Thursday, 18 October 2018

Scribble Picnic - Bottle

Hi everyone!

This week, the prompt for Scribble Picnic is BOTTLE.

You would think that having two weeks to get this prompt done, I would have been on the ball but, oh no — true to form, I left it until the last minute even though it crossed my mind lots. Since seeing the prompt, I couldn't get the song 'Message in a Bottle' out of my head so that's what I went with.

I laid the basic structure in first with Prismacolor coloured pencils

And here is the end result although I may fiddle with it a little more with it yet. I used coloured ballpoint pens and black ink for emphasis.

To see the wonderful work of my fellow scribblers this week, click HERE.
To find out how to join us each fortnight, click HERE.

See you for the picnic in two weeks for the prompt - JOLT or DOUBLE.

I will leave you with the song — Message in a Bottle by The Police.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

Hello fellow bookworms!

I'm now only one book away from reaching my Goodreads Reading Challenge of 60 books for 2018! I may extend it again...not sure.

First upThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

This classic was first published in 1959 and is believed to have kick-started the whole supernatural/horror genre. It tells the story of four strangers meeting at Hill House, including Dr. Montague — a doctor with a keen interest in the occult and wanting to prove that Hill House is haunted.  Eleanor, Theodora, and Luke are his test subjects, I guess you could say. 

I know a lot of people loved this book but I have to say it wasn't for me. I found it very boring and slow-paced. I couldn't wait to get to the end just so I could call it finished. I only rated it 2 stars.

I read this book before I even became aware of the new Netflix series by the same name. The series is good and spooky.  It did stray from the book though.

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As a lover of British crime series on Netflix, I've found myself completely drawn into the same realm in Kindle books. I've just finished Katherine Pathak's 10th book — The Dark Isle — in her DCI Dani Bevan book series. I love that Amazon offers pretty good Kindle deals at up to $2 a book at various times so I can compile a whole series at very reasonable prices. I thoroughly enjoyed the DCI Dani Bevan series. I have rated the books at either 4 or 5 stars. I feel that Katherine Pathak's storytelling has improved with each new book and I have just started the 11th book in the series.


Other British crime series I've read have been as follows - 

The Detective Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndzasix books so far. I've enjoyed this series very much and look forward to his next one.



The DI Fenchurch series by Ed James. This book series took a little getting used to with a different writing style to the previous series I'd read. The characters took me time to warm up to but it did improve as I progressed through the series. Five books into the series so far.

The DI Lottie Parker series by Patricia Gibney. This is the book series that first introduced me to the world of Kindle crime fiction books.  Set in Ireland, interesting plots, and despite the lead character being addicted to prescription medication and alcohol, I really liked this series.

I have two more Crime Series in my Kindle library to start. One written by Joy Ellis, the other by Damien Boyd. I hope I enjoy them as much as the ones mentioned above.  If you are into crime fiction too, do you have a favourite author or series?

More reviews next Tuesday so stay tuned...

Monday, 15 October 2018

Sunday musings....albeit a day late

It seems I'm always running late of late and I don't really have a good excuse except to say I've been feeling down with this chronic pain thing. That said, there are so many people worse off than me so I try not to complain.

It's been a rainy few days and the rain is forecast to continue into next week. Don't get me wrong — I love the rain! We sure do need it and the gardens are loving it! The grass is finally greening up again, whereas last week, the grass/lawn was a dry yellow-brown.

And look, we even have toadstools popping up.

I'm sure there is a fair bit of water building up in the creek that runs through the bushland at the end of the street too. All needed, of course.
That said, I must admit that any more than three days of constant heavy rain starts to feel all gloomy to me, especially indoors. It IS perfect weather for reading books, watching movies, and Netflix though! We watched the whole set of the Harry Potter movies again.  I've also been binge-watching the new Netflix series — The Haunting of Hill House. It IS good! As timing would have it, I recently finished the book before I even knew the series existed. I will be talking about the book in tomorrow's Reviews post so be sure to check that out. In case you're wondering — yes — the series has strayed from the book.

I've also been watching some online art classes since my last post. I absolutely loved Ian Sidaway's klass via Sketchbook Skool! I sketched him in ballpoint and fountain pen while I watched his Q&A video with Koosje Koene.  Click HERE if you're interested in checking out his blog.

I decided against participating in INKtober this year. I just wasn't in the right head space to put more pressure on myself. I have been getting a little sketching done here and there though.
This is a VW Beetle that I've been planning on sketching for a while now.  It's still a work in progress.

I do plan on adding colour, just not sure which colour yet.

This wet weather is making me crave soup. I made this delicious split pea and veggie soup the other week so may make up another pot. It lasts Brad and me three dinners. I LOVE soup with buttered bread or bread rolls!  Vegan butter, of course.

I'll leave you with a snap of my ever faithful companion — Cody doing what he does best — sleeping.

Don't forget to check out my Book Reviews tomorrow....

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Scribble Picnic - Chicken

Hi everyone,

The past couple of weeks have been a little busy with helping my son move to a new place and cleaning up the old place which will be finalised on Friday.

I planned a finished piece but time just got away from me so it's another work-in-progress this week. I hope to add more images to this post as the day progresses.

The theme is CHICKEN.

I started this little guy with a soft pencil sketch

First pass with watercolours. This was as far as I've managed so far...hope to post more here later.

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Okay...I'm back with a couple more images including a completed piece...see below.


...okay, I think I'm calling it finished. I wish I hadn't used coloured pencils as they left texture where I didn't want it. I feel like he's overworked now. We live and learn, right?

To see what my fellow picnickers have been up to for this week, click HERE.
To find out how to join us each fortnight, click HERE.

I hope to be back with an update soon....bye for now.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

Hello fellow bookworms,

I was up to 54 out of 55 books for my Goodreads 2018 Reading challenge. I had already extended it quite a few times and decided to extend it yet again — this time to 60 books!  Normally, I'd be lucky if I managed 20 books a year. I am loving my Kindle SO much!

On to some of my recent Kindle reads.

First upEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

Thirty year old Eleanor leads a very simple, regimented life. She does things a specific way — wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same food every day, speaks with her mother at the same time every week, buys and drinks two bottles of vodka every weekend, and so it goes. Eleanor is efficient at work and she is content with her simple life at home.  However Eleanor has repressed memories from a major incident that occurred when she was 10 years old. She built walls around herself but those walls are about to start crumbling when Eleanor suddenly finds herself assisting in a life-threatening emergency. Strangers are now coming into her life and Eleanor, lacking in social skills and having a different perspective to most, doesn't always react in a manner that would be deemed 'the norm'. Will she be able to handle the changes that are coming?

I loved this book! Eleanor is complicated and I couldn't help but feel for her. I could even identify with her in some areas. I like books that run a gamut of emotions — I smiled, I laughed out loud, I cried, I felt mortified in areas and I also felt concern and anger. It's probably a book I would read again at a later date just to take in even more the second time around.  I gave it 5 stars.

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Next upSay Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

This story begins back in 1959 on an isolated ranch in Texas where Dr Lucy cares for abandoned animals. She sticks to herself and wants to be left alone.

On his way to go fishing one day, twelve year old Pete Soloman comes across a wounded wolf-dog hybrid. Pete has a huge heart and naturally reaches out to help the injured animal. He ends up heading towards Dr Lucy's ranch and on the way meets Justin Bell. Sadly in those times racism was rife and Pete is not allowed to have a black friend. Their forbidden friendship leads to violence. Due to a violent incident, Justin's Dad, Calvin, finds himself at Dr Lucy's ranch where friendships and bonds between the four of them become stronger. However the township has other ideas....

As you might imagine, this book was hard to read in areas due to racism, segregation, abuse, and hatred but it was also filled with love, strength and endurance. I gave this one 5 stars.

As a side-note — You may already be familiar with Catherine Ryan Hyde's work from one of her other books — Pay It Forward — which was made into a movie. Loved the movie, never read the book.

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And lastlyStand by Me by S. D. Robertson.

Lisa and Elliot first meet after a bullying incident near her home. She is new to the neighbourhood and actually moved into the house where Elliot's best friend previously lived but had since moved away.  She and Elliot quickly become best friends.  Lisa is a confident young girl and she is not afraid to stand up to the bullies who enjoy making Elliot's life a misery. She is Elliot's biggest supporter.

Elliot ends up moving away to Australia but, twenty years later, he suddenly shows up at Lisa's door. She is now married with two troubled teenagers and life has been very stressful for her of late, both emotionally and financially. However, Lisa is over the moon to see her best friend again. Oddly enough, since Elliot's arrival, things in Lisa's life start to take a turn for the better although there are a few concerning incidents involving teenagers. Is there more to Elliot than meets the eye?

A lovely, uplifting story of true friendship. I liked this one a lot and enjoyed the sense of mystery around Elliot — good things happen when he is around and there's a reason for it.  I gave it 4 stars.

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Stay tuned for more reviews next Tuesday...

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books

I have more book reviews for you today.

First up - A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley.

Some of you may have seen the movie 'Lion' which was actually based on this true story. I was familiar with Saroo's story via our Australian Current Affairs programs before the movie or book came out. Truly amazing story! I enjoyed both the movie and book but the book was naturally more in depth.

Born in 1981, Saroo at five years old, becomes separated from his older brother at a train station in remote India. Poor Saroo inadvertently finds himself on a train which takes him to Calcutta — changed to Kolkata in 2001 — one of the busiest train stations in India.  Can you imagine?!  It was like a sea of people busily rushing about with their own agendas and the pleas of a small five year old child went ignored or were not understood due to different regional dialects in India. Little Saroo was a long way from home and had to fend for himself on the streets of Calcutta which was a very dangerous place to be, especially at night time.

Saroo has many close calls but eventually finds himself adopted by a couple in Tasmania, Australia. The Kindle picture above shows the real Saroo when he arrives in Australia. In adulthood, Saroo starts to search for his biological family which is a monumental task considering he has no idea where to begin.  India is so vast and Saroo only had vague memories of the landscape near his home. It was like searching for a needle in a hay stack and Google Earth plays a major role. After 25 years, he is finally reunited with his birth mother.

I gave this book five stars! Loved it!

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Next up - The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

Ludwig 'Lale' Sokolov's story is told by Heather Morris, a Screenwriter and native of New Zealand, now residing in Australia. The book is classified as Historical Fiction only because the author did make some changes for dramatic or creative effect but, according to the author's editor, the book is 95% true fact.
  
As with most Holocaust stories, it's difficult to read in a lot of areas — heart-wrenching, in fact. Young Lale, a Slovakian Jew, ends up at the notorious Auschwitz death camp where he is given the job of tattooing a number on his fellow prisoners as they arrive at the camp. This is how he first meets Gita and falls head over heels for her at first glance.  It's a story of love, endurance, hope, and survival against all the odds. 

Definitely worth reading — I gave it 4 stars. 

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I have a few books on the go at the moment so I will be back with more reviews next Tuesday. 

Stay tuned...

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Scribble Picnic - Explore

Hello dear friends!

The theme for this week is EXPLORE/EXPLORATION.

I really lived up to the Scribble Picnic title this week as all I have so far is a SCRIBBLE! haha My main problem was that I was overwhelmed with so many different ideas in my mind that I had trouble settling on one. I ended up going with a teddybear pilot ready to explore the skies in his plane — scribbled last night just before lights out.

Here is my very, VERY rough pencil scribble for now. I may make some minor changes as I go along.


To check out what my fellow Picnickers have done for this week, click HERE.

I will either add more pics to this post later today or I will show you all the end result next week. I have a busy day ahead with doggy-sitting among other things.

I hope you are all enjoying a beautiful week!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Ducks.

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

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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.


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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!
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