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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Tasmania! Wait, Wut?

Um, yeah. We went to Tasmania. I don’t know if I could have found it on a map, but it is an island principality off the south east coast of Australia, once a penal colony.

We liked New Zealand, but we LOVE Tasmania. If we like the small part of Australia we will be seeing, it’s going to require a second visit, as we’d really like to come back to Tasmania.

Hobart is a really cute port town full of history, cool stories and great architecture. But that’s not what I’m going to share with you today. Today, it’s all about the wildlife. Well, sorta wild.

We went to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. It is a rescue center and hospital for wild animals. There are 80 kangaroos that call it home, as well as Tasmanian Devils, Wombats (which somehow we missed) Koala Bears, and lots of birds.

I have been excited to get up close and personal with kangaroos for so long. And this was it. Never would happen in the actual wild.

There were buckets of complimentary food we could feed them. I guess we weren’t performing adequately, and this guy took matters into his own hands…

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For a change we had plenty of time, and I got to feed them a lot…

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They like getting scratched under their chins!

This was a surprise…look closely.

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I’m like, “what the heck? Is that a…” Yeah.

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Mama and her joey.

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How precious is that?

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Cute hands and foot.

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Man can they jump!

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I’m pretty much in Heaven.

But, there WERE other animals. The Tasmanian Devils were pretty darn cute. They got their name because they make a high pitched screeching noise when they feed. It’s not a mean thing, just something they do to scare off other critters that might want to steal their food, and they ended up scaring people into calling them devils!

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The Blue-tongued lizards were pretty cool.

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As were these geese. I loved the green bills.

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And of course, these cuddly creatures. I would have loved to hold one, but getting close was enough (I guess, it’ll have to be, huh?)

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Yeah, I’m pretty sure I need to come back.

Sweet Faces

In New Zealand there are no native mammals. Isn’t that weird? Any that are here were brought from somewhere else.

Most of them were brought to raise for food or other products – sheep, cattle, pigs, alpaca. Others were brought accidentally, like rats and other rodents that stowed away on the ships in the olden days, and others still, to hunt nuisance creatures, like weasels.

So, we’ve seen a lot of sheep. And some cows, and a few alpaca – even a pig or two. I have to admit thus far the alpaca are my favorite. They have the sweetest little faces.

My favorite stop for seeing farm animals was the Tin Shed. It was a shopping stop, but I don’t have much room for bringing things home. So when I discovered a little farm out behind the shop, me and my camera headed out there. There was a sign saying that if you wanted to feed the animals, you could get feed inside the shop, but as luck would have it, they’d used up their day’s allotment.

The animals were obviously used to being hand fed, and didn’t take too kindly to being stiffed. They backed off as soon as they realized I hadn’t come bearing gifts. But, I got off a few good shots first (I’m not above holding my hand out and pretending like I have something for them!)

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 Here, piggy, piggy!

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This guy butted the fence when he realized I came empty handed!

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Isn’t he darling?

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Awwwww…

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And my favorites, the babies…

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I’m still hoping for wild critters in Australia, but these sweet faces make a good alternative for now.

Reconnecting With Mary Frances

I met Mary Frances a number of years ago in Atlanta, Georgia. We hit it off instantly. Almost love at first sight. Her unique, one of a kind look caught my eye and we became fast friends.

For years she’d come and visit me at my store. Each time was like a breath of fresh air. But over time, her time her visits became less and less frequent, and we lost touch.

Well, we’ve reconnected.

 

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Confused? Okay, so I’m being a little silly!

Mary Frances isn’t a person, she’s a line of purses and other accessories. I used to carry them at my store back in the day. And I LOVED them.

But my clientele didn’t love them as much as I did (or maybe they loved them, but didn’t like the price – they’re a little spendy) and so I was unable to continue giving them space in the shop. As much as loved them, I’m kinda surprised I didn’t keep up on her line. But, in fact, I pretty much forgot all about them, and all these years have never tried to find them. Back in those days there was no internet or web pages where you could keep up on things like that, and I just have never thought about trying to find her again since internet shopping came into being.

Then we were in a little boutique out in the middle of nowhere, and there they were. A whole display of lusciousness. Even Mr. Tattered recognized that they look just like me!

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They are kinda mixed-media, a little mosaic-y looking, eclectic, slightly tattered…yeah, they’re me.

Well, almost me. I really prefer a shoulder strap, so I’m toying with the idea of committing sacrilege, and amending them a little. I may use my jewelry-making skills and extend the handles so I can through it over my shoulder. Shhhhhh! Mary Frances  doesn’t need to know! Oh, and there’s one more I may need, as well. I’m going to look on line first, but if I can’t find something similar…hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

So the clerk at the counter asked if I collect them. Collect them?! I never even thought of THAT! OMG! I have a whole shelf I could use. This is not good. This is not good at all.

Do You Arc?

Have you even heard of ARC planners?

They are planners using a customizable system that uses plastic discs to hold together your notebook, instead of spirals. You use a special cutter to make flaps in your pages that fit into the discs. You can add and subtract pages easily, as well as turn nearly anything into a page. The discs come in different sizes, so you can make your notebooks thin or fat and use whatever size paper you want, or even different sizes in the same notebook!

The cutter has been around for a really long time. We used to sell it, as well as the discs that it relies on to bind the pages in the scrapbook section in my store years ago, to make custom scrapbooks. Back in those days it wasn’t used for planners, but what a great way to update and market the system! Scrapbooking was a small niche, nearly everyone uses planners!

But the biggest problem with planners is coming up with one that works for each individual. We all track things differently, have different things we want to track. No pre-packaged planner can be all things to all people.

SO, having the ability to bind however many sheets of whatever forms you want is very appealing. There are TONS of forms you can download, order from Staples (as far as I can tell, the only place to get the system is at Staples – I’m guessing they may have bought the company I used to get the system from?) or create your own. It’s a pretty amazing concept, and from what I gather from my art girlies that are doing it, it is TERRIBLY addicting.

I have been sticking my fingers in my ears yelling, “LALALALALALALALA” any time they talk about it, because the last thing I need is yet another addiction.

My friend, Lori has used the ARC system to make a number of planners to aid her in keeping organized this year. You can see more of her ideas on her blog.

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And you can see even more ARC ideas at www.cre8iveklatch.blogspot.com 

This is where many of my art girlies blog and they are going crazy with their ARC planners!

I am so trying to keep from starting one, but they look so fun. I am feeling myself caving. Fortunately I’m not home right now, and I still have a few weeks to try and get over the whole thing. Or just accept that I’m going to give it a whirl. I suspect it’s the latter, but I’m still trying to fool myself into believing I can resist.

So, I ask again, do you ARC? And if not, are you going to check into it? I’d be curious to know what you think.

 

The Giant’s House

So we signed up for a tour at each port on this trip. We didn’t do a lot of investigating, we just found something that sounded interesting and went with it, and we did it so long ago, we can’t remember what we signed up for. It makes for an adventure every day.

Today we were in Akaroa, South Island, New Zealand. It’s a sleepy little village on the edge of a volcano. Who knew what wonders we would discover.

It started with a visit to a working sheep station, and a demonstration of how the dogs work the sheep,

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followed by a shearing demonstration.

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It was all quite interesting, and getting there and back there were beautiful views. The guide told us lots of stories, and explained the devastation that occurred in Christchurch when the earthquakes hit about 10 years back…they still haven’t recovered.

But the real gem of the day was our last stop. The Giant’s House. We had no idea what it was to be. The bus pulled up to a nondescript driveway in a residential area and let us off with instructions to follow the short steep driveway.

And we were nothing short of flabbergasted at what awaited us at the end of the short trek.

We were greeted by our hostess, Josie Martin, the artist that created the delights we were about to see. Trust me on this, as amazing as the photos are, they just don’t do justice to what we were seeing.

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Josie bought the house about 19 years ago. While digging in the garden she discovered a bunch of buried pottery, and set it aside, not knowing what to do with it. When a section of walkway needed repair, she remembered the pottery and decided to try her hand at making a mosaic, and the rest is history.

Sit back and enjoy…this is sooooooo cool!

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Every surface was covered with mosaic, even the handrails up the stairs.

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And my very favorite…

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This hit me right in my 10 ring (as Mr. Tattered said!) and I couldn’t agree more. We only had an hour, and I haven’t shown nearly all the displays, the house, or any of the gorgeous flowers. I could have spent the better part of the day here. AND, I discovered on-line after we left, it’s a B & B! I’m pretty sure this calls for another trip to New Zealand!

I’ve had an interest in mosaics for awhile now. This pushed me over the edge. I’ll be signing up for a mosaic class just as soon as we get home, if not sooner.

On The Road Again…

Well, we stayed home for a little while, but now we’re back on the road (not really – we’re on a boat so we’re on the ocean, not the road!) This time it’s an ocean cruise, but I’ve already decided I’m not going to do a day by day for this trip. I just can’t imagine it’s all that interesting, so I’ll just do updates every once in awhile and hit some high points.

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We flew from San Francisco to Auckland (pronounced Oakland, down here) New Zealand to start our cruise. Until we started planning this trip I didn’t even know that New Zealand was two islands off the coast of Australia. I thought it was just a little chunk of the top  (sorta like North Ireland is to Ireland) so I began learning right away, and in the few days we’ve been gone, the learning is continuing.

For starters, did you know that when you travel from the West Coast of the US to New Zealand, you cross the International Dateline? We left the evening of the 3rd, and flew for 13 hours and ended up 3 hours behind, but a day ahead? Yeah. When we go to Hawaii, we’re 3 hours behind, but on the same day. In New Zealand, we’re 3 hours behind, but in the next day. It’s pretty crazy. Hannah can’t quite wrap her head around the fact that Gaga and Da are in tomorrow…I love it!

Then, did you know kiwi are grown on a vine, much like grapes? And did you know that they were first called Chinese Gooseberries, but berries had a higher tariff attached to them, so they reclassified them as “kiwi fruit” to avoid the tariff? And that they are picked hard and last a whole year if stored properly? And did you know they taste better here? It’s probably all in my mind, but man, they’re good.

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And did you know that even in New Zealand the fun shopping is WAY better than in the United States? At least by where we are. All the fun little shops are gone and we have little other than the big boxes. They are convenient, and the prices are usually better, but they just aren’t FUN! Note to self: when I get home, I’m searching out small mom and pop shops. I’d forgotten how much I love silly shopping vs. necessary shopping.

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(Sad, but true…I can sniff these places out like a bloodhound!)

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And did you know that kiwi birds are nocturnal and flightless, and that only 10% of the eggs hatched in the wild survive to be grown up birds? They’ve gone from a population of over 2 million to less than 700,000, thanks to predators like pigs and weasels that are not native to New Zealand? They have a great program to bring eggs in to hatch, then keep the hatchlings until they are big enough to fend for themselves then release them into the wild, thus saving them from extinction.

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(Confession time…This is a photo of a poster – I didn’t REALLY get to hold a baby kiwi)

Or that the Giant Sequoias from California actually grow much better in New Zealand? One of guides said that New Zealand is famous for growing others place’s stuff better than they do!

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Or that there are geysers and stink pots and hot springs all over the place in New Zealand? No kidding. You’re driving down the road and all of a sudden there is a mess of steam coming up outta the ground. It’s really cool. A little scary, too, I guess. They have a lot of earthquakes here, as the tectonic plates are very active.

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Today we went to a rookery for Gannets. It was pretty darn amazing. It was on the edge of a cliff, on the end of a long peninsula. They roped off an area where the birds stay on one side, and the people stay on the other. The birds aren’t afraid of people, and they stay on their side of the rope. How do they know to do that?

We took about a gazillion photos, and this time it wasn’t just me. Mr. Tattered was intrigued and took the best slow-mo movies! I’ve weeded down a bunch of them, but they are just too stinkin’ cute. I’ll end up with WAAAAAY too many!

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We’ve also seen white swans, black swans, and a flock of black teal that just hang out in Lake Rotorua. They never leave, and the people don’t know why.

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And just for the heck of it, here’s a fern. The Maori people used to tear them apart and leave the silver side up on the trails so that when the moon shone on them, they’d light up and show the way. I just think it’s a cool photo.

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Side note…in New Zealand advertising, the fern is their logo. Cool.

 

 

 

 

How Can I Be Behind When The Year Just Started?

I’m not REALLY behind just yet.

In fact, I’m sort of ahead if you count that Christmas is already down and put away. Normally I don’t even START until today, and the last of it went up into the storage racks in the garage yesterday.

But I can see that I WILL be behind real quickly.

Someone had the brilliant idea of going on a trip for the whole month of January. Someone obviously forgot how hard it is to shift from the Christmas crazies into new year organization without some down time in-between. Oh, yeah. That would be me. What was I thinking? Don’t get me wrong. I’m excited about going and I know it will be a blast, but it came so fast, and I’m SOOOOOOOOOO not ready to be gone for so long.

One of these years I will hit the ground running on January 1st, but this will NOT be that year.

In my semi-demented way of getting ahead of myself, I am already mentally setting aside a portion of September 2015 to start the prep work for 2016. You’d think my brain would feel a little more pressured to get 2015 figured out first, but creative minds are seldom tidy – they go where they want to go, when they want to go there. OY!

So. My word for this year is IGNITE, and maybe that’s what is happening. I’m firing on all cylinders and then some!

But, first things, first.

I had planned on taking a bunch of art/scrapbook supplies with me on this little trip, but come to find out, instead of the 3 suitcases plus 2 carry-ons we normally take, we’ll be limited to 2 + 2. Whole different ball game. SO, unless I want to be doing laundry every third day (and trust me on this, I DON’T) the art supplies need to stay home. Which may turn out to be a good thing. Instead of painting or scrapbooking, I can work on putting a plan for the year together. The other stuff can go our next trip (we leave on it 2 1/2 weeks after we get home from this one!)

So, my go bag will look quite a bit different this trip. No paint or brushes or gesso, no scissors or stencils or photographs or adhesives. No ink, stamps, gelli plates, brayers or embellishments. Even the journal for Documented Life Program/One Little Word/Journal 52 will need to stay home. That’s where the being behind comes into play… By the time we return, I will be a whole month behind.

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(Yeah, this guy’s staying home…)

To mitigate that, I’ll take just enough paper to make my monthly calendars for the DLP journal, and the pens I need for them. Not just one white pen like last time, but 3. I HATED running out in the middle of nowhere! I’ll take one notebook for documenting the trip day by day, and another for drawing out what I’ll put into the DLP/OLW/J52 when I get home, along with lists and lists and lists of all the projects I want to tackle as a part of my “ignition” this year. Remember, this is the year I make a huge dent in all the unfinished projects I have laying around.

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(Wow. That’s a lot of empty space…)

The first step for that will be documenting the tasks ahead of me and breaking them down into small, doable pieces. I might even get crazy and break them into types of projects – Art projects I started and lost interest in, things I need to do to return the garden to its former glory, continuing the job of making our house more functional for the way we live, gifts for my family.

Another section of the notebook could be a dedicated editorial idea section for my blog. Sometimes the ideas come so fast and furious I can’t even remember them all. Other times I completely zone out. How nice to have a bunch of my own prompts to go to!

Anyway. The point is, I want to get off to a good start this year. And going on a fun trip to some places we’ve never been is a really great way to do that. AND, I’m trying to be organized enough to spend some of my down time on the trip doing things that will help me hit the ground running when I get home.

Now THAT is building on my word from last year “organize” (the organizational” skills I worked on) AND and exploding with my new word for this year,”ignite” when we get home. I love it when things work out that way. It’s enough to almost make me forget I’m going to be behind.

 

 

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