Music Box - Music Box

What do you see,
You people gazing at me?
You see a doll on a music box
That’s wound by a key…

Earlier today I was approached by a young German composer with a request to set my image to one of his own creations. I was delighted and of course let him use the picture as his cover art.

As it turns out, the image and the music fit beautifully together.

Nouveau Garden


I made this: - Nouveau Garden Necklace

Using a lush Peruzi pendant, sterling silver, Karen Hilltribe Silver roses and matching clasp (not shown), beads in amazonite (blue), rhodonite (pinkish) and crystal. and some fresh water pearls.

Yes, it’s for sale. Interested parties can contact me for pricing.

The Pintester Movement – “Pigs in Mud”

Ok… so I did the Pintesting thing.

For the uninitiated, “pintesting” is actually attempting one or more of the bajillions of things you’ve “pinned” on your Pinterest boards.

These are my Pinterest boards. As you can see, the craft and cookery ones are choccers full of stuff I would like to try.

Anyway, in the spirit of Sonja, “The Pintester‘s”, Pintester Movement*, I joined in by doing this cake which, like a lot of people who’ve seen the original picture all over the web, I’ve been obsessing over.

(*Link will work as of 30th May… or 1st June Aussie time.)

I mean… come on. It’s pigs. In mud. How hard could it be? I’ve always been pretty good at this food crafty stuff. I used to occasionally make marzipan figures for cakes many, many years ago – so maybe I had a little head-start with this one which may or may not be in the true spirit of pintesting, but ANYHOO…

The Night Before.

When I decided to do this, I posted up on my Facebook wall that I wanted to make a cake. Because I don’t really want to put back on too many of the 50kg (~100lb) that I’ve lost over the past couple of years, I also asked if there was anyone local who wanted said cake. Of course the response I received was expected. Naturally lots of people wanted cake. Fortunately I had a friend who’s daughter was turning six five on Tuesday (28th May) so it was perfect for her birthday and I felt a sense of good-deed-ism for inadvertently doing this for a special occasion.

Unfortunately this meant that I HAD to get the cake done well before the Pintester Movement deadline of May 30. EEEEEEEEP! I actually had to get it done to deliver the next day! I say again; EEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

So I ran (drove) to the shops and bought everything (most things) that I needed to make the cake.

So the whole process started by looking like this: - Pigs in Mud Cake, Pintester Movement

Cream and chocolate in a bowl to make ganache.

And I’d already made my first mistake.

See, the recipe called for 300ml cream to 600gm chocolate.

Which stupid blonde made a 1:1 version involving 600ml cream and 600gm chocolate?

Oh yeah. Me.

So whilst I had ganache, it was very runny and I knew that even leaving it sit overnight, it would still be too runny to use on the cake.

So I sent the manbeast out to buy more chocolate. Which he did. And I ended up with a shit-ton of chocolate ganachey goodness as a result because I added another 600gm of chocolate to the bowl. That’s nearly 2kg (4.4lb) of ganache, people!!!!

Next on the agenda was preparing the fondant for making the pigs. I knew I wouldn’t have time for mixing it up the next day so I grabbed some food colouring and went to work massaging the stuff into lovely pinkness.

Insert an inappropriate comment filled with sexual innuendo here. - Pigs in Mud Cake, Pintester Movement

Don’t judge me. It was 11pm and what would you do if you were faced with something that was pliable and pink?

Semi-Serious Tip: To get the perfect “piggy” pink, add some apricot colouring to the mix. It tones down the pink and makes it slightly more realistically fleshy coloured.

And then I went to bed.

Continue reading “The Pintester Movement – “Pigs in Mud””

A Disquiet Mind

You want to know what’s really hard?

Taking first steps. But as I wrote on a Facebook status a while back…

“The first step is always the hardest, though I will admit that the second and third steps sting like a bitch too.”

It does.

Things have not been well in The House of Ren.

Without going into too much detail, I’ve sought out counseling to assist with some issues I have.

Ah, fuck it, let’s go into detail.

I’m seeing a shrink for the following reasons:

I’m angry. ALL. THE. TIME.

I’m sad. ALL. THE. TIME.

I love the world. ALL. THE. TIME.

I hate the world. ALL. THE. TIME.

I like myself. Well, occasionally.

I hate myself. ALL. THE. TIME.

Are we getting the gist yet? This has been me for several years and when I think about it, it’s been that way probably well before my husband was ever on the scene. The problem is that when any little bit of stress comes my way, all of the above escalates to new levels but then… it doesn’t really go back down again. Picture a thermometer if you will. The temperature has risen but the chemistry of the solution has somehow changed and while the temperature goes back down, it never really quite hits zero again.

It stays slightly warmer after each spike.

Being jobless has been the worst thing for me. I managed for the first five months and then I realised as I cleaned out one account of all the savings therein, I was in trouble. Big trouble. Not just for the money side of things but for the stress.

Literally, a volcano waiting to go off.

Well… I exploded – about ten times too many, much to the detriment of my marriage. My husband now sleeps in another room and I pretty much don’t sleep at all.

Oh, major plug for Bourjois Healthy Mix concealer (shade #52 if you please). It hides the circles masquerading as black eyes.

So I made the decision to see the doctor (that awful first step) then see the psychologist (second step – just as fucking painful).

I’d never been to see a psychologist before.

Yes, I’ve had my moments where I’ve called Lifeline to talk to someone (*anyone*) just to let this shit out but it’s a very different experience being in a room with a person you don’t know and telling them everything.


Including why I immediately started laughing as soon as I walked into the office.

Because there IS an actual couch.

And there IS an actual armchair.

And my psychologist looks like a new-age hippy librarian in her patent red Mary Janes and purple stockings and pink cardigan and a top-knot of shaggy blonde hair.

I had to laugh. You would have too.

And yes, she uttered the words, “Tell me about your childhood” which also made me snicker. And then there were tears because my childhood was actually a bit crap.

All of it came out. All of it, all of it, all of it.

I paid $130 to sit on a blue couch and cry for an hour.

Anyway… All that said and done, it was interesting and I think beneficial. It was the first session so I am not really sure. I came out absolutely raw, in any case.

And I get to do it all again next week!

In the interim, I’ve taken up doodling. This weekend leading up to my appointment, I was freaking out a little bit. I needed something, anything, to focus on rather than my deteriorating mental state. So I grabbed my art pens and old sketch book from school and started to doodle.

I literally just went where my brain took me as I refused to think of anything but putting lines on paper. And pretty much suddenly the paper was all there was in the world and the only decision I needed to make was where to make the next line on the page. Just concentrating on putting all the energy I would otherwise be putting into emoting physically into the pen I was using. - Doodletangle

When I finished and looked at it and thought that’s what my brain looks like right now. That’s a four-hour timelapse image of my mind. I know I will do more of these. I fancy having a series of “brain” pictures like this and then letting people guess what I was feeling as they look at each part of the picture.

If you’ve never tried it, give it a go. It’s cathartic and therapeutic in itself.

Bushwalking with Bronagh

Near to where I live is a little gorgeous walking path that runs along a little creek which in turn sits in a little gorge. The gorge itself is only about 100 metres long but as you walk you dip into a crevice that all but hides the fact that you’re walking through the middle of a housing estate.

A couple weeks back, I decided that Bronagh and I would go for a bit of a wander as it had been a couple of years since I’d visited the gorge and I had no idea if it even survived all the construction of said housing estates or not. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was mostly untouched and the developers had seen fit to leave it as parkland.

So, Puppy and I (and her lovely long 10 meter walking rope) went walkies. I also took the camera… - Bushwalking with Bronagh

This is Bronagh, my Aussie Bulldog. She’s a little bit different from the English Bulldogs most people are used to seeing. That’s her lead rope too. Strong enough that she can’t break it, long enough that she gets a run without me having to run with her. For those curious, no, I can’t have her off lead as a)she does not come when I call and b)SHE LOVES EVERYONE! Unfortunately due to her affectionate boisterousness with other dogs, adults and kids, I have to keep her restrained.

It’s called responsible dog ownership, y’all. There are a lot of idiots around here who have no clue what that means. - Bushwalking with Bronagh
Heading down into the gorge walk… - Bushwalking with Bronagh
A-typical gum tree that you find in Australia. This one is particularly purdy. - Bushwalking with Bronagh
Oops! Someone got a little tangled up in her excitement. - Bushwalking with Bronagh
Doggy photobomb. - Bushwalking with Bronagh
Excessively picturesque. Sometimes I love where I live. Until I remember there’s Tiger Snakes… - Bushwalking with Bronagh
The really pretty part of the gorge. - Bushwalking with Bronagh
“Oooh! Grassy bits!”
Unfortunately Bronagh has this thing about puddles and water and the getting of the wetness. She HATES it… so I was surprised when she waded into some grass growing in the shallows of the creek. She hasn’t quite realised yet…. - Bushwalking with Bronagh
“Hmmm, I smell moisture…”
I was just standing there, waiting for the penny to drop (with a splish)… - Bushwalking with Bronagh
“Oh… it’s wet! It’s WET! It’s wet! I don’t like wet!”
Have you ever seen a more worried look on a dog’s face in your entire life? - Bushwalking with Bronagh
“Shit! Shit! SHIT!!” - Bushwalking with Bronagh
The end of the gorge before the path leads back up into suburbia. - Bushwalking with Bronagh
Dog butt photobomb. Again.

Do you have anywhere picturesque where you can almost forget about the rest of civilisation within walking distance of your house? Feel free to comment and hit me up with a link to some pictures. I would love to see.

Ruby and Turquoise Lepidoptera

Had a spark of inspiration today.

I’ve had this necklace sitting in my cabinet for ages. I made it… a few years ago but I was never happy with it. I love the combination of the rubies and the turquoise (both real, thanks very much, none of that dyed Howlite crap for me) but I could never fmind a pendant or centrepiece that I liked. I strung some chunky solid silver beads but it never sat right when I modelled it. So it became a finished-yet-unfinished project.

Turquoise & Ruby Butterfly -

Fast forward a few years…

Suddenly Ren remembers she has had a gorgeous butterfly pendant sitting around in her collection somewhere…

Hang on… that necklace!

I dashed into the craft room and pulled out the necklace and the pendant. It had promise. Then I went looking for my rubies and turquoise and ended up swearing at our tin rooster for the next half an hour because I couldn’t find them. I was just about to give up in a huff when I saw that my turquoise had got mixed up with my malachite and my rubies were tucked into a bag with some other red stuff.



I had this.

Turquoise & Ruby Butterfly -

Which then became this.

Turquoise & Ruby Butterfly -

Turquoise & Ruby Butterfly -

Happy Ren. I haven’t made any jewelry like that for ages. Yeah, I did the necklaces for my sister’s wedding but that doesn’t really count. It’s since given me the impetus to look into my stash and put together some other bits and pieces. I have loads of gemmies and pearls and crystals all begging to be used.

Baby’s Got Blue Eyes

When I saw the absolutely gorgeous “Arctic Eyes” tutorial on Pixiwoo’s blog, I knew I would have to give it a go.

Normally I shy away from bright colours and, in particular, blue, as I found that it can make the shadows under my eyes even darker. Apparently not so with the icier blue colours, as demonstrated by Sam…

Like I said, wow.

Had to try this one out and I searched around in my piles of makeup and found my Coastal Scents/B&H 88 Colour Shimmer palette which had some terribly awesome blues that sorta-kinda-not-really matched what Sam used.

So, brushes and colours in hand, I got to. First I tried a foundation which I have had for a year but never really used… but that was way too pink for my complexion. I am definitely a yellow-toned person. Then I grabbed NYX’s jumbo pencil in Milk to lay down a base because because I’ve found that the 88 palette is quite sheer without something for it to adhere too and I wanted the colour to pop.

(Note to self; Whilst this looked awesome, it would probably be better not to use Milk as a base if wearing this as a daytime look. Just a touch too intense with it.)

Like Sam did, I put down a light blue all over my lid, followed with a darker blue across the lash line, then a darker teal-blue under my eyes and a bright icey colour in the corners of my eyes and blended it all. To tame it down a little, I did sweep some Palladio rice powder in Natural over my browbones because I’d taken the blue up just a touch too far and I was sporting a Christina Aguilera drag queen-esque look which really wasn’t for me. Stoopid hooded eyes.

Then I grabbed another NYX eyeliner,this time one of their retractable varieties in Gypsy Blue which is a fantastic teal colour which leans more towards the green than the blue. Surprise of my life – this shit STAYS ON. Never in my life have I used an eyeliner on my waterline that did not budge. Will be buying more of these.

Then I finished the look off with some random black mascara.. Rimmel waterproof… and some lipstick (Milan by NYX) and some goldish lip gloss (also by NYX).

All in all, I like! Seems I can get away with the bright blues and not look like a corpse. Yay! - Arctic Eye Tutorial
Oops… Self-portrait misfire! - Arctic Eye Tutorial
DAGNAMMIT! Missed again! Camera looks good, though… - Arctic Eye Tutorial
Nearly… you can see how it looks on my unevenly hooded eyes. (Stoopid genetics.) - Arctic Eye Tutorial
Cheese… the colour looks impossibly blue here. I gave up. But you get the idea.

Lurking in Melbourne: Summer Dayze

As we begin Summer down here in Aussieland, I was checking out some photos I took at the beginning of the year and realised there was a bunch that I loved which I never put up.

I really don’t know why I kept forgetting about them but I loved the day I took them.

It was the end of March, still really warm though the heat of the real summer had worn off.  March really is my favourite month.  Sunny days and balmy nights at the best. I was wandering around in jeans and a t-shirt taking snaps around Melbourne, mostly along Swanston Street / St Kilda Road and the Southbank precinct.

So here they are now…

 Lurking in Melbourne, Summer Days -

I don’t know who this guy was but he was so cool and trendy-looking and he just seemed to pose naturally in front of me. Might have had something to do with the big camera bag I was lugging around and not so inconspicuously swapping lenses in and out of.

But maybe not.  Either way, he stood there reading the gig guide for a couple of minutes, unwitting letting me practice rim-lighting.

Lurking in Melbourne, Summer Days -

Mr Trendy, again, and who I think was his other half.  Still perusing the gig guide.  Mrs Trendy also looked quite cool.  I love this picture. It’s just so… Melbourne.

Lurking in Melbourne, Summer Days -

Princess Bridge from the Botanical Gardens side.

Lurking in Melbourne, Summer Days -

Dropping back to my voyeuristic tendendies again… Love the guys on their balconies.

Lurking in Melbourne, Summer Days -

An artful shot of a seagull.

Lurking in Melbourne, Summer Days -

Obligatory shot of Eureka Tower. Biggest blight on the Melbourne cityscape.

Very pleased I made it look short in this photograph.

I’m vindictive like that.

Lurking in Melbourne, Summer Days -

We have giant gold bees in Melbourne. Tourists be warned! Fortunately they only like Eureka Tower.

Lurking in Melbourne, Summer Days -

Another giant bee.

I don’t know who thought of the bees but as much as I hate Eureka Tower, I kinda like the bees.

Lurking in Melbourne, Summer Days -

This guy is/was very talented but he was also a real asshat and started giving me grief about giving him money for photos.

Sorry mate, this ain’t India. I snapped this and walked off.

Lurking in Melbourne, Summer Days -

Two ladies. Park bench. Sunshine. Perfect.

Lurking in Melbourne, Summer Days -

And where else but in Melbourne can you find a penguin on a bridge playing bagpipes?