Well, actually, there may not be many changes, but equally there might be! You never know :) Doesn't that title just totally get that song in your head? It also reminds me of Shrek.

Anyhow, as mentioned yesterday, I have made up a survey to enlist you - who are reading my blog right now - to help me define the future direction of this blog! OK so it's anonymous, and you can answer all the questions or only one, it's completely up to you. I'd really appreciate your input, though, so thank you in advance for helping out. You'll find the survey here.

In the meantime, here is a sneak of my latest Aussie Scrap Source assignment, click over to the Aussie blog to see a close up as well as a few other artists' gorgeous Stampers Anonymous projects. I'm off to take Cedar to the Dr shortly to check out his wheezy cough. It seems to be that time of year!


With computer problems, camera issues (aargh!), an interstate visitor and a general sense of re-evaulation, I've been taking a mini-break from my blog. I'd love to get your input on my blog direction and will be back soon with a short anonymous survey. In the meantime, I thought I'd feature a blog post from almost 5 years ago. I kind of just started browsing randomly in the 2006 blog posts and had only read a few when I came across this. I'm in a similar frame of mind now. I don't change that much, it seems.

How about you - do you think your thought processes and feelings have changed a lot over time? Or are you still processing things in the same way, despite having learnt more about yourself?

December 2006

I have many things in my head. Many days I just want to stay home, do at home work like photo editing, scrapbooking and gardening. Other times I want to contribute to a more professional work environment, I trawl job sites looking for at least somewhat challenging part time positions, which don't tend to exist. I also want to promote Danielle Q sometimes. I do want that at the moment, but find it hard to follow through (it involves too much talking to people!).

But I love the photography and the thrill of editing good photos. So even though it is something I know I want to do, I still have to put pressure on myself to take action, to make things happen. It's an internal conflict between peace and quiet, and intellectual and creative satisfaction. In a way - as I have to go out of my comfort zone to make the intellectual and creative stuff happen.

Have I said lately that I think too much? LOL.

Birth story: Sienna

I found Tatum's birth stories so interesting to read - especially the differences between her four experiences - and thought I might share my own here. Dad, this is totally TMI (Too Much Information), just warning you :)

When I was pregnant with Sienna I was 22, Ben and I had been married for more than 3 years and were thrilled to be having a baby. I had actually been told that I was infertile - by a charming gyno with zero bedside manner - and that I would need fertility treatments whenever we wanted to try, due to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Stuff that.

I read up on PCOS and realised that stress was a trigger and I was way too stressed at my job. So I quit that and changed to an easy receptionist job only one day a week. That was also the first time I started introducing low GI type meals to my day - something which I *try* and do regularly - as PCOS is linked to insulin resistance. Hang on, this is supposed to be a birth story! Ok back to Sienna. Anyhow, she wasn't actually planned in the end.

Right, so I had one due date based on my cycles, but at the 12 week ultrasound the dates were pushed further along by a week or two. Then I was 6 days overdue from the latest due date I'd been given, when labour began. Slowly, but surely, with contractions every half hour to begin with on a Monday morning (9am? 10?). My memory is a bit fuzzy, I think I called Ben and he came home from work at lunchtime. I remember in the afternoon we walked ten minutes to check out a b&b where Ben's folks were going to stay the next night. I remember because the lady owner there commented on my pregnancy and laughed when I said the baby was probably going to be born the next day. I knew, because I was already in labour. She laughed at me. I was right :P

We were booked in to the family birth centre at the local hospital - which is quite a decent-sized one, it just happens to be five minutes from our house. I think we spoke on the phone with the midwives once or twice over the course of the afternoon / evening. I had a shower. It got to about midnight or 1am when I didn't want to be labouring at home anymore. So we went in, and tried to nap in between contractions. I remember saying "oh, man" A LOT, leaning my forehead on the pillows in front of me, and also lots of "breathe, just breathe" to myself.

At about 8 or 9 on Tuesday morning a different midwife came on, and around this time I also had a bath. I think I said to the midwife at just after 9, when she said I was at second stage (pushing), "that stage is supposed to last about an hour, right?" I was also wondering if it was too late to ask for a caesarean, or epidural, or any other alternative to the current pain I was in. Anyhow, that lasted for about four hours, it turned out, and I was back on the bed for awhile of that. Later on I had really tired arms from gripping the headboard of the bed for leverage while pushing.

When it came down to it, though, I was on my back / sort of sitting up for the actual birth. At one point one of the midwives there held up a mirror but I started crying and shaking my head (I had put in my birth plan that I did NOT want a mirror, I obviously knew myself well, LOL) so she took it away again. Not her fault, she had come on duty in the last hour and hadn't read anything about me. Then they started discussing an episiotomy because it was taking way too long (you're telling me!) and that must have motivated me or something because two more pushes and Sienna was out. It turned out she had one arm up around her head, and had to come out all in one push. That was at 1:35pm, so the total labour was about 27 hours. The start of it wasn't hard, though, so more like 18-20.

Anyway, the real dramas began then, with a quick oxytocin injection (not in my plan, either, but as a result of the complications it was unavoidable) with buttons being pushed and Ben being handed a swiftly wrapped baby and directed to a corner while I bled all over the bed like crazy and a bunch of nurses, doctors and midwives tried to sort me out. Eventually it all calmed down, I was settled with my saline drip and even got to have a shower, which was nice. I took Sienna's first photos while she was weighed and dressed. A doctor did come in and make me explain in detail - an hour after the birth, mind you - my religious standpoint on blood transfusions, until the midwife shooed him out of the room. I'd lost 2.4 litres of blood and had tore, but not at the end where the stitches usually go, so the pain was intense for weeks after, as was the exhaustion. Iron supplements and good food had my levels back to acceptable levels by 6 weeks.

But we had a healthy little girl, who we had named Sienna Belle over four months earlier and who we were thrilled to finally meet. She was 7lb 14oz (3.57kg), 51cm long and 36.5cm head circumfrence. She'll be 8 years old at the end of October.

Lloyd Family Fun

A few selections from my last Autumn session:
Now I'm working up to Spring sessions, markets and adding workshops / mentoring to Curiouser's services! Fun fun.

Momas and cedar the dwarf

Here I'm foraying into mobile photos for my blog... At the school sandpit, waiting for the kids to come out. Cedar calls his train 'Momas' instead of 'Thomas' - joining in with Soulemama this week.

Feast fit for a... person. Or something.

I bought the new SBS magazine Feast the other day and have already gorged myself full of inspiration and daydream delusions of regularly visiting the Queen Vic Markets and coming home with all sort of exotic ingredients. We all know that isn't going to happen, but a girl can dream. However, I am still very inspired, and in far more practical ways as well :)

For one thing, I am totally going to try making my own roti chanai. I've intended to before, but this article (p.144) settles it. It will happen. And possibly save my buying triple lots of the roti from our local Thai restaurant.

I am also going to be newly addicted to the Gourmet Farmer's blog and will have to watch the tv show sometime. Their property is called Puggle Farm. How awesome is that? I want to live there. With some ducks.

I suspect this magazine will also fan my armchair travelling desires. I now want to go everywhere and eat the food there. That is all.

Besides that, do you really need a reason to sit and sip coffee as you enjoy a beautiful magazine? I love magazines. I try to resist. I frequently justify. But I luff them with a great luff that cannot be denied.

Creative work

While I started the week with a bit of scrapbooking, that is for a future newsletter for Scrapboxx so I can't show it yet. Anyhow, that was only on Sunday. Since then my creative space has been all about getting cold fingers on my mouse-hand as I edit photos, play with blogs and plan / research / procrastinate / get distracted on the computer.

I thought I'd do a quick share from the session I'm finishing. This first image is how the unedited raw file looks, and below that is the finished, edited version.

At the moment, I'm processing RAW files using Adobe Lightroom, but am using a 30 day trial to do some serious learning, so I'll let you know how I go (I'm halfway through the month). Then I edit briefly in Photoshop CS5. Usually I use IttyBittyActions, I also have a custom vignette action I like to use and a few of my own changes to make as I feel the need. When using actions, always tweak (edit the opacity on) every layer you end up with from using the actions to make sure you're controlling the impact, and also learning about what the actions are using in Photoshop to make the changes. Then it's back to Lightroom for saving and exporting and stuff like that.

Usually I use Adobe Bridge to view my files, processing the raw files one at a time as I open the ones I want to edit in Photoshop CS5. So, there is a brief overview of my editing process this week. I'm also linking up with creative spaces this fine Thursday, there is always a lot of lovely crafty goodness in the list, check it out :)

Backwards next day

In the world according to Ash (a varied and enthusiastic place, populated with slightly autistic pirates and the occasional alien spaceship) there are two kinds of days other than today. There is the 'next day' and there is the 'backwards next day'. It's all "But mum, on the backwards next day you said that I could..." or, "But I already did that on the backwards next day!" No yesterday for this boy, no sirree.

Anyway, on the backwards next day, and also the backwards next day before that, I had a nice taste of time off. Ben had two work days off in between the job he just left and the one he is starting. I was sick on the weekend and still feeling rubbish, so Ben did the lunch preparations, breakfast making and general bribing - oh, I mean, 'motivating' - of kids to get ready in the morning, the morning and afternoon school runs and he even took Ash to his OT (Occupational Therapy) appointment. Which didn't go very well, apparently, and required some 'motivating' with a vegie pie for afterwards, but that's pretty standard fare really.

I enjoyed staying home yesterday (when I was feeling better, so could enjoy it more), making dinners and learning Adobe Lightroom. On Sunday, when being sick had cancelled three separate things I had planned for the day, I stayed in bed for most of it, scrapbooking. Sienna joined in from time to time.

I'm at a place where I have so many ideas in my head and things on my to-do list (some required but a lot of 'wants to do' things as well) that I don't quite know where to start. With blogging, obviously! And after that, probably back to Lightroom for awhile.

There have been some lovely positive responses to the idea of photo workshops, so I am doing a lot of brainstorming for that. At least, my brain is storming. It's all still in there, at the moment, so I should really get it out on paper. Or on a computer or something. I will do that, soon. Initially I was asked about doing these when I next head to the Newcastle / Sydney area, but currently I'm planning on Adelaide at the start of the next school holidays.

Oh, it's raining outside. That's a bit unexpected. I'd better rethink my outdoor-ish plans for this afternoon's playdate. This is Imogen (above), Sienna's best friend at school, they have weekly playdates during which I occasionally chase them around with my camera. Not today, though. I might cheat a bit, make some popcorn and let them watch a movie. Make a fire, maybe. That's always exciting for the small people :)

Painted doily Background

Last week I shared a layout I made for a Scrapbook Creations colour team assignment. Often I use the colour challenges to create my own backgrounds, usually by customising and layering over patterned paper. I use this same technique when creating canvas backgrounds, sometimes.
For this page, I began with a teal patterned paper, some gesso, some teal acrylic paint and some small white paper doilies. I also had a bit of tissue / dress pattern to add. I used the gesso as an adhesive as well as to add the white coverage, and simply splodged it onto the paper. Pressing the doilies firmly into the gesso, I then firmly wiped it around the page. I sometimes use a piece of muslin for this, or an old credit / store card to get a firmer 'swipe'.

While the gesso is wet I add the colour and mix that in as well. It's a pretty organic, messy process really! When the page is dry, I often need to let it sit under a heavy book or two to flatten out, and then use it as a background for a mixed media piece or a scrapbooking project.

Design and food and stuff

Something I was working on last week was a revamp of my other blog Season with Saltbush. I've added recipe lists and ingredient labels. In my cute little recipe - journal that Ben gave me for our anniversary in April - I have a handful of recipes ready to type up and add to the blog over the next little while. Let me know what you think? Is there anything that would be great on a food blog that is currently missing? Love to hear any thoughts :)

Psst! Adelaide-y people!

Hello my Adelaide-ish friends :) Guess what? Curiouser is taking bookings again! Family sessions, childrens photography, general portrait / everyday life style shoots. I'll be in Adelaide available for sessions from Friday the 30th September to Monday 3rd October 2011. I'm also working on a bit of a workshop-y teaching-ish variation on regular sessions, if anyone would be interested in that sort of thing, please let me know ;) For enquiries, bookings or feedback, please email me -

Art lovin'

RedBubble have just added photographic prints to their range of products, so you can now buy my work directly from them as photographic prints, cards, calendars, canvas prints, laminated prints, mounted prints or matted prints. This mixed media painting as an original is about 120cm square, but you could have it however you like, isn't that awesome? I'm excited.

I'll be putting together a couple of new calendars in preparation for 2012, are there any favourite wall art pieces you would like to see included? Or photography, for that matter. I don't really know where to start, they all blur together for me. Help!

Scrapping in July

July's design team assignment for the Scrapboxx newsletter was to look to your sewing kit (so to speak). I used a zipper, pin, hand-stitching, guipure lace, buttons and a bit of a satin clasp from an old cheongsam. The paper is from the Sassafras Sunshine Broadcast range, which I love love love!

Here (below) is a sneaky peek from a double layout class I made for Aussie Scrap Source. You'll need to ask your local scrap shop if you're interested in the class :) I'll try and remember to share the whole layout after it's released to retailers.

In a few days I'm going to share my colour team assignment of turquoise, white and silver/grey for Scrapbook Creations issue 88, along with a quick how-to for the arty doily background I used. My photography article for the same issue is about digitally embellishing photos (I think that's the same issue? I tend to lose track a bit).

Here is a sneak peek for a layout I did for Aussie's Colour Theory series, I was using secondary colours. Check out the full layout and all the details here.

This week I've got a layout to finish for Aussie Scrap Source, and a cards class to make. I'm also looking forward to creating with the Boxx of Scraps from Scrapboxx this month, and I have August off from SC magazine assignments. My creative space is pretty scrapbook-y this week, with a bit of graphic design and photo editing thrown in to mix it up a little! Happy creative days :)

I love our school because...

My son has a total kicking screaming meltdown in the bag room of his class, and ends up coming home 3 hours later as happy as anything, with a large 'Pirate Ash' book in hand ;)
It sounds like a bit of a strange turn of events, but actually was very artfully handled by the prep teacher. Mrs H taught Sienna for two years and now has Ash in her class, and she is really fantastic with both of them. She had taken Ash aside, after he had begun to simmer down from his meltdown (during which his aide remained nearby), and managed to reach through to him in discussing how his actions would affect the others in his class. He listened to the other children as they explained to him that his screams made it hard for them to listen to their lesson, and could give them headaches. The children, in turn, listened to Ash explain that he was "sorry I did screaming and hurt your ears but I just wanted to go home and was angry". When asked what would make things better, Ash suggested that making a pirate book would fix everything between them all. I laughed when Mrs H told me about this, it sounds rather more like something that Ash would prefer, but she said that the other kids thought that it was fantastic. They all coloured in pirate and ship pictures and put them all in this book, calling it 'Pirate Ash' and asking Ash all sorts of questions about pirates.
Ash got to bring the book home to share with us and read for a couple of days, and then return it to the class. He listened to the other children and learned that they like having him in their class, learning with them. It has really helped his attitude toward school, which has always been fairly positive but he has been more reluctant to go since the recent school holidays. Since this whole meltdown / pirate book scenario he has been back to his positive attitude again :) I'm grateful that he has an aide in the classroom. The whole funding / support process is a bit of a nightmare, but Ash ended up with 15 hours a week of funded aide time. This was with a severe language disorder and some pretty damning behavioural examples from the first few weeks at school - loads of tantrums, stuff like that. It's tricky because the teachers need to focus on the negatives pretty extremely - everything was true, but presented without the balance of positive traits and examples. But the end result of his having that one-on-one learning support is the most important thing and worth the process. We didn't have to go through the process for Sienna - we had begun the application but when it was concluded that she had little chance of being successful, the school found alternative ways of planning to make sure an aide was available to her classroom as much as possible (even though the department wasn't providing the funding for support for Sienna in particular).
It's all quite convoluted, really, but if anyone would like me to explain more about how we handle the kids with their autism (Ash) / aspergers (Sienna) and at school, just let me know :)

Movie nights (or days)

On the weekend, we had a cosy family afternoon inside with a roaring fire, a movie, and mulled wine (which I had never made before, it was awesome and mostly from this recipe) - just for the grown-ups of course. The kids had watched Rango before, with Ben as well, but I had not sat down and watched it yet. Everyone was happy with the selection and Ben was happy to be able to watch the high-definition version, and we really enjoyed it. Even when Cedar got up from his nap and kept standing up in front of the television, pointing at us and calling out 'Mummy!', 'Daddy!', 'Sienna!' and such.

We don't get out much to see movies and stuff. We have got a bit of respite care available through the local council, but I'm still getting used to having that as an option and we haven't used it much yet. Also I must be getting old these days, and when I sit down at the end of the day I can't muster the energy or motivation to actually go out somewhere! That said, there are a couple of movies coming out that I'm looking forward to seeing. Even if it does end up being on dvd ;)

One Day


Like Crazy

I wouldn't mind a mindless fun kind of comedy as well, though I'm even less likely to get up off the couch for that. Any suggestions? I'm open to dvd recommendations as well :)

You have feet in your shoes...

You know that line from 'Oh the Places You'll Go'? It's my favourite Dr Seuss book, that one.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." 

Anyway, shoes aren't often on my wish list, as I find shopping for them a bit of a pain in the bottom-like area. My feet are size 10.5 or 11, a 42, and are particularly thin and narrow for their length. So, while it is easier and easier to find shoes the right length, as long as I buy them at the beginning of the season (there are a lot of people in this size bracket, and most stores haven't caught on to that fact with their stock levels), any kind of open or heeled shoe is a bit trickier to fit properly due to width and height. Sob, sob, I know, it's not that bad. It doesn't generally bother me, anyway, I just have to be a bit fussy.
So, I have a couple of new items in my wardrobe from recent expeditions and realised I lack a pair of tan / natural coloured heels. And that I would like some. And that my recent skirt purchase (above) from Dotti would really suit that sort of colour shoe. When it comes to heels, I have a pair of chocolate brown ones, a pair of black ones and then a few strappy sandally bits and pieces I've collected over the years but rarely wear. And boots. I normally just wear boots. Anyhoo, I started window-shoe shopping online.

I love browsing modcloth, even though I had no plans on buying shoes internationally (with my history of ill-fitting selections), and found these gorgeous things and also these, neither of which go up to my size anyway. So it was all a bit redundant. Ruche yielded this cute pair (below) to my imaginary shopping cart, which also wouldn't fit me in their largest size, even if they weren't already sold out. But they are cute to look at regardless ;)
So then I decided to look local, but realised I would be buying in person so I looked up some of the shoe shops from my nearest shopping centre and found that I had a few favourites from the Wittner website... I quite liked these:

and these look really stylish (I wouldn't mind a pair of wedges):

and these ones were even on sale:

Are you noticing a pattern here? Glam, stylish, blah blah, but there seems to be a bit of an obsession with patent in shoe stores at the moment. Shiny. Glossy. Perfect. They look lovely but they just don't really feel right on me. Like I'm pretending to be someone more spectacular than I actually am. Someone who wears makeup regularly and plucks their eyebrows. Yes, I am appallingly unconcerned with these sorts of ladylike grooming habits (the slightly unnecessary ones - I'm lazy).

But some heels that didn't jump out at me from the website, were not exactly on my list and that I ended up very happily buying (even at full price, a rarity for me, unless they're $12 sneakers from kmart), were these:

A bit vintage in style, no? Much more my thing. What would have been your selection?

A moment with Cedar

Joining in with Soulemama

{this moment} - A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Bloggy people doing their thing at #nnb2011

So, as I mentioned last week, I was heading off to Blogopolis last Saturday to learn more about blogging and branding and stuff like that which I find really interesting and would quite possibly bore many of you to tears :) I'm really glad I went, as it was really interesting - I hate to repeat the word, but it's the best fit! It wasn't intriguing or fascinating but it was definitely definitely interesting. That said, there were some very intriguing and fascinating bloggers there :)

But, back-tracking a bit, first I joined Lauren and Tatum (below) at the Hello Events pre-blogopolis drinks at Match Bar & Grill on Friday night (above). While it was theoretically for meeting and networking and so on, I found it a bit too LOUD to really converse a great deal! Good pizza, though. I did meet a few new people, and had a couple of nice conversations, which involved speaking loudly a few centimetres from their face and then turning my ear toward them so that I could hear them properly. For someone more inclined to observe at the best of times, this was all a bit too hard and I happily trotted off to the train after a couple of hours.

Only to hop back on a train, less than 8 hours after getting off, to head back into the city for the blog conference itself. I checked in, got a nice little goodie bag (Lindt chocolate, anyone?) and found myself a seat at my assigned table. While no one was there until later, the other bloggers at my table were Nicole from Bitten by the Travel Bug and the inimitable Glowless and there were also some people who worked for the sponsors and organisers of the event.

There was quite a lot of focus on more professional levels of blogging, aspiring to monetize blogs and things like that, which was all really interesting and I took lots of notes throughout the day. Some things I didn't entirely agree with - not that I disagreed exactly, but I think the recommendations should vary depending on the audience. Something that is important to a technically focussed or other types of bloggers may not actually be of the same value to a blogging mum. Or they might not have enough value to justify the time / money /  brainpower investment required to take advantage of them. Do you agree?

Same goes for photography - there are certain recommendations that are just not practical for every blogger. So I have a few opinions. But for the most part, I just took notes and let my brain work overtime! I suffer a little from the time poor aspect of being able to do what I would like with my blogs, as there is no direct return on investment (time) but I came home from blogoplis inspired to put some of my ideas back on the to-do list :)

This is Darren Rowse from ProBlogger. I love listening to his video tutorials on blogging while I'm actually working on other stuff, like editing or whatever. Gets my brain kicking into gear, and I especially love learning more about branding etc. His bit of the conference was probably where I have the most notes from! I really liked his emphasis on quality content, and looking after your readers, as well as thinking about what you want from your blog. I have worked a little in web-marketing before so it's not that it's all new but I am loving learning more and keeping in mind how I might apply it for design clients in the future, as well as my own blogs.

Another thing I came away with is a super long twitter following list! My google reader is also a bit more laden than it was before :)

Canvases, prints and magnets, oh my!

I'm joining in on Creative Spaces this week, though my creative space this morning was less about the actual making and more of a stock-take and putting away of stuff I've made in the past... Now I have a bit of an inventory, I can work out what to list for sale online and what I have ready for markets. A lot of these are canvases I just took down from my exhibition in Upwey.

Since my next market is at the Anglesea Music Festival craft market in October - as planned so far, anyway - I have options as to what I will do. What do you think? Save my stock and don't make anything else new for the next market? List it all online? List some, keep some? I'm not sure!