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.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

#shareaustralia #myessentials Kidspot Voices of 2015

Kidspot Voices of 2015

I do not think of myself as a high maintenance kinda lady. Not too many essentials needed, although my hubby may well disagree. 

Truthfully, I spend hardly anything on clothes, shoes, handbags, make-up, designer stuff and these types of lovely. I do LOVE them, but they are not essential to me. There are many other things that I choose to spend time, money and energy on - a fact that my appearance will no doubt display! 

For this post I have been thinking long and hard about the word ESSENTIAL, and what it means. And although it is true that cheese, sleeping in, dreaming, stripy stockings, a red mini-cooper, Turkish delight, wifi, flannelette pyjamas and iced coffee were tempting to add to the list, I did abstain in the end. Instead I came up with some things that I really could not be without. So here they are...


Of course, I put my family and friends right at the top of the list, (you know they would be uber cranky if I did not!) So I guess it is in a kind of order, but really when I look at them like this I feel a little strange, separating them all out. Because all these things, they criss and cross, they merge, they intersect, overlap and colide, rub shoulders and borrow from each other. Each gives meaning to the other. 

Its kind of like a Shani soup of happy, each being a vital ingredient, and without any one of them, life would just not taste so good!

But not one to ignore a challenge (the stubborn Taurean in me) I am going to self reflect a bit more, and try to get to the heart of why they might be important. I really have NO IDEA what I am about to type! Here goes...

my kidlets


My family - hubby and 3 kids - are nutters. Lovely, noisy, crazy, wonderful nutters. They make me laugh and giggle, fill me with pride and disbelief at their awesomeness. They also drive me crazy, frustrate, infuriate, twist my heart with emotion so raw that at times I almost resent their power over me. Parenting and marriage is so bloody tough, hardest gig ever. And yet the most incredible too. These 4 people are my everything, without them the way I define myself would be incomplete, just a shadow of what they have made me today. 

For many years I suffered terribly with endometriosis and was told by specialists that there was a solid chance I would never have children naturally. It turned out that I only had to use hubby's toothbrush and I fell preggars. So the doctors were a little off the mark with that prediction. Thankfully.

Sometimes when I collapse into bed at night, groaning and complaining about the ludicrous and revolting children we live with my hubby will say, in a sage - like voice

"Well Shani, we are exactly where we said we wanted to be, and lots of others would like to be. So really, we should not complain".

Damn him. I hate it when he is right.( Way too often, but please don't tell him that.) It is true though... I love them all to bits and pieces. With all my mushy heart.

Friends are the cream on top, who sustain, nurture, empower, and provide laughs and giggles when needed. They empathise, criticise (wisely), provide insight and general loveliness. It does not matter whether they are real life or on-line, these people are truly the  cherry on top of the cream and the icing on the cake (did someone say cake?) Love them.

my home, our home, full of life, colour, art and stuff


My home, our home. Home sweet home. No place like it. Our home is in Central West NSW, Cowra to be exact. It is a hundred (or so) year old brick building, with wide deep bullnose verandahs on 3 sides, french shutters, high ceilings, old wooden floor boards, lots of dust and cracks and full of character. We have filled it with noise and colour, art, pets, collections and plants. 

When I was having our first bub, the nesting instinct bit me HARD, and has never let go. I still love looking at images of houses, pour over inspiring magazines and books of peoples abodes. When we extended the house a few years ago, with a big modern architect designed thing on the back, I was a little infatuated with Kevin Macleod. Indeed, I met the man in Sydney, and told him I loved him.(We share a birthday, and I used to live near where he resides in Somerset, UK. So we have a special connection don't you know...) He signed my books, and smiled sweetly at yet another middle aged fangirl. Awesome.

This place of bricks and mortar (and zinc allume) my home, is where I rest, recover, revive, dream, faff, create, and feel safe. I adore it. It is not perfect, or finished, and is always messier than it should be. But it my favourite place to be.

my beautiful surroundings, lucky old me


I see beauty everywhere - in the colour of a glowing red vine leaf,  a curl on the neck of my youngest child, in the patterns of shadows,  the colours of lichen, the movement of waves washing over my feet. I am inspired by the beauty of where I live, the contrast of the big deep blue sky and the golds and yellows of wheat and canola, the vastness of the space.

me with my camera, like an extension of my body, and my feet and some of the places they have taken me to that inspire me so

I try to be grateful for these things, to recognise them and pay attention to them. I take photos like a mad woman, snapping away constantly, capturing these big and little moments. I carry pencils and paints and sketchbook with me in my bag a lot of the time, for making drawings and notes which I file away, so they can percolate to the surface again sometimes, and inspire me later. I try to record these things when I can because beauty fills me up, I crave it, and it helps me to live in the moment. An ugly world would just be soul destroying, and the things I create would be very different. Which brings me to number 4! 

inspired by the land around me, some watercolours and a collage

some of my illustrations, inspired by collections, experiences, feelings, things I find. They become work for rare pear studio. 


Wowsers, how do I quantify this one? Since childhood I have painted and drawn, created and made things (much to my parents horror at times I am sure) just like most kids. Except that as I grew up and older, the need to self express did not wane, but grew. There were times when I did not do 'art' as much, like when I was breeding and doing my second degree by distance education (simultaneously - what was I thinking!) but the need to create leaked out in other ways, like my garden, decorating the house, dressing my kids in funky clothes, putting things into exhibitions and in local shows, and doing ace colouring in and painting with my kids.

Then a few years ago, external forces, beyond my control began to have a slow creeping and ultimately terrifically damaging effect on my life and well-being. I found myself in a world of sadness and loss, helplessness and despair. Luckily for me, I had my art and creativity to find solace in, and it was one of the main strategies I had to grain my confidence and get some balance back. 

It was this at this time that I had to stand back and take stock of what I really wanted in life. What I really needed in life... what was essential for me to be happy and healthy. Of course those things on my list - number 1, and 2, and 3 were critical. However it became patently obvious that what really made me passionate and fizzy inside, the thing that made me feel fulfilled in a way I could not adequately describe, was my art, photography, illustrating, collaging... all that making and creating. And how without it I feel hollow, and flat like a saggy old deflated balloon. So you see, that's why it is on my list, it really is essential for me.

Kosciuszko National Park, & an abstract watercolour inspired by  snow gum trees 


As a kid I travelled lots, and the thrill of going to new places has never left me. It does not matter if it is jut going for a drive down a country road not seen before, finding a new little village, or going to a big new city, it is all new and exciting. 

It's like going somewhere new makes me feel that my senses are all switched on, and that the everyday autopilot switches off. It's invigorating, and inspiring (like in number 3!), and often leads to something else (like number 4!). It also makes me appreciate coming home (number 2!). And even better when shared with family and friends( number 1!)

In the last few years I have been blessed with having the opportunity to go to some brilliant places, that now live like little movies in my head. It's amazing to think that all these places are in the one country!

I sat in Adelaide Central markets, sipping on a cappuccino and was bamboozled and blown away by it's hugeness, variety, cosmopolitan deliciousness(remember - I live in a small country town!).

I sat atop Mt. Wellington in Tasmania and was scoured to the bone by icy winds but wowed by the spectacular views of Hobart and beyond.

I walked through verdant rain forests in the hinterlands of Northern NSW, and in complete contrast hiked in Outback NSW and stood small and insignificant in its vastness and unyielding dry harshness. 

Outback NSW, and sketches done while camping in Mutawinji national Park

I walked in Kosciuszko National Park and breathed in crisp air (and gasped with my unfit lungs as I lurched to reached Mt. Kosciusko itself) and marvelled at the alpine flowers that I knew would disappear come Winter. Then a few weeks ago, I unexpectedly got to see and play in the snow just near home, at Orange and Bathurst.

I have stood with my lily white soft feet in the sand as salty water waves washed over them on the beach, while staying on the South Coast of NSW, witnessed my little brother's wedding (with divine coastal scenery) at Seal Rocks NSW, and  walked Nobby's breakwater with my kids in my hometown of Newcastle

coastal collage and watercolour, inspired by a beach on the South Coast NSW, and my son walking at Nobby's Beach, Newcastle

Closer to home, our escapes to Canberra,(only just over 2 hours way from us) both with and without the kids are always loved and appreciated, because we wander through art galleries, picnic by Lake Burly Griffin, and just enjoyed all the fantastic things this capital of Australia offers.
There was a day spent lounging on the beach and eating Messina gelato, and gorging at local eateries in Bondi, topped off by walking around with hubby in Sydney, at Circular Quay at night, looking at the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, all lit up  and twinkly, with that insane pride and thinking "THIS IS MY COUNTRY ISN'T IT BRILLIANT!"

All in all, a pretty good array of places to have visited, but rather than think... okay ... enough now... it just makes me want to see even more! And the best thing? My own little family shares this love and curiosity of the new. Perfect!

watercolour, comforts of home - says it all really!


I love people. I am a happy labrador type of person myself. I can talk underwater, under concrete, whatever the saying is. This aspect of my personality has caused me an amount of self-consciousness and embarrassment that is hard to shake. I am never sure whether people perceive me as happy and joyous or just annoying and too much. I read a blog post recently about how hard it is being an extrovert, and it left me gobsmacked that others feel like this too.

The irony is that although I do like people, I am actually far happier being on my own.

Without time alone to ponder, procrastinate, faff, think... I go rather icky. It is when the kids have gone to school, and hubby to work, that I have quiet time to process my ideas and re-balance, to create and imagine. At night time, when I tend to get a second wind, I stay up far, far later than I sensibly should, just because I like the stillness and quiet of being alone. I love it. Truly.

I really am  most comfortable when I am at home, pottering about, and have my own company to entertain. There is a part of me that recognises there is a strong hermit-like tendency within. It is not an accident that my hubby goes to the shops far more than I do! 

I worry that one day I will be that old crazy lady at home, who navigates her way through her collections, her stuff, her plants and her dead flowers, and stray cold cuppas in various stages of science  - like mildew production are littered amongst it all. I will slowly retreat from the real world until I evaporate like the desiccating flowers on the sideboard of life. Like a garden variety, far less magnificent and interesting Margaret Olley - type creature.

I am hoping that it is all the other essentials on my list - the family and friends, the new and travelling, the beauty and inspiration of beyond the front gate that will lure me out of home and my comfort zone, that these things keeps me making and creating - and prevent my complete withdrawal from the world. Because there is so much out there to love. 

Hold on. OH MY! I gosh! Oh dear! I have just realised something. Something really so obvious that I am astounded at my ignorance.I have missed one very very very important thing, completely forget to add to my list of essentials! 


You know, that thing that makes our heart pound, and gets us out of bed in the morning. The thing, the person, people, past-time, hobby, occupation, event, place, object, animal, experience...whatever... that we care about more than we understand? That is the thing. That is the essential thing that completes my list. The thing we all need. The one true essential. Right? 

As some famous dude sang...

(and maybe cheese!?)

Just a quick note:

This post was originally posted on the Kidspot website, and done as part of the #voices0f2015 blog challenge, for me as one of the TOP3 finalists. For this challenge I had to complete 4 blogs with the underlying theme of #shareaustralia.Find them here:

I also completed 3 blogs as part of the #fordthinking blog challenge. Each blog has a little film! Find them here:

I was also successful at securing a place as one of the #shareaustralia #mycornerofaustralia Finalists.Find the blog here:

If you would like to support my chances of securing a win in any of these categories, PLEASE go to the link and like, comment or SHARE. I would love you forever...and will send good karma MWAH's to you x