Saturday, 29 December 2012

Hatter's Hope: sparkle

Hello! Happy period-between-Christmas-and-New-Year! This time is always a bit of a blur for me; I never remember what day it is, I rarely do anything before midday, I have trifle for breakfast every morning...in short, it's proper holiday time!

It also means I have time to post - I meant to do this last week but it got sucked into the Christmas vortex.

The current challenge over at Hatter's Hope is sparkle (why don't you give it a go?). For this one I got out my embossing powders, which I haven't used for a while. So I thought I'd show you how I use them!



These are my embossing powders. I've got sparkly ones, black ones, and metallic ones. The black powder is best used with stamping rubber stamps on an embossing ink pad; the finished result gives you raised lines you can colour inside and a shiny outline to your image. The metallic ones are good for outlines, or having solid blocks of gold or silver. The glitter ones are good for things like this sparkle challenge!

So first of all I coloured up Sammi's Fairy Set. The digi has her fairies, LilyRose and Charlotte Rose, in two sizes, so I did the bigger ones in foresty greens and purples, and the little one in a red dress - like a forest berry perhaps?




Then I coloured in their wings and the little one's red dress with the clear embossing ink. I have a pen for this purpose - looks a little Copic-like with the double ends. I wondered whether the ink would change the colours of the Copics I'd used, but it didn't change too drastically.



You only need a tiny amount of powder to cover the image, but it's hard to be precise. So the best way of doing it is to pour the powder over the whole image, then tip the excess onto a card and pour it back into the container. I've used these powders a lot in the past and haven't had to buy refills yet - they go a long way! Once I've shaken the excess off, I brush over the parts of the image I don't want to be embossed with a small, soft paintbrush, just to loosen any stray particles and give the embossed bits a clean edge.



Lastly, you heat up the paper to melt the powder, which sticks it onto the page and gives it a shiny finish. You can use any heat source that won't burn the paper; I used to use a toaster to heat it from underneath, which was quite effective. I do have this heat tool, which blows very hot air but a bit more directed than a hair dryer. You have to be careful if using something like a hair dryer, that the powder doesn't come unstuck and blow off the page. That would leave you with a very blotchy result.

And this is how they look after their heat setting!



Much less messy than using glitter and glue, as the glitter doesn't fall off once it's been heat set.

Then I put the card together, with the fairies sitting in a tree, daydreaming. I used some cloud stickers and sentiment from a kikki.K sticker book. Now I have it sitting on my bookshelf and I feel quite pleased when I see it as I come down the hall to my room!



Friday, 28 December 2012

tired now

I often get to this time of day and think I should blog, but am so tired I can't think of how to write in an engaging and interesting way. But hey. I opened the wordpress window and started typing, and that's all it takes, really, isn't it? Even if it isn't very interesting.

The Christmas period, with all its busyness, food, carols, reflection, family, friends, and church things has finally passed. Though I am exhausted now, I did enjoy Christmas this year. The church events were really happy, encouraging occasions. I think people who were visitors to the church got a clear gospel presentation and were prompted to think about Jesus.

I got to be Chomp again on Christmas Day. People laughed in the right places too, which is gratifying.



Christmas Day was cool and stormy and perfect weather for turkey wellington, which was rather delicious. Mum was annoyed that it didn't look the same as the photo; my brother said "it wouldn't be Christmas if mum wasn't apologising for the food, even though we're enjoying it."

Then on Boxing Day we had more turkey wellington, ham, trifle, pudding, salads, cheese bread and other yummy things when various friends and family members came round to hang out in our backyard. I love having people over, even if I don't sit and talk to them much. I just like having people at my place.

There were reports of craziness in the Boxing Day sales as usual, and today there were reports of traffic jams up and down the coast as usual. The reporters write about these things like they are outrageous scandals. I wonder what would happen if, one year, they just didn't write those stories. The world would probably go on.

I don't understand the thing of queueing up for The Sales. We went to the shops this afternoon, had no trouble parking, wandered around at a leisurely pace, found the things we wanted in our sizes with hefty discounts, and came home again with nary a pulse rate quickened. It doesn't seem that the discounts on anything are large enough to warrant queueing for hours, shoving your way into the shop with hundreds of other people at your heels, grabbing whatever you can find, pawing over the merchandise so that someone else doesn't get to it first. I could understand if, say, the shops were giving away free televisions or something, but even so I'd have to be guaranteed to get one to make it worth the effort.

Now do you see why I don't often blog when I'm this tired?

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Magnolia blanket

This isn't a newly finished project, but I realised I never put pics up of the end result and it's all been papercraft here for the last few posts so it's high time we had some yarn craft. Here's my magnolia afghan! It's been keeping me warm since April, and even when the weather is warmer it looks nice draped over the end of my bed.



It's a very easy pattern for a very satisfying result. You basically crochet the large shapes, then the smaller triangles and sew them all together into one long panel. Then you crochet along one side and keep going until it's as long as you want (or, in my case, until you get sick of doing nothing but long, long rows).



In the pattern, the top panel was supposed to be vertical rows, but I preferred the horizontal stripe, so I just did the same as on the bottom panel and crocheted along until it was as I wanted. Then I went all around the edge in double crochet stitches to bind it.



I love the yarn I used too, as it self-stripes and makes the blanket look a whole lot more complex than it actually is! Also, being Lincraft yarn it often goes on sale, so I would just wait until there was a sale and buy up a bunch. Seeing as it has a mixed colour it didn't matter too much if the yarn wasn't from the same dye lot (there wasn't a lot of variation as far as I could tell).

I probably would have finished the whole thing quite quickly if I hadn't started it in spring...but crocheting a giant blanket in summer was not the most enjoyable thing to do so I waited until the autumn months to finish it off. It gives me great pleasure to see it on my bed! There is really nothing quite as satisfying as making something beautiful that is also practical.

Yarn: Lincraft Surprise - dark multi mix
Pattern: Magnolia Afghan by Lion Brand Yarns

Hatters Hope: the Magical Tree

There's a new release at Hatter's Hope, inspired by Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree! These were definitely my favourites of her books...I didn't really like the Famous Five or the Secret Seven or the Egregious Eight (okay I made that last one up). But The Magic Faraway Tree was somewhere I wanted to go, with its silly folk and yummy-sounding snacks and the amazing places it led to.

Sammi obviously loved those books too! Her range of stamps include the Silk Fairy, Pan Man, Mr Moonhead and assorted fairies and mushrooms. I chose the Silk Fairy with her long, golden hair to colour - mainly because she has the snacks! I decided to colour her in a bright, storybook style.



Unfortunately when I was putting the card together, I was very tired after a long week of work and carols and busyness. I just couldn't get it to look how I wanted. I wanted to do a kind of woodland-feeling card but of course hadn't used the right colours for that, the birds washi tape didn't look strong enough, and the oak leaves I punched out with my hole punch looked a bit messy and so I started pulling it apart and...well, the card actually no longer exists in this form anymore. It has been reduced to its component parts and awaits a time when I have a bit more creative energy!

PS. I came across this 2006 article talking about the 'sanitising' of Blyton's books. I agree with the article's author: "it is all palpable madness".

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

I may just sleep right here.

You guys. I am so tired. I can't even...

Driving to work is quite dangerous at this level of tiredness, because I'm still okay to keep plodding along, but not really as alert as I ought to be when behind the wheel. And then I start to think about how bad it would be if everyone in the cars around me was as tired as me, and then I start to worry I'll crash but not enough to pull over and then I'm at work so I go inside and drink lots of coffee.

But I got through the mega week that was last week! And now, suddenly, it's only a week until Christmas. And only two weeks until it's a whole other year!

That's just crazy town.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

shining a light on Christmas

I wish there was an online version of Southern Cross I could link to - the lead article by Judy Adamson in this month's issue about Christmas celebrations is really great. Good stuff for me to think about in these final few days before our Wild Carols event on Sunday night (and another one in Canterbury that Lachy, Tim and I are involved with on Saturday).

Archie Poulos has articulated what I'm aiming for with Wild Carols this year:

Archie Poulos says it's important for Christians to stop thinking that everyone in the community understands the meaning of Christmas.
"If you asked a group of people in their 20s or 30s what Christmas was about there'd be a religious element to it, but exactly what it is doesn't matter because it's about a 'vibe', not truth," he says.
In exactly the same way, he adds, people with no faith at all can cry at a carols service because they're not responding to "the truth of God become man, they're responding to a notion - a vibe of something".
"For them [Jesus is] a part of a story like Santa is a part of a story - like the emotion I feel when I get together with my family is part of the story. So what our task has got to be is not to mock and dismiss these other elements but to shine the light on the part of the story that actually makes the story. Put the spotlight on that, show why that's the most important thing and give people a framework through which they can understand more of what's happening."

I hope we can shine the light on Jesus for people this weekend. Come along to the Canterbury Church Plant on Saturday at 7:30, or Wild Street on Sunday at 6:30 - we should have lots of fun!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

mi casa

It's been a week of home improvements, of the expensive kind. But it's been largely successful, so I feel some spruiking is required.

A bit of background - our house used to be one whole dwelling, which was used as an accounting firm/home/teddy bear making facility (don't ask). There was ducted air conditioning, an alarm system, a quite extensive sprinkler network throughout the big landscaped backyard and front yard, and backyard lights. When they couldn't sell the whole dwelling, they decided to turn it into semis and just put a line down the middle. So they blocked off the air conditioning, cut off the alarm, and took all the vital operating bits (such as pumps and connectors) to the sprinkler system. Andy's side (926) has the controls for air con and the alarm. Our side just has the dud vents and blinky alarm detectors that go on and off but do nothing.

We decided to get air conditioning installed and it seemed to make sense to use the vents/ducts that were already there. It took a while to organise the money to do it, but this week I got the chaps from J&J Metro West (whose office is right next to ours in Rydalmere) to come and install a new Daikin system (they ended up replacing the ducting but used the existing vents). They were really friendly, professional and well-priced - I'd happily recommend them to anyone.

Of course, since we had the system installed, the weather has been rather cool (much like how when you get the car washed it invariably rains). So I feel that has been our service to all of you living in Sydney: installing air conditioning has brought a cool change, rendering the air conditioning unnecessary. You are welcome.

I also had someone from Magnetite come in and quote to retrofit double glazing in the bedrooms, to cut the traffic noise down. But it's unlikely to be installed til January, so I will let you know how that goes (I am SO looking forward to that happening).



The last thing I had done was to do an all-out offensive strike against the ant armies that are encroaching upon our domicile. The place had been fumigated before we moved in, and we even had the dude come back under warranty because there seemed to be more ants than were normal, but he wasn't really much help.

Mum tried spraying, laying ant baits, putting down ant rid, ant sand, magic ant chalk (given to her by someone at work and, as it turns out, illegal in the US)...anything with ant in the title really. But after an initial cull, they would just cut a path around whatever measures we had taken, scoffing and laughing at our puny attempts. She has been getting increasingly stressed about the ants, their cunning and their evil. I had to point out that ants didn't really operate under any sort of moral compass, but she didn't want to have a bar of it.

The day they invaded the kitchen cupboards was the last straw. Although they did not breach our impenetrable Tupperware line of defence, they were everywhere and it was kind of gross, really. 

I didn't really know who to call, so I just did some googling. Nationwide Pest Control's site impressed me, mainly because it was well-laid out, provided the relevant information (ie, what the service entailed and how much it would cost), and allowed me to book online. I got a call the next day confirming the appointment, and a call on the day to say the guy was on his way.


He was friendly, confident, took care of business and seemed to know his stuff. I made a point of telling him what I thought about the website, because I think positive feedback ought to be passed on, and he seemed very proud of the whole business. He reckons after a month of the ants carrying poison back to the nest and gradually dying out, we should be relatively ant free for at least a year, if not longer. Hurrah!


When I mentioned mum's ant paranoia to the pest controller he said "yeah I'm pretty sure we're not at the top of the food chain, we just exist to serve the ants." Which of course reminds me of this:

http://youtu.be/eKbFb6TPVEA

But not for another year at least! Mwa ha ha!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

drip...drip...

I do think the decreasing of my blogging coincides with my uptake of Twitter. I used to actually blog about the minutiae that I tweet about now...so I guess I didn't stop saying things, I just changed the channel I chose to communicate with (that was quite deft alliteration there, did you notice that?).

But as a result my writing is now in little drips rather than torrents of words.

I have said it before, too, but my embracing of technology has also led to a decline in my writing generally. I used to carry around notebooks and pens everywhere and take any opportunity to write about ideas, things around me, people who looked interesting on the bus, that sort of thing. Lachy suggested I try and record similar thoughts as I drive, but it's kind of harder to get into the right creative mode while being assaulted on all sides by Sydney traffic. Unless I wanted to write about Sydney traffic. Which I don't, really.

Though I did have an idea for a book the other day while I was getting a haircut. And I made some notes and still haven't completely gone off the idea, so I should nurture that little seed. There is also the series on body image and the Christian that I keep meaning to think about, research and write (rather than rants off the top of my head when I'm feeling fat).

Hmm. So there is stuff in that head of mine.

Alright, gentle readers (at this point it might just be mum and Barbara, but I fear even they may have given up on me), I will endeavour to keep to a more frequent blogging schedule. Even if there's not that much to say, writing regularly and thinking about what to write has to be a good thing.

nooooo

Mum's giving up on checking my blog. You might wonder why she checks it so frequently, given that we live together and talk all the time. But clearly she thinks I have something to say that I am Keeping From Her.

I don't really, but I should think of more things to say.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Hatter's Hope challenge: Bring on the bling



Here's Poppy! And as if I needed a challenge to use bling on a card. The sentiments and the snowflake paper are from a book of papers by Kaisercraft.

I think Poppy is my favourite of the Hatter's Hope Christmas gang. She has such a sweet face!

Why not join the challenge over at Hatter's Hope? You could win the very first rubber stamp produced by HH!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Hatter's Hope

So I've mentioned her a few times; Sammi is one of my (few?) readers and a close friend. As well as being the boss lady at Mad for Markers, tonight marks the launch of Sammi's own range of stamps under the label Hatter's Hope. Her drawings are whimsical and sweet (a bit like their creator) and are manga- and/or storybook-inspired. I also like that she has some more Australian-themed Christmas designs!

Congratulations Sammi! I'm really proud of you!

If you're a papercrafter, be sure to pop over to Hatter's Hope, join in the regular challenges using HH stamps (the first challenge kicks off tomorrow), and buy an image or two!

Friday, 23 November 2012

The light


Here's another Kaylee from Some Odd Girl, this time a digi (digital 'stamp' = an image you print off yourself on a printer, rather than a physical stamp you'd stamp with ink) called Bright Lights Kaylee.


I think I like her with blue hair the best (maybe because I coloured the blue better than the pink!).

I used some of the excellent washi tape I got recently at the Papercraft Festival at Penrith when I went in to help Sammi on the Mad for Markers stand. We were right across from the Papercraft Hub stand, and they one whole 'wall' of their stand was just rolls of washi tape (a kind of Japanese paper tape) in all kinds of patterns. The temptation proved too much!


I love the informal yet sweet look washi tape gives to cards (I remember first seeing washi tape in Pentimento Bookshop in Newtown years ago, and coveting it desperately but thinking "when would I ever use that? I really can't justify buying it just because it looks pretty." It was quite expensive too, but now it's far more common and much cheaper and I need less and less justification to buy pretty things!)

I printed out an appropriate Bible verse to stick on - Jesus is the light that came into the world at Christmastime (and of course it's also a lame pun because, well, fairy lights). I don't like a lot of the 'sentiment' stamps that are around at Christmas, mainly because they're so bland and generic. As a Christian I love to celebrate Jesus' birth so I am pleased to take the opportunity to say more than 'Merry Christmas' or (worse) 'happy holidays'!

 

PS - hopefully it doesn't seem too condescending if I occasionally explain a term...it's easy to just use jargon and forget that not everyone will know what things like digis and washi tape are. I mainly am aware of this because that's how I feel whenever I start exploring a new craft and I'm too scared to ask questions!

It took me SO long to feel familiar with crochet patterns, for example, and I was always thinking I was doing everything wrong. But eventually I realised that even if the way I did it wasn't 'right', it was still getting good results! Starting to get back into paper craft has been a bit of an eye opener, because there are a lot more commonly available tools and different techniques around than when I used to run Christmas card making workshops at church...I suppose the images I made up and printed out to use were digis, but I didn’t know that’s what they were called!

I think we get hung up on right and wrong ways of doing things and forget about the joy of just making stuff! A lady at the Papercraft Festival was watching one of the girls colouring and said wistfully, "I used to love colouring in with my son when he was little. We had so much fun! But I'm so not artistic, I could never do anything like this." I said, "Artistic has nothing to do with it! If you enjoy it, that's one of the biggest reasons for doing it!" That's advice I would do well to heed myself sometimes...

 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Organisation is a beautiful thing


Thank you to Virginia for dropping over my new Copic wallet. No more rummaging in a box for my pens and never being able to find the right colour! (the rummaging worked okay when I only had a few markers, but as one gets deeper into a craft, all the surrounding paraphernalia starts to make sense...)

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Not quite perfect...



Another Tree Trimming Kaylee card, but this time with purple hair. Purple and red is one of my favourite combos!

[side note, I have often wished I had purple hair but have been put off by the thought that I would have to peroxide it first. Why regular toxic hair dye isn't a problem for me, I don't know. But I have visions of my peroxided hair becoming straw-like and crumbling to dust and I don't think I could rock the bald look AT ALL.]

This card didn't work out as well as I'd hoped, but hey I'm not just going to post the stuff here that makes me look like I know what I'm doing. Full crafting transparency, people! I also wanted to show how just a different colour palette can transform an image; I keep forgetting this is the same stamp as the one on the last card.

The coloured baubles (a Kaisercraft clear stamp that I can't find anywhere to link to online so it must be out of 'print') are fine, but I wanted to echo their shape in the background by stamping with red ink onto the red card. As you can see, that didn't quite come out as clearly or as elegantly as I might have liked! I might try it again sometime, but I'll practice first.

But still, there's something about this card that pleases me. Must be the purple hair.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Merry and bright



I love, love, love sticking things on cards. Wait. Let me be more specific. I really like stick on gems and pearly things, which I guess are collectively referred to as bling (even though I never really liked that word...not really sure why...but I guess I have to learn to love it, it seems to be here to stay!). I found these really cheap red and green pearls at a Hot Dollar store - the reason they're cheap is because the adhesive is terrible and comes off all over the backing paper. But no matter. I still got them to stick.

I also bought a giant pack of coloured card at Costco (that's a good tongue warmer upper...try saying it several times fast if you need to do some public speaking) so I've been enjoying cutting card sizes that aren't 'standard'. This is a long narrow one that stands on its end, opening up rather than out. And I cut the edge with my crinkly scissors that I think I've only used one other time ever. What a wise purchase that one was.

But the star is, of course, is Some Odd Girl's Tree Trimming Kaylee stamp, coloured with my trusty Copics. I really like Some Odd Girl's style - the characters always look so cheerful! (Although a male friend thought Kaylee was holding a bomb...I think the wire at the top of the bauble looks like a wick because it was too hard to cut around and I thought I was using my 0.2 multiliner to redraw it but it turned out to be the 1.0. Whoops!)

May your days be merry and bright!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Colour



I've always loved coloured pencils, pens, crayons, pastels, mainly how they look all lined up. The possibility of what someone could do with all those colours.

So I was very excited when my lovely friend Sammi set up her store, Mad For Markers. A close source of colour goodness! Mad For Markers came out of Sammi's love for Copic markers, an alcohol-based, refillable marker from Japan that allows you to do a lot of fun stuff with blending and shading that you can't do with normal markers.

 

[caption id="attachment_128" align="aligncenter" width="491"] Me and Sam at a recent event our church, Wild St, was part of (we were colouring Christmas tags and, er, wearing silly hats)[/caption]

I coloured my comics for Kinds of Blue (Labyrinthine and Eating the Blues) with Copics, but I'd only just started playing with them and wasn't very artful in the way I used them. Looking at the pages now I wish I could do them again, but they're out there now, and c'est la vie. I just need to draw some more comics to give me a chance to do a better job, I guess!

I decided this year I would make a whole stash of Christmas cards to get some good use out of my markers, and to encourage me to do more little creative things. I'm still working on a crochet project, but it takes me longer to finish those. The nice thing about colouring and cards is I can finish something I'm reasonably happy with in a short time. Sense of accomplishment, hurrah!

Here's one I made for mum's birthday in October:



I'll be putting up Christmas ones in the next few days, to engender a sense of Christmassy spirit, despite it only being November (when you intend to make things to give at Christmas, you have to start early!).

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

12w...buh.

So the problem is I don't like being told what to do. (None of us do, right? That's our whole problem...but that's the topic for another post)

I briefly forgot this. I thought that it would be great to have someone decide what I ate and tell me what exercise to do and how to change my mindset. Turns out I didn't like it so much.

I got so frustrated and sick of the 12WBT program that I ended up just not doing it...which isn't great a) because I'd paid for it and b) because I was in danger of undoing the work I had done. It's a great program, honestly, and I don't deny that it gets results. It does. I just didn't respond so well to the whole culture of it.

But some good realisations and behaviour changes have come of it.

  • I've stopped binge snacking, like I was doing.

  • I have a better understanding of the amount of food I actually need to function, and am aware of how much I ate that was completely unnecessary.

  • I understand that my enjoyment of food and cooking for people is a big part of my life, and that is often not possible when on a program like this. Social eating is a big part of how I build relationship with people, and I don't want to forego that by being stingy about food or avoiding social eating situations altogether.

  • I enjoy exercising to feel good.

  • I don't enjoy exercising to the point of feeling unwell.

  • The gym can be fun.

  • I don't mind Michelle Bridges as a trainer on her exercise DVDs - that is definitely her forte, and her DVDs are really good - but I don't much like seeing and hearing her everywhere.

  • But I do like her fitness clothing from Big W.

  • I like being fitter.

  • My identity and self worth does not depend on my weight, what I eat, or whether I exercise.


It hasn't been at all a waste. But I recognise I need to do what works for me. So until the end of the 12WBT, I'm going to keep referring to the exercise plans. But I have gone back to counting points and Weight Watchers, as that style of program suits me better.

The report of my blog's death was an exaggeration

Mum: "Have you shut your blog down?"

Me: "...no...is it not there?"

Mum: "It's there but it's not...doing anything."

Perhaps I should post more.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

All shawls

These shawls are super easy and lovely to crochet. The beauty of this pattern is it can be made with just about any yarn/hook, and Doris Chan provides examples of the different outcomes in her pattern.





I made one for myself in red and purple, and realised that by crocheting around the edge I had effectively bound the piece, so it doesn't stretch that much (I'm sure all experienced yarn workers are going "duh" right now, but it honestly didn't occur to me). It has come in handy when I've gone to the movies, or been caught under the icy air conditioning at work, or even just snuggling up on the couch at home. It's surprisingly warm!



The blue one I made for my colleague, Lynette, who has just gone on maternity leave. I thought it might be good to drape around her shoulders as the seasons change from cold to hot and back again in the space of 24 hours, especially when she'll be up at ungodly hours of the night feeding. I finished it a few weeks ago but only just got around to blocking it today.



Didn't ever think I'd get into making shawls, but after this one I'm...(no she's not going to say it, is she?) hooked (Yes I went there. I am a consummate dad joker).



Yarn:

red shawl - Bendigo Woollen Mills Rustic - Radiant, Lincraft Cosy Wool - purple

blue shawl - Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 10 ply - junior navy and blue denim

Pattern: All Shawl by Doris Chan

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

having said that...

I just did my week 4 fitness test and measure up and I killed it!

So even some bodily training has made a difference. Okay. Not giving up, but going easy on myself - something is better than nothing.

wavering

I've never been much of a goal setter/keeper. Some people are able to set goals and then stay on track, no matter what, to reach the goal. I might set the goal, work at it for a few weeks, and then fall back into the 'who cares' state.

I'm starting to feel that with 12WBT. I'm sticking to the nutrition plans as much as I can, though finding it hard with things like church meals or being away for work. Even so, I'm managing to stay within the 1200 calorie allowance most days, and seeing the weight slowly come off. I am finding I am getting hungrier than I did at the beginning of the program, but there haven't been any major blowouts. So hurrah for that!

It's the exercise that is just not sticking for me. I joined the gym, and the times when I've gone have been great, even though mostly I find it hard to do an entire hour's workout. But days like today, when I wake up and hear the traffic screaming past the house, I just feel like retreating further into my shell. I'm not ready to get out into all that yet! Maybe I should just go back to attempting to work out in the living room on days like that.

I know they're excuses, and part of the whole 12WBT is to change your mindset, to challenge and eliminate excuses and just do it. Thing is, while the amount of content in the program is comprehensive and the videos and forums are intended to encourage and fire you up, most days they have the opposite effect on me. I feel so far away from wanting to do the work to get healthy in the way that Bridges is prescribing.

The main thing that is disturbing me is the self focus. That sounds a bit ridiculous, because the whole point of any kind of diet or fitness program is to focus on yourself. But I'm spending much more time thinking about food and fitness than I am reading my Bible. I'm thinking about body transformation much more intently than I am thinking about spiritual transformation. It just doesn't sit right with me. As a Christian, the focus is all wrong.

I want to be healthy and fit so that I have the energy and stamina to do the work God has given me to do, not as an end in itself. My best moment would not be to have a completely flat stomach and to be able to run up a hill. It will be to hear God say to me on the last day, "well done, good and faithful servant" and to know I have lived as he wanted me to.

And obsessing over weight is so counter to what he wants for me too! My self worth is not to be tied up in how I look or how the world perceives me, it is tied up in Jesus. Besides which, I have been made in the image of God, whether I'm big or small, and how can I hate that?

I am going to print 1 Timothy 4:7-8 out and stick it above my mirror:
... train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

In the meantime, the jury is still out on what I think about 12WBT as a whole. But I'm not sure the mindset lessons are taking me where I want to go.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Loss of a joy

I have to say, I'm not really feeling it today. It's a gorgeous day, and I should be raring to go, pulling on my shoes and getting out amongst it. But I feel exhausted and kind of sad and like I just want to hide in my room with the curtains drawn until the day is over.

It's mostly hormonal and it'll pass. It's okay. But I'm struggling reconciling that with the whole 12WBT thing. I really feel like baking a cake. I enjoy baking. I love the process of combining ingredients to create something completely different. I love the textures of the batter and the icing. I love the smell as it cooks, wafting through the house. I love slicing the first piece, still hot from the oven, and savouring it as I eat. Baking doesn't take me much effort, so when I'm down and tired it is still something I can do. There is the satisfaction of having created something that brings pleasure, no matter how ephemeral.

But the problem with being on any kind of diet is that baked goods are generally out, because the baking tends to lead to the eating. So no baking. And none of that joy that goes along with it.

Also, I went to the doctor the other day and he asked me all sorts of questions about my depression. I told him how I had started exercising, which of course he thought was good, but he did say to be careful. That especially when it comes to depression I should be exercising to feel good, not to the point of feeling exhausted, because then it will lead me to not want to exercise, so I won't, which will make me more depressed, which...on and on. How do I reconcile that with a fitness program like this? When all these people are shouting "Just F-ing DO IT!" on the forums, but being told to JFDing it will, more often than not, lead me to feeling worse?

I guess some exercise is better than no exercise, right? So even if I can't do the full training session, following through on the intention and doing some of it is a good thing.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

12WBT: other things


  • I joined a gym - and it has a pool!

  • I am fitting back into a dress that got too tight for me, which coincides nicely with the warmer sunshiney weather. It's nice not to be wearing jeans and shapeless tops.

  • A note on the nutrition plans - I'm sorry, but no. Herbal tea is not a dessert. (I've seen this referred to in other diets as well. HERBAL TEA IS NOT A SNACK! It's herbal tea!!)

12WBT: week 2 weigh in

Hurrah! I lost 1.8kg in the first week of the program! This is exciting, as it means the sore muscles and occasionally growling belly are worth it, and it's all working.

Well of course it's working. My eating habits before this were so poor. I had gotten into a very negative way of thinking, which was essentially "who cares?" Who cares if I have Maccas on the way home? Who cares if I eat that whole container of baklava? Who cares if I haven't so much as looked at a vegetable in three days? Who cares?

I knew I really did care, as the kilos I had lost at the beginning of the year marched back onto my body. A tiny voice was shouting "noooo!" but the "who cares?" voice was much louder (and bossier!).

Yes, sometimes over the past couple of weeks I have been frustrated and just wanted to eat whatever I wanted. But following a program, having everything mapped out for me and not having anything unhealthy I could binge on in the cupboard has meant that the negative, bossy voice has been quietened somewhat. The positive voice pointing out how much better I feel and congratulating me for taking steps to turn my health around is sounding more confident!

(I talk about my 'voices' a lot, don't I? Don't worry, I don't have multiple personality disorder or anything!)

Monday, 3 September 2012

12WBT: yum

[flickr id="7918753788" thumbnail="small_320" overlay="true" size="medium" group="" align="none"]

One thing I have been pleasantly surprised about with the program so far, is how filling and delicious the food is! Well, I knew it would be filling, but didn't expect to enjoy the recipes so much, both in the preparation and the eating.

I've never been able to plan my week's meals, I just find it mind-numbing to work it all out and then work out what I need to buy. So having someone else write up the plan, and then exactly what I need to buy at the supermarket is bliss! It makes cooking a joy, because absolutely everything you need is at hand. Although I haven't quite gotten to the TV chef stage of having all my spices pre-measured in little bowls, it's almost as good as that.

It also means I've tried some new things this past week, which always helps keep meals interesting when it comes to cooking. The thing that's good about these recipes is they are super easy and seem to turn out perfectly every time! New things include:

  • Cajun fish stew - I was always a bit scared of cooking fish before, probably because my first attempt at it was a disaster. But this stew was delicious.

  • CELERY - I normally hate celery. Some people wonder how I can hate celery, "but it's so bland and inocuous!" No. It is an evil, weird-tasting vegetable and I hate it. Until now. I still probably won't eat it raw, but added to many of the recipes this week, I haven't noticed it and yet have been smug about getting an extra serve of vegies.

  • Grated apple in porridge instead of sugar and milk - a serve of fruit, no 'empty' calories, and really quite delicious.


Getting used to eating less and not snacking so much is still a challenge, but no complaints in terms of main meals!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

12wbt

In a bout of insomnia several weeks ago, feeling overweight, unfit and unhappy, I saw mention of Michelle Bridges' 12 week body transformation on Facebook. I remember a friend who had previously done the program heartily recommending it and so, without thinking about it too much, I signed up for it. Hey, it was probably the most productive thing I've ever done at 2am!

It seems a long time ago that I made that decision, and yet the program has only just started. This is because the program is structured in 12 week rounds, so that everyone who is on the program starts at the same time. You have the support and encouragement from I don't know how many other people on the comprehensive and very busy forums who are all struggling with issues or celebrating similar milestones to your own.

While we waited for Round 3 to start there were the Warm Up and Pre-Season phases, which prepared us for the program itself. In this phase, we were asked to do things like name and get rid of the excuses that have prevented us getting fit up until now, set our goals, clear out the cupboards of unhealthy food, do a fitness test and measure up so that we have a benchmark to compare ourselves to later on. Unsurprisingly, I'm as unfit as I assumed I was. As for the kitchen cupboards, I was pleased that we hardly had to get rid of anything...but our problem isn't hoarding unhealthy food in the cupboards, but buying it on the way home from work and eating it that night!

Round 3 started this week. I did a big shop according to the provided shopping list, and have been eating the meals set out on the nutrition planner. I'm supposed to do six workouts a week, which is a massive shift for someone who hasn't exercised for a verrry long time - but I bought Bridges' 3 pack of DVDs to get me started and actually did them! (She also provides options for working out in the gym or at home...everything is really detailed and explained very clearly).

As with any program, it has taken a while for me to get into the culture of 12WBT. Whoever does Bridges' branding has been working hard - her cheery, toned and sometimes intense image stares out at you from every page on the site, and she talks to us through countless videos (I don't mind the videos so much, but the Static Stare of Fitness is sometimes a bit much). As well as the exercise demos and tips, we get a couple of new videos each week designed to keep us motivated and to challenge our mindsets. I'm really not a rah-rah, "you can do it", "be the best you can be" kind of person. Maybe I'm too cynical and untrustworthy. But I'm actually finding the videos helpful, and am even starting to enjoy Bridges' style of presentation.

(I think the turning point might have been starting to workout to her DVDs, which are great, and seeing her in action. It's like being trained by an impressively fit cross between Katy Perry and Marion Cotillard.)

The biggest challenges in this first week for me are getting up every morning and moving, and sticking to the nutrition plan at work, when I'm most tempted to snack. So far I am managing to do it (with the exception of yesterday when my workout plans failed hugely). This morning, I even used a guest pass at my local Fitness First and did a workout there, and will probably end up joining a gym despite swearing I would never do that again, simply because our house is too small to work out in, and it's easier to work out in a context where everyone else is doing the same thing (I always feel a bit awkward doing cardio when mum's trying to get ready for work, or in the backyard where the neighbours can see).

Only four days in and I know this is going to work; I already feel much better physically, my back is less sore, and I'm feeling pretty positive.

Who knows? Maybe I'll turn into a rah-rah girl after all.

 

PS I'll be writing about my 12WBT 'journey' here, so maybe there's a bit of life in this ole blog yet!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Malaysia 2012

Came back from a short trip to Malaysia with Lachy last night - we were only there for a week, but it was a good length of time to catch up with family, sloth around, shop, eat and sloth some more.

The main reason for going was to meet my new half-siblings, Celine and Matthew, and to celebrate their birth at their one month full moon celebration. The front courtyard of dad and Janice's place was turned into an outdoor restaurant for the night, with a big marquee (complete with fans and lights), many chairs and tables, and some amazing catering! I was impressed that we had our own satay stall and ais kacang maker.

The twins didn't do much of course, but just allowed themselves to be admired.

Here are some pictures of the week...mostly food related!

 

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Megan sweater

You'd be forgiven for thinking I'd stopped making anything, the way this blog has been gathering dust. But I've been happily crocheting through the cooler months, finished my magnolia blanket, which I will post later and finished my very first garment!



It's the Megan sweater by Robyn Chachula, from the book Blueprint Crochet. I decided to use this one because I wanted to learn how to read crochet diagrams, and it's my kind of sweater, really. And as it doesn't really get that cold in Sydney, it's a perfect weight for this climate.

I had no trouble with the pattern itself; even though it looks complicated, it's actually pretty easy. You just make up a lot of motifs, then stitch them together. Not much more complicated than making a blanket.



Except. The sizing was a bit weird. I'm not sure what I did, but it ended up huge. I had measured myself and concluded I was an XL from the pattern's measurements, I did a gauge swatch...but still somehow it ended up making me look a bit like the marshmallow man. It came down to my knees and ballooned around the armpits.



I quietly despaired for a while, then thought "hey! I could just pull some motifs out and make it fit!" So I pulled some out and then despaired a little more loudly, because I thought I'd completely ruined it. It sat, in a jumble, on the couch for a week, a huge gaping hole where I had cut out a section. But I didn't want it to mock me forever. I was determined to solve this problem.



So, during another episode of the West Wing (it has been my primary viewing while making this piece) I pulled and eased and forced the garment to do what I wanted it to...and it worked! I am so happy...I was scared it would be a massive waste of time and money. I added some buttons, changed the shaping of the sleeves, and dispensed with the ribbed cuffs (I hate ribbed cuffs) from the original pattern. It's much more me this way.

So pleased that now I have something bright and colourful and snuggly and unique to wear.



[box] Yarn: Bendigo Woollen Mills Rustic - Radiant

Pattern: Megan sweater by Robyn Chachula[/box]

Friday, 22 June 2012

unboxing (or the importance of UX, even in packaging)

I am a fan of good design. One thing in particular that I like is really well-designed packaging material. Apple is, of course, at the top of the list for this; I think I would appreciate the packaging even if I wasn't an Apple fangirl. This week at work I've had the joy of unboxing two delicious Apple products, a new 15-inch MacBook Pro and a 27-inch Thunderbolt Apple Display. It makes me pretty excited to know that my employer values me (and my potential) so much that they are willing to invest in me like this, and to make my workspace such a joy to use.

Here is my shiny new set up:



(No I don't really sit here looking at myself all day.)

And part of the joy was actually unpacking the items from their snug cocoons, peeling off the glossy protective plastic, seeing the screens unsmudged (probably for the last time ever).

Today I got a parcel in the post from T2, and I think we might have a packaging contender.

I like T2 tea but don't often buy it because of the cost. When I do get it, I enjoy going to the stores, smelling and sampling the blends, coveting the teapots and cups and generally soaking up the highly art-directed ambience. Everything is black and orange and designed to feel premium and luxurious.

Lucky me, I got given a gift voucher, and decided to use it online (as I don't seem to get to the shops much anymore, since going back to work full time). My usual experience of online shopping is that you get things sent in a postage bag, and if you're really lucky, depending on the kind of shop you're buying from, you might get  a sweet note or a free sample or something. My parcel of tea, however, impressed me to the point of writing a blog post about it, which is pretty odd really. Even the gift card itself felt fancy:



The parcel arrived in a black postage satchel. Inside that was a matte-finish black box, embossed with the T2 logo and held closed with magnets.



Inside that was a whole bunch of black tissue paper, a T2 promotional booklet, and two sample packets of tea (Girlie Grey and Morning Red, for the curious).



And then finally, nestled below all that and wrapped in bubble wrap and more black tissue paper, were my tins and box of tea (French Earl Grey, Chai and Gorgeous Geisha).



Yes, it's just tea! But the process of opening the package made the purchase feel as special as if I had gone into one of their shops. It made me appreciate how much attention to detail and thinking through the whole user experience matters when you want to engage with people.

I can't exactly apply those same principles to my work, as I don't sell products. But one of my tasks is to think about promoting and protecting the brand of our organisation. Those who have the same task at T2 have obviously nailed it.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Life works

I said to mum last night that I think patience will be the lesson God will continue to teach me until the day I die. I'm not very good at patience.

The other one is contentment. I feel okay about material things at the moment; God has richly blessed me with a house and a good job. That is much more than many people have. But I know it takes very little to stir the discontentment, about material things, relational things, spiritual things. I don't know why it can be so hard to remember that Jesus' grace is sufficient for me (2 Cor 12:9) and that he is the source of true contentment (Phil 4:11).

I have so much, why can't I be content? Why do I always look at the thing I can't have and complain about it to the one who gives me all I need? (which makes me feel like I'm chucking a bit of a tanty, like Benny does here)

I understand the value of having a kingdom perspective on life, of always looking to that end goal, of having eternity stamped on my eyeballs, to paraphrase Jonathan Edwards. As someone said at Equip, we feel like we have to have achieved certain goals before we die, and we somehow forget that we will be fulfilled forever in the new creation. Completely fulfilled in a way that we could never be in this life, even if we did achieve everything on our lifelong to do lists. What might seem like a forever of waiting for something here is a blip when you consider eternity. And the happiness I seek here is a weak shadow compared to the richness of joy that is in heaven.

So, patience and contentment. The two great life works that God is doing in me. Very slowly, for sometimes I am a bear of little brain.

Monday, 21 May 2012

It's all about God (duh)

We've been working through the book of Job at church lately. I'm really glad we've been studying it, because I had never read the book before this year. All I knew was it was about Job and his suffering. Oh and he had some friends and an unhelpful wife.

Tonight's talk was really good, and brought it all together for me. Unsurprisingly, it's not about Job and his suffering at all. It's about God. We're so focused on ourselves and our problems (no matter how big or small) that we forget who God is. We question God when things don't turn out as we want, we demand to know what he's doing. But as Dave said, "God's plans aren't senseless; they are beyond our senses." Just because we don't understand doesn't mean that God is obliged to explain his every move to us. But we need to trust, because he works all things for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28), even if sometimes that good is wrought through pain.

I also didn't realise until it was being read aloud tonight what gorgeous poetry there is in Job. There is something transformative when Scripture is read aloud and read well. I all too easily just skim read, instead of allowing the metaphors and imagery sink into my mind. I said in my last post that CS Lewis has such a wonderful way with words, but you can't go past God's words about himself!
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
 


“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.
 


“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
 


"Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
 


“Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?

(Job 38:1-13 ESV)



(I especially love that last image!)

You can listen to the talks on the Wild Street website.

heaven is waiting

Equip went really well yesterday. I had a really good time, both doing the drama and being at the conference. I realised the last time I was at Equip and completely freaked out was when I had first been diagnosed with depression, so I was at my lowest point and always associated that anxiety and stressed state with the conference itself. It was good to have had a break from it for a few years, but wonderful to go back and be fed and nourished by God's word (and not be freaked out by 3000 women!).

For the curious, here is how I would look as a pregnant woman:



It got a good reaction from people I knew. Especially the ones who hadn't seen me for over a year.

The talks were about heaven being our home and our destination, and how to live as we wait. I especially wanted to post something Lisa Thompson quoted in her talk, from The Last Battle by CS Lewis. As always he so lyrically and beautifully pictures profound truths.
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

CS Lewis, The Last Battle, Fontana Lions, p173



I'm so excited that this life is but the cover and title page of my story, of all our stories. I can't wait for the Great Story to begin in the new creation!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Detriment

I went to a rehearsal last night for a drama I'm in at the Equip women conference this weekend (people refer to these things as a 'drama' but that gives it more weight than I feel it has...it's just a skit to me, a performed blip to get you thinking). There are four of us in the drama, all showing women in various stages of waiting, or talking about what they are waiting for.


Rehearsal was after a long day at work, in a place I'd never been before in the western suburbs. I had never met the other actors, and we only got the script last weekend because of various problems with volunteers having to pull out (one of whom was the writer/director, so the whole thing had to be rewritten by one of the actors). Actually I was a ring-in because an actor had pulled out, and we even had another actor pull out this week, so the girl replacing her was even newer than me. So the whole thing has only come together by the grace of God, really!

I was already feeling low because of tiredness and being in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. Then I realised that they are all active actors/drama people. And that really threw me for a loop. One is a working actor, one is a drama teacher and one has just graduated from drama school. And then there's me, who hasn't properly acted for at least 10 years.

I don't know why this slammed me so much. I sat there, watching the girls do their monologues and thinking "they've actually put effort into this, they actually know what they're doing...they're going to regret asking me to do this...", and dreaded my turn to perform. It was like being at a cold audition, suddenly jumping up in front of strangers and doing a monologue at them. I apologised my way through the rehearsal, and rushed my lines, and was touchy when given direction...I could see myself behaving this way, saw that it really wasn't helping anything and couldn't understand it. I told myself to calm down, and tried to be gracious and thank the scriptwriter and take on suggestions and slow down.

It came together well, and everyone was positive and reassuring. But all the way home I just felt stupid and sad and fraudulent. And the little positive voice, although barely audible amongst the waves of negativity, kept saying "you're fine! Don't worry! It's just a little skit, and your bit's only two minutes long! It's okay! God will use you!"

So I tried to reflect on why I had felt so bad. Two main things, aside from the tiredness.

1. My part is that of a pregnant woman, who can't wait for her baby to arrive because "you have no idea how long I've waited for this". I was bemused that I was cast in this role when the script went around, and was basically told, well, we're all single, childless women, so someone has to do it, you'll be fine.


I realised last night I didn't really want to get into the mindset I needed to do a convincing job (ie, not just a cariacature); that it felt like if I didn't try to do it well I could end up being insulting to the countless women who will be at Equip and will be feeling sad and anxious about issues of childlessness; and that even though mostly I am okay about not being a mum, thinking too much about waiting for a child makes me feel bone-wearyingly sad.


2. I have changed so much since theatre was my life; there are people I know now who never even knew that 'other' me. Now, I don't mind the changes that have taken me away from wanting a life in the theatre, and I love how God has shaped me and grown me since my uni years.


But the thing that upset me was the change in my demeanour, in my outlook since being struck with depression. I feel like the black dog has eaten parts of me, or like the depression is an acid that has burned giant holes in my fabric...if I'd had the energy last night I would have tried to draw it, because it's hard to explain.


I used to be so excited about performing, about the medium of theatre. I could see exactly what to do to communicate a thought or emotion, and how to do it (though I've always been a better director than actor). I had energy. I had projection. I had passion. I loved being part of an ensemble and making plays. And now, even though depression-wise I'm nowhere near as bad as I've been in the past, it's like that me has dissolved. It's like I'm missing parts of my personality. I almost resented the other girls for being in touch with that, when I couldn't access it anymore.


It's hard to explain. But I think maybe the sad feeling was grieving those things. They aren't huge, insurmountable issues to deal with. But they definitely tripped me up.

Hearing talks on heaven at Equip this weekend will be good for me!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Battle

I am becoming a road warrior.

I always thought that was a stupid term, but since I started working in Rydalmere, which involves a 50-60 minute drive each way in heavy traffic, I am beginning to understand. You really do need to don armour and develop a tough mindset to get out amongst that every day!

Today the traffic war started almost as soon as I'd left the house. Turning onto a roundabout a block away from my house, and I believe I had right of way, a man in a Mercedes sped up right behind me. I was doing 50 down this residential street (as is the law) to the intersection only about 100 metres away and he overtook me, angrily zooming down the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic just so he could be one spot ahead of me.

Madness!

In the last few weeks I've seen a lot of that. People pushing in so they can be first. People screaming at other people because they are obeying the law. People deliberately harassing other drivers on the road. It's so easy to take the bait and get angry in response, to gesture or swear or yell or speed up just so that other person doesn't win. But win what?!

Today I resolved that instead of getting angry in traffic, every time I felt frustrated I would try to pray instead. I know it sounds sanctimonious, but I just thought, why is that not my first response? I should pray that God would make me gracious, and that he would calm everyone around me down.

So that's my resolution. Do you pray for people around you when you're out and about? I realise that for all that my church talks about being real with the world and the Bible talks about loving our neighbours, I rarely step out of my little bubble and remind myself that every single person I see is loved by God, whether they acknowledge it or not. And I should try to see them the same way, as precious to him, and not just as objects that are costing me an extra 60 seconds on the road.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

a picture is worth several words at least

What's been happening?

Here I am, graduating from Moore Theological College, with a Diploma of Bible and Youth Ministry.

[flickr id="6850254044" thumbnail="medium" overlay="true" size="medium" group="Graduation" align="none"]

Kim was the fourth year 'big sister' who organised my little prayer quartet at college. I knew her from AFES days, and now that she's graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity, she's gone back to AFES to work at UNSW, sharing the gospel with students. She is a wonderful woman and I was blessed to share my life and prayer with her and the other girls in our group, Jacquie and Grace.

[flickr id="6850263380" thumbnail="medium" overlay="true" size="medium" group="Graduation" align="none"]

Doug was a student minister at Wild Street and graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity too. He's one of those brilliantly smart dudes, but who also has an interesting sense of humour and a tireless servant heart. I was inspired by the way he and his wife, Jayme, taught the senior youth group kids last year.

[flickr id="6996380931" thumbnail="medium" overlay="true" size="medium" group="Graduation" align="none"]

My mum and my godmother, Freda. These women are two of the brightest Christian lights in my life, who have always prayed for me and loved me and longed for me to have an ever deeper relationship with Jesus. I love them.

[flickr id="6996384539" thumbnail="medium" overlay="true" size="medium" group="Graduation" align="none"]

The Hive Mind! Guan is still at college for this year, and Karen did the Diploma of Bible and Ministry a few years ago. They are my creative cheersquad, ever supportive and inspiring.

Here I am, with pink hair and cat ears, at Supanova Melbourne.

[flickr id="7099018579" thumbnail="medium" overlay="true" size="medium" group="" align="none"]

This look got a very positive reaction from my Facebook friends! Karen and I were in Melbourne at Supanova, a pop culture convention showcasing just about every nerdy thing anyone could be interested in - comics, anime, cult TV shows, sci-fi/fantasy/comic book movies, sci-fi/fantasy/horror fiction writing, costumes...oh it was great. Karen has written about our weekend in fine detail here, but as a brief summary, we gave out about 1200 promotional postcards directing people to the Kinds of Blue website, and we sold (or gave to Key People We Like) 28 of the 30 books we had taken with us. We were blown away by the sales - we had really not expected to sell that many. In fact, the people on the table next to us selling a horror novel were quite envious as they hadn't sold many at all. I was really pleased by the reaction of most people, that it was a valuable book to be in existence, and that it was really well produced.

I'm really looking forward to Supanova Sydney in June, when we'll do it all again!

Here I am, with pink hair and no cat ears, at WildKids.

[flickr id="6952937462" thumbnail="medium" overlay="true" size="medium" group="" align="none"]

Straight after getting back from the huge Supanova weekend, I went into helping out with the WildKids holiday program, which this year had the theme 'Wild about science'. We explored God's world through science, and explored what he had to say from the Bible about living in his world. Each day we would do experiments, which then had a link into illustrating our situation with God. The kids really loved it. We had over 75 kids each day, and an impressive team of volunteers from Wild Street who took the week off work (or part of the week) to come and help out. I'm praying that many of the kids will have understood the gospel message, and that, through God's grace, the seeds we have sown will one day bear fruit!

[flickr id="6952938998" thumbnail="medium" overlay="true" size="medium" group="" align="none"]

The kids were really taken with this one. When we did revision each day, and asked them what we had done, most kids got the key point, "we messed up the world", but there was usually at least one who yelled, "we put SLIME on it!!!!"

It's been a busy time, but one that has been full of blessings!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

our house

Well hey, it's the middle of the night and I can't sleep. Not even drowsy. Wide wiiiiide wide awake.

So why not write?

We've been in our little South Hurstville house for about a month. Man, that went fast! There is still a pile of mouldering cardboard boxes outside that the removalists promised to pick up and never did. But aside from that, the boxes are unpacked, pictures are hung and most things have a place.

It's a marvellous house, really, and it immediately felt like home. The first couple of nights I was a bit frustrated by the road noise when trying to sleep, but now I hardly notice it (I had little choice but to get used to it once I investigated the cost of double glazing the windows!). Right now, it's completely silent, which is nice.

Mum graciously gave me the larger room, because I had so much STUFF, despite weeks of culling before we moved. The wardrobe I was going to use broke in the move, so after a mad dash to IKEA with Lachy I got a brand new one and put it together with help from Amelia. I haven't quite worked out the best way of storing all the craft and Tupperware stuff but it does fit. Mum has reached frustration point with her bedroom so I think another trip to IKEA is on the cards in the near future.

The garden is going to be a constant source of joy and toil, I think. The back third of the yard is a total rainforest, save for the little path winding its way through the spider webs and ferns. The previous owners had owned three houses in a row and landscaped the backyard as one big yard, so the vision has been somewhat truncated by needing to divide the yard back into three separate blocks. Even so, I love our little wilderness. I've done a few hours each week and it's starting to look useable again. I even have a garden elf (aka Virginia) helping me on occasion - in fact she did a masterful job of clearing a very enthusiastic jasmine plant on our first day in. When I get another burst of energy, I'm going to start growing vegies again, as I have missed the excitement of watching things grow (and then eating them...mwa ha ha).

True, it isn't perfect, and we're still getting used to the area. There is a bit of an ant problem (I discovered a comprehensive ant nest inside a curtain rail this morning, which was most unpleasant). Most of the windows don't open thanks to a careless painter. But they are really very small things. We're living in our own house! It's marvellous!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

To live

L, a girl from my church, and I have started meeting up once a week (unless she has exams) to read the Bible. We meet at a cafe in Eastgardens, read a passage, chew over the big ideas and any questions we might have, and try and work out how to apply it in our lives (otherwise known as the Swedish method of Bible study). Then we pray about what we've discussed and any other things each of us wants prayer for.

The first thing I want to note about it is how wonderful it is that we can meet in a crowded shopping mall and do this. We can sit in public and read the Bible (on our phones) and pray aloud, and we barely even get noticed, let alone harrassed. I am so grateful that we live in a place where we can take our religious freedom for granted, compared to other places in the world.

The second thing is I am amazed at the change in me and proud of the young woman L is becoming. When I was her age, I would barely read the Bible (even though I was going to church every week), and would have been mortified to do something like pray in public. I'm grateful for the excellent Bible teaching and pastoring that people of L's age in our particular Christian circles have had. It's certainly much more robust than anything I had when I was a teenager.

And third I am so, so grateful for the living word of God. We are reading Philippians, which is probably my favourite book of the Bible. And already it has shown so much to us about living upright, godly and unafraid lives for Christ. Today we read the end of chapter one, where Paul says "for me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." It reminded us that while we are on this earth, even if life seems pointless or frustrating or hard, it is because God still has "fruitful labor" for us to do.

We also talked about heaven, and what a great party it's going to be, and why would you choose not to go there? And no matter what suffering we face here, it'll be nothing compared to how awesome heaven will be (or how awful hell will be - but thank God we don't have to go there!). We like talking about heaven. I mean that's the whole point, isn't it? To strive and work and persevere so we can get to heaven and be with Jesus. Why wouldn't we like talking about it?!

Friday, 23 March 2012

glass half something

It's been a huge couple of weeks. I've been wanting to write about all the good stuff that's happening, about moving into our wonderful house, about graduating from college. But unfortunately, the undertow of depression has had hold of me, and all I can think of is bad, sad, negative stuff. So I don't really want to go on at length about that, at least not until I've written about the good things.

Maybe I'll find the energy to do that soon. Apologies.

Monday, 12 March 2012

in between

We're in the middle of moving to our new house. We got the keys on Friday, and after some packing and cleaning with wonderful helpers at Maroubra, we went over to South Hurstville and excitedly jumped around in our new house!

Being back at the Maroubra house is weird though. All the cupboards and shelves are empty, except for the things we're still using (eg clothes, kitchen stuff). Mum and I are both completely exhausted, but muster the energy every so often to make up another box and put yet more of our stuff in. It seems we've thrown or given away or sold so much of our stuff, and yet there is still so. much. stuff. It's good to cull. But hard. And wearying.

But after Tuesday, when the removalists take all our furniture over, we will be finally moved in and no longer living in between two houses. Less than 48 hours but it seems so far away!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

In

Sometimes I really hate being an introvert. Especially at times like church weekends away. I'll be in a room full of people I love and whose company I enjoy, yet feel entirely alone and like I need to run away. I think people who don't know me well assume I'm not as introverted as all that because I'm always involved and up the front doing something. But it's all a ruse!

It's taken all my energy at this weekend I'm away on at the moment to stay here, and not to drive home for the night as soon as dinner finished. And It's not like I'm having a bad time! I'm just so thoroughly drained from being with people all day. I look at those playing games and having hilarious, raucous conversations with great envy.

The tiredness from too many people also exacerbates emotions because i was already feeling a bit low, it's just made me feel incredibly sad. And to compensate for feeling rotten, and to try and keep my energy at a level where I can participate in even a short chat, I've eaten far too much fatty and sugary food. Which doesn't help at all.

Sometimes I really hate being an introvert.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

sweet compulsion

There was a special on the Tupperware modular mates sets this month that was too good to ignore.  It took very little convincing to get mum to agree that yes, we did need to maximise the space in our pantry and yes, it did seem a good offer.

Well it arrived today! And after finishing a particularly gruelling typing job, I rewarded myself by reordering the pantry. I know, to most people, this would not be a reward. But it pleases me so greatly to see everything all neat and boxed up like that.

 




Ahh. Much more space. Plus I cleared out a whole other set of drawers that had pasta and rice in it. Order! The illusion of control! Four different kinds of flour and four different kinds of sugar!

I love it.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Waves scarf

Not much craft has been happening lately, but I finished the waves scarf. I absolutely loved this pattern, very easy but not boring, and good to do while doing other things. And after blocking it's turned out beautifully! I just want to wear it around the house, but it's summer and a bit warm and not at all scarf weather. So it will have to wait.

[gallery columns="2"]

[box] Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Sock - Blue black purple (S272)

Yarn Pattern: Nancy's Waves Scarf[/box]

Friday, 17 February 2012

detritus

As I go through the boxes in the garage of stuff I had carefully stored there for the past four and a half years, and lugged around with me from rental place to rental place for years before that, I wonder...why?

It's kind of a grim process, sifting through the material remnants of my life and finding I don't want to keep any of it.

If I ever become a famous author, I'm sure future archivists will weep at the thought of all the juvenilia I've just thrown in the recycling, but I can't even bear to re-read it. Out it goes.

I open a box of CDs. CDs! (will the current generation have less stuff to cart around because more of it is digitally stored, I wonder?) Each album reminds me of a time or a person...many of them I don't even care to recall, and yet I have carried these CDs with me. I don't want them anymore but I don't want to get rid of them...and yet if someone came and took them all away, I would be none the less for it.

Boxes of scripts from university plays. T-shirts and programmes from those shows. My old year 12 shirt, signed and scribbled and defaced by my classmates.

Much of it is in the bin. Some stuff will go to Vinnies. Some will be spread out on our driveway on Saturday at our garage sale, hoping to find another home.

And none of it will be coming with us.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

My real home

Since we set about all this house buying stuff I've been thinking about milestones in life, or things that you do or don't get, or achieve, in life. I once was part of a writing group with a girl who was determined to publish a book before she was 20 because she had been reading articles lauding the next up and coming writers under 20 - unsurprisingly, with that as her motivation, rather than wanting to tell a good story, she didn't get very far.

Sometimes we feel that we've missed out on this or that because of what the world tells us we should have achieved by a certain time. Whether it's relationships or career or house buying or having kids or whatever, we all too easily judge ourselves by the world's yardsticks and what other people think rather than what God thinks.

Rod preached an excellent sermon yesterday on Luke 17-18 and it reminded me that being ready for the day Jesus returns should be my only priority. That doesn't mean sitting around and twiddling my thumbs while I wait, but it means that thinking about and striving for God's kingdom are the things that matter, and pleasing and glorifying God are the goals of my life. It's a perspective that is easy to lose, but one I really want to keep, for it to be my default, not something I have to keep struggling to get back. Rod ended by saying the way we do this, the way we persevere is to always pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1). It's easy to lose heart and perspective if we try to go it alone.

No matter what does or doesn't happen in my life, I know where I'm heading. Bring on the day.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

home

It's been an insane week. Mum and I have bought a house.

[caption id="attachment_610" align="aligncenter" width="486" caption="Our new home"][/caption]

My wonderfully generous father and his wife told me mid last year they wanted to help me and my brother buy property so we weren't paying rent anymore. They proposed we find something big enough for me, Nick and mum to live together. It was a somewhat daunting proposition. I was only earning a minimum through my graphic design business while juggling almost full time study. Much as I love my brother, I didn't really think we'd be able to live together. Much as he loves me, my brother didn't want to live anywhere I was looking, and only wanted the inner city. We certainly couldn't afford anything there that would be big enough for the three of us.

I had a few half-hearted looks at things that were way out of our price range and felt quite defeated by the whole thing. I still didn't (and don't) have a steady job, so what bank would give me a mortgage? I kept praying about it, knowing that God would provide somewhere if he wanted this to happen.

We decided that Nick would look for his own place, and mum and I would look for something together. Dad suggested mum and I get a joint loan, which immediately made the whole prospect more viable for me, as she has a steady income and it would mean that she was getting an asset too.

We have friends who live in the St George region (Bexley, Wolli Creek, Bardwell Park). It seemed a world away to me, just because I'm not familiar with the area, but it really isn't any further away than the inner west or even other parts of the Eastern suburbs. So I started looking there, and almost immediately found a semi in South Hurstville that was at an unbelievable price. I realised it was on a very busy main road, next to a petrol station. I didn't hope for much, but the pictures looked nice, so I went to see it.

And now we're buying it. I never, ever, ever thought I would be in this position. When I thought about the future, it never included me owning property. Ever.

[caption id="attachment_609" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="A prettyish sort of wilderness - I hope to build a writing studio here one day"][/caption]

We prayed hard throughout the whole process, for wisdom and patience and trust. We can certainly see God's providence in this! It was just so unbelievably smooth. There were no other people looking at it when I went to see it, because the weather had been bad and people weren't really out and about, so we had no competition for it. We offered less than the asking price and got it. The bank approved our loan with no problems. Even tiny things have had excellent timing like the scheduled council clean up is around the time we move, and our rent is due to increase in April (after we move out).

[caption id="attachment_608" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="The back room"][/caption]

I know my security does not lie in worldly things, and that bricks and mortar can be taken away from you as easily as anything else. But I also know that God lovingly and lavishly provides, in his own way, in his own time. How could I ever doubt him? I pray that somehow God will be glorified by us living there, that we will use this house well for ministry, and that mum and I will thrive living there.

Friday, 27 January 2012

currently crocheting: wavy scarf



Mum gave me some delicious Noro Silk Garden sock yarn for Christmas. I started to try and crochet a pair of socks, but a) they were turning out weirdly and b) I remembered I don't really like mega chunky socks. So I pulled that apart and found this free wavy scarf pattern on Ravelry.

I love scarves. But even though crocheting a plain scarf is easy, it's a bit boring. This one has a pattern I can easily remember without having to refer to, but is interesting enough to keep me occupied and to show off the lovely colours of the yarn. It's lovely stuff to work with!

I'll put up a finished pic when it's, er, finished.

Monday, 23 January 2012

imagination

I love it when I have a brief flash of a game or something I used to do as a child. I was just hanging out my washing, and as I shook out the fitted sheet and hung it on the line, with the fabric billowing around the elastic in the breeze, I remembered how I used to love playing amongst the hanging laundry with my dolls. I would put them in the puffed out pocket of the fitted sheets and pretend they lived in the clouds.

Another game I had, when we lived in Papua New Guinea, was to imagine living on the ceiling. We had a coffee table with a mirror inlaid into it, and I would look into this mirror of an upside down world, where the lights all stood up from the ground like plants on straight stalks, and everything was white and minimalist. I would try to catch a glimpse of people who lived in this ceiling world, who were just out of the sightline of my mirror portal.

I love hearing stories of my friends' children and the games and fictions they spin. It's so delightful seeing the world through the eyes of a four year old, where bears hanging around outside your house is a perfectly plausible prospect, where you can be a magician if you decide to be, where the most ordinary objects hold some kind of immense untapped power.

I'd like to get back a bit of that imagination somehow. I know it's still there in me, just need to crack through the sugar shell and release the creamy goodness inside (can you tell I want a creme brulee?).