Category Archives: Musings

Life’s Simple Pleasures

Okay, first things first. I did not take any of these photos, they are the work of many talented photographers with a great eye for detail, colour and composition. Also, I can’t claim to have tried any of the food portrayed herewith, I can only say I have drooled over their images lol.

It’s Sunday, and a day for lying in, food, family and friends. Maybe “lying in” isn’t a word in my vocabulary, as our household generally gets up with the birds. And these days, food means simple fare, and family means my son and our menagerie of animals. As for friends, most of mine are virtual…meaning you, you and you. So who better to share my favourite food porn photos of food with than you all good people around the world. ;-)

You are all invited to my virtual Sunday feast. The weather is ideal, sunny with a slight breeze. Best of all, it won’t cost you a penny to join in the festivities. Why, even as we speak, here you are!

(All photos courtesy of Pinterest)

Let’s start with table settings. Shall we have rustic? I love the idea of mismatched chairs and benches. This setting would be ideal for a Madhatter’s Tea Party a la Alice in Wonderland.
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Or, perhaps something more cottagey and formal? I’d love a whitewashed house with sash windows like in this photo. So romantic, sigh.
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Or, maybe let’s go all Bohemian Rhapsody and enjoy some bright splashes of colour? I love the blue and turquoise canopy, and the vivid red tablecloth and runner.
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And now for the food. As it’s still early, some of you may prefer something light, like this, perhaps?
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Then some salad and appetizers:
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Mmmm, yum! Next, we have a selection of hot cooked food. For those still in the mood (or time zone) for breakfast, we have these:

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And now, a medley of heartier fare:
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Not forgetting liquid refresments:

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And, to round it all off, some dessert:
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Mmmmm…I’m liking this so much, I think I’ll host another virtual party like it next month. Enjoy! Thank you for coming to my party! :-)

Feminist Quotes

Following on from my post yesterday about being a Feminist, here are some quotes I found on Google Images.

Some will make you laugh. Others will make you think. All are relevant to understanding the importance of women being understood and acknowledged as being equals of men.

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I am a Feminist

I was talking to a friend the other day, and I asked this question:

“Why do men always think that if a woman is well-travelled then she’s slept her way around? Why does sex always have to be involved? Can’t men like and admire a woman for her intellect and wit?”

(I should frame this question within its context: I have moved 22 times in 44 years, and I have lived in 6 different countries. I have worked as a Piano tutor, retail assistant, Music Teacher, Library Assistant, administrative assistant, Social Security Officer, Executive Officer and Higher Executive Officer for 2 different Government bodies, and Customer Services Representative for 2 different banks. The countries I have lived in are: Malaysia, Singapore, England, Spain, Ireland and Australia).

This friend, who happens to be male, insinuated that only Feminists think that way, and that not all men think of women as sex objects. (If so, why does he keep making sexist jokes at my expense? Why did he insult me by implying that the reason I moved around so much was because I worked as a prostitute, perhaps?) Joke, right? NO. I not only felt greatly insulted by his remark, I felt unclean, like he was undressing me with his eyes, and I was just a sexual object to be toyed with and not a real person.

Well, I am no Barbie doll.

What my friend was saying is that Feminists hate men and blame everything on them. A statement which is NOT true. That is Misandry (female misogyny). Also, I don’t hate men or blame them for everything – I love the idea of an ideal Man, who is loving, intelligent, kind, generous with his time and money, supportive, fun, adventurous, who knows how to treat a Woman as his equal and at other times places her high on a pedestal to worship at her feet. For a man like that, I would happily reciprocate each and every ideal).

Trouble is, I have yet to meet such a man.

The quote that “What Man Does Not Understand, He Fears, And What He Fears, He Destroys” springs to mind, when wondering why Men have suppressed and oppressed Women for millennia. And yet, despite all Man’s efforts, Woman has survived.

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I never thought of myself as a Feminist until now. My friend’s misconception has led me to read up on what Feminism stands for.

And, rather than think of Feminism as a dirty word, as some men will have you believe, I choose to embrace it, as it simply means I choose to stand for and with my sisters all over the world.

So yes, I am a Feminist, and proud of it. You can throw your sexist remarks at me and make jokes about my gender, but I am Woman, hear me roar!

More Letterpress Stamp Artwork

I don’t know what it is about Western Australia, but it seems to me that the only place I’m able to find Size 8 Shipping Tags is at Stamp It in Victoria Park, which takes me over an hour to get to by public transport. These are the big tags, measuring 10 x 16 cm. They’re the ideal size for practising mixed media art on. I bought a pack of 20 from Stamp It, and only now am I realising just how rare they are.

None of the stationery shops near me have them. Not even my local Spotlight. All they stocked were the usual small tags with the string attached. My local scrapbooking store, Made With Memories, had them…but only in brown or black. I wanted white or cream.

They’re not easily available on eBay either. But luckily I managed to track one lone listing, and by gosh it was a multiple lot too, so I bought 2 lots of 40. Which should last me, oh, til midweek next week.

Meanwhile, I did find some white cards at a very nice size, 10 x 15 cm, very close to the Size 8 tags, at a newsagents.

They’re called “System Cards” and the brand is Panther. Here they are nestled hand in glove inside a thrift store box I got a while back, that had been sitting empty until now. A perfect fit!

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And here’s what I did. I used Tim Holtz’s “White Picket Fence” Distressed Paint for the stamps, and the backgrounds were done and blended using Distressed Inkpads.

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The alphabets that I used to make the letterpress stamps are wooden. The numbers are made of corkboard. Corkboard has a dimpled texture, different from wood, which is smoother. This difference is evident in the prints above, especially in the last one, which looks mottled.

Homemade Letterpress Stamps

One of my favourite pastimes is searching for bargains at my local thrift stores. Depending on what I’m into at the moment, it could be books, canvasses, Art, bric-a-brac, dressmaking patterns, picture frames, teacups, toys…your guess is as good as mine. If it looks like I could use it somehow, or modify it to suit my purpose, I’ll buy it.

Last year I’d bought a set of 4 square melamine-coated MDF drinks coasters. Which I never got round to doing anything with.

A couple of months ago I’d bought a set of wooden alphabets. Which again I never got round to doing anything with.

Last week I bought a set of cork numbers. I’d been in town looking for stamps and stencils and had come across the set, and for some reason my mind did this calculation:

Coasters + wooden alphabets + cork numbers + acrylic medium = handmade upcycled letterpress stamp.

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I’d always admired Letterpress-style stamps. But they were always way too expensive to buy. So why not have a go at creating my own?

And so I did. Not just one, but 4. 2 with both letters and numbers, 1 with just letters and 1 with just numbers. The acrylic gel medium worked a treat as an adhesive. I also sealed the letters and numbers afterwards with a layer of the same acrylic gel medium.

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And now for the question – how would these stand up to being used as stamps?

I used acrylic paints and spray ink on my handmade letterpress stamps. They came out a treat, with minor imperfections, which just added to the charm.

Have a look:

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The next test was – would cleaning up these stamps be easy, or would they fall apart if they went under the tap for too long?

Turns out I was able to wash them under warm running water without any problems. I used a stipple brush to get into the cracks and spaces.

Very happy with my new letterpress stamps! I have big plans for my babies. :-) Oh, and by the way, I’ve discovered that old drinks coasters make ideal mounting blocks for stamps, so guess what I bought next from my thrift store…

Stamp It & Victoria Park

Stamp It is the closest mixed media art supplies depot to where I live. There is a similar store, Made With Memories, in my local shopping mall, but that stocks mainly scrapbooking paper and a limited range of inks, stamps and stencils. So I consider it a scrapbooking store. Stamp It, on the other hand, is twice as big and its range is 10 times wider. It’s for the Serious mixed media artist. It’s a bit like going to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, compared to the corner store.

The store is in Victoria Park, just outside Perth CBD, in Western Australia.

I popped by Stamp It the other day, having browsed the store’s website previously. Yes, I could’ve paid $11 for postage and made my purchases online, (instead of the $11 it cost in train and bus fares), but nothing beats a real hands-on experience.

And boy, was it worth making the trip up to the city. It’s only a cycle-train-bus for me to get there, easy peasy. Plus, Vic Park, as the locals fondly call it, is a trendy hub of restaurants, cafés, dinky gadget shops, interspersed with car dealerships, financial brokers, a large Piano store, the historical Broken Hill Hotel and cutesy curio shops. It also boasts a popular weekly Friday night hawker food market throughout the summer, where families can buy freshly cooked food and sit on the grass to enjoy their dinner al fresco.

My favourite restaurant there, though, is called Chi. They serve the most delectable deep fried tofu filled with diced prawns, minced chicken and coriander, served with sweet chilli sauce. Their other dishes are just as delicious, but that tofu is my favourite. Check out Chi’s Menu here.

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For dessert, I like to go to Taro Taro, just across the road from Chi. This is a Taiwanese dessert place, specialising in Bubble Tea, all manner of iced milk teas and desserts with your choice of over a dozen “extras” like black tapioca pearls, sweet potato balls, taro balls, jelly cubes, grass jelly, etc. Taro Taro also serves hot Taiwanese food and hot desserts. Check out their menu here.

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Yup, I hit three for three. :-)

My Offerings to the Gelli Goddess

Okay, I’ve had more than a week to play with my new Gelli Plate. Armed with a great book on Gelli Plate printing – Gelli Plate Printing: Mixed-Media Monoprinting Without a Press https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1440335486/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_jSFcvb053C71R, I’ve tested out a few techniques, skimmed over others, tried to integrate 2 techniques at the same time, got my colours muddied up, lost my way hopelessly, had a few “aha!” moments, tried out some fabulous ideas which didn’t quite turn out as expected, got distracted by the gorgeous Tim Holtz and various mixed media goddesses on YouTube, sought out and bought more paints, inks, stencils etc, curated countless Pins on Gelli Plate Monoprinting, made a few more mixed media pieces…

Basically, I’m torn between Mixed Media and Gelli Plate Monoprinting. So much Art, so little time! I haven’t articulated it before now, but I’ve come to the (possible) conclusion that what I’d like to do is fuse together elements from both genres. Use monoprints as the starting block, perhaps, for mixed media collage.

Or, maybe I’m just going mad.😄

Anyhow, while the jury is out debating that, here are the fruits of my Gelli Plate Monoprinting labours thus far.

Try not to laugh too hard or you’ll pee yourself.

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If you look at my previous post, you can quite clearly see who the better artist in the family is.

Letter to Bella (R.I.P 14th March 2015)

Dear Bella,

You were only a couple of weeks old when we got you and your sister, Alice. You were both named after the girls from the Twilight movies. When you were younger, we could tell you apart by the fact that you, Bella, had two light stripes running down your back (2 “L”s, as it were), while Alice was the darker one. You were both Hi-Line chickens, bred for laying eggs, and we bought you from Rockingham City Farmers in August 2012, shortly after moving into our new home.

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When you both were young, we kept you inside the house in a cardboard box under a lightbulb for warmth. Every day we’d take you out for a run up and down the corridor. Of course you girls made a mess of the wooden floorboards, but that was easily wiped away.

When you got too big for your box, we put you up in a Chic Chick Chalet, a large, double-storey wooden henhouse. Later, we made up an additional hen run and attached it to your house so you could stretch your legs and wings more.

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Last year, we got some steel poles and chicken wire, and built a large enclosure in the garden for you both. We moved your henhouse into the enclosure, and its door open so you and your sister could come and go as you pleased.

Once the dogs and cat had gotten used to seeing you, and once I was satisfied they would not harm you, I started letting you out into the garden in the afternoons. Oh, you both loved that part the most. You would follow me to the gate and cluck impatiently for me to open it and let you out. I didn’t mind if you felt that sometimes you had to give my feet a peck as you passed by. You were ever so good at going home by yourselves to roost at night, and all I had to do was shut your gate again.

Your eggs were the best, and nothing beats a breakfast of fried or scrambled freshly-laid hen’s eggs on toast. You and Alice would grace us with an egg every day, only skipping some days, and occasionally giving us some “fart eggs” (small eggs without a yolk inside) and at other times extra large double yolkers.

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For more than two and a half years you lived and clucked away contentedly in our garden. You were such an endearing, funny character. Your favourite treats were shredded cheese, yoghurt, bread and crumbled hard-boiled eggs. Oh, and you were both partial to a piece of dogfood sausage too in the mornings, along with your poultry mix and lettuce leaves. You had a daily stream of visitors, in the form of some native pigeons (I’m not quite sure what breed they are), and a lone English pigeon that I named Louie Cooie. They came every morning to share your breakfast with you.

I always knew when you’d laid an egg because you’d cackle your head off and announce it to the world. When you moulted badly last year, I fed you extra protein to keep your strength up for growing new feathers. And you came through like a star. When you caught heatstroke last summer I watered down your enclosure every morning to cool it down, gave you apple cider vinegar in your water, and you rallied and recovered.

Then came disaster in the form of stick-fast fleas. They came literally out of the woodwork like thieves in the night, and attacked the Japanese Quail. They attached themselves in close clusters around the eyes of the quail, and literally sucked the life out of them. First the boys, then a few of the girls too. By the time I caught on and bought a medicated wash for the quails (Malaban wash), half the quail population had been destroyed by these nasty parasites.

And then I noticed that you and Alice had a few of the same fleas on your combs. I gave you both a Malaban wash as well. But your comb became droopy and blue-tinged. You lost muscle tone. You grew lethargic. Whatever I tried, you didn’t get better. You struggled on valiantly, coming down the ramp of your house in the mornings so you could join Alice in scratching around the earth for worms. And going back upstairs at night to sleep on your perch. And all the time your energy levels were steadily depleting.

And then this morning, I woke up and just knew you were gone. I looked in your enclosure, and you were lying still at the bottom of the ramp to the henhouse. Alice, your sister, was just standing by you, quietly clucking.

We buried you next to the henhouse this morning, so you can still keep Alice company. I moved your water dispenser and the heavy tile it stood on over your grave, to deter any cats from digging. The Kid and I said our good byes to you, and I found an old half-brick and wrote your name and today’s date on it as your headstone.
Rest in peace now, my lovely Bella. I will never forget the joy you gave us all. ❤❤❤

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Here is a YouTube video I made of you laying an egg in your henhouse, back in 2012. Alice makes a cameo appearance towards the end. I’m glad I have this video.

BELLA LAYS AN EGG: https://youtu.be/6es2JFEpQNc

And here is Alice, sitting on her own outside the henhouse, in the company of three visiting pigeons.
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Gelli Deli

I’d read about and seen on YouTube videos on the use of “Deli Paper” for Gelli plate printing. What the heck is it, when it’s in Australia?

I know it’s some kind of waxed paper for wrapping deli sandwiches in. It’s supposed to absorb paints really well but not allow any seepage through. It’s supposed to turn virtually invisible when painted over and stuck onto your chosen substrate. But where can you get it?

There were a few sellers on eBay selling Deli Wrap/Deli Waxed Paper/Deli Paper/Deli Sandwich Paper. They weren’t too expensive to buy on their own…but factor in p&p to Australia and you’re talking about a $1 guitar that costs $599.99 to post to your country. Not even going down that route.

My local haberdashers/craft shop/home decor depot, Spotlight, didn’t have anything like it. They had tracing paper on a roll, for drawing dressmaking patterns…at $12.99 per roll of 30m. Ouch, no go.

I had a look in my local supermarket, Woolworths, instead. Did it sell good old-fashioned wax paper? Nope. There was Greaseproof Paper, Baking Paper With a “Special Coating”, Baking Paper with a “Non-Stick Coating On Both Sides”, Greaseproof Paper with “Special Dimples To Soak Up Grease”, etc etc…but NO.WAXED.PAPER.

I bought a roll of a brand that promised to keep in the goodness of cooked food by “locking in the juices”. I thought this sounded about right for what I needed my paper for – to absorb acrylic paint without going soggy.

While queuing to pay for my MultixBake paper ($7.20 for a roll of 35m), I happened to see some large squares of greaseproof paper lying in the doughnut/muffin help-yourself cubbyholes. The girl in the bakery section didn’t know anything about what kind of paper they were, or whether they were like the ones I was about to buy, or indeed where I could buy them. But she said I was welcome to take a few to test them out for my own purposes. Don’t mind if I do!

Back home, I found my roll of supermarket-homebrand Greaseproof Paper (less than $2 for a roll of 30m) and added it to my stash. So now I’m sharing with you the results of my Aussie-style “Deli Paper” test. The papers have all been folded up so as to test both sides.

Key:
Red = fluid acrylic paint
Purple = watercolour paint
Sunshine yellow = spray ink
Orange = daubed acrylic paint

image First up. The MultixBake. Notice the beading. None of the test patches were absorbed by the paper, they all sat on top of whatever coating the paper had, on both sides of the paper.

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supermarket. The paper appears to be waxed on one side but not the other. Top shows good absorption of all 4 test paints. Bottom is very similar to the results using MultixBake paper. Both sides of the paper look and feel pretty much the same to me, so it’ll be a 50/50 chance of me using the wrong side. Besides, this is the paper that no one could tell me anything about, even where to get it.

image Woolworths’ homebrand, cheapo Greaseproof Paper. Great even absorption on both sides of the paper. No beading. No seepage. Paper is robust and stronger than tissue. (This is what I already use for my own printing projects, I stick this paper onto an A4 canvas carrier sheet, which feeds through my Canon Pixma MX870 and I can then print out any of my mobile photography art images onto it. Then I simply remove it from the carrier sheet, and stick it onto canvas or wood).

And the clear winner is: Contestant No.3, Woolworths’ Homebrand Greaseproof Paper. Less than $2 for a roll of 30m.

Australian readers, I’ve done the legwork and homework for you now, so you won’t have to. Got Gelli, need Deli? Use Greaseproof Paper. US readers, meanwhile, may be scratching their heads and wondering what the heck “Greaseproof Paper” is back in the US of A. :-)

Pride and Prejudice

8th March is International Women’s Day everywhere in the world. It is a public holiday in some countries, a holiday for women only in other countries, and just a normal day in yet other countries. So much for equality…

Wikipedia’s entry for this day shows a German socialist manifesto poster:

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And the English translation for it reads thus:
“Give Us Women’s Suffrage. Women’s Day, March 8, 1914. Until now, prejudice and reactionary attitudes have denied full civic rights to women, who as workers, mothers, and citizens wholly fulfill their duty, who must pay their taxes to the state as well as the municipality. Fighting for this natural human right must be the firm, unwavering intention of every woman, every female worker. In this, no pause for rest, no respite is allowed. Come all, you women and girls, to the 9th public women’s assembly on Sunday, March 8, 1914, at 3pm.”

It’s ironic to reflect back on just over a century of Women’s Rights, and realise just how slow progress has been to accept Women as equals with Men. The prejudice and reactionary attitudes are still there. Full civic rights are still being denied to women in some countries and in some cultures. Let’s not even talk about the paucity of women in politics and the big gap between men and women in employment opportunities and pay. It is a natural human right…and yet Women have had to fight for it, and continue to fight for it? Why??

The same can be said for equality among the various races. Equality among the many religions, castes, cultures.

Man fears what he does not know. But if he does not take steps to learn and understand what he does not know, then that fear can turn to hatred and the urge to annihilate. History has shown time and again that when Man feels threatened, his first instinct is to destroy that which makes him fearful. That has been the case for many millennia.

It is time to lose that fear of the unknown and embrace it instead.

I look back at Man’s history and cringe. What made Man think that Women were beneath them, that they had to be subjugated and repressed and controlled? What caused White Man to believe that anyone from a different race/religion/culture was less than themselves and thus to be treated as slaves or worse, as animals? Who gave Man the right to decide that Whites and Coloureds could not sit on the same bus, go to the same schools, work in the same offices, eat at the same restaurants, live in the same areas, earn the same pay, have the same opportunities?

Who made Man supreme, anyhow? Men themselves.

The word on the street these days is that Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders are to be shunned, disowned by their families, thrown out of churches and denied basic human rights. Some Americans even wish to kill them and are trying to get Bills passed to legalise the shooting of anyone of an LGBT persuasion. Hello??! Who decreed that our LGBT brothers and sisters, who are JUST AS HUMAN AS EVERYONE ELSE, should be treated any different? Who dictated that just because they don’t conform to Society’s “norms”, that they need to be put down? Why the need for yet another witch hunt? (Lest we forget, those “witches” of old were no more than learned, clever Women who practised healing in their community, and again it was Man’s fear that instigated the witch hunts and inquisitions to destroy them).

I don’t want to be seen as Man-bashing, but really, MEN have A LOT to account for. No, that’s not the right word. Atonement is a far more appropriate word.

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