Thursday, January 31, 2013


 Way back in November 2011 I posted about our visit to the site of future Derwent Valley Child and Family Centre.

It’s a project that I have a soft spot for because I (and Juniordwarf too I guess, because he attended the meetings with me) used to be a community member of the Local Enabling Group established to oversee the development of the Centre.

The Child and Family Centre initiative is a State Government funded project to “improve the health and well-being, education and care of Tasmania’s very young children by supporting parents and enhancing accessibility of services in the local community”.  Several centres are being built, or are already operating, across the state.

We were only involved in the early stages, in 2010, when the group was making decisions about the site the centre would be built on, and working on the philosophies, visions and objectives for the centre to ensure that it provided services that best met the needs of our community.

The vision that the group came up with for the centre was:

Healthy, happy children thriving in our community
Nurturing and supporting families

As a government employee, who has been involved in several exercises in consultation with stakeholders, I found it fascinating to be involved in a project as a community member rather than as "the Government".  I think that the consultation and level of engagement with the community in this project is something that the Department of Education can be very proud of.

Fast forward to three years later, and the centre is built. It will be open for business next week.

Juniordwarf and I went for a little stickybeak yesterday morning. I was surprised at how emotional I felt standing in the place that had been the goal of so many committed people over the last three years.

While I was taking everything in, I thought back to almost exactly three years ago when I was asked by Katrina, the now Community Inclusion Worker at the centre, if I was interested in being involved with the project. I felt overwhelmed that from the very first meeting in 2010, which at least 40 enthusiastic community members attended, the vision had become reality and I was standing in it.

I wondered if the centre we‘d imagined back then would be anything like the centre we see today. I don’t think the end result is anything like I imagined it would – or could – be. But I love it, and it’s a credit to everyone involved, especially Katrina and Suzanne, the Centre Leader, and all the members past and present of the Local Enabling Group. I feel really proud of what they have achieved and am glad that I was a part of it all, even if it was for just a short time.

I want to wish everyone at Ptunarra* Child and Family Centre all the very best. I’m so excited for you all and look forward to keeping in touch.
The building is very impressive. The play spine that runs through the centre of the building is really cool, and Juniordwarf loved it. I didn’t take many photos, but there are some more here to show you what the centre looks like. 

Juniordwarf checking out the upper level of the play spine

Out the front of the centre

The centre's vision on display

* The name Ptunarra and the butterfly logo was chosen in recognition of the Ptunarra Brown which is a vulnerable Tasmanian butterfly.
“The process of change and growth from caterpillar to butterfly is symbolic of the changes that we must embrace as our children grow and learn and develop. Without change there would be no butterflies.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

quitting sugar aaargh

 If I ever had any doubts* about whether I was addicted to sugar, they are well and truly gone now.

Last week I was feeling pretty good about cutting out sugary treats. I’d had a few headaches, but these were minor and didn’t last long. I didn’t find it too difficult to refuse sweet things and I didn’t really want them anyway.

This week is a whole other story. And we’re only two days into this week, so I’m a little scared as to how bad this is going to get.

Last night I felt like I was getting a cold. I had a sore throat and felt a bit congested. I wondered on Twitter whether this might be a sugar withdrawal symptom. Sarah Wilson (who wrote the 8 week I Quit Sugar Program that I’m largely following) suggested that yes, this could be part of the detox and suggested drinking more water and eating more veggies.

This morning, I felt lethargic, irritable, cranky (oh wait, that’s just my normal state) and headachy. I knew that if this had been a normal work at home day, I’d be having several of the shortbread biscuits (that Juniordwarf and I would have made on the weekend) throughout the day. 

Not today though.

I did, however, just want to eat and eat. And eat. And eat. David Gillespie (author of Sweet Poison) replied to my tweet that this could be the stage where things start to turn ugly and recommended non-sweet food treats to get me through it.

Vintage cheese and coffee. 

Not together, obviously and, sadly, not with my favourite crackers. It turns out that for all the ‘bad’ stuff they don’t have, they do have sugar, so for now they’re off limits.

Cue home-made water cracker recipe (do you feel a recipe blog post coming on?).

So I went through the day feeling hungry not that long after I’d eaten, headachy and with a horribly dry mouth and metallic taste. According to Sarah Wilson, it’s all part of the detox.

Along with the physical symptoms, I’ve found that if I’m not actively concentrating on something, I’ve started to obsess about sweet food, and I think about cakes and lollies and biscuits constantly. I even hallucinated that the eggshells I could see through the plastic compost container were mini-muffins waiting to be eaten. 

I’m not really sure if I actually want cakes or lollies or biscuits. I don’t think I do. If someone put a peppermint slice in front of me, I don’t think I’d eat it. But I just can’t stop thinking about them.

All of this is happening while I’m still eating berries in my morning smoothie. There will be a point where I cut them out too (at least for the detox period) and, based on the last two days, I’m a wee bit terrified of how complete withdrawal is going to make me feel.

I honestly didn’t think I was *that* addicted to sugar. But what’s happening now suggests otherwise.
I just have to keep telling myself that every minute I get through this is a minute closer to when it will stop. I have to believe that there will be a point where I won’t want sugar and I’ll feel great. There are a lot of people who have done this and said it's worth it, so I'm hanging in there.

* I did. I didn't think that the occasional more often than not cake/bag of lollies/chocolate bar some most afternoons was something I would have to withdraw from.

Monday, January 28, 2013

quitting sugar - week 1

I survived Week 1 of my quitting sugar experiment and I’m keen to continue.

My aim for last week was to avoid sweet treats like cakes and lollies. My main problem was snacking on lollies and cakes after lunch – either picking up something on the way back to the office, a sneaky trip to the vending machine or sometimes, for a special indulgence, a visit to the bakery for a peppermint slice with my afternoon coffee.

This was a habit that had crept up on me recently and last time I let it continue for any length of time, I ended up being the heaviest I’d ever been, this time 12 months ago. So, regardless of anything else, this was a habit that had to be brought under control.

Week 1 wasn’t too bad. Some of the things I noticed were:

  • my morning berry and banana smoothie tasted incredibly sweet, which I’d not noticed before. I’ve cut out the banana and am experimenting with substitutes. This will be important if I get to the stage where all fruit is cut out.
  • not having a sweet snack in the afternoon made no difference to my post-lunch afternoon energy slumps. I need to investigate this more and possibly tweak what I have for lunch.
  • I got more frequent headaches, mostly in the afternoon and evening. Yesterday’s was the worst and the longest lasting.

Although there were times I felt miserable, I didn’t always feel like I needed to cheer myself up with something sweet and when I did, I didn't have anything. I also avoided eating cakes and lollies that people offered me, TWICE! without making a fuss about it, which I was particularly happy with.

Juniordwarf had got some lollies from a trip to the lolly shop with his grandmother (I have to start working on her now . . . ) and he offered to share them with me. I was delighted at his sharing attitude but had to decline, telling him that I didn’t eat lollies any more. He seemed to accept that as something people do. 

Week 2 is going to be more of the same. I’m also going to start paying more attention to food with added sugar and start to cut that out as much as possible.

One thing I noticed when reading food labels is that the food that contains a lot of sugar also includes other highly processed ingredients that I don’t really want to be eating, like hydrogenated oils. So this sugar-free thing is also going to be a big step towards my goal of making sure my diet consists, as far as possible, of unprocessed or minimally processed food.

At this stage I don’t know if complete elimination of sugar (or for the purpose of this experiment, fructose) is necessary. There are arguments and counter-arguments and more counter-arguments, and there is a lot of information out there and a lot of questions. Is it the elimination of sugar that has improved people’s health, or is it the general improvement in diet due to removing a lot of highly processed foods? Do those people who benefit most from a completely sugar-free diet have an intolerance to fructose that the people who don’t benefit don’t have? 

What I’m doing is trying to find out how my body reacts to elimination of sugar (fructose) and then re-introduce small amounts of sugar in its natural state (fruit, for example) and see what happens. (As I understand it complete elimination is virtually impossible, but that foods with a higher proportion of fructose to glucose that can cause problems.)

It’s early days and, as I said last week, I’m keeping an open mind and trying it to see if it has any effect on me. 

So far, the effects have been headaches and, if my bathroom scales can be relied on, one kilo lost.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

project life 2012 - the home stretch

I really wanted to get the rest of the 2012 photos edited and printed for my Project Life album by the end of January, so I kept going with it this week. Since my last post I have:

Finished the October 3x4 journal cards.

Printed some more title and 'month in review' cards.

Edited and printed all the remaining 2012 photos.

Started thinking about my 2013 album.

And realised that this album is not going to be big enough to hold the whole year's photos.

(This is up to August.)

So I've got too much for one album, but not enough for two.

While I'm dealing with that problem, I also have piles of photos from the last four months and a whole week off work to gradually sort them out and put them into page protectors.

And then I can get started on the journalling. And the January 2013 photos.

I wonder if Photo-free February could become a thing?

Monday, January 21, 2013

quitting sugar

I've tried to write this post several times, but I can't get it right. So I'm just going to cut it right back and go for it.

I am taking steps to remove sugar from my diet.

I've done some reading and I'm getting a clearer understanding of the chemistry behind what happens when we eat sugar. Some people claim that the fructose part of what we call "sugar" is incredibly bad for us to the extent that they believe sugar is poisoning us. Others think that view is completely over the top and that there is no need to cut out sugar at all.

From what I've read, a lot of what the sugar-is-poison crowd says makes sense. But that doesn't make it right, so I'm keeping an open mind about it all.

What I know for sure is that sugar is in a lot of processed foods, and one of my 100 things to do this year is to further reduce my consumption of those products, so a reduction in sugar will naturally follow.

But I'm also interested to know if total sugar withdrawal will make any difference to my health, my weight and generally how I feel. Some people say it has significantly improved their health, whereas others have said it's had little effect.

So with that in mind, I'm setting myself a goal to cut out sugar (the sugar in question being fructose) as completely as is reasonably possible. I'm not sure how far I'll get. I'm just trying it to see what happens. I'm sort of following an 8 week program that was recommended to me called I Quit Sugar. It recommends the try-it-and-see approach to start with.

This week I'm tackling a really obvious source of sugar: the afternoon lolly and/or cake break. Regardless of your views on sugar, I don't think anyone would seriously argue that regular snacking on lollies (or peppermint slices) is good for me. And in my quest to cut back on processed foods, it's something I would have got round to doing anyway. I'm just going to start now. No time like the present.

I intend to do a blog post once a week on how it's all going and will probably spend a lot of time on Twitter complaining about how badly I want chocolate bullets. So if you want up to the minute news, follow me @realsleepydwarf.

And I can report that Day 1 was a total success. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

organising the 100 things

A few days after I wrote my list of 100 things to do in 2013 I went back over it to work out exactly how and when I'm going to do all those things.

It occurred to me that I could look at the list in several different ways.

There were lots of things that related to improving my health, and lots about getting organised and staying on top of things. There were things I could group as (for lack of a better term) sorting my head out, others about keeping records of my life, exploring my world, creating, gardening, doing stuff with my family . . . and the categories go on.

Some of the things I want to do are one-off jobs. Do them and they are crossed off the list. Others are habits I want to get into over the year and others are multi-step projects.

So I spent a bit of time this week sorting the list. Because, despite outward appearances, I like things to be in order and logically sequenced. It doesn't mean I do them. It's most likely a procrastination tool that stops me getting things done. But that's another story.

Anyway, I thought that a lot of what I want to do could be worked into a resolution (or commitment) chart, which I first came across when I read Gretchen Rubin's book The Happiness Project.

I picked out a couple of things that I wanted to start doing every day (the "habits" from the list) and have made an all new chart for 2013 in an attempt to keep on top of things. The idea is that once I've started to make the first couple of things into habits that I actually do, I'll gradually add in some more things from the list so that by the end of the year I will have all the new habits I want to develop. Or at least some of them.

It's a bit more structured than what I'm used to, especially for my personal life. But I've felt very unsettled ever since we started the moving house journey back in July, and I feel like I need some structure so that I can get back some control over my life.

And, just so this isn't an entirely photo-free post, last night I started work on my One Little Word project. I cut, I stamped, I washi taped and I bradded (if that's an actual word). I also managed to drip my stamp cleaner fluid into one of my ink pads, which I don't think is particularly good for the ink pad.

Also, this is what happens when you give your six-year-old your phone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

sorting photos

After an epic photo editing weekend, I had over 150 photos to print on Monday morning for my August and September Project Life layouts. (I might add here that September was a huge photo month, with Juniordwarf's birthday, his party and our holiday to the East Coast, so there were a lot of photos to go through. I think I did well to cut them back as much as I did!)

I'm really not good at culling photos or picking one or two to capture an event. So where other people might be doing weekly layouts and choosing the best photo (or two) to put in their album, I end up with an entire page.

Case in point:

I love these Design C page protectors because I can just slot in six 6x4 pictures (or in this case, five and a title card), no cutting or resizing required. Not even any journalling, although I could have replaced one of the pictures with a 6x4 journal card. What I might do is tack a card to the back of one of the pictures, do the journalling and put a tab on the top so that it can easily be pulled out.

(I hear some of my scrapbooking friends laughing hysterically as I mention journalling.)

I also find it very difficult to reduce the number of photos I take (thereby increasing the sorting task) because, even though I already have heaps of photos of a particular thing (Juniordwarf asleep comes to mind), there is always a slightly different angle, a new expression, something that catches my eye that I just have to have a photo of . . . and so I do.

I'm trying to cut back, but I've always been a prolific taker of photos, and once I got a digital camera, there really were no limits. The challenge for me is to try and take fewer photos, but better photos, and to let go of the ones that don't contribute to the story.

I suspect this will take a while to achieve.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

getting organised

While I'm still trying to catch up on my 2012 Project Life album, I've been gradually formulating a plan for my 2013 album.

It's going to involve some blank grid cards, some left over stuff from my 2011 Turquiose Kit, possibly the digital version of that kit, and this lovely selection of products, mostly by Tim Holtz.

I actually bought the paper for my One Little Word project.

Yes, I know, the idea for OLW is to use stuff you already have in your stash and not to run out and buy heaps of new products. But as I was looking through my stash, the look that appealed to me for OLW was the sepia-toned, old-fashioned stationery, twine, brass, clocks, keys kind of feel* . . . and I realised I wanted to carry that through to my 2013 Project Life album as well.

I knew that what I had wasn't going to be enough for a full year, and that the paper collection I really loved had sold out very quickly in our local scrap shop. And I already had several of the Tim Holtz pins and brands and other bits and pieces, so it wasn't that hard to justify buying just a few more little bits and pieces (and I didn't have to buy them anyway, thanks to my birthday gift voucher that I was wondering how to spend).


So where am I at?

Project Life: I've finished editing the August photos and I've almost finished getting the September photos ready for printing. Just the hybrid 3x4 photos for the month overview to go. (The most time consuming of the lot.)

One Little Word: I've decided on my word. I can't decide whether to use an 8.5 x 11 album as Ali suggests, or go with my idea of an A4 art journal. In the mean time I've cut out the 18 cards for the January project. Yes, that is actual progress.

And just for something different, this is my set up for my diary/staying organised system for 2013. If there's anything that contrasts more with the vintage stationery look, I'd like to see it.

This is my Masterplan Diary, Lamy rollerball pen (thanks to Santa aka my Mum), Delfonics ball point pen (thanks to the lovely people at Notemaker who gave me the pen as part of their pen amnesty in 2011) and a Rhodia No.13 pad for taking notes during the day (thanks also to Santa aka my sisters in law).

With this system, I'm trying to integrate my daily planning and record-keeping with the photos I take, so that putting together my album won't be too difficult, and won't require too much searching through my stuff to find out exactly why I took that photo three months after the event. Also I intend to keep up to date, so that I don't have to go back months to find out why I took that photo.

Next step: reduce the number of photos I take ;-)

* I put the some of the blame for this on the new vintage stationery and letterpress store that recently opened in our town. It's made me want to get out the typewriter (which is still in storage) or even hand write some letters on beautiful paper. I refer you to number 21 on my list of 100 things to do in 2013. But first things first, let's get this digi scrapbooking under control . . .

Thursday, January 10, 2013

100 things to do in 2013

I've been sort-of trying to get my mind and my life back into some sort of order now that I'm back at work. I thought I was making progress in getting things back on track after the disruption of moving house last year, but then along came the festive season, ad my will-power went on holidays too.

One of the things I've been working on over the last few days is a list of 100 things to do in 2013. I'm struggling to get to 100 and, of those that I have, I'm worried that a few of them sound awfully like New Year Resolutions, which I resolve not to make.

Whatever, I'm working through the process and have come up with a list of (almost) 100 things to do this year, including habits to get into (or get back into in some cases). The habits will be things I'll work on during the year - they aren't things I expect to start all at once in January and stick to all year. Rather, I hope that by the end of the year I'll have made progress in them.

So, to keep myself honest, here are the ones I'm prepared to talk about. Maybe even blog about.

1. Improve my eating habits to make at least 90% of my diet free of processed food.
2. Reach my target weight (lose about the same again as I lost in 2012).
3. 15,000 steps per day.
4. Complete my 2012 Project Life album.
5. Keep up to date with 2013 Project Life.
6. Eliminate gluten.
7. Do the One Little Word workshop.
8. Plan a new herb garden.
9. Start a small vege garden (along the lines of the book One Magic Square).
10. Keep the house organised (establish routines).
11. Finish the DVD from our 2011 holiday for Juniordwarf.
12. Make DVDs for Juniordwarf for events from 2012.
13. [Private]
14. Scrapbook more.
15. Get back into routines I'd started last year.
16. Regular weekly "me time".
17. Weekly meal plan.
18. Go to bed before 11 pm.
19. Blog at least three times a week.
20. Learn to make yogurt.
21. Use beautiful stationery.
22. Reduce alcohol intake.
23. Get back into yoga.
24. Sew something. Anything. Just use the damn sewing machine!
25. Keep my One Line A Day journal.
26. Buy decent walking shoes.
27. Go to a National Park I've never been to.
28. Go camping at least twice.
29. Internet-free time.
30. Ride my bike.
31. Get my bike in a rideable condition.
32. Read []
33. Read []
34. [Private].
35. Read []
36. [] project.
37. Make bread. Maybe gluten free.
38. Start DVDs for Juniordwarf's 1, 2 and 3 years.
39. Eat more vegetables.
40. Give Mrs Smyth her mix tape CD of 2011 songs.
41. Donate blood.
42. Use some of my scrapbooking stash.
43. Drink more water.
44. Revisit my Happiness Project commitments.
45. Perspective!
46. New habit: if it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now.
47. New habit: put stuff away where it belongs straight away.
48. Make a list of jobs that I can do in 5/10 minutes for when I have a short gap in my day.
49. Laugh more.
50. [Private].
51. Do parent help in Juniordwarf's class.
52. Drink more herbal tea.
53. Get a notice board for the kitchen.
54. Get a notice board for the study.
55. Decorate the study.
56. Order the new blind for the dining room.
57. Take a photo that I want to display in the house.
58. Set up a worm farm with Juniordwarf.
59. Watch the Wizard of Oz with Juniordwarf.
60. Make decent dinners on Sunday nights for leftovers for weekday lunches.
61. Declutter regularly.
62. Go to MONA.
63. Do NaNoWriMo.
64. Be more organised at work.
65. [Private]
66. Make vanilla essence.
67. Make tomato sauce.
68. Enter a photo in at least one show.
69. Submit a layout to Creating Keepsakes.
70. [Private]
71. Appreciate the small things.
72. Notice things.
73. [Private]
74. Visit every antique shop in our town at least once.
75. [Private]
76. Change my hair colour.
77. Decide what to do with the old chest of drawers.
78. Find a magazine rack side table.
79. Go on a yoga retreat.
80. Turn my handwriting into a font.
81. Write the children's story that has been in my head for years.
82. Learn some basic Italian.
83. Use hand cream more often.
84. Cull some more books.
85. Avoid footy tipping.
86. Finish The Mysterious Island.
87. Participate in a semi-regular blog linkup.
88. [Private]
89. Do a cyber crop.
90. Write to my Aunt.
91. Stand up for myself.
92. Investigate ways of making my work environment more conducive to the work I'm doing.
93. Don't buy stuff I don't need.
94. Reduce/reuse/recycle.
95. Use most lunch breaks for walking, not shopping.
96. Keep better track of my spending & the household budget.
97. Take down the not-an-Xmas tree.
98. Stop using the couch as storage.
99. Fix the things that have to be fixed, or throw them out.
100. Don't stress if I don't do everything on the list.
101. Reward myself when I do something on the list.

That's a pretty full list - as I was writing this post, the final few things came into my mind, so the list is now complete. Yay! There should be ample blogging material there for me to achieve #19 at least.

If you have a similar list for 2013 on your blog I'd love to read it - just leave me a link in the comments section :)

Now I'm off to get all my stuff off the couch.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Last week Slabs, Juniordwarf and I went camping at Mt Field National Park.

We really love going there, and it's been the subject of several previous posts (examples here and  here). It's wonderful to be so close to such a beautiful place, so peaceful and so far removed from the rest of our lives.

I've already told the story of how Zoe went swimming on our walk to Russell Falls. Here are some photos to tell the rest of the story.

Slabs and Junordwarf did some fishing
Lake Fenton, where we had hoped to see a glorious sunset, but it wasn't to be

The amazing colours of these trees almost made up for the lack of a sunset

They were beautiful trees
Pandani on the Urquhart Track near Lake Dobson
Eagle Tarn
Mt Field from Maydena

Russell Falls
A grateful Juniordwarf and Zoe after the great rescue
Juniordwarf is getting the hang of using the camera
Tyenna River, right where we camped
Tall trees at dusk. They really are massive!

We had only intended to stay for two days, so we weren't too put out when we were told on the Thursday night we would have to leave by 9 am the next morning as they were closing the park due to the forecast high temperatures (forecast 39 degrees, it actually reached 41 in Hobart) and strong winds, combined with the fact that there was a bushfire relatively nearby.

It seemed impossible to imagine, in the cool and still of the evening, that such conditions could eventuate. But eventuate they did, and not long after we got home, the sun came out, the clouds disappeared and Tasmania sweltered and burned.

Late on Friday afternoon, the sky around town looked like this

from the fire that had prompted the precautionary closure of the park. It was nowhere near us, but it was still a fearsome sight. In the following days we heard of heartbreaking losses from communities around the state, especially around the Tasman Peninsula.

Today it is a lot cooler, even though the rest of Australia had its turn for record temperatures, but the fires are still burning and everyone is hoping for some relief very soon.

Friday, January 4, 2013

the Zoe saga continues

You might remember this post from about six months ago, where I told the story of losing Juniordwarf's teddy Chocolate-the-Girl (AKA Zoe).

Just recently, Chocolate has now taken on her real name of Zoe. In fact, she's always been Zoe, according to Juniordwarf. Chocolate is her nickname.

One Sunday late last year Juniordwarf informed us that Zoe would be leaving school (this is the class of teddies that Juniordwarf "teaches" in every free moment he has) and. at the ripe old age of six, would be opening a shop. She would spend Monday at work with me for the last time, on Tuesday she would be at our house setting up the shop and cooking the food, and the shop would open on Wednesday.

And from Wednesday, our house wasn't going to be a house any more. It was going to be Zoe's shop. Yep, we were pretty excited that our new house was going to be taken over by a small orange muppet. However, we were assured we would be able to continue to be here. How considerate!

The shop would be called Zoe's Kitchen and was going to have pretty much everything you could imagine, including a huge pie warmer for the party pies and sausage rolls.

He told us that the shop was going to be open every day, bascially from the time he got up to the time I went to bed at night. (It would be my job to take Zoe to bed each night, as the shop would be open later than Juniordwarf's bed time.) I asked him when Zoe was going to do all the cooking, after the first day of cooking and preparing, to restock the shop once the food started to be sold, but he didn't quite get the idea that things would run out if you sold them all.

Anyway true to his word, he set Zoe up in her shop first thing on the Wednesday, and ever since then she has been sitting in her shop until it's time for bed. She hasn't had a single day off.

That is, until Wednesday, when we went camping. Juniordwarf said that Zoe was going to come with us, and one of the other teddies was installed in Zoe's Kitchen.

As soon as Juniordwarf's tent was set up, he put Zoe inside and said that her shop was now in his tent. Including the pie warmer, apparently. I'm not sure what that left in the shop at home though. And it's not much of a holiday for poor Zoe.

Well, she did get a break. We went for a couple of walks in the national park, and Juniordwarf insisted on bringing Zoe with us. That was fine until she, er, went for a swim off the bridge.

I didn't see what happened, but Slabs said that Juniordwarf was dangling Zoe over the edge of the bridge and let go.

He was, as you can imagine, distraught, and my first instinct was to step into the creek to pull her out. Only the creek bed was something not dissimilar to quicksand* and I had to get out before I sank. Hello filthy, soaking wet shoes.

Calmer heads prevailed and we waited for her to float slightly closer. A combination of very careful creek walking and a long stick saw Zoe rescued and returned to a grateful Juniordwarf. Afterwards Slabs said it would probably have been easier to fish her out from the bridge, which, in hindisght is probably true.

Anyway the teddy was safe and no harm was done.

There are no photos of the actual incident (and thankfully none of my near immersion in the creek), so here are two after-the-event pictures. Juniordwarf's version and mine:

I asked where the water was, but he said that was too hard and he'd done his best.

Where's Zoe?**
Despite all that, we did have a fun camping trip and we saw some very cool trees, but that's another post.

* author asserts the right to over-dramatise events in places.
** author claims no Photoshop expertise.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

organising project life

In my last post I said that I was several months behind in my Project Life album for 2012. I tried to keep up, but once I got a little bit behind it became easier and easier not to do anything, and the photos built up and up.

If I was less of a perfectionist, I'd probably say something like, "stuff it, I'm just going to grab a few of the most memorable photos from each month and make a couple of spreads for each month and be done with it in a day or two".

Alas, I am not that person. I feel like my album is half full with the style I went with at the start of the year (note I never got around to posting Part 2 of that post . . .) so it would look weird to suddenly do a truncated version for the rest of the year.

So I've made a start at sorting, organising and editing the rest of my photos from July to December.

It's become a four-stage process.

I met a fellow Aussie Project Lifer, @Kelmscott_Girl, on Twitter a few days ago, and her post on catching up had some great ideas about keeping your photos under control.  I also recently discovered that I can create folders in iPhoto (on my Mac), which has made the sorting process a lot easier. (Yeah, I know, I've been using Macs most of my life and I didn't know about folders . . . )

So, on to what I've been doing.

Stage 1 is simply sorting out which photos I might want to use. I create a smart album in iPhoto for all the photos I took in the month. Then I made a copy of that album as a normal album, so I can delete the photos as I transfer them into their subject album (this is probably not necessary, but you can't delete photos out of a smart album and I like to be able to see which photos I've allocated and which ones I haven't used).

I create standard albums for each month:
  • Little photos (for the Design F summary page - like the card below)
  • Random photos (with one or two photos per event)
  • Photos of the boy doing random stuff (same)
Then I create individual albums for events or things that will have one or two pages devoted to them.

I make a folder for the month and put all these albums in it to keep the side bar tidy and so I don't get lost.

Stage 2 is to decide which photos I will actually use, and which page protector design will work with them. Here is where I'll work out the structure of the month, because the design I choose for one set of photos will, to some degree, determine which photos I can use on the next page. For example, I can't follow a right hand Design A page (the 6x4 landscapes) with a page of portrait-oriented photos on the left on the next spread.

I write this all down with basic page designs so I know where to put the photos when I get them printed. Then I export the photos into equivalent folders into my Project Life folder ready to edit.

Stage 3 is editing in Photoshop Elements. This could be simply tweaking the levels or cropping and resizing, or it could be creating photo montages, or making hybrid journal cards like this one (from the Little Photos album).

A word about the hybrid journal cards. They seemed like a great idea when I started doing them, but they take more time than I thought they would. I'm not totally sure whether it's any easier than cutting out the photo and hand writing the card. But I kind of committed to the style this year, so I want to stick with it to the end. It also means I have A LOT of my Project Life kit left because I've done so much work with the digital kit.

The final stage is to print the photos and put them into the physical album, filling in any journalling cards that I haven't already done on the computer. This is where I tend to procrastinate, as I'm not good at journalling. I use a date stamper for the dates, as this came with the original Project Life kit in 2010, but I've decided to stop using it after this year. It's easier to hand write the dates.

After all that, as of today, I've got July ready for printing, I've sorted and organised August and September and I've culled October, November and half of December.

My approach isn't as simple as I'd like it to be, so I'm hoping to streamline it in 2013. Also I don't intend to get six months behind again, so I won't need to be doing six months at once!