June 25, 2016

Colouring fantasy

Today I've finished colouring another pattern. When my kids saw it, they were looking at me as if I was from another planet. Too bright, too colourful, mom, you've definitely got overboard with this... Well, you can have the same impression but I will be brave enough to say I don't care. I love that brightness, I love those colours, and I love the combinations. This is exactly what I love about colouring. I follow my instincts, make my choices and can go as crazy as I like and dare.

My older sister used to colour images as an adult too, until she bought a laptop and started playing facebook games, but that's another chapter. What I want to say is that I thought she behaved in a childish way. Colouring images?? Oh, come on... Then, two years ago I got inspired and started colouring myself. A different kind of images though, I like the ones that you can bend and change with your fantasy. There are no right and wrong results and you can colour the same image in many different ways.


I use felt tips for colouring and usually colour one image for several days as it can take a few hours before it's finished.


It's not easy to get the colours accurate when scanning the images but I've found out two improvements that are helpful. 

Firstly, it's useful to tell your scanner that it shall preserve your image from showing the other side of the paper through, even if the other side is blank. This option should be in the scanner's settings. I don't know why but without choosing this option, the scanned paper is greyish and the colours are a bit weird, with this option ticked off, the paper is white and the colours are bright. 

Secondly, it's useful to correct potential colour discrepancies in Photoshop or Lightroom or any other similar software where you can change hues and adjust lights. I have most problems with violet which often becomes blue when scanned, it's easy to move the hue slider and bring it back to what she should look like.

I wish I could draw but I can't and this is another wonderful way to get creative. There are many sorts of images available that you can either download or buy and you might be surprised how much the choice of colours and combinations and the way of colouring would tell you about yourself. I'm not laughing at the adult colouring any more.
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June 04, 2016

Country church

Every time when we go to visit my mom, we drive by a church in Starý Rožmitál that always draws my attention. There is nothing extraordinary about the building itself, it's a country church standing by a cemetery, but the view from the road looks very nice. I asked my husband to stop nearby last week so that I could take a photo. 

Here is a closer view with a different processing:

I was walking here and there for a while when looking for the best view and along the way I was passing by a beautiful lilac bush:

Lilac blooms are gone for now so it's a nice memory. I also saw an eye-catching leafy tree which I really liked:

But back to the church itself. Those of you who have been following my blog for some time might remember that I captured the church a few years back in winter, it looked like this:

I edited the photo a bit more this time and created another look:

We always hurry when we go to my mum to be there in time and we usually go back in the evening when there is not enough light and we are looking forward to getting home, but I'd love to capture the scenery also in autumn and under different weather conditions. The resulting series might look great...
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May 15, 2016

When the time comes

Body like a stone.
Heavy like a stone.

at the edge of wakefulness,
at the edge of awareness,
at the edge of perception.

At the edge of comprehension,
when there is no way back, 
when one can't wake up and live,
when the way leads just to falling asleep.

The door is getting closed
to be opened
when the time comes.
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May 06, 2016

Loket castle

Do you have memories which you are not sure that are real? I have one which is very persistent. I don't remember much from my childhood but I seem to remember very strongly that we went on a school trip to a castle called Loket. No more details, just this piece of information and it carries quite a positive feeling. I keep this memory like some treasure though I absolutely don't know why, it's so strange. 

Now, you won't be surprised when I tell you that the memory made me really curious about how the castle looks so last year my husband and I went to visit it. I loved the castle as well as the town surrounding it and sharing the same name, and today I'd like to show you some of the photos that I took there. Click on the photos to see them larger.

The name "Loket" would be translated into English as "an elbow" and both the castle and town got that name according to the meander of the river Ohře that resembles an elbow and that you can see below the castle.

Here is another view of the castle, from another part of the town. Isn't the difference in the perspective quite interesting?

Here is the entrance to castle's yard:

In my opinion, there is not much to be seen in the castle itself but it has quite interesting history. The origin of the castle dates back to the first half of the 13th century. A settlement was built around the castle and later it became a royal town. The castle was enlarged and became an important royal stronghold. The castle and town were called "a key to the Kingdom of Bohemia" because it used to be said that those who conquer Loket will conquer the whole Bohemia.

One of the most interesting facts relating to the castle is that king Charles IV was imprisoned there as a child at the age of three because of some family and property disputes. Yet he didn't reject the castle as an adult, on the contrary. He often came there and in his Maiestas Carolina code, a code that never came into effect, he listed the castle among the places that must not ever be taken away from the Czech crown.

In the yard, there were presented some tombstones from an old cemetery, such as the one in the photo below on the left and inside you could see a little collection of targets used to practice shooting, such as the one in the photo below on the right:


But there is more to be seen in the town, not just the castle itself...

A café placed by the castle's walls that doesn't seem to be frequented much…

An old organ in the adjoining church…

A beautiful fountain in the square which was too big for me to be captured fully so here is a partial view from the street connecting the square with the castle and a detail in the square...

We loved many of the houses we were passing by when strolling in the town and some places felt quite special, such as these…


The truth is that the place itself didn't explain what's behind the scenes of my persistent memory, I'm still none the wiser and may be forever, but at least I can connect the memory and the place now. It feels good, surprisingly good…
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April 18, 2016

A few hours in Prague

About a week ago my husband and I spent several hours in Prague. We had tickets for a concert of "Rodrigo y Gabriela" there and we decided to visit a few places before the concert would start in the evening. The weather wasn't nice, it was a dreary and rainy day, but eventually it was not as awful as it was forecast and we enjoyed the trip. I'll show you a few photos that I took but first I'd like to tell you more about those Rodrigo and Gabriela in case you've never heard of them. They deserve it.

"Rodrigo y Gabriela" are an acoustic guitar duo coming from Mexico yet their music does not present Mexican traditional melodies. It is influenced by more genres including rock and heavy metal and the word "acoustic" describes it significantly. Most of their repertoire consists of instrumental pieces, they are both skilled guitarists, but lately they've added also songs sung by Rodrigo. They made such great progress in the last several years... We saw them in the "Colours of Ostrava" festival last year and loved them and when my husband noticed a few months ago that they would come to Prague in April, we agreed on going to see them. They didn't disappoint us, the concert was great and I would go again right away. They said that it was their first concert in Prague and promised that they would come again next year so we will see.

And now back to my photos but please, don't expect the famous Charles Bridge or Prague Castle, there is more to Prague than just its icons. (Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

No. 1: Statues waiting patiently in a yard, probably for the time of their repair or show time. I couldn't take my eyes of them!

No. 2: We visited an aquarium with many fish but also many children, and lots of noise.

No. 3 and 4: An old historical tram that used to be passing through Prague streets many decades ago.

No. 5: A face looking down upon us mortals from its heights on a wall.

No. 6, 7 and 8: Blooming Magnolias and Forsythia everywhere

No. 9: Funicular to and from Petřín which is quite a popular Prague hill with an observation tower and mirror labyrinth.

Let me conclude this post with a photo No. 10 that presents part of a building in former exhibition area. As I've mentioned before, the weather was not favourable and the sky in this photo was ugly, without any texture, so I played a bit with it, trying to add the texture that I was missing, and I created the following image. I'm no expert in working with textures but I like the mood of the result.

It would have been nice to have good weather for that trip, it would have been nice to get breathtaking photographs. But it was fun and a great experience anyway. Things don't have to be perfect to be enjoyed...
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March 15, 2016

Once you hear it

A word,
a phrase,
a sentence

Once you hear it,
it captures more
than your attention

It whispers,
it cries,
it shouts,
asking you:

Come and absorb me,
come and transform me, 
come and make me your part

You can do nothing to change it,
there is no way to ignore it,
and there is no way to go back

Once I heard two words of a song
that grabbed my attention
and then grabbed my soul

They were "seven layers"
or was it "seventh layer"?
I do not even know
but both of them seem to matter

Seven layers of fear, 
seven layers of smile, 
seven layers of understanding
or seven layers of cry

The seventh layer of the seven layers,
the deepest one, the bottom one
Do I want to know what dwells there?
Do I need to know how to get there?
Do I have any idea of how deep I need to go?

Or am I utterly wrong 
and the seventh layer of the seven layers
is the one on the surface
showing the light
prepared to make me smile?

I may never know
and may never be asked
but those words will stay forever 
in the layers 
of my heart
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March 08, 2016

Bullet journaling adventure

Have you ever heard of bullet journaling? It's a way of keeping your events and tasks organized and much more than that and a few weeks ago it burst quite surprisingly into my life.

You may remember that in October, based on Barb's Blogging Bits and Bytes series, I wrote a post titled Along the path of blogging where I shared some history of my blogging and intended changes. A few weeks ago Barb published another instalment of the series where she asked us whether we use a planner and encouraged us to find a planner we love, and use it, not only for scheduling but as a journal. My first thoughts were this had nothing to do with me, I dislike planners and diaries of all kinds. Always, when I bought one, I was carrying it for a few weeks in my bag, rarely opening it, and sooner or later it got lost in a drawer. They all seemed so rigid and unhelpful to me. I've been quite happy with my smartphone recently, it has all I need when it comes to scheduling events and jotting down important tasks. But then I read comments on that post and my attention caught bullet journaling mentioned in one of them. Thank you so much Michelle for sharing that inspiration.

I hadn't heard of bullet journaling before and it made me curious to find out what it refers to. To my big surprise I discovered a whole world of creativity and organization that left me speechless and feeling it's something I'd love to try. I started to gather ideas how to possibly apply that system to my needs and read several interesting articles that helped me to decide. 

When I was talking excitedly to my husband about my being intrigued by the system, he was listening to me patiently but I know that he thought I was going to start another thing I wouldn't be able to keep up with and would feel stressed about. Nonetheless, when he finally saw the system in my use, he admitted that it really seems efficient and working for me. Not for him, he added, but he surprised me a few days later when he started to apply some of the principles to his own diary. 

The idea of bullet journaling is based on the fact that you take a notebook (any notebook you wish) and a pen and create your diary along the way, adding as much or as little information and embellishment as you wish. No strictly prescribed columns and boxes, you are the one who controls the space. I love the non-digital nature of the system and its flexibility and the fact that everybody can make it as simple or as complex as they want or need.

If you google bullet journaling, you will get plenty of images and articles showing the possibilities. The thing is though that the amount of ideas and layouts one can find on the Internet is quite overwhelming and can mislead an inexperienced user so I decided to start with the basic layouts tweaked just a bit based on a few practical ideas I saw and liked. I love many of those elaborate journals people create but I know that for me it would truly be just the beginning of something I wouldn't be able to keep up with.

You need to choose which notebook you want to start with and there is rich discussion among bullet journaling users about which is the best. I decided to start with the recommended Leuchtturm1917 notebook in its dotted version which I fell in love with. Would you believe that on this occasion I've seen a dotted notebook for the first time? We have notebooks with blank pages, squares or lines of various width, but no dots at all. That was my first problem, how to get it? Amazon and other foreign e-shops were way too expensive for me in this case but eventually I discovered that Leuchtturm is represented in Prague and Brno and I managed to order the notebook for an acceptable price there.

Now I'll show you briefly the system I've had in place, I've been using it for about a month. It's not embellished much, but it doesn't need to be. It's practical and keeps me on track. Most of it is written in my native Czech language and I hid some of my records from privacy reasons but you will get the idea. Click on the following captures to enlarge them and see them better in higher resolution.

Index is a list of pages and its contents at the beginning of the notebook intended to let you find quickly where your logs (daily/weekly/monthly records) and collections (pages gathering ideas, projects, drawings, quotes,…) live. I also use the two bookmarkers present in the notebook - one for the current week and one for the current day, and colour labels. This is the only table the Leuchtturm1917 notebook offers and I'd actually be happier if it wasn't there as the first column is too narrow. But I can live with that.

Page 1. A year at a glance
Although my handwriting is not perfect, I love the hand-written look of the year. The red circles show public holidays in the Czech Republic. 

Pages 2 - 5. Future log 
Future log is intended for writing events and tasks scheduled in future, you can see that I still have none for the other half of the year. There are several ways of arranging the future log, I started with this original one. I think the size is big enough, if not, I can make amendments, adjust the system and change it next year. I saw the flags with months in someone's journal and liked them but they occupy too much precious space here so next time I'll do the description differently.

Page 6. Brief future log for following years
Page 7. A table of birthdays and name days of some family members and friends
Some planning reaches far forward and I find it useful to add that little outlook on the following years. As for the birthdays and name days, I have all these data in my mobile where there is more but I wanted to highlight these and pay more attention to them which is why I created this page. I could add the data to the future log but in this way I can copy them more easily next year. 

Pages 8 - 15. Weekly logs
With weekly logs I differ from the original monthly logs, I like this more detailed system much better. I started on 8th February so my first spread starts with the 6th calendar week, 7th, 8th and 9th weeks follow. The last week of February is the first week of March so I decided I will always end the group of weeks with the week where the last day of the particular month is. On the left page of the weekly log, there are two columns for working days and one for both Saturday and Sunday. For working days, I put scheduled events to the left column and other events and tasks for that particular day to the right column. The right page of the weekly log is intended for events, tasks and notes relevant to that particular week regardless of the days.

Page 16. Monthly tracker for February
By means of a tracker you can quickly see how often you fulfil the more or less regular tasks and activities you want to keep your eye on. I love it. In this first tracker I noted down e.g. dates when I published my blog posts, dates when I was practising my photography, dates when I was speaking with my mom on the phone, and for March I added a few more. Whether I slept enough (because I tend to go to bed too late and then I'm tired in the morning), whether I ate any fresh vegetables or fruit (as I've been eating them quite rarely lately), whether I did any sport activities (as I definitely need doing something)... I don't understand this tracking as cracking a whip over my head, I just like the visual value it has. At a glance you see what you need to know.

Pages 17 – 23. Daily logs from 8th February to 6th March
Every evening I sit down for a while, evaluate what's done that day and jot down tasks and events for next day. During the day I add notes and/or other tasks and events. 

On 29th February I drew next set of weekly logs for March which are 10th – 13th calendar weeks (pages 24 – 31), added a monthly tracker for March (page 32) and added my first collection which is a page where I want to track my weight in March and April (page 33).

I'd like to lose some weight but I haven't planned any specific goals yet, I just want to track how it goes. Hopefully facing these data day by day will strengthen my determination and will help me to make an effort. On next page, daily logs continue.

To tell you in a nutshell how it all works together, let's say that if I arrange an event or get a task today that is to be fulfilled this month, I write it down to the relevant week (either on its left or right page based on how date specific it is) and then when planning the particular day I transport the data to its daily log. If I arrange an event or get a task today that is to be fulfilled next month or any of the following months, I write it down to the future log. At the end of a month I create weekly logs for the following month and transport there all my notes from future log in that particular month and from the table with birthdays. I don't use future log for that new month any more, it all lives in the weekly and daily logs then. At the end of a week I evaluate all tasks and events in the particular weekly log so that none stays "open", the unfulfilled ones are either migrated or cancelled. Daily logs I evaluate daily.

I use the following simple set of symbols to see the status of the tasks, events and notes:

As I've mentioned before, my journal is quite simple, but one can add as many collections as they want – thoughts, quotes, ideas, drawings, projects, records of phone calls, trips, whatever comes to your mind. 

I'm fully aware of the fact that the system works as long and as well as I'm willing to work with it. As everything, it needs its amount of time and effort. But already after the first month of using it I can see how much it helps me to be more efficient and not to forget the little pieces of information I need or would like to remember. I like working on my laptop and organise many things there but this system makes me more aware of thing I need to get done.

If you're still with me at the end of this quite long post, I hope it's a sign that my experience inspired or addressed you in some way. If you want to know more, I recommend you to read the original rules of the system, you can find them HERE, and I really like Kara's blog that you can find HERE. And of course, you can ask me if anything in my post isn't clear enough or you would like to explain that further.
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