

So much for me finding my blogging mojo in 2016 - I think it's still in hiding, but let's carry on anyway shall we?

I don't mind admitting that life has been hard to navigate since Dad died.  A deep sadness prevails, and sometimes it feels like the world is just a colour wash instead of its usual bright hues.  But there are still good bits, my chooks are funny companions, a family of 6 now; C-Dawg loves me unconditionally; my family supplies me with a myriad of hugs and a hug fixes everything :)  

expressing my depression several years ago with 'the walls of my prison'

It would seem upon reflection that the old 'black dog' has come back for a visit.  I read a blogpost by Therese Borchard the other day about relapse of depression and wanted to share the following quote from the article as it really resonated with me, and may provide a flicker of all important hope to others who need it - you only need a little light to start spreading ....

"Sometimes the act of getting up in the morning ... and putting on your shoes, trying to tackle another day when you feel so defeated, and so completely dead to the world, is the most beautiful act of courage there is. Sometimes the agreement to hang around for another day on this earth despite the raw pain inside is a warrior’s act of bravery and integrity."

When you feel the lowest of the low, it's heartening to think you have courage and are a warrior - it was such a completely different perspective I was deeply touched by it.  The rest of the article is well worth a read, just click on the link above.

Therese wrote an article on writing a self-prescription of things to do on a regular basis to help build resilience.  I think we should work on that together sometime :)  I promise to write some more posts on a happier note, starting tomorrow with something that made me smile muchly a couple of weeks ago ... :)  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Bombshell Swimsuit by Closet Case Files

WARNING:  This post contains images of a potentially disturbing nature - as Kitschy Coo said 'there is only a yard of fabric between me and nudity' (yikes!) as well as nerdy sewing info.  As an aside I want to make her swimsuit next - the Kitschy Coo Pin-up swimsuit.  Well, you were told ....

The happenings contained herein occurred yesterday, but with a combination of overheating, a couple of Singapore Slings and attempting to blog too late in the evening, the reporting was postponed until today. Still, as it's taken just over a year to finally complete this project I don't suppose an extra day makes much difference.

So, without further ado I present to you my Bombshell swimsuit ...

The pattern is by Heather Lou of Closet Case Files. I used the sewalong notes in the blog, which have lots of pics to make it really clear - I found the info really clear and easy to follow.   Follow the link to have a peek.   I used some swimwear Lycra I had in my stash, hence the two tone effect as I didn't have quite enough of either one for a complete suit.  As I will only be wearing this at home, it's not a major issue.  I would quite like to make a patterned version all in the same fabric, but I will need to recover from all the gathering and basting first - there is a lot of gathering, which you need to get even, so it takes time.  A word on the basting too: next time I will use zig-zag stitch as opposed to overlock, as it makes the seams quite thick and now I have some overlocked basting stitches to pick out (they are staying put for the moment!)  I really felt for Heather Lou as she described the horror of her machine jumping zig-zag stitches until I realized I had her machine's evil twin, then it became all about me :)   Again, patience is a virtue (and the Singapore Sling helped I'm sure).

Having said that, I love the way the swimsuit looks when it's on; it feels great too - it has a few layers of fabric which end up giving lots of support.  I am not a little girl, but this top didn't require sewing in extra support in the form of foam cups or a bra shelf, and gives my DD's (sorry if that's info overload, but it's very important to us 'busty' types - overspill can be very frightening to those around us!) plenty of support, which I was very pleasantly surprised by.   All in all it's definitely worth having a go at making.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcome 2016

I am starting this year the way I mean to carry on, by writing my blog.  I lost my blogging mojo this year after Dad was gone, but I know he would be wanting me to carry on and I feel ready to give it a try.  One day at a time.

My New Year has started slowly, but has involved food on many levels!  Really tucked into the Christmas pressies of chocs and jelly babies today - no.3 asked today if it was our unhealthy eating day and I told him it was indeed, but that he didn't have to worry as we would be consuming green smoothies and raw veggies tomorrow.  He didn't look that impressed.  I've also baked bread (in a bread maker but don't tell anyone) and made a quiche from scratch - broccoli and goats' cheese, which is a lot yummier than it sounds.

And although he wasn't brought up in the UK, our youngest has just developed a taste for Twiglets - I've only recently discovered that our local English shop sells them, hence the reason for the deprivation.

On a totally non-food level I have also found some time to do some sewing - finishing up a swimsuit I cut out last December and fiddling about with the Dottie Angel dress to make it fit to my liking.  Two things to blog about right there ... I only have one thing really for my New Year list and that is to learn how to use my Dad's DSLR camera properly, then he'll be helping with my blog.

So I'm starting 2016 gently, with no great expectations of myself, just a hope for heaps of creativity in all its many forms.  It feels good.