It's YOU! Hello! Nice to see you! Here you will find stuff about living a creative life in country Australia. I create with watercolour, pen, collage, mixed media and photos. I teach, hosts workshops, collect, dream. I love cheese, travel, my garden, faffing, colour and whimsy. I am crap at time management, and do way too many things, but it is all good. Oh yes, all pictures and photos on here by me too, just saying.

Saturday, 24 October 2015


The Epic and the Everyday

Sometimes my whole life feels EPIC. Even the everyday. Just getting out the red front door is an epic achievement some mornings. Or is it just me?

driving around Cowra

So anything at all that helps make life a little easier, is totally brilliant. Maybe some extra arms, a robot, a maid, a million bucks, coffee given intravenously and a lifetime supply of mint choc or Turkish delight... but seeing as these are mere flights of fancy, I will make do with more realistic goals. 

beautiful blue sky and clouds, reflected in side mirror chrome

So if I cannot have extra arms, then I guess one of the things I love about EVE, is that she has lots of magical technology built into her that makes things so much EASIER. I smile instead of curse. Like backing out of our driveway with the predictive where-you-will-go-if-you-keep-steering-like-this movie on the flat screen monitor linked to the rear camera. Like the Automatic Park Assist and the keyless entry.

Like the POWER TAILGATE, which means that with the press of a button as I hobble to the car with a zillion things hanging off me(perhaps from a stealthy trip to the shops...sshhhhhh) the back tailgate opens ALL BY ITSELF. Really.

Love this technology! Love this huge space!

But it gets better. Seriously. You know all those moments of hard rubbish collecting (roadside kerbside treasure...) or when you go to a nursery and end up buying half a forest, or when you  buy enough food to feed an entire army of starving 15 year old boys, or when you spontaneously purchase a piece of furniture you found at your friends retro shop that-you-cannot-live-without(and it is supporting local business AND your friend)... 

Well, Eve has a thing where her 3rd Row seats totally flatten out to become a HUGE stable surface AT THE TOUCH OF BUTTON! Apparently it is officially called the POWER FOLD SPLIT 3rd ROW SEAT. I call it fantastic. No more clambering and groping about the back end of the car trying to press nobs and pull forward seats and tearing a shoulder muscle doing it. Just press a button! Really, really awesome.

Now you may or may not know that my family recently returned from an adventure in New Zealand, and we spent a large amount of the trip in a motorhome. So I think that's why this idea came to her - last week I found Miss Rosie, carrying pillows and cushions outside. "Hello there my sweet Rosie Bear, watcha doing?" I asked casually (but actually a little perplexed). 

supplies for an EVE sleep out

It seems she had decided that upon seeing (and trying out) the power fold split 3rd row seat for herself, she had decided to make herself a little bed, and spend the night in Eve. Hmmm...

Rosie chillin' in EVE

She had already worked out that there was a place to hold her cup, a place to recharge her devices (if needed) a reading light, and plenty of room. Enough for me to sleep with her if I wanted to in fact - even with tonnes of teddies in there. 

reading about a car wash

She had brought down her supplies already, including a stash of books, one of them being about a car wash (no doubt inspired by the last adventure we had in Eve, which I wrote about in my last blog). And what was she most excited about? Having almost 50% of the entire top of EVE as a panoramic sunroof, she was planning on opening it and spending the night gazing up at the stars. And for extra bedazzle, just in case the stars were not enough, my disco ball had been moved down to decorate the interior(!)

one happy little camper

I have to admit, she looked pretty comfortable in there, totally chilled and onto a good thing. 

So there you go, another unexpected good thing about those split seats. And Rose loving Eve even more because of it.

However, there is one improvement Rosie has suggested for the team at Ford. 

EVE telling me I need to stop for a cuppa

Although we all totally LOVE that Eve reminds us after 2 hours of driving that we need to have a rest, and uses a nice image of a cup of coffee to do it, after some discussion both Rosie and I feel that there should also be included in this graphic an image of a cake or biscuit to emphasise and encourage the need for a break. Just a little suggestion. But until then, we are happy to stop for a mere cappuccino or latte whenever EVE suggests it.

I did try to suggest to Rosie and my other 2 kids that the rest suggestion EVE gives us was a good reason to "SHUDDUP AND GO TO SLEEP!". It did not work. I had seen in the bumf about the New Everest a thing called ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLATION SYSTEM. This sounded brilliant, so I did go looking for how to activate it. 

Look at her, isn't she lovely?!

Unfortunately, I misinterpreted it, and it does not make my kids go quiet. It does not cancel their active noise. Drats. 

It turns out that in fact, and I quote, that this system "uses 3 highly sensitive microphones to detect and measure engine noise and then cancel it with opposing sound waves". Apparently it was inspired by noise cancelling headphones. How darn amazing!  Just one of the things that makes driving Eve such a pleasure. 

And it is. Quite aside from just the thrill of having the chance to drive her, I can honestly say that powering up hills (eat my dust all you other guys!) cornering through windy country corners, the leather seats, the ability to set my music, air temperature and phone to MY OWN SPECIFIC NEEDS, just with my voice with the SYNC2 is pretty bloody excellent. Driving her is really just a joy.

My fave two trees - I photograph them most seasons. 

Having done a whole pile of painting recently, I have been a bit low on art supplies and needed to stock up. The nearest art supply place is over 100 km away, in Bathurst so it seemed a lovely drive in Eve was in order. I also know the countryside around here looks brilliant at the moment due to recent Spring rains, and this would be a great opportunity to snap off a few photos. And if I happen to sneak in a trip to a nursery or an op-shop... even better!

On the road to Bathurst

Lovely pastel sticks at the art shop in Bathurst

So that's what I did. All in the name of art. And to have some more EVE time. Because soon I will have to hand EVE back, so I am trying to get as much time in her as I can.

Maybe because I want something to remember EVE by, or more likely because my adventures with her have been so inspiring, I decided to use them as an idea for a little artwork.

 My other favourite two trees, near Blayney

It started as a collage picture of EVE and the things we had done... and then this grew into me wanting to make it into a stop frame animation. Never having done one before, and only discovering iMovie 2 weeks ago, I was a bit anxious about whether I would pull it off. But like all things in life, you don't know if you don't try.  

So here you go, I include here my first ever little animation, all about Eve and me. I'd love you to watch it! It is called THE EPIC and the EVERYDAY. And now you know why.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed being part of this challenge.

Thank you Ford Australia, and thank you Kidpsot for this great opportunity
It has truly been a blast. I have loved every minute. It has been EPIC!

Looking down the track... wonder where it will take me?

OH LOOKY! It's my other two videos! Fancy that!

             For those who were wondering... 
This post written as part of my #FORDTHINKING #VOICESOF2015 Kidspot Challenge. As a Top3 Finalist in this prestigious challenge, I am being loaned a NEW FORD EVEREST for 6 weeks, as well as completing other blog challenges. I am supporting these posts with other social media platforms also - like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube Vimeo and Pinterest. I would  LOVE for you to look at what else I have done. It's been totally weird and totally fabulous!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

#myday #shareaustralia ORANGE SNOW

Ominous grey clouds outside of Cargo, snow on vines and paddocks of white


It's Sunday, the last day of the school holidays. Cold and damp, the weather reflects my mood - a little sad that reality is about to begin again. Schoolday - get up, heater on. Greet dogs. Wake kids. Boil the jug. Wake kids. Make breakfast. Yell at kids. Make coffee.  Breathe and sigh. Nag kids again... etc. etc. etc.

After a few weeks of chillin',just pottering around the house, a little trip to Canberra and then hanging out as a family, it is with quiet dread that I realise this little interlude is ending. So this day I let the kids sleep in, grab a cuppa, enjoy the silence , turn on my laptop (Minnie) and turn on Facebook (oh yes, such a modern Mum). Scrolling around, I see a post from a dear and lovely friend, who lives an hour away in Orange. And OMG! She has snow falling in her yard, and her girls are having snowball fights! OMG!

So the weather forecasters were bang on, and snow has come to the central West NSW. Now I know I am a grown up, and a Mum, an adult... supposedly mature. But like a 5 year old I began bouncing around "SNOW! SNOW! SNOW!" I instantly hatched a plan - we have to go and see that snow. Running upstairs I woke the hairy surly teenage son, the lovely tweenie daughter, turned on their lights, threw back the donnas, and declared - "GET UP GET UP GET UP YOU LAZY SODS, WE ARE GOING TO SEE THE SNOW IN ORANGE!"

Down in her room, the opera singing 8 year old daughter bounced outta bed like a shot, as excited as me,ambling downstairs came the tweenie who was happy too - but more moderate in her display of excitement, and then the teenager looked totally less than thrilled at the prospect. 

However, with bribes of buying lunch and catching up with our friends, an hour later I had packed plastic bags, towels, spare clothes, gloves, beanies, scarves, gumboots and had determined that the kids had enough layers on that Michelin man would be proud. Hubby - who had to stay behind because of work commitments - was visibly anxious at the prospect of us zooming the hours drive away to Orange on icy roads and imperfect conditions. I reassured him that I would be ultra careful, put the car in 4WD, and not hoon along. AND WE WERE OFF! Orange snow, here we come!

40 minutes later, through Canowindra, then the little village of Cargo(where the pants are made... cargo pants!.. old family joke, sorry), and the temperature began dropping on the cars gauge. 7 degrees, 6 degrees, 5 degrees, 4 degrees...and in the distance grey clouds sat heavily, full and dark. 3 degrees...

THERE IT WAS! The first view of white, slashed on the mountains ahead. Patches of it began to adorn the roadside. Spontaneous singing of "Frozen" songs began in earnest. Drats though, it had begun to rain. "Will it wash away the snow Mummy?" the 8 year old asked.... Gosh, I really hope not I think. Ahead I see a turnoff to Mt. Canobolas, and at the crossroads there is a BIG area covered in snow, with  a few other families there doing the same thing. We pull over, park, and the girls are zippy and fizzy, beside themselves and  huge beautific grins from ear to ear. The teenager tough is still playing it cool.(bad pun, sorry)

Car doors swing open, feet first the girls jump out, giggling and make a beeline for the white stuff. Snowballs are made in a matter of moments, and Miss 8 has thrown herself into it, making a snow angel. I am snapping away like a mad woman, giddy with delight at seeing their delight. Their rosy cheeks are kissable and beautiful.

It begins to snow... at first just lightly, swirly, delicate and mist like. Oh my word though... because minutes later it is now REALLY snowing, flurries of flakes everywhere. Proper big flakes, thick and fast. I need no prompting to grab the teenager out of the car, and surprise surprise, he gets off his phone and decides to interface with an app called THE REAL WORLD (his running joke in our family is that THE REALITY APP i.e, real life ,has great pixels and sets, but the storyline is crap). Lo and behold, a miracle, within nano seconds he too is laughing and giggling, smiling like a happy loon. He yells, he makes snowballs and throws them at his sisters. Now we are all laughing, ducking, throwing, leaping, running. It is pure bloody magic, and my heart is full full full full full.

                              The first snowball fight of the day, smiles all around, even from the teenager

From where we are we can see the turn off to Mt. Canobolas(fun fact-it is the highest point from here till all the way to Africa heading due west). There is sub alpine flora and geography up there, because it often gets snow in winter.On a whim we decided to drive up the track, and see what it is like up there. Even though we know the road is closed off and we will not reach the top of the mountain, we cannot resist the urge to find out  how much snow  has fallen higher up.

                                                   Winter wonderland... the road up to Mount. Canobolas

So up we drive, car in 4WD, seat belts on, headlights on, nice and slow. The road is rutted and icy, and the trees are a ghostly white, covered, and looking ethereal and hauntingly beautiful. It is such a treat to see. A few months ago I was on this same track, trees dry and twisted, grass gold, and sweltering in 40 degree heat. It is hard to believe! This country of ours really is amazing.

I drive until we see the sign for the entrance to the State conservation area, and because there is a little clearing and my kids are champing at the bit to get out and play some more, I pull over. In a flash they are out and I can no longer see them as they disappear behind the trees, exploring and getting themselves in position for an almighty snowball fight. I cannot stop smiling.

                                    Yep, that is snow, at about 45 degree angle,  coming down thick and fast

All this time, the snow has not eased off, and is in fact getting heavier. My phone has frozen(literally!) So I am snapping away with my big daddy camera, trying to keep it shielded from the snow and failing miserably! I really just cannot stop thinking about how great this is, and how much I know the kids will remember this day, and wish my hubby was here too. 

I stand really still, and try to take it all in, try to make my brain like a polaroid and lock way the details, pack this time and experience away in my head. I smell the air, touch the snow, taste the cold and just filter out everything but the beauty that is around me. In the quiet I hear branches snapping off trees, too heavy with snow to support such weight, and I think... shux, maybe it is time to go.

By now my kids are like walking popsicles, and they are beginning to feel the bite of the cold. Being nutters though, they insist that feeling half frozen is indeed lots of fun, and they are fine-thanks- Mum. When I point out that the car is actually now covered in snow and branches are breaking, and that we are in fact, completely underneath just such branches, I see them begin to understand. With the lure of HOT CHOCOLATE, they finally get into the car. OHHOHHOHH...teeny bit of anxiety as the wheels spin, and no traction at all... but it's okay, I figure it out, and down the mountain we go.(actually pretty darn worried there for a while, but do not tell them that, shshshshshshsh....)


Ice magic

 Teenager in disguise...

 Ice princess

After gorging on hot food and the promised hot chocolate, we drove to the friends house, the one whose post inspired our little drive and made me get my arse into gear on this cold grey Sunday. Our kids have not seen each other for awhile,  but it does not matter one iota, the bond these guys have is so special (my friend was actually at Miss 8's birth) and it is hugs and kisses and giggles and cackles all-around. Of course, what they are all dying to do is throw white wet, cold snowy balls at each other. So they do.


We mature adults stand there laughing at them, while dog and kids have a wild time. Seeing these kids like this, not a care in the world and so HAPPY, having my friend next to me, she snapping away with her camera too, I have that feeling of immense joy again, and my full heart is even fuller. I wish we could stay for hours, but it is starting to get dark, and the drive back home to Cowra  I think will be long and exhausting. 

And it was totally was. Actually, it was pretty terrifying - snow blizzard, sleet, driving rain, black ice, a de-mister that did not work and a windscreen constantly looking like it had a veneer of vaseline on it, 1000km of windy roads,  kangaroos,  hills,  roadwork ... yep, I had my brown undies on for a lot of that drive.

Eventually though we made it home safely, exhausted and bloody hungry. Soup, crusty bread, melted cheese on top. Fire on, hot water bottles all in working order ... we finished off the day with a good action movie on DVD,  all snuggled up together on the sofa.

So that was #myday. The last of the holidays. I expected a regular day, that would err on the wistful and easily forgotten. But instead what happened was pure magic. We made snowballs and snowmen, snow angels and reconnected with cherished friends. We made memories. My day. Their day. Our day.  For us to talk about, and laugh about and share. A great day.  Full heart, tired head, 3 happy kids, and a happy Mum.  

(and A HUGE basket of wet, muddy,smelly, dirty washing to do....tomorrow.)

And  PS.Those words in orange... they link to information about Orange, Canowindra, Cargo and Mt. Canobolas State Conservation area. These places have many great things to see and do... have a peek if you feel inclined. x Shani

Sunday, 18 October 2015

#fordthinking #kidspot #voicesof2015 NEW FORD EVEREST Eve , Brown Undies, and having Fun (with bonus video!)

#kidspot #voicesof2015


Eve, Brown Undies and Having Fun
(featuring BONUS video at the end!)

WARNING- this blog post contains dirty photos and pure filth

Dear Ford Australia, I have a confession to make...I did not believe you.

I read all the bumf about the NEW FORD EVEREST you sent me, and watched videos too, so I knew she did hardcore stuff. I knew she is made for going to extreme places. So this week I took Eve out for a little 4WD. And I ended up totally almost wearing my brown undies. I was sure I had bitten off more than I could chew. My miss 8, Rosie, who was sharing the adventure with me, did too. She was squealing with an edge of panic in her voice, and her knuckles were white and hanging on fiercely. My own heart was pounding, and in my mind I saw Edvard Munch's "The Scream". I had a massive adrenaline surge.

My self talk:  Why the tarnation was I doing this? HOLY HOLY HOLY EXPLETIVE! I SHOULD  HAVE WORN BROWN UNDIES! WHY!? OH #@%^@#!!!

WHY? Well, I wanted to get Eve (and me) out of our comfort zone a little, because even though lovely country roads are pleasant and scenic enough, cruising along (especially with Adaptive Cruise Control) was a breeze and totes relaxing. Very nice, very refined. But a tad boring. Lovely, but... 

lovely local scenery snapped while out with Eve

BUT I wanted a little FUN.

So there we were, hearts in mouths, on an absurdly angled hill, mud, rocks, trees all around us, no-one else within cooeee. As you do. And me with brown undies(almost).

Then I remembered the videos and the bumf, and I breathed deeply. I remembered that even if I did flip us like a pancake, Eve had  EMERGENCY ASSIST, which would translate a message to emergency services who would save us... no worries about being in the middle nowhere... because they would have our GPS though and we would be saved.(But those brown undies! How embarrassing)

before the shizz got real

Then I remembered that Eve also had that special Roll Stabilising Thingy, and 7 airbags too. 

Then I remembered she had the TERRAIN MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, the one I had used the week before. The one I could put on with a little dial. Easy. This gave me more reassurance... and my heartbeat went down a notch.

And then I remembered that Eve also has HILL LAUNCH ASSIST... which is a fancy name for something a wee bit clever. This HLA thingy means that whenever you are on a hill over 3% angle (and ours looked like about 50%) it automatically does its thing. It meant that when I took my foot off the brake and put Eve into drive, we did not slide back down into that GINORMOUS TREE I could see right behind us, (thanks to the rear vision camera).

Instead I went straight into low speed rock crawl... with my foot on the pedal... and WOW WOW WOW WOW, Eve, that little beauty, so luxey and lovely, just POWERED through the pain, up and up and up, gripping the ground like a gecko, inching her way up and forward.


We got to the top, and my brown undies were flung aside. Instead, we were totally woop wooping, high-5ing, and had huge grins on our silly faces. Rosie was all... 

"Let's do it again!..this car ROCKS! YEAH BABY - GO EVE POWER!!!!"

So Ford Australia, my confession is ... I should have had more faith, 'cos this car not only talked the talk, but walked the walk. Or drove it!

A few more big puddles, hill climbs, ascends and descends later, rocks, grass, sand and mud traversed as well as empty creek beds, and lots of fun and hooting later, shiny Eve had gone from looking shiny shiny lovely, to muddy, mucky and truth be told, down right FILTHY!

Me, a big puddle, and Eve - a photo by Rosie

Dear Ford Australia, it's okay though. Please do not think I would let Eve look like this all raggedy and  spattered. No way Jose. She has treated us so well, it's only fair we do the same for her.

Also, Rosie, for some crazy reason, had been asking if we could go through a carwash for her birthday. Seriously. So when I suggested we take Eve through the local car wash, there were more delighted screams. Could this day get more exciting?

Rosie gets a bit excited by the car wash

So that's what we did. We took Eve through the COWRA COUNTRY CAR WASH (yes it really is called this). I took photos, Rosie marvelled and laughed, and Eve lost her layers of mud and dirt. Winning!

So Ford Australia, I think you could say we had FUN, and we did it all in comfort. And do not worry, the leather seats remain in mint condition. I now know I do not need brown undies when I drive Eve. And yes... I have fallen even more in love. But so has Rosie. In fact her love of Eve now rivals mine. You should see what happened that night! ... but that's another story.

 one happy Rosie   

Oh yeah, as a little extra... 
here is a link to a little video I made about our adventure

( MY SECOND EVER video!)
The first is in my first blog about here!

For those who were wondering...
This post written as part of my #FORDTHINKING #VOICESOF2015 Kidspot Challenge. As a Top3 Finalist in this prestigious challenge, I am being loaned a NEW FORD EVEREST for 6 weeks, as well as completing other blog challenges. I am supporting these posts with other social media platforms also - like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube Vimeo and Pinterest. I would  LOVE for you to look at what else I have done. It's been totally weird and totally fabulous!