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Friday, 19 December 2014

Aprons and greeters.

It's the crazy time of year. Christmas, holidays, family. I've been to Far North Queensland and caught up with Miss Betty and, while I've been away, my aprons have been starting the revolution in Newcastle. It's apron mania in the coal city just to my north.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Photography … another week closer to Christmas.

Not long now until the red-coated-bearded-one arrives. The everyday goes on, but excitement mounts. Life is busy, very busy. Gathering in outdoor cushions as the storms threaten. Sewing. Cooking. Snapping photos. Life's good.

It's hard to believe that these storms are so regular. EVERY afternoon. Black, threatening, loud. Yet, they continue to come.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Newcastle … a weekend away.

Newcastle, just under three hours north of Sydney, was the destination. A city, I had heard, with a funky vibe and a rejuvenated heart. 

A weekend away. The ocean. Oh, how I miss the Pacific. 

Previously I had only driven through the outskirts of Newcastle on the way south to the bigger smoke. It had not been a destination before, but here we were, MLP and I, weekend-ing in Newcastle. We started at the ocean, because MLP knows how my heart bleeds to see the ocean. Our current abode means a morning walk on the beach is not even the remotest possibility. I have never lived, long term, so far from my sparkling Pacific.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Photography … another week in the life of me.

Summer has started. The countdown to Christmas has begun. The afternoon storms are rolling and rumbling in. And life goes on in my little piece of this world.

The afternoon storms are regular. They rumble and crack and blow. Sometimes more ominous and destructive than others. Sometimes there's hail.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Christmas: How to make clay decorations or gift tags.

Instagram is the place where imagination and creativity lives, breathes, grows. Everyday I am inspired by people eager to share their talent. At the moment, Christmas ideas abound … food, gifts, crafts. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Photography … life this week.

A few random shots from this week in my world. Plus I learnt a new trick … how to capture lightning. MLP gave me some advice. Mr Google told me more. 

Some other Christmas things happening. No, they're not cookies.

Friday, 21 November 2014

A crocheted Christmas.

If you've been following me, stalking me maybe, on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, then you'll know I've been in a bit of a crocheting frenzy. Little Christmas garlands have been zooming off my hook and through the post to family and friends. 

Why little crocheted Christmas garlands? 

Why not?

They're cute and quick and easy aaannd, I think, they could have LED lights pushed through their centres to sparkle through the Christmas nights. 

It all started when I was trawling around on the internet looking for I don't know what ... as you do… well, I do ... I came across a pattern for these little lovelies. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Photography … a few snaps from this week.

I continue to keep snapping away to see how this camera really works. This week I've been using my new set up, which you can read about here, and trying to learn what I can do in this mode. So, here are my happy snaps and an interesting photography link from this week.

The skies have been clear and cerulean so I took a mass of photos like this.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Toulouse and the Canal du Midi … a spot not to be missed.

Toulouse, on the Garonne in southern France, was not on our must-visit list. We ventured there to spend some time with our canal-boat-owning friends and I'm so glad we did. Of course the hospitality was superb and the canal boating sublime, but Toulouse, the city, is quietly beautiful.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Photography … an intelligent person's fully auto.

Learning the ins and outs of my DSLR is a bit of a roller coaster ride. I don't want to be a professional photographer, but I do want to understand what I'm doing and I do want to be able to take better photos. So, when an email pinged last week from my brother with an idea to try, I thought … why not?

Friday, 7 November 2014

The Natural History Museum … another day out in London.

If you've watched any of Sir David Attenborough's documentaries (Is there anyone with access to technology who hasn't?), then a visit to the Natural History Museum while in London is a must, not only are the exhibits mind boggling, but also the building itself is fantastical.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Photography … what I've been snapping around here this week.

Everything I read about improving photography, and I've been reading a fair bit, says just keep on shooting. Take photos of anything and everything. So that's what I'm doing. Trying to get to know my Canon a little better.

So here's a few shots from this week.

Geraldton wax on my kitchen bench. Keeping up the New Year's resolution to have flowers in the house each week. I've been good too, only missed a couple of weeks.

Friday, 31 October 2014

London and a day with myself at Hampton Court.

MLP was excited about London. He'd never been before and he had things on his must-see list: The Royal Airforce Museum, Hendon and Prime Meridian, Greenwich. Luckily, my brother was with us and was keen to do boys' days. So, while they did their Boys' Own Adventures, I was able to go off doing girly things for a couple of days. 

Our airbnb apartment was within five minutes walk of Waterloo Station. A fantastic position. We could rail or Tube from Waterloo, walk to South Bank and up to Blackfriars Bridge or across the river to Embankment. Perfect position.

We did lots of the usual.

Big Ben.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Grand Designs Live, Sydney, and being lucky.

2014 is going to go down in the annals of time as Libby's Year of Luck. Admittedly, I have been entering competitions, which previously I have not had the time nor the desire to do. And 2014 has proved to be my year. 

A $50 Masters voucher earlier in the year from tlifecreative on Instagram for making the suggestion to turn an old cable drum into a drinks' trolley. A nice little surprise.

$100 of vouchers from my local shopping centre for filling in a form and dropping it in the barrel. We've dined through a number of Saturday breakfasts on those lovelies.

And then, two tickets to Grand Designs Live, Sydney, because I took the time to write a comment on The Life Creative blog.

Yay! I'm on a roll. Who knows what I'll win next?!? But while the luck is happening, I'm going to keep entering.

So, Grand Designs Live Sydney.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Reproducing a much-loved and much-used jewellery pouch.

My sister-in-law was one of those people who was always making something. For her girls. For her family. For her friends. And, at times, for herself. I have many things which she made me which I use and treasure. One is my much-loved and much-used jewellery pouch. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Photography … deer, oh dear.

As we cruised down the road in the direction of the Sackville ferry, my sister and her man cried excitedly, "A little deer! Oh, but it's gone." And then there were more. Cute, timid deer. Staring at us. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Paris … secret passages and hidden treasures..

Who can not love Paris? This was not my first trip to this wondrous city and I am determined to return, yet this time I found some beauty I had not explored before. Yes, we did the icons. MLP's first trip to Europe, you see.

Le Tour Eiffel, lacework and engineering. Yes, we went to the top. Does anyone not go to the top?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Photography … this week.

It's spring. My herbs are flowering. My Ralphter is enjoying the sunshine and I'm trying to green up the lawn. 


Friday, 10 October 2014

The French train hex.

So we'd been travelling for just over 24 hours and it was time to collect our luggage at Charles de Gaulle and begin our first adventure, joining our canal-boat-owning friends for a few days of leisure and camaraderie. Food, wine, friendship. Just what we needed to alleviate jet lag.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Photography … this week.

A short bush walk in Scheyville Nature Reserve around the Longneck Lagoon surrounded us in the ping of Bell Miners and the whoo-iiiit of Whip Birds. We came across a small red-bellied black snake, but he sensed us first and all I glimpsed was his tail slithering into the reeds.

Bell Miners.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Pre-travel tribulations. And some random photos from our trip.

It was the day before we headed to the Airport Hotel. The house-Ralph sitters had arrived. All was going smoothly … till I decided I should get a last bit of Australian cash to cover our final home-soil expenses.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

How to make a padded lens case.

What does one do on a Sunday morning in bed with the Ralphter? (MLP is out making my cup of tea. Good man.) Check emails, of course, and become inspired.  And this is how it all began …

Friday, 22 August 2014

Final travel preparations. Woo hoo!

Today marks seven days to go. Well, six in reality, as this time next week we'll be in the air. That means next Friday, no blog post. In fact, probably no blog post for a wee while. I do hope to do some posting while I'm away, but … well … given the choice of exploring a foreign city, sipping wine, nibbling on tasty morsels, seeing splendid sights or sitting at a computer, I know which will win. So, keep watching Instagram and Facebook for snippets when I do have internet and my regular blog posts will resume when I am home again.

So, where am I at after last week's little SIPA revelation?

Progress has been made. Reader tips have been put into action. Clothes packing has not begun … yet … but, I've been thinking. The mind has been sorting through what will be taken, what won't be needed, what is still a maybe. Some further purchases have been made.

Remember my concern about the crochet hook and scissors? Well, I had a thought, children's scissors. Their ends are rounded. They are less than four inches long, apparently that's the magic measurement. And they cut.

So, off I went to Big W in search of children's scissors and found these little cuties. Mr green bunny rabbit scissors.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Photography … up close.

I'm trying to learn how to use Aperture Priority, Av, on my camera. So, in this batch of photos, I've set the Aperture as low as the camera would allow me and used manual focus to see what I could produce.

My first subject was relatively co-operative.

These are all shot with ISO 100 F/5.6

Friday, 15 August 2014

Packing anxiety.

I have a disorder which sends me into a frenzy each time I have to pack for a trip. I'm sure it's not a medically recognised disorder. There's probably no such thing as SIPA, Suitcase Induced Panic Attacks. But, if there were such a diagnosis, I'm sure I have it. At the most severe end of its scale. 

It's not my suitcase that's the problem. I love my Mickey Mouse companion and he always creates conversation at the bag drop point and baggage carousel. It's the packing of Mickey that sends the stomach into little conniption fits.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Photography … black and white.

I love black and white photographs. I think it's something to do with the effect looking a little vintage-y. I like the contrasts created. The play of light and dark. And I think black and white photography makes great wall art.

I'm a black and white kind of person. Many of my clothes are black and white, with a little grey. My bedroom linen is predominantly black, white and grey. Colour slips in every now and then, but my eyes are drawn to black and white.

So, I thought I'd play around a bit with some of my photos to see what I could achieve.

I love palm trees and never tire of the patterns they produce. Hence, I had a few palm tree photos to choose from.

This shot was taken at Airlie Beach, Queensland.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Playing around with rope

… but not skipping.

Of late, in my travels, I've noticed little rope vessels popping up in the most amazing stores. And, as is my habit, I kept thinking they would be fun to make. 

Japanese garden wanderings.

When you tour a Japanese garden led by a wonderful 20 year old dog, your wanderings are slow and considered, but that's how the Japanese would want it, I think. Slow, considered, restful, quiet, peaceful, relaxing. Yes, definitely the right way to wander.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

St Albans, a Sunday drive to remember.

St Albans, a tiny village on the edge of the Macdonald River west of Sydney, is charming and steeped in history.

When my pineapple-loving-friend, Linda, was visiting, we did the Sunday drive. I had been told by a couple of people that St Albans was worth a visit, but had no concept of why. So, we took a punt and headed off.

The road follows the curves of the river and the ferry glides us across to the opposite bank. 

I love ferry rides. They seem part of another era, slower, simpler. The river has more impact from a ferry. The car and the ferry become one as we slide through the river's pull.

Our plan is to lunch at St Albans in the Settlers' Arms Inn, convict built in 1836. Again we don't know what to expect. We hope it will be open and that the food will be a treat.

On the winding road we are accompanied by motor bike riders and veteran cars. A good omen. They usually know where there is a special Sunday meal. Like a disjointed caterpillar, we all head in the one direction. Winding around the river's bends. Eyeing off houses perched above the flood line and animals languishing in the autumn sun. 

St Albans does not disappoint. It is beautiful. 

The Settlers Arms Inn.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Koalas guarding the north against invasion.

Overlooking the Coral Sea resides a colony of highly dedicated koalas scanning the seas for foreign invaders. Ever watchful. Ever vigilant. Well, maybe not. They sleep around 22 hours a day ... but, in those two waking hours, they have an important job.

Snuggled in the trees on the Forts Walk on Magnetic Island, they have usurped the role of  guardians of Australia's northern waters from those who spent their time here during World War 11.

Today, tourists, our birthday celebration crew, families and European backpackers included, walk, climb, trudge, puff, sweat their way to the Forts to take in the view the soldiers surveyed and to hopefully meet at least one elusive koala. 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Photography … men in orange, with effects.

On a recent trip to the Blue Mountains with one of my nieces, affectionately known as Number 3, we shared being tourists with a group of Buddhist monks. It was an unusual sight to see these quiet men, clothed in shades of orange, casually lining up for a ride on the 52 degree sloped Scenic Railway to the base of the valley.

It was an autumn day and their orange attire did not appear to provide them with much warmth. They, however, seemed unaware of the chill in the air.

I find Buddhism an intriguing faith and the apparent peace that it provides something to be admired.

I took some happy snaps to record our chance encounter and did some playing with effects.

My original shot.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Magnetic Island ... A short break.

When your special-trusted-school-friend turns 60 AND she decides to celebrate on her favourite island AND that happens to be in North Queensland, thousands of kilometres north AND many degrees warmer than winter at home, you have to go. It's a definite. Magnetic Island, Maggie to those who love her, here we come.

Not your average tropical island, Magnetic has a granite heart and sits in the dry tropics. She's special, very special. 

Giant boulders tumble to the shore line. Trees survive in what seem the most impossible spots.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Photography … looking up.

I have a fascination with the patterns made by trees, branches and leaves, especially in the tropics, in the rainforest and on the beach front . So, taking "looking up" photos has been going on for much longer than my "looking down" obsession. 

Palm Cove in Far North Queensland (FNQ) is one of my special places. I have a little heart twitter as I drive the road in. It is a unique spot. Crocodiles and all. The beach is fringed with coconut palms which reach for the sky in all directions and provide speckled shade for beach goers. The jetty, usually a hive of fishing activity, juts out towards Double Island and Haycock Island, "Scout Hat" to the locals. The water is pristine and sparkles in the northern sunshine. But, for me, it is the looking up patterns which make my day … Oh, and the great coffee and breakfast at Vivo.

Coconut palms and their intriguing trunks.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Sydney ... strolling in the winter sunshine.

It's winter and it's sunny and there's a special friend in the house who hasn't been into "town" for nigh on 30 years, so it's time for a trip to town, to the city, the harbour city … Sydney.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Manual focus on my DSLR … scary!

It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn from reading blogs. Just recently, this Thistlewood Farms' post made my day.

I have been trying to play around with Aperture priority on my DSLR, having some success and some failure. I want to try to master the ability to blur the background or foreground of a photo. KariAnne, of Thistlewood Farms, suggested taking the camera off auto focus. 


But, I did. 

Right there and then, I grabbed my camera and took these shots of my desk and notice board. The sort of shots I want to keep and frame ... maybe not.

Focus at the front.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Surry Hills strolling.

Prior to moving to Sydney, my connection to Surry Hills was limited to Ruth Park's A Harp in the South, the sad, post World War 11 story of the Darcy family and their daughter, Dolour (a name I had not met before … or since). So, for me, Surry Hills strolling involved slums and poverty and hardship and alcohol and street brawling … not the most salubrious stroll. 

But, my recent venture to the Brett Whiteley Gallery, hidden in a small suburban back-street, changed those conceptions of Surry Hills strolling … dramatically.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Looking down.

Since becoming addicted to Instagram recently, I've started taking "looking down" style photos just for fun and because, well, I find them intriguing and I'd never really thought of recording life like this before. It's fascinating how many different and beautiful surfaces can be walked on in one day. How many patterns and patinas. So, here are my gaggle of my current "looking down" photos … just for fun.

At the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Holidaying at home.

There are lots of advantages to holidaying at home. Packing is easy. Well … non-existent, in fact. Great tea and coffee making facilities. Your own bed … yay! Your own pillow … double YAY! You get to stock the mini-bar with goodies of your choice and at the right price … triple YAY!! No need for Ralphie boarding ...

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Playing around with editing effects.

I'm learning to use my DSLR camera, as you know, but I'm also trying to learn about editing at the same time. I've been playing around with Picmonkey because … well ... most of it is free and I find it easy to use. Free and easy, what more could I ask for?

I know there are more sophisticated editing programs, but I'm trying to keep things simple to start with. So, Picmonkey it is.

It's fun to see what I can do with even the most basic of editing effects. I've used my original photo, totally straight off the camera, no editing at all, as you see it below (Cousin Maria and I have been doing a bit of cemetery wandering in historic Richmond and Windsor recently, so an angel from a grave site seems appropriate).

Friday, 27 June 2014

Art Gallery Gazing.

When my artist cousin, Maria, comes to visit, where would we find ourselves but at the galleries. The local Penrith Regional Gallery and the State Gallery of NSW, two places which could not be more different. Each beautiful in its own way. Each inspiring. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Trying to capture movement..

I'm attempting to learn to use my DSLR camera in manual mode. There are some successes and some failures, but it's been fun.

Last week, in the city, I did some playing with the shutter speed just to see what I could manage without a tripod.

The fountain in Hyde Park. Take 1.

Friday, 20 June 2014

I've been to Yackandandah!

Yes, I know. You're jealous. Green, green, green with envy. I know it's your dream and I can hear you saying, "No, you haven't!" But, I have. I really truly have.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Legacy of a friendship.

Last week I lost a wonderful friend. A friend who taught me a lot about life. A friend who was old enough to be my mother. She was the mother of the most amazing woman who was later to become my nearest and dearest friend. It's strange how life takes unexpected turns.

Friday, 6 June 2014

A visit to the wet tropics.

Yes, even though it's autumn and the rains should have finished over Easter, it's STILL the wet tropics. Raining on and off. Drizzly bits, then sunshine, then heavy downpours. The air is damp, but not that summery-humid-claustrophobic-wet, just damp. You know the towel's-never-dry type damp.

Friday, 23 May 2014

To read Romantic fiction, or not to read Romantic fiction, that is the question -

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous romance,

Or to take arms against a sea of love stories,

And by opposing end them? To read, to sleep-

Friday, 16 May 2014

A return visit to the hardware store.

Last week I reached the end of my tether with my glossy black recycling bin. We have shared a friendship since the end of January … of late, a tenuous friendship … which finally hit crunch point on last bin day.

Despite the beautiful sunset in the west.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Playing around with Washi tape.

Not so long ago I had never heard of Washi tape. I had never crossed its path. I had never known its pleasure. But, being retired, and venturing into the realm of blogs, there was Washi tape. Everyone was using it and I felt hopelessly inadequate. Washi tape!?! I had no idea.

Friday, 2 May 2014

To Orange and beyond …

MLP's and my musings last week about town names certainly created some profound thought.
The neurons and synapses were all aflutter.
"Emerald," people said, "a town named after a colour."
Ha! Yes!
"What about Blacktown and Violet Town?" murmured others.
MLP didn't think these made the cut because they had "town" attached. But sadly no further fruit towns emerged.

Friday, 25 April 2014

A short break in Orange ... Part 1.

As we cruised along in PT, MLP mused, "Are there any other towns in Australia named after a fruit?" Then my mind started to wander. Is there a town called Apple ... or Pear ... or Grapefruit? Ah-ha, there is a town called Banana! I know. I've driven through it many times.