Thursday, September 30, 2010

Letter Swap: Partners!

I've decided to organise partners a little differently for this swap, in that the person you will write to will not be the person you receive a letter from. I thought that due to the fact that there is not a large number of participants, this will be a fun way for each person to get a little more out of this swap.

So, the letter writing will work as follows:

Amanda will write to Sarah
Sarah will write to Louise
Writer.Elh will write to Alison
Alison will write to Rae
Rae will write to Denise
Denise will write to Pia
Pia will write to Amanda

Letter Swap Rules
Letters must be sent using the old fashioned postal service (not electronically)
All letter should be in the post no later than 29 October 2010

What you elect to write in and include with your letter is entirely up to you.
Whether or not you decide to reply to the letter you receive is also entirely your discretion.

Thanks to everyone participating for taking the time out to be a part of this swap. I hope you will enjoy it and that there will be some new friendships created along the way.

Also, a special thank you to Denise over at A Bun Can Dance for her promotion of the letter swap; it really helped boost interest and I appreciate it so much!

I will be emailing everyone with their partner's contact details over the course of the morning. You will need to contact that person to request their postal address.

Happy letter writing everyone!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Challenge of the Utmost Kind: 12 months later...

Twelve months ago to the day I decided to take part in Dottie Angel's "Challenge of the Utmost Kind", which entailed purchasing only handcrafted and secondhand goods for home and wardrobe for 365 days. I set down the rules by which I was to abide, and in the blink of an eye, twelve months have passed and it is time for me to review the challenge.

The first rule (exception) was that "handcrafted and secondhand" would not apply to books. I am a complete bookworm and in order to ensure that I continued to have sufficient books to read I decided to exclude them from the challenge. In hindsight it was a good decision, as in the course of the year I have discovered that there are few books available secondhand in my area, let alone books I'd want to read. The local libraries were unable to assist either: Neither contain a sufficient hist-fic and historical biography selection to meet my reading demands!

However, not all the books I've read in the past twelve months have been purchased by me, brand new. Some have been gifts, and I also made the concerted effort to seek out and participate in as many BookCrossing bookrings for the books on my wishlist as possible, which was surprisingly successful. These days I find myself browsing the rings offered at BookCrossing prior to purchasing a book.

For obvious reasons, under-garments (including socks, stockings and tights) were excluded from the challenge, as was any clothing items that I needed for work, which included work-related footwear (I have a uniform). In regards to all other clothing, they had to be purchased handmade or secondhand in order to comply with the challenge.

I found that the local secondhand and charity stores do not stock a lot of clothing, and what they do stock is not much to my taste. Instead, I found myself avoiding the clothing stores so I wouldnt be tempted by all the pretty garments in the windows. For the pst twelve months I've just not purchased anything that I did not need and made do with what I already had; the only items of clothing I bought were items I needed to replace, and I waited until the old ones had basically disintegrated first!

Home improvements were also exempt from the challenge. However, we had purchased all GPOs, light switches etc prior to the challenge beginning, and in twelve months we have only been able to complete one room: Our bedroom. Once it was finished we did purchase a new bedroom suite, which isnt exactly "making do" with what we had, but we didnt have a suite, just an old, uncomfortable bed that we had planned on replacing once the room was finished - a decision made prior to the challenge. But other than the suite, everything else in the room are items we already owned and have re-used: Curtains, doilies, blankets and linen, pillows...

I have been gifted vintage serving dishes, biscuit tins and a cake tin, not because I asked for them, but because others have noticed that I like the old and re-usable and thought I would like them. There is much joy and intrigue in receiving an item much older than you! I doubt many of the things I've purchased new would last long enough for me to pass them onto another generation forty, fifty or sixty years later.

It may seem an odd thing to exclude from such a challenge, but I elected to allow myself to purchase new scrapbooking supplies for any projects I decided to make as gifts. Surprisingly, the only thing I actually needed to buy was ink for my printer in order to print out photos, and I ensured I used whatever paper, embellishments, brads etc I already had. I've also been recycling giftwrap, gift cards, postcards, notecards - whatever I do not wish to keep that looks nice! I guess that is true "scrap"-booking. In the past twelve months I have made bookmarks, book tags, and photo journals as gifts.

Unfortunately, I have not had the time to improve on my knitting skills or learn to sew, but these are skills I am still determined to master one day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

Simply because I cannot make my own doesnt mean I have had to go without. During the course of this challenge I have discovered and fell madly in-love with the wonderful creations and creators at I've an ever-increasing list of favourite sellers and favourite items. I've made a few small purchases so far, and there will definitely be more purchases in future: From here on in, all Christmas and birthday gifts will be bought from Etsy. If you have not visited this website, you are missing out on some of the most fantastic handcrafted, recycled and upcycled pretties your are ever likely to see!

The greatest truth I have learnt from Dottie Angel's challenge is that "want" and "need" are not the same thing. These days I find myself standing in the stores admiring the goods on the shelf, but I no longer simply buy whatever it is I like. Instead I find myself questioning whether or not I actually need it: How will it make my life easier/better/more enjoyable? How often will I use it? Is it a necessity, or do I already own something else that can do the same thing or similar? A lot of the time I find myself walking away, empty-handed, and the feeling I get from not giving in is greater than the thrill of having something new. Nothing stays new forever, anyway.

Not only have I changed the way I buy and what I buy, but I've also changed the way I think about buying: A valuable lesson learned.

Thanks to Tif (Dottie Angel) for taking on this challenge for herself and allowing the rest of us to be a part of it. It is something I recommend everyone try at least once: The results will surprise you!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Letter Swap (Reminder)

Sign up ends 29 September 2010
Partners allocated 30 September 2010
Letters must be sent using the old fashioned postal service
All letters should be in the post no later than 29 October 2010

This time next week I will be issuing partners for the Letter Swap I am hosting. So far we have 4 participants, a nice even number, but it'd be lovely to have more!

To sign up, please just leave a comment, either on this post or on the original, expressing your wish to participate. Please dont forget to include either your email address or blog details so that I can get in touch with you later.

Each participant will have one partner, unless you specifically request more.

At the end of the sign up period I will randomnly generate partners, and then get in touch with you to let you know the details. You will need to contact your partner to get their postal address. What you decide to include in or with your letter is entirely up to you.
Any questions? Just ask!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wombat, Wombat, Wombat.

Ving the wombat takes a nap! Picture from here.

I love animals. It is one of the many reasons why I am vegetarian. I am especially fond of Australia's native animals, and every day I am blessed to see kangaroos, wallabies, and emus in the wild. When we lived in the city we were not far from a nature reserve where there were koalas in the wild, and sometimes in summer during heatwaves they would wander into the suburbs looking for water.

But this isnt a common occurence right across the country: Not everyone in Australia is as privileged as I have been.

Today I discovered that it is possible to sponsor a wombat - one just like Ving (pictured above)!

Wombats are intelligent marsupials native to Australia. They are hunted for food and sport, are killed by farmers who consider them a pest, and suffer diseases such as mange, passed onto them by foxes. A female wombat may only produce young once every two to three years, so it probably comes as no surprise that they are also endangered. However, they receive poor protection from government.

I think the wombat is often Australia's forgotten marsupial, perhaps because it is so rarely seen. We have wombats in South Australia. Where I grew up on the Eyre Peninsula the Southern Hairy Nose Wombat is native. I have seen wombats in captivity, and come across burrows, but I have never come across a wombat in the wild.

Pehaps this is not simply because they are nocturnal and shy - Perhaps it really is because there are so few of them left?

If you'd like to learn more about the plight of these adorable creatures, please visit the Wombat Awareness website, and to sponsor one simply go here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Foreign Correspondence + a Letter Swap

Title: Foreign Correspondence - A Pen Pal's Journey from Down Under to All Over
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Category: Memoir

"But the huge spaces, the deep silences, the vast paddocks free of road rules and stranger danger could never be transported to the black-bitumen blocks of suburban Concord. The great dark mass of movement from country to city is made up of little specks like me: children who don't have any land left to visit, except in their parents' memories."

I have been penpalling since I was 7 years old and am still in touch with my first pen pal. As a shy child growing up in rural South Australia, penpalling was a convenient way to make friends and learn about the world beyond my own, and over the years has taught me many things about people and the world in which we live.

This is the experience shared by Geraldine Brooks in her memoir, Foreign Correspondence. Her desire to learn more about the world through penpalling created the framework for the rest of her life, growing up to become a journalist and Foreign Correspondent.

After many years of silence, she decides to seek out the long-lost pen pals from her youth, the results of which are both unexpected and insightful. Through these people, strangers but not, she learns more about herself than she could have possibly imagined.

An interesting memoir, beautifully told.


Inspired by Geraldine Brooks' memoir and my own love for the lost art of letter writing, I have decided to host an old-fashioned letter swap for anyone who wants to take part.

All you need to do to sign up is leave a comment with your email and/or blog address, expressing your interest in participating. Each person will have one partner, although you can specify for more if you wish.

At the end of the sign-up period I will randomly generate partners and email you that person's contact details. You and your partner will then need to exchange postal address details in order to post your letters.What you decide to put in your letter is entirely up to you.

Sign up ends 29 September 2010
Partners allocated 30 September 2010
Letters must be sent using the old-fashioned postal service
All letters should be in the mail no later than 29 October 2010

--> Any questions, just ask!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir

Title: The Lady Elizabeth
Author: Alison Weir
Category: Historical-Fiction (Tudor)

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir is a novel of the early life of Elizabeth Tudor, before she became Queen Elizabeth I.

As a historian, Weir always ensures to incorporate plenty of historical detail into her novels, bringing the story to life for the reader. It is not difficult to imagine Elizabeth's detached, confused childhood, her father (King Henry VIII) being its only constant; she admiring him endlessly despite his decision to bring her mother's life (Anne Boleyn) to a brutal end; her love-hate relationship with her half-sister, Queen Mary I; the utter choas that followed the death of her father and brother (Edward); her life becoming an endless fight for survival, and her unyieling determination to secure her place in the succession.

Weir's skills as a fiction writer improve dramatically with The Lady Elizabeth, her second novel, creating for the reader a truly compelling account of the events that culminated in Elizabeth Tudor's rise to the English throne.

Highly recommended.
4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

When it rains, it pours...

[Boolcunda Creek, between Quorn & Hawker, 4 Sept 2010]

We certainly have had some wild weather these past two days: Gale-force winds, thunder, lightning, and a heap of rain! Our area received more than 40mm in 12 hours Friday night, with another 15mm falling during the day Saturday.

Boolcunda Creek is one of 8 creeks/rivers that flow into the Willochra, the largest river in the Flinders Ranges. Most of the time these creeks/rivers are bone-dry, but if enough rain falls in a short period of time they begin to flow. They don't run for very long, but they make for an impressive sight when they do.