09 April 2014

Today : A Super Exciting Day!

Today is the day! The day that we get on a plane and head to Miami, and a few days later head to Quito, and a few days later get on a boat and explore…THE GALAPAGOS! I can hardly believe it's happening! I have a fancy new zoom lens, a suitcase full of clothes (I have no idea what I've packed…), and those fun pre-travel butterflies in my belly! Arghhhhhhhhh!

ps. How good is this Galapagos tortoise watercolour by DIMDImini?

06 April 2014

The Best Thing About Moving Back To Australia

So I should say it's about being closer to my family. But, to be honest, right now it feels like I saw them more when I lived in Seoul. The whole house thing has sucked all my time and all my energy. They've come to visit me (which has been ace), but I haven't been to Melbourne since before xmas, and I'm not going to get there before May. I see photos of my nephews on Instagram and they look so freaking grown up; it happens so quick! Which makes me sad, but not sad enough to book a whirlwind trip to Melbourne (I value my sanity).

I should say that it's about spending more time with the step sons. But when we were in Seoul it was permanent school holidays - sleep ins, slap up breakfasts, pyjamas days, trips to the country and the crazy lion, tigers and bears show. The most stressful thing was making sure there was enough food in the house. And North Korea, sometimes. But now - now it's 6am wake ups and attending school recitals and whole days seemingly spent in the car. Oh, and the reminding - any homework tonight? Have you got a uniform for tomorrow? Do you have a train ticket? Done your viola practice? Aren't you meant to be somewhere else, right now? Sigh. I shouldn't complain, because really it is actually awesome. Just a bit of an adjustment for me to make, and a bit Groundhog Day-ish. (I know, I know - you've all been living that for years, welcome to your world, etc, etc...). 

Anyway. It could be clean air (and it kind of is), and easy access to beautiful, beautiful beaches (and yes, it kind of is), and a mild climate and great restaurants (yep, this). But…no. 

Call me shallow, call me a junk food junkie - but right now Cheezels are the best thing about moving back to Australia. They're so cheesy, so crispy, so salty, so tasty (especially compared to the appallingly bland puffed rice cheese treats you get in Asia). They're my guilty pleasure; my crutch when I'm sleep deprived or cranky, or both.  And just look at how orange they are - orange is happiness, isn't it? 

And if you only eat a mini packet (and share it with the dogs) they're not so bad for your calorie count. (FYI I've also found that a Cruskit topped with aged cheddar works quite well if you want that crispy cheesy hit with a few less chemicals.) 

In between kale smoothies and chia porridge do you have a guilty pleasure? Are you an expat lusting over some kind of junk food you can only get back home?  Do leave me a comment, but I can't promise a reply - I'm off to eat some Cheezels… 

*Many, many Cheezels where harmed during the production of this blog post.

18 March 2014

The Big Project : The Search For The Perfect Sofa

We have one tricky room in our new/old house - the living room. It's kind of small and it's kind of a thoroughfare. At one end there's sliding doors through to the light filled front room which will become our library (soon, I hope, maybe) with floor to ceiling bookcases, cosy seating and our LP player. At the other end it opens out into the airy dining/kitchen area. There's a TV on a stand in one corner and a fireplace along one wall. It's pretty narrow, so if we don't get the sofa right it's going to look a bit like a hallway with random bits of furniture thrown in it. Tricky. 

We've moved out the old sofa already, it was too big for the space. (Pssst - it's currently listed on ebay if you're looking for a super high quality Italian leather lounge suite, all reasonable offers considered…) So for now watching TV involves sitting on the floor whilst balancing two needy dachshunds on your lap. 

And I have a feeling it's going to be like that for some time yet, because I'm searching for the perfect sofa. There's lots of sofas I love, but it's about finding the one that fits perfectly into this tricky little space of ours. 

Here's what's currently on the short list:

(And that's the Jardan Ned sofa right at the top. And yes, I am slightly obsessed with Jardan at the moment. Although the current 'Perfect Sofa' front runner is actually the Softscape modular lounge - it's pretty amazing!) 

Oh the possibilities! So many lovely places to sit! Do you have any sofas you adore? Have you fitted out any tricky spaces in your home? I'd love to hear about it if so...

07 March 2014

The Big Project : We Moved In!

A few weeks ago we finally moved in to the house we've been renovating for…well, a very long time. It's our first house - both in terms of it not being an apartment and in terms of it being something we actually own. Exciting, and overwhelming. 

Being in the house is great but it's also really, really messy and a little frustrating. There is still so much that needs to be done. There's still little unfinished bits everywhere. And there's still big unfinished bits everywhere - nowhere to put our clothes (so we're still living out of suitcases), nowhere to put our books (hence all the boxes patiently waiting to be unpacked in that photo up there); no garage, no garden. 

Some of our furniture doesn't fit the space, at all. (Which is kind of secretly awesome because yay! furniture shopping, and I never really liked our couch anyway…). 

So clearly things aren't perfect, and they won't be for a long time.

But, it's still ace being home. No more nomadic life, no more paying riduclous amounts for serviced apartments, no dogs at the boarding kennel. 

And as annoying as the dust and the early mornings are, I'm actually enjoying seeing the tradies come and go, seeing things getting fixed and finished, each day. Seeing progress being made.

And getting to know the house and the neighbourhood is pretty ace too. A few years ago we bought a dark, dank terrace with potential - now we have a beautiful house with light in every corner (thanks Alex!). 

I love watching the light change throughout the day, moving across the space. I love the kitchen, which was basically designed around the Coco Flip pendant light which stole my heart some time ago. 

I love the family of currawongs that live on our street (I don't love it so much when they get trapped in the house though). I love the parrots and kookaburras and cockatoos, and the bats that fly overhead en masse at night. 

I love that we have so many tasty options for when we can't be bothered to cook and want to walk somewhere for dinner (we've barely scratched the surface but my favourites so far are the fancy Italian here, the burger here, and the pizza here). I love that there's a dog on (almost) every porch, and people that smile and say hi when you pass them in the street. 

We're still getting to know each other, this home and I, but I think we're going to get along just fine…

10 February 2014

14 Things in The Year of the Horse

Why 14 things? Because it's 2014, of course! Why the Year of the Horse? Because my timing with these things always seems to fit much better with the lunar calendar. 

Seeing as putting together a list worked so well in 2013 (ha!) I'm doing it again. Actually, it did kind of work. Not in a 'I achieved everything and isn't that ace' way, but in a 'It was good to check back in on the list throughout the year as a reminder of what my priorities were meant to be…' way.

So, yeah, bring on 14 things in the Year of the Horse! I'm keeping it simple, and I'm keeping it fun. 

1. Read more. Specifically, read at least twelve books in twelve months. 

2. Blog more. Specifically, blog at least six times per month. Rain, hail, shine, travel, sad stuff, happy stuff, chaos, calm - whatever is happening around me I still want to carve out the time for this space that I love so much. 

3. Make Typography Tuesday a monthly thing. This is really just a fun way of forcing me to improve my Photoshop skills, and to learn more about layout and design. And it means I get to share some wonderful words and fab fonts with you too! 

4. Do something with my 500px account. I know, I know - I said this last year. But this year I really mean it. 

5. Assist on at least two photography shoots. I'd like it to be more, but (somewhat unexpectedly) this year looks like it's going to be travel heavy, which makes me less available than I'd like (but YAY travel!). 

6. Enter more photography competitions. And by 'more' I mean 'more than zero'! Things like those newspaper and magazine travel photo contests, and…well, I'm not sure what else (any suggestions welcome). I've also joined Clique, which looks like fun and involves monthly themed competitions. 

7. Make a little book or zine. And sell it. Perhaps a little Death by Doxie book, or a collection of some of my favourite Hong Kong or Seoul or 'flora' shots. Or maybe one of the other secret projects I've been snapping away at over the years… 

8. Develop some Instagram projects. Instead of a monthly project, this year I'm going to put a bit of creative energy into a series of ongoing Instragram themes. I've started three hashtags so far - #morningwalkswithFerdiandElfi, #frangipanistudies and #whereflowersfall - and I've got a few more I want to develop throughout the year. Stay tuned! 

9. Send more snail mail. I did so badly at this last year, but I love it so it's on this year's list too. 

10. Send cards to family and friends for every, single birthday. Yes, writing on someone's 'wall' is fine, but there's nothing quite like getting a real life card in the mail. Plus it feeds my stationery addiction - double win! 

11. Corral my clutter. With the move to our new home I really, really want to keep things clean and streamlined. I've been on a massive wardrobe clean out over the past few months (and it gets more disciplined / brutal every week….living out of a suitcase has been a big help in this regard, best reality check on what you actually need in your closet!). Next on the list to cull and curate - ceramics, DVDs, CDs. 

12. See more movies at the cinema. Specifically, see at least eight movies on the big screen. 

13. Proofread more. I pledge to proofread every tweet, every blog comment, every Facebook post, every email before hitting 'send'. I am pretty crap at this, and I cringe every time I spy one of my many grammatical / spelling errors. Time to lift my game. 

14. Eat better. On the whole, I don't eat badly - but I could eat better. I think I'm at an okay level with exercise, so taking a good hard look at what I eat is the next piece of the health puzzle for me. So - more protein, less carbs, less processed food, less fried food. With the husband away about half the time I eat solo a lot. I want to get out of my pasta rut and expand my repertoire of easy, balanced meals for one. And yes, there will be blog posts!

07 February 2014

Death by Doxie : Hounds On a Rug

With the renovations dragging on a bit, the dogs are now back in boarding (they're staying here, it is a bit pricey but worth every happy hound penny!). Sob. But we have just had a wonderful month and a bit with them. We took them to Diamond Beach, and then had three lovely weeks in a really beautiful part of Sydney.

After so long apart it was so great to hang out with them every day, and it was a relief to realise they are the same happy, healthy handsome hounds they've always been. It's a bit sad to have to say goodbye again, but it'll only be a few weeks until we're reunited…(and I've got loads of doggy photos to share with you in the meantime)!

31 January 2014

13 Things in 2013 : The Final Update

Happy New Year! A bit late, but I figure if I say it now it covers both the 2014 new year and the lunar new year. Two birds, one stone (and a horse…). Seems an age ago that I put together my list of things I wanted to do in 2013. Strange how it feels like the last twelve months has flown by so fast, and yet I can barely remember what life looked like back then. Time is a slippery beast huh? 

I'll admit I do feel more than a hint of trepidation about putting this final scorecard together. The last six months of 2013 threw many a curve ball our way; I'm pretty sure the results aren't going to be pretty! But [insert appropriate quote here about failure and trying and having a go and success] so… 

1. Learn to use Photoshop Elements. B. Not bad, not bad. I can do a simple photo collage, and a logo here and there. I've been playing with brushes and layers and various effects. I wouldn't say I'm competent, but I would say I'm at a level where I can get a result I'm okay with. I feel I've got a good base to build on, I guess. 

2. Learn a new photography skill. D. I did attend a photography course, so that's something. It was Photography 101 taught by Brooke Holm and run by Megan Morton's fabulous The School. It was definitely aimed at beginners, but I still learnt a lot. It was so inspiring to be taught by someone who only shoots in natural light. Really opened my eyes to what is possible without flashes and floodlights and fancy studio set ups. (FYI I've booked in for this Street Photography course with the CCE in April; bit excited about that!) 

3. Do something with my 500px account. And submit some images to Alamay. And put my best ten together to submit to the Getty Images Flickr collection. A big, fat F! My progress on this has been naught, nil, zip, zilch…not a sausage. No excuse either. 

4. Do a monthly project. D-. I managed to get through eight months with Collecting Colours, and then the move and the renovation and just kind of everything got in the way. But eight months - that's a solid effort, right? I really loved working with the diptychs, it's something I want to explore a bit more. And I also want to go back and finish off those last few colour pairs one day too… 

5. Make one pom pom wreath per month. F. I must have been seriously delirious and/or deluded when I set this goal. I think I made three and a half wreaths all up. I still love pom poms though, so when I have a house to craft in again I will make some more. Just not one a month. (Related - crafting out of a suitcase really is hard!) 

6. Get through The Big Project without completely losing my mind. B, and then F, and then C+, and then F. Yep, it's been a roller coaster ride and it's...still…dragging…on. Sigh. I've lost my mind exactly twice. Once when we were pushing for a pre-xmas move in and I could see it just wasn't going to happen and I cried for an entire day. And then just a few days ago when we had to cancel the removalists I''d booked for next Monday, because the house just wasn't going to be ready, and we were going to be 'homeless' again and I'd have to put the dogs back into boarding and it was all my fault, of course. I cried for another day. (Not sure about you but the day after losing my mind I always wake up clear headed and focussed on what needs to be done. My major melt downs may not be fun for those nearby but they seem to be a good 'reset' button for me…) 

7. Do something with my hair. D. I'm still blonde, I still wear my hair up most days. But I do mix it up a teensy, tiny bit more than in the past, and I'm loving my Sydney colourist and hairdresser. Let's see what this year brings! 

8. Remember our wedding anniversary. A+. We remembered it! Hurrah! We didn't celebrate it, there were planes and time zones and different countries in the way, but we remembered it… 

9. Attend a workshop at either Harvest WorkroomPrints Charming or The School. A+. Done. See point 2 above. 

10. Send more mail art. D-. Did I mention all the curve balls being thrown? And the difficulty of crafting out of a suitcase? 

11. Read a book a month. B+. Twelve books read! Though to be honest I'm a bit disappointed that a) I just scraped home on this one, especially as b) two of them were graphic novels. 

12. Maintain my current fitness routine. B+. Some form of exercise is always part of my day now - it's most definably a habit, something that just happens. I may not run (I tried C25K and failed) but whether it's walking the dogs, doing some yoga, or lifting weights at the gym I move every single day and I really notice when I don't. It's pretty awesome. 

13. Make a Collecting Colour calendar for 2014. F. HA! Oh, how innocent and hopeful I was!