Posted in audio, design, FYI, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Resources Worth Checking Out: Hightail File Transfer

Hightail is a stable professional tool for serious remote workers

* This review is based on my personal use and experience with Hightail. I am not affiliated with them and this post contains no affiliate links.

Hightail’s website landing page

I’ve been using Hightail for confidential transferring and public sharing of media for over three years. I found it via an audio file share from a well-known personality in the Mind Body and Soul community in 2017 and decided to give it a try for those tarot readings I can’t email because the files are over 15MB.

It’s one of the most stable and professional sites that consistently renews my faith that developers and site owners (or some at least) know what they’re doing. Except for one week in July 2018 when it took forever to upload a 30-40MB file (I think they might have been upgrading the site then) Hightail works efficiently every time for my audio files, even with my slow internet connection.

There’s so much I enjoy about using Hightail. It allows you to create a separate space with a dedicated shareable link for different projects or clients. Team members or clients can go directly to the platform’s viewers, audio and video players to view the files or download the material. Comments are also enabled, allowing for direct communication (though I don’t use this feature much).

Spaces menu and a typical space in grid view

Viewing your spaces is easy in the grid or list view, allowing for quick access to projects and files.

The clean design is very professional without any kindergarten-feel fonts, colours or imagery. The functions are easy to find and intuitively laid out.

I have to confess Hightail has my favourite progress bar! Once a file begins uploading, it calculates the most time it would take, then constantly recalculates with two visuals—a bar that fills up as the files loads and a circle that does the same over the file icon. They’re both quite consist with each other and, most importantly, with their accuracy. For me, the most impressive thing about Hightail is that it doesn’t waste my time and data. The uploads are quick and it doesn’t drop my file data during the upload unlike some other sites. I mostly upload mp3s and so far have had no problems with Hightail’s players refusing to play back my media. I’ve also shared large PDFs and Photoshop files. Some day, when I can afford one of the Premium plans, I’ll share videos as well.

Hightail in-app audio player and controls.

Best of all, all but one of my clients had no problems using Hightail or accessing their files. For that reason, if I were running a team, especially one that shares larger files, I’d choose Hightail over Slack (which I dislike because it’s so hard to find files easily among all those threads).

Are there any cons to using Hightail? There’s only one that I’ve experienced, but it hasn’t happened in a long while. Sometimes, when my internet was interrupted, I would need to upload the entire file again. And sometimes the Hightail player isn’t available immediately after upload. It could take a minute or two for you to be able to preview the audio before sending to your client/colleague.

So, if you’re working from home, need more confidentiality than most file sharing systems, and hate having your time and data wasted, I recommend giving Hightail a go. You can try out their Lite plan for free.

Posted in FYI, Happiness is, mind body soul, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Bakin’ Bread

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been looking at more of those easy-peasy recipes make-at-home-as-good-as-the-stores recipes. And as the Covid-19 numbers increase drastically over here, I thought it was time to make like a Masterchef and try my hand at homemade bread. My only memory of making bread (shop-type bread, not hand-made bread or rotis) is of my gran’s brief foray into yeasty stuff back when I was about four-years old. Still, Matt Preston’s 2013 recipe made baking bread look sooo easy, surely anybody could do it! And so I did! But not all at once.

No, first I tried the super-easy 2 (or 4) ingredient (if you don’t have self-raising flour) multi-purpose bread dough sans yeast.

Bagels (No Yeast, please!)

Video Video alternative

The nice and short YouTube video tells you how to prepare the dough and the most crucial bake-time for pizzas, bagels and something else that I forget now. I double-checked the recipe on another YouTube video (so learning it could be a 4-ingredient (and what to substitute) recipe for a healthier base…

If you don’t know the recipe all you need to remember is:
one cup self-raising flour and one cup plain yoghurt, mix till dough-like, shape and stick in the oven for about 45mins (?).

That.Is.It!

The dough was nice and soft which I shaped into bagels.

They’re far from bagels-bought (bagels or bread) but very nice nonetheless, especially if you’re running low on bread or all out and need a sandwich or two in just over an hour.

Encouraged by the lack of failure, I determined it was time to move into more adult ways of making bread and try a recipe my gran would have loved.

Masterchef’s Matt’s Easiest Bread (Yeast)

Video The blogpost I used

I used a 4g packet of instant dry yeast, and remembered (after having to reschedule the first baking day) to make the dough the night before.

Your must-remember for this recipe is: make the dough the night before!

Since it took me less than 20 minutes to gather the ingredients, combine, then stick the dough in the fridge and clean up, the hardest part is remembering to actually do it.
It really was as easy to make as demonstrated on TV and it yields a lovely crusty, ciabatta-style bread.

The ingredients: 1kg flour, tablespoon instant dry yeast, tablespoon salt, 950ml warm water.

Combine ingredients into a bowl that allows the dough to double in size (I used a pot), dry ingredients first, then add the water. Leave overnight in the fridge. Take out and let stand at room temperature for an hour and stick into two pans. I tried making 6 rolls as Matt did on Masterchef, and one large loaf. Bake for an hour.

We had to let the large loaf cool and dry out for a while as it came out a little damp when I cut into it, but it was cooked through and perfect for curry or sopping up gravy.

Will I try these recipes again? Definitely! There’s still a packet of yeast left, and I’ve just gotten more plain yoghurt too!

Let me know how your own bakin’ bread adventures have gone in the comments below.
Stay safe and be well!

Posted in Agonist Aunt, Agonist Aunt Letters, artists, FYI, nonfiction, Tips and Hacks

Dear Agonist Aunt: Ideas Overload, Fleshing Out Characters

Welcome to our Agonist Aunt’s desk. She’s here to help out all creatives who may be struggling with getting started, finding inspiration, dealing with blocks and whatnots in the whole creative process or getting a project complete. Agonist Aunt does not currently answer career or love-themed letters.

This week, Agonist Aunt advises a creative who’s got too many ideas and a writer who’s looking for the real character behind those Character Sheets. Much gratitude to these two souls for sharing their difficulties that so many of us can relate to.

To write to Agonist Aunt, scroll to the end of the post and fill in the form. Only three letters at most will be chosen each week.

Disclaimer: Agonist Aunt is only a sounding board. Her reply is for your entertainment and enlightenment only. Follow any suggestion at your own discretion and own it for yourself. Agonist Aunt accepts no liability and no credit in any event.

Dear Agonist Aunt,
How Do I Focus On Just One?
For my writing and artwork, one of my problems is that there are just unlimited possibilities of what to do, and I freeze up trying to decide on one. How do I focus in on one thing, the more limited the better probably? Limits seem to expand the creative possibilities, but in a manageable way.
Thanks.
Nine Tailed Foxe

Dear Nine-Tailed Foxe
Temporary ditch diverging possibilities in favour of merging possibilities.
I hate to admit I suffer from a similar problem to your own. Yes, it does lead to paralysis and procrastination, or feeling that you’ve scattered your energies too much. I have two approaches to this problem. Choose one that works best for you at the time.
Work on two or three projects simultaneously. This lengthens the time of completion for each project considerably, but also stops the other procrastinator monster, the dreaded creative block, popping up. For those bursts of creativity (or inspirons as Pratchett termed them) that intrude upon your concentration, file them in a notebook, sketchbook or other note-system. Personally, I like keeping a small notebook handy and jotting down notes or making indecipherable sketches/drawings that lead to later creative surges or inspiration for challenging parts of projects much later…sometimes years later.
Another method is to take similar or complementary (or even contrasting) ideas and use them as elements in your current or other project. This way you get to explore your current passion without losing time or getting too distracted by ‘new’, shiny ideas. I find this way great to grow as a creative and to change my style into one that’s more distinctive—more me!

I pulled a card for you and it’s Achievement. During contemplation of all these awesome ideas and ways to utilise them, it’s important to focus on what you wish to achieve with them, or how they’ll contribute to your overall achievement. Some ideas are just for fun, and you don’t need to do an in-depth exploration of them all, especially if they’re costing you too much time and energy and setting your almost complete or half-way through projects even further behind. Keep that sketchbook/notebook handy or even a character who doesn’t quite fit into you current works on file. Some ideas also need the right time to fully blossom and serve their purpose. In the meantime, you can achieve much more with your time in merging workable ideas or using them as new elements.
Wishing you more clarity, focus and achievement
Agonist Aunt

Dear Agonist Aunt,
How do I find my character’s voice?
Having a fair amount of experience crafting plots and building worlds, the one area where I still stumble most is in moving my original characters beyond a set of traits on a Character Sheet so that they can become a living, breathing person on the page.
BB Wonkycandle

Dear BB Wonkycandle
Tune in, drop out, and observe your character.
Before we get to the crux, let me congratulate you on your attention to crafting plots. Many’s a well-told story that’s sabotaged by a degenerating plot as the story continues.
Ah, yes, Character Sheets. While they make you feel terribly productive, they often only give you a clinical look at your character. To get a more visceral and rounded look at characters, you need to drop your pen/keyboard (or at least set them aside), get a nice cup of tea/coffee/tipple of choice, and find a comfy seat. Now, close your eyes and imagine your character in a scene of your story. If you see your plot like a movie, press the pause button. What is their expression in that scene? How are they feeling at that point? How are they standing? DO NOT WRITE DOWN A THING. Just KNOW this about your character. Carry on noticing your character through the scene. The way they move, the way they speak, their facial expressions. DO NOT TRY TO MAKE THEM FIT TO YOUR PLOT IF THEY ARE BEHAVING DIFFERENT TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Characters dictate, enhance or emerge with plots. They are not fully formed and we do not fully know them until the end…sometimes never. Let yourself discover your characters as you would a new acquaintance or friend.

If you have trouble visualising your character so minutely, you might want to try casting your favourite/least favourite actor in their role—a great way to justify binge-watching if you need it. Now you have a template for their facial expressions and physical movement, and it should be easy to imagine them playing out the scene in your plot.
I also find dialogue and ‘hearing’ the character’s speech very helpful in revealing aspects of them: their accent, their choice of words, their verbal tics and their silences. All of these can be far more indicative of their inner workings and foreshadow their strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, having a ‘character song’—one which typifies them in some way can also conjure them up almost instantly. For example, in the movie Bunrako, music was used to enhance each character’s nature without dialogue, but it told us so much about them in that moment. Play this song/music when you write about them.

I pulled a card for you, and it’s Empathy. I think it sums up wonderfully what we’ve been talking about. The illustration even has an ear on it, so ‘hear’ your character speak and hear what they’re feeling and how they choose to reveal (or hide) themselves in that moment. Only then is it time to pick up your pen (or keyboard) and let them interact with your plot.
May all your relationships with your characters be long, fruitful and full of empathy.
Agonist Aunt

Looking for last week’s letters? Find them here.

Write to Agonist Aunt. Fill in the form below.

Posted in Agonist Aunt, Agonist Aunt Letters, artists, FYI, mind body soul, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Agonist Aunt: Stuck Indoors, Serial Crunch, Overload

Welcome to our Agonist Aunt’s desk. She’s here to help out all creatives who may be struggling with getting started, finding inspiration, dealing with blocks and whatnots in the whole creative process or getting a project completed. Agonist Aunt does not currently answer career or love themed letters.

To start this column off, Agonist Aunt has accepted one letter from Leenna, and two fictitious letters from archetypes who could have written in on a whim. The letters are from an outdoor artist (or street artist), a writer working on a new serial, and a person who’s overwhelmed by the prospect of starting any creative project.

To write to Agonist Aunt, scroll to the end of the post and fill in the form. Only three letters at most will be chosen each week.

Disclaimer: Agonist Aunt is only a sounding board. Her reply is for your entertainment and enlightenment only. Follow any suggestion at your own discretion and own it for yourself. Agonist Aunt accepts no liability and no credit in any event.

Dear Agonist Aunt
Help Me Out Of This Rat Sink (ink/rink)
The world has been my canvas and this quarantine thing is gotten to me so badly that I’ve lost my m/use. I create metaphors with bats to highlight humanity’s and our planet’s plight and self-sabotaging tendencies. But being stuck at home, with no natural canvas (the outdoors), I feel my creativity and sense of self being flushed down the toilet.
And yes, I’m sick of bats and rats. Any suggestions of getting me out of this rat-sinkhole.
Yours
I’m-not-B, man

Dear I’m-not-B, man
How about exploring Meta-Fur?
All this indoorsy stuff is getting to most of us, but the silver-lining is it allows us to explore our inner worlds and discover new sources of inspiration. Perhaps, your blank canvas could be your world to create meta-furs and explore meta-fursics—a fusion or diffusion of images and visualisation of what you’d like the world to look like (for humans, animals, or every living thing) when you do return to the outside. Just because you’re ‘in here’, doesn’t mean your art can’t be ‘out there’, if you see what I mean.
I’ve pulled a card for you and this was the message: Inspiration reversed. I immediately thought of inverted inspiration or expectation…I take this as a clarification to ‘look within’ for your inspiration—to your imagination. Rather than reflecting back to the world your truth, shine a new vision to provide inspiration to others.
Wishing you happy and bright new visions
Agonist Aunt

Dear Agonist Aunt
Which Way Do I Go With This Character?
I have this just introduced a character in a new serial I’m writing. At first, I thought she might be the hero’s love interest, and then I thought I’m writing a serial (my first) and not a novel. So, now I’m thinking she could be the secondary character who also carries part of the story. Problem is, I don’t yet have much of an idea what the story is yet, as I’ve just started the serial. My question is two-fold: Is it too early to introduce the love interest, and any suggestions on where I could go with my serial?
Any help would be much appreciated!
Yours sincerely
Character Crunch Time

Dear Character Crunch Time
Map Time, First.
I’ve not written a full serial myself, but it looks like you need a plan. Before you write much further, I suggest you get a large sheet of paper (A3 or A2) and two A4 sheets, some markers of different colours and pens of different colours. Then, I suggest you start at one end (or the top) of the first A4 and start jotting down your ideas for your series. Continue onto the second A4. Stick the A4s together (sellotape works well, this isn’t a piece of art, yet), and taking one coloured marker trace a logical (or most exciting—preferably both) path through your ideas linking characters, events and locations. Then take another marker (different colour, please) and number the plot threads in a progression building up into a grand finale. It’s okay if you don’t have a finale, only your plots must be building into something bigger. Use another page (s) to make more notes.
Then take the large sheet and beginning with your Number One plot, transcribe the basic pointers into your episodes/parts using different coloured pens for characters, locations, etc.
You should have a workable poster-sized map to work on your serial now.
As for your character question, trace their part through the series or see where they might fit in best.
It may seem like a lot of work to figure out what to do with your character, but at least you’ve got a workable map for your serial. Feel free to change it as it goes along. The best maps are always updated often.
I pulled a card for you and the message is: Control. This is what you need to exercise over your serial, and I think this map will give you that.
Wishing you and your characters find your ways in an adventurous and fun fashion
Agonist Aunt

Dear Agonist Aunt
Where To Start This Creative Life?
I’m a new creative. Not new to creative thinking, per se, but to producing creative things like crafts and painted works and writing and all that good stuff. I’ve recently finally gotten some time to get into producing creative stuff, but I don’t know where to start. I’ve gotten a whole truckload of Amazon goodies from paintbrushes and canvasses to baking and decorating utensils to a brand new mug that says “I write therefore I am’, but I get intimidated just by looking it all and thinking of all the things I’d like to do.
How do you suggest I get started?
Sadly
Overwhelmed and Intimidated

Dear Overwhelmed and Intimidated
Start With A Word
Some believe everything ever created was done so by the power of a word, so you may want to try that first. Write a word on a piece of paper, or paint it on a blank canvas. Don’t over-think it. Write it big or small, fancy or scribbled, untidy or super-neat. It doesn’t matter. Neither does the word. I don’t suggest supercalifragillisticexpialidocious, though. Just saying. Next, take another colour and write another word, or swirl the brush around, or draw swirls and twirls. Then take a step back and decide if you’re going to go all Jackson Pollack on it or do something intricate and dainty instead.
Most important of all—the most vital part to creating creative work—is to have fun. So, have fun!
I pulled a card for you and its message is Power. This is a card of intuition, and as well as one which I see as being esoteric in nature. If you have esoteric interests, you may want to start off by drawing/painting or engraving your favourite symbol on your canvas/a piece of wood/some clay. But most of all follow your intuition and see where it takes you. Still, don’t forget to have fun!
Wishing you lots of fun and exploration
Agonist Aunt

Posted in FYI, nonfiction, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Yummy Home-made Food For Doggies

Mliae over at Lifexperimentblog mentioned how hard it’s been to find dog-food in shops recently.

hungry dog

What’s a dawg gotta do
to get some food around here?

hungry small dog

Where’s my supper, mum?

I immediately thought of my favourite doggies’ favourite food cooked by their human mums. So, I contacted their mums and got their tried and tested recipes to share with you over this confusing time for doggies (and their human parents). Huge thanks and hugs to Pamela Naidoo-Ameglio and Rani Chetty for allowing me to share their fur-baby food recipes with you.

Pamela’s Pappy Love Meals
(For Large and Giant Breeds)

Even the fussy ones licked their bowls cleaned and looked for more. The secret’s in the stock! Pamela’s large and giant-mixed breeds both had beautiful coats, were hardly ever bothered by fleas, and seldom went to the vet for illnesses. Kibble was used for breakfast and left for snacks, but this was the long awaited meal of the day, with a bone to keep gnawing for dessert. Kleinsus uses a similar recipe for her youngest hound as he has special dietary needs, so please take that into account if your doggie is similar.

You’ll need:
3 litres water
3 cups maize meal (mealie meal/pap)
beef/mutton bones (preferably with marrow, ask your butcher)
sliced, chunky carrots and other vegetables
1 tsp garlic or 2 cloves
glug of sunflower oil


Method
1) In a large pot, make a stock by browning the bones with the oil, then adding the water and bringing to a boil. Add garlic and vegetables, allowing to stew for 15-30mins.
Marrow in the bone is healthier than using fat, while the garlic repels fleas and conditions the coat. Most dogs I know love crunchy but soaked carrots so don’t slice the carrot too small, and perhaps add them last. Scrubbed potato and carrot peel, and peas are also good additions but avoid using whole potatoes and more corn as it will be too starchy.
2) Slowly stir in the maize meal. Continue stirring until you have a smooth, hard porridge.
It may be quite difficult to stir at times, but it makes for a great arm work-out!
3) Leave to steam for a few minutes.
4) Remove from pot and allow to cool in storage containers.
The food can be stored in the fridge for 1 week and can be frozen for longer term storage.

Recommended Portions
Once a day (midday or late afternoon) as follows, in addition to kibble and treats in the morning and late night:
Large breeds: 3 heaped dessert spoons + bone
Giant breeds: 3.5 heaped dessert spoons + bone

Note: Rice can be substituted for maize-meal, but you may need larger quantities of it as it’s not as dense. For this reason, I’ve noticed medium and small breeds are more likely to prefer rice to maize-meal.


Rani’s Relicious Rice and Roast Dins
(For small and medium breeds)

Rani’s little ones are especially picky eaters, and two have troublesome tummies, so she usually fixes them this very human food with some doggie-friendly adjustments. She doesn’t usually add carrots, which her fur-babies prefer raw, but you can experiment with cooked or steamed carrot in the mix as your doggie may have different tastes.

You will need:
Cooked rice (no salt)
Frozen chicken pieces or left-over roast chicken
carrots (optional)
water

Method
If you’re using left-over roast, remove the skin and skip to (2).
1) Place chicken pieces in pan or pot, cover with water. Bring to a boil and allow to steam till chicken is cooked through and most of the water is reduced.
It’s important to not season the meat as most dogs prefer unseasoned meat, and salt is unhealthy for them. You can experiment with garlic in small quantities to see if your doggie finds it acceptable as garlic repels fleas and conditions the coat.
2) When chicken has cooled, shred the meat and debone carefully but retain cartilage if your dog enjoys it. Ensure even the tiniest bones and bone fragments are removed. Skin can be left in shredded if your dog eats it.
3) Mix in a one part chicken to two parts rice. Add a little of the liquid from the pot and mix thoroughly so the rice isn’t dry.
This food can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days and can be frozen for longer term storage.

Recommended portions
Rani feeds her small fur-babies about 3-4 tablespoons each morning and night. They snack on kibble during the day or if they prefer to miss breakfast, and also have doggie treats.

contented dog

I’m soooo full!

happy dog

Me, too! Nap time…
Love you, mum!

Snack suggestions (in moderation): 1 slice bread or 1 slice toast for large and giant breeds, half that for small to medium breeds; carrot sticks or chunks.

PS. These yummy ingredients are also needed by us humans, so remember to not panic-buy the ingredients, especially the staples!

Posted in FYI, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Kids, Crystals, Angels

As a tarot-reader, I generally don’t read for kids. As a healer and former teacher of little people, I’m always finding myself led to help solve a little problem here and there. A visit to a relative with two gorgeous kiddies taught me some things about kids and crystals, and kids and angels, which I thought may help you when dealing with little ones. As usual, take what resonates and leave the rest.

The Problems

The 30-month old toddler, not yet speaking properly but very communicative, appeared to have an incredibly short attention span. He loved being outdoors, tended to walk on his toes in the afternoons and was courageous to the point of being a daredevil. His mum couldn’t understand why he’d almost instantly start crying in distress when meeting people, some of whom he’d known since a few weeks old. He also would not leave his dad alone in the evenings, and would only fall asleep if his dad (who has a very calm and protective energy) put him to bed.
She thought I might be able to intuit something as the little one took to me at once, demanding my attention like he’d always known me, even though we were meeting for the first time. He also gave me gifts of leaves, including marigold, which instantly made me feel that he thought I could help him heal.

His older brother (almost six, and extremely sensitive) had watched a fairy-tale movie and was having nightmares, featuring one of the scary-looking characters, to the point of waking up tired and being unwilling to go to school.

I was lucky to be visiting for a few days, so I got to see the little one’s reaction to meeting certain people. At first I couldn’t figure out what could be the problem. Both kids were healthy, otherwise happy, and easy to communicate with. I got no sense of environmental factors or other unsuspected physical problems affecting them, and their home energy was fun and loving.

An intuitive tarot reading opened the path to the solution of the little one’s distress.

The underlying problem was that he was energetically too open. He had no shield against another’s energy/aura so he was feeling and being affected almost instantly by whomever was in the room—like being dumped with everyone’s emotional and energetic baggage all at once.

No wonder he bawled his heart out in confusion and empathy, and was probably terrified by the experience. The cards and the angels didn’t say why this happened to him, but I got the impression other children at present, and in the future, may have similar energy shielding problems.

The Solutions

The solution seemed to be two-fold: to get him a shielding crystal (at least until his own energy shielding/aura was stronger), and to ask the angels to shield him further—especially at night when he tended to wake up after just a few hours. The angels would also help the six-year old get his good night’s sleep too. It was so obvious, I couldn’t figure out why it hadn’t occurred to me in the first instance, as in my teaching days I’d often asked the angels to watch over my class like so many teachers do. But there were still a few things that made asking for angelic help less straight-forward. And there was still the need to find the right crystals for the toddler.

Permission to Angels from mother/father for under 5s:

I was told it was necessary for the boys’ mum to ask the angels for help regarding the night problem and—most important—to give her permission for the angels to do so. We called upon both Archangel Michael and Archangel Raphael to help the kids by watching over them in their room at night. I thought the need for her permission was most vital as the angels indicated they would not be able to help effectively otherwise.
As adults, we consciously invoke and give permission to angels to aid and watch over us. Kids, in particular ones who cannot speak nor understand the concept of angels as guardians and friends, cannot themselves effectively give permission to the angels. Therefore the permission of their mother/father/closest care-giver is necessary, or was in this particular case.

Hematite vs tourmaline and bornite

The boys’ mum had already gotten a good quality hematite as a protective stone. I didn’t like this for the toddler as he was a blood relative and much more sensitive than I’d been as a kid—and I’d found hematite to be too ‘heavy’ for me even as an adult. I felt it was causing him more distress.
I suggested my old go-to and favorite, black tourmaline (schorl). Its energy feels less intrusive and I love that it transmutes heavy energies into lighter ones. I also suggested rose quartz for the boys’ room to help them feel calmer and surrounded by love when asleep.
And because I love bornite (peacock stone) and the way it gently grounds and raises my vibration I dug out my spare piece, along with a spare tourmaline, and gave them to the boys. After cleansing the stones in water and sunlight, their mum left the tourmaline and bornite in the toddler’s crib.

Concerns of six-year olds

When the older kid learned that the angels would be watching over him that night, he was very worried. His mum told him to talk to me about them, and this is what he said. “I don’t mind if the angels are in the room, but I don’t want to see them. I’ll be even more frightened.”

I assured him that in all the time I’d known the angels I’d never seen them, and that most people would be scared if they did too. And angels would never do anything to scare him. I also told him the names of the angels which he had no problem remember being such a TMNT’s fan. I also told him the same angels had looked after me on my travels and that I regarded them as very good friends. Although still somewhat unsure, our little Gemini decided to trust me and see what would happen with the angels that night. Bless their inquiring hearts.

Talking to kids about their concerns and letting them know a little of your own experiences with the unknown and difficult to understand concepts like angels goes a long way to reassuring six-year olds and older kids.

They instantly pick up if you are uncertain or embroidering the truth to make it palatable to them. Rather be straight-forward and let them decide what is acceptable to their energies and what is not.

The next morning, the six-year excitedly told me he’d slept through the entire night without once having a nightmare. He wanted to know more about the angels then.
The toddler also had an easier night, much to his parent’s surprise. He also woke later than usual and was in a very good (and very energetic mood) for most of the morning.
His mum got more tourmaline and rose quartz for their rooms and is happy with the results.

A special note on Rose quartz

The toddler loved rose quartz so much that he’d go seek out the stones and stick them in his mouth. He didn’t swallow them, just held them in his mouth. I suggest getting larger stones or rose quartz lamps, if possible, to prevent such attachment to rose quartz.

Rose quartz is helpful to most little kids, especially ones that are in families who are dealing with separation and divorce. Another little kid helped me see that rose quartz can help kids with anger issues at a stage where such anger can be more easily dispelled, and so help prevent them growing into angry young adults.

My take-aways from my two little light-workers:

Children sensitivities to energies may continue into much older ages than when we did at the same ages. Some kids may take longer than others to develop their own energetic shielding/aura than others which may result in their condition be misunderstood or misdiagnosed as a behavioral problem.

Angels need permission of parents/care-givers to aid under 4s or those kids who cannot articulate/give consent on their own.

Kids need reassurance in terms that they can understand as to who the angels who guard and assist them are. Otherwise kids may fear the angels thereby reducing the angels ability to assist.

Always remember that if you feel the energy of a stone or crystal is too intense, kids will feel it many times so to the extent that it will do them more harm than good. Use the gentlest and least ‘intrusive’ of crystals when dealing with or aiding children and seniors.

Posted in fiction, guest post, Tips and Hacks

Mad Scientists, Space Travel and Graphic Resources

It’s been a crazy month. It’s just zooming by, hardly giving me a chance to catch my breath or think–you know, proper thought-time.

So my apologies for not posting more, especially reviews, or for my not commenting much on your posts, but time is…out of my control for now.

So while I catch my breath, and shake my head mournfully over the pile of work I’ve still got to get through this month, here’s some of my stuff to keep you company.

For those of you who have a class or presentation coming up, you might find this interesting: http://www.freepik.com/blog/free-graphic-resources-for-teachers/

And if you’ve wondered what kinds of papers are delivered by Mad Scientists, or maybe you’ve been thinking of taking trips to Mars or Jupiter, you’ll want to check this out: http://madscientistjournal.org/2016/01/on-conveying-private-material-and-persons-in-the-solar-system/

And don’t forget this week’s PiniMe. It will be out in a couple of hours:)

Thanks for catching up with me. See you later:)

Posted in guest post, nonfiction, Tips and Hacks

How To Add Text To Your Photo by Jacki Kellum

Jacki Kellum is my first guest writer, whom I met during our Blogging U course last month. My thanks to her for her time and effort.

Jacki is an artist and writer, using a wide range of mediums, including digital. She’s been experimenting with ipiccy, a free online photo manipulating app.
Jacki’s generously allowed me to re-post one of her tutorials here, as a way to help you with PiniMe and other image creation for your blogs.

Here’s Jacki with How To Add Text To Your Photo.

From Ipiccy Blog
How to Add Text to Frames in Free Image Program Ipiccy
valentinerose2copyright

frame-basicborder1

When you begin to create a Basic Border, in Frames, you see the following menu on the left side.

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Click in the center of the box that says Outer color.

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The following Color Picker will appear. Click about where the red arrow is, inside the larger black rectangle.

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When you click inside the larger rectangle, a circle will appear.

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With your mouse, click on the circle and drag it right, until you see the basic color that you want shown in the bottom bar.

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In the bottom bar, click on the color you like. When you do that, a colorful Color Picker will open.

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The color of the frame has been changed to this new spot on the Color Picker.

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You can modify the color by dragging either the circle or the bar.

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I wanted a softer, more pastel color. I pulled the circle upwards and added white to the pink.

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Now, I want to widen the thickness of the outside frame: I moved the thickness handle to 71.

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To change the color of the liner, click inside the rectangle that says Inner Color. Note: I had already changed the thickness of the liner 19.

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This time, I will click on the Color Picker’s Eye Dropper and then click on my photo, on a color that I want the liner to be.

After I clicked on the eyedropper, I clicked on the cookie. I wanted to match that color of dull yellow.

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To prepare the bottom area for holding text, I need to enlarge the part that is called Caption height. I dragged that bar to 121

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Now, we have completed the frame part of the exercise.

1layers

Go back to the top horizontal menu again, and click on the Blending tab.

The following menu will open on the left.

Although a text box opens on your canvas, you actually type your text in the top menu box.

I used the font Quentincaps.

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Drag your text down to the bottom portion of your frame and center it.

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Return to the top menu bar and click the Save button.

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The following screen will appear. Decide where you want to save your image and Click: Save to My Computer

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Copyright Jacki Kellum December 18, 2015

You can view the original post here. Be sure to have a look at Jacki’s other useful tutorials.
Thanks once again, Jacki, for you easy to follow tutorial, and for sharing 🙂

About Jacki Kellum

d38bab18999f376ee2c87c2e38c45358Jacki Kellum is a Fine Artist, designer and writer. She teaches both writing and illustrating from her home studio, and offers other writing services as well. Her current personal projects includes a memoir and a children’s book. Read about her amazing life and family here, and about her art here.

 

Posted in #Quest2016, Tips and Hacks

2016 Resolutions?

As part of #Quest2016, I had to resolutely consider my future working habits by answering the following question.

Question 7: John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing Consultancy Network, and author of The Commitment Engine.

#Payoff
What can you stop doing in 2016 such that it would allow you to focus on higher payoff activities?

For immediate pay-off:

Stop playing computer games when I feel overwhelmed, and take a real break from the computer instead.
The pay-off:
Better health via less stress and strain, a real fresh brain, a happier computer.

no gameshappy computer

For medium-term pay-off:

Stop spending hours on job or assignment applications which lead to nothing.
The pay-off:
More time to write stories which are more likely to pay something—if not soon, then someday in the future.

time applyingtime writing

For long-term pay-off:

Stop being a mouse about my abilities and accomplishments.
The pay-off: My work would move to a synonymous shelf, instead of remaining in the anonymous box.

being mouseSynonymouse

  • with thanks to little Dora, and the rest of her C3 class, for showing me how to draw a mouse :)
Posted in Design and inspirational books, nonfiction, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, Tips and Hacks, Uncategorized

Become An Exceptional Designer: Effective Colour Selection For You And Your Client by James Dean

m_James Dean Colour SmashwordsTitle: Become An Exceptional Designer: Effective Colour Selection For You And Your Client
Author: James Dean
Rating: 90-95%

This is an unsolicited review of a Smashwords epub download. This is merely my very subjective opinion, and should be regarded as such.

In Brief:

This is a great colour resource from James Dean, not just for interior designers, but for all designers. I found it useful as it reminded me of colour theories and sets I had forgotten.

The Whole Story:

Based on a series of lectures for a course, it’s great for students and as an afternoon read for designers who need a little brushing up on aspects of colour.

Written in well presented chapters, this eBook covers the basics of colour and colour mixing, with a nice chapter on the psychology of colour too. Colour wheels and an explanation of the Munsell System make practical colour applications easy to understand, while short summaries on colour theories by the masters adds a nice touch.

I would have preferred more graphics and photos, but that may be because I like pretty things 🙂

What I learned?

I learned that lighter colours like yellow have more shades than tints while darker, colours like red, have more tints than shades; which probably accounts for why I dislike using much red in my designs:)

My favourite chapter was on the psychology of colour which included some fun facts to pique my trivia nerd interest.

Rating: 90-95% less 5% because I like my pretty pictures.
Recommended to: Students studying design, artists, designers and the perpetually curious

About the author:

James Dean is a architect with a passion for design and constructing unique architecture.
Smashwords Profile
Author Website