BOO! A Summer Halloween.

by Elizabeth on October 31, 2012 · 1 comment

in Australia, Cool stuff, Life, Melbourne


We had heaps of cute little trick-or-treaters come by the house tonight.  Lots of witches, superheros and animals helping themselves to the cauldron full of chocolate, and plenty of comments about our funny pumpkins.

It was really nice to meet some new neighbours, and get to know our community a little better.

Halloween is so much fun when you’re as immature as us.


Special congratulations to my lovely friends J & G, who welcomed a much prettier Halloween pumpkin into the world today.  Little Georgia Mae, you are already so adored!

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My very first pumpkin! (2008)

Every year somebody in Australia writes a lengthy rant about why their family doesn’t celebrate Halloween, and the many ways that it is destroying the fabric of Australian society.  They usually trot out the same tired trifecta of criticism: childhood obesity, stranger danger, and Americanisation.

It’s my personal belief that your child won’t get fat or kidnapped if you engage in a little active parenting.  They won’t start spontaneously singing The Star Spangled Banner either, since Halloween is a) not American; and b) NOT AMERICAN. 

Halloween is once a year, and I think it’s a great excuse for kids to dress up, spend time with their friends, and actually meet their neighbours.  Not everybody likes it, and that’s okay too!  You won’t be disturbed on 31 October if you leave your porch light off. 

I’m not exactly passionate about Halloween, but I’m not against it either.  It annoys me when people rain on each others’ parades, that’s all.


Moving on.

Lots of people land at my site each October because they’re trying to track down pumpkins in Melbourne.  I decided to call around today, and here’s what I’ve been able to find this year:

  • Some Coles and Safeway/Woolworths stores still have them in stock.  Call first!
  • Georgie’s Harvest at South Melbourne Market
  • Pino’s at Prahran Market – UPDATE: sold out!
  • Queen Victoria Market – UPDATE: sold out!

Failing that, carve a watermelon instead!  You can turn the insides into something delicious for dessert, and since they’re in season they won’t be quite as expensive. 

Oranges make a cute little alternative too, or if you’re feeling brave try a butternut or kent pumpkin (but watch your fingers – they’re tough!).

Finally, if you’re celebrating this year check out my post about the Halloween party we hosted a couple of years ago.  There’s plenty of inspiration there for spooky food (witches fingers and worms!) and decorations.

Most importantly…

… remember to smile!  It’s just a holiday.


New York City Timelapse from Eddie Peter Hobson on Vimeo.


In three weeks we’re leaving for an action-packed trip overseas to see Tim’s family.  We’ll only be away for 3 weeks, but in that short time we will be covering a lot of ground.  We’ll be taking Tim’s parents to Disney World (and meeting my brother there too!), watching the Red Sox play at Fenway Park, cooking fresh lobster in Maine and watching as the leaves change colour in a remote part of Vermont.  We’ll be spending time in 7 different states while we’re away!

The thing I’m most excited about is seeing the people that we miss so much.  I’m also really excited about seeing more of the places where Tim spent his childhood.

Last weekend we booked a couple of nights accommodation in NYC.  I’d been worried that we wouldn’t be able to fit it in to this trip, and I’m so glad we found a way to do it!  It’s been six years since I’ve been back in the city and I’m going to treasure every minute we spend there.  I know that we’ll only scrape the surface.

Just when I thought my excitement had peaked, I came across the timelapse above.  How good is that?


It looks like Eddie Peter Hobson is trying to capture lots of different cities via timelapse photography.  He’s even done Melbourne!  My city is so beautiful, especially at night.

Timelapse the World – Melbourne from Eddie Peter Hobson on Vimeo.


I have SO MUCH TO DO before we leave.  Send help!


They found it!

by Elizabeth on August 19, 2012 · 3 comments

in Art, Melbourne

If this didn’t make you smile, please turn to the nearest person and have them check your pulse.

Oh, and while you’re waiting for the ambulance check out the other creations of Melbourne illustrator Jake Lawrence, aka Timecowboy!


Winter weekend

by Elizabeth on June 10, 2012 · 11 comments

in Melbourne, Photo Posts


It’s Sunday night. For me, traditionally, Sunday night is for sulking.

I am an equal opportunity sulker on Sunday nights, I try to make sure that nothing is missed. I sulk about things like not finishing my weekend “to do” list, which is always far too long and does not account for the fact that I sleep in every Saturday (and Sunday).  I sulk about the long list of emails that will greet me when I get to work, and the fact that my officemate will take her first coffee break at the busiest part of the morning so that I have to do her job as well.  I sulk about having to be a grownup with bills and expensive hobbies and the fact that I can’t retire yet.  At thirty-two.

Most of all, I sulk about the fact that my energy and best waking hours are forfeited to my colleagues for five days a week, people who just don’t consider them as precious as I do. I sulk about the frown lines that all this Sunday night sulking gives me.

I waste a big chunk of my Sunday sulking about Monday.

But not this time. It’s Sunday night, and thanks to a little birthday happening on the other side of the world (long live the Queen!) I have another day of resto relaxo to look forward to tomorrow.

I become an unshakable monarchist every time the June long weekend rolls around.



Tim and I needed this long weekend.

Things are always really easy for us, as far as our relationship is concerned.  We’re pretty nice people, we’re pretty nice to each other, and we’d rather spend time with each other than anybody else.  We’ve been like this for six years now, cruising along without having to work too hard because it just works.

But lately things have been just a little bit crap.  It’s nothing to really worry about, we just know that it could be better.  We could be better.  We’ve been butting heads and pushing each others’ buttons, and sometimes we’re not reading each other all that well.  It’s all a bit confusing when you’re used to things ticking along like clockwork.

So this weekend has been all about us.  It’s been for talking, kind words and understanding.  Listening, smooching, and reminding each other (and ourselves) what matters most.  So far, this has been exactly what we needed.

I feel like we’ve peeled off a few layers.



It has rained all weekend.

When I moved to Melbourne I dreamed of Winters like these.  Icy cold air on my face, layers of cosy long-sleeved clothes and tights.  I spent today with my study window wide open so that I could listen to the rain and the little birds in my neighbour’s tree.  Tim planted himself happily by the heater, and I spent as much time as possible soaking up my freezing, gloomy city from the comfort of my cosy room.

Cold air on my nose, and cups of tea to warm my hands.  Few things make me as happy as a wet, wintery day – especially when I can spend it as I please.



Our weekend so far.

:: drawing faces :: cold fingers and toes :: hot showers :: sixty hearts on a steamy mirror :: risoni salad :: vegemite toast and coffee :: Blankets by Craig Thompson :: Of Mice and Men :: candles :: roses :: a warm puppy, and belly rubs :: peanut butter with a spoon :: a tour of Mum & Dad’s Hong Kong hotel lobby via Facetime :: early morning snuggles :: minestrone :: a long chat with my grandmother :: furniture polish :: ABC Classic FM :: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo :: kisses :: the sound of rain on the roof :: lanterns :: quality time with my camera :: an impulse purchase :: sleep-ins :: bare winter branches :: bare skin :: kind words :: last autumn leaves :: fajitas :: pizza :: listening :: love ::


It’s been two days, and already it feels like five. We must be doing something right.


My Winter city

by Elizabeth on June 4, 2012 · 7 comments

in Melbourne, Nikon D800, Photo Posts

If every weekend was exactly like the one that just passed I wouldn’t mind one bit. 

That boy up there?  The one with the stubble and the mustshereallytakeanotherphoto smile?  He was the best part of all.  He was the guy who bought me breakfast at 2pm on Saturday and charmed my friends.  The same guy who made breakfast to my exact specifications yesterday and then brought it to me in bed. 

I must have been so good in a previous life.

Saturday’s pretty sunset was a distant second to the boy I love, but it was still pretty great.  I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but when I am a squizillionaire I intend to buy one of the Elwood mansions that faces this beach so that I can photograph it every day.

Until then I’ll just have to visit.


My little city is so beautiful, and right now we’re in the middle of my two favourite seasons. 

My love affair with Melbourne continues.



Yesterday afternoon I wandered down St Kilda Rd to the Albert Park Lake, just as the sun was beginning to set.  It’s a beautiful little oasis in the heart of Melbourne, and also my favourite new spot to run.  One lap of the lake is close to 5km so it’s ideal for this stage of my training.

And besides, there are just so many beautiful things to look at.  There are graceful black swans, who occasionally dip their heads underwater and wiggle their little butts in the air.  The talkative, quacking ducks.  There were lorikeets and seagulls and other waterbirds whose names I don’t know.  The setting sun bathed all of this in a spectacular golden light yesterday and it was all a bit magical.

This time I didn’t bring my running shoes, just my camera.  My precious Nikon D200 will be heading to its new home in about 10 days time, and for the first time in about seven years I will be without a camera!  I mean, sure… I’ll still have my iPhone and my film SLR body and my Fujifilm Instax Mini 25 and my assorted lenses, but…

Yeah, don’t feel too sorry for me.

Especially since my brand new Nikon D800 is winging its way to me as we speak.

(There are not enough exclamation points in the world to convey how excited I am about this, so I’ll just use one!)



And best of of all?  My D200 is going to an excellent home – its grandparents’ place!  My dad used to be an excellent landscape photographer, but sort of lost interest over the years.  I’m hoping that the instant gratification of a digital SLR will reignite some of that passion.

Mum will take lots of photos of her garden, and her family.  I’m so happy to be handing over custody to those two.

I’ll take it out for one last spin weekend after next, when we head to Apollo Bay and The Twelve Apostles for a couple of days.  I’d hoped to be breaking in the new camera on this trip, but in some ways I’m happy to be giving my D200 such a great send-off.



#38 – Visit a new Melbourne market

by Elizabeth on March 28, 2012 · 1 comment

in Life, Melbourne

I’ve set myself a challenge to complete 101 Things in 1001 Days, from 1 January 2012 to 28 September 2014.  You can read more about this project here, and follow my progress as I go!


It’s been a while since my birthday has fallen on a weekend, so this year I really wanted to make the most of my freedom. I told Tim to take me somewhere, anywhere! and so he hit up my 101 list for inspiration. We couldn’t take a day trip away from Melbourne because we needed to cook for our friends that night (and besides, we were overdue for a sleep-in) so he looked for some ideas close to home.

One of those ideas was brilliant – The Rose Street Artist Market in Fitzroy.

This cute little market is an indoor/outdoor setup, just off the best part of Brunswick St. Each Saturday and Sunday there are up to 70 stalls full of everything handmade – jewellery, traditional art & photography, clothing, journals, cards and other bits and pieces. It was really humming when we arrived (without being annoyingly crowded) and although the space was relatively small, we were able to amuse ourselves for ages by looking at all the pretty things.

I went home with two treasures.

This ring by Craig Swindells (aka Affinitive Designs) called my name the moment I saw it. Firstly, I’ve always wanted a coin ring and preferably not one of those expensive, shiny replicas that I keep seeing in gift shops lately. Secondly, it was my birthday and one of the items on my wishlist was a bunny rabbit and – no really, I’ll just wait until you’ve stopped laughing at me shall I?

Thirdly, here was an Irish coin, on St Patrick’s Day, featuring a bunny rabbit, on my birthday!

You can see why I had to take it home with me, right?

There’s no great story to accompany this little silver wire ring from Biancabean Jewellery, other than I really liked it and I’ve been looking for a thumb ring for ages. It was only $30, and the owner of the shop gave it to me with Buddha’s blessing.

Good to see that he’s tackling the big issues!

In any case, the Rose St Artist Market is absolutely worth a visit next time you’re in Fitzroy. And promise me that you’ll grab a “living stack” from Vegie Bar across the road when you’re done!

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am:pm | Melbourne skies

by Elizabeth on February 22, 2012 · 2 comments

in Melbourne, Photo Posts

Dear Melbourne,

Thank you for the balloons this morning while I was on my way to work, and for the excellent sunset you put on for us tonight.

You are really good at skies.

I promise to use a tripod next time.


Elizabeth (your biggest fan)




Backyard possum

by Elizabeth on December 3, 2011 · 2 comments

in Melbourne, Photo Posts


When we lived in Hawthorn we had lots and lots of possums in our street.  We used to watch them walking along the power lines as soon as the sun went down, and we often heard them running over our roof or along the fences.  A particularly amorous pair lived in the beautiful tree in our backyard and they, er, regularly expressed their feelings for the benefit of the entire neighbourhood.

That’s love, right there.

I’ve missed our little possums since moving here two years ago, although there’s been plenty of evidence that they are around somewhere.  Sometimes I’ll hear rustling in the trees late at night, or the dog will follow a scent trail that comes to a dead end at the foot of a tree.  Despite all of the signs I can only remember seeing two since moving into this house.

I guess that’s why it was so exciting to spot this tiny little ringtail possum through a gap in our broken fence.  He was a perfect little model, and although I couldn’t coax him out of his thorny hidey hole I was happy to have a little bit of camera time with him from a safe distance.

I know that not everybody likes possums, but I think their little pink noses are the best.  My favourite photo from this set is below.


Day 21 of the 30 Day Photo Challenge is gratitude.  There are so many things I could have written about and photographed on this subject – people I’m thankful for, Christmas coming up, etc – but it felt a little bit forced to write about these things because of a daily prompt.

Instead, I thought I’d share something that I was truly grateful for today – the trust and bravery of a tiny little marsupial who allowed me to sit nearby for a little while.  It’s nice to think that he’s just outside my window somewhere.



Journey to work

by Elizabeth on November 30, 2011 · 5 comments

in Life, Melbourne, Photo Posts


Today’s drive to work was a little bit unusual, thanks to my my big, heavy camera sitting beside me on the passenger seat.  The theme of Day 18 in the 30 Day Photo Challenge was journey to work, and I really wasn’t sure how I was going to safely operate my manual transmission car and a DSLR at the same time.  Obviously, I only took photos when the car was completely still (and the handbrake was on) but I was still a bit worried that I’d see flashing lights in my rear view mirror!

Fortunately it was a beautifully gloomy, wet drive to work today which made for some lovely moody photos.  I was even lucky enough to spot my last Movember tram for 2011 on the last day of the month!  I will miss that big moustache, and the smiles that it put on the faces of my fellow commuters.  Such a great idea.

All of my photos turned out pretty well, but my favourite is below.






Saturday has to be my favourite day of the week.

It always begins with an extra couple of hours sleep, and when I finally open my eyes a certain boy normally brings me a coffee or two.  Only when I am sufficiently caffeinated do I crawl out from underneath the covers.

It’s pretty great being me, on a Saturday.

Saturday also means it’s time for my art class at Melbourne Studio of Art, and that always puts a smile on my face!  Today we had a painting class with Michael Gray and learned all about analogous colours (ie colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel).  Michael set up a bunch of still life scenes with objects that matched their backdrop colour, so we spent a lot of time on our colour mixing to make all the subtle differences in tone.  We did this same exercise the last time I took this class, and although this was only my second time using oil paints I think I did better this time around.


The time really, really flew this week!  With an extra half an hour I think I could have added a lot of detail to my scene, especially to the shadows and the green leafy bits on the eggplant.  I wanted to do a lot more blending and tidy up my lines, but on the whole I’m happy with the way it turned out.

And besides, that famous Leonardo da Vinci quote gets stuck in my mind when I start to think about this stuff: Art is never finished, only abandoned.  

(No wonder they named a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle after that guy!)


It’s Day 7 of the 30 Day Photo Challenge, and today’s theme was Self Portrait.

(I’m so sorry.  All complaints will be forwarded on to Gemma.)


A perfect storm.

by Elizabeth on November 9, 2011 · 7 comments

in Melbourne, Photo Posts, Videos



We had the most incredible weather in Melbourne today, and for a while I forgot that I wasn’t in Queensland anymore.  It was the sort of humid, sticky weather that reminded me of my years growing up in Far North QLD.  Summer in Cairns meant angry skies, soupy air and the hope that it would pour with rain at the end of the day so that you could get some sleep.

The only thing missing was the sound of frogs croaking in the drain pipes!

All day today the weather reports said that there would be a huge storm this afternoon, but I almost didn’t believe it.  Right up until I left work the sky was beautifully blue with hardly a wisp of cloud in the sky.  But down on the horizon, just behind the skyline of the buildings, the sky was jet black.

And it moved quickly.

I caught some of it on my phone when I got home, and I’m so glad I bothered to do so.  It’s fun to watch the little birds hopping on and off the power lines, and seeing the clouds get pushed around in several directions at once.



Just before the storm hit I took some photos of the birds on my neighbours TV antenna.  I liked the original shots a lot, but I love the moodiness that these filters gave the photos.

I’m such a weather nerd.  Despite the heat and humidity it’s been fun to watch the sky change all day, and now I’m looking forward to sleeping to the sound of heavy rain on my roof.

Simple pleasures.  I’m all about those.



Sunset (introducing iTimeLapse Pro)

by Elizabeth on November 8, 2011 · 0 comments

in Melbourne, Videos


The other day I discovered a new app for the iPhone called iTimeLapse Pro, and I decided to give it a spin today when I got home from work.  This cute little app automatically shoots a series of images at whatever interval you specify, and when you’re done it renders them into a video!  It has built-in sharing for YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook etc and you can add a soundtrack from any mp3 in your library.


You might have already seen my previous sunset videos (the best one is here) using the video function on the iPhone camera.  The effect is absolutely beautiful, but I was never able to shoot more than about 50 minutes of video before it reached the maximum filesize.

iTimeLapse compromises a little on smoothness because you’re compiling still images, but it allows you to capture a much longer period of time in your video.  The timelapse video above was shot over a period of about 3 hours, and if I had chosen a shorter song (or rather, a higher framerate) the effect would have been much smoother!

But how could I pass up such a beautiful song?  It’s by QLD singer Emma Louise, and it’s called 1000 Sundowns.  Perfect.


Here’s the same video with a higher framerate.  It’s a much better result!


My only complaint?  The app automatically focuses and exposes each shot, and there’s no way to override it.  I’d have liked to have exposed for the brightest part of the sky to eliminate the overblown white patches, but the machine took over.  It’s definitely something to consider when deciding how to best set up your project.

Definitely worth a play if you’re an iSlave like me!


Today was Week 3 of this term’s Introduction to Drawing & Painting class at the Melbourne Studio of Art, and I think it was one of my favourite classes yet!  When I heard that we would be doing our first painting class I expected it to be a lot like the one we did last term.  In that class we painted a still life scene using black and white acrylic paint.


I remember being incredibly proud of this painting last term.  There was a distinct moment towards the end of the class when I figured out what I was doing with the medium, and I managed to get quite a lot of detail and blending done in the last 15 minutes.  Considering that this was my first time holding a paintbrush since I was 13 years old I was pretty pleased with myself.

This week our teacher Michael Gray told us that we’d be working with oil paints, and for a moment I was terrified.  Hadn’t I only just figured out what to do with acrylic paint, finally?  Isn’t oil painting for grown-ups?  I guess I had always assumed that oil painting was for the pros, and that you needed to know some sort of secret handshake to join the club.

It’s funny how we make up these arbitrary rules when it comes to creativity.  Before I moved to Melbourne I was a singing teacher at my local TAFE and it always amazed me how different my adult students were compared to the kids that I taught privately.  Children came to their lessons with no preconceptions of what they were capable of; for the most part, they assumed that they could until repeated experience proved otherwise.  It made for an incredibly powerful and trusting learning environment, and those kids progressed very quickly.

My adult TAFE students didn’t believe that they could sing, but they came to my class because they liked doing it anyway.  Most of them could recall a time early in their life where they used to sing all of the time, and most could remember in vivid detail the embarrassing story behind their decision to stop.  The first few weeks of those classes was always about breaking through their assumptions about what their voices could do.  From there, the transformations were incredible – and it all began in the mind.

So I had to laugh at myself a bit today for reacting as I did to the news that we’d be painting with oil paints.  Why had I decided that I didn’t deserve to be using them yet?  What about those classmates of mine who had never painted before – would Michael be cruel enough to throw them to the wolves?  He seems like such a nice guy!

Michael is a nice guy, and he also has a lot of faith in our capacity to learn new tricks.  I think that the entire class did an incredible job for their first painting class today – don’t they look amazing as a group?


So here’s my very first oil painting.

In some ways oil painting was very different to working with acrylics, and in other ways it was exactly the same.  I loved the way that paint could be pushed around easily once it was on the paper, and how easy it was to blend.  I found it to be much more forgiving, mistakes were more easily corrected.  I’d have loved to have kept working on this still life but we ran out of time!

I might be the newest member of the fan club.