Friday, December 20, 2013

Be present this Christmas

I haven't blogged recently because I've been really down of late. The calm I brought back from Bali has definitely left and the only saving grace is my Christmas holidays start at 4pm today.

It is tough being an emotional species, all around me are people who are excited, stressed or depressed and Christmas seems to be a catalyst for emotional extremes: the highest highs and the lowest lows.

This year I'll be having Christmas at my parents house, for what will most likely be my dad's last Christmas. His myeloma seems to be progressing faster than originally expected so the pressure is on to make this a 'happy family' Christmas for everyone to remember, and there is nothing like emotional pressure to add to the festive season!

This week I have also forcibly changed my sleeping pattern from late-to-bed-late-to-rise to an early-to-bed-early-to-rise pattern by going to bed an hour earlier than usual and getting up nearly two hours earlier in the morning. The reason I'm doing this is our summer has already started with a heat-wave and I've found it WAY too hot in the evenings after work to go running. 

Now I'm awake at 5am and have an hour and a half of cool air to exercise in before the temperature starts to soar (that's the plan anyway, so far I have only managed to walk my dogs that early). But I've only had about 5 hours sleep each night as it takes me hours to fall asleep when I go to bed earlier, until the exhaustion kicks in that is. Last night was the first night I fell asleep within an hour so at least my body is figuring out what I'm doing. 

So with the end of the year in sight it's a natural time to reflect on the year that has past and look forward to the next year coming. Having said that, after a little reflection I need to bring myself back to the now, lest I lose myself in fantasies and nightmares. The calm that returns when I'm consciously in the present is fleeting, but with practice will become less so.

That is my plan for Christmas, to be present, as much as possible.
Have a Happy Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Allan Savory and The Kimberley Project

Mike and I would like to contact Australian Aboriginal cattle ranchers in the Kimberley region of Western Australia to see if anyone is interested in trying Allan Savory's method of cattle management. Do you know any? :-)

If you haven't heard of Allan Savory before, he has done a famous and controversial TED Talk on an alternative method of cattle farming, called holistic management. His method has three basic points:
  1. Put a herd of cattle in a small paddock (about a quarter of the size of the usual paddock OR four times the herd size in the usual paddock). This 'crowding' causes the animals to replicate herding behaviour; in nature, a group of animals will herd together tightly to protect themselves from predators. Cattle in Australia are not generally predated, but you can condense the animals together to replicate this natural phenomenon. 
  2. The herd are grazed over grassland in the paddock for a short period of time (up to a few days, depending on herd size and food available). Over that time the grasses are eaten and trampled and the ground is covered in urine and faeces. As soon as the paddock is eaten and 'fertilised' then the herd is moved on to the next paddock. 
  3. The grazed pasture has now been naturally turned and fertilised, and is left to re-grow the grassland. The herd rotation continues over an area large enough so that the first paddock is not revisited until the grass is at the optimum level to be grazed again.
This methodology has been tried and tested in various countries in Africa, in the U.S. and in Australia over the past 20 years, and there seems to be very good evidence that the land under this management scheme has healthier soil and plant life as well as increased biodiversity.

What I haven't been able to find is any detailed studies or research that proves that the benefits outweigh any deficits. Critics of Savory's method claim that increasing cattle stock does more damage than good by increasing methane gasses released by the herd and by causing ground compaction. I can imagine ground compaction being an issue where the soils have high levels of clay, but in the sandy soils of Western Australia this would not be an issue.

In fact, I think the sandy-soiled grasslands of the Kimberley region would be perfect for Allan Savory's holistic management, and that the aboriginal owners of the land are best placed to profit from these methods. Since the cattle need to be regularly moved over a large area of land then ideally a mob including men, women and children could move with the stock, keeping aboriginal cultural practices alive at the same time.

I would love to discuss this further with the aboriginal pastoralists of the Kimberley region but haven't found a direct way to contact them. I will keep trying and report back how I go.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Think Big and DO IT

Have you ever felt like the multiverse is trying to tell you something? This makes me understand why people believe in God: you hear/see/read something that resounds with you and then hear the same message again (and again sometimes) from different sources. 

This is happening to me right now. First I had a life-altering conversation with Norm, the owner of Sarinbuana Eco Lodge in Bali, and now one of my blogging idols Matt Frazier is telling me the same thing. So what are they saying?

Think Big and DO IT.

Lets start with Matt Frazier's blog post, "5 Easy Steps for Making your Unrealistic Goal a Reality". If you haven't read this then give it a try - especially if you have a big goal in mind.

Matt's 5 points so closely matched my own thoughts after our talk with Norm that it really felt like the universe/multiverse/God/whatever-you-believe-in was ramming its ideas home. The five points of Matt's blog are:

1. Think really big
2. Ask: Does action flow from it?
3. Give yourself time
4. Create massive accountability
5. Get to work

Norm was even more direct - points 1 and 5 summarise his attitude. I went into our conversation looking for insight into planning an eco-retreat and I came out with a fire lit under me. I was ready to change the world.

That's what was so inspiring about our conversation; Norm said, building an eco-retreat in Western Australia is fine, it's going to take you the rest of your lives and it'll be fine. But you can do MUCH more than that.

So that's the plan! To do MUCH more.

Stay tuned ...

Friday, November 8, 2013

It's Not about you: How being shy is egotistical

I've already briefly mentioned the Bali Eco Lodge we stayed in during our recent holiday, but I didn't tell you about the talk we had with one of the owners, Norm. The three-hour talk quite probably changed my life (only my actions following the talk with prove that or not) but one minor thing he said has affected my outlook greatly.

When he described getting up in front of a room full of people to discuss permaculture, my response was, "I could never do that, I'm shy". Norm simply replied, "It's not about you". He went on to explain how he had to go on national television once and was extremely nervous, he simply remembered no-one was watching to see him, they were only interested in what he had to say and so focused on that.

That's when I realised every time I have said "I'm shy" that's my ego speaking. What's worse is my ego had developed a victimised strategy of dealing with social situations, "it's hard for me because I'm shy" is really just an excuse for getting out of things.

This amazingly simple idea has already allowed me to say yes to a few things I wouldn't have considered before, because of my shyness. For starters I have booked a hair/ makeup/ photography session with a friend of mine so I can have some nice pictures while I have my Bettie Bangs in. 

The idea of that much attention is very uncomfortable for me, but then I remember - even getting my photograph taken is not about me! It's about the moment in time I'm looking to capture with a friend. The same can be said for doing things out of your comfort zone: why not sing that karaoke song? It's not about you, it's about having fun with friends.

Once you take your own ego out of the equation there is nothing to be afraid of! Are you shy? Then just remember, it's NOT about you. There is no I in shy. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Afternoon Delight

I don't think I'm the only person out there who is a bit over excited about the upcoming release of Anchorman 2. I was reminded recently how funny Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy was, so went back and watched it again, having forgotten a LOT of the hilariously stupid 'fight' scenes between the various news groups.

Just about every actor in Hollywood gets a cameo in the original so it will be very interesting to see who pops up in the long-awaited sequel. And since I blogged recently about Clueless it was great to see that Paul Rudd (from Clueless) was one of Ron Burgundy's side-kicks, AND he'll be back for the sequel. Apparently he's been a busy boy so I might have to check out some of the MANY other comedies he's been in - suggestions anyone?

So having watched Anchorman the other night I have been obsessively singing 'Afternoon Delight' ever since, a harmonised song from the seventies sung beautifully by the cast. If you haven't seen the movie then youtube the song, it's kitsch, funny and beautiful all at the same time.

Sky rockets in flight.... Pew!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Best Eco Lodge in Bali?

Mike and I have just returned from a fabulous week in Bali. We stayed at Sarinbuana Eco Lodge on Mount Batukaru and I can't recommend the place enough. The food was amazing - every single meal! The staff were friendly and spoke good English and we even got to meet with the owners about how they created their permaculture Eco Lodge.

If you or anyone you know is going to Bali and looking for an alternative experience away from the heat, noise and crowding of the beach scene then head to Sarinbuana Eco Lodge for a few days or more. We stayed for a whole week and that was the perfect length of time for us.

There's workshops you can do such as cooking classes or wood/stone carvings, but I just lazed for a week; I managed to read three books, have two massages and meditations over the week and that was enough activity for me!

I've returned to my life a more calm and peaceful version of myself, and just can't wipe the smile off my face. I am inspired to move forward with our plans for a working permaculture site with tourist accommodation here in WA, although finding somewhere in the tropics seems like a much easier way to get things off the ground! Hmmm, food for thought there...
Sunset from the Orchid Bungalow


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Was Jane Austen the first game theorist?

When my other half came home last week and said he wanted to watch the movie "Clueless", I wondered when the body snatchers had taken him and slowly backed out of the room.

As it turns out he hadn't been replaced by an alien, he had heard an interesting discussion on the radio, which suggested Jane Austen was the world's first game theorist. If you're not a Jane Austen fan, you'll be asking "What do Jane Austen and Clueless have in common anyway?". 

Apparently the 1995 movie starring Alicia Silverstone is actually a parody of Jane Austen's book 'Emma'. When I saw the movie nearly 20 years ago I didn't know this, as I haven't read any of Jane Austen's books - I've started a few but never finished any; period dramas are NOT my cup of tea.

However I was interested enough in the idea to give the high school rom-com Clueless another watch. As it turns out I was convinced! Jane Austen may well have been the worlds first game theorist... To over-simplify, game theory uses strategy to determine the probabilistic outcome of working in collusion and in conflict with other parties. Uh? To you and me it's about 'stacking the deck' in your favour, or planning a situation that puts you in a position more likely to win.

This is where Jane Austen comes in, she appears to be the first person to put in writing this type of thinking. Now think of some of the lines in Clueless (or if you haven't seen it since 1995, go on, it's not that bad). Here's one example, 

"Listen Tai, when we get there make sure Elton sees you, but don't say hi first. Look like you're having fun and you're really popular. Talk to someone in his eyeline, preferably a guy. Make him come to you, and find an excuse to leave while he's still into the conversation. The key is, always have him wanting more."

The movie is littered with dialogue like this, where the protagonist sets up specific scenarios that increase the chance of her 'winning' or getting her way. It would be considered childish if it weren't so bloody brilliant.

So what's your favourite line from the movie? Have I convinced you to go back for another look?
http://www.jasa.net.au/study/transformations.htm

Friday, October 4, 2013

If a boy is rude on a train, does anyone hear his pain?

The other day I was on the train when I witnessed a minor incident. There was a boy sitting next to me in school uniform - he looked about 14 years old. When a middle-aged lady got on the train and looked for a seat, she approached him and asked him to stand up for her, at which point he ignored her and sank further down into his chair.

A gentleman got up (who was getting off the train anyway) and offered the lady his seat. Then the lady joined in with two other people to loudly criticise the boy's behaviour. I had my headphones in so can't comment on what they were saying but they were making it obvious they were angry at him.

They do have a point. In Perth, students pay concession fares on public transport and are obliged to give up their seats for full paying customers. Beyond that, I think if anyone asked most of us to give up our seats we would do so; I know if someone asked me for my seat I would assume they needed it more than me - that's why they asked for it. 

So now there are two reasons why he 'should' have given up his seat, three if you include the social pressure exerted on him from the other people on the train, and yet, he didn't. Why?

Obviously I don't know the boy's situation but my mind went this way. I think if he'd been raised in an environment where he was taught to respect himself and to respect others then he would have gotten up immediately. So he's lacking love and respect for himself. When the women began to criticise him he didn't appear affected, he appeared used to it. I felt like their words were fermenting his own low opinion of himself rather than raising his awareness. I thought the boy needed a hug.

What do you think? Teenage terror or lost little boy? I'll probably never know but it's worth giving him the benefit of the doubt. Next time someone does something 'rude' contemplate the reasons behind that person's behaviour, this allows us to see past the action and find the compassion required to reach out and help.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Feeling blue? Pat your pet!

"The late Dr. Johannes Odendaal, research professor of the Life Sciences Research Institute in Pretoria, South Africa, conducted a study with dogs and humans in 2003 that indicated petting a dog released endorphins as well as other "feel good" chemicals in the brain, including dopamine, oxytocin, prolactin, and norepinehrine. Dr. Odendaal also said that the same physiological effects would result from petting a cat." http://pets.thenest.com/petting-cat-release-endorphins-10269.html

Further research has also shown that these chemicals are also released in the animal's brain, creating a calming cycle between the pet and the petter (that's you). I'm sure many animals WERE harmed in the research that brought us that little factoid, however, knowing that your dog or cat is also happy you're petting them makes petting them all the better. Better petting? Yes.

My dogs make me a happier healthier person in so many ways. When I get home they are thrilled to see me and always do their best to impress me with their good behaviour so that I acknowledge them (thanks for that tip Cesar Milan!)

Even though I'm tired and it's cold outside I need to get my dogs out for exercise so I rug up and go running around the park like a loon, after which I'm warmed up, happy and relaxed. What a great way to start every evening!

And now I know that a pet from me makes them as happy as it does me, it's just more reason to pet them. Cesar also taught me the importance of WHEN to pet your dog: exercise, discipline and affection - in that order, make for a well behaved, happy dog and owner.
My dogs, Winstan & Jess

Monday, September 23, 2013

Why are overly chipper people so annoying?

I was a bit grumpy during the weekend; a late night coupled with a frustrating family visit left me with the rage rising on Sunday. With a smile plastered on my face I struggled through the rest of the day only to be stopped in my tracks by an overly chipper salesman at a juice bar.

He bounced up to me with a ridiculously gleeful look on his face and began to spew one inane comment after another about what a wonderful day it was (it was pouring with rain) and how he would be the happiest man on the planet to serve me a selection of juice. Sigh.

In any other mood his over-the-top service MAY have made me smile, however he was lucky I only glared at him silently (instead of leaning over the counter and squeezing his neck until his head popped off his shoulders with a comical plop sound, as I was imagining).

All afternoon I had managed to smile and nod and make my way through the generic conversations of the day without hinting to anyone how I felt underneath, but suddenly this in-your-face positivity was a hurdle I could not leap. 

So, why ARE overly chipper people so annoying? What is it about someone being SO happy that makes me want to kill them?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Extreme Day Dreaming

More than usual lately I've found myself 'zoning out' for extended periods of time day-dreaming. And the phrase day-dreaming doesn't even cover it... that makes it sound like I'm picturing fluffy white clouds and birds on my shoulder...

I think EXTREME day-dreaming is a bit closer to the truth, it gives you the idea that this is the bigger bolder brother of day-dreaming (who has a dark side).

You see most of these extreme day-dreams (let's call them X-dreams) revolve around me venting at people. Usually shouting, maybe being witty or cruel but sometimes my X-dreams escalate to brutality and I dream about hitting out too.

I'm not overly concerned about this; I've known for many years I have anger issues and I meditate regularly to keep myself calm and on an even keel. So I'm not worried that I'm going to act out one of my X-dreams... I just wonder... is this normal? Does anyone else do this?

I know I can interrupt the X-dream and focus my mind on the present moment to let it go, but I think it's happening more and more lately because I'm finding them useful as a mental vent.

For those unaware my father has bone marrow cancer (myeloma) and I guess none of the family are coping brilliantly. I certainly have felt a LOT more frustration and anger well up inside as I'm dealing with the various details of the disease and it's treatment, so maybe the X-dreams are just my mind's way of releasing those emotions.

Anyway if anyone out there has experienced anything similar, or just wants to let me know that I'm dangerous and should probably have myself committed... then let me know. All feedback is appreciated. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Samsara: The Movie

For anyone out there who hasn't seen Samsara yet, just do. Go watch it. What a great movie! For those who don't know what I'm talking about Samsara is a movie released in 2011 that shows images filmed around the world to a soundtrack. Sounds pretty boring right? Wrong.

I loved this movie. So much so I watched it again recently (which I rarely do with any 'documentary'). It's interesting because with no dialogue or voice-over, no point of view is offered. So YOU are the one who decides what the movie is about.

Obvious scene juxtapositions are offered to the viewer in the forms of birth versus death, the individual and the masses and man-made versus natural creations among others, but no political viewpoints are stated. This is why I find it so intriguing when people describe this movie as "politically charged" or similar.

There are particular scenes in the movie that I find more difficult to watch due to my own political leanings: the chicken tractor (I'm vegetarian and I find images of factory farming difficult to watch) and the women in prison watching the men dance are two such examples. The latter example riles my feminist core because I wish the women were allowed out there to dance too.

However these examples show that it is MY experience, MY life history that makes particular scenes in the movie 'political' - the movie doesn't make them political I do.

So go and watch Samsara. Not only will you watch a beautiful movie and listen to a gorgeous soundtrack, you might just learn a bit about yourself too!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Bettie Bangs are in!

Well I did it. I finally found someone I trusted enough to cut my Bettie Page fringe in Perth. After what seems like months of searching I found a great salon called Identified Hair in Kensington with an amazing hairdresser who has cut Bettie Bangs before!

I knew I was in safe hands when she had another client (before me) stand up and she cut her fringe free-hand. She did the same to me. I've never had a hairdresser stand me up so she can cut my hair free-hand around me. It was liberating!

Last night after my shower I blow dried my fringe straight down (as directed) and let the rest of my hair air dry. This morning when I got ready for work all I had to do was use my new mini-straighteners to give my fringe a slight curl at the ends and a light spritz of hairspray to keep everything in place.

Here is a quick self portrait I took to show you my first Bettie Bang styling attempt - not bad even if I do say so myself. And without makeup! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

#restyle2013 Photo-A-Day Op-Shop Challenge fail

Well it is August 30th and I have run out of time to finish the Perth Fashion Festival Restyle Challenge. I found many clothes in time for the challenge, but not all.

I will lay down my excuses now: downed by the flu, training for the City to Surf and now Mike has the flu! So I've been flat out every weekend and have not been able to complete the challenge.

Sadly you'll never see the pictures of me in the neon cocktail dress I bought at the local op-shop for $4. At least you'll sleep better without that horror picture having crossed your eyes :-)

Possibly Perth Fashion Festival will do something similar next year? At which point I'll give it another go.. Oh well, goodbye August, hello Spring!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

#restyle2013

I've been stumped over the theme for #restyle2013 13th August: 'Tying the knot' for a while now. It's easy to walk into an op-shop anywhere and find an old wedding dress, some nice and some not. Either way, I won't be buying one, or anything vaguely bridesmaidsy either.

Having contemplated buying ANYTHING with a knot (macrame anyone?) today I walked into the Salvos store on Barrack Street in Perth City and what do I find? A beautiful bridal display, so I surreptitiously took some photos to show the kind of fab items you can find when walking in just about any op-shop around.

Tying the knot
Just about all accessories on open display are under $5

Leather and other belts
 
Cufflinks

These are only the black shoes - there were racks and racks of shoes!
So although it can be overwhelming when walking into a large op-shop it's best to break down the store into sections... and sections into racks, so you can peruse the items in a relaxed manner. Go! Shop! Enjoy!


Friday, August 16, 2013

#restyle2013

Today's post will cover August 10th, 11th and 12th of the #restyle2013 Photo a Day Op-Shop Challenge. If the challenge was to take a photo every day I've already failed(!) however I'll continue uploading my photos as I get organised enough to take them (cue first self-portrait taken in a rush last night!)

August 10th was for blazers: I so rarely wear a blazer that I had to dig deep into my spare wardrobe to find this ol' chestnut. Considering it has been over a year since I last wore it, the blazer has gone straight to the top of my 'outfit to donate back' pile; as usual I bought it too long ago to remember which op-shop I bought it from or how much I paid for it.

August 11th was for colour blocking which is another look I don't do a lot of. I've realised through this challenge that I am addicted to pattern and print, whether it's a wild polka dot or a subtle paisley, I'll always choose a patterned piece over a plain one. This DOES make for difficult mix and matching so I sometimes have to go op-shopping for 'single colour tops' or neutrals that will increase the amount of times I can wear my patterned pieces.

The photo on the left is my attempted self-portrait and shows me wearing an op-shopped skirt with a blouse from basque. Originally this skirt had a drawstring tie at the waist but since I like to wear close fitting tops I didn't like the belly bulges it gave me. I removed the drawstring and slipped a line of elastic through the waist band instead; then hand-stitched the elastic together and the slits closed. With a top worn out instead of tucked-in the hand-stitching is invisible.

Lastly I've already shown you my floral dress which I customised to make the bodice fit better and this dress represents August 12th: florals. This time last year I can honestly say I did not own ANY floral dresses (and hardly any floral patterned pieces at all). To me, floral equalled grandma, and yet, I had an awakening, a realisation that floral could be so much more.

Where? Why? At last year's Restyle on the Runway show! I LOVE vintage fashion and what I saw was a myriad of floral dresses, worn with heels and cute little cardigans and I fell in love. THIS is what had been missing from my wardrobe! So out I went with abandon to find all the cute floral dresses I could.

And now, one year on, I've embraced a new pattern and learned more about myself on the way.
Thanks Restyle! x





Feedback patterns: order from chaos leaves no room for free will

Last night Mike and I watched a good documentary called The Secret Life of Chaos which described how natural patterns occur (like leopard skin) seemingly spontaneously when cells in a system are able to feedback information to each other. (It'll make more sense when you see the documentary).

The amazing thing is the cell in a system can be represented in a much larger way: a bird in a flock, a horse in a herd, even a star in a galaxy. The natural pattern (the order) forms in a completely unpredictable manner each time (the chaos) and this is true for all humans too. We are just a playing out of the natural pattern from chaos.

Every cell in our body is a part of the pattern and each individual human (me, you) are all part of the pattern of humanity. It looks more and more likely that when the initial conditions of the universe were set in motion, the evolution of life and our species was just one outcome among trillions of possible outcomes.

If we are merely cells forming patterns via a feedback loop, I guess the big question is, who are we feeding our information back to? The collective human species? Something else? Maybe Bill Hicks was right all those years ago and "we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively".

Whatever the case, it is more evidence that we have no free will, after all, our cells are just self-organising themselves, so isn't it the same for our thoughts? Our choices?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A new project!

Over the weekend Mike and I pulled the HUGE chair out of our garage that we liberated from a front verge a few years ago. We've been keeping the chair for years because the style is so beautiful and unusual, we knew it would make a spectacular piece of furniture, once restored.

I only realised what a big project this will be after completing my upholstery course recently and looking at the chair again over the weekend. Here is one 'before' picture although it doesn't show the split in the wood on one arm that will need to be repaired ASAP. 

It took me nearly an hour just to pull out the staples holding the row of velvet shown on the top back rung - I wonder how many months the project will take in total?! I'll keep you updated as I go.

Since I'm still catching up on my #restyle2013 posts here are my pics for 8th and 9th August: a scarf and bag. I have bought MANY scarves and even more bags from op-shops over the years but here are two that I use very regularly. 
The scarf is a fab 70s print and is made from polyester; the bag is a Fiorelli purse that reminds me of a miniature bowling bag. I've owned both items for too long to remember how much I paid for them but I can guarantee it was well under $10 for each.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

#restyle2013 catchup

wow I have fallen behind. But the good news is I have lots of photos to show you just how good op-shopping can be!

The Perth Fashion Festival has released its programme dates and I can't wait to attend the Restyle on the Runway show again this year. The Op-Shop Challenge for August 6th was accessorise and since they already have separate days for belts, shoes and bags I decided to buy a beautiful little brooch from The Salvos in Morley (cost: $7). 

August 7th called for customised items; clothes that may not be 100% perfect but are able to be updated to suit your wardrobe.
I've already shown you my customised pink trousers which were originally flared when I bought them. After a few years of less and less wear I have now taken in the legs to make them straighter.

Another (and far easier) example of customising an item that you like but doesn't fit perfectly is the floral dress shown here. I loved the blue/teal floral pattern on this white dress but the fit was made for someone far bustier than myself. After playing around with the gaping bodice a few times I realised that a quick and easy way to take in the excess fabric would be to hand stitch in an extra pleat. All this required was a couple of stitches which changed the neckline from v-neck to sweetheart; removing the gape at the same time.

Here's a closeup of the stitches.

I'll be back with more op-shopped goodies tomorrow!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Downed by the flu

I've been 'offline' for a few days, both literally and metaphorically as I've been laid up by the flu for three days straight. Now I'm back in the land of the living I'll have to slowly get back on track with my #restyle2013 pics since I'm quickly falling behind...

The 4th of August called for 'mixed prints' which is a look I love although it can be tricky to pull off (unless you wear everything with confidence - then clash away!) Once again I already had a dress in the cupboard that was op-shopped years ago that I specifically bought because it had two mixed prints in the one dress.

The sea-green colour is gorgeous and the overlay is slightly see-through (as you can see at the knees).

Sorry I don't remember where I bought it from or how much I paid (for either item shown); the second item described is for the 5th of August the theme of which was 'sequins'. 

I've already shown you my completely over-the-top sequinned butterfly top so here is a much more sedate sequinned top: this black t-shirt uses chain-links to give a sequin-effect and is comfortable as well as easily dressed up or down.

Layering it under a cute jacket with tight jeans and heels lifts this shirt beyond the ordinary tee.




Monday, August 5, 2013

Saying no to shampoo - can I do this while working?

Recently I've been reading quite a few articles and blogs about people who have given up shampooing and I'm keen to give it a try. Why? The usual reasons are health and reduced consumption (of plastics, petro-chemicals etc.) and frugality since we spend thousands of dollars every year on similar products that we only need to use because we already use them (i.e. give up your hair's dependence on shampoo and you won't need to buy it ever again).

I'm sold on all these reasons and have one of my own to add: I don't have ANY local stores that sell shampoo (or any other hair care products) that are vegan and not tested on animals. So I currently buy these products online and have them shipped to Perth - the postage means more fuel is used to ship, drive or fly my product to me. It seems I either have to hate the planet or the little bunnies enough to have them tortured, in order to buy shampoo in the Perth eastern suburbs?!

NOT needing to shampoo is the perfect option for me and I've read on a few links such as these below, that there can be about a month period of greasy hair as your scalp re-balances to it's normal level of oil production. The problem is I work on reception and NEED to look nice every day - how am I supposed to get away with a MONTH of greasy hair?! Eek!

http://www.crunchybetty.com/3-weeks-with-no-shampoo-and
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Go-No-Poo/

I think I need to think this through for a little longer before I take the dive...

On a separate note I need to take some more photos of my outfits for the #Restyle2013 Challenge - I was away over the weekend and have fallen behind.

The style required for 3rd of August was 'white shirt' and once again I already owned a white op-shopped shirt, so I don't remember where I bought it or how much it cost. I don't work in a corporate environment so I don't need any button-down collared white shirts, this one is a bat-wing white T-shirt with a sequinned butterfly on the front - so '80s!

My boyfriend just about died of shame when I bought this home and I've only had a couple of occasions to wear it out (usually for brunch with friends or something similar where I don't mind dressing quite flamboyantly) so it's going on the 'maybe' pile for something to donate back at the end of August.

Friday, August 2, 2013

#Restyle2013 Op-Shop Challenge Day 2

The Op-Shop theme for 2nd of August is polka-dots. I LOVE polka dots and have a myriad of clothes featuring them including a pair of spotty trousers which make me so happy I have to sing a 'spotty trousers' song when I wear them.

For this challenge I wore one of my favourite ever op-shopped items of clothing: a swallow and polka dot print dress. The dress originally came with a matching fabric belt but I never wore it so eventually cut it up to make a headband (of sorts). Here is me in the dress and a close up of the pattern; the dress has a ruffle detail down the centre front and a soft fabric collar.

This is another item I've had in my wardrobe so long, I'm not sure where I bought it from or how much it cost me. The print is just SO much my personality, if I'm wearing it casually I'll go out dressed as shown here but I have also 'dressed up' this dress with some high heels, flash jewellery and a black belt.
 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Restyle Photo-A-Day OpShop Challenge Begins!

Not only did I have an awesome excuse to go op-shopping over the weekend, as usual, I found some amazing pieces and had a blast at the same time.

Now it is the first of August and I get to show off the first of my opportunity-shopped wardrobe. I've been an avid op-shopper for years, so many of the pieces you'll see here I've had for months or years, so I don't remember how much they cost me. However any of the items I've bought for #restyle2013 I'll tell you how much they cost and where I bought them.

Let's begin! The first of August calls for pink - not a colour I wear a lot of and not usually something I steer towards in an op-shop. So I was surprised to find I already owned a pair of pink op-shopped trousers. I bought these trousers years ago and the lining is nearly thread-bare. They are a deep pink and white woollen tweed fabric and were originally flared.

Now that slim fitting trousers are in fashion and I wasn't getting much wear from these pants I decided to take in the fit. This was my first ever attempt at taking in trousers (that's the great thing about op-shopped clothes, if you ruin them then it's not the end of the world). On the first attempt the crotch looked REALLY weird so after some unpicking and another go I am happy with how these pink op-shopped trousers turned out!

To start #restyle2013 with a bang I've taken a picture of me in top-to-toe op-shopped clothes including a close-up of the pink trousers described.

The worst part of this experience so far was making my boyfriend take pictures of me! That is why the second photo here is a self portrait taken in front of my bathroom mirror. How does everyone else take such professional looking photos?


Friday, July 26, 2013

Lightening the mental load

This morning I started getting stressed; I was mentally listing all the things I wanted to accomplish this weekend: meditate, practice pre-race meals, go for a long run, catchup with friends, go to The Paddock, go food shopping, go clothes shopping, make calls, visit Dad, watch football, clean the house, do laundry etc. etc. 

When I tried to go out at lunch time to get two types of shopping done (as well as eat) I knew I was pushing the boundaries of manicness and decided to stop. I looked at my long to-do list for the weekend and decided to focus on a couple of priorities:

1. Go to The Paddock - it's been three weeks and I need to know if any of the plants are still alive.
2. Catchup with friends - a couple of friends have just moved back to Perth after a couple of years in England. I don't want to cut short our catchup to go shopping or running or anything else.

Everything else can wait. I won't starve to death without more groceries, I don't NEED that new shirt this weekend and if I don't manage to meditate or go running for one week it's not the end of the world.

I'm sure I'll manage to fit in a few more things but by focusing on my priorities I can relax and enjoy the things I do have to do, without worrying about all the things I don't.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Stop and smell the ratties

Its been a beautiful winters day here - the sun is shining and it was warm standing in the sunlight at lunch time. I went and stood in the garden for a while to top up my vitamin D and to stretch my legs. As I was standing there thinking about the things I had to do this afternoon and this weekend I saw a rat move inside the hedge less than a metre away.

The movement immediately brought me out of my reverie and into the present moment. Now I could SEE the hedge in front of me, the tiny white flowers on display, as well as the tiny nose and whiskers of the aforementioned rat. I'm quite fond of rats; I've had five pet rats over my life and know they are beguiling and intelligent little creatures. 

Even the slight movement of my body as I started (when I noticed the rat) was enough to keep it hidden for a few minutes; as it relaxed it ventured out in front of me again and I stood still as a statue watching it for as long as I could. I want to thank that little rat for those minutes of meditation while it brought my attention to the present.

We share this world with so many beings we attach the label 'ewww' to; but they can give us so much if we allow them to share our lives. Here is an old picture of me and my rat fiddy (yes, he's eating a corn chip).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Restyle on the Runway: Photo-a-day Op Shop Challenge

I am WAY too excited. I just found out that this year the Perth Fashion Festival is holding a Restyle on the Runway challenge - talk about up my alley!

To fill you in, each year the Perth Fashion Festival holds a 'Restyle on the Runway' event which showcases clothing found in second-hand stores (called opportunity shops or Op-Shops in Australia). This year several bloggers are each representing a charity op-shop; they select clothes from their op-shops to wear in a runway show - about half a dozen complete outfits each.

This year they are adding a dimension to the event by creating a photo-a-day op-shop challenge. See the list below; I'm going to try to find something that represents each day at my local op-shops and then photograph the item (possibly with me wearing it).

I love to shop at second hand clothes stores, and if they happen to be charity shops (which most do) then it's even better. I can get a few new items of clothing for under $10 each and by buying second hand I'm reducing land fill (by wearing clothes that would otherwise be thrown out) and reducing pesticide use and my carbon footprint!

The carbon footprint of new clothes is insanely high, as is the pesticide use on all non-organic cotton. Once the cotton is picked it is shipped before making fabric then it is shipped again to make clothes which (you guessed it) are shipped again around the world. That $4 tee has probably seen more of the world than you have, and if YOU aren't paying the price for all that shipping, who is? The environment for one!

Who wants to join me to have the best excuse to go op-shopping ever?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The running in winter blues

I have a friend who loves running in winter - he says it's better because it's not so hot outside when you run, well duh! It may be nice and cool in winter but it's also dark, wet, windy and a lot scarier as a lone woman running (in the dark).

Today I'm due to go for a short run after work but I'm looking out the window at black clouds and a setting sun and I won't be home for over an hour yet. It's definitely harder for me to keep up my motivation in winter and I'm contemplating hiring a treadmill for next winter so I can run at home and keep warm, dry and safe while training.

I'd like to hear how other people keep up their motivation during winter or what they use to feel safer in the dark (reflective clothing? flashing lights? pepper spray?)

Let me know your thoughts...

Monday, July 22, 2013

How important is routine for a productive life?

I think the answer to this one might be subjective, but I'm interested in how people manage their time in a day-to-day manner. I'm not sure if most people would like to accomplish more each day but I certainly would. To be honest I completely begrudge every minute spent at work because it could be time spent doing things I like, and selling my time to pay the bills seems like a pretty wasteful thing to do with my life (but that's another post entirely!)

The thing is, I used to be a shift worker which came with a lot of negatives like not seeing friends or visiting The Paddock regularly. I tended to work short shifts though: about 6 hours usually from very early in the morning or from after lunch through to evening which always left me with half a day to do my own thing.

Now I'm working full time hours I get half as much done at home - I'm too tired to get stuck into anything tricky like sewing after the 10-hour round trip to work and back. The dogs are lucky to get a trip to the park in the dark! So that leaves my weekends which I tend to fill with socialisation with friends and family, trips to The Paddock or Rest & Relaxation if I haven't had any for a while. I miss my half-day time slots to sew something or otherwise set time aside for a task.

I kept thinking once I had settled into a new routine at work I would get back to making things but that all seems to have ground to a halt. How do other people manage to do the things they want AND have a job, be a parent etc.? Do you make routine work for you?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Looking for help on how to talk to my father about death

I'm looking for help on how to talk to my father about death: has anyone else had to broach a difficult subject with a loved one? My Dad was diagnosed with myeloma in January and has been in denial ever since. I would like to be able to talk to him about what he thinks happens after death - it's a subject that has never been discussed in our family. 

What I want to say is, "Dad, what do you think happens when we die?" but I have fear of upsetting him because he will get emotional in front of me which he does not like. My parents were born in the 1930s which is only relevant because they were each brought up in families which did not discuss difficult or emotional issues. My mum still believes the best way to deal with difficult situations (like my fathers illness) is to smile and not make a fuss.

That is her way of dealing with it and I haven't pushed things, thinking at some point we'll have to talk about the development of the disease and prepare for the future, but any attempts to discuss the subject are met with flat denial. My dad says "I'm not dying, that's not what the doctor said", despite the fact that he has a terminal cancer. The cancer WILL kill him unless something else does first, isn't that the definition of dying?

Of course in that regard we're all dying. I'm aware that I will die and I've done contemplation meditation to walk myself through it, I think it's natural to prepare for your death as you would a birth or marriage; I'm concerned that this inability to talk or think about death will make my father's death a frightening experience for him. I'd love to be able to help him to a place of calm before or during his death, but if we can't even talk about it how can it happen...???

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Upholstery Course Result: view my amazing bench!

On Saturday I finished my Upholstery Course at the Perth Wood School and am thrilled with the result. The course took an extra week (five Saturday afternoons instead of four) to complete, however the time spent learning the details was definitely worth it.

The toolkit we used to make the benches were for sale so I bought mine (for $320AU). This included:

  • an apron or 'pinny' made from leather which holds the tack hammer, scissors and staple removers
  • tool basket for needles, loose tacks, staples etc.
  • tack hammer
  • scissors
  • staple remover
  • pincers
  • regulator
  • buttoning needle
  • hand-made web stretcher
  • the pneumatic staple gun
Thus, the first purchase as an upholsterer has been made. I've already started listing the materials I will need to source, cost and purchase to cover my next project: a huge armchair.

I think it is important to start on that project in less than two weeks so I don't lose the momentum of the course. Randa has been kind enough to give us her email address so we can stay in touch, which I imagine will come in handy when I need help.

I'm still contemplating starting a home business doing the furniture upholstery at weekends; most nice fabric stores in Perth only sell wholesale so I would need to in order to buy the nicer fabrics available. In the meantime I'll stick with lower-end fabric and online stores until I can test the market.

Here is my finished bench! (Randa did the corner folds for me).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Control yourself - you can't control anyone else

This morning I was pretty angry. The trains aren't running so Mike was driving me to work and he'd been really grumpy all morning. As he dropped me off he said "I need a holiday. I have a deadline next Wednesday so I'm probably going to take Thursday and Friday off. Bye." and drove off.

As I walked in to work I was absolutely fuming. He's given me no time to ask for the days off so I guess he'll be enjoying a long weekend at home without me. I was having angry imaginary conversations with him about why he didn't ask me to join him, or give me more notice, or be less grumpy etc etc.

Then I remembered, I can't control Mike. I can't make him be charming 100% of the time, or 80% or 50%, he's his own person. All I have control over is myself. I can choose to be angry at Mike and fume about it, or I can choose NOT to be angry and get on with my day; so I chose the latter.

Once you step back from the tumult of the emotion the clear air gives you the space for compassion. I realised Mike was being grumpy because he was under a lot of stress and not coping well; he needed my support not my anger. He mentioned his planned time off as he was leaving because he'd just thought of it - there was no malicious plan to have a holiday without me. Anyway why not? 

Having time to yourself when you're not at work and not with your partner is important. I want more time like this so I certainly won't begrudge Mike some. So with the awareness of having control over yourself and NOT having control over others I turned anger into compassion, and when I see Mike tonight I'm not going to shout at him, I'm going to look after him instead.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Slightly Obsessed with The Last of Us

I've just reached Winter, the third act in The Last of Us ps3 game and all I can think about is going home and playing some more. Of course I wouldn't have even reached this level if I hadn't been playing with Mike - he can go into a room full of infected over and over again, while I'm left shaking after each encounter (literally shaking too much to keep hold of the controller).

It's the same reason I love (but am useless at) zombie games - they simply terrify me too much. I have nightmares about zombies regularly enough, so when I watch The Walking Dead or play zombie games it affects me even more. So why do it? I can't help myself! 

I used to watch scary movies because I loved that edge-of-your-seat feeling; I don't watch many scary movies any more but I still love that thrill of (safe) terror. So while my body is present at work, my mind is traversing the infected landscapes in The Last of Us. Oops. Time to live in the present!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Best weekend To-Do List review result

Last week I copied a handful of my weekend to-do list tasks over from Astrid to three new to-do list apps: Google to-do list, Asana and ToDoist to see which worked best for me. 

In fairness I wasn't able to setup reminders for ToDoist without a premium account, which I would have considered paying for if no other apps gave me the same functionality for free, but they do. So I won't.

Google's to-do list is just too simple and boring for me - you can set dates that tasks are due on, but no time of day and no reminders. I guess Google expect you to put your tasks into your calendar for this kind of functionality, but I like to have calendar appointments and tasks as two separate lists with dates, times and reminders for both.

That leaves Asana to do lists; I was able to easily synch my Asana to-do list with my Google calendar so all my reminders went off successfully. It seems to be an app for team to-do lists rather than for one person but it is relatively user friendly, although I named my team 'Freedom Tasks' without realising the program would add the word Tasks to the header, so now my page is titled "Freedom Tasks Tasks" and I can't find any way to edit this.

As well as having multiple reminders going off from different apps, Mike was also synching our iCal to Google calendar so we had an entertaining few hours on Sunday where every thing in the house seemed to bleep as all our usual and extra reminders went off every 15 minutes or so.

Although Asana won the best-of-three to-do list test this weekend I'm not 100% convinced it's the new app for me. Astrid is still better - she tweets like a bird when I have something to do, gives me cheeky encouragement to get off my buttocks and do the task as well as congratulations (and a feeling of fulfillment) when I check that box to show it's completed.

Wow I just realised I enjoy a LOT of encouragement to accomplish my tasks! Well that gives me a sense of direction to look in before I review any more task lists. I don't know when Astrid is going to stop working so I can't leave it too long...