52 Lists. List 3. Countries I’ve Visited

I used to be able to list off the countries I’ve been to very quickly but this time I had to think about it. I suppose that means that this list is a lot less significant to me than it used to be. I love that we have visited these countries, my hubby can add Peru and Mexico to this list plus he’s visited the US twice. Still, for me I feel privileged to have been able to visit the places on this list. Some of these are rich countries and some are poor. They were all interesting. I used to count New Zealand but the truth is that we landed there for one hour on the way to LA so its only added at the bottom. We also traveled within Niger right to the border of Nigeria, it was so close that there were Nigerian sellers on the Niger side of the border.

Our time in Europe was part of a world trip we did not long after we were married. We spent 7 weeks away going to the US then through Europe and finally the UK. When I think about it we have been to the UK three times and France twice. We lived in England for six months before going to live in Niger for a year.

The trip to Papua New Guinea was quite long I suppose, 7 weeks visiting my parents however Singapore was only a day and a night.

My favourite place to visit? That’s a really hard question because each place had so many good (and bad) experiences creating memories that will last forever. I did love England, it coincided well with my love of history. Our trip to the US was basically Illinois and we visited Chicago and a few towns outside of the city (although we did go up into Ohio). Its really too hard to choose my favourite on the list.

Places I want to visit…..perhaps that can be the next list! (its a long one). Of course I didn’t include Australia on the list seeing as we live here but I suppose that would bring the list to 14. Here’s the list:

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Here’s a few photos of some of our overseas trips……memories!

Amanda and Michael England sign
Us, Kimball and Rob - England sign
One side was England, one side was Scotland. The second photo taken with our good friend Kimball from Illinois in the USA (whom we visited there) and his cousin.

Amanda in the snow in Austria
First time we saw real snow, this is in Austria on top of Snow Mountain.

Amanda with backpack
Backpacking in France

France - Amanda and E.Tower
At the Eiffel Tower

Italy - Venice pigeons
My hubby in Venice, Italy

USA - Chicago Baseball
At Wrigley Field watching the Cubs v the Diamondbacks in Chicago

Michael and elephant sign
On the roadside in Benin, Africa

US AND FULANI MAN
Us with a Wodabe man in Niger, Africa

Amanda and Michael hut
We stayed in a hut overnight in a small village called Say (sigh) in Niger

A and M with villagers
Visiting with local villagers not far from my parents house in Papua New Guinea (West New Britain)

I could go on, there are so many memories and so many photos!

The Taking Stock List

Seeing as I have started doing Pip’s 52 Lists (which I need to do a couple more of this week), I thought I would take her up on the offer of copying and using her list for taking stock. Its a great idea. Ta for all the inspiration Pip!
Here goes:

Making :granny squares in bright colours of my choice. Limiting my colours but enjoying the process.
Cooking :not a lot. Just the usual dinner for the family. Its not really my thing.
Drinking :Mainly tea, liptons of course.
Reading:Verses from 1 and 2 Peter mostly.
Wanting:a lot more patience.
Looking:at a lot of art related blogs, links etc…
Playing:too much candy crush.
Deciding:whether my current painting is finished or not.
Wishing:I didn’t have to go to sleep at night, waste of time!
Enjoying:seeing maturity in my girls.
Waiting:to get five poultry paintings framed.
Liking:twitter a lot. I love how I can connect with all sorts of people, famous and not famous.
Wondering:about a few things to do with my youngest daughter.
Loving:the fact that my eldest daughter can now hang out the washing, even if it is for $1.
Pondering:the meaning of 2 Peter 1:5-9
Considering:how to throw myself into ministry more.
Buying:art supplies, stationery supplies or a combo of those two things.
Watching:Mad Men season 4 while painting.
Hoping:that all the work I’ve entered into the Easter Show is accepted.
Marvelling:at creation, really.
Cringing:every time my girls fall over.
Needing:to remember to do a food meal plan thing.
Questioning:loyalty and how long you need to keep it.
Smelling:oil paint.
Wearing:my paint jeans most days with lovely paint splatter all over them.
Following:Gods lead in regards to my artwork.
Noticing:that this Sydney humidity is hanging around a bit much.
Knowing:with total confidence that God sees the bigger picture.
Thinking:that I’m amazed that this week I’ve won two online competitions!! Its been ages since I’d won anything.
Admiring:my favourite artists here in Sydney, Evert Ploeg, Mellissa Read-Devine, Olivia Alexander (and her always happy attitude).
Sorting:the pile of papers that always seems to grow on my bench (without watering).
Buying:prints of my artwork to sell on Etsy soon. (yes!)
Getting:tired of all the violence everywhere.
Bookmarking:lots of art lesson sites, so much awesomeness out there.
Coveting:success, but this is not a good thing.
Disliking:my tendency towards stress increasing so fast.
Opening:up to the idea of kids art classes being successful next term.
Giggling:at stupid memes on facebook.
Feeling:much happier within myself since I made a big decision.
Snacking:on peanut butter on toast too often. Salsa too.
Comforting:my girls through all sorts of girlish upsets
Wishing:the crows feet weren’t appearing on the sides of my face already.
Helping:locals learn how to draw in my little art class.
Hearing:traffic on the busy road outside.

52 Lists. List 2. Favourite Movies

For list 2 I am listing my favourite movies of all time. I’m sure I could easily add more to this list (especially from the 1980s-1990s) but this is it. Number 1 is Forrest Gump, I’m a huge Tom Hanks fan and this one has been a fav for a very long time. I must have seen it over 50 times (used to put it on during housework etc) and even saw it in Flemish once.
Without going through the why of all of these I will explain one or two more. The Great Escape is one that I used to watch with my Dad on a yearly basis. Lots of good memories there. The Princess Bride is one of the most awesome movies ever made. lots of youth group memories watching this. The rest, I love the stories, the characters and themes.
What are your favourite movies? I’d love to hear.

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Learning about Faith

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One of the best ways for me to spend some quiet time with Jesus is to use my notebook for what I call visual devotions. I write down links, draw arrows, have dot points, illustrations, references and use colour. As a visual artist this is the best way for me to remember what I’m looking at and to keep me coming back.

The passage I’ve been looking at lately is 2 Peter 1: 5-9 which reads:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness;
and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control;
and to self-control, perseverance;
and to perseverance, godliness;
and to godliness, mutual affection;
and to mutual affection, love.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

I have started at the top and have been examining each virtue mentioned.

Goodness is always thought of as moral, doing something that gains you favour, behaving yourself etc… but in looking deeper I discovered it represents genuine unselfishness, kindness, generosity, honest and good conduct. These things aren’t done in order to gain anything for ourselves but are an outworking of the faith we have that Jesus has saved us.

Knowledge is often thought of as having a head full of facts, something to show of, something that can cause pride or arrogance or self-righteousness etc…In looking deeper I discovered that this word actually refers to wisdom and understanding of who God is, enlightenment of God’s hope, maturity as a child of God, seeing the whole truth and true righteousness (as given by God).

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Its always good to go over the true context and meaning of words used in our modern translations of Scripture and get to the real intent set out by the author. Our modern interpretations often totally change the meaning of a verse.

Next on the list is self-control. It will be interesting to see what that comes out as.

52 Lists – list 1. Places I’ve Lived

For a while now I’ve followed the blog Meet Me at Mikes by Pip Lincolne. Last year she did a series of posts called ‘52 Lists‘ in which she listed whatever she wanted, once a week. Seeing as I did not blog a whole lot on here last year I didn’t take up the idea but now that I’m starting again I want to have a go at this. Considering we are already into week 6 of this year I’ll have some catching up to do. That will be easy, just put in some extra lists! I’ve decided to hand write my lists because I love to hand write things and it goes much better with my right brained-ness!
So, here’s the first list, Places I’ve Lived. I suppose I’ve lived in a few different places although at least 12 years were spent in Armadale in WA (Westfield which has changed its suburb name now). Best place to live….I do love WA having grown up there but at the moment I’m loving living in Sydney. I was born in NSW which accounts for the first entry. We spent 6 months in the UK and one year in Niger in West Africa. Living in a place is so very different to visiting a place! Here’s the list:
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2015

Its been months since I last posted but I’m hoping to change that this year. For some reason I found it really difficult to maintain two blogs and found that most of what I wanted to say had to do with art. Wanting to keep my art discussions on my other blog meant that I wasn’t sure what to write about on here any more! So, I’ve made a bit of a plan. I have a few things I want to write about on a weekly basis so we will see how that goes.

To start with I thought I’d type up some of my 2015 goals. I realise its almost February but the kids only went back to school yesterday so I’ve not had proper head space until now. Here’s a few of my goals, I’ve not included some of the more personal/private goals so there are about two or three not listed:

1. Properly reduce stress. I don’t handle stress well at all. My brain seems to be set at a high level of fight or flight after a bout of very bad stress a few years ago. I end up with the whole range of physical stress and anxiety symptoms which make it worse. I want to get on top of this properly. Plan of attack: exercise, Bible study, work on how much I take on.

2. Lengthen my fuse. I tend to have a short fuse, I take things personally, get grumpy at the kids and end up saying things I shouldn’t. Plan of attack: Prayer, Bible study, being purposeful in my responses, simple things like deep breathing and counting to 10.

3. Finish major projects. The main one left on the list is our caravan. I need to do the interior decorating mainly including painting, curtains and replacing mattresses. Plan of attack: set aside a day just for each task.

4. Improved meal planning. I used to do this more and still have my monthly plan. I’ve just gotten lazy and overwhelmed. Plan of attack: sit down on morning in the next week and make a proper plan and list. Stick to it.

5. Visual Bible Study. I have slacked off with my Bible study lately, well for a while. I have still been reading my Bible or attending a study but sitting and going through verses and pondering them is something I want to do. I always enjoy my time thinking about practical application but mostly I like to create a visual representation of what I’m looking at in the form of a brain storm style chart. Plan of attack: set a specific day or time to do this.

6. Art goals. Recently I had all my 2013-2014 oil painting work printed up in a catalogue. I’m not a very assertive person so these are still sitting here and I’m not sure what to do with them. I want to make sure these get put to use. I also aim to enter 6-8 art prizes this year. I have applied for two so far and am hoping to enter another one by Feb 17th. This year I would just love to sell some paintings, I want to financially contribute to the family. I am also planning on attending a term at Julian Ashton’s Art school. I also want to spend at least one day a week outside the house, either pleinair painting, going to exhibitions, galleries or sketching somewhere. I would also like to get more involved in my art society, Oatley 101. Plan of attack: Keep a diary, set days for each and set deadlines.

7. Regular Hostessing. I want to invite more people over for a meal or afternoon tea. I do enjoy this but introverted me has backed away from this a lot more lately. Plan of attack: make a list and start inviting people.

8. Other. The list of other things I’d like to implement include: encouraging specific family members regularly being BOLDer, start a children’s art class, set some laptop boundaries, draw every day, set and keep to house rules for the girls.

The list is longer than I thought and it feels a bit like an overhaul. I probably should have more in there about exercise but I don’t want to focus on that yet. Any exercise I do will be for stress management only.

How’s that for 2015 goals? Quite a lot I suppose but I’ve had a while to think about it. Do you have any big goals? Leave a comment below if you like, I’m interested to hear what you’re planning.
Amanda

Thinking it Through

Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about what I really want to paint. I have at least settled on oils as my main medium but the what is the hard part. I love to paint portraits but these are very limiting. Not everyone would want to buy a portrait and I’m not confident enough to offer commissions as yet. Landscape I find easy but nothing more than aesthetic. I don’t feel very challenged by a landscape although I am still yet to have another go at plein air painting (outdoors).
Its not so much the category that I’m trying to get to, its the statement. I would love to be able to paint in such a way that my work challenges the viewer. I want to give people something to consider but working out HOW to do that is difficult. The best way forward is naturally of course, not forced but at this point, nothing natural is emerging.
For a very long time I have focused on the outcome of the work and not the process. I think this may be something I need to address. I would love to be able to paint in a recognisable style, something that people would see and say ‘oh, that’s Amanda Hunt’s work’. I’m not there yet.
Last week I listened to an excellent podcast by Sheridan Voysey which addressed the subject of culture and our place within ours as a Christian. This led to a few back and forth emails with Sheridan in which he pointed me towards another excellent resource, ‘Art Needs No Justification’ by Hans Rookmaaker. He says:

We want artists to be serious and create deep things that have almost eternal value, things that people of culture can talk about centuries later. But if artists want to be successful, they have to bow down to present tastes, be commercial and play the clown rather than the sage. Of course this is not a new problem. It has been like this since the eighteenth century when the old concept of the artist as craftsman began to be exchanged for a concept that saw him as both a gifted genius and a social and economic outcast. Artists who are Christians also struggle with these tensions. But the problems of Christian artists are often greater because it is difficult for any Christian to live in a post-Christian world. Artists are expected to work from their convictions, but these may be seen by their atheistic contemporaries as ultraconservative if not totally passe’. On top of this they often lack the support of their own community their church and family.’

I can totally relate. Not only is art seen as a hobby and not a gift by many but any statements we may want to make would be misunderstood. I’m still mulling this all over.

So, the question is, what should I paint? Should I paint pretty pictures? No one is really buying art that much and my studio is filling up with paintings so what’s the point. If I’m going to paint something it might as well be something with weight. Thoughts to ponder and pray over.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo

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For the last year we have had zoo membership with Taronga Zoo here in Sydney. We have loved being able to go to the zoo any time and have made the most of it. Before our membership runs out we wanted to make the trip out to Dubbo (which is about 5 hrs west of Sydney) to the Western Plains Zoo. Finally these last school holidays we got organised and headed off. We drove via Orange on the first day and arrived at Dubbo in the early evening. The next day we headed off to the zoo. The zoo is 300ha in size and we had the option of hiring bikes or driving. We chose driving as I wasn’t well and we also had a carload of picnic supplies.

Its an amazing place, the way they have set up the pens (more like paddocks) is so that it appears that there is no fence at all. It was very strange to be driving along and see a large herd of giraffes in the paddock. Here’s some of my favourite shots from the day:

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Cuddles the 42 year old ex-circus African elephant.

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A roaming Rhino

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Look! A baby Meercat and its parents.

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The girls checking out some reptiles. The python is the same sort my parents have found the skin of in their backyard in Cairns (and the same type that ate the guinea pigs next door to them!).

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My favourite thing of the day – two hippos grazing in a field (who knew they did that!)

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Closeup, they were like giant pigs snuffling in the dirt.

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Baby zebra!

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Check out all the space the giraffes have! That’s Miss K watching them.

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Couple of younger giraffes, they were very sweet.

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Przewalski’s Horse. A wild Mongolian horse. They had a lot of these there and they were very beautiful.

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Just for fun, this is where I keep my giraffe. :)

The zoo trip was worth it for sure. There were plenty of toilet stops and food stops inside the park and a decent playground at the end. If we had more time we would have done it over two days as we didn’t see everything. I’d highly recommend going!

Royal Stalking

Last Wednesday I decided to take the girls into the city with the hopes that we might be able to see the royal couple as they arrived at the Opera House. I thought we would be there for an hour and would be way back in the crowd but in the end we were there for three and a half hours and were right at the front. Happily for me the girls were worn out from walking the Royal Easter Show the day before so were happy to sit and play with the things they had. They were very good really considering how long we sat. If I had known it was going to be that long I probably wouldn’t have stayed. It was a bit warm in the sun and somehow I ended up looking like I was on safari:

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We got to see how security was set up and it was impressive with police everywhere in every type of uniform there is. Mounted police, sniffer dogs, police with tight white pants on motorbikes (CHIPS style), secret service looking dudes with ear pieces etc etc… That entertained us for a while along with talking to the people sitting next to us waiting.

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After all that time however it turned out that the information given to us by the security blokes was not so good, we did get to see them as the cars sped past us towards the back of the Opera House but unfortunately this is the BEST shot I got, Kate’s hand!! Its both funny and disappointing at the same time.

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We did get to see the roar of the crowd as everyone rushed up the other end (a spectacle in itself) and then I could just see Kate in her bright yellow dress as she and William went up the stairs. All attempts to get a photo of that were thwarted however by the lady next to me who was a very keen Monarchist and had her arm stuck out in front of me the whole time. This is what I got!

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In the end we did get to see them and that was exciting to think that we were there as they arrived. I know, not a big deal in itself but still a bit of an interesting event for the girls to remember. Even though we didn’t get the hello from the royals we hoped and weren’t that close to them we were there and we did get to sit next to the beautiful Sydney harbour and Opera House for the day. Not something I thought I’d ever do.

Awesome Op Shop Find

This year I haven’t been frequenting my usual op shops as often but last week I did manage to drop in to the local Vinnies once and I couldn’t believe what I found.

Going through the linen rack to see if there were any vintage pieces I came across some old calendar tea towels. After spotting 1989 and passing on it I couldn’t believe it when I found this, 1974, the year I was born! Yes that means that this is the year of the big 4-0 for me.

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For a few seconds the thought crossed my mind ‘all I have to do now is find one for 1975, hubby’s birth year’ and then I turned 1974 over to find 1975 pinned behind it! Woooooo what a find! So there you go, we have a matching set.

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Now I just have to decide what to do with these. I don’t want to use them in the kitchen, might even frame them for display just to be different. They’d make great kitchen pictures.