Medici Effect for Creativity

Just yesterday, my teenage daughter and I were running some errands in our local shopping centre.
I had to pop into the National Geographic shop, and she was delighted to show Ned and I, the big dinosaur head that roars.
A few minutes later, we walked by a donut shop and she asked me if she could have one.
I deferred, telling her about the lack of nutritional value and rubbish in donuts.
Finally, as if to convince her, I said;
“You’ll get fat if you eat dinosaurs” !!
Oops!  I meant to say ‘donuts’!  Hilarious!
We laughed and laughed!!
But it got me thinking about how our brains and our creativity and how the two things join to create whole new imaginative fun!
What a great example of how our brain takes a whole lot of puzzle pieces and puts them back together in some random order.  I love it!
And it all goes on just below our consciousness….
Imagine the potential we have when we delve into the worlds of art, music, song, drama, live performance, opera, colour, sound, and friendly conversation….when our brains can take two or more elements from these sources of inspiration, and mix them into a creative mash.
We human beings are pretty amazing creatures, don’t you think   : )
I’m so happy to be one.  Aren’t you?

Quotes to inspire self discipline and taking action in your life

I’m always inspired by quotes. I’m a quote junkie, especially for quotes related to parenting, goal setting and a meaningful life.  Here are some of my current favourites:

Our bodies are our gardens. Our wills are our gardeners     
William Shakespeare

 The desire for gold is not for gold. It is for the means of freedom and benefit.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is well to be up before daybreak for such habits contribute to health, wealth and wisdom
It is not length of life, but depth of life.
RW Emerson
Judge each day not by the harvest,
but by the seeds you plant.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions.
All life is an experiment.
The more experiments you make, the better you do.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, 
can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.
Galileo Galilei
What is your favourite quote of the moment?

Julia Donaldson, author of “The Snail and the Whale” book

My son is loving this book “The Snail and the Whale” from our local library.
Julia Donaldson is also the author of the “Gruffalo”.  I must have my head under a rock sometimes as I have never read that book or seen the telemovie, but I am loving this one of hers, ‘The Snail and the Whale’, as much as Ned.
It kind of sums up my life at the moment.
A kind of in-between place, not knowing what I’ll be doing or where I’m going to be in a year’s time-
it is really all up to the ‘Fates’.
But I have itchy feet.
And a desire to live a BIG LIFE, the only one I have, not stuck on an acreage property out of town, but sucking the marrow from life through community, through conversation, through learning and new experiences.
The sea snail says
The sea snail slithered all over the rock
and gazed at the sea, and the ships in the dock
And as she gazed, she sniffed and sighed
“The sea is deep and the world is wide!
How I long to sail”, said the tiny snail. 

There are other snails in the flock
Who all stuck tight to the smooth black rock
And said to the snail with the itchy foot,
“Be Quiet. Don’t wiggle. Stay still. Stay put”

But the tiny sea snail sniffed and sighed,
Then cried, “I’ve got it. I’ll hitch a ride”

Last night, I realised that, even though I have moved on from my ‘teaching’ job, I am still essentially living the same life as 4 years, or even 10 years ago.  Different child, same life.
It is not yet the life I imagined, nor the life I dreamed of, and does not even touch where I hoped to be, travelling and exploring and adventuring all around the world (and writing about it!),
even though I love being a mama bear more than anything in the world.
(And am tremendously grateful for both opportunities)
My desire for adventurous travel has been with me ever since I was 15 on a student trip to Japan (oh, my sweet Japan), and was realised at 18 when I left to travel overseas by myself, but since having my oldest, I’ve been pretty much grounded with the exception of a one-year-long kombi van jaunt around Australia and a few trips to visit the inlaws in NZ.
Oh, world, how I miss you!!!!!!!!
And I began to question:
When we put ourselves (and our creative dreams) to one side, for the sake of stability for our children, to keep our families or husbands happy, for a school, or a job, or a ageing parent, or whatever our requirement may be, will we one day rise up and ROAR…. enough!?
It seems to be a common theme in my extended circle at the moment.
(Midlife crisis?, I wondered, but there are women of all ages lumped in this group)
I know that living an artistic life, without regular feedback such as a weekly pay, work performance reviews or feedback from colleagues, can also poke the fire that brews inside.
So, I ask you, when winds of change come breezing your way and you long to catch a lift on the rise, what do you do to sail gracefully through??
How do you find a happy medium between life-as-we-know-it, life-as-it-needs-to-be-for-the-sake-of others and life-as-it-could-possibly-be???

Dr Oz One Day Diet Challenge

9 days ago, I stopped eating sugar.
All sugar.
No chocolate, no cakes, no biscuits, no ice cream, no yogurt, no lollies, not even honey or maple syrup.
Nil, nada, nought, nothing. Zip. Diddly-squat.
It’s not an easy task as not only is sugar in the fun stuff, (and my favourite recipes to collect- I have folders full!!!)
it’s also in most everyday foods, even the organic stuff.
So it is pretty much back to basics- full fat versions of cheese, meat, dairy, vegetables and a little bit of fruit (the fibre in whole fruit helps to digest the frustose).
Whilst I’m hoping one plus will be a few pesky kilos disappearing,removing sugar is more about long-term health and vitality (and diabetes prevention).  I’ve done it before, (7 YEARS of NO chocolate at all!!!! Sad but true ) but let sugar creep back in and cravings returned with a vengeance when I broke the chocolate drought in 2010!
But you know what has been my breakthrough in getting over the cravings…
The idea of a ‘One Day Diet’.
I read the article “Dr Oz One Day Diet” by Dr Mehmet Oz in a recent Good Housekeeping and it is full of good tips.
But it is more the IDEA of a one day  diet that I like!

Anyone can do anything for ONE DAY.
(or sometime during that ‘one day’).

Whether that is to eat well, stop worrying, exercise, practice being more loving to our children, speak only kind and positive words, refrain from gossip,  massage your husband’s back, or ring your mum, if we can think of it as a renewable task with an element of choice in a conservative time-frame, somehow it seems much much easier, don’t you think??

I can easily overcome my cravings for sugar if it is just for one day.  No worries.

This One-Day habit can become a principle to also inspire our creative practice.
We can all make a commitment to do something, one little creative thing, today.
And the days add up.

Even if we only spend 5 minutes each day, our long held dream of a ‘beloved t-shirt and fave fabric scrap’ quilt will soon be accomplished, and sitting pretty on our bed!
A page a day of our scrapbook and the family album will be done.
Reading one article or writing 500 words for our graphic design course, or 20 sentences of our screenplay, or 3 pages of our novel-
yep, can do it today for sure.

Some of you may remember that I have ‘Carpe Diem’ tattooed on my foot.
‘Seize the Day’.   It is there to remind me, (and I need reminding often!).
Won’t you join me?

Yep, today we can seize the day, and we will!

by the famous Indian dramatist, Kalidasa.

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities# and realities of your existence

*The bliss of growth
*The glory of action
*The splendour of achievement

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision
But today well lived makes yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation to the dawn. 

#verities= truths, principles

Today, do something unexpected.

Love this reminder.
Thank you, Allsorts Pininterest. 

Discover your creative neighbours in your locality

We live in a little pocket of acreage, hidden in the hills of the hinterland, down a zigzag windy road.
It is a little off the beaten track.
But, near the beginning of our road, there is a monster-sized farm.
The farmer in his 70’s has cared for this land, running large heads of cattle, since he was young and the farm itself has been in their family for decades.
But farming doesn’t really pay much anymore so he has found a creative way to meet his bills.
He leases sections of the farm to Hollywood.
Well, Hollywood productions anyhow!
(This one, Terra Nova, is Steven Spielburg and Tom Hanks-produced and all the valley neighbours are relying on Oscar the Farmer’s titbits for updates on a potential visit from them. The lead actor is the guy who played the villain head of the military squadron in James Cameron’s Avatar and it is something about stepping back into time. Dinosaurs are involved, so I’ve heard!)
For over a year now, we’ve been watching the comings and goings of a new set being built and although there was a little filming action going on last year, it soon stopped due to a writer’s strike in LA.
But things have changed, and this week, the cast and crew are back in full force.
As I came home late tonight, a night shoot is in full swing.
The entire valley is lit up with mammoth lights on cherry pickers, the food canteen is booming, the carpark is full, and there is activity all around.
To think that a Hollywood production is being filmed just a kilometre away from my house just excites every creative morsel in my body.
Creativity happens (and is happening) where you least expect it!
I’ve just finished reading Sark’s new book, Glad No Matter What, and she spoke of finding out about the “veiled creativity” that goes on behind the closed doors of our nearest and dearest, and next door neighbours too.  One of her neighbours is the dress designer for Barbie!  Yet, it was only by chance and a surprise invitation that she found out- even though they had been neighbourly friends for years.
Do you know what your neighbours are up to??
Let’s rephrase that!
Do you know what creative talents lie beyond the everyday personalities of Mr and Mrs Clever next door??   Dig deep.  Ask questions. Be interested.
And I’m sure they’ll share a little about their hobby or pursuits with you.
One of mine is a furniture restorer and mad-keen treasure hunter!  She finds all kinds of treasures in the weirdest of places and homes, and always has a story to tell about her finds.  I love to hear about her treasure hunting discoveries.  A big bonus is she often finds things for Ned and I too!
Right now, she is on the lookout for a freestanding keyboard for me to practice upon as I start piano lessons on Monday!!  I’m sure there will be one in my house next week!
Another one is a horticulturalist by trade but a secret squirrel dressmaker designing and sewing up retro-inspired dresses and skirts from the dowry box of antique 50’s and 60’s fabric she has been storing for years.   To see her in her poo brown garden gear, you’d never know!
I wonder what the others are creating????
Do you have any neighbourly gold? 
Why not share their creative doings here? 

How to nuno-felt a scarf

Here we are, Carrie and I at “Saviour of the Lost Arts” about to begin our Nuno Felting scarf workshop.
Our teacher was Julie of The Mountain Spinnery.  Julie teaches classes in Woolloongabba.  Visit her website for details.
Why not make one for yourself?
The art of Nuno felting was created by Polly Stirling and her neighbour and artist, Sachiko Kotaka.
These ladies were living in Australia, where the warm climate inspired them to work with wool in a new way.  Nuno uses a small amount fibre and is light in its application, combining wool fibre with larger pieces of pure cloth such as silk or muslin.  They named it ‘Nuno”, which means ‘cloth’ in Japanese.
Cloth felting”
Polly and Sachiko are staunch in their belief that “there is no rule or limitation to Nuno felt“.
(Thank you to  Living Crafts magazine, Fall 2010, p. 79)
Follow these easy steps to create your own nuno masterpiece.
Firstly, lay out your piece of silk on a length of bubble wrap slightly longer than the silk.
We used silk chiffon, about 30cm in width, remembering that the silk will appear to shrink both lengthways and widthways with the application of the wool.
So, if you like wide scarfs, maybe start with a piece of silk 50 or 60cm in width.
I was surprised to find that chiffon (from the french word for cloth, or rag) could be made of pure silk.
If you seek a lightweight, lustrous yet sheer scarf, chiffon might be a cheaper alternative than silk pongee or charmeuse.
Then it is time to decorate and embellish.
Take a 50cm length of carded and dyed wool fibre (merino is a good choice for this, as it is fine and more easily able to be melded to the silk).  Carefully, tease out and lengthen the fibres by pulling gently on both ends of the wool until it begins to separate.  You can also stretch the wool across the width too.
You can lay the wool fleece in any direction, but three tips to remember.
1. Less is more.  You want the wool fibres to crinkle the silk fabric but if there is too much decoration, there is not much fabric between designs to crinkle and crunch in.
2.  The fibres must be laid FLAT.  If you look at my arch, the middle of the arch wants to curl and tip onto its side.  We had to work against the natural inclination of the fleece to ensure it would sit flat by stretching it out or altering the shape of our design slightly to compensate.
You can do anything- spirals, stripes, polka dots, flowers, hearts, waves, rainbows, circles… anything!
3.  It is important to plan the direction of the fibres you position on your silk.  Take a close look at the carded fibres.  The fibres will all run in one direction, as if they have been ‘combed’ with a hairbrush.
*If you lay these fibres so they run parallel to the silk (eg along the entire length of the scarf), the silk scarf will narrow along the width.
*If the fibres are laid across the short width, (eg in 30cm strand ‘tiger stripes’, spaced 20cm apart, down the length of the scarf)  the scarf will shorten in length.
To make a flower, you just hold the fibre in your hand, place one end onto the silk, hold it down with your thumb and pull at the end of the silk to separate a 5cm piece of fibre.  Repeat 5 times, each time overlapping the fleece on the centre point as above.
Here are some design ideas.
The more wool you lay out, the longer it will take you to felt.
Fill a water or soft-drink bottle with warm water and a squirt of detergent. Poke a few holes in the lid to allow the water to dribble out.
(Spray bottles work well too)
Wet down the fleece on your design.  (They should be wet to touch)
Then, gently use your fingertips to rub over the designs only to begin the process.
This is the delicate part of the action, designed to ‘set’ your picture or symbols.
Be careful not to rub too hard or you will shift your design.
After about 10 minutes rubbing preparation, cover the silk with glad wrap.
Dribble some more water on top of the gladwrap, and add a squirt of detergent.
This helps to keep your hands smooth over the surface and enable you to work the scarf without pulling or tugging on the design.
Now, you can be quite vigorous in your actions!
Use the palm of your hands to PUSH the fibres into, and through, the silk.
Do this, again and again over your design, for at least 10-15 minutes.
I’ll repeat!!
Use the palm of your hands to PUSH the fibres into, and through, the silk.
Check your progress every now and then by lifting the gladwrap and gently pulling up on a section of fleece with your fingertips. When the silk scarf comes up with the wool fleece, you are ready to move on.  If not, continue for another 10 minutes and check again.
When you are ready, it is time to roll up the scarf.
Begin at one end, and roll it up like piece of sushi in nori.
Some people like to place a piece of dowel at one end, and roll it up around that for extra grip.
Otherwise, sit the completed roll on a dry towel. Throw one end of the towel over it, and roll it up into the towel for extra grip.
Our goal in rolling is to ROLL, not flatten the felt.
If it comes undone, or begins to flatten, unravel it and roll up again.
The rolling (after the rubbing) helps to knit the wool fibres to the silk and felt the wool.
The felting of the wool pulls in the silk threads around it, and begins to create undulations and scrunching in the silk.
Roll for about 15-20 minutes, or until you begin to see the silk scarf begin to shrink or narrow around the  wool designs.
At any time during, or after the rolling, you can begin to stretch and pull out the length or width of the scarf and your design as you see fit.
Then comes the fun part!
Unwrap your scarf from the bubble wrap and gladwrap, and begin throwing it down with a whompah! onto a clean table or floor.  Again and again and again and again!!
Throw with gusto!
The throwing ‘shocks’ the fibres and silk into shrinking and is a very quick way of working the fibres down to size.  If not much is happening (and it should, quite quickly), the scarf might have dried out and be too lightweight to work.  Soak your scarf with water (not dripping, just wet through) and begin throwing again.
Feeling angry? Upset?  What a marvellous remedy!
Silk scarf therapy!!
Tassels are simply bits of fleece you let hang over the edge of your silk.
Twist or shape them a little after the first rubbing, then situate them so they don’t touch any of the other fibres or they’ll stick to them.  Wind them up into your roll and they’ll felt along.
When you are done, you can hang it out to dry.
It really was my lucky day!
There were only two red scarfs given out, and one was given to me 🙂
I love it!
Happy Nuno Felting!