Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

I'm trying out something new on my blog — for the time being Tuesdays will be my 'reviews' days when I will be sharing my thoughts/reviews on books and art supplies mostly but other things might creep into the mix. Hope you enjoy...

Today, it's all about books!

I've still been on a reading frenzy since getting my Kindle.

So far this year I have read 49 books, 48 of which have been Kindle books, of my Goodreads Reading goal of 55 books. I had to keep extending it from the initial 25 books.

First up for this post - Courage in a White Coat by Mary Schwaner.
This book was beautifully written in a way where you felt like you were there sharing the experience right along with Dorothy. I loved it!

Dorothy is an American doctor working for a medical mission — first in India for ten years and then at a hospital in the Philippines for a couple of years before she and her small family end up in a Japanese POW camp when the Japanese took over control.

Early on in the book you share in Dorothy's many joys, triumphs, and obstacles as she becomes accustomed to life in India. Quite a challenge at times for a foreign female doctor because her gender and modern medical practises aren't easily accepted among the locals.

Dorothy uses her ingenuity many times in overcoming obstacles that present themselves. For example, there were no medical information books available to help train her Indian nurses, so Dorothy created her own medical sketchbooks in her own handwriting — including her own ink and wash sketches outlining medical maladies and procedures. She would write and draw with a dip pen and ink — then she would wash some colour on with her tea, or was it coffee? — I can't remember offhand but it gave a lovely watercolour effect. Those sketchbooks proved to be invaluable to her staff. She was also a very talented seamstress which came in very handy in their remote location.

After ten years in India, Dorothy had a short stay back in the States before heading off to the Philippines to continue her practise at a hospital. However, two years later, war would have a profound effect when the Japanese took over the area where they were stationed. Dorothy's ordeal with her young family in the POW camp was horrific and you constantly fear for their lives and for the other prisoners. People, including children, died from malnutrition and other ailments. They were literally starving to death under the constant threat of beatings or execution. Heartbreaking stuff.

I initially gave this book a four star rating but changed to five stars because, apart from being so well written, it left a big impression on me. Well deserved.


Next up we have The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee.
Another amazing book about one woman's ordeal as she recounts her escape from North Korea. You'd think getting out of North Korea and safely across to China would mean her ordeal was over but, in fact, it was only just beginning. Hyeonseo's courage and determination is to be commended. It was touching to see strangers reach out to help her at great risk to their own safety but there were those she shouldn't have trusted at all and that led to some scary predicaments.

Hyeonseo later attempts to help her mother and brother escape North Korea too and that is yet another harrowing and hair-raising ordeal. There are times you lose hope that they will make it at all. At other times, you feel so grateful for the kindness of strangers — even an Aussie guy played a huge role in helping Hyeonseo and she was in awe that he wanted nothing in return.

I have read a few books by people sharing their accounts of escaping North Korea and each perspective is just as interesting and as horrifying as the last. The scary part is that these experiences happened not that long ago and it is believed that the North Korean regime still starves and kills its own citizens to this very day — prisons, labour camps, and executions for what we would deem as minor infractions by starving citizens are the norm there.

I gave this book 5 stars! I was on the edge of my seat a lot of the time worried sick that Hyeonseo, and later, her family would be caught and sent back to North Korea which would mean certain death for them.  This book was a harrowing read but it was also a beautiful and touching story about the endurance and courage of the human spirit.


I have more book reviews coming next Tuesday so stay tuned...

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Sunday musings

Hi everyone,

I know I said I'd be back with a book review post and I will....just not today.

I moved my workspace yet again so I could have more things at my fingertips. On the wall opposite, there is now a big white cupboard housing more of my regular art supplies.

Here is my main workspace...loving it so far!

If I want more light at my desk throughout the day, I can just pull the vertical blinds fully across.

I haven't been doing daily sketching but I did drag out my sketchbook to work on another Sktchy portrait last week.

Still a work in progress....

I seem to have lost the creative urge lately — maybe because I've been feeling down in the dumps with daily pain — either back or hip, or both. Scribble Picnic is starting back up on Wednesday so that might give me a bit of a boost to snap out of the doldrums.

Speaking of creativity...check out this masterpiece! Spider webs amaze me...all that work and effort! This one has a regular type web above and some sort of conical shape of web just below but both appear to be connected...never seen that before. I wonder if both webs were created by the same spider?

I will leave you with another masterpiece — taken just after we had a spot of rain. The rainbow span was huge and the photo just doesn't do it justice.

I will be back soon with those promised book reviews...

Monday, 3 September 2018

Sunrises, carrot cake and an imposter

It's been over three weeks since I last posted on my poor old blog. What can I say — not much has been happening of late apart from bad pain days, rest, and lots of reading. Sadly, not much sketching.

OH, and I've been doing some baking — banana cakes, ginger cakes with lemon icing, and even a carrot cake — the latter being my latest triumph in veganised recipes right down to the vegan 'cream-cheese' icing.  They were all delicious! I only managed to get a pic of the carrot cake because, when it comes to home-made treats in this house, I can tell you they have a habit of disappearing very quickly.


Yesterday did not get off to a good start when Bradley alerted me to the fact that someone was impersonating me on Instagram. This unscrupulous person had created a fake profile using my own profile pic with a similar username. They then Followed all the people who were Following MY own Instagram feed as, more often than not, especially if people think it's you, they will Follow you back. Well, some did follow the impostor back as they thought it was just me starting a new account. The impostor then sent out Direct Messages in the hope that people, thinking it was me, would click on a malicious link within the message.
Luckily, we got onto the issue quickly. I alerted my Followers via a post on Instagram. A few of my followers blocked and reported the offender to Instagram, as did I.  To Instagram's credit, they promptly removed the account before any real damage could be inflicted on my friends. It pays to be alert to how these impostors work.


Yesterday also happened to be Father's Day here in Australia. It's hard to believe it's been over three years since my Dad passed away at 82 years old. Father's Day just isn't the same without him here. I still miss him terribly. Here he is with Mum back in 2010.

We've had a few foggy mornings of late —

Taken on August 29th at 6am

An hour later with the sun making an appearance through the fog. I love the eerie feeling that comes with fogs.

This lovely pink sunrise was taken at the end of July

I love a cloudy sky too — especially a cotton ball sky. These were taken early August.

Some rain has been forecast until Friday which we do need. The gardens and lawns will love it! 

I hope you all have a beautiful and blessed week. 

Stay tuned for some upcoming book reviews...

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Life and death at the lake

On Sunday, we took a short trip to Forest Lake which is one of our favourite destinations.

Pic below - Aaron walking Bobby, Beau's dog — we are doggy-sitting while Beau (my son) and his partner, David, are taking a short holiday in Singapore.

 We spotted some Australian Water Dragons on our walk around the lake. They are quite large.

I was thrilled to see pelicans at the lake! They haven't always been there so word must have got around. There was like twenty of them, at least. I LOVE pelicans!

An Eastern Great Egret on the prowl.


Ibis. You can't see them in the pic but the family of four black swans were on the little island in the middle of the lake just across from the Ibis.

Lots of birds on the water. You can see blue-green algae in the foreground of this pic.

A Purple Swamp Hen. When the light hits their feathers in certain ways they glisten a purple blue colour — not apparent in this pic.

Now to a sad part —
We were last at the lake in early May for Mother's Day and, back then, we noticed a lot of algae forming in areas around the lake edges. This time, it was worse and I'm very sad to say that there was so many dead fish floating in the water. There would easily have been over a hundred — carp, cat fish and no doubt, other species too. The smell hit us before we saw them.

The white blobs are more dead fish....broke my heart. This was just a small section. This sight was everywhere around the edges of the lake.

There were signs warning visitors that blue-green algae is toxic and to avoid contact with the water. The smell of death was horrible and naturally I'm concerned for how this will effect the bird and animal life at the lake too, including the turtles. I pray the local council will get out there and do something sooner than later.

Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides. 
— Lao Tzu


To end on a more pleasant note, I thought I would share a quick ballpoint pen sketch I did of one of the Australian Water Dragons we saw. It is not finished — just the rough outline for now. I sketched this big guy for the Moment Sketchers challenge held on the first full weekend of every month.

Yes, my hip and back did flare up in pain after our big day out but it was worth it. I do love getting out in nature but I'm still very saddened by the death we witnessed at the lake.


Okay — so where am I going to sleep tonight?!  Ahhh...the joys of doggy-sitting. hehe Maybe I can squeeze into the narrow spot beside Bobby's head?

Wishing you all a beautiful week!

Monday, 30 July 2018

Starting a new bullet journal

I've always loved starting a brand new journal! Initially, I have a little fear that I might spoil it within the first few pages. I try to start out perfectly neat but I do get less paranoid about that after I make the first few mistakes. In a couple of days — end of July — I will have finished yet another bullet journal and will get to start a new one for August.

I'm so grateful to my friend Rita for telling me about Bullet Journals to begin with. I've been using them since 2015. They are the only journal/planner that I have been able to stick with religiously. With all other types, I'd be lucky to get as far as April before I'd fizzle out. Not sure why that is but I do love that I can use my bullet journal to suit my own preferences. It works perfectly for tasks/events and things that I want to keep track of. The formula is different for everyone.

My bullet journal layouts are very basic and simple. I LOVE vertical columns! I mark in the month vertically too.

I like to keep it at two days to a page — vertically, of course. I record my tasks/events at the top, meals at the bottom, and notes from the day in the middle of the column.

My new bullet is all prepped for August! I keep a small calendar of the previous month as well as the following three months where I can record future events for those months. Kinda like a mini-future log. I do keep a bigger future log at the back of my bullet.

The dailies are two to a page in vertical columns.

For my new Bullet, I was hoping to find page tabs that were all one colour unlike the multi-coloured tabs in the pic above. Unfortunately, I had no luck at Officeworks or elsewhere. So, I was considering cutting off the thin colour strip at the edge of the tabs until I had a brainwave.  I just painted over the coloured edges with a Posca acrylic paint marker. Worked a treat! Now, the tabs match my bullet journal — I love it!

For digital planning, I use the 2Do app for tasks, Google Keep for my lists, and Samsung/Google calendars for events and reminders too. I also use the Five Minute Journal app for daily gratitude.

Do you use a Bullet Journal?  Digital journals/planners? Or both, like me?
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