Stitching on the train

January 18, 2015
I didn't do a lot of crafting in 2014 - my emotional and physical energy was sapped, and it was an effort to engage my creativity. There were a few brief spurts, notably my short participation in #ICAD last year, but overall I struggled to find the time or inspiration.

Towards the end of the year, I decided to change all that. It might sound like a cliche, but I felt like I was only living half a life when I had nothing creative going on. So I made a deliberate effort to make the time and opportunity for creative activities.

Each day, I spend nearly two hours just getting to and from work. Of that, one hour is spent on the train (half an hour each way). The trip home is usually very crowded, but in the morning I catch a train that begins at my station, so that I can always get a good seat. I decided to start using that trip to do some crafting - not necessarily every day, but at least a couple of times a week.

I picked out a few small projects that would be manageable, starting with some pretty cross stitch Christmas ornaments. I put together a small travel pouch with all the necessities: scissors, needle, fabric, thread and pattern. And off I went :) I usually did 15-20 minutes of stitching during the train trip (the time it took to finish a length of thread), and within a few weeks I had completed one pattern, and then another one just after Christmas.

Here are the photos I took, in situ (i.e. on the train), just after I'd completed each design:

Just finished the little snowflake design that I've been stitching during my morning commute lately :)

Cross stitching on public transport - just finished another mini project on the way to work today :)

I really enjoyed stitching these designs. The single colour motifs made them especially easy to do while travelling. Luckily the train ride is pretty smooth, so there were no pierced fingers involved. And doing something creative on the way to work was such a wonderful way to start the day - it's definitely energising rather than draining.

The little projects have now been framed and are ready to go on the Christmas tree in 2015 :)

Christmas Duo Cross Stitch

Now I just have to choose my next commuting project ...


25 Christmas decorations in 25 days

January 11, 2015
I put my Christmas tree up early for a change in 2014. When I posted a photo of it on Instagram in late November, I mentioned that I had more ornaments than space on my tree. My friend Jo suggested that I post photos of individual ornaments each day, so that people could get a closer look. I thought that was a great idea, so 25 Christmas decorations in 25 days was born :)

Each day in December, up to and including Christmas Day, I posted a photo of an ornament on Instagram. Some were decorations that I'd made, some had been made by my Mum or passed down through the family, and there were a few favourites that I'd bought over the years too. I cross-posted each photo to Flickr and Facebook, and it was nice to see that people enjoyed looking at them.

When Christmas had come and gone, I put together a photo mosaic of all 25 ornaments. Click on the photo below to check out the whole set on Flickr :)

25 Christmas decorations in 25 days - 2014 mosaic

I did a quick count before taking the tree down, and thanks to a few new decorations that I received this Christmas, it looks like I'll have enough ornaments to do 25 days again in 2015!


New Year 2015

January 3, 2015
For the most part, my 2014 was awful. My Mum passed away at the end of June. She's now with my Dad, who passed away in 2008. It was both expected and unexpected - we thought we would have her with us for much longer. I'm very grateful, though, to have my two sisters. Our family is small now, but still very close.

I hope that 2015 is a good year for all of us. There will be sad memories, as my sisters and I continue to do what we need to do with my parents' estate. There will be new memories to make too. I hope they're happy ones.

I'd like to start writing and sharing again. I'd like to tell people about my parents. I'd also like to share with my friends what I've been doing and seeing in the world. And I think I'm ready to do that again now.

Best wishes to all of you for a safe, happy and healthy new year.

Mum and Dad's wedding day


ANZ 23 Mobile Things: Voice interaction and recording (18 June)

June 18, 2014
This is a re-post of my original blog post "Thing 21: Voice interaction and recording" that I created for the ANZ 23 Mobile Things course last year.


I think we can all agree that one of the great things about modern mobile devices is the variety of ways that we can interact with them. Unlike older phones and desktop computers, we are no longer restricted to a keyboard (or mouse) interface - we can swipe, shake, tilt and talk to our devices to perform different functions. This week's thing is recording voice audio, and using our voice to interact with our device.


Voice interaction functionality has been a major feature in recent smartphone releases, such as iOS's Siri, Android's Google Now, and Samsung's S Voice. These voice-activated interfaces allow users to verbally request information, make appointments and set reminders, dial phone numbers, and more. They generally utilise natural language, and may answer questions in a personal or informal manner.

Siri and S-Voice

Dragon speech-to-text products let us dictate to and/or command our mobile devices. Dragon Dictation (iOS) is a free app that converts your speech into text that can be utilised by other apps on your phone. Dragon Search (iOS) allows you to use your voice to search websites and other mobile content providers. Dragon for Email is available for Blackberry users, and hopefully Dragon Mobile Assistant (currently in beta in the US) will come to Australia and New Zealand soon for Android users. [edited to add: it looks like this app is available in Australia now :)]

SoundCloud was mentioned in Thing 20. Although it is mostly music oriented, it is also suitable for all kinds of audio recordings including podcasts, news and story telling.


Does your smartphone include any native apps for recording voice memos? I often use iOS Voice Memos to quickly record and email a voice message to myself. Maybe you will also find this a useful or different way to capture thoughts on the go?

Download Dragon Dictation (or a similar speech-to-text app) and have a go at dictating a few sentences into the app. How well did it interpret your words? You can use the edit function within the app to correct any mistakes and add punctuation, and the share function lets you send the resulting text to an email, text message, tweet, Facebook status, or simply copy and use it wherever you need it (eg. Evernote, word processor, blogging platform, etc.).

AudioBoo is a social network for sharing audio. It is often used for recording and broadcasting podcasts, and has an active visually impaired community. Or if you've already tried SoundCloud from last week, perhaps this week you could have another play with it, but with an emphasis on voice recording. Maybe you could tell a funny story or share something that you've enjoyed about doing the 23 Mobile Things program - then share it on Twitter using the #anz23mthings hashtag.

Check out the 23 Mobile Things Pinterest board on voice recording and interaction for more information and links.


Voice interaction and recording apps provide a different method of interaction with mobile devices, and can cater to users who have a personal preference for aural communication, or an aural learning style (rather than visual / written). How could you use these apps in your library to communicate with clients in a non-traditional way?

Speech-to-text and text-to-speech apps are especially useful for making content more accessible to visually and/or hearing impaired library users. Knowing your way around some of the available tools will help you to provide advice to clients with different access requirements. And of course you can use these apps yourself to proactively convert library-generated content in a variety of accessible formats.

Could your library use a service such as AudioBoo or SoundCloud to share oral histories, story time sessions, podcasts or author talks? Both of these audio sharing apps provide options to embed audio files in web pages, so users don't need to sign up in order to access the recordings.

Photo credit to Mike Lau.


ANZ 23 Mobile Things: File sharing – Dropbox (18 June)

June 18, 2014
This is a re-post of my original blog post "Thing 19: File sharing - Dropbox" that I created for the ANZ 23 Mobile Things course last year.


This week's thing is file sharing using mobile devices. The portability of mobile devices makes them an ideal tool for accessing and sharing files on the move. We will look at sharing / syncing files across multiple devices (eg. your smartphone, tablet and PC), and sharing files with other people.


Dropbox is a popular cloud storage tool for accessing and sharing files on mobile devices. It has apps for Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry and KindleFire. Files can be added to Dropbox by syncing from another device (including a PC) or directly added to the Dropbox mobile app. Dropbox also has a Camera Upload function that enables photos taken on a mobile device to be automatically or manually added to Dropbox. Dropbox files can be shared by sending a download link to another person, or by inviting others to a shared folder.

Dropbox Camera Uploads

Google Drive is a file storage and synchronisation service provided by Google. One of Google Drive's strengths is the ability to edit files on your mobile device, making it a great tool for collaborative work.

Evernote, previously discussed in Thing 17, can also be used for sharing files across devices and with other people.


Download the Dropbox app and create a Dropbox account. To get the most out of it, you may also wish to also install Dropbox on your PC or other devices. Add a file to Dropbox and watch it appear on another device with Dropbox installed. Try sharing a file from Dropbox by emailing a link to yourself.

Check out the 23 Mobile Things Pinterest board on file sharing and Dropbox for more information about file sharing using mobile devices.


Do you have a favourite file sharing tool? Have you ever used it to share files or collaborate with other people on library projects or presentations?

Dropbox and other file sharing tools are a great way to collaborate with colleagues in other locations and/or organisations, however it is worthwhile checking whether your workplace has any restrictions in place regarding the use of such a service.

Consider privacy and confidentiality issues in relation to storing personal information in the cloud - this article touches on some of the potential legal and ethical issues surrounding client confidentiality and trade secrets.

Photo credit to Magnus Jonasson.

Note: I have updated the content of this blog post to remove references to Bump, a file sharing app that is no longer available. The original post at ANZ 23 Mobile Things has not been changed.


A magnetic subject (17 June)

June 17, 2014
I thought I would be too tired again to blog tonight, but I've just seen Steph's post called "Magneto-grrl" and inspiration struck! Thanks Steph :)

I'm also a collector of fridge magnets, accumulated during my travels over the years. Each time I've moved house, arranging them neatly on my fridge has always been one of the small pleasures that I've found in setting up our home.

I prefer to purchase magnets myself, rather than receive them as gifts, as I like to be part of the story that brought them to my home. Each one has a memory attached, and most often they remind me of special places that I've visited.

Fridge magnet collection 2010

This photo was taken in 2010, just after we moved to Darwin the first time. It's grown quite a bit since then, so I suppose I should take another one soon. They've since spread to the freezer and bar fridge though, which will mean more than one photo to capture them all!


#ICAD week 2 round up (15 June)

June 15, 2014
Another week of #ICAD (Index-Card-A-Day) has passed, so it's time for another round up of my week's creative efforts.

The second week was a little harder than the first week, as I hit a few creative stumbling blocks. I'm trying to do something different each day, and that will keep on getting harder as the challenge progresses. The central card in the above collage was the result of feeling frustrated at my own lack of technique (and sometimes imagination too).

But I'm persevering, because some days I create something that I didn't know I was capable of. That makes me feel proud and happy, and gives me confidence that this is a worthwhile exercise in practising both creativity and technique.

The #ICAD Facebook group is active, encouraging and inspirational. I've finally got a reason to visit Facebook on a daily basis, but I imagine I'll drop back to my usual apathetic level of participation once the challenge is over *lol*

Photos of each day's card are being uploaded on my Flickr account.


KPop obsession (14 June)

June 14, 2014
Some of my readers may be aware that I've become just a little bit obsessed with KPop over the last year or so. And JPop. And CPop.

You see, one Sunday morning early last year I discovered SBS PopAsia. It was around the time that Psy's Gangnam Style was still going crazy, but that wasn't what caught my attention. It was a five member boy band doing a synchronised dance routine in their music video. I don't even remember who it was now, but I had an instant flashback to the 90s! I watched a few more videos featuring multi-member boy bands and girl bands, and I was fascinated by the catchy music, great production values and energetic dancing. After a few weeks, I was hooked.

SBS PopAsia is on Sunday afternoons now, and I don't manage to catch it very often. But that's okay because I have YouTube :) I follow a bunch of KPop/JPop blogs on Tumblr and Feedly, so I keep an eye on the latest releases and news that way. And I have an extensive YouTube playlist called 'Fave Asian Pop' that now has over 100 videos on it :)

I was thinking of sharing a few of my favourite videos in this post, but it would be impossible to limit myself to any number that is remotely reasonable *lol*. So instead I'll just include a couple of my favourites that are in the charts right now.

The first is 200% by Akdong Musician. They're a brother and sister duo who write their own music. They're cute and quirky, and this song is so adorable! Although I like the video, I actually find it a bit distracting from the music and prefer to listen to the song on its own merits.

My other fave right now is Eternity by VIXX. It's a good example of the high production values I mentioned earlier, and the song itself is quite addictive. I have a bit of a crush on Ravi, the group's rapper - he's the one with blue hair in this video (in KPop lingo, he's my 'bias' in VIXX).

No, I don't understand any of the words (except for the English parts), but that doesn't matter a jot. I just love the music, the videos and the KPop culture in general. Most of my KPop fanning happens on my Tumblr account, where I also happen to love making the occasional gif :)


Wet weather day (14 June)

June 14, 2014
It was a lovely wet afternoon in Melbourne today :) Lovely because the weather held up this morning so that we could run errands, move boxes into storage and treat ourselves to morning tea at a fancy cafe, and lovely because the rain started after we'd got home so that we could do indoor activities with the heater on and enjoy the sound of the rain outside. My kind of wet day!

Wet day

I'm not doing too well at keeping up with #blogjune this year, although I have already blogged more this month than I had in the entire year preceding it! This week just gone I've been on early shift at work (7am-3pm), so I thought I'd have plenty of time for blogging in the evening. But early mornings need early nights, and I'm not so good at those - meaning I fell further and further into sleep deficit as the week went on. So this morning's little sleep-in felt *really* good :)


Retro library posters (10 June)

June 10, 2014
I love a bit of retro style, and these vintage library posters are fantastic! I think they could still be used today :)

RETRO POSTER - The Book Hunter

RETRO POSTER - Books are Arranged ...

RETRO POSTER - When You Want Facts

And for the fiction buffs ...

RETRO POSTER - There's Romance in Books

There's a whole Flickr album of these posters, collected by a library technician who goes by the username Enokson.

Sally Cummings

Librarian. Crafter. Geek.
And much, much more :)
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Maneki Neko welcome image (by IcoJoy)

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