Mindfulness Activities: Paint by Numbers

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been trying to get back to being more creative and artistic.. always trying only sometimes achieving. I use to love to dabble in painting when I was younger (some 20+ years ago now!) .. usually with my mum, who was quite artistic and always trying to show me how to create beautiful and easy flower petals which I could never quite master with my heavy handed approach. I always started out heading towards the canvas or table or wooden seats, or a piece of bark (we owned a hobby farm and painted lots of hand made furniture and whatever was lying around really) but by the time my hand got the paint brush closer to the object being painted my hand had had enough and would lose all elegance and smoosh the paint brush straight onto the canvas so that all my petals just looked like big splodgey messes. Mum is a nurse so fine motor skills is one of her stronger skills.. not that I am making excuses for myself… but well I guess I kinda am..

Anywhooo… I had been searching for another activity to do so that I had a few to switch between during lock down, as that is my to a T.. constantly jumping from one thing to the next and so I knew that I needed to have several activities that I can jump between, and some that could be completed fairly quickly and others that would take time where I could do bits and pieces of when I was feeling in the mood. And in my search of things to do, I stumbled across the craze Paint By Numbers. Absolutely perfect activity to assist with getting back to or starting to become creative!

Paint By Numbers is super easy to do, and great that you can pick a picture that you like but actually contribute to it being created! Rather than just picking a print online and waiting for the finished product to arrive at your doorstep, you just pick the picture and wait for the canvas (already with backing frame) to arrive at your door with paints and paint brushes. It is important that you review which Paint By Numbers site you are on as I did make the mistake of ordering from the American site which charged me more money, but did not take too long to get here, around 4 weeks or so, given the current Covid climate with post.

But there are a few tips that I would give to anyone looking into trying it out for themselves;

  1. Make sure you are on the Australian Paint By Numbers site, thinking you are getting a good deal and then seeing nearly double the money come our of your bank account isnt fun for anyone (especially not when you are meant to be on a spending limit);
  2. Make sure the canvas comes with backing frame, its fine if you just want to paint onto the canvas and you are willing to pay for it to be framed later but this can get expensive and at times is slightly harder to paint onto just the canvas… or you can be like us and build your own backing frame! (but that was for a separate project which I am still doing and will write about it in another post ;))
  3. Purchasing the easel (canvas holder) is recommended! It is much easier and better for your posture to paint upright, but then you do need to remove it from the easel when doing the finishing edges that are hard to reach whilst it is in the easel
  4. You may want to buy your own paint brushes if you are planning on doing more than one, or if you easily get annoyed, as they are not the greatest quality brushes and often the paint would ball up into a blob on the end making the thin brushes not so thin. I regularly had to clean them off and then dry them abit so they werent too watering and it did get a little time consuming but wasnt the worst (I didnt buy my own brushes but am considering it as I want to start doing some free hand painting of my own)
  5. Be prepared to spend many hours a day painting away and feeling as though you are getting no where for the first week! Especially if there are lots of small pieces such as one would find from picking a cherry blossom tree to paint (cough cough, I did that)

All in all, I had so much fun doing this activity! It did take me around 2 months to complete as I did not paint every day and sometimes I didnt paint every weekend. So it was nice to have the canvas there to paint a few hours at a time when I was feeling in the mood. I would put some relaxing tunes on and open a cider (strongbow apple low carb as I am kinda dieting… kinda not though) and paint away. It was great after a frustrating day working from home or if you just wanted to be distracted and take your mind off other things. It does fall under the category of a mindfullness activity and I found it was really good to help me slow down, focus my thoughts on the task at hand and feel creative and happy.

Definitely recommend giving this one a go, enjoy!

After many many hours and weeks of painting.. so many tiny blossoms different shades of pink!
Was great to do some painting outdoors in my courtyard and get some vitamin D! This stage of painting it had to come off the easel so I could get the edges at the top and bottom of the canvas.
Complete and on my wall! So satisfying 🤗
Final product my Paint By Numbers mindfulness activity 👩‍🎨

Up-cycling at home

I am always trying to re-use items that I have purchased rather than throwing them away when they have been used for their original purpose. Although I am also going through this never ending mind battle of trying to be more minimalist, one; so there is not as much clutter, two; instagram influencer’s made me think less is more, three; so there is less things to clean (particularly dust, a pet peeve of mine as it makes me sneeze relentlessly!) and four; my partner has me on a spending limit (dam wedding and future to pay for)… But I digress!

So in my search to unlock the creative traits within me that I have not been using as much as I would like and long to have back in the fresh air, I have endeavored to re-use more of my purchased items so they are not ending up in the bin once they have fulfilled their original intended purpose. So here is a short update on some of my creative up-cycling endeavors that I have been enjoying whilst in lock down in Melbourne 🙂

Candles to plant holders

That’s right! I have been turning my used candle pots into new plant holders… pot plants… plant pots whatever tickles your fancy. It has been a fun and cheap activity especially whilst I have been in stage 4 lock down in Melbourne town. It is nothing new or mind blowing, but often people forget how easy this can be and just how much money it can save you… more recently a goal of mine since my partner put me on a shopping limit (i’m not sour about it at all…)!

To start… usually your candles are not burn down to absolutely nothing, so you will need to remove what is left of the candle wax and the wick. Depending on how much wax is left in there, I usually use a steel butter knife to see what I can work free and pull out that way. Then I pour boiling water from the kettle (so as to not use too much water) into the candle pot and melt the rest of the wax, so it can be easily wiped out with a cloth or paper towel.

Cleaned out candle pots ready to be turned into plant pots

Secondly.. once the wax has been removed the wick is usually very easy to take out. I also use the steel butter knife for this as usually it is just stuck onto the inside base of the candle pot with light glue. I give it a rinse out and wipe down again and then it is good to start filling up with dirt! I do not usually buy dirt as I have a small garden that I get it from and most plants will be fine to start out in dirt from your garden, although if you want to know more about how to pot plants more professionally there are so many good books around. I am currently reading ‘Wild At Home: How to style and care for beautiful plants’ by Hilton Carter (a gift from my mum!). But I am also lazy and like to cut corners, so more frequently I just grab dirt from my garden and use the book as a guide for ow to care for the plants once they are potted. Although I do have a glass bowl I am going to turn into a terrarium and I will follow Carter’s advice on that one, as I also want the inside of the pot to look better given everyone will be able to see it. and by everyone I mean me and my partner and out very judgemental cat.

This little succulent is one of my favs and I add it to nearly all of my pots for that extra flare! It’s also super easy to strike.

Thirdly… so the dirt from the garden (or bought from a shop, or taken from your neighbour or local park, whatever tickles your fancy) is now in the ex-candle holder. I like to fill it pretty close to the top but not level with the top, no particular reason other than that is my preference. Then you can stick your chosen plant into the dirt firmly so that it will not easily fall out. I have been breaking bits off of my succulents as they are super easy to strike new stems from and take to any dirt really. They also go well inside, as long as they have enough natural sunlight to help them grow. They also do not need a lot of water so they are perfect for me, you just have to remember that candles holders to plant holders do not have a drainage hole in them and so you don’t need much water otherwise you may drown them causing the base of the plant to slowly rot.

Candle pot to planter pot 1
Candle pot to plant pot 2

So as you can see, I have had some fun up-cycling my old candle holders into new pot plant holders and using everything from within my home already! I am by no means a professional gardener so the language my not match what you see in the books but hopefully it has given you some ideas of ways to up-cycle what you own. Enjoy!

Birthday’s in lockdown

Never could I imagine that I would find myself planning a lock down 30th birthday.. my oh my how the times have changed!

Whilst it was a very different experience to the usual, get as many people together at once, drink as much as you can and stay out for as late as you can, (throw in a strategic power spew so you can last the night), it was still a very enjoyable experience (not that spewing is enjoyable, but if you know, you know). Initially I was quite anxious that my partner would not get the opportunity to enjoy himself, as I did on my 30th (some 4 years ago now.. that’s right older woman alert!) but these are the times that we are living in and we decided to embrace it for what it currently is.

So I set out planning things that could come to us, given we could not go out. We are currently in a stage 4 Covid lock down, which means we can only leave for 4 essential reasons and we also have a curfew that starts at 8pm. However, To my surprise, there are so many things out there once you start looking! People have really taken advantage of these hard times and changed the way they operate to ensure you can still make the most of your time in lock down.. and boy did we make the most of it!

First of all, uber eats has been around for a long time now, so I am not saying this is a new thing that has been set up post covid. However, I do think that the way we perceive ordering in.. has changed since covid. For example, what we would normally order on uber eats has changed slightly.. I would never have considered ordering a fancy meal particularly steak on uber eats. Normally I would go with simple things like burgers, chips, pizza and other things I would consider to be more fast foods. Something that doesn’t matter if it has cooled down slightly or you have to reheat it. I would previously have the mind set that only certain things can be delivered and still be edible.. and steaks would not have been on my list of foods to consider. We would normally save that for what we considered to be dine in only options.

As I mentioned earlier, services have been changing the way that they operate in these times and many of the restaurants that either may not have been on uber eats previously, or did not have take away options for certain meals on their menue has changed. Steakaway is now a thing! We started this search after I had seen a chef’s post on my local community facebook page. He was a very experienced chef who had lost work as part of the lock down restrictions and finding ways to continue to do the work that he loves whilst earning some money. He is making different restaurant style meals each week that people can order and he will deliver to your door (or you can pick up) that also includes reheat instructions! Amazing! A culinary experience right in the comfort of your own home at affordable prices.. well I never!

Whilst we did not order through this chef as that week he was not doing a dish my partner fancied, we decided to explore what options there were available to have steak delivered, as that is my partner’s favorite eat out meal (you can never cook one as good as you get in a restauraunt.. or at least we cant). To our surprise we came across the Marbl steakaway! A fantastic array of steak options to chose from straight off the pan into the take away boxes so that they are rested and ready to eat when they get to your front door. We did not have to heat them up, they were perfect temperature (although starting to cool and may have had to heat them if we left it another 5 minutes), along with onion crisps (not rings) but fried bits of onion that were crispy and delicious, as well as chips and mushroom gravy! Marbl is a restaurant in Prahran so only 15 minutes from where we are, personally I wouldn’t order steak from any further away than that, otherwise you will need to reheat it, which will cook the steak further and I find it doesn’t taste as good.

To top off the lovely dinner, I also found a cake maker through instagram! Caked Melbourne. This lovely young lady makes cakes to order for all occasions and even had a Covid mini cake size perfect for two. Although the size was surprisingly big and we are still eating cake 3 days later! The circumference is a bit smaller than a mud cake from coles or woolies, but it’s height was about 3 layers tall. You can pick your own color scheme and a small personalized message for the cake which worked a treat. We also decided just one cake would not do, as you do.. and so we also ordered 4 caramilk cheesecakes in cups, which were the perfect size given how sweet they are. We definitely did not need these any sweets, but they were a treat, and we wanted to indulge.

All the eating was topped off with some good fun face times with friends and family from Australia, Scotland and New Zealand to mix it up. To give the family face time some extra giggles, I arranged for family to send me funny pictures of my partner to put into a small video for everyone to laugh at his expense, and boy did we laugh thanks to the many posses and unexpected behaviours of my partner over the years! So whilst it was definitely a different way to celebrate a 30th birthday, we still had loads of fun, with good food, drink, family and friends which made us feel connected and not like we were celebrating alone.

I highly recommend not taking the mind set of we are in lock down lets not celebrate at all if we cant celebrate the way we want. Half the fun is being able to adapt to whatever situation you find yourself in, and find the bright side of being able to connect with so much that previously would not have been possible!

The Covid Novalist

Like so many right now, I am currently at the end of my second week, of a six week lockdown for the second time!

Melbourne Victoria, our home away from our original homes (South Coast NSW and Glasgow Scotland), is currently in the grips of the second wave.. very different to the first wave! But for some reason, this second round of lockdown seems harder than the first. We are more tired, more sluggish, and more bored than the first lockdown. There doesnt seem to be the same level of novelty there was with the first, like when you were a kid and you camped out in your backyard. It was kinda exciting, even though you knew you were still at home not really in the wild you could invoke your imagination more, pretend there were tigers, lions and bears.. oh my! But someone always took it that one step too far, like going to the toilet in the backyard when it was five steps to the indoor flushable loo.. bringing your reality back and resulting in the end of the backyard camping trip, and the commencement of the fight over who will pack the tent down.

Currently, we are at the stage where someone has gone to the toilet in our backyard… looking directly at some Karens out there.. the novelty has worn off and we are starting to face the fact that this is our reality now. No more camp trips for quite some time…

So, while I was sitting at home having finished the Vikings Series on Netflix (I love Ragnor!) and wondering what to do next, I started reading my sisters blog. My eldest sister currently lives in Copenhagen Denmark with her wonderful Danish husband and gorgeous Aussie/Dane 9 month old daughter (come back to Aus already!). She has been blogging about her experience being a new wife and mum in Denmark and the fantastic adventures they have been having, traveling, eating, and parent life. It got me thinking, what a good way to lift my spirits and focus on the positive during this tough time, then to reminisce about my own experiences..

So as much as this is a blog to provide others with hopefully good insights on adventures they may also like, it is also a cathartic journey for myself, to lift my spirits, get my thoughts out, and reminisce on the good times. I hope you enjoy 🙂

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Just an Aussie with a Scottish fiance navigating (trying to understand each other) life together in Australia.

This site will be filled with some of our travel, culinary, and life adventures and recommendations, that I hope you find interesting, entertaining, and perhaps a little bit useful when thinking about some adventures you’d like to have of your own.

Any suggestions/recommendations always welcome!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton