Friday, June 14, 2019

ICAD 2019 - Week 1

Just like the last time I took part in the Index Card a Day challenge, I am letting the daily prompts lead my creativity each day.

Title card for 2019

I used an old calendar picture of the Tantanoola cottage gardens for the background. Drew a picket fence, complete with letter box and gate on plain paper, then used a stanley knife for cutting out.

Lyric from the Peppermint twist song painted onto card

I achieved this fabulous colour by finely slicing a beetroot and dragging it across the card. Then grating the beetroot to make the pattern. 
Watercolour paint. I splotched on some runny paint on the top half of the card, then folded it to make a reflected impression.
Fine sharpie and red texta. 
There's a palette of autumn leaves in the garden. I picked some and drew them in 6B pencil onto autumny coloured paint chips, then glued to index card.

Watercolour paint. I used black for 'cherry baby', then wiped the paint off so it faded. I found some of the kids stencils among the mess that is their play shelves and added the cherries.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fungi of the Mt Burr forest

In an attempt to get out into beautiful nature, I visited the Mt Burr forest last week. This patch of forest is only about 8km from my home.

I was looking for the elusive ghost mushrooms which glow in the dark at night. I did find a few, but they were a little worse for wear, but in hindsight I still should have taken photos of them! Darn hindsight! I did capture lots of other interesting specimens of fungi on the forest floor.

Ghost mushrooms are quite the drawcard in our area, with self and tour guided night walks through the forest near Mount Gambier. It has featured on The Living Room on TEN, and as recent as this week, being visited by Cosi for South Aussie with Cosi on Channel 9. We did the self guided tour last year as a family, and it is worth rugging up for. Don't forget your torch!

The forest is so peaceful during the day, the echoing chirp of birds and the crackling of the forest underfoot. Looking forward to bringing the kids back during the night, to see if we can see any of the glow in the dark ghost mushies.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Three ways to beat the winter blues

Mushrooms thrive in the Autumn, the wet of winter with a hint of sun.

The leaves turn the colour of ochre, holding on by a thread. The southerly winds set in.

The promise of early bulbs arise from the humus earth. Jonquils, daffodils and snow drops.

While there's lots to appreciate about Autumn, it's a slow realisation of what is to come.

Winter is not my favourite season. While somethings thrive, I don't. We all have our seasons, and winter is not mine.

I am mindful now as winter brings a cloud over my thoughts. The need to get outdoors, to connect with nature instead of retreating. To connect with friends instead of hibernating within myself.

There are things I can do to make it easier, until the sunshine returns.

1. Get out for walks in nature - Breathe in the fresh crisp air and recharge Vitamin D. There is always something to appreciate in nature.

2. Meet a friend for lunch and stroll through the shops or volunteer your time in the community - Human interaction is so important, even when being social is the last thing on my mind.

3. Bring nature inside your home - whether it's a bunch of flowers, those last straggling roses, a few sprigs of lavender, some autumn leaves or feathers found it can freshen up a dreary day.

Basically exercise, socialise and appreciate the little things.

Do you have a season where you flourish?
How do  you get through the seasons where you struggle?

"Don't confuse your path with your destination. Just because it's stormy now, doesn't mean you aren't headed for sunshine." - unknown

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Index card a day 2019

Index card a day for 2019 begins tomorrow. In case you've never heard of it, ICAD(for short) is a creative art challenge that runs from the June 1st until July 31st. This is the ninth year anniversary for the 61 day art challenge.
I have only participated once before, in 2016, where I used the hashtag #aliciaobrienicad when posting photos of my completed daily cards. I'm going to continue using it this year on Instagram and Facebook.

In 2016 I used lined, 6 x 4 inch index cards, because that's all that was available in our local newsagent. The cards fit perfectly in a gift box of the same size and I still have my cards from  
that year stored away in the box.

The newsagent had only blank index cards the other day, so I am working with a blank canvas this time round. I am excited to get started!

Let it be known, I love stationery. Accumulating new paints, pens and markers for the challenge was a joy! My previous ICAD efforts included a lot of using paint sample chips also, so I am going to relieve the local hardware store of some of those today. I've already used them on my title card for this year and really loved using them in 2016.

The other medium I realised I had a liking for was using black felt pen over a water colour background, so I will try to explore that again this time.

Are you an arty, creative person? Tell me about your last fling with creativity.

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Friday, May 24, 2019

Seasonal bounties

I visited a friend and we cooked up tofu a couple different ways. I made braised tofu and my friend made salt and pepper tofu. We shared our homemade lunches and chatted. I lose track of time when this happens, it happened this day with me flying out the door in a panic for school pick up. I made it.

I feel so blessed to have a friend who loves cooking new things as much as I do.

I took along some muntrie berry cake that I'd made with local foraged berries and she offered me some quinces to take home.

There is so much amazing autumn fruits that are ready now. Figs, feijoas, quince, and tomatillos for example.

Mushrooms are breaking through the ground too, and mum dropped me off some yesterday she'd found in one of her favourite spots! I am going to try to make Miguel's garlic mushrooms for lunch today. The girls have a pupil free day, I can hear them complaining about the smell now.

I love giving and receiving fresh produce and trying out recipes. I love finding produce in nature and bringing it back into my kitchen.

Do you have an ingredient you bring back to your kitchen from nature?

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Fishing at the Southend drain

When I was a kid I remember going fishing here a fair bit. Mainly with my mum, or my Gran. Gran lived in Southend, and we'd spend a lot of time here in the holidays.

It seemed fitting that I ended up here in the afternoon with my daughters on Mothers Day on a whim. I can't remember who's idea that was, but after the idea had stewed around in my brain, I quickly packed the car and we were down the road.

Such a peaceful place despite the sound of motorbikes buzzing about when we got there.

Summer and Brett are not the most patient of fisher people. Isabel and I are kindred spirits when it comes to fishing. As the rain set in around five o'clock, she and I donned our jackets and hoods and would not budge. The other two sitting in the car reminding us it was raining(like we didn't know that), and Summer could be clearly heard complaining in the back seat.

We had already caught two good mullets, and the fish had gone off the bite but I didn't want to spoil Isabel's determination and perseverance. I know that feeling oh so well, she is just like me when it comes to fishing. We could stand there all day. I guess it shows we have hope, faith and persistence. It's not such a bad thing.

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Island stops on the Carnival Spirit

Here we are, the excited cruisers, pulled up in the morning at our first port of call, Mare. We're all wearing our sail and sign cards, ready to disembark onto a shuttle boat.

Sail and sign cards are given upon presenting yourself to board the ship. They are swiped at any of the bars, shops, the casino or anytime you buy anything on the ship. The amounts are charged to your credit card/bank account a couple of days after leaving the ship, in one big holy whack the hell did we spend that on! It's easy to go crazy on holiday.

The cards are also swiped every time you get off and back on the ship, it has all your passport details loaded on it, including your lovely (not!) passport photo. You only need to take you passport ashore if you want it officially stamped by a lovely local . This will cost you $1 or $2 for the privilege. Being the first time the girls and I had travelled overseas, of course we took ours to be embellished with our first stamps.

Mare was my favourite island of all. It seemed more friendly and less commercialised than the other two island stops we made, the Isle of Pines and Noumea.

The locals were so friendly and welcoming, even the local stray dogs. I paid $5AU for a good serving of fish, rice, avocado and fried banana. The food was all cooked on wood fires, even the potato chips(just like Maccas chips) were fried in a camp oven over coals. These people have it down to a tea.

Australian dollars are accepted on both Mare and Isle of Pines, but being a French colony, Noumea required Francs at most places.

Some traders at the market in Noumea did accept AU dollars. The ATMs in Noumea were in French, which we didn't use. There are two ATMs on the Carnival Spirit, and when taking the ship provided bus tour one of the stops is at a money exchange. I would recommend taking at least $50AU each.

The bus stop does a loop of the city and stops at an aquarium also, but we didn't worry too much about that as we'd visited the Sydney aquarium the day before boarding the ship! There are several bus stops and you just get off where you like and hop back on when you want. The cost for the bus tour includes a 50% off drink voucher at a bar/eatery just down from the beachside bus stop.

Most of the photos I took are of Mare, we had beautiful weather there. The Isle of Pines rained off and on all day as well as Noumea. I didn't even take my camera off the ship at Noumea, I really didn't want to lug it around.

A coconut was $3AU to buy. It was truly amazing to watch them using a machete to chop the coconut open, I was in awe they still had all their fingers! After finishing the juice, they were happy to break the coconut and even fashion a spoon from the hull to eat the flesh.

The shuttles to the island of Mare start about 8am til 3:30pm. We were shuttled to Mare and Isle of Pines. In Noumea we pulled into dock at the harbour and could walk off the ship to awaiting buses. Bus passes for the loop around the city were $20 for adults and $15 for kids. You could use the passes all day, in case you wanted to come back for lunch on the ship and head back out again.

Shuttle back to the boat

Leaving the Isle of Pines

It rained a lot at Isle of Pines. It didn't stop us going snorkelling amongst the fabulous fish life.

Leaving Noumea for the two day cruise back to Sydney Harbour

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