June Taking Stock

Whoa! It is June already. Most definitely time for a Taking Stock post. These posts are lovely to write and lovely to read, courtesy of the lovely Pip Lincoln from Meet Me at Mikes.

Taking stock is a great thing to do. This year has taken some interesting and unexpected turns, some good, some not so good. And in light of the awful events in Manchester and London over these past couple of weeks, checking in with yourself is a really good thing to do.

Obviously June is the start of Winter, and I would suggest it is the most unpopular season, but dare I say it, I totally loved Autumn this year and perhaps all that bad press that Winter gets is not totally justified. Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT like being cold; but there is something so lovely about being toasty and warm – winter food, open fires, hot chocolates, red wine… so many things.

Perhaps I’m engaging with the seasons more because my #100dayproject theme is #100daysofseasons – so I’m looking outwards to the seasons – not just the seasons of the climate, but other seasons. May/June are my season of sadness because my Mum died in early June, but the last time I saw her at home and was able to have a conversation with her, was on Mothers’ Day – so, it is a season of contemplation and reflection as well.

When I’m feeling a bit wobbly I look for comforting things, so the cooler months of late Autumn and early Winter are the perfect time to seek comfort. Staring in to a beautiful fire, cradling a glass of red wine and wearing some wooly booties will always life my spirits.

So on that, I’ll just launch straight in to another Taking Stock and make mention of a few other things that have been happening around here.

Making : Art! Lots of it, for #the100dayproject. This one is last night’s sketch, and you can see what else I’ve been up to here.

Cooking : Home baked bread. Thanks to Annette at I Give You the Verbs I got inspired to make a no-knead loaf of bread. It’s the best, the recipe is here if you’re keen to try.

Drinking: Tea. And red wine – but not together (obvs!)

Reading: “The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well” by Meik Wiking.

Looking: At lots of travel websites – an adventure is afoot!

Playing: Scrabble. For the first time in ages my husband and I had a game. I got rid of all my letters in one word, and even with the bonus 50 points he still beat me! I need to pick up my game!

Deciding: when to put the kettle on. My husband has just baked the most incredible sour dough with apricots, fennel seeds, walnuts and saltanas so I want a piece toasted, with lashings of butter. The tea is just an excuse for a slice of the fruit loaf!

Wishing: this lurgy would clear off – I’ve felt unwell for eight days now.

Enjoying: the change in seasons.

Waiting: for our Vietnam adventure to begin!

Liking: the anticipation of another family adventure.

Wondering: what the rest of the year holds – it’s already been one out of the box!

Loving: my book club. We have met twice now and have read two fabulous books (Nina is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi and The Cows by Dawn O’Porter – both fabulous and highly recommended by moi!) Next is a memoir, and I cant wait to get into this – I have ear marked this as my holiday read.

Pondering: a few things on ‘imposter syndrome’ – I plan to blog about this, but have a little more pondering to do.

Considering: what direction to take once back from holidays.

Buying: (maybe) a new pair of bathers for our holiday.

Watching: The Voice. Yes, we are The Voice tragics in our house. (Go George!!!)

Hoping: that the Netball team I coach has success in their Grand Final.

Marvelling: at how far they’ve come in such a short period of time – this time two years ago (their maiden season) we had scored just six goals for the entire season.

Cringing: at being a Voice tragic (but also owning it!).

Needing: my headache to lift – please – the long weekend is coming and I’ve got plans.

Questioning: what else I need to do to slow our lives down a little.

Smelling: not much – too blocked up.

Wearing: a winter puffer jacket inside – I know! It’s this damned lurgy.

Following: I try not to be a follower, I hate that term, but I am enjoying the Slow Your Home blog and podcast, and looking at lots of beautiful art on Instagram.

Noticing: little things in nature – like this butterfly trying to be born.

Knowing: that it will be a huge struggle for that little mite, but it will be worth it for those 24 hours of life.

Thinking: about lots of things… too much in my head actually, so really thinking I need to be more disciplined about getting a regular meditation practice happening.

Admiring: my husband, he’s got this meditation thing down pat and is the most zen guy I know.

Sorting: out finances for our trip.

Getting: excited! Only 24 days till we leave.

Bookmarking: the no-knead bread recipe – it’s such a keeper.

Coveting: everything, but nothing really. So actually, nothing really.

Disliking: how sore my nose is from blowing it and how scratchy my throat is.

Opening: more tissues.

Giggling: at my daughter’s face when she realised the parcel that arrived from England was for her.

Feeling: lethargic.

Snacking: on home made fruit sour dough (soon, very soon).

Helping: myself to a cuppa (and see above).

Hearing: my husband put the kettle on – phew, that was good timing.

Womenfolk Series: Shani Nottingham – Rare Pear Studio Creative, Artist & Photographer

Today The Morning Drum would like you to meet our first Womenfolk feature for 2017.

You might notice that the format has changed a little. It’s a bit lighter than the previous format, but doesn’t deviate from telling you all the great things about inspiring, smart and creative women.

Dear readers, let me introduce you to Shani Nottingham.

Shani and I met within the lovely online Blog With Pip group, where lots of cool and kind blogging peeps hang out, get advice, compare notes and generally support each other.  Shani is an artist, and the creative talent behind Rare Pear Studio.

She is also behind the current trending project, #ProjectTlove, which she started just for herself but it’s going a little bit cray cray! People have been invited to hashtag anything they create, be it a collage, painting, drawing, sketch, photos, or anything related to TEA. Shani planned to do it for 100 days, it looks like it may go for even longer!!! She would love others to join in. Take a look here.

Shani also hosts creative workshops, does commissions and collaborations big and small, as well as illustration work.  She is also the head admin and founder of The Collage Club on Facebook, and A Virtual Cuppa – a place for women, especially creative types, to connect and share over virtual cuppas.

But I won’t go on, Shani is here to chat to you all.

Hello there! My name is Shani (rhymes with rainy). Pleased to meet you. So what can I tell you about me? I am an open book, probably too much sometimes. I am a middle aged mother of three, happily married to a lad I met at Uni. I have a white picket fence house and two 4WD vehicles. On the surface, that sounds pretty normal huh?

Do not be deceived. My world is crazy nuts. After growing up in Newcastle, I finished a bachelor of Arts Visual Arts degree, had a few years bumming around, then went travelling for a few more. All with the guy who is now my hubby. Then we came back to Australia, and moved to Central West NSW because of a teaching job for hubby. We planned to be here for a few years, and 20 years later, we are still here. WTF?!

I never thought this would be where I would live, but it is beautiful, and a great place for the kids to grow up. Huge skies, lovely surrounds, and we live in a great old house.100 years plus, but with a big modern extension designed by our architect best friend and added a few years back. I love my house, it is full of my collections  (I am a bit addicted to opp-shopping, have been since I was a kid) and things special to me. I love my garden, a total work in progress, and spend hours out there dreaming and pottering. I could become a hermit, just pottering about painting, quite easily.

What else? I am also a teacher, getting my second Uni degree while I was breeding. I am a vegetarian, and have been since I was about four years old. I have a pet green tree frog, a dog, two cats, and a new kitten (this week!). I love cheese, dreaming, sleeping, creating, iced coffee and Instagram. 

I have had depression on and off since my teenage years, and a bit of anxiety too. I live with it, manage it, and it is part of who I am. I guess it is my sensitive nature that also makes me attuned to fine things, observant, and it fuels my creativity. It has given me a roller coaster ride, but I know no different.

My world is full of colour and drama, never beige or boring. Sometimes I wish it was, but never for long.

When I wake up… 

I moan, and try to go back to sleep. I am NOT a morning person. I am a total night owl!

My childhood was spent… 

In Newcastle NSW, at the beach, camping, travelling, and being exposed to lots of wonderful experiences and places.

Motherhood has taught me… 

That parenting is hard work. That love for your kids is not describable to someone who does not have kids. That I really appreciate the great job my own parents did.

Raising three children is…

a  bloody tough gig. I wish we had more family support out here, but the distance away from family has prevented it. Incredibly rewarding too…but exhausting.

My role model is… 

hmmm. Tough one. There are two creatives I really love and hold up as examples. I am inspired by Olive Cotton, an Australian female photographer, and how she maintained her passion for her craft, throughout her life. I am inspired by so many people…

My definition of success is… 

being happy. And content.

If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing today…

I would be travelling the world, filling sketchbooks and diaries, soaking up new experiences.

My mother taught me… 

to collect! To love my home, and clean before guests come over!

A dream that came true for me… 

At the risk of sounding soppy, marrying my husband, and having kids. Hubby  and I were ridiculously immature nutty Uni students when we met, and we went through A LOT to get to the point of being responsible adults ready to make a life commitment… And I had endometriosis for years, and was told there was a very good chance I would never have children naturally…

My favourite season is (and why)… 

Autumn…crunchy pretty leaves, cooler weather, I do love Spring too, the promise of new. I really do not like Summer!

My biggest career highlight was… 

winning the Kidspot #voicesof2015 in Sydney. Being asked to contribute to some colouring in books. Being asked to run creative workshops by people I hugely admire. Having a famous Interior writer ask to buy my art…

My time management secrets are…

 I wish I had some! It is NOT my strength! I make to do lists, for my day, my week, my month. That is my starting point…

Today I’m wearing… 

as minimal as possible. It is REALLY HOT!

The last meal I ate was…. 

Homemade vegetarian ratatouille and salad.

I get stressed when… 

I realise I am shitty at time management!!!

Asking for money when I create art, knowing how much to charge for my skills and time…

My most annoying habit is… 

Being bad at time management! lol! To be truthful, my life seems to take up all of my time…

Favourite thing to do for yourself…

Quiet alone time, faffing with my paints and drawing… or reading… or walking in my garden… Quiet alone time really.

My happy place is… 

My hubby says he can see me going to my happy place when I gaze at my coloured glass collection!  But as a place? South Island New Zealand. I adore it. I dream of it. I miss it. When I go there my heart fills.

I am inspired by…

Nature. Colour. Other creatives. The need to create.

If I could live in any other era, it would be… and why

Wow. Tough. The swinging 60’s I think, or late fifties. Because I love the fashions, homeware trends, the grooviness, the music, the positivity that seems to be signature to that time. Walking on the moon, and so many breakthroughs! Exciting times. Free love!

You can find out more about Shani and all the cool things that she is involved with here on her Blog, or follow her on Facebook  or Instagram: @rarepearstudio, she’s also on Pinterest and she has a website and a shop too.

Womenfolk Series: Jenny Jessop on Painting, Motherhood and the Creative Life


Jenny Jessop – adding final touches to one of her pieces in the ‘Grounded’ exhibition.

Through exploring imagination, place, distance, and transience Jenny Jessop has created a body of work that will be exhibited in Melbourne’s bayside suburb of Parkdale. I spoke to Jenny about her artistic career, her creative process and her current exhibition ‘Grounded’.  

Jenny is a painter from Ireland, living in Melbourne with her Australian husband and three children. In anticipation of her first Australian solo exhibition she takes us through where she has come from creatively, her creative process, and what underpins this.  [Read more…]

Womenfolk Series: Meaghan Shelton


Meaghan Shelton (photo by Charmaine Lyons Photography)

Next in The Morning Drum’s Womenfolk Series is a profile on talented and inspiring artist, Meaghan Shelton. Based on the Sunshine Coast hinterland in Queensland, she is first a painter, but also works in sculpture, drawing and photography, among other things.

Without labelling her work as surreal, for me, it has an ethereal and dreamlike quality to it. We chatted last week about her life, her work and her influences.

Meg's quote.001

[Read more…]