It’s Friday 13th, and Christmas is near, so I thought you might find this short animated film interesting! This is a beautiful, creative and simple story on a child’s desire for new toys. Hope you enjoy it!

Watch it here

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I had a few topics I wanted to discuss over the last few weeks but didn’t get around to it. Some of the delay is my procrastination to write and then there’s the critic in me that says I’d have to improve the topic / idea first. But seeing as this blog is mainly about me learning the creative crafts as I go through them – I’ll share this thought quickly and see how it goes / grows.

This thought is about some of the people of Cork, and their ‘issue’ about the identity the city holds in Ireland. As a Dublin man living in Cork for many years, I’m amazed by the amount of Corkonians that insist on mentioning to me that ‘I’m in the real capital now’ (boy)! Some locals even question why I decided to live in Cork, as if it were an unbelievable choice or forced infliction. You see, I think Cork is a great city and county. I love living here. Cork has so much to offer, that I would be hard pressed to leave it, ever. But, I also love Dublin – it’s also an amazing city that has a lot to offer its residents and it’s visitors. Comparable to other capital cities around the world, it can be enjoyed whether your purse had restrictions, or you’re one of the high fliers of this world. Ireland has a few great cities, and thankfully we’re such a small island that they are easily accessible.

Cork city is a great size – not too big, not too small – to stroll around and see all it has to offer. The food options are amazing and more affordable than Dublin. The local stouts of Beamish and Murphy’s are much nicer, in my opinion, than the Dublin version. I once contacted Heineken Ireland to send me a list of Dublin pubs that regularly buy kegs of Murphy’s so that I could enjoy a drink in my hometown. But the consistent emphasis from the people of Cork regarding ‘the real capital’ can be annoying. Not that I’m protective of my home town’s status, Dublin is a great city whether it holds a capital city title or not. I don’t see why Corkonians use ‘the capital city’ title at all – it makes no sense. I’ve never got an answer to why they believe Cork is the ‘real capital’ and/or why they want it to be?

A few weeks ago Cork hosted a Global Cork Economic Forum. It seemed to have been a great success. A comment I heard from one of the speakers was around this very subject I discuss here – why is Cork trying to be a capital city, it’s great the way it is!? I can’t recall who said it, but I totally agree with this speaker. Why not flaunt what you have, instead of trying to measure up to another city. No matter what you do, you can’t be some other place. You’re Cork, so promote that!!

His statement threw an image into my head of two daughters in a family, and the younger teenage sister is trying to be as good as, if not better, than her older sister. When a young man becomes attracted to the older sister, the younger one emphasises all her best qualities to try out-do the traits of her big sister. She wants to be the attractive one. It’s only when she grows up that she realises that she also has admirers, and she doesn’t have to compete with her sister at all. There’s ‘plenty of fish in the sea’ for them both to get what they want. They both have traits that people want. She realises that there are issues about being the eldest that will not always be attractive, so it’s great to be the second child!

So, in keeping with this analogy, I’m looking forward to the day the Corkonians realise that they have a great city and county to offer the world already, and they don’t have to keep criticising the rest of the family for being attractive as well. Alright boy!

A beautiful painting from another ‘blow-in’ to Cork – Victor Richardson.
Available through Lavit Gallery, Cork

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The last few weeks I’ve been ill. So ill, that I had to relinquish my need to do everything for myself. You see, I’m not great at asking for help and regularly get bothered when others try to help me ‘without my permission’! However, when I found the simplest of human tasks a major difficulty (ie, breathing), it’s a bit easier to accept the goodwill of others. It happens almost every year now, but this year dragged on a bit too long for my comfort. And this resulted in me being a grumpy man!

The best thing for me to do during all this was to relax and let my body rest and recover. But that was a contradiction in my mind – how can I relax when my retired parents are having to travel down to my home to look after my kids while my wife was working?!? Huh? How? But, I had no choice. I could barely walk to the car to get to a doctor. I felt like sleeping half way through the ten minute journey to his surgery. I certainly slept when I got home after a ‘gruelling’ one hour trip outdoors.

I found my reliance on others to do my job very hard, and still feel weak at the thought of what had to happen. When I regained some strength and could participate in family life a bit more I was still angry at my body’s weakness to do basic things I need it to do. I was uncomfortable that this meant I needed the help of others. I got grumpy with my wife and kids over simple things and tasks. The kids were great through it all. My wife was great. Our parents were brilliant help at a moments notice. The only person that struggled through it all was me! I hated needing the help of others. I still hate it, and I don’t know why?

It brought back a memory of my life several years ago, when I was a student. I shared a house with the girl who is now my wife. I was studying for one last exam while she was finished all of hers. After several hours of cramming information into my exhausted brain I needed to take a break, and came down to the kitchen to have lunch. When I entered the room I was presented with a toasted sandwich from my caring and loving housemate. Instead of saying thank you, I got grumpy with her. She looked at me with a puzzled grin while I clarified that I could have made it myself, that I didn’t need her to do it. I was coming down to do it anyway. She’s a redhead, so she quickly told me what to do with the sandwich! 🙂 Thankfully, she got over it easier than I did, because years later I’m still acting like that fool.

Why do I generally struggle to ask for help? Why do I struggle to ask for help even when I’m too ill to do it myself? Why do I have to emphasise my ability to do it myself, when others take the initiative and do it for me? I don’t know. I had several weeks lying in bed where I could have analysed it more. Unfortunately, all I could do was try to keep breathing. Thankfully, my family helped me to achieve that. Obviously, their willingness to care for me is stronger than my ability to ask for that care. They hopefully see more in me than a grumpy man. I hope my kids will learn this trait, rather than pick up my one. And now that I can breathe easily again, I’m asking myself the questions to help me understand why I avoid and resist the support of others. Have you any input?

Before I move forward, just let me say “Thank you” to my family.

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My last post mentioned a beautiful picture I discovered a while ago, but I couldn’t share with you who was the great artist that created it. Well, thankfully to a great friend of mine [Patrick] I received a link to Maria Zaikina and her ‘Landshaft mit Haus’ series.

Her other work is as beautiful as the picture I found, and I was delighted to see how apt the timing of my post on this picture. If you look at the ‘With Casa‘ magazine cover from last year, you should notice the picture is titled ‘Sommerende’. Perfect.

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I was a late starter to Pinterest, but have to admit that I have succumbed to it’s appeal and find it amazingly easy to search for images under any subject heading. I was regularly searching through Houzz and DwellingGawker for my interior design and architecture fix. However, when it came to art & design inspiration I had a tendency to just scroll and surf through the Google search results under those headings.

Since joining Pinterest I have many late nights looking through all the design porn I can handle. Not-so-recently, I discovered a simple image that I found appealing enough to save to the camera roll on my phone. (This was before I realised I could save it within the Pinterest app.) Unfortunately, I cannot credit the artist of this great work as I didn’t take note of those details. A few attempts to rectify that have resulted in me searching through Pinterest again, but that always resulted in a lot of other distractions!

Anyway, what I wanted to do with this saved image was to recreate it as a gift to my sister and her husband as a house warming present. It looked like it was a screen print, but it has been many years since I’ve done anything in that field, so I was reluctant to take on this process now. Instead, I chose to use cardboard and cut out the various colours to resemble the original design. It’s not an exact match in colours but I think it turned out quite well. The gift was greatly received and is already on the wall in the new home. It felt lovely being creative again, and has definitely encouraged me to keep some time to do something else again soon. I’ll keep you posted here obviously.

In the meantime, what do you think; did my rehash of the original print turn out well in your opinion? If anyone out there knows the original artist, maybe you could let me know who they are – I owe them a big thank you for their inspirational work. 🙂

Picture 1 is original, with the stages of my work to the final image at the end.

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Squid
Konrad Kirpluk

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Sky High
Mark Kelvin Horton

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When I started this blog earlier this year I had a goal of posting something every two weeks. That gave me plenty of time to come up with a topic, write about it and then post it – and still allow time for work, family and everything else on the sidelines.

However, if you read my previous post, you will understand that sometimes plans don’t go according to plan! So, in an effort to be more organised and focused on writing for this blog, I thought I’d start something new to keep up the momentum each week.

You see, I’m currently reading Scott Belsky’s book ‘Making Ideas Happen‘, which is, so far, a very enjoyable and productive read. The title provides the brief description of what the book is about, and I’ll elaborate with a sentence from the cover page:

“This bestselling book reveals the three steps vital to making any idea happen: getting organized, collaborating and leading effectively.”

It suggests some steps on how to prioritise all your ideas, and then how to make (some of) them a reality. I included ‘some of’ in the previous sentence, as Belsky (thankfully) acknowledges that we often have too many ideas to carry through to completion. So, is it not better to work on some projects to the end, rather than constantly talk about ALL the ideas you would like to complete – if you had the time? He also reminds the reader that developing ideas involves a lot of work, quoting Edison’s mantra of “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration”.

After several months of writing here I agree with this concept. I’m enjoying the act of blogging, and I want to at least complete my initial commitment of a blog post every fortnight. However, with family being a huge part of my life at the moment, more so than design; I have a tendency to consider writing about family days rather than design!

So, the new concept for my blog, each Wednesday, is to simply present an inspirational design I like, and hope it will please some readers too. I might even get a design / picture of my own into this slot some day soon! 😉 Anyway, here’s the first of many:

I saw this picture online many years ago and thought it was beautiful. I still love it! However, I can’t remember who did it, or where I found the picture. It is made up of all the dots and full stops the artist found in print media, and she then stuck them onto a large sheet to admire them. Isn’t it amazingly simple, yet beautiful? Do you know the artist?

You can download a free PDF copy of the Scott Belsky book here. Not sure how this site can offer it for free, but it’s there.

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The last few weeks have been an effort for me. In the midst of trying to get stuff done there were a few factors that slowed me down or distracted me altogether. Some of these were not preventable – such as me or the kids being ill. However, some distractions were self inflicted.

In my college days I used to clean the house, or rearrange furniture to avoid sitting down to study for exams or write a thesis. I’m still taking this approach today – in the guise of creating a more functioning family and the attempt to put a better design into our home – I avoid some more essential tasks – clearing out the garage for maintenance works, rebuilding a website, moving email accounts… These tasks are not too appealing, so I seek distraction.

So, low and behold, a knight in shining armour appears a few weeks ago in the form of an Xtravision Summer Madness deal! For the small price of €20 I had the ability to take any two DVDs out each night for one month – that’s 60 DVDs!! That is one great distraction 🙂

So, for a man starved of cinema trips over the last few years, also without a television for many years – this was a bargain! I can catch up on so many worthwhile movies! So I sat and caught up with some ‘blockbusters’ I was hoping to see. I have to admit the majority were not as good as I hoped, so I was glad to have avoided the €8 cinema charge for many of them.

My list of movies, in no particular order, with a short review from me:

Identity Thief : simple comedy, a few laughs, Jason Bateman shows usual facial expressions

A Good Day to Die Hard : If I was twenty years younger…this may have been better!?

The Hardy Bucks : homegrown comedy I hoped would be good. Twenty years younger…

The Impossible : enjoyed it because it made me grateful for what I have!

Flight : thought this was a media turns in hero, rather than the usual alcoholic recovery effort

Silver Linings Playbook : brilliant! Great cast, great story, simple and entertaining

Five Year Engagement : felt like I was there with them for the whole five years!! 😦 terrible

I Give it a Year : who thought it could get worse? (see above) how do they get the money?

Arbitrage : simple thriller story but effective in entertainment. Worth watching

Life of Pi : loved the imagery; knowing the end took away some magic. I enjoyed the book more

Good Vibrations : great surprise. Knew nothing about it before. Great music, inspirational

Perks of Being a Wallflower : coming of age story (thankfully no vampires needed) Brilliant!!

End of Watch : not just a shoot out between LA cops and gangs, there’s also a love story

Killing Them Softly : cool hitman safes the day. American attempt at cool. French do it better

I’m not going to link each movie, but will recommend the imdb website for trailers or info on each of them. I’ve another week left on the deal and hope to improve the stats on the movies worth watching. I also have to admit that my distraction from my distraction is Netflix, and a brilliant program there is ‘The Killing‘ (US version), and for nostalgia I’ve watched a few ‘Quantum Leap‘ episodes – still brilliant.

Anyway, better get back to my distractions. If you have any good recommendations for movies, please let me know – or maybe drop me a line to tell me if I ‘misunderstood’ some of those listed above.

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