101 in 1001

Task #77 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Take 101 photos with black & white film

There were very few tasks on my 101 list which truly spanned the full length of the 1001 day project, but this was one of them.  On 1 January 2012 one of the first contributions I made to my list was to shoot some photos with my film camera, and she was still working hard in the final few days of my challenge last week.   My little F80 travelled with me all over Melbourne and down the Great Ocean Road, although admittedly she was always the camera which was left behind when I had to pack for a flight!

Nothing could ever replace the anticipation of waiting for film to be developed. I usually sent in a few rolls at once without knowing what they contained, so every time I picked them up it felt a bit like Christmas morning.  For somebody so accustomed to the instant gratification of digital this was a much needed lesson in the art of patience and that was really satisfying.

I have a lot to learn about shooting with film, and like everything else on my list I would have produced far better results if I had been pulled in fewer directions.  But done is better than perfect, and I’m happy to have created a collection of 101 little black & white, analog memories.

 

(I’m testing out a new gallery plugin, and am especially curious to see whether this layout survives all the way through to my RSS reader.  If you’re reading this post through a newsfeed and don’t see a collection of thumbnails below please click through to my website instead.  I’d love to hear from you if you spot any problems!)

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Happy 1001 Days! (101 Things in 1001 Days)

by Elizabeth on September 28, 2014 · 5 comments

in 101 in 1001, Life

glamping

I’m writing this post from the magical looking tent in the picture above, making me officially the luckiest girl I know.  Tim and I have spent the past few days glamping right on the beach near Sorrento, and late last night I braved the cold to take the photo above because I knew it would be a beauty.  The sky was crystal clear, and with no light pollution around the stars were just phenomenal.  We could even see the Milky Way, but tonight the sky is covered in cloud and it’s just as lovely listening to the rain tapping on our canvas roof.

My goodness, what a way to end a project spanning almost three years!  Today marks the very last day of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project, and I’ve only just put down my last classic novel: The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway – the final piece of my final task.  With the waves crashing outside my door as I read, could there have been a more perfect location for this book without jumping on a plane to Havana?

There were times when I truly believed that I wouldn’t finish my challenge this time around.  Life threw me a few really good curveballs over the past two years, and I can name a couple of times when it would have been so easy to throw in the towel.  The temptation was there, but each time I considered caving in I remembered that I had a kickass list of tasks full of stuff I actually wanted to do.  What would be the point of quitting on the stuff I really love?

(Sidenote: if you are considering this challenge you must start by writing an amazing list.  When the going gets rough it had better be bulletproof.)

But really?  It was also other people who deserve the credit for convincing me to get back in the saddle each time I fell off.  Every comment, instagram like and retweet reminded me that I had pals quietly cheering me along, and that really really mattered.  It still amazes me that some of my biggest cheerleaders are people I’ve never met in the flesh.  You guys are rad and I’m so glad I live in the future.

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I’ll keep this short, because my 101/1001 widower is snoring in my ear as I write this and I owe him the biggest cuddle.  We’re heading home to Melbourne tomorrow morning and then I will begin the process of digging through my archives to write a wrap up of all 101 tasks.

I will be just as relieved as you when I can go back to regular old blogging.  Soon!

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101 Things in 1001 Days:

Task #89 – Draw or paint 25 figures
Task #90 – Draw or paint 25 faces
Task #91 – Draw or paint 25 hands
Task #92 – Draw or paint 25 still life scenes
Task #93 – Draw or paint 25 trees

Let me begin by saying that yes, this is one of those occasional image-heavy posts.  Now would probably be a good time for a cup of tea.

 

Back when I wrote my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days almost 3 years ago I was taking weekly classes at the Melbourne Studio of Art… and I was rapidly running out of cash!  Those classes were excellent for a complete beginner like me, and I knew that in order to keep getting better without a teacher I would need to draw constantly.  I set myself a pretty conservative goal to draw 25 figures, faces, hands, still life scenes and trees and resolved to chip away at it gradually.

Only that’s not what happened.  At least 60 of the drawings on the wall above were created in the past 3 weeks under a cloud of fear and sleep deprivation.

(I know, I know.  Believe me.)

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The good news is it worked.  Even in the past 3 weeks I’ve seen my drawing improve, and the sense of urgency created by my deadline made me push through some of the mental blocks that I otherwise would have caved into.  Each evening as I sat at my dining table I resolved to pump out a certain number of drawings before bed, and that raw determination helped me to set an excellent pace.

There are very few finished pieces in the picture above – maybe only ten or so out of the whole bunch.  This in itself is a bit of a win for me because I’m far too likely to dwell in the details if left to my own devices.  Pure necessity drove me to draw, and then throw it to the side and draw again.  It felt good to have permission to move on, and to see the value and lessons contained in the ‘duds’.  And there were plenty of those!

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I’ve spent an awful lot of time inside my own head in the past three weeks, thanks to this challenge, and I can’t adequately explain how this time ‘alone’ has changed things for me.  With a pencil in my hand I was constantly making decisions and solving problems on the paper in front of me, and before long I noticed my thought patterns shifting when I was away from my desk too.  Perhaps this is why people love meditation so much, the act of silencing the white noise and thinking more deliberately, more consciously.  That’s what I felt happening to me as I threw myself into these drawings.  Clarity, and lots of it.

It might sound cheesy, but I really did resolve a bunch of my own internal worries thanks to all these trees and boobs and bottles.

You guys, drawing doesn’t come naturally to me – not at all.  I don’t have a great deal of natural talent, I wasn’t born with an ‘eye’ for scale and perspective, and I will never have to stop working hard to create a beautiful drawing or painting.  I have accepted it, and even embrace it because I understand the personal value in sitting down and quietly solving a hundred little problems.  If the end result is good that’s fantastic, and if it’s not?  Well, there’s almost certainly a lesson in it for the next drawing.  Every little sketch strengthens a muscle.

I’ve put my best drawings below, and you can click the thumbnails to see a larger version.  Give yourself a round of applause if you make it to the end!

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Task #79 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Complete an alphabet photo series

For almost three years my deadline for the this project, 28 September 2014, has seemed a very long way away.  It’s hard to believe that I’m staring down the barrel of the final week.  Just 6 days to go!

This is the 88th completed task, and I promise that sounds far worse than it actually is.  So many of my tasks are neeeearly complete, and those that are yet to be started are part of a special plan for next weekend.  More on that later.

But first, enjoy this fun little photo series.  Each photo represents a letter of the alphabet, and the only rule was that I needed to find objects which accidentally formed the shape of the letter.  I tried to not take this too seriously so there’s a mixture of DSLR and iPhone photos in here.

AA BB CC
DD E F
GG H I
JJ KK LL
M NN OO
PP QQ RR
S TT UU
V W XX
YY ZZ

I’ll be back soon with an update about some of the art I’ve been working on over the past couple of weeks. I seriously can’t wait to get back to normal blogging.  One more week…

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Portrait from Scarlet Words on Vimeo.

Item #98 on my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days: make a time lapse video of a drawing or painting.

I spent Saturday at my dining table, surrounded by brushes and watercolours and paper.

With just 21 days to go until my deadline (eek!) I have a stack of drawing to get done, and by the end of today I started to feel like the lady in this drawing looks.  Over it.

Serves me right for procrastinating, I guess.

This facepalming lady was fun to make.  I’m starting to learn how to use water soluble graphite which, when paired with canvas paper, is magic.  You can pick the colour up and push it around the page until it looks just right, which is harder to do with traditional watercolour paper.  It’s nice to be able to hit it with the eraser to pull out the highlights too.

So, on with the rest of my drawings.  My main hurdle right now isn’t the number of drawings I need to complete, it’s that drawing is no fun at all when you have to quickly move on to the next thing without making it perfect.

If you’re interested in seeing my progress you can check out my hands, figures, faces, still life scenes and trees.  Whose dumb idea was it to draw so many trees?

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#67: How to cure an #iSlave

by Elizabeth on August 26, 2014 · 2 comments

in 101 in 1001, iPhone, Life

phonelove

Image source: Romance Academy

 

Task #67 of my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days: Have a technology-free weekend

Let me tell you about life without phones, screens and social media!  I’ve just spent a weekend free of all my gadgets and it was one of the best I’ve had in a long time.

I left work last Friday afternoon with my phone locked in my office cupboard, and by the time I reached the car park I already felt different.  It felt very liberating to be free of the buzz each time an email, text, tweet or Facebook notification came in and that was the moment that I realised just how wedded my subconscious had become to that sound.

Although I already had my suspicions, last weekend I realised the extent of my gadget dependency and how it has been affecting my life.  I am still a big believer in taking my phone with me whenever I leave the house (because flat tyres, stranger danger etc) but what really struck me is the way I’ve been using my phone to pass the time instead of getting on with living.

On Friday when I came home from work I dropped my bag, played with the dog for a while and then went to sit down at my computer like I normally do.  But then I remembered that it was turned off and my first thought was, “what am I going to do now?” and that really bothered me.  Let’s face it, you’ve seen my To Do list and I’m not exactly running out of material.

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Image source: Melarky

 

The pain of being device-free was short-lived, however, and once it was over the benefits kept on rolling in.  By Friday evening I felt as though I could relax and stop consuming everybody else’s news for a little while.  My mind began to quieten down and I discovered that more of my own thoughts were getting a little airtime for the first time in ages.  My thoughts had stopped competing with the shouting phone in my hand, and it felt peaceful.

I had expected that my weekend would feel longer without screen time, but I was pleasantly mistaken.  Instead I found myself engrossed in my deliberately-chosen projects, experiencing them fully and without distraction.  The time trickled away, but without the usual sense of loss and regret that I normally feel after an unproductive day off. My mind was peaceful and I felt completely present in what I was doing.

The laundry still got done and the house was quickly tidied, but surprisingly it felt like a luxury to be using the rest of my time for my friends, books and painting.  Why did I feel so indulgent, when that time was all mine to start off with?  I hadn’t expected to feel actual guilt about pouring myself into my favourite things, and that’s given me plenty to think about. Is this part of the reason I’ve been reaching for my phone every ten minutes? Have I not been giving myself permission to do one thing at a time?

 

weaponsofmassdistraction

Image source: Hunter Langston

 

What I noticed

    • When I switched off my phone at 4.30pm on Friday I needed to be certain that Tim and I had decided on a meeting time and place for our Friday night date. And then I needed to be on time, not my forté by the way, because I knew that I couldn’t text Tim if I was running late.  (I was late, of course. I can’t help but wonder if living with a contingency plan in my pocket has something to do with that bad habit.
    • With no access to Siri or Google Maps I needed to plan ahead for where I was going, and what information I would need before leaving.  So much for my usual trick of googling a recipe from the supermarket floor!  I realised that having the internet in my pocket can be a mixed blessing because it feeds right into my tendency for procrastination, improvisation and avoidance of fully committing.
    • While normally I struggle to sit still for the length of a movie, last weekend I read a novel from cover to cover for the first time in ages.  Since there was no point in indulging my usual thought patterns  (I wonder if I have any emails to respond to?  I just thought of something I should tell the internet about immediately!) I was able to give it my complete attention.  Bliss!
    • Tim came home with roses on Saturday, and since I couldn’t record them with a picture I noticed I spent more time just looking at them.  Enjoying them.  Committing them to memory and noticing their tiny changes.  It was really nice.
    • Meal times were spent talking instead of staring at the TV (although, to be fair, we’re not big TV-watchers anyway)
    • When I was tired I went to bed and fell asleep straight away.

 

What now?

I switched my phone back on when I got to work yesterday morning with a small pang of sadness.  I was eager to check my email and read some news headlines, but once that was done I felt a strong desire to reduce the rest of the ‘noise’ before I fell back into old habits.

So here’s what I did:

    • I switched off all sound and pop-up notifications on my phone.  I left the badge notifications in place so that I can see at a glance when I have a Twitter or Facebook notification, but not until I choose to look!
    • I unsubscribed from about 90% of my promotional email lists.  Have you noticed how some online stores have a couple of sales every week?  Come on.
    • I’ve created a “Close Friends” feed on Facebook so that I can keep up with the most important news more efficiently
    • I’ll eventually create some similar filters for Twitter (#auspol, close friends, bloggers etc)
    • Ditched a bunch of pointless apps
    • Declared my side of the bed to be technology-free!  I’m even considering looking for an old-school alarm clock so that I can charge my phone overnight in a different room.

I feel absolutely no sense of loss about reducing the stuff I consume, because I don’t feel like I was really doing any of it justice anyway.  The more snippets of 140-character information I was reading, the more scattered my own thoughts became.  And worst of all it was getting in the way of the stuff that really mattered!

This short experiment has taught me so much about the value of slowing down and looking up.  Just imagine what impact an entire week might have had…

TRY IT!

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The art of unplugging

by Elizabeth on August 20, 2014 · 3 comments

in 101 in 1001, Life

techfreeweekend

I have a handful of tasks on my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days which have been kind of hard to get excited about.  Some of them are gym-related (no surprise there!) while others have challenged me to give up something I love.  That month without coffee was rough.

So it’s probably not surprising that I’ve waited until Day 965 to embark on Task 67: Have a technology-free weekend.

This Friday afternoon I’ll switch off my phone, lock it in my desk drawer at work and walk away.  I’ll put away my iPad and laptop too, as well as any other gadgets that would normally make an appearance in the course of a weekend.  There will be no TV, and when the sun sets the lights will mostly stay off – at least in the rooms that I’ll be in.

I’m going to spend a bit of time over the next two days working out exactly what “technology-free” will mean, and set a few rules for myself ahead of time.

Here’s the plan so far.


Banned:

  • devices such as my phone, iPad, computers, digital cameras
  • social media and texts (obviously!)
  • dishwasher and microwave
  • lights, unless I’m working on something for my 101 Things list and candlelight won’t cut it
  • hairdryer & straightener (oh no!)


Allowed:

  • I can drive, but only if I really really need something that can’t be reached on foot
  • washing machine and heater
  • oven and stovetop
  • film cameras

selfie

Questions nobody has asked me yet:

But like, why?
This task isn’t really about the environment, or appreciation for how technology has made life easier.  I added it to my list because my phone has practically become part of my anatomy and it’s a major cause of distraction and procrastination.  I have a pavlovian reaction to the buzz of my phone and that bothers me.

Will you die?
I fully expect that my hand will reach for my phone constantly for the first day, and I’ll be slightly annoyed when I want to google something to get a quick answer.  But it’s just one weekend!

Mostly, I’m expecting the weekend to feel longer, for the pace to slow.  I’m anticipating that Tim and I will have more time to talk, and maybe I’ll finally have the brain space necessary to sit down and do a bunch of my drawing tasks too.

Will you cheat?
Yup!  There are a couple of allowances I have given myself.  For example, I’ve found an ancient, feature-free iPod full of who-knows-what music and I’m going to check it out over the weekend.  It will be a big step back from Shazamming a song and purchasing it in under 60 seconds.

However, I won’t ask Tim to look something up for me or help me break any other rules.

We haven’t really discussed this part yet, but I’ve already decided to not drag Tim into my device-free hell.  Instead, if there’s something he wants to watch on TV I’ll just take myself off to another room and do something else.  Who knows, maybe he’ll decide to power down too!

I secretly can’t wait for the peaceful, productive weekend ahead of me without the lure of all those screens.  If you miss me this weekend, just picture me wandering down to the corner shop to buy an actual newspaper (whaaaat?) with my frightening naturally-dried hair.  You can be sure that my phone will be buzzing loudly in my hand again by 8am Monday morning when I plug it back in!

If you have any other ideas for making this lo-fi weekend even better I would love to hear them!  Leave me a comment before Friday afternoon, or maybe you could leave me a tweet to look forward to on Monday?

See you on the other side!

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#55 – Build a snowman

by Elizabeth on August 17, 2014 · 2 comments

in 101 in 1001, Life, Melbourne

I can’t quite believe that I haven’t posted anything here for more than 2 months!  It’s the usual story – the less action you see here, the more is (probably) going on in my offline life.  When I grow up I want to be one of those people who can manage both and still have time to brush their teeth.

It’s crunch time now with my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days – only 41 days left to finish the remaining 28 tasks on my list.  It sounds bad (right?), but more than half of those items are already well underway and the others are probably manageable as long as I don’t lose my momentum.  The main thing I have to do is sit my butt down and draw stuff!

I want to try and write about some of the more interesting items on my list that I’ve completed during my absence, so hopefully you’ll be seeing a little more action here over the next few weeks (but not if it gets in the way of actually finishing my list by 28 September!)

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Task #55 on my list of 101 Things in 1001 DaysBuild a Snowman.

Tim and I drove up to Lake Mountain yesterday to complete one of my favourite tasks on my list: build a snowman!  We waited a little too long to tackle this one, and since there’s not a lot of snow around this weekend we paid the $53 entrance fee to Lake Mountain Alpine Resort to make sure that we could get it done.  There was a great little cafe at the top of the mountain, and once we’d warmed up we found a little off-road spot beside the cross-country ski trail and got to work.

hat

Sidenote: Earlier today I found a photo of myself wearing this same pair of Docs when I was SIXTEEN.  Way to age more gracefully than me, shoes.  Thanks a lot.

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Probably the best part of making these snowpeople was the reactions of the people passing by.  Some people called out to us as they scooted by on their skis, while others actually stopped and asked to be photographed with them.  Me and my snowmen feature in a bunch of strangers’ photos, including one incredibly enthusiastic group of “bros” who insisted that I be in their shots and make peace signs with them.

(By the way, Tim, that was a greeeeat time to wander off for 10 minutes…)

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We waved goodbye to our little friends, warmed up with a hot chocolate and started to head home to Melbourne.

The drive back down the mountain was spectacular at the end of the day, as usual.  It’s amazing to see the difference between these shots and the ones I took last time we were at Lake Mountain which was about 18 months after the Black Saturday bushfires.  Everything looks so much healthier now and the new growth seems well established.

(There’s a bigger version of the panorama below if you click on it.)

lakemountain

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See?  Magic.

I’ll be back again soon with some photos from our QLD adventure last week, and hopefully a little more progress on my remaining tasks.  I’m starting to wish that I had crossed off that pesky Swim in the ocean task before it got so freaking cold…

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startchute

Image: electricrunaus.com.au

Task #23 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Run a 5K fun run

The last time I put on my running shoes was sometime in 2012.  I’ve been itching to get back into running for a while now, but whenever the urge strikes I’ve always managed to blame my asthma or my dodgy knee for putting it off until ‘next week’.  A couple of weeks ago I went to the physio about my knee and she laughed when I said I was signed up for last night’s fun run.  “Well, that’s not going to happen is it?”, she said.

The thing is, I was determined to run this 5K whether or not my knee was busted, even if I hadn’t done any training.  When I put on those shoes for the first time yesterday I didn’t know whether I was even capable of running around the block, but I decided that I was going to give it my best shot and if it was all too hard I’d walk the rest of the way.

Tim and I signed up for the Electric Run months ago and it looked like so much fun that there was no way I was pulling out!

 

Tim and I started the race together, but after the first kilometre I told him to go on without me so that I could set my own pace.  My knee was in good shape most of the way so I was able to enjoy the light shows on the course and all the amazing costumes.  There were stacks of volunteers along the side of the track yelling encouragement and giving high-fives, so it was pretty much impossible to be sad!  Besides, I had light-up shoelaces.

tim shuttershades glasses
crowd finish laces
scarletwords scarletwords2 scarletwords4

panorama

It wasn’t all that long ago that I was running 5K three days per week, but for some reason this particular task totally psyched me out and I wondered if I’d be able to make it past the halfway point.  According to RunKeeper I actually ran a fair bit further than 5K last night (perhaps it was from weaving in and around all the walkers?) and only walked for 60 seconds of the whole course when I reached the top of a huge hill.  I lost count of the number of people I overtook so I’m pretty happy with how I went.

So basically I am a dummy for not starting my training months ago, and a dummy for letting this race worry me in the lead-up to last night.  I finished 10 minutes behind Tim but I still finished!  Maybe I’ll put the Colour Run on my next 101/1001 list?

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48 Things in 180 Days

by Elizabeth on April 1, 2014 · 1 comment

in 101 in 1001

collageSo… here’s the thing.

If you’ve been reading here for a while you will know that my 101 Things in 1001 Days project is a big part of my life and this blog.  I created my list in the spirit of enhancing my life, so I was careful to never add tasks that made my project feel like a chore.

The truth is, in 2013 I made very little progress because everything in my life felt like chore.  That wasn’t really the fault of my list, it was just the product of a really tough year spent keeping my head above water.

I’ve been working on this current list for 2 years now and at the start of 2014 I only had 50 completed items to show for it.  I’ve realised 2 things:

  • I need to seriously haul ass to meet my 28 September deadline; and
  • I may need to lower my standards and expectations to make it across the finish line.

 

Here’s where I stand right now:

101chart

Completed: 53 / In Progress: 19 / Not started: 29
I have 179 days 5 hours and 58 minutes left.  The remaining 49 items need to be completed at an average rate of one every 3 days.

 

I totally intend to finish this thing because I still really, really care about my original goals.  My list is still full of the stuff that will enrich my life and make me happier, and I’ve worked too hard on it to quit now.  So I have a solution: three new strategies to put a big dent in my to-do list, and start reining the beast back in.

 

 

finishedisbetterthanperfect

Image: free printable from iheartnaptime.net

1.  Finished is better than perfect
Now that time is my master, my challenge to myself is to stop overachieving and just get on with it.  Perhaps this will mean that some of the art I make won’t be worth framing.  Maybe I won’t be valedictorian of my yoga class.  All that matters at this point is getting it done, and then moving on to the next task.

2.  Do three things well, not ten things badly
I’ve been multi-tasking since the beginning of this project, and if anything I’ll be dialling that up a notch or two.  However, there is a trick to maintaining balance and I am conscious of not biting off too much at once.  One thing I’ve done to maximise my time is listen to unabridged audiobooks of classic novels while I drive and work on my art projects, and then whenever my hands aren’t busy I just pick up my book again.  It doesn’t feel like cheating, and it saves me a lot of time.

3.  Break it down
I’m a really visual person, and for somebody like me the best reward for hard work is to SHOW me my progress as it grows.  There are a bunch of tasks on my list that are made up of many smaller parts, and I found it frustrating that finishing one component didn’t really translate to a result on my chart.

So I’ve made myself a brand new chart with all of the remaining tasks broken down into their parts.  Every drawing of a hand, figure, tree or still life has its own square, so whenever I work on my art there’s incentive to finish it and cross it off!  It means I can cross off stuff more frequently and keep up the momentum.

My new list lives on the inside of my pantry door, which means I will look at it at least once per day.  The really hard, time-consuming or expensive tasks are red, the easy-peasy ones are blue, and the yellow ones fall somewhere in between and probably require some planning.

newchart

I guess you could say that my new approach is to actually stop thinking of this as a 1001-day project, and instead worry about the remaining 180 days.  There is nothing stopping me from punching this thing right in the face as long as I just keep going.

So please, wish me luck… be my cheerleader if I get whiny.  And if you see me mindlessly dicking around on social media remind me that I could be working on one of those little squares instead.  I promise to do the same for you someday if you need to tackle a goal of your own.

179 sleeps… here we go!

lips

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4seasons

Task #80 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: photograph a street scene or landscape in all 4 seasons.

I was really excited to finally finish this particular task. When I first added it to my 101 list I think I envisioned setting up a tripod in the Botanic Gardens, or even photographing my own pretty street throughout the seasons. But then I heard about Macedon and it’s beautiful Honour Avenue and decided that it would be the perfect scene for my 4 Seasons photo project (despite the long travel time!).

The idea is simple: Each season take a photograph from the same position, for one year. I chose to shoot a few angles of the same street.

Macedon-4

In response to the tragedy of World War One most Australian districts erected memorials to commemorate the lives of the soldiers and nurses of their district. One special form of memorial was the Avenue of Honour, and many of them have become important cultural landscapes that are unique to Australia. By 1918 the casualty rate of Australian soldiers was so high that every Australian was closely associated with somebody who had been killed, so lots of people became invested in the creation of these war memorials.

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Macedon’s Honour Avenue honours the 154 men and women of Macedon and Mount Macedon who enlisted for service during the Great War of 1914-1918. Each oak tree was planted for an individual and the order was determined by ballot, not rank. It was a real community effort, certainly more hands-on for the community than a creation of a monument which was often manufactured far from home.  A real labour of love.

Macedon-2

There are definite flaws in each series of photographs. In a perfect world, and with bottomless supplies of time and patience, I’d have taken a tripod and measured the height of the camera. I’d have replicated the aperture settings and focal point, and taken lots of notes about my EXIF data.

I didn’t do any of this and I don’t have any regrets. I set out to complete my 101 list (and this task) in the spirit of done is better than perfect, and I think this series captured that spirit completely. I even packed the wrong lens for my Spring shots!

I did adopt a few strategies to make sure that the final product was as good as possible, without stripping all the fun out of it by measuring everything. I used a few roadside landmarks to remember the position of each shot (mostly speed limit signs) and took along reference photos of previous shots to help me eyeball my next one in the viewfinder. I did my best to replicate the number of fence posts down one side of the shot, while copying the gap between two trees on the other side. Of course, all this went out the window on the day that I turned up with the wrong lens in September, but even that was kind of a liberating mistake. It taught me how to use what I had to approximate the work of another lens and focal length.

It’s funny how forgetting that lens wasn’t a dealbreaker in Spring, but when I noticed that my Summer photos were too similar to the Spring photos I actually went back and re-shot them two weeks later.  Fortunately the very first few autumn leaves were changing by then and it created just enough contrast with the previous season.  I put my most recent photos at the top of each series just to create a little more distance between Spring and Summer.

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I shot four different scenes hoping that one year later at least one of them would work out.   It turned out that all four were worth keeping, and they make quite a nice series together.

This was such a satisfying project and I recommend trying it yourself – even if it’s just on your camera phone!

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Item #36 in my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Hike a trail in a national park

Last November, instead of watching a bunch of terrified horses run around a track, Tim and I put our walking shoes on.  I had just finished re-reading that iconic Australian novel Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsey (is there an Aussie kid alive who didn’t study it at school?) and was so engrossed when I finished it that I followed it quickly with a viewing of the Peter Weir film.

If you don’t know (or don’t remember) the story, this trailer beautifully illustrates how deliciously creepy and cheesy it is.

Picnic at Hanging Rock is a 1975 Australian mystery film directed by Peter Weir, adapted from the novel of the same name.

It premiered at the Hindley Cinema Complex in Adelaide, South Australia on 8 August 1975. It became one of the first Australian films to reach an international audience, receiving international acclaim and commercial popularity, and thus has an important place in both cinematic and Australian history.

The film stars Helen Morse, Rachel Roberts and Vivean Gray.

St. Valentine’s Day, 1900. On a beautiful summer’s day a party of virginal Australian schoolgirls from an exclusive finishing school giddily prepare for an excursion to Hanging Rock, a magnificent natural monument drenched in a mysterious atmosphere.

The girls gain permission to explore the upper slopes of the rock. Edith takes a nap and wakes to discover that the other three girls have removed their shoes and stockings and have resumed their trek as if in a dream, disappearing into a passageway in the rock itself. What eerie events took place that day, and will those involved ever rid themselves of the demons that the ill fated picnic unearthed?

Based on the classic novel by Joan Lindsay, ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ is both sublimely spooky and majestically beautiful, boasting visually hypnotic photography by Oscar winner Russell Boyd, a haunting score by Bruce Smeaton and the timeless ethereal beauty of Anne Louise Lambert as Miranda, this classic helped revive the Australian film industry and established Director Peter Weir as a major international talent.

Despite our best pan-flute imitations we never found Miranda.  However, we did find a wild rabbit to pat and that was just as cool.

I was the happiest little photographer on earth exploring Hanging Rock.  The rock formations fascinated me, and every time we turned a corner we discovered a new breathtaking view or life growing happily in a crevice against all the odds.  I had to keep reminding myself to turn around because a single stack of rocks could look vastly different from the other side, so I guess that explains why the descent was every bit as good as the uphill walk.

We spent hours up there, and went off-road a lot of the time to get away from the crowds and spot wildlife.  We became pros at one-handed rock navigation and knowing when it was time to pass the camera back and forth.

I started this post with far too many photos, so believe it or not this is the edited list!  It’s still very photo heavy but I hope you guys will forgive me for that since I try not to do that too often.

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From my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: items #82 and #85

I don’t know whether you guys have noticed but it’s been way too quiet over there on my 101 Things in 1001 Days list.  As usual, dumb life stuff has gotten in the way of this project and it’s time to course correct before I run out of time to finish it.  After all, I need this thing completed by 28 September next year!

I don’t doubt that I’m going to meet my deadline, but in order to catch up I’m allowing this funny-looking octopus to tick off two items on my list: #82 – Sew something using the sewing machine; and #85 – Make a soft toy.  It’s the closest I’ve ever come to bending the rules.

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This little guy was made with my Gran’s old sewing machine, and it was our maiden voyage together.  When I began I had no idea how to thread the machine (or any machine, let’s be honest) and so things started out pretty rocky at first.  There were at least three Facetime calls with my Mum to get things moving but after a little bit of practice on scrap fabric I was off and running.

Tim gave me a beautiful book of soft toy patterns called Hop Skip Jump by Fiona Dalton for my birthday earlier this year, and I’ve been dying to make one of her cute little softies ever since.  I was lucky enough to find the stripy fabric while I was raiding the remnants bin at IKEA one day, and it was worth the effort of cutting out the tentacle pieces from different sections of fabric so that he had eight different coloured “feet”.  That’s the closest thing I have to a pro-tip; the rest was just following the instructions and calling Mum when I needed to know how to sew a dart!

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I finished him up a couple of months ago, and ever since then he’s been waiting for the little lady above to have her first birthday and begin his new life!  We spent today celebrating with her (and 50 of her closest friends) and six hours later – after party food, presents and a giant inflatable waterslide –  this tiny party animal was still going.  She didn’t want to miss a moment of her big day.

(Also, her birthday cake was a showstopper!)

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Happy birthday to the world’s sweetest girl, Georgia Mae!  xxx

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#69 – Bake a rainbow layer cake

by Elizabeth on August 16, 2013 · 9 comments

in 101 in 1001, Cool stuff, DIY, Food, Life

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#69 in my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Bake a rainbow layer cake!

 

I’ve been wanting to make a rainbow layer cake for the longest time, ever since I first laid eyes on Meg Duerksen’s beauty way back in 2009.  I can’t imagine that anybody could look at these happy colours and epic proportions without breaking into a smile, so it’s the perfect cake for a celebration.

Ever since Pinterest showed up on the scene I’ve had almost weekly reminders of how damn pretty this cake is.  The desire to make my own kept getting stronger, and when I realised that three of my favourite people had birthdays coming up in the same week I knew it was time.

Finally, an occasion worthy of this beautiful giant!

 

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This was my favourite stage of the cake making process, when all of those vibrant layers were stacked up high and nothing had fallen over!  At this point I realised how important it was to get those colours right before throwing it all in the oven.  I was a bit sad about the prospect of covering everything in white frosting, but after a handful of photos I got on with the job.  After all, nothing beats the ‘wow’ factor of a plain white cake with surprise multicoloured guts!

The next day our friends came over to help us break in the new BBQ I bought Tim for his birthday.  When it was finally time for dessert I lit three candles for each of the birthday babies.

 

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I imagine it’s pretty tough being my friend.  I mean sure, maybe I’ll invite you over for lunch and maybe it will be really delicious, but if it had anything to do with my 101/1001 list you’d better not touch a thing on your plate until it’s been photographed!  Luckily due to the height of this cake the pieces were all pretty skinny, so I was able to feed my friends before whisking away the rest of the cake to take the photo above.

My friends make fun of me a lot.

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Tips!  I have some.

If you have a failsafe plain and dense cake recipe then stick with what you know.  If (like me) you don’t have a go-to recipe that you trust, don’t be ashamed of using a packet mix that’s been tested in a million different kitchens.  My little cousin was mortified when I came clean about this, but I’m super happy with the result and I think somebody owes Mrs Crocker an apology!

My cake was made with plain 20cm cake tins, $7 each from Woolworths, and I baked two at a time.  I didn’t use springform pans for this, but I did spend time lining the tins really well.  The cakes cooked really evenly despite my dodgy oven and tipped out of the pans easily when they were done.

You’re going to find a lot of advice about which food colouring to use in your google travels.  Most people swear by gel colours to get these vibrant colours, but the truth is I just used a couple of boxes of the $2 Queen 4-packs from the supermarket.  I had to use a lot of colouring to get that red layer to stop looking pink, and lots more red for the orange and purple layers too, so make sure you have plenty.  Normally I steer clear of food colouring but with this cake it’s important to go big or go home.

Spend time trimming your cakes to make sure that they’re perfectly flat on top.  It’s obvious from my photos that I didn’t bother trimming the orange layer – oops!

Your frosting is going to need a lot of sugar in it to keep your structure standing.  Don’t even attempt this with runny icing or you’ll find that your construction won’t be up to code.  (This is probably not a good time to reflect on your weight loss journey.)

Just know that in order to get the right visual effect you will need to use more frosting than you ever dreamed.  And when it comes time to eat your slice you shouldn’t feel bad about leaving two thirds of it on your plate because diabetes.

If you find yourself getting emotional during the cake baking process, call my little cousin Trisha.  She gives great moral support over the phone!

 

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And finally… try not to get too depressed when you realise that some other kickass lady has made an eighty layer rainbow cake that leaves yours in the dust.  Nobody likes a show-off, lady!

 

Happiest of birthdays to my love Tim, and to our gorgeous friends Glen & Janelle.  Sorry about the hypoglycemia.

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Task #7 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project is: Complete my Diploma of Management

If you have the misfortune to be following me on Twitter or Instagram (@elzxbth) you are probably sick to death of hearing about my dumb diploma.  One of the nasty side-effects of this study has been my slow transformation into that boring old uncle who tells the same stories at every family get-together and has no idea that there is spinach stuck in his teeth.  You know that guy – he’s always invited due to family guilt, but one by one all the guests leave to go “help in the kitchen” until the only one left listening is your cousin’s super-polite girlfriend.

Yeah, that was me.

I guess this is my way of saying I’m sorry, Twitter.  I’m so sorry, Instagram.  I have been a bore.  I have been your online Uncle Walter.  I have dragged you into weeks and weeks of study-rage, snark and forced you to witness a complete catalogue of my poor nutritional decisions.  I am so sorry for giving you diabetes.

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I wrote a post last week about why this whole experience has been shitty.  Ordinarily a diploma is no big deal, but then most people don’t try to cram the whole thing into 11 weeks.  Most people actually meet their trainer prior to their final assessment.  And I guess I can’t speak for everyone here, but I’m going to go ahead and assume that most people don’t have to deal with the same poorly-written course material that I found myself wading through. My “trainer” even acknowledged by that some of the questions I was trying to answer didn’t make sense because part of the questions were straight-up missing.

But hey, I’m writing this because I got through it.  Last Friday I sat my final exam, and my trainer spent a couple of hours with me while we went through all the work I had done.  39,000 words, 270 pages (about half a ream of paper), 10 projects and a fully budgeted and researched $500,000 marketing campaign for the RSPCA.  I learned some stuff about continuous improvement and OHS that I didn’t already know, and I got to flex my photoshop muscles to make a bunch of ads for tram stops, buses and magazines.

It had its moments.

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This weekend I began recovering from the PTSD caused by sitting at my dining table for 12 hour stretches.  I’ve had a weekend of sleep-ins, catching up on laundry and losing myself in Animal Crossing.  And also?  Possibly the funniest impulse purchase ever; it absolutely deserves its own post.

I’m so freaking happy to be crossing this off my list.  For all my bitching over the past couple of months, it’s actually pretty great to know that this piece of paper is on its way to me.  It might even mean an extra $20,000 when I next job-hunt, so it was worth the short-term pain to just get it done.

And it’s DONE!

I promise I’ll shut up about it now.

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