It’s been way too long…

Well, hello. I can hardly believe it’s been so long since I sat down to write to you. Four months I think. I kept thinking about writing, and thinking and thinking, but never actually getting around to it. Until now, this moment, that I’ve taken to sit and write.

Mostly I’ve been thinking about why I make art, why exactly I create. Creating feels as though it’s part of my dna. I’ve been drawing or writing or making things for as long as I can remember. Creating gives me a sense of peace, brings me joy and also a sense of place in the world. It’s also good for my mental health. For a long time I’ve fought an inner war with this fact. I’ve hated that art is good for my mental health. I’ve asked myself why can’t I be making art simply because I want to, rather than because I know it’s good for me mentally. My inner monologue around this has at times been nasty and at others pleasant. Something that I think is a lot more commonplace than we realise, especially considering we rarely talk to anyone – other than our therapist perhaps – about the deep dark thoughts we have.

Recently I finally decided to embrace the mental health benefits of creating. I asked myself what is the actual point of fighting something that is demonstratively good for me? I couldn’t come up with a decent answer. After all, I exercise because its good for my mental and physical health and freely admit that. So why not look at creating in the same way?

I would like to share more of that here, the intersection of creativity and mental health. They are a large part of my life and perhaps they might be for you to.

These photos were taken during my holiday last week. It was late afternoon, we were making our way back to our hotel to rest before heading out for evening activities. I wanted to capture the city but wasn’t feeling it. Then we stumbled across this ballerina, busking in the heart of the city. We only caught the last of her performance, but seeing her dancing, such beauty and strength invigorated me, calling me to capture her but then going on to take more photos. It’s like I was jolted out of tiredness and spurred on to find other beautiful things.

Do you have a creative outlet that eases anxiety or depression? Or simply let’s you get into the zone, allowing you to drown out the world and focus on the thing you’re working on?

I’d love to hear from you. You can comment here or if you’d prefer send me an email. I love engaging with people about their creative outlets.

Kim x

Books I’ve Read This Year – 2021 Edition

2021 has been yet another year that a lot of us would like to forget. Instead of reflecting on any of that, I’d rather think about some of the good things. Sometimes I feel like the good slips by so easily, enjoyed in the moment but easily forgotten. So, let’s remedy that shall we?

I’m declaring 2021 was for me the year of the book. I have always loved reading, being a voracious reader for most of my life. However during recent years when D & I were building our house, reading was one of a few things that slipped away. Reading requires time & time wasn’t something I had. Thankfully this year I’ve found time was on my side.

My signed copy of The Book Thief

A few weeks into the start of this year I decided to keep a list of what I was reading. I’ve never kept a book list before, but I’m so glad I decided to. For one, I wouldn’t be writing this, but its actually interesting to look back on what I’ve read. The list is eclectic, but it reflects the kind of reader I am. There isn’t a lot of genres I won’t read. You won’t find any romance novels in my list, it’s a genre I dislike I intensely. Some of the books I read this year came to me after I asked some online friends for book recommendations that had no romance. I found myself reading a couple of books that I was loving, until they suddenly became focussed on romance between the main characters. I was annoyed & almost stopped reading because of it 🙂

I should note, not only was 2021 been the year of the book but it has also been the year of the library. A lot of the books I’ve read have been borrowed from my local library. I love love love owning books, but it’s not realistic to buy every book that I want to read. Money aside, where on earth would they all live? It wouldn’t take long for them to take over every corner of my house. I keep a note on my phone with books I’d like to read, using it as the basis for books to borrow. I use the library’s online hold system to borrow books & often browse the latest releases list to see what might interest me.

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So, the list. I’ll note if the book is mine by writing own after it; there is a couple of re-reads of books so I’ll note that to.

Toksvig’s Almanac – Sandi Toksvig. Own.

Happiness Will Follow – Mike Hawthorne. Own. Bought this for research, as I interviewed Mike for my podcast. It’s the first graphic memoir I’ve read.

At Work – Annie Leibovitz. Own.

Becoming – Michelle Obama. Own.

Later – Stephen King. Own.

The Stand – Stephen King. Own. I’ve read this a few times since the first time I read it as a young teenager. I first read the abridged edition. My copy is the unabridged edition, which I think is worth reading. All the extra details & minutia of the characters lives help make it more comprehensive.

Fuck Happiness: How The Science of Psychology Ignores Women – Ariel Gore.

Archangel’s Sun – Nalini Singh.

Hysteria: A Memoir of Illness, Strength & Women’s Stories Throughout History – Katerina Bryant.

On Truth, Courage & Saving Our Planet – Greta Thunberg.

Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett.

Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett.

Jingo – Terry Pratchett.

Every Sky A Grave – Jay Posey.

Sourcery – Terry Pratchett.

Cursed – Multiple Authors, Short Stories.

The Quiet Girl – S.F. Kosa.

Billy Summers – Stephen King. Own.

Stardust – Neil Gaiman.

Turns Out I’m Fine – Judith Lucy.

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn.

How Do You Live? – Genzaburo Yoshino.

Emotional Female – Yumiko Kadota.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak. Own. Re-read.

Eggshell Skull – Bri Lee.

The Sandman: The Dream Hunter – Neil Gaiman.

Puff Piece – John Safran.

That’s 28 books! Kind of seems crazy, to go from reading a handful each year for a few years, to 28 this year. The year isn’t over & I started reading another last night, so maybe the number will stretch to 30? Guess I’ll update here if it does.

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What happened this year that you’d like to remember? Write it down, share it with someone or keep it to yourself. Remember it 🙂

Checking In & Recommending Things

Hey there. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Too long really, if I’m going to be honest. Things have been happening in life, a lot of art thing actually. Well, other life things too, but they’re boring to me so they’ll be boring to you too 😉

What art things you ask? Well, my love affair with oil pastels continues. I’ve been posting process videos on my YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpMnJphAt4SXm-mTQDySPAA to hopefully inspire others to give oil pastels a go. Perhaps you’ll follow along with a video or two? If you do share what you make with me, I love seeing your art.

Photography continues to be a constant in my life, and I’m exploring different ways to express myself in the medium. I’m a member of Girls With Cameras, an online photography community for women which among other things offers daily creative prompts to inspire & challenge. If you’re a female photographer & keen to learn more, I can highly recommend the community https://linktr.ee/girlswithcamerasetc

Breaking Things That I Should Keep, inspired by a song lyric

My email inbox has been ruthlessly edited over the past months. I unsubscribed from a lot of email subscriptions that were no longer serving me. What remains is both more manageable in terms of reading time & by providing me with content I actually want. It can be daunting, especially if you have a lot of subscriptions hitting your inbox each day, but its worth taking the time to edit. Set aside a block of time to dedicate to tidying your inbox, either dealing with it in one hit, or if you’ve got too much to deal with, by allocating 10 minutes a day until it’s more manageable. I promise you’ll thank me once you’re done 🙂

Perhaps you’d enjoy reading some of the things I do? After all if you read my posts then we are in some way like minded. If digital art is your thing, specifically in this case iPad art, then check out Art With Flo https://artwithflo.com/flos-treasure-chest-full-of-procreate-freebies/ She offers free tutorials on YouTube, a weekly newsletter full of tips, brushes & creative inspiration, plus she is on Patreon too.

As a Murderino receiving weekly missives from My Favorite Murder are a joy to receive. Karen & Georgia’s rapport is a delight & watching two strong women rising above the cacophony of old white men who take up a lot of the podcast space is pure joy. Under the banner of Exactly Right Media they’re building a community of podcasts that have something for everyone. https://www.exactlyrightmedia.com/

Lastly for now is a recent find, Literary Hub. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it, but Lit Hub is full of books. Book recommendations critiques, essays on the craft & subject & a whole lot more. https://lithub.com/

I hope you find something here to pique your interest.

Till next time, stay creative


An Abstract For Every Mood

Recently I was chatting with a friend about my newly discovered love of making art with oil pastels. It has taken me by surprise. Never before have I found myself wanting to create as often as I am, with any other art supply. I’m particularly struck at my urge to create abstracts. I’ve always loved them, but haven’t made many in the past. Currently I’ve got two of mine hanging in my art room plus at least 10 more in my sketch pad.

Jane (the aforementioned friend) summed up abstracts perfectly. They’re a way to make mood based art, using colours to represent my mood at the time. I love the idea so much, I wish it was mine 😉

I’ve done enough research into colour theory to know that colours can and do effect mood. I know myself well enough to know that when I’m incredibly angry I feel the best thing to create is from pouring black paint onto a canvas & going from there. But I also know I like to challenge myself, using colours that I don’t normally think of using. The second image above I made with those particular colours because I rarely use such muted tones. I challenged myself to see if I could make something I was happy with, with those colours. To not make it dull, I deliberately used pale blue as a contrast. I’m really happy with the result.

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I’ve come to realise these abstracts are a good way to ease my anxiety. For the hour or so it takes to make one, my mind is focused on the art only. Even if I’m recording my work to share on my YouTube (check it out here, if you’re interested https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nmC8Y68CsQ ) I’m not aware of my phone recording, sitting on a tripod beside me (even though it’s a weird thing for me to have accompany me as I create) or anything else for that matter. It’s just me, the oil pastels & paper. There have been times when I’ve finished an abstract & have fought the urge to make another immediately. That’s how much I love them 🙂

Indoor Plants & Mental Health

My love affair with indoor plants began slowly, about two years ago. The small space we were living in at the time was utilitarian out of necessity but its drabness was driving me a little batty. I wanted something pretty & decided a couple of house plants would be perfect. I bought a Dracena Marginata and another plant that had no nursery label. I thought it was a Philodendron; I recently discovered its actually a Syngonium Podophyllum or Syngonium White Butterfly. Within weeks my White Butterfly had exploded in growth, going from a small plant with only a few leaves to a plant double in size. Some days it felt like she was growing whilst I watched her, so quick was her growth. Her stunning leaves resemble an elongated heart shape with pale green or white veins which I guess is where the name White Butterfly comes from. 

I’ve found bright indirect light suits her most, although I’ve seen suggestions that she will also cope with lower light situations. Wikipedia advises that the White Butterfly is a native to semi-tropical countries such as Brazil, Ecuador & Mexico. I wonder if her growth would be even faster if she was placed in a bathroom? Perhaps I should put one of my propagations in my ensuite, to compare with growth in a non humid space? Oh yes, I’m propagating my White Butterfly. Her growth is so much that I’ve found propagation is a nice way to control it. Propagation is very easy, simply cut off growth near a node, place it in water & wait a while for roots to grow. The growth will depend on the temperature; I took cuttings from my mother plant a week & a half ago & they’re already developing roots. Pretty soon I’ll have another five plants to add to my collection.

So Kim, I hear you saying, what exactly does this have to do with helping your mental health? And more importantly how can owning plants help my mental health? Well, it’s simple really. My plants make me happy. In a world that currently feels like its gone crazy I’ll take simple happiness whenever I can get it. I check my plants every day. I check them to see if they need a water, to make sure that there hasn’t been an influx of bugs since I last looked at the plant but also to check plant growth. It’s so exciting to watch a new leaf push its way out of a plant, going from a tiny green thing to a fully formed pale coloured leaf, eventually becoming a hardened fully grown leaf. Sometimes I grab my camera to photograph a leaf but mostly I just watch them in awe. Plant life is a little bit magical & I love having that in my life. A couple of times when I’ve been anxious I’ve gone looking at my plants, because I know doing that will ease the anxiety a little. 

I haven’t yet dived into the psychology behind the actual scientific studies that look at the mental health benefits of plant ownership, but I will. And if it’s ok with you I’ll share it in a future post. For now, trust me when I say plants will help improve your mental health. If you don’t already own house plants, treat yourself to one or two. And you’re allowed to blame me if you find yourself addicted 🙂

So I Made A Zine

The idea came to me this past Saturday evening to put together a mini zine containing short quotes about anxiety. I woke up Sunday morning & started working on it.

I made the decision to make several copies by hand & I’ll photocopy the best one to make several more copies. Towards the end of the day I was wondering what I’d gotten myself into, bored as I was with the repetitiveness of writing out the same thing eight times. If I make a second issue I won’t create it this way; instead I’ll make one version & make mutiliple copies of it.

But for the sake of the exercise, of wanting to create a zine & have more than one copy of it, making eight individual copies by hand was the way to go.

Initially I thought I would make it full of drawings to go alongside the words but as I began I didn’t feel like that would suit this project. Instead as you can see from the photos, I’ve kept this zine word heavy with only a sprinkle of hearts & weird scribbled flower that I love to draw as a doodle.

Why quotes about anxiety? Well, the subject felt right to me. You know I’m living with it. Loved ones have it. And I want to talk about anxiety as much as possible to help reduce the stigma of anxiety. I hope this little zine will contribute to this, in its’ own small way.

If you’d like to buy a copy, I am selling it for $5 plus postage. Send me an email expressing your interest & we can go from there.

Food, Glorious Food

I am a passionate believer in making & eating quality food. I think good food is one of life’s most important things.

One of my favourite things in life is to prepare & serve food to share with others. It could be something as simple as a couple of homemade biscuits & coffee or an elaborate meal that requires hours of preparation; it matters little to me what it is because I love it all.

When it comes to the preparation of food I am both a follower of recipes & a creator of them. Well, I suppose I’m technically not creating recipes because I’m not taking note of measurements but I’m certainly using combinations of foods that I know work together & that I like together & repeating a particular dish multiple times.

I thought I’d share with you today links to some of the recipes that I return to. Note that many of these are sweet treats, cause that’s the mood I’m in as I write this post 🙂

First up is a link to make soda bread. This is incredibly easy to make & is really tasty. I treat myself to freshly baked soda bread as a delicious lunch. Usually I’ll bake it on a Saturday, have more either for breakfast or lunch on Sunday then freeze the remaining bread. I like the flexibility of this recipe. You can use whatever dried fruits & nuts that you’ve got in the pantry. I don’t use store bought buttermilk. Instead I add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to the milk at least ten minutes prior to needing it. Purists will probably be horrified but if I was to buy buttermilk I wouldn’t be baking soda bread as often as I do 🙂

Slices of freshly cut soda bread

As we are a family of two, a lot of recipes I return to frequently are small batch. This saves excess food going to waste & has the added benefit of us not eating the same biscuits or sweets day in & day out 🙂

My most small batch visted website is Dessert For Two. A food blog by Christina Lane, it’s full of fabulous food. Over time Christine has added to her repertoire, expanding from desserts to covering main meals, gluten free options & more. Every recipe I’ve made is delicious; I don’t think you could go wrong with any of Christine’s recipes. Her raspberry brownie recipe is a must, although I’ll confess to only using raspberries once when making it. I usually use strawberries, blueberries or if I have none then I omit the fruit completely.

I love chocolate chip biscuits so I’m often making them. I’ve yet to find the perfect recipe, although I’ve found a couple that come close. One of them is by Sally of Sally’s Baking Addition. This particular recipe makes one giant chocolate chip biscuit (or cookie, as Sally calls it. Because she’s American, & American’s cookies are us Australian’s biscuits) however I usually prefer to make it as three smaller biscuits. Two for my husband & I to enjoy whilst they are still warm & the third to be eaten by me the next day.

I like brownies a lot, so here’s another recipe for them. This one isn’t a small batch recipe, but thats ok. Sometimes its ok to eat brownie every day for a week 🙂 Or to make & share with loved ones. This recipe, by Broma Bakery uses red wine. This sounds indulgent, & it is. If you like brownies, give them a try. If. you like red wine, then you must try these. Enjoy them with coffee or red wine if you dare.

Turning away from desserts, another love of mine is risotto. I make beetroot risotto a lot when beetroot is in season. The recipe I use was pulled from the pages of a magazine many years ago so I’m not sure how I’d go about sharing it here. Sometime last year, after buying more pumpkin than needed I searched online for a pumpkin risotto recipe. I found this one by ReceipeTin Eats. It has entered my list of recipes to return to. It’s easy to make & is delicious is I’m absolutely recommending it to you.

My list of go to recipes is quite large, so I think I’ll write another post about this in the near future. In the meantime, let me know if you make any of these recipes & how they go for you. I love hearing your thoughts.

Art Journal Fun

I’ve been fascinated by art journals for a while. They show up in my social media feed & some of the artists I’ve interviewed for Art Supply Posse keep them or specialise in them. But I was hesitant to start my own. My style of art isn’t the same as that of the artists I admire & the quality of my work isn’t as good as others. I was comparing myself to these artists & I was convinced that my perceived shortfalls was a good reason to not keep an art journal.

My art journal, awaiting the addition of an origami crane

Thank goodness I came to my senses! I finally woke up to the nonsense I was telling myself & realised that I could make an art journal be exactly what I need it to be.

I had been using a Midori Travellers Notebook as a daily todo list & calendar hybrid. It suited me for a couple of years but by the end of 2019 I’d become bored by this setup. I like the size, the feel of the stunning paper & it’s portability. Enough reasons to turn this daily boring thing into an art journal that only a few weeks in I can say I’m already proud of.

To make it work best for me I utilise two pages at a time, which are given over to a week. Instead of listing out days & dates, as I had been doing, I’m now writing the start date & end date of the week followed by the particular month. Year isn’t included as it’s noted when a new notebook is started.

Because I love fountain pen ink (& also as a convenient excuse to buy/try more ink) I’m washing ink over the pages as a background. I’ve created about 20 backgrounds so far, allowing each double set of pages to dry completely before moving to the next set. Thats the only criteria I’ve set myself for the journals’ contents, although I recognise this might change in the future. From there I am adding art to the pages as I see fit.

Sometimes I’m making art directly onto the page, other times I’m making art elsewhere & pasting it in. It really depends on what I feel like doing when I decide to art. My daily breakfast art practice continues so some mornings whatever I make will end up in the journal. Other times I’ll fold an origami crane or make a small piece of fountain pen ink art, pasting it into the journal afterwards. It all depends on my mood.

I’m glad I had this change in mindset. I do deserve to have an art journal. And so do you. If you’ve ever wanted to give one a try, I say go for it. Consider this me giving you permission to keep one. If you do, let me know how it works out for you. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Yes, I Celebrate My Dogs Birthdays

Zena, as captured on her birthday

Yesterday was Zena’s 11th birthday. Zena is the eldest of my two dogs. It almost feels impossible that she is already 11 years old. I remember vividly the day we met her, as if it happened only moments ago. Even then as a small eight week old puppy she was full of sass. We took with us our dog Zeus to meet her because we wanted to make sure that the two of them would get along. Meeting a fully grown adult male Rottweilor did not phase Zena. She ran to him at full pace, her chest out and tail up, daring him not to be impressed by her tiny presence. There was no fear; instead she was curious and determined to follow him everywhere. She was already aware of her place in the world & expected everyone – animal or human – to be impressed by her.

In the ensuring years Zena has become a crucial part of my life. In recent years she has become incredibly in tune with my mental state; it was because of her actions that I realised I needed to seek help for my anxiety. I became aware that Zena was anxious every time I was anxious; or actually she would become anxious before my anxiety hit. She was aware that I was becoming anxious before I was & at the time I wasn’t aware that she was trying to calm me but I wasn’t recognising her cues. As she became more anxious as my daily anxiety grew I decided I had to do something about my mental health, in the hope that improving my mental health would improve hers. Thankfully as my anxiety treatments began to work my improvements were reflected in Zena. She hasn’t lost her ability to recognise an anxiety or panic attack before I do however now I recognise her cues and act on them. I allow her to calm me if needed or simply to shadow me as she makes sure that I’m going to be ok.

Despite the positive impact Zena has in my life (and also Cadel, my second, younger dog) I have always felt uncomfortable publicly recognising the importance of my dogs. I’ve often felt ashamed that I am the owner of dogs, or to put it in popular parlance, a dog mum. Almost everyone I know, particularly those of my age or older, are mothers or fathers of children. You know, humans. They’ve done what society expects and what people have done for millennia which, at its core is to reproduce in order to maintain the existence of humans on Earth. For reasons I’m not yet ready to share here, having children was not and is not for me. But having pets, especially dogs? Well of course I had to. My life would be bereft without them.

So now, I’m willing to own my reality. I am a dog owner. No I’m not going to call myself a dog mother. I honestly hate the description although I’m happy for others to refer to themselves as that if it truely makes them happy. And in that owning of reality I will happily confess to celebrating my dogs birthdays. I haven’t actually made a birthday cake or cupcake for either Zena or Cadel yet, but its on my to do list for a future birthday. Instead I give them some kind of food treat (which they both get because you can’t spoil one dog without spoiling the other!). For Zena’s birthday I shared my souvlaki with them. I wasn’t hungry enough to eat it all so Zena & Cadel got to enjoy my leftovers. They were thrilled to eat something different and tasty and I was thrilled not to throw away food.

So this is me, stating to the world that I’m a proud dog owner and I’m never going to not bring it up. Its a major part of my life and I’m happy with this fact.

Oh, one more thing. I’m also a dog owner who runs an Instagram account for her dogs. Yep, I’m one of those! If you’d like to check it out search zenacadel on Instagram. Hopefully you’ll enjoy their page.