"Let me do the smiling for both of us"

Do you remember the episode of The Simpsons where Lisa is too sad to play dodgeball, & Marge tells her, "Always be yourself...From now on, let me do the smiling for both of us." It's one of my favourite episodes - so sweet & sad.

Browsing some of my favourite blogs, it's easy to assume that other people's lives are an endless parade of sunshine & lollipops. I absolutely understand why people blog about nice things - lovely, inspiring, aspirational things - it's natural to want to put your best self forward, especially if your blog is a marketing vehicle for your business. I sure don't want my blog to be a littany of gripes either!

But I just want to put this out there... If you are dealing with illness, either your own or someone you care for, or have financial troubles, dysfunctional relationships, you're feeling discouraged, unmotivated, or you're lonely, or just happen to be going through some stuff at the moment...you are most definitely not alone!

If you're slumped on the sofa in your PJs at 3.00pm watching Love Boat, contemplating cornflakes for dinner, while it seems the rest of the world is ambitiously setting New Year's resolutions & projects...just remember that hardly anyone's life really does look like a spread from a glossy design magazine. I bet that underneath the gloss, there's a load of junk shoved in the cupboards & dust bunnies under the bed. Perhaps an old tube of athlete's foot cream in the bathroom cabinet or some unidentifiable mouldy lump stuck at the back of the fridge.

There are loads of corny, motivational quotes out there that I'm sure you don't want to hear, but I quite like the succinctness of this one from that dogged old curmudgeon Winston Churchill: "If you're going through hell, keep going."

Here's to everyone who's had a cruddy 2011 - may 2012 be less cruddy! Yay!

Giant Mermaids, a UFO, and a Flying Whale

I'm lucky enough to live by the sea, in beautiful, sunny Semaphore. A few months ago, at the end of summer, we took a stroll down to the esplanade (after a yummy lunch at the local tapas café), to see the kites breezin' along with the breeze as part of the annual Semaphore Kite Festival. It was a lovely day (apart from forgetting my sunscreen & coming home as red & shiny as a ripe tomato). Looking at these bright summery pics makes me look forward to spring!

Accidental Beauty & Organised Chaos

Maybe beauty is too grand a word for accidentally organised clutter, but even so, I thought these little dogs (picked up a few weeks ago from a flea market) I'd put to one side of the hellish mess I call my work table, made a nice little arrangement deserving of a photo! The collage on canvas behind them is a little work in progress - I must get around to finishing it...

The piccie below is another accidental arrangement from a few months ago. I was idly fidgeting while talking on the phone & made this little scene on my desk. The thing the tinsel tree is sticking in is a grubby lump of blue-tack with the word 'please' pressed in it from my 'please do not bend' stamp. Notice my blog on the screen behind it?

I've been flat-out busy lately, but for all those involved in the Paper Chase, I am madly collaging the nights away. Last count, I think I'd received about 30 packages!

What else have I been doing lately? Well, I've listed some new things in my Etsy shop. I thought I'd try & justify the extravagant purchase of stamp making equipment by making some to sell as well as for myself. I'd like to expand the selection, but here's what I've got for starters. I'm granting buyers a license to use them commercially, & all the designs will be exclusive to the range. I'm also gradually taking product photos so I can list a whole lot of buttons, magnets, keyrings, etc. The multi-packs that I've listed so far seem quite popular!

I'm also making hay while the sun shines (ie. using my gocco before supplies finally run out) by doing some new gocco prints, including some pieces for a gocco exhibition in October that I'll tell you all about later.

Quick! Where are My Scissors & Glue?!

EDIT: The Paper Chase has now closed.

Trips to the post office are not normally this thrilling... The response to the Paper Chase has been huge - 19 parcels of paper so far, & more to come. Hooray! Here's what I picked up this morning...it was like Christmas Day opening them all!

I'm obviously going to be very busy making collages for all the participants, so I'd like to ask people to be a little patient.

I'm devoting my evenings & some of my weekends to the Paper Chase so I can post back everyone's collages as soon as possible!

I'm just amazed & really really moved by how great you all are! I hope I can do this project justice by making collages everyone's happy with! Thank you!

End of Summer Already?!

Yep, one more week & we're into autumn...it feels like only yesterday that I was "celebrating" the New Year with a poorly-timed bout of the flu (is there a good time to get the flu?)

Anyway, I thought I'd better dust off my blog & post something. Do you like my cigar boxes? I picked them up at a local market. Graphically & typographically you just can't beat old cigar boxes for pure excitement! I have plans for them...

As usual, I've been really busy & my poor old blog has been bumped to the back of the queue, but I've just been working on my gallery - not quite finished yet, but nearly! I also haven't forgotten that my monthly giveaways haven't quite been monthly (sorry!), so early this week I'm launching a Super Duper Mega Giveaway with four different prizes including Li'l Mary coasters and a couple of one of a kind creations that I've made especially for the giveaway.

Doesn't that sound grand? You do need to join my Mailing List to be eligible for the draw though, so go sign up!

It's 3.00am & I've eaten too much raspberry licorice - time to go! Enjoy your weekend!

PS. Hello to the people who found me via the Sunday Age! Just going out to buy my copy now - so exciting! :)

Little Things

When I was a kid, I used to collect little treasures such as toys from cereal boxes, Christmas crackers & vending machines, & keep them in a tin toffee box which I called my 'Little Things Box'. I'd spend hours looking through my prized collection... I remember in particular, a pink plastic poodle I loved, & a tiny deck of playing cards. I wish I had kept those relics of my childhood (remember Bretodeau's boyhood stash in Amélie?) - I'd love to see them again!

I still collect plastic toys & keep them in vintage cigar boxes. Here's a small sample from my collection. Some were bought from Covetable Curiosities' & A. Bel Emporium's Etsy shops. The rest I found foraging at secondhand markets. I love my collection of little things!

Everything you need, you carry around with you

So I thought I'd explain the significance of that phrase & why I had it written on a bracelet (see previous post). A few years ago I was going through a particularly stressful time where I was constantly in worry mode. I woke up one morning with this sentence in my head..."Everything you need, you carry around with you." I don't know where it came from - whether I dreamed it or picked it up somewhere - but I like to think it was my inner-wisdom sending me a little message to help put things back in perspective & stop fussing about inconsequential things. It was the inspiration behind this picture (top left), which was one of my very first vector illustrations when I was learning how to use Illustrator.

And so started my fascination with masked women. There's something so powerful about this image - I keep drawing it over & over again.