Sunday, September 22, 2013

365 Mail Art Project: Weeks 48, 49 & 50

Week 48:
Postcards made using upcycled pictures from an old tourist brochure went out to:
#169: Venus in Canada
#170: Liz in Canada
#171: Jessica in USA
#172: Blake in USA
Week 49:

Postcards made from scraps of card stock, paper, magazines and letters went out to:
#173: Martina in Germany
#174: Elaine in Canada
#175: Claire in UK

And postage collage cards went to:
#176: Jennifer in USA
#177: Laima in USA
Week 50:

My friend, Jen, is the Master in the art of marbled paper. She comes up with the best colour combinations that I absolutely love. So, of course I had to use some in my mail art project!
Decorated with washi and vintage typewriters, these pretty marbled envelopes are going out (with letters enclosed, of course!) to:
#178: Jennifer in Australia
#179: Nicola in Australia
#180: Hannah in UK
#181: Eleonora in Italy
#182: Raquel in Sweden
#183: Kelly in Malaysia
(POSTSCRIPT: Jen has an Etsy store and sells her marbled paper in sets, if you are interested in obtaining some for yourself)


Today is the spring equinox in Australia, that time of year when light and dark are in equal measure. From here on in, however, the days will become longer than the nights as we progress into summer.
It is gloriously sunny, possibly a little too warm today. It may be the time for spring but there are certainly many signs of summer about the place: Clear blue skies, dry ground, bees, bugs and FLIES. On the days when it's not windy (that's just September in the Ranges, I'm afraid), the days are what many would consider to be rather perfect. It's a shame that spring is such a short season here: No sooner have we emerged from our winter snug than it is time to retreat back indoors for summer hibernation...
But I'll dwell on that another day.
Right now I just want to be out in the garden, enjoying the sunshine.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review: Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm generally not the type to read "self-help" books, and I suspect that to some extent Susan Cain's Quiet is probably quite often mistaken as such, when in actual fact it is nothing of the sort.

Personality, generally speaking, falls into two categories. Either a person is an extrovert, or they are an introvert. There are more extroverts in the world than there are introverts and, as such, it may be of little surprise to learn that the extrovert personality tends to dominate - just about everything. Outgoing, sociable and comfortable around large groups of people, the extrovert has been promoted as the "ideal" personality type in schools, universities, and the workplace. So, what does this mean for the introvert?

In Quiet Susan Cain takes an in-depth look at the impact that this extroverted ideal has had on the introvert. Quiet, thoughtful and sometimes a little shy, the introvert is often mistaken as a loner, a bit mysteries, or just plain weird. However, there are significant psychological and physiological factors at play that make it impossible for an introvert to "become" an extrovert in the same way that an extrovert could never hope to be an introvert. Quiet is all about understanding the differences between the two personality types, whilst at the same time teaching others to appreciate the benefits that both personalities have to offer the world.

I am an introvert. In fact, according to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I belong to the 1% of people who are an INFJ personality type. In may mean nothing to you (particularly if you are an extrovert), but it means the world to me. Knowing why I think the way I think and do the things I do is of major importance to an introvert trying to survive in an extroverted world. Quiet was written to be read by people just like me.

Despite its claims, however, Quiet will not necessarily provide an introvert with the "tools" needed to thrive in a world where extroverts dominate. I found that although it provided me with a greater understanding of my introversion, at the same time it made me all the more aware of it, which is of absolutely no benefit whatsoever when in a public setting.

Having said that, however, where Quiet does succeed is in its championing of the introvert in a society where they are too often under-appreciated and ignored. For that reason, it's a book that should be read not only by the introverts of the world, but also by the extroverts. In that sense, Quiet has a lot to teach us all.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 a book.

Today I received the most wonderful letter from my friend Laura, which I've been (impatiently) awaiting for just over a week. Our correspondence has continued almost unabated for the past fifteen years, during which time we've established the most solid of friendships.
Now that she is living in the UK (after a mammoth move from Sydney), the mail is a bit slower so more time passes between letters. I've not met anyone else with whom I can exchange excessively long missives whilst also regularly keeping in touch via text messages, emails and tweets (we'd Skype too if the technology was available in the Ranges, but alas! it is not). Laura and I simply never run out of things to "talk" about.
Today I received a beautiful letter from Laura in a notebook, filled with pages of news and decorated with all our favourite things: History, books, fantasy creatures, horror themes, haunted houses, photography, ghosts, skeletons and monsters. (Yes, we are both grown women in our 30s!)
It was the perfect end to a crazy day.
But the best thing by far is to have so many tangible representations of our friendship, collected over the years. Anyone who tries to proclaim that letter-writing is boring, out-dated and a complete waste of time clearly isn't doing it right!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review: Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #1)Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Guilty Pleasures is the first book in the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton.

In this first instalment the reader is introduced to Anita Blake, a necromancer with the power to raise the dead and a vampire hunter known as the Executioner. Anita lives in a world where vampires have been granted many of the same legal rights bestowed upon humans, so when "innocent" vampires become the focus of a crazed serial killer, Anita is roped into the investigation to find the culprit. The task is made all the more unsatisfying (and difficult) for Anita when she is forced to deal with an extremely powerful and dangerous vampire who has no qualms about ending Anita's life if she makes one wrong move...

The Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series has become a bit of a cult classic since the first novel was released way back in 1993. As an avid reader of vampire fiction, it was only a matter of time before Guilty Pleasures made its way onto my bookshelf, and as a first book in a series I had expected it to completely suck me into Anita's world - but, alas! it did not. I found the storyline promising, although it was let down by underdeveloped, hollow central characters. Furthermore, the plot moved at a snail's pace, so that by story's end it didn't feel as though all that much actually happened. But more than anything, it was really difficult for me to either like or relate to Anita, the story's protagonist. Narrow-minded, unforgiving and over-confident, she is, for lack of a better word, abrasive.

This is a novel where magic and the undead are brought together in the guise of a murder mystery, so I can understand how it may appeal to some other readers. However, unlike similar series by other authors (for example, the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, which has many similar characteristics), it isn't action-packed, there's little romance and it certainly isn't sexy - not all that much for a reader to sink their teeth into, really.

After all the hype, Guilty Pleasures was actually a bit of a let-down, and it certainly hasn't left me eager to begin book two anytime soon.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

365 Mail Art Project: Weeks 46 & 47

I've been busy this past fortnight turning photographs into handmade postcards.
What a fantastic way to share favourite photos! I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner.
Weeks 46 & 47:

This selection of handmade postcards went out to:
#149: Mikaela in USA
# 150: Allison in USA
#151: Justina in Australia
#152: Rachel in USA
#153: Athanasia in Greece
#154:Barbara in USA
#155: Amber in USA
#156: Amy in Australia
#157: Denica in Australia
#158: Sarah in USA
#159: Meredith in USA
#160: Ingrid in USA
#161: Millie in USA
#162: Claudia in Germany
#163: Amanda in USA
#164: Beth in USA
#165: Tammie in USA
#166: Ksenia in Australia
#167: Lynn in USA
I also recently made an art journal letter booklet to send to a friend, but I didn't share it at the time as I wanted her to receive it before posting it on my blog, so I left it un-numbered, until now.

#168 of 365:
Masqued vampires (and 80 pages of creative missive awesome!) for Laura in the UK.