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.

Easter Egg Decorating

Every year we do what a lot of people do at Easter, decorate eggs. We have had chickens or ducks for a number of years now so we have been using our own eggs for a while. This means that we can use more without stressing, we are guaranteed more the next day!
Here’s what we did this year, step by step:

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Egg blowing. Making a hole in each end of the egg and then stirring up the yolk and white inside with a cake skewer to make it easier to blow the egg through the hole. Once it got going the girls found this not too hard to do. Notice how bright yellow the yolks are!

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Once we had done 10 eggs we set them aside to dry for a few hours, mainly to make sure that the water inside them (we sucked water into them to clean them out) was leached out.

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Our supplies. We almost always use food dye and often use crayons as a resist but this year we also went with coloured sharpies and nailpolish (Miss K’s suggestion). They all worked a treat. I was given a hint online (thanks Brian) to add vinegar to the water to make the colour stick better to the shell and it worked! In fact once it dried the vinegar must have separated a bit and left nice spots on some of the eggs (as you will see down further).

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Nailpolish

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Sharpies

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Food Dye

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The end result! I love the colours, makes a change from the usual pastels we get. I would have happily made a heap more if we had time.

The colours we chose for the food dye (red, blue, green and yellow) all represented parts of the Easter story. Green for the palm leaves when he rode in on a donkey, Red for Jesus’ blood, Blue for the sky as he rose again and yellow (gold) because he is King.

I’m Not Crazy……..Well Maybe a Little

Recently I painted a self-portrait. I’ve done a few over the last year or so and a few quite a while ago but this time I wanted to get it just right. I’m planning on entering it into an art prize so was a bit more particular with the outcome.
In order to get the face right I took a lot of selfies. These are not the ‘share on the internet’ type of selfies, these are the reference photo types. Having said that, I’m going to share them here. Why? Just because. Why Not! So, here they are, just for fun:

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These are simply to practice different expressions. I know, they make me look a little bit mad but then again, who said I’m not!

Hobby No Longer Applies

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This year has been different than any other year (in my life) so far. If you know me then you will know that this is the first year when my kids are at school full time. After 8 years of being a stay at home Mum with a small one in tow I all of a sudden (or if I’m honest, finally) find myself with a stretch of six hours in a row filled with whatever I need or want to do. I included ‘need’ because I obviously can’t just do what I want the whole time, I still have my normal responsibilities.

This shift in our family life has heralded in another major shift in my life, time in the studio. I had always planned on increasing that time and last year I had three days a week where I could spend some time in there but this year there are five consecutive days where I can include painting and art related activities.

Here’s the thing, I’ve been painting now for around 20 years, I have a degree in art and a TAFE certificate in art and design. I made and sold items on Etsy for about five years and I have taught art privately (and in an overseas school environment) on and off. The one thing I have never done is consider art my career. It has always been there and I have even loosly referred to myself as an artist but its not been the main focus.

Since we moved to Sydney two years ago I have gradually built up a momentum which means that I am hurtling towards becoming professional artist. For me, the switch will be once I start winning prizes and selling works.

However, I am letting it be known that this is not a hobby. The word hobby no longer applies to what I do because it IS what I do. It IS my profession. Its where my training is, my passion is, my interest is and my skill is. I have a drive in me which pushes me to improve, to gain knowledge, to visit exhibitions and to connect with other professional artists. I spend many hours a day in the studio gaining, as one person put it ‘brush mileage’. In the past year I have spent more hours painting than I have in my life and so far this year those hours are looking to double or triple. I no longer feel driven to paint every night now that I have days to do so. Weekends are off limits for the most part. Its morphing into a part-time job (with a full-time passion).

My aim this year is to at least double the amount of art prizes I enter, maybe even triple it. I have already entered two and have a third one ready to send off. I have a website now with a blog section in which I keep a weekly record of my artistic adventures. Our family has become members of the Art Gallery of NSW and when membership expires I will probably keep on as a member. I am consuming information, networking, reading and connecting on a daily basis within the art realm. I am loving every minute and feel strongly that this is the path that God has set me on.
So, no, I don’t have a hobby, well actually I do, its crocheting in front of the TV on weekends.

A Snapshot

The last few weeks have been full of many ups and downs. Lots of exciting, interesting and stressful events and news. Below you can see a collection of snapshots of my life from the last couple of weeks. Explanation at the bottom of the post.
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Top Down
1. The happy everlastings that sit on my windowsill.
2. A beautiful sunset near Camden. Shot taken while on camp last weekend, right before a lightening storm.
3. The Giant Swing at Teen Ranch.
4. Just me chatting with ALAN DAVIES!!
5. My signed DVD.
6. Turn your head to the left.
7. Sydney awesomeness building!!
8. George trying to eat my hanging cord while prepping a painting for a prize.

I’m thinking I might add regular snapshot posts on here as I’m finding it hard to know what to write these days. Being a visual, this is a great way for me to share with you.

A List, Inspired by Pip

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Pip over at Meet Me At Mikes made a list. She then invited us to make a list for ourselves and I figured this was a good idea. So, here’s mine:

Making : Art, painting every day. Also a crocheted rug which is taking ages.
Cooking : Just made jam drop bikkies for afternoon tea.
Drinking : Tea, always tea. White,no sugar. Lipton.
Reading: Daily Rituals, How Artists Work by Mason Currey. My Bible (Colossians 3).
Wanting: A skype call with my Mum, which is impossible because she is in PNG!
Looking: At the time, we have guests coming.
Playing: Not a lot of music, does Candy Crush count?
Deciding: Whether to enter the Camden Art Prize.
Wishing: I could go out for coffee with Mum and Dad.
Enjoying: Sydney. Fantastic place to live.
Waiting: For our afternoon tea guests.
Liking: the way my current painting turned out (above).
Wondering: if I will catch Miss L’s cold or not!
Loving: my family and friends.
Pondering: Colossians 3
Considering: That new art prize.
Watching: a LOT of A country Practice as I paint.
Hoping: that Miss L will get well very soon.
Marvelling: at God. Always. The way he cares for me even when I don’t realise it.
Needing: My Mum.
Smelling: Nothing exciting, Sydney traffic!
Wearing: my fav jeans.
Following: a lot of Aussie celebs and interesting people on twitter.
Noticing: that our lives are very busy right now.
Knowing: That I am loved.
Thinking: about my Mother in Law for tomorrow.
Feeling: tired.
Admiring: Some of the amazing artists here in Sydney I’ve discovered.
Sorting: through my Grandad’s war letters.
Buying: art supplies.
Getting: a headache when I forget to open my studio window.
Bookmarking: sites about art, faith and parenting.
Disliking: the media.
Opening: my letterbox in hope.
Giggling: at my crazy kids.
Feeling: a bit sick, shouldn’t have eaten those smarties.
Snacking: on smarties.
Coveting: those who have the ability to say no to smarties.
Wishing: I had said no to the smarties myself.
Helping: myself to smarties.
Hearing: Miss L swing on her chair as she is tired of DVDs on the lounge while sick (but not from smarties).

Thanks Pip! Great inspiration there to take stock.

My Head is Full

For some reason I haven’t had a lot of focus on posting here. I think my head has been really full of art, painting, studio work and that sort of thing. For the first time since Uni I have my daytimes to focus (well mostly) on painting and I’m taking full advantage.
I have been giving painting a good go this year. I painted a lot last year but this year the focus has been different. I’ve been looking into more art prizes to enter, more opportunities, how to paint the things I really want to paint, how to improve etc etc…
This is not to say that I’m only painting. I’m still holding my priorities with the girls, hubby and house up high but as far as blogging goes, the effort has been more at my other blog over here.
One thing I will say, I have started to get more self-disciplined in things like taking time for listening to what God has to say each day and also exercising. Hubby bought me a bike for Christmas and I’m very very wobbly on it BUT I have ridden down to the gym and back a few times. Coming up the hill again is a killer but I’ve not stopped and pushed the bike yet so that’s a good sign.
Earlier this year this verse sprung out the page at me:
2 Timothy 1:7
‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.’

In the NIV this verse comes out with ‘self-discipline’ instead of ‘sound mind’. It seems both overlap and that was an area that the Lord really spoke to me about, not to mention the part about fear.

More recently this verse stood out to me:
Colossians 3:23-24
‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.’

This one is more focused on service and working in all things for the Lord. I might have more to share about these as the more I read Colossians 3 the more I realise about the cross over of serving others as the way of serving Jesus.

Anyway, this is where my head is at right now. I will make bigger attempts to share more thoughts on here as I don’t want the blog to slip away.

Double Yolker

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Just after we returned from our summer holidays our chickens started laying. We brought home the chicks from the school incubation program last September so they are young chooks. Initially there were 8 chickens but three turned out to be roosters so we gave those away.

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One of the roosters.

Now we have five chickens, three brown and three black. We have named them all, one black one is Gypsy and then the other four we chose names each for. I chose Marmite for the other black one. The girls chooks are Lollypop and Rosie and hubby named his Meg (as in Ginger Meggs).

The ladies are doing very well in the egg laying dept with 35 eggs a week! Sometimes we get these double yolkers which isn’t much of a surprise as you can tell right away that they are when you put them next to the other eggs!

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Its good to have chooks again!

Big Problem

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Have you seen this quote around the internet before? I saw it last week after someone posted it to facebook and at the time I tucked it away thinking ‘hmm, I should do that more’.

After some major stresses a few years ago I seem to have gotten into a habit of questioning why God isn’t ‘fixing things’, even little things, as if God is some sort of wishing tree that I can yell at when I want something sorted out. This quote was a good reminder that Gods character isn’t one where we can just demand and he will do instead, like any loving parent we need to ask. We need to trust that he really does want to help us in our time of need and we need to teach our children this.

Last night Miss K went to bed and started coughing after three days of battling a cold. She hadn’t coughed much up until now and I figured it was either a ploy to get out of school the next day or it was because she was lying down. So, did all the usual things. I gave her cough medicine, I propped her up, I gave her water to sip and I even did the ol’ vicks on the soles of the feet routine. Nothing worked. Every 10 seconds (I know, I counted) she would cough and after a while she would come out and say ‘I can’t sleep’. It was getting later and later and I was starting to get frustrated at not knowing how to stop it.

Then this little voice inside my head reminded me of this saying. Instead of me sitting there saying ‘God, why aren’t you letting her sleep!!’ I realised I needed to pray. Usually when the girls can’t sleep or have a bad dream I pray with them and usually its the first thing they ask me to do when they wake up so why this time didn’t I think of this first? I’ll never learn!

The thought then came to me, ‘what if I pray with her and the cough doesn’t go away, how does that show her that God cares?’. That little voice again popped into my head ‘trust me’. So, I did. I went into her room and said ‘Miss K, there is one thing we haven’t tried yet, praying’. So I prayed, I said ‘God, we have a big problem, Miss K needs to stop coughing so she can sleep, can you take away her cough?’. Then I asked her ‘do you believe that God can take away your cough?’ to which she said ‘yes, of course’. I knew right then that if her cough stopped it was because she has the faith that God can do that, not me.

I said goodnight and went back to my studio and waited. In the next five minutes she coughed twice and then silence. Nothing, not another cough for the ENTIRE night. I felt very loved and very ashamed at the same time. Why do I question God? Why don’t I always believe that he hears us when we pray?

The saying above may seem a little bit cliched or fluffy to you but to me, I know it when I see faith at work and I believe that God hears us and just wants us to trust him, even in these small things.