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Being Yourself

Belated Happy Easter to you all ūüôā¬† Did you indulge in a huge chocolate-fest, or were you restrained and just¬†had a few little treats?¬† Did you spend time with family and friends, or take part in religious events?¬† Whatever you got up to, I hope you enjoyed yourselves and had a nice break.

I spent a lot of time with family and friends over the weekend, cleaned my house so it was fit for my Mum to visit and stay in for a couple of nights, and did some crafting.¬† I am still loving the Kelly Rae Roberts Unscripted series I have subscribed to.¬† It’s just makes me want to craft and create and DO STUFF.¬† I am nowhere near her standard of creativity and art, but it is very enjoyable just mucking about with paints and paper and having a go.¬† I am still rubbish at faces, but I keep trying and hope that some day I will get them just right!¬† If only people didn’t have eyes!¬† It would make everything so much simpler for me, at least in terms of drawing and painting (maybe not so much in real life though…) and I wouldn’t end up having tantrums, or just drawing a lot of people with closed eyes (which is my default position these days).

I had this little communion plaque (bought on a recent op-shopping trip for 50c) and I thought it would be perfect to paint over and repurpose.¬† It’s quite small – a little bigger than an iPhone – so perfect for me to do some crafting on!¬† Plus it had the little hanger on it so I didn’t need to worry about adding one myself.

I removed the picture that was already on it ( a communion poem and prayer) and sanded the wood back, then slapped on a layer of white Gesso, just to seal and give it a good working surface.  I then added paint in various colours to create a distressed, rubbed back look.  I used a soft green, some burgundy and a little bit of yellow Рjust dabbing and rubbing it on with my fingers.  When I was happy with the effect, I let it dry whilst figuring out what I was going to put on it.

I decided to draw my little lady on a separate piece of paper, paint her main features and then cut her out, to be glued¬†and finished on the plaque itself.¬† I didn’t trust my drawing/painting skills to just add her straight to the wooden surface.¬† I adhered her with gel medium and then added¬†flowers and wings cut from scrapbooking paper and vintage¬†books.¬† The words were cut from old books or stamped (when I couldn’t find the word I wanted!) and I’m not quite satisfied with them, but they’re stuck on there now!¬† I might go over them with a bit of colour, just to make them look less “new” and pale.¬† I outlined here and there with black and white pencils to give some definition.

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I was a bit heavy-handed with the lady’s¬†features – I was using a very¬†fine black marker, but it was still too heavy.¬† I will do better next time!¬†I’m happy with her top though – it came out very rustic looking and picks up the red colour in the background – and I’m glad I added the¬†“me” heart as it needed an extra little something.

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So, all in all, I was pretty happy with my little lady.¬† I am trying to be myself and be ok with who that is.¬† Even if it means I am not the world’s greatest artist ūüôā¬† I am still trying to find my “niche”, artistically speaking, so this is another part of the journey.¬† I will keep practicing faces and different techniques with paint and drawing and, in the meantime have a lot of messy fun doing it ūüôā

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Thanks for stopping by – may you enjoy the freedom of being yourself,
whoever that is, today and always x

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Book Bargain Bonanza

I had a day off this week. ¬†A glorious, nothing-scheduled, I-can-do-what-I-want day off. ¬†Work has been very stressful, I’ve been having lots of migraines, and life just seemed a bit craptastic in general. ¬†I’m always exhausted and just needed a break. ¬†So, a day off was necessary,¬†for my mental health if nothing else.

I got up early (not too early – it was a day off, after all!) and hit the op-shops. ¬†I wanted to visit some I hadn’t been to before, and expand my “territory”. ¬†I didn’t have much luck in finding anything good to start with, but eventually I hit book heaven at one particular Salvos store. ¬†Lordy, lordy, they had the BEST book selection, AND it was in alphabetical order so you could actually search properly in the section you were interested in.

I am always on the lookout for Alice Hoffman titles. ¬†She’s one of my favourite authors, but I never buy books new (who can afford them???!) so I have to wait until I find them in second hand shops. ¬†Normally, I don’t find any of her books or, just as annoying, only ones I have already read and have in my shelf at home. ¬†But on this day, dear readers, I found FIVE! ¬†Woo! ¬†I’d already read a couple of them, but I did snap up two for myself –¬†White Horses, and¬†The Museum of Extraordinary Things. ¬†So happy! ¬†I’m cross at myself because I left another one behind – Blue Diary – because I thought I had it at home, but then found that I didn’t. ¬†You know you have too many books when you can’t remember what you have! ¬†Hopefully it will still be there if I visit the shop again…but I’m glad to have found these two anyway ūüôā

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Craft books are not always easy to come across in op-shops, and really nice ones are like hen’s teeth. ¬†That’s why I was thrilled to find these two – French-Inspired Jewellery¬†and¬†The Adventurous Scrapbooker. ¬†The latter has lots of off-the-page ideas for scrapbooks and similar projects. ¬†I actually don’t like scrapbooking at all – I don’t do it and have never liked the concept of it – but there are always awesome ideas and techniques you can apply to other crafts. ¬†So this book is great for that. ¬†The jewellery book is gorgeous – not just for the pretty projects inside, but for the beautiful background layouts they have used for display. ¬†Vintage papers and ephemera, ribbon and other embellishments make for beautiful pages, that are works of art in their own right. ¬†So glad to have found this one! ¬†Especially for the bargain price of $2.25!

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I love dogs. ¬†I had them all my life, right up until I was in my 30s. ¬†But now, with full-time work and a little house of my own, on my own, a dog just isn’t practical. ¬†Maybe one day…sigh… ¬†In the meantime, there are books like Rachel Hale’s¬†101 Salvations¬†to keep me happy. ¬†Rachel Hale’s photography is always a delight, and this book of doggy pictures is gorgeous. ¬†I want to start doing some proper drawing and thought I might start with some canine-inspired sketches (might as well begin with a subject I know and love!) so I am hoping to use the photos as guides. ¬†In any case, it is a beautiful book¬†in excellent condition and, again, at only $2.25 – I’m sure the original RRP would have been well over $35.00¬†– I got another bargain.

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As I just mentioned, I am trying to improve my drawing skills (such as they are) and need all the help I can get. ¬†So, with that in mind, I picked up this next book –¬†You Can Draw in 30 Days. I’m not necessarily convinced I will only take 30 days, but hey, it’s a start. ¬†I desperately want to be able to draw eyes so I am really hoping this book will help me.

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I also picked up a couple of titles for my Mum, who is a ¬†voracious reader and is always running out of her own books to read. ¬†So, all in all, a very successful visit to this particular op-shop. ¬†I didn’t have room in my basket for anything else, which is probably a good thing. ¬†Didn’t stop me from going to a few more¬†op-shops afterwards though! ūüôā

Hope you are having a good day – thank you for dropping by x

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Op-Shopping 101

It’s a known fact that I enjoy op-shopping (thrifting) just a wee little bit. ¬†If by a “wee little bit” you mean “more than ANYTHING IN THE WORLD!!!!”

If op-shopping was an actual job, I would be quitting the one I already have and preparing to have an awesome, joy-filled career.

In the meantime, here are a few tips and tricks if you are a newbie to op-shopping, or just one of those people who doesn’t really understand it and thinks everything will be stinky and gross and smell like old people¬†:

  1. Be Prepared to Rummage : Op shops are not like regular stores – everything isn’t always neatly set out in sizes and colours with multiples of everything.¬† This is half the fun – you never know what you are going to find.¬† I know some people hate that.¬† They want to walk in and walk out with the item they wanted within minutes.¬† They do not enjoy the chase.¬† They are missing out on so much.¬† You have to be prepared to rummage and look through lots of racks and explore.¬† I personally think it is best to not go in with an exact “want” list in your head because, chances are, you won’t find what you’re looking for.¬† Just enjoy the search and see what treasures you can unearth.
  2. Wear sensible stuff : What I mean by this is you should wear easy-to-remove clothing items so that, when trying things on, it doesn’t take you forever and you don’t get hot and gross or annoyed.¬† Don’t wear button-up things (unless they are also easy to just pull off over your head) or pants that need belts.¬† In fact, avoid trousers if you can.¬† A skirt is a better option because you can pull things on underneath them.¬† That way, you don’t even have to get undressed or risk the dreaded op-shop curtain fling (that scary moment when someone yanks open your changing room curtain to “see if anyone is in here” – happens all the time, makes me want to punch people) when you’re sans clothing.¬† Ideally, a skirt and loose-fitting top works best – then you only have to get half-undressed at any given moment.¬† Wearing a dress means you have to take it all off if you’re trying on another dress.¬† But, then, I have been known to try things on over or under whatever I’m wearing.¬† It’s up to you.¬† Just go for simple and comfortable and easy to pull on and off.¬† Same goes for shoes, obviously – don’t wear things that have straps or buckles that need undoing.¬† It just makes the whole process more laborious.
  3. Where to go : When you’ve been op-shopping for most of your life, you learn the best places to go, and the places to avoid.¬† I have certain shops that I always frequent because they are cheap, clean and always have great stuff.¬† In WA, I really like Good Sammy’s.¬† They have the best prices (which are generally consistent across all of their stores) and they are organised well.¬† They have regular sales too – 50% off days which apply to all recycled clothing (as opposed to¬†particular colour-tagged items).¬† I live in hope of those 50% off signs – they make me so happy ūüôā¬†¬† I find Good Sammy’s to be excellent for dresses, shoes and handbags, as well as for books, knick-knacks¬†and other household items.
  4. Don’t Haggle : Op Shops are usually run by charities, who have to make a certain amount of money each week in order to remain viable. Their stock is already very cheap so please don’t ask for a discount of any kind, or¬†haggle, or ask for the price to be reduced if you have bulk items.¬† Just don’t.¬† It’s rude.¬† If you don’t want to pay $3 for that cute little top (that is probably worth $25 new), don’t.¬† Walk away from it and look for something else.¬† I am the biggest cheapskate out, but even I won’t ask for a price to be reduced, regardless of condition of the item.
  5. What to buy : Obviously, buy what you like but don’t get caught up in the :Ooooh, it’s so cheap!” frenzy that sometimes affects us all.¬† Yes, you may be able to buy 15 black t-shirts for under $30, but do you really need to?¬† Find the one you like best and buy that one.¬† Just because something is cheap, doesn’t mean you need it.¬† It’s not a bargain if you don’t wear it.¬† Keep a look out for designer items you might be able to sell on Ebay, if that’s your thing. ¬†Don’t buy items that require something else in order for you to wear them eg a sheer dress that needs a slip underneath it. ¬†Sure, if you have a slip that would go perfectly underneath, then cool, but if not, put the dress back on the rack and keep looking. ¬†It’s not very clever to buy something that costs you $5, if you then have to go and buy something to go with it that costs $25. ¬†It’s false economy, and the chances of you ACTUALLY going out and buying the extra item are pretty slim. ¬†Trust me, I know this.¬† I have learnt my lesson.
  6. Don’t shop hungry :¬†As I said before, op-shopping is generally not a quick expedition, where you’re in and out in two minutes. ¬†It takes time to rummage and try things on plus, if you’re lucky, you will have several op-shops in a row in one place, so you’ll be there a while. ¬†Make sure you take some water with you so you don’t get dehydrated (shopping is thirsty work!) and it’s a good idea to have a little snack with you too – some muesli bars or a handful of nuts or whatever. ¬†You make better decisions when you’re not hungry or thirsty. ¬†You don’t want to go home with a pair of lime green stretch pants just because your bloody sugar was low and you momentarily lost your brain.
  7. Know your colours : It makes life easier if you know what suits you and what colours look best with your complexion.¬† You can scan past a whole rack of stuff and dismiss what doesn’t fit in with your ideal.¬† That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try new colours once in a while but, generally, you should stick to what works for you and makes you feel good about yourself.¬† For instance, I love yellow and mustardy colours, but I know I look like death-warmed-up in them.¬† They make me look like I am about to be violently ill or have some sort of plague.¬† I avoid them.
  8. Donate¬†: There is a universal law that what you give out, you get back.¬† So donate your unwanted clothes often.¬†¬†Have a good sort out and drop stuff off at the op-shop.¬† While you’re there, you might as well have a look round, right?
  9. Don’t discriminate¬†: Go¬†thrifting in lots of different places.¬† I know one particular op-shop that is situated in a less than salubrious suburb that has the BEST stuff.¬† Sometimes the “posh” towns have crappy op-shops.¬† There’s no guarantee that postcode equals quality – not in this case anyway.¬† Some of the smaller, slightly dingy shops in out of the way places have really neat stuff and, because it hasn’t been picked over by all and sundry, you can often find a bargain on some quality items.
  10. Don’t be snooty : Within reason, everything can be washed and disinfected.¬† I draw the line at buying underpants, but everything else is fair game.¬† I’ve bought some lovely kitchenware and mugs, Tupperware and cutlery from op-shops.¬† It just needs a good scrub and some hot soapy water.¬† A lot of the stuff hasn’t even been used – you can tell by looking at something if it’s lived a hard life.¬† Use your discretion.
  11. Take a buddy : I personally am happy to shop on my own, but there is something to be said for taking a like-minded friend along.¬† My cousin and I¬†thrift together often, and we have a pretty good system.¬† Usually this system consists of me finding awesome things for HER to try on (because she is super skinny and fit and can wear anything) but we always have fun.¬† It’s good to have a second opinion on items you’re not sure of.¬† Someone who can shake their head and say “Um, no….” when you try to squeeze into that crushed velvet boob-tube.¬† If the other person knows your size, they can be on the lookout for things you may not have spotted as you trawl the racks.¬† A buddy can also guard your changing room for you and stop people barging in, or hold the curtain closed for you if it’s a tad on the not-wide-enough side.
  12. They have new stuff too!¬† Thrift¬†shops sometimes also stock brand new items.¬† They get bulk amounts of “reject” products, ie things that haven’t sold somewhere else.¬† There’s nothing wrong with them, they’re just excess stock.¬† You can get undies and socks, clothing, and other items brand new, but at a fraction of the normal cost.¬† I must admit to buying my undies from my local op-shop quite often.¬† They’re $2.25.¬† I refuse to pay $10 or $12 for a pair of undies.¬† They’re a nice fit (I hate undies that ride up your butt!!!)¬†and they are good quality and long-wearing.¬† I’ve also bought one of those new-fangled bamboo pillows at the thrift shop for about half the price of one in the regular stores.

So, there’s nothing to it, really.¬† Just go in with an open mind and find some treasures.¬† And be prepared to walk away with nothing and be ok with that.¬† The hunt is half the fun.

Happy thrifting everyone ūüôā

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