Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Christmas on Lord Howe Island

Welcome to my blog. It's been a couple of weeks since I last updated it. Thanks for being patient.

For the last week my family and I have been staying in paradise, otherwise known as Lord Howe Island (LHI).

LHI is a little island about 800km NE of Sydney, Australia. It is made up of the very old remnants of a volcano and is surrounded by coral reef. Less than 300 people call the island home and there is a cap on the number of visitors allowed on the island at any one time.

Looking south across the lagoon to Mt Lidgbird and Mt Gower 

Our family has visited this magical place a few times before. The first time for the Husband and I was on our honeymoon, over 21 years ago. Every time since then we've taken the kids. This was their 4th trip and our 5th. Every visit is different and we discover new things each time, despite the island being pretty small and most of it unaccessible, densely forested mountains. (The highest mountain is over 800m above sea level, which is about 200m higher than Canberra.)

We arrived on LHI on Monday 21 December and left the following Monday. Our week encompassed Moo's 19th birthday and Christmas Day.

Lagoon Road

Christmas Day with a LHI twist

The day started normally, with a traditional breakfast of pancakes. Then followed some Christmas present sharing. We brought our own tree and decorations with us. Weight limits for the flight over are strict, so we had to be careful about the size and weight of presents, as well as the tree.

A pause in gift giving while the Husband and I went to church. Church was a 5 minute bike ride from our lodge to the church. The congregation was a mix of locals and visitors.

Leaving church on my bike, Christmas morning

Back to our lodge (Ocean View Apartments - we've been staying there ever since we first brought the kids to the island and now wouldn't stay anywhere else) to finish gift giving.

Lunch was great. All the other guests of the lodge had lunch at one of the restaurants. We couldn't be bothered with a heavy meal so we stayed at the lodge and had the place to ourselves. Lunch was whatever we could throw on a BBQ. Bacon, haloumi cheese, onions, pineapple, and a few sausages of course.

After lunch was time for a quiet sit to allow the food to digest and time to look over our presents.

I normally find Christmas afternoon a bit dull and a bit sad. Our family is so, so small (only 4 or 6 celebrate it together out of a possible 8). There isn't the noise and activity and hours of eating and talking and making merry that the Christmas hype leads us to expect. This year, however, was different.

This year my little family of 4 went rock-pooling. We spent about an hour and half exploring the rock shelves at Middle Beach. It was brilliant. We found sea hares, sea cucumbers, hard coral, hermit crabs, giant clams, soft coral, fish, star fish ...... We stopped because the tide was coming in which covers the whole of the rock shelf.

Pink coral, Middle Beach rock shelf

On our way back to the lodge we stopped for a swim. It was low tide so the swimming wasn't that great off the jetty but at least we did it.

Another bucket list item ticked off - snorkelling on Christmas Day

Dinner was cold roast chicken on burger buns followed by chocolate for dessert. We played a couple of games that had been under our little Christmas tree.

Christmas this year was so, so special. Everyone got along, there was no tension, and everyone pitched in and helped. Then we got to spend it in on LHI doing very LHI things - bike riding, rock pooling, swimming.

Hanging out with the turtles, Old Settlement Beach
Jumping off the jetty

Swimming in the rain

Other things we did on LHI

  • swam with sea turtles
  • swam with reef sharks
  • snorkelled at Old Settlement Beach, Lagoon Beach, Ned's Beach, Comets Hole, Horseshoe Reef, Erscott's Hole and the Sylphs' Hole
  • rode bikes
  • walked a lot
  • ate wonderful food (can you eat too much fresh sea food?)
  • got rained on
  • viewed coral 
  • got friendly with sea hares and hermit crabs
  • poked giant clams
  • took photos of nesting sea birds
  • got rained on
  • paddled on the lagoon in kayaks
  • got rained on while paddling on the lagoon in kayaks 
  • spent time with the Husband, Moo and BoyBoy
  • looked at the view
  • jumped off the jetty
  • swam - in the lagoon, at Neds Beach and in the pool at our lodge
  • I also had a 2 hour spa treatment at a Day Spa. 
  • sat on the deck just doing nothing much

Things we did very little of

  • did not drive a car
  • used the internet very sparingly
  • did only basic clothes washing
  • not much cooking
  • didn't draw much, which surprised me
  • very little shopping

Happy New Year to all.

Miss L

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Diva 248 - give the gift of Zentangle

Hi and welcome to my blog.

If you are reading this you have probably come here via the IamthedivaCZT blog spot. If not, please let me know in the comments as I'm interested to know.

I have been blogging for only a couple of months and have been participating in the weekly Diva challenges for just as long. There are a couple of things that really make the Diva and her challenges stand out for me.

  1. I love reading about her family and seeing photos of a place that I have no experience of
  2. I learn new skills, tangles or strings each week
  3. I learn from what other people do in response to the challenges. I often file these away in my inspirations folder for later use.
  4. I like the immediacy of the way the Diva has set up the response section of her website. I might visit her site multiple times so I can see what other people have added before I start, then look again after I've submitted my link, and then again later just browse and see where the links take me. 
This week the Diva asked us to think about giving the gift of Zentangle. From my humble point of view, I am the recipient of the gift of Zentangle. 

I am so grateful to:
  • Rick and Maria for sharing this wonderful, versatile, accessible, creative medium with us
  • people like the Diva, Adele and Linda Farmer for putting the time and effort into websites, blogs and challenges that keep us all hooked and drawing
  • Shelley Beauchamp CZT for letting me come and learn from her earlier this year
  • Kathleen Murray CZT and Beckah Krahula CZT for publishing Zentangle books that keep pushing my skills and providing endless inspiration for my drawing
  • Readers of this blog. Your visits and comments give me encouragement as well as an unexpected sense of belonging to a community that is spread across the world.
Thank you all so much.

This will be my last post for a while as I'm off on holidays soon to a place with no internet or mobile phone coverage. However, this place has lots of sheltered beaches, palm-fringed and filled with coral and tropical fish.

To end this post I've chosen a cute photo of my dog Milo dressed in his best. Milo is a 9 year old pure bred Kelpie. 

Happy Christmas to you all. Happy holidays to any non-Christians. Happy end of the year for non-Christians and people who will be working over the next couple of weeks.

Miss L

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Diva 247 plus my son's Year 10 graduation

A major milestone was reached this week by my son and his friends. They have finished high school.

In the ACT that means they have finished Year 10 and now go on to college. After college it is work or further study. Last Friday was their final day of school. Last night was their graduation - not a big event at my son's school but significant nonetheless.

Tonight is their Formal. This is their end of school party. They dress up and are treated to a rock star greeting when they arrive.

My son chose to wear a purple suit jacket. The jacket has enormous personal significance for him. It is his story so I won't tell it here. However I will say that it represents personal growth, overcoming fears and learning to trust himself and other people.

Anyway ....

The arrivals at these events is part of the fun. Students can spend a lot of time working out what car to arrive in. A lot of money can go into this as well. For BoyBoy and his friends the cost was less than $4.

Here's why.

Their Formal arrivals vehicle was a cardboard box car, complete with wind screen, headlights and number plate. It was manufactured in our garage over the past couple of days.

The boys walked it to the venue from our house. They passed the venue on the other side of the road before lining up with other cars to take their turn arriving.

I was in the crowd as they came by. I was a very happy and proud mother when I overheard people calling out and laughing.

Diva challenge 247

Here are my attempts. Not great but I have had other things happening this evening!

Thanks for viewing my blog and leaving comments.

Miss L

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Diva #246 - Monotangle tree

This week's Diva challenge was to create a monotangle using a tree as our inspiration.

Here's what I came up with. 

This tile features Ahh and meant to reflect the weather where the Diva is. While the Diva and her family experience snow, in Canberra it is day 1 of summer. Today we had hot winds, 34 degrees, and a total fire ban. Then there was a dust storm to top the day off. It is cooler now that a southerly change has brought cooler winds and some rain.

This tile features Tripoli. I finally seem to be getting a consistent shape of these little critters. 

My last tile features Cruffle.

Below is a monotangle of Cruffle that I created some months ago. It was part of a collection of monotangle teapots that I framed. One set is in my house while another set I sold.

I hope you enjoy these images. Please leave a comment.

Miss L

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A busy weekend

It's Sunday night. My kids and husband are out at the movies. I've just come back from walking the dog. I had to end the walk sooner than planned as it started to rain. The bonus was seeing a massive double rainbow as I returned home.

It's been a busy weekend. Here are some of the highlights.

Seeing Pete Murray live

Pete Murray is an Australian singer-song writer. I've been listening to him for years but haven't see him live before. On stage it was only Pete, his guitar and one band member with his guitar. The style is possibly acoustic rock? 

Here's a story about his tour.

Pete Murray acoustic tour

It was a very intimate show, with lots of interaction with the audience. He described it as being a show for his fans. He encouraged us to call out songs for him to play. I called out one - Happy Ground - he heard me, spoke to me and played the song. Gotta love live music.

Pete Murray Happy Ground

A highlight was Pete stepping away from the mike as the audience joined him in singing Opportunity, which is one of his better known songs and one that still gets on the radio 8 years after it was released. It sent chills. Again, gotta love live music. 

It is a wonderful thing to share your enjoyment of a particular artist with the artist themselves and with other people who like them. In this case it was about 800 others. 

Moving. Beautiful. Blissful. Wonderful. 

Pete Murray Opportunity

The link between Pete Murray and this blog is that I listen to my Pete playlist as I draw. His music suits the mood I want to be in when I sit and Tangle. 

Harvesting potatoes

The Husband has a small vegetable plot in the backyard. This spring he planted potatoes which we harvested on Saturday. We ended up with 20kg of spuds from a 3 x 1.5m plot. The variety he planted were Royal Blue. They have a deep purple skin and white flesh.

Dinner tonight was wedges with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce - a staple cafe item here in Oz. They were THE BEST wedges I've ever eaten. 

Meeting a new frog

We got home from the Pete Murray gig at about 11pm. A movement caught my eye near the front door. It was a frog. We get frogs in our backyard pond but not usually near the front door. The frog was about 5cm long. 

This is the pond system in our backyard. It has an outlet at the top then 3 pools below. The outlet is connected to the top pool by a rocky creek bed. We designed and constructed it ourselves with bought bits and pieces. We then experience about 5 months of calling frogs mostly during the night but often during the day as well.

My first visit to an IKEA store

Big news for Canberra has been the opening of an IKEA store. It opened about two weeks ago. 

The Husband and I visited it today. I put my exercise tracker on to see how far we'd walk. We walked 2.5km. Some of that was to and from the car, which we parked in an overflow car park but most was in the shop.

Imagine walking for 2km. In. The. One. Shop.

This is not an experience I'm going to repeat very often. 

Below is a picture of the flat pack section. The size of this section did my head in.

Drawing, drawing and more drawing

I spent a pleasant few hours drawing. Yesterday I put all my Diva and IAST tiles into a folder and did some more Diva #245. It featured Hollibaugh. I love this tangle.

Diva #245 - my tiles

Today I finally produced some tiles using Mooka that I'm pleased with. The four tiles form a set. The moral of this story is keep trying with those tangles that you can't quite get.

Thanks for reading my blog. Happy Thanksgiving to those readers who celebrate it.

Miss L

Saturday, 28 November 2015

It's a string thing #120 - Thanksgiving

This week's IAST challenge is Thanksgiving themed. As an Australian, this is not a holiday I celebrate. However, I do appreciate the value of taking a moment to reflect what I'm thankful for.

I took a few days to get time and head space to be able to work on this week's challenge. Normally I complete it within a day or so of Adele's post. This week work has been super hectic - I'm a teacher, end of year reports are due and the students are all restless.

The odd thing was that, when I finally worked on my tile, I was at my tiredest. It was Friday night. I was too tired to watch TV or read but was too amped up to be able to got to bed. I knew I wouldn't sleep. My husband suggested I draw for a while.

Then I tackled this week's challenge. I was too tired for everything else but I wasn't too tired to Tangle.

Here's my tile.

On this weekend of Thanksgiving in some parts of the world, I am thankful for peace and safety that I experience in my part of the world. I am also thankful for all that Zentangle brings me - Creativity and Connectivity. I love being part of the Zentangle blogging community.

Miss L

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Diva 245 - Hollibaugh

This week's challenge was all about Hollibaugh. Like the Diva herself, Hollibaugh was one of the first tangles that I learnt and one that I return to often.

My first tile uses a lot of black. I struggle to get the black even. Any tips?

I've used the Zenstone tool to add highlights to the next two tiles. This tool is great for Renaissance and black tiles. It can be used to draw strings and guidelines as it fades into the background and can be rubbed off with your finger. It also provides a very soft highlight - great for people who are nervous about highlighting.

The string in the Renaissance tile is based on Purk, which is another favourite tangle and shape.

The final tile combines a tangellation of Zander with Hollibaugh. This is not a combination I've used before, and I've not used Zander on black at all.

Thanks for your comments. I will be back commenting on your work and supporting you once work and family busy-ness calms down a bit.

Miss L

More tiles

I really, really love drawing Hollibaugh. Like many others who posted on the Diva's site this week, this Tangle got me hooked on Zentangle.

I continued to play around with this challenge after viewing other people's efforts. Other Tanglers are so skilled and inspiring!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Weekend getaway

This weekend The Husband and I went to the Blue Mountains to visit my brother and sister-in-law and to get out of town for a bit.

The Blue Mountains are west of Sydney. The area is known for sandstone cliffs and valleys that rival the Grand Canyon in the US in terms of size. The big difference in the Blue Mountains is that the cliff tops, valleys and canyons are lush and green, not desert.

The Husband and I did a short walk to a look out called Pulpit Rock and then walked for a while along the cliff top. The views were spectacular, as always in the Mountains, but not as good as normal because there was a lot of low cloud. We enjoyed it anyway and took lots of photos of the wildflowers.

In the afternoon we wandered amongst the shops in Leura, which one of the better known villages in the mountains. Dinner was spent with my brother and sister-in-law.

Ian has recently come back from fishing in Alaska. His stories of meeting Grizzly bears, black bears and moose were pretty funny. He even saw a bald eagle steal a salmon from a grizzly bear who was fishing just along the river from him and his friends.  Pretty amazing stuff.

It rained on Sunday so we didn't get any walking in. I had hoped to walk along the cliff top track which has stunning views in the Jamison Valley, or at least wander around town looking at the houses and gardens. Not to be this time. Instead, we took our time over breakfast then went browsing through some antique shops on the way down the mountain.

I managed to add to two teapots to my collection. They are made of tinted aluminium. These were popular in Australia in the 1960s I think, and something I associate with my Nan's house. I can't imagine how awful the tea would be. They will do nicely in my eclectic teapot collection.

We took lots of photos on our walk. I've made a collage of them. Hope they turn out well on the screen.


Miss L

Saturday, 21 November 2015

It's a string thing #119

This week's It's a string thing challenge was inspired by the 100th anniversary of Coke. 

When I looked at the string I didn't see a coke bottle. Instead I saw a wine bottle. As I practiced the tangles I thought the string and the tangles reminded me of those wine bottles that are half encased in in twine baskets.

Here are my attempts. I'm not happy with the finishing of either. They look rushed to me, which is what they were. I'm also not finding the Inktense pencils easy to use. Any tips?

A message to my followers and the Tanglers I follow

I offer my apologies in advance for not visiting your sites or commenting on your tangles this last week or over the next couple of weeks.

The last weeks of school are the busiest for me, and other teachers. Marking and reports are taking up all my energy and time. The heat is not helping matters either. It's very hard to work when it's over 36 degrees outside and no air conditioning inside. 

Then there's quite a bit of family stuff going on - happy things but busy, busy, busy.

I will get back to your sites and tangles. I promise.

Miss L

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Diva 244 - Tripoli

This week's Diva challenges uses one of my favourite tangles - Tripoli.

Before I attempted it, I had a look at what some other people had created. I was particularly impressed with what the lovely Yorkshire Tortise drew. Her tile features a ring comprising various tangellations of Tripoli.

This week I have used some different paper for my tile. The paper is called 'Marbletone Board' in cream and is 200gsm. I found it in the fancy paper section of my local office supplies store.

I was in my local office supplies store because :

  1. I was purchasing more A4 folders and photo corners which is how I store my completed tiles and larger ZIAs (see below)
  2. I had finished a lot of work that day for school and needed to reward myself (without sugar!)
  3. I never need much of an excuse to have a wander through this particular store. It is pretty big and I love, love, love stationary.
Here's my tile. It is about 20cm square.

The string is one of Shelley Beauchamp's spiral strings and inspired by one the drawings in her book. (Can't wait to see Shelley again next year.)

Tile Storage

I Tangle a lot. Lately I've been spending at least an hour every evening drawing, and longer on weekends. What to do with all those tiles and pages?

I store my work in A4 folders that have in-built plastic sleeves. I put black card in the sleeve then attach my tiles to them with photo corners.

The beauty of photo corners is that they hold the tiles in place while allowing you to remove them at any time.

Let's say you are struggling for inspiration. You look through you past work, which is easy to do as it is in a neat book form. You find a tile that looks great but you can't remember the tangles. Not a problem because you simply slide the page out and slip the tile off the page so you can read the notes on the back. This is where you would have noted down the tangles you used to create this master piece.

Here's a photo of a page from one of my albums and a close up of a photo corner. I also have a larger version of the album to store my Opus tiles. I purchased that folder at a scrapbooking store.

Health update

Scans have been completed. Everything is clear. I've finished the anti-biotics for whooping cough. The fatigue I have is back to normal levels for me. Thanks for supportive comments. They help.

Have a good week.

Miss L

Sunday, 15 November 2015

It's a string thing #118

I've been attempting Adele's "It's a string thing" challenge for a couple of weeks now. I also regularly do the Diva's challenges.

The benefit of doing the challenges is that they both extend my skills, usually by introducing me to tangles, strings or techniques that I've not used or combined before.

The difference between the two challenges is that you can see straight away what other Diva participants do whereas you have to wait a week to see the other String Thing tiles.  With the Diva, I can get ideas if I'm stuck before I draw. With the String Thing it all has to come from me and my head.

Both are well worth doing.

I keep a folder on my desk top called Inspirations. It's where I copy images from both challenges that I like or feel inspired by. I've also learnt to rename the files with something meaningful. I'll call a file 'cadent variation' or 'great shading' instead of IMG_1234.jpg like I used to.

The next step will be to view this folder, get ideas and get drawing but....

My excuse is that at the moment I'm enjoying working through Kathleen Murray's Let's Tangle. 

My tiles for this week's challenge

Here I've stayed with the three suggested tangles: Acrosstick, Afterglo and Ahh.

The second tile includes Dex because I think it is similar to Acrosstick.

Have a good week.

Miss L

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Let's tangle - Purk

Tonight I have the house to myself. BoyBoy is camping with his school somewhere down the coast while the Husband and Moo are out  watching Australia play Somewhere-istan in the soccer.

I spent the evening watching a bit of telly on Stan (a local version of Netflix). Nice to have the internet all to myself and all the bandwidth I need to stream TV. Then I drew for an hour or so.

I normally listen to Pete Murray while I draw. Tonight I changed to Paul Kelly. Paul Kelly is a prolific singer song writer. I thought I was familiar with a lot of his music. Not so. It has been pleasant getting to know more of his work and hearing the occasional song I recognise.

Both artists are Australian. I have a bit of preference for Australian music artists. I'm currently sharing that love with my students at school as part of our Australian poets, poetry and imagery unit.

But I digress, again.

Below are tonight's drawings. They follow a page from Kathleen Murray's 'Let's Tangle'.

Here's the Let's Tangle drawings from some weeks ago. The focus was Purk. Pepper had featured a page or two before, hence the tile at bottom right.

Now for my trio of drawings this evening. It was all about experimenting.

Enjoy your week.

Miss L