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The shark culling program in Western Australia is atrocious. It boggles my mind to think that anyone can think it is a good idea. Yes, shark attacks are tragic, but you have to face the fact that we don’t own the beaches and the coastal waters, and they are a vital part of individual habitats and vast ecosystems, with thousands and thousands of other organisms calling them home. If you want to go swimming where they live, accept that you may actually encounter some of them.

“You can kill any shark that gets out of the sea and starts killing us in our natural habitat of streets and pubs and internet cafes” – Ricky Gervais

Bang on.

There’s not a lot I can do aside from spread awareness of this utter barbarity. So, armed with my mobile phone and some grey craft card, I decided to take my message to the giveit100 masses. Briefly I became a unicycling Great White Shark. Check out my vid!

#noWAsharkcull

Like my outfit?

Shark Fin

So, what’s this #noWAsharkcull all about?

In Western Australia, seven people have tragically lost their lives in shark attacks in the last three years. In the last 20 years the number of fatalities is only 20. At face value, this looks a lot like the probability of being attacked by a shark is increasing, and that the waters are becoming more dangerous. But any smart person knows that a correlation does not necessarily mean cause and effect. What about the amount of people heading into the oceans? Has that increased? Are more people venturing out further from the beaches?

In any case, the probability of a fatal shark attack is still tiny. In 2012 you were seventeen (17) times more likely to just drown at the beach (17 deaths by drowning versus one fatal shark attack).

Culling will keep us safe!

Despite all this, the WA Government thinks that there is a serious problem – serious enough to put culling plans into place. Drum lines with baited hooks are being deployed to catch – and kill – sharks larger than 3 metres; meaning Great Whites. Great White Sharks are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, officially listed as “Vulnerable”, so this is totally bananas, yet it is happening. The first shark was killed on Australia Day, which is supposed to be a proud day.

Worse still, these enormous hooks don’t just catch 3 metre sharks, do they? No. There have been a number of reports that undersized Tiger Sharks have been killed on the lines. A “near threatened” species, by the way.

Jump on the band wagon

There’s an online petition you can sign if you disagree with the culling here: http://www.nosharkcull.org/petition. Like I said, I can’t imagine how anyone can actually support the culling, but it happens (protesters in Perth had eggs thrown at them by culling supporters calling them hippies), so the more friends the protest can get, the better. Spread the word.

And if you get stuck explaining why sharks are awesome, here’s a little help…

I appear to have neglected to post about my latest project: unicycling.

Just over two years ago I saw unicycles for sale on some website somewhere and suddenly got the great idea of buying one. I did so, and for about three days it was the most awesome thing in my life. However I very quickly discovered that balancing on one tyre is flipping difficult, and falling off was not at all fun. The unicycle found a little corner of a room to live in and stayed there.

It was shortly after this that my parents visited me in Sydney for the first time. My brilliant father, rather than thinking I had gone mental for purchasing such a thing, thought it was a great idea, and told me that I shouldn’t give up, and that I should stick at it and one day master the art of unicycling.

Of course, as some of you know, it was just days later that my father unexpectedly passed away. You kind of forget what you were doing after that happens, and before you know it, another two years have passed and you aren’t really sure what you have done with them. But whenever I saw the unicycle sitting there in the corner of the room, Dad’s encouraging words rattled around my brain for a bit, and I would promise myself, “one day”.

One day” happened when I saw a post on Lifehacker about Karen X Cheng and her new website, giveit100.com, where people document their progress at something for 100 days, in the form of daily ten-second videos. A brilliant idea, and a wonderful site of positive energy and friendly encouragement. I decided that my 100 would be learning to ride my unicycle.

Image

The rest of the process is documented, in video, here: https://giveit100.com/@skels/kzer34

Honestly, if you have something you want to try your hand at, or some change you want to make in your life, you should consider signing up to giveit100.com. It’s a great incentive to have daily video spots, and so great to actually document your progress. Looking back at day 2, where I’m wobbling about and hanging onto doors in my apartment, really makes me giggle now, and is a great reminder of how far I have come.

Happy Halloween, WordPress!

Spooky Halloween Spaghetti Bolognese

Yesterday was the last day of my 8 weeks of no sugar. I made it.

I feel I ought to admit that it wasn’t actually hard at all though. Not once did I feel real withdrawal cravings or any symptoms like headaches or grumpiness. In fact, while occasionally I would gladly have gobbled a biscuit or two if I could, I’ve only really noticed good things since giving up the white stuff.

As I mentioned in my mid-way post, I really have noticed a vast increase of my attention span, and a notable improvement with my temper. It’s actually pretty scary to think that when you are eating can really affect your behaviour that much, but at the same time, it’s something we all know, deep down.

In the second half of the challenge/experiment I didn’t notice any additional benefits, but I did notice a change in my tastes. Two weeks ago I succumbed to ordering a cider on a hot afternoon in the city. The brand, Bilpin, has been my favourite since my birthday last November, but that day, when I took my first swig of Bilpin, I was disgusted! It really did taste like the most sickly apple juice, and I could not take more than three sips before handing it over to my boyfriend and ordering a glass of wine.

I also snuck a sip of my boyfriend’s vanilla milkshake a few weeks back as well, as we sat in a cafe waiting for our lunch. I loved milkshakes pre-IQS, especially strawberry ones. But this one was also far too sweet for my palette.

Then finally, this weekend, I visited a Hog’s Breath Cafe, where a good friend ordered a monster 400 g steak slab, slathered in a BBQ-style sauce. He offered for me to try some, so I carved a small piece, aware that I wasn’t really allowed the sauce, and took a bite: Beef Cake. It literally tasted like a cow-based dessert. Gross!

Beef Cake

This is now day-1 of no rules and so far I’ve eaten two Weetbix with milk and chia seeds and a sugarless latte. And you know what? They were sweet enough already. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes, but I don’t see myself pigging out on Haribo for a looooong time.

And that, really, was the point. I’ve kissed sugar-dependency ‘good-bye’. Ha!

Edit: I just ate a Kingston biscuit. It didn’t taste overly sweet, but did have a bit of a weird aftertaste. And at 8.2 g of sugar per biccy, that was almost as much sugar as I’ve been eating in total per day for 56 days. Oh God – time to see how my body reacts!

This isn’t a craft, but it is an experiment. Therefore I want to write up some of my findings here on my blog.

25 days ago I decided to quit sugar

Before you scream “fad diet” “you need sugar” and “crazy person” at me, let me go into a little more detail. Firstly this is just an eight-week program, not forever. I’ve always had a sweet tooth and adored sugary treats. I just accepted that this was the way I was built and it’s okay because I don’t actually drink sugary drinks, I’m not a big drinker, and I do like salad.

Not good enough.

In the last few months I’ve noticed a dependency. Sugar on my porridge; sugar in my tea; mid-afternoon chocolate; late afternoon biscuit; ketchup/barbeque sauce with everything; and always, always, pudding after dinner. I tried cutting back, but failed, allowing myself exceptions for any damned excuse. So when I heard about the I Quit Sugar program I decided to give it a go. I’m an all or nothing kind of a gal, and it was time to go cold turkey.

The other thing you should know is that I’m not being a nazi about it. I’m avoiding any and all ADDED sugar, and not eating anything obviously sugary – including fruit. I’ve switched to a low sugar bread and have started checking the labels of any food I buy, discarding anything with more than about 4 g of sugar per 100 g. But I do have the odd tomato, sweet potato, milk, and stuff, and I am drinking wine (there is no frutose in red wine, and that’s the bad stuff).

Today, 25 days in, I thought I’d see just how much sugar I am having.

Still there, but way down.

9 grams today came from sweet potato and two cherry tomatoes in my salad (3 and 1 g), onion and light sour cream in my Stroganoff (1 and 2 g), some rice crackers (1 g) and a handful of Smiths chips I succumbed to at Friday Beers in the office (1 g).

So it’s not completely gone, but it is most definitely an improvement.

So how is it going?

Well! It’s been surprisingly easy to do really. It certainly helps that I know that I can make no exceptions, but honestly my cravings haven’t been particularly noticable. I thought the biggest problem would be having my tea and coffee sans sugar, but in actual fact I quite enjoy them without now. My tastes are changing, thank goodness!

It’s not been a complete breeze, however.

The biggest difficulty is breakfast. What do you have for breakfast when you can’t have sugar-loaded cereal/yoghurt/a bowl of fruit, but don’t want eggs every flippin’ morning? My problem exactly. The IQS cookbook have a few suggestions, but mostly they involve Stevia, which I’m trying to avoid as I’m worried it will make me crave sugar more. I’ve discovered that I actually like Vegemite on toast, which was a shock to my English, Marmite-loving tongue, but I do seem to be getting through a lot of eggs.

And how am I feeling?

In many ways I just feel like myself, but a little less obsessed with when I can have my next snack. However when I put some thought into it I realised that there is a little more going on:

  1. I have a longer fuse. Sure, things still piss me off, but rather than fly off the handle, leaving a trail of devastation and mean words, I seem to be way better at just stating what is wrong, and why I’m annoyed.
  2. I have a much better concentration span. I’ve been getting stuck in to some nice projects and losing track of time, rather than doing ten minutes before losing interest and wondering how long I can last before visiting the vending machine.
  3. I am enjoying other food more. It used to be almost like the savoury was just the boring part before the nice, sugary food. But now I’m discovering a real love of proper meal-type food.
  4. My teeth are cleaner.
  5. I’ve lost close to 2 kg without trying.
  6. I’m actually sleepy at normal-person bed time, not buzzing until 1 am.
  7. I can’t handle my booze. No, really. It’s almost as if sugar in your system cushions the effects of alcohol, and now I can’t handle it. Last weekend, after a couple of glasses of vino, I very suddenly went from totally OK to TANKED. My usual ‘that’s enough now‘ guage had broken and the next day I had turned into a whimpering hangover baby.
  8. Similarly, caffine never used to affect me. It does now.

So that’s where I am at, almost half way in. Supposedly the worst cravings are yet to come, but I kind of find that unlikely at this stage. I will find out and report back in about 30 days. In the meantime, to anyone reading this thinking they’d like to make some changes, start by reading nutrition labels. You’ll be AMAZED how much sugar is in stuff. Then spend a bit of time at the supermarket finding better versions of stuff. It will actually help a lot.

What follows is a post from my old blog, moved here for keeps. Originally posted August 2, 2009.

I baked a special cake for Vince’s birthday. I spent way too much time decorating it, but then I am an ex sufferer of OCD so I have very obsessive tendencies, and it had to be perfect. I got the idea from the Something Awful forums, but I thought I’d share how I did it.

Vince's brain is made of rainbows

How to Bake a Rainbow Cake Read More »

Things have been pretty quiet on the craft front lately, for various reasons including mentally busy work, a skiing trip, and two assessment deadlines.  But I have been meaning to make a few posts for a while now, covering some things I once crafted a loonggg time ago.

Zombie Apocalypse, 2010

A few years back I saw one of those Facebook status games on an old school-friend’s profile. It looked fun and I was bored so I decided to copy it to my status.

Look to your right. Whatever object you see there is your designated weapon in the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse. Comment on this post to tell me what it is.

After getting over 20 replies I had the brain wave that this would make a pretty cool cartoon, so I set about the epic task of drawing everyone wielding their weapons, ready to defend against a brain-thirsty zombie horde. I was quite pleased with the finished article. Check it out (click to view big version):

The Zombies Are Coming to Facebook!

And here are the Facebook responses I drew:

Facebook Zombie Planning

YouTubed

A few weeks later Vince posted a short vid onto his YouTube account that he sneakily took while I was doing the drawings. I was pretty embarrassed at first, but he assured me that it was just a chance to practice his editing skills. Now I’m quite glad it exists :)

Until next time, perhaps you too should consider your strategy for the zombie apocalypse…?!

I couple of weeks back Jenny on Geekcrafts posted a link to a tutorial for how to make your own dwarf beard. Upon seeing the instructable, my boyfriend and I looked at one another for a second, then made for the door to go and buy wool. Later that evening, we had our very own beard.

A BEARD!

I have now received several requests to make more of these beards. I only wish I’d waited until Christmas to do this, as it would make for some awesome and fairly inexpensive presents. And would also be brilliant timing for the Hobbit. In any case, I thoroughly recommend this make. Just try not to use itchy wool.

I’ve really been enjoying making felt plushies lately. Something I really ought not to be spending all my time on at the moment as I have Uni work to do, but let’s pretend that’s not a problem for a moment. A couple of days ago I thought I’d have a go at creating a Purple Tentacle from Day of the Tentacle and I am SO PLEASED with how it turned out.

Purple Tentacle Plushie by Skels

The trickiest part was sewing the suckers into the cone. The sucker edges are just a long strip of felt, folded in half. I folded the base edge around a bit of cord to keep it nice and round – sort of like piping.

Want to make your own? Well, I whipped up a pattern for you. I can’t be bothered to write full instructions, but use your noggin and you should be able to work it out. If you have any questions or get stuck just comment below.

DOWNLOAD: Purple Tentacle Plushie Pattern

 

I didn’t get to play Day of the Tentacle when it was first out, but my boyfriend was a big fan, and we played through it together a few years ago. They don’t make em like that anymore! I kind of wish they did. Follow this link to watch some guy play through the whole thing.

Remember Blur’s music video for Coffee & TV? It had that cute Milk Carton character that goes for a wander around the big scary city. Well, I decided to make a felt plush version.

Milky Plushie

I did most of it by cutting out the parts freehand, whilst half distracted watching my new TV love Traffic Cops, so I’m amazed it turned out as well as it did. He’s so cute! I even put small magnets in his hands so that he can pick up metal things (like my sewing needles!) and hang off the fridge door.

If you would like to make your own felt Milky plushie, I drew up the shapes I used and made a downloadable patten: Milky the Milk Carton Plushie Pattern.

  1. Cut out patten from felt.
  2. Sew together limb parts, turn inside out and stuff with fluff.
  3. Attach wave pattern and face to the carton panels – you can stitch on like I did, or glue if you are impatient. I also embroidered the eyebrows. You can also add the word “mik” as in the video version, but I got lazy.
  4. Cut cross shapes in panels and insert limbs. Stitch into place securely.
  5. Sew together carton sides and bottom – outside in – leaving the top of the carton open.
  6. Turn right side out and stuff with fluff up to the first fold line.
  7. Fold the top like a milk carton. The pattern shows the fold lines to help you.
  8. Sew closed by stitching along the top of the blue wave section to keep the folds closed.

Let me know if you make one. In the meantime, let me take you back to 1999!

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