Tag Archive | 2015-challenges

The Year of reading Aussie Authors… book reviews

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The Year of Australian Writing challenge

BookclubIts been a while since I’ve done a book review for a simple reason, I just haven’t been reading as much, but when I left to come on this trip I packed a bunch of my “Äussie Author ” books in an attempt to get back on track and it’s worked!!

First of all I finished the book “The Thorn Birds” by Colleen McCullough

3412Taken from Good Reads

Powered by the dreams and struggles of three generations, THE THORN BIRDS is the epic saga of a family rooted in the Australian sheep country. At the story’s heart is the love of Meggie Cleary, who can never possess the man she desperately adores, and Ralph de Bricassart, who rises from parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican…but whose passion for Meggie will follow him all the days of his life.

Well I had several people telling how good this book was so I found it and read it… it took me two months being busy with Grandbabies and getting ready for the trip.. I didn’t LOVE this book at all. I made myself continue reading it hoping it would get better… but I didn’t love it or really even like it much… give it three stars out of five.

Then because I finally finished this one I decided to start another whole I was on a roll.. so I read…

“Matilda’s Last Waltz” by Tamara McKinley

406849Taken from Good Reads

After the tragic death of her husband, Jenny travels to Churinga, a remote sheep-station in the Australian Outback that he intended to give to her for reasons she doesn’t understand.Churinga is harsh and unforgiving, but also has its beauty…and its secrets. The more time Jenny spends on the farm, the more she is aware of the lingering presence of Matilda Thomas, Churinga’s former owner, and the more she wonders just what she is doing there.

Notice on the cover it reads “An epic novel in the tradition of “The Thorn birds” so I almost didn’t read it but so glad I did because this one was so  much better and I got through it quickly. Since we are camping with “”Matilda”” our trailer and “Tamara” our tent, I found it quite ironic when one morning the Bloke announces… “This will be our last Big Lap with “the girls” (meaning Tamara the tent and Tilly the trailer) I turned to him and said “Does that mean this is Matilda’s Last Waltz?” he said “Yeah I’m too old for it… blah blah blah”… I  just held up the book cover and showed him.. the irony was not lost on us..

I really enjoyed this book, maybe it’s because I’ve been to some of the places she mentions and I can picture them and the smells and the sights are real to me.. better described that by Colleen in the Thorn Birds. Giving this one 5 stars our of 5 and I let the book go, I left it in a laundry room in the Caravan Park in Kalgoorlie. I hope Matilda’s waltzing again with some one else.. maybe going to a new corner of Australia.

My final book review for today is by a new author to me Di Morrissey and it was called “The Opal desert

12654196Taken from Good Reads

The Opal Desert is the story of three women from different generations with unresolved issues in their lives who meet in the fictitious NSW town of Opal Lake.

Kerrie, in her 40s, has just lost her famous sculptor husband who had been the centre of her existence and for whom she made many sacrifices and she now finds her life has lost direction.

Shirley, approaching 80, was betrayed by her lover many years before and has retreated from the world, becoming a recluse living in an underground dugout.

Anna, 19, has a promising athletic career but is torn between the commitment to her sport which could carry her to the Olympics, or enjoying life-like other young people.

The friendship that develops between these three women, who meet in the strangely beautiful but desolate landscape of the opal fields, helps them resolve and come to terms with the next stage of their lives

A lady we were camped next to at Fowlers Bay was talking about a book she had just finished and said to me “would you like it? It’s a great book, it’s an Aussie Author” so the Bloke started telling her about my challenge this year to read Aussie Authors and so she went and got the book for me, not what HE wanted not more books!! As soon as I saw the title my interest was sparked.. being that last Big Lap we went to Coober Pedy to find an Opal.. I promised myself I would do that for my Dad who sadly passed away before he had time to go and get himself an opal. The other famous place in Australia for Opals is Lightening Ridge and it’s on my “to do list” as well. Di also mentioned Broken Hill which we have been to and loved and seen the places she writes about.. she describes the people so perfectly. I loved how she weaves all these different people into one story and I had to fight to put this book down. Its 406 pages and I read it in two days! I’m giving this a 5 star rating and will be on the look out for more of her books.

That brings my total for the year for this challenge up to 18 books.. woo hoo…

I went to a charity shop at the start of this trip and picked up some books for 25 cents each, one is an Aussie one about Russell Crow so maybe I’ll read that next!

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9 days to go… down to single digits..

its getting close now,

I’ve been keeping busy with my #sugarfreeseptember challenge..

Have you heard about it?

#SugarfreeSeptember is run bu “live it do it” I can’t even remember how I found out about it.. but it wasn’t yet September so I decided to join, I find that when I have these motivations I can stick them out better… remember last November I did the “salad-a-day challenge” with Reannon over at she who rambles you can read about my version here. Well I had so much fun with that challenge, so now I am doing this #sugarfreeseptember not as easy as it sounds.. day one was a breeze and I cheered myself.. day two I woke up with the WORST headache, I know that whenever you give up something you have to expect “detox headache” or ‘Sugar hangover” I think I read someone call it….the headache was worse than any I had with all the previous detoxes. So I got up and took a pain-killer for my head and then 35 minutes later vomited that right back up… yesterday was not a fun day. Three occasions I came close to getting a can of coke out of the fridge and somewhere along the way my will power was stronger. I resisted.

Today I woke up much happier and thankful that the headache was gone, my tummy feels a bit rocky though. Never mind, I have not had ANY sugar and that glass a coke of a night, yes I miss it but no I am not tempted to drink it. I am going to stick this out and see if I lose any weight before I have to buy a new dress for Jasmin’s wedding.

So each day we get to take a photo of the above listed item.. today was “Hot drink” I don’t drink hot drinks, but I made myself a cup of Chinese tea just to take the photo, I tried to drink it but yuck!!

Chinese tea… but this is what I had for breakfast!!

Poached Eggs on Vegemite toast (soy linseed bread), Green Smoothie and I didn’t even up drinking the tea!

Then since I was feeling much better I decided to finish some art projects I had going… the “Fabulous and Free Art Journal course” which had finished but I had a few more pages to complete.. you can read more about it here

 Number 28 – Office Supplies.

I’ll be the first person to tell you I am a stationary whore.. I cannot go past a stationary place without going in and finding something and yet I really struggled to do this page.. it’s one of about 3 in this challenge I hated.

 Number 29- Just Beachy

I just splashed some paint around and ripped out some photos from magazines and played with collaging letters to form words.. simple!

 Number 30- Water works.

Same but different from “Just Beachy” quick and easy, tah dah! complete!

Next thing I had to complete was Mindy Lacefield’s course “Raw Simplicity” I won the class back in July, but I’ve been bogged down with other stuff, so I have only just been working on it. Mindy’s style is Primitive and I struggle with that but I do like to push myself out of my comfort zone and so here’s a peek at what I’ve been doing..

     

Learning to draw and then paint “primitive faces” mine are much to neat and controlled I need to loosen up! oh No, Mindy didn’t say that I’m saying that!

These little sweeties were drawn on “deli paper” I haven’t quite figured out what it is yet and I didn’t have any obviously so I used what I had a “McDonald’s” McMuffin wrapper… seems to me to be the same thing, anyways I love these cuties, and they card stock I used my Gelli Plate to print that and I love them so sweet!! I’m going to frame them one day!

Next lesson was “Primitive animals” again, mine are a bit too neat a bit too much detail.. Oh well.

These were practice ones that went into our art journals.

I had some coloured card left so I mounted them on that.. again drawing them on the Maccas wrappers.

What we were supposed to do with them was…. create a full-page spread and add the animals to that, I should not rush ahead!! So I created a new set of Animals for my “full-page spread” I did an “Aussie themed Spread” with an Aboriginal and a kangaroo and a koala.

I still think they’re too neat and not primitive enough.. but anyways this is in commemoration of our up coming trip!

Next we had to prepare a board and do a whole piece, well I started the board and the painting and then got visitors so I put her away unfinished.. today I finished her.

Look at all that yummy texture! Made with Gesso.

Little ripples and almost waves.

That was a mistake, but it worked so it’s all good..

Finished Item.. I splashed too much paint and couldn’t wipe it all off, so I incorporated it.. and she’s “Spring Goddess”

The Brown line that descends from the corner of her mouth was added by Miz Sweetpea who is 22 months going on 15 yrs! and is determined she is going to be an artist.. I was going to cover it but I think I’ll leave it because then I can say we collaborated on a piece of art. Under the flower on the left you will notice a bit of bright yellow highlighter.. she did that too.. I covered most of it up!

And then there’s…. 29 faces of September.. another challenge.. it was a facebook group last year which I just stayed in and so here is day 3’s piece…

I am very out of practice and this is done with Charcoal and Gesso.

So my started to September has been a busy one and it seems to be not getting any less busy.

Amber has become a Tupperware consultant and is going to training every Monday and holding parties whenever she can. I am so proud of the commitment she is putting into it.. she’s aiming for manager and the car!

Tonight I paid the deposit for the photographer for Jasmin and Brett’s wedding and so that is another thing that I have organised before I go away. Next Monday I am going to visit the venue with the happy couple and Mother-of- the- Groom Anna. We are going to measure for estimations of decorations and such stuff..

and did I mention only 9 days until we leave on “Big Lap WA 2015” I cannot.Wait!!

Art and such…

This week has been a busy one.

I’ve been working on my detox and doing lots of walking.. so I’m happy with that, I have had a few days where I “cheated” and ate something not ‘totally” acceptable, but life is short, to waste time crying over food… so I’m cutting back and cutting OUT a few things and walking more it’ll all work out for the good. I am aiming to lose weight for my daughters upcoming engagement party and then keep on maintaining it for her upcoming wedding.. so I have time to work on these things.

In the mean time… let’s art!!

My daughter has an idea about doing “Squishy’s” bedroom in Harry Potter theme and so she wanted me to do a name thing for his room, so we decided on one panel for each house colour for his name. I enjoyed the challenge, because I had to free hand all the letters and any of the work I did, so it pushed me out of my comfort zone. I painted the cloud Blue, since the roof was already white and they rent so are not able to paint the roof. Then she came back with the panels to paint in the “Harry Potter” house colours. Then when I thought I was finished she came back with the mobile.. so I got that done as well.. I put some of the “Harry Potter” Symbols on the mobile. As well as trying to catch up on the Challenges I’ve been missing out on Irreversibly Moi I signed up for Susan’s email and ended up enrolling in a free art journaling course, we also have a facebook page, and the Prompts are so interesting to me, I am getting better as I go I think.. plus trying out some new techniques along the way like on this cat…

Challenge #18 "Paws"

Challenge #18 “Paws”

I did the back ground in yellow, bronze and white, and I found a stencil that I had brought ages ago and never used it, so I thought I’ll blend the “bronze” down a little bit by stenciling over it in white, then I drew the Cat, and colours most of it white, I had planned to do zentangle inside the cat but when I had a close look, I liked how some of the stencils had left nice marks, these on the body I highlighted in black marker.. I couldn’t ruin it by going over it. I really love my “kitty”

Challenge # 19- "Flower"

Challenge # 19- “Flower”

The prompt for this one was “flowers” and so Susan gives you ideas of how to incorporate the theme into your page.. and I think I got too carried away with this one. I REALLY should have blended it all down a little with a coat of white gesso to quieten down the background.. but I didn’t and now it is what it is.. I LOVE the dandelions though and I will recreate this on a board as part of my “50 by 50” challenge.

But for me the favourite one for today is….”Bewitched

Challenge #20- Childhood TV show

Challenge #20- Childhood TV show

I printed off the TV I used to have one just like this growing up and the prompt was “Childhood TV show” and I used to love Samantha in “Bewitched” so I cut the TV screen out and I painted the rest of the scene and then stuck the TV over the top of it. And I think I nailed the heading.. it looks just like the TV show… except don’t look too closely at Sam’s face I kinda messed that up!

Book Review- Two for the Road..

I thought I posted this first but oh well…

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I’ve been a bit slack with my reviews… but I also haven’t been reading as much due to the fact that there is too much else to do..

Bookclub

This book is called “Two for the Road” by Shirley Hardy Rix and Brian Rix

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Good Reads says

Roads are for journeys, not destinations.

In 2003 Melbourne couple Shirley Hardy-Rix and her husband Brian Rix fulfilled a lifelong ambition of motorcycling across the world.

In an incredible 350-day journey, they would do everything they’d ever dreamed of as well as getting much more than they’d bargained for. Crossing 27 countries and covering 56,671 kilometres, they raced around the Isle of Man motorcycle circuit on Mad Sunday, survived Iran’s traffic and travelled through Taliban strongholds under armed guard. Shirley and Brian’s story is an epic account of the ups and downs of seeing the world on two wheels – from the frustrations of potholes and flat tyres, to the splendour of some of Europe and Asia’s most awe-inspiring sights.

Full of terrific anecdotes, down-to-earth humour and practical advice, Two for the Road is a must for anyone who’s ever imagined escaping the daily grind to experience the romance of the open road.

‘Few books are as inspirational as that just written by Melbourne journalist Shirley Hardy-Rix and her policeman husband Brian Rix.’ – Herald Sun

‘A great read for anyone with a yearning for the open road and exotic climes.’ – West Australian

‘This book might tip undecided travellers over the edge – no bad thing.’ – Two Wheels


I enjoyed this book because this is something my husband and I would like to do.. maybe not overseas or around the world, but around Australia anyways. I loved how there were two POV’s throughout the story, you know the Blokes want to be all technical and us Sheila’s want to do the romantic side of things. So I enjoyed that, when we travel I do it all and then pass the book to the Bloke who adds stuff about kms travelled and fuel amounts and costing and handling of the bike, we have tow journals for the bikes “Scarlett Journal” is for the Triumph 650 her name is Scarlett because of her paint colour and “Bette’s Book” Bette is the BMW we drive on longer rides.

I’m giving this one 4* out of 5.

Book Review.. Fortune Cookie

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Book Review time…

and here’s another one for you.

Bookclub

Today I am reviewing a book called “Fortune Cookie” by Bryce Courtney

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Good Reads says…

Simon Koo is an ambitious Australian-born Chinese young man who goes to Singapore in the mid-sixties to work for Samuel Oswald Wing, an advertising agency. But the Wing brothers, who run the agency, are not what they seem.


To be perfectly honest as much as I love Bryce Courtney.. I did not LOVE this book, I struggled through it because I was loyal. I haven’t read ALL his books but this is only the second one I didn’t love.. the first being “Sylvia” which I was dying to read because it was medieval..and though I love what he tried to do he shouldn’t have jumped into a different genre.

Anyways this book was not one of my faves. I did finish it only because I KNOW Bryce is going to finish with a BANG and he did again! the ending was the best bit.. I’ve giving it 3 * out of 5.

New Art Class released!

One of my favourite teachers has a new Art class out.. and I am so excited I wanted to share with you all..

Raw Simplicity

Mindy Lacefield has pared things down, I love the name of her new class and if I don’t win a place I’ll buy one.

I think I have mentioned on my blog before that I struggle with “whimsy” I don’t know if it’s the teachers or whatever but I struggle… until I did Mindy’s “primitive” style of whimsy or maybe something just clicked but I love Mindy’s teaching style.

So if anyone else is interested follow the links and come join us..

Book Review- Tracy.

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Bookclub

book review for the book “Tracy” The Storm that wiped out Darwin on Christmas day 1974 By Gary McKay

Taken from Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6060069-tracy

Tracy

On Christmas Day 1974, Australia woke up to the news that Darwin had been flattened by Cyclone Tracy. Only hours before, the town of Darwin was winding down for the holiday season. Like many people that day, Josephine Foreman spent the morning cooking a large turkey for Christmas lunch; Geoff Crane took the opportunity to finish some last-minute Christmas shopping. Reports of an approaching cyclone were taken lightly – after all, the last cyclone had been little more than a storm with a bit more wind. Besides, it was Christmas.

I have been to Darwin and I loved it but you can’t help but know the history of what happened in Darwin and there are reminders every where, in the museum and all kinds of places. I loved this book because I’ve been there and even though I was little at the time (8 yrs old) everyone was aware of what was happening thousands of kilometers away in Darwin. At the time I never imagined one day I would be in Darwin and even when I got to Darwin I never expected to love it THAT much!

I am giving this book 5 out of 5 stars!