Friday, 17 December 2021

Cost effective storage solution #1: Oil pastels and Gelatos

 One thing I love about my journey as an artist is experimenting with new materials. Good quality art materials are expensive, so I usually start with a small set and then expand if I like the medium. This means that keeping the materials in their original packaging becomes a pain.

Every time I am in the mood to play with the medium, I have to take them out, “unbox” them, sort the colours, and only then will they be ready to play with. Trust me by this time, I am either bored, frustrated, or found something else to draw or paint with instead.

I am also of the opinion that I would rather spend my money on the materials, and not the means to store them to make it more easily accessible.

So finding a supplier (actually the manufacturer) of these wooden boxes made my life much easier.

I didn't buy all the boxes at the same time, so I can safely say that their quality is consistent and that is good thing of you need to expand your storage space.

Wooden box with Faber-Castell Gelatos
Wooden box with Faber-Castell Gelatos
As you can see my Faber-Castell Gelatos found a prefect home outside their original packaging. I have two of these boxes for my Gelatos. Since each box is sub-divided into four sections, it works well for storing the colours. You can comfortably fit 12 Gelato sticks in each section (3 layers of 4).

I sort my colours into 8 groups: 1) blue, 2) green, 3) yellow, 4) orange, 5) red and pink, 6) purple, 7) brown, and 8) the neutrals (white, grey, black), so two boxes do the job.

Wooden box with oil pastels
Wooden box with oil pastels from 3 brands

Since the oil pastels are a bit shorter than the Gelatos, they fit the box's sections the other way.

A few months after I bought the boxes for the Gelatos, I started an oil pastel project and the struggle happened all over again. This time it was worse because I have many more oil pastel sticks that I had to sort in separate containers before I could work on the painting.

The Gelato boxes were close at hand, and I decided to see if they could also be used for the oil pastels.

To my happy surprise the oil pastels fit perfectly too, so I ordered some more.

I have oil pastels from 3 different brands: Faber-Castell, Mungyo, and Mont Marte. They are all the same length although differ slightly in width.

I used the same colour grouping mentioned above, and could fit 24 oil pastel sticks in each section. (3 layers of 8 sticks)

If you need more space, the dividers inside the boxes can be removed to make halves in either direction.

The boxes are made from MDF, so if you are concerned about water exposure, I suggest that you varnish them inside and out before stocking your materials. They can also be decorated if you prefer a more colourful look to a plain wooden box.

The boxes are available from or directly from the manufacturer's website, - I don't know if they ship internationally, but I suggest you contact them to ask. Right now they are closed for the festive season so no orders will ship until next year.

Keep an eye out for more useful product reviews and suggestions from this supplier in future blog posts.

Friday, 10 December 2021

Book Release Day! 🖤 SARAH KILLIAN: THE MARCHING TIDES by Mark Sheldon 🖤


Book 3 in a trilogy of dark humor novels, this hilarious series follows the bloody journey of Sarah Killian, a strong female…serial killer for hire.

Hi there! Sarah Killian, your friendly neighbourhood serial killer, back again for more bloody, violent fun.

For my final mission, I (begrudgingly) team up with my good for nothing, S.O.B. assassin ex, Jason. Why would I do such a crazy thing? Well, aside from the obvious answer that I am crazy, we are fleeing from the mysterious organization known only as the Marching Tides—a collective hell-bent on bringing down the Trusted Hierarchy of Everyday Murderers (T.H.E.M.) and exposing their shady dealings to the world at large.

As Jason and I try—often unsuccessfully—to stay one step ahead of the Marching Tides and their nefarious associates, we draw ever closer to the shocking truth of who the mastermind behind the Marching Tides really is.

Something tells me I’ll regret learning the answers at the end of my journey.


Excerpt from Chapter 1

My name is Sarah, and I work for a super-secret organization called the Trusted Hierarchy of Everyday Murderers (T.H.E.M.) that employs Professional Serial Killers (P.S.K.’s), and assassins. I hate, hate, hate assassins – so I find it particularly appropriate that their title starts with two asses.

T.H.E.M. is contracted by various entities—a few wealthy private citizens and corporations who can afford us, but most of our work comes from the government. Completely off the books, of course.

Assassins’ work is pretty boring and straightforward, so I won’t waste my time on them. The P.S.K.’s is where T.H.E.M. gets innovative. As a P.S.K., when on a project I get sent to a location, usually for several months—if not years—at a time, where I integrate myself into the community under a pseudonymous ‘Dupe’ personality. My Dupe personality is the everyday person who just goes to work and lives their life and is my cover for being in the area of the murders.

Meanwhile, I also have to create the persona of the killer—the ‘Herring.’ The Herring for each project has to have a unique M.O. and set of characteristics that distinguish itself from other projects I may have worked on, to avoid anyone being able to connect the dots from one project to another. I also have to make sure no one connects the dots between my Dupe personality and my Herring personality.

Fortunately, seeing as I mentioned the government is one of our biggest contractors, we have a certain amount of immunity from the F.B.I., but there are enough Private Dicks in the world that it’s not a bad idea to take the extra precaution.

As you can imagine, the fact that many serial killers suffer from multiple personality disorders lends itself well to developing these dual personas when on a project.


Mark Sheldon is the author of The Noricin Chronicles and the Sarah Killian: The Joy of Killing series. He lives in Southern California with his wife Betsy.

Follow Mark on FACEBOOK and AMAZON

Monday, 29 November 2021

Celebrating my birthday with a discount 😂

💜 🖤 Celebrate my birthday with me this week. 🖤 💜

Get 53% off for two of my ebooks.
Yup, my age is the discount!
🤣 🤣

Links to the right --->

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Book feature: DAWN'S DESIRE by Shilpa Suraj

One night of passion, a stolen moment of joy and six years of pain...

Rishi Khatri cannot forget the beautiful woman who swept into his life for one incredible night and then disappeared...with the contents of his wallet and large chunks of his heart.
Until the day, he meets Sehar again and he realises that he cannot forgive her. For, Rishi has made a cardinal mistake. He's fallen in love with his one night stand.
Sehar Mirza's one night of rebellion destroyed any chance of a normal future. But her heart cannot regret her choice. For in that one night, she laughed, she loved and she lost. She lived an entire lifetime.
When their paths cross again, Sehar and Rishi find their feelings for each other haven't dimmed. All they want in life is another chance, a second chance.
But Sehar has a secret. One that will destroy their tentative happiness.
Can they learn to look beyond their past mistakes and hope for a shared future? Can Rishi forgive a betrayal so large that it leaves his already battered heart in pieces at Sehar's feet? Can love win? Or will loss claim their destiny for its own again?

Book Links:

Read an Excerpt from Dawn's Desire

His home looked exactly as I’d expected it to. Meticulously curated, tastefully furnished and anally maintained. 

“You live alone?” I asked, as he handed me fresh towels and herded me towards the guest bedroom.

“Did you think I had a secret wife stashed away in my cupboard or something?” 

I shrugged. “Stranger things have happened.” 

He came to an abrupt halt in front of me. “Really? Like what?”

I gave him what I hoped was an enigmatic smile but what was, in reality, probably more constipated. 

With one last weirded-out look, he pushed the door of a room open and stepped back. “This is the guest bedroom. It has an attached toilet. If you need anything, let me know.” 

With that, he was gone before I could thank him or say any of the hundred other things bubbling through me. I dropped the duffel bag I’d carried along on the beautifully made bed and took in my surroundings. 

The entire room was done in shades of pastel green and cream and had a soothing effect on my otherwise frazzled nerves. My finger trailed over a summery yellow porcelain bowl on the bedside table with potpourri in it. 

Who kept his home so immaculate for him? Jealousy speared through me as I took in the many feminine touches to the room. I shook it off and marched into the bathroom to wash the day’s dirt and grief off of me. 

The hot spray of water from the shower boiled my skin and cleansed my soul. I took a deep breath as I wrapped my hair in a towel, changed into a comfortable pair of shorts and a t-shirt and followed my nose to the drawing room. 

Rishi held out a bowl of steaming hot deliciousness. “Chicken Pad Thai okay?” he asked. 

I nodded, taking the bowl from him. “Thank you.” 

He gave me a brief smile before picking up his own bowl and digging in. He had a copy of the latest book by Lee Child beside him.

“How are you enjoying that?” I asked, pointing with my fork to the book. 

He moved his hand in a so-so gesture saying, “Not sure if it is the book or my mood though.”

I bit my tongue. I really did. But it wagged anyway. 

“Is there something wrong with your mood?” I asked. 

His fork froze on the way to his mouth. “Nothing that concerns you,” he answered, quietly. 

It stung but I forced myself to look serene as I dug into my dinner. 

“You haven’t asked me yet,” I pushed my food around. “Why my parents threw me out of the house? Don’t you want to know?” 

“I haven’t asked you about many things, Sehar.” He reached casually for the television remote and turned it on. “Why would I start now?” 

This time it hurt to breathe. I sucked in a harsh gasp but it did nothing but burn its way through me. 

“I tried to explain my behaviour that night to you in Goa.” 

“And I told you I wasn’t interested in your explanation.” He kept his gaze on the television even as he increased the volume to drown me out. 

“Rishi, I never meant to-“ 

The television clicked off, the silence that fell in the room as abrupt as it was complete. 

He turned towards me, finally, fury burning in his gaze, his knuckles turning white from his grip on his bowl. 

“Is it so hard for you to understand that I am not interested in discussing that night with you? Ever? You lied to me, you slept with me, you used me and you stole from me…whatever your so-called justifications are, Sehar…I don’t care!” 

My throat locked, my apology crumbling and dying inside me. 

“Are we clear?” he asked, softly. 

“Crystal,” I forced out. 

“Good.” He turned the television on again, letting the sound wash over us. 

Silently, I ate every last bite in my bowl before walking to the kitchen to wash and stack it on the drying tray. 

I stopped at the entrance to the living room and watched him eat and stare at the television as if my presence in his home made no difference to him. 

We both knew better. We were both experts at pretending differently though. 

“I’ll be gone in the morning,” I told the back of his head. 

“You always are.” He increased the volume again until I thought the windows would shatter. 

Or maybe I would. 

About the Author:

Shilpa Suraj wears many hats - corporate drone, homemaker, mother to a fabulous toddler and author.

An avid reader with an overactive imagination, Shilpa has weaved stories in her head since she was a child. Her previous stints at Google, in an ad agency and as an entrepreneur provide colour to her present day stories, both fiction and non-fiction.

Contact the Author:
Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Newsletter

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Personal blog: #StoicWeek2021 - Saturday and Sunday

Sunday evening, 20h13, last day of Stoic Week 2021.

I said in my Friday post that I would post yesterday, but I did not. Unlike the previous time I did not post, this time it was a decision not to do so. My Stoic practice was not neglected, but I was working on the project I mentioned before. I decided to rather give it as a birthday gift instead of waiting until Christmas, and needed to work to get it done urgently - her birthday is this coming week. The basic construction of the book is completed - I finished it about two hours ago - but there is still some work to be done before it is ready as a gift.

It also means that I spent most of today working on it. Aside from the time I had to draw today's Inktober prompt (you can see it here) and preparing for the prompt for tomorrow, and a few chores, most of my day was spent on the book. Still no new bone folder, but I managed. It can be frustrating to wait for glue to dry (boring, right?) especially since the deadline moved from weeks to days. Unfortunately, I cannot use a hairdryer like I can for a watercolour painting. Patience is the only option. LOL!

Source: Stoic Week 2021

I have read that some people believe that Stoicism cannot be practiced by creatives because it dampens the creative spirit (it is after all a rational philosophy) but from personal experience I found it to be the opposite. Even though I am not a professional artist or writer (meaning that I don't earn my primary income from the sale of my art or books), Stoicism has also helped me in my creative endeavours.

Here is how it works for me:

1. Self-control: Procrastination is the universal enemy for many creatives, myself included. I have not won this battle (yet), but I find that the discipline of "getting out of bed, and doing my duty" (a creative reference to Marcus Aurelius's Meditations 5.1) is the essence to getting things done. Inspiration is a thing, but the muse works when you do - by showing up and doing the work. (You can learn more about getting things done in this YouTube video. I can definitely recommend the book discussed in the video.)

Practice makes better. I have been writing since 2000, and doing art since 2012 (Stoicism since 2018) and only by showing up and doing the work can you improve.

2. Wisdom: I found it interesting that the VIA Institute questionnaire results indicated that Wisdom is my number one character strength. I wish I could say it came with age, but I know it is not the case: age has very little to do with wisdom. I am far from being wise, but I have learned over the years that learning something from a book, or video, or other means, can only benefit oneself with actual practice. Learn, practice, and adjust where necessary. The same applies for Stoicism and any creative skill: learn a technique, practice it, adjust where you didn't get it right, or go back and study it again. Only with this iterative process can one improve - whether it is learning to draw, write a novel, or become better at being a Stoic.

It is for this reason that the words from Epictetus resonate with me from the moment I read it the first time, to right now when I can see on the wall of my office: First say to yourself what you would be; then do what you have to do. 

Whether I am doing my daily job (business owner, and consulting engineer), studying and practicing Stoicism, being an artist, art teacher, or writer - I have to show up and do the work.

If Stoicism is something that resonates with you, then be patient with yourself. Becoming a better human being is a lifelong endeavour.

A last note from me before I conclude my comments on Stoic Week 2021: I am a Christian (Calvinist) and I practice Stoicism within that belief system.

All the best with your Stoicism study and practice - until next time!

🙋‍♀️💜 Linzé

Friday, 22 October 2021

Personal blog: #StoicWeek2021 - Thursday and Friday

Hello there!

It's Friday! 😂 22 October, 20h45 as I start this post.

Yesterday, Thursday, completely got away from me. I am sure you know exactly what I mean. I only popped out to a shop, to try and buy a bone folder (more on that next), but remained at home for the rest of the day, mostly because I didn't have work to do. It might sound weird because I did mention a nightmarish job list, but it did happen. My work as a safety certification engineer requires that I do tests that can sometimes cause damage to equipment. Since the client indicated that they would repair or replace the equipment for me to continue testing, I had to wait until they did. So I went to the lab today and finished the tests (probably damaging it again) but now it's done and I have the report to finish.

Source: Stoic Week

I mentioned my difficulties in obtaining a bone folder to a colleague, when he looked at me as if I grew a horn from my forehead. LOL! After explaining that it is a tool mostly used in book binding, I told him about the lack of available stock at almost every art/craft shop in my city. I have a bone folder but it is damaged and I have to be careful otherwise it tears the paper I am currently working with. Yup, I am making two books and I worked on them most of the day. I will try another shop next week, but it is a long shot. Online shops have not been helpful either, so the struggle continues.

My husband mentioned a late meeting for Thursday, so our normal dinner time got delayed by almost two hours. At first I didn't mind so much (okay, I did mind a little) until I remembered that I had an art class to present and the late dinner was going to seriously mess with that. I asked my friends if we could cancel, and they graciously agreed. But the late dinner made everything late - specifically the chores required after dinner, and that also included Thursday's blog post that you are reading right now.

Friday: I mentioned self compassion on Twitter an hour or so ago. Since yesterday did not work out as planned, I decided to let it go and to add a few comments here just to catch you up.

Today started perfectly. It rained a little bit. I love the rain, and always feels grateful for the blessing of life falling down to earth. It makes my car dirty, but I don't worry about that. Although those muddy spots might look good on a SUV, it does nothing for my sporty sedan 😜

When I arrived at the lab though, the gratitude attitude evaporated with the noise of jackhammers and a workman-crowded space. Since lockdown began, I have become a bit socially anxious when there are lots of people crowding my space. The lab is a small company and I only share workspace with one person, but all these workmen today made me hide away in the lab for most of the time. My colleague also mentioned that the noise was exceptionally distressing. Both of us are introverts, so the invasion of sound and bodies was not easy.

Getting to the bathroom was a mission and a half: I know I am no skinny runway model, but walking on slippery broken tiles (and breaking more with each step), wearing hearing protection I have to mention, was definitely a first for me. 😆

Oh, the reason for the noise and workmen: they are busy re-tiling the whole building. Apparently they will finish tomorrow, so I am praying that our workspace will be its normal peaceful self on Monday.

Source: Stoic Week
How did being a Stoicism practitioner help me today (and yesterday)?

I mentioned self compassion (a timeous article linked here if you want learn more) and it reminded me of our theme this Stoic Week - wellness. In all the situations I found myself in during the past two days, I reminded myself about the value of staying calm and letting go of things that I have no control over.

Of course, I could have avoided the noise and the crowd of workmen by simply getting into my car and going home, but then I would have not finished the job I committed myself to do this week. Because of the required repairs my planning did slip two days, but finishing a job is important because I said I would finish it this week - and doing the work is within my control.

Once I came home today, I worked on the books again, instead of working on the report. I also did my Inktober drawing for today's prompt. It was my way of taking a few hours to relax and clear my mind of the day's stress. I will do the report over the weekend, but for now my mind is calm and I can plan my weekend activities with clarity.

Today we look at our world from above, and with that mindset I think I can say that it would be good to put today and yesterday behind me to look toward tomorrow with a fresh outlook on everything I need and want to do.

Have a wonderful weekend, and I will chat to you again tomorrow.

🙋‍♀️💜 Linzé

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Personal blog: #StoicWeek2021 - Wednesday

Hello there! I thought to share this morning's study quote with you because it spoke to me.

Whatever happens to you, remember to look inside yourself and see what capacity you have to enable you to deal with it. If you catch sight of a beautiful boy or girl, you’ll find that you have self-control to deal with that; if hard work lies in store for you, you’ll find endurance, if you are insulted you’ll find patience. If you get in the habit of responding this way, you won’t get swept away by your impressions of things.

Epictetus, Handbook 10

Wednesday, 20 October, 18h59

Spend most of my day doing tests at the lab then had to tell the client that I broke the equipment and need some more samples to finish the tests. Yeah, he was not exactly impressed 🤦🏼‍♀️ LOL! Unfortunately, damage to the test samples as a result of the tests is just par for the course.

Source: StoicWeek

For today we are reminding ourselves of the four Stoic virtues: wisdom, justice, courage, and self-control. Part of our early morning "homework" included a link to a website where you can do a survey to tell you what your Stoic strengths are. Intrigued I did the questionnaire and it told me my number one strength was wisdom. Hmm, not sure how that happened.

I am working on a project to give as a Christmas gift, so not going say any more for now. But also have to do prep for tomorrow evening's art class and plan my day for tomorrow. Still have to do my evening meditation and journal for today, so will not keep you much longer.

In short:

My Stoic practice came in handy (of sorts) when I approached the bridge over the highway this morning where I had to take the off-ramp. While on the bridge (waiting for the traffic light) I spotted the traffic to the left of me standing still. Yeah, my first thought was this was going to be a long one. I then cranked my neck to look at the other side, a touch more difficult since the highway is downhill to my right. The cars were moving, so the logical deduction would be that the problem was underneath the bridge. And that should not be a problem for us getting onto highway driving North.

Yeah, you would think. When we descended down the offramp, all the drivers in front of me (yes, every single one) had to brake to see what was going on. To me that has to be the most illogical and irrational thing to do - unless of course you could be of service. But the ambulances and the police and everyone else were already on-site, so there was nothing to be done, except drive and get our little butts out of the way. But no. My dad always said that people want to see blood. Still makes no sense if you ask me. So I got my butt moving, and out of the way of the traffic that had to negotiate the accident.

Wisdom? Don't know, but definitely something about human behaviour that continues to boggle this engineering brain to this day.

Until tomorrow!

🙋‍♀️💜 Linzé

Cost effective storage solution #1: Oil pastels and Gelatos

 One thing I love about my journey as an artist is experimenting with new materials. Good quality art materials are expensive, so I usually ...