Too Lazy To….Decipher the Art of Really Looking at a Painting

Art Galleries used to scare me.  There’s something rather other-worldly about stepping into vast silent space, surrounded by somber paintings.  Others seem to hold a secret knowledge and speak a secret language that I don’t understand – they mutter something about why the big toe at the bottom left hand corner of the painting was painted inversely on purpose (and which I completely overlooked!).  If there was ever a time I felt amateurish and inadequate, it would be smack bang in the middle of an art gallery.

However, if you distill everything, looking at paintings is really much easier than we make out.  I love this quote: “…..passion for a particular painting doesn’t always have to be underwritten by a reason.  The painting we would rush to save first from a fire isn’t always the most ‘important’ one.  Like all objects, paintings can carry memories and stories for their owners that no one else could guess at.  Perhaps there’s a painting on your wall that marks a moment, or reminds you of a place, or was given to you by someone who matters.  Perhaps what you love in it is a thread of humour or poetry that would snap.  Either way, when someone asks, ‘Why do you like it?’ every once in a while it seems fair to exercise the fan’s prerogative: ‘I like it just because.’ ” (Paton).

Sometimes we make life too difficult.  We are more concerned about capturing the sunset with our cameras than enjoying the magical twilight between day and night.  We are so concerned with finding the secret meanings behind the painting, rather than how it makes us feel.  Sometimes the answer “just because” is enough.  However, if you want some guidance to enhance your experience of appreciating paintings, here’s a very rough guideline (for the average lazy person):

1. Take your own sweet time- no one’s rushing you.

2.  If something seems a little strange in a painting (proportions, colouring, subject matter etc) – ask yourself why the painter has created it like so!  Is there something they are inviting you to see?

3.  Try and understand the context in which the painting was created – put yourself in the painter’s shoes.  Read the guides if necessary (there’s no shame!).

4.  Imagine who the painting was painted for.

5.  Trust your observations- expand on what you see rather than obsessing over hidden meanings.

If you are interested in learning more, there is no better book on this subject than ‘How to look at a painting’ by Justin Paton (Winner of Montana Book Award for Contemporary Culture).  I love the way it reaches out to the average non-art expert, making the world of Art Galleries accessible to everyone.

Despite being lazy, I am never too lazy to visit an Art Gallery 🙂

Too Lazy To……..Get Out of Bed in the Mornings

I’m a gal who appreciates Winter.   I love being rugged up in thick jackets, pretty mittens, hands thrust in the pockets – breathing in crisp, fresh air.  Add on top of that hot chocolate, winter boots, snowboarding, fireplaces, soups and hot water bottles – what is there not to love about winter?  Well, just one thing……getting up in the mornings.  Now I haven’t quite mastered the art of this one yet (so I’d appreciate any suggestions out there!) but here are some things that have somewhat helped thus far……

1.  Setting my alarm clock for when I need to get up (and not when I wish to get up) to enable maximum snooze time.

2.  Putting the alarm close enough so that I can hear it, but far enough so that I’d have to get up to silence it.  Afterall, getting out of bed is the hardest step.

3.  Sleeping earlier (epic fail at this so far)

4.  Laying out my outfit for the day, the night before.  I know, I know, this is not favoured by those who dress according to their mood.

5.  By far, the most effective of all these strategies is having a dog.  Missie, my precious Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, will start barking at 7:30am in the morning without fail.  She is the cutest thing in the world and also as a bonus- she is the best snooze button out there!  

What do you do to help you get out of bed in the mornings?

Too Lazy To…….Be Healthy (Part 1 Breakfast and Cereals)

It is intuitive to most people why it is desirable to be healthy!  We want to live longer.  We want to have more energy.  We want to look better.  We want to feel good….etc, etc, etc.

However, healthy living is one of the hardest things to stick to as a ‘grown-up’.  Ever noticed how much easier it was as a kid to eat well, sleep on time, and exercise!  One of the main reasons is that there were no other options!  There were only so many sports classes you can skip, and only so many times you can get away with reading in bed past your bedtime before parentals found out.

The key to incorporating healthy living into your routine as an adult is to set half-hearted goals which you complete full-heartedly.  What I mean is that instead of wanting to improve all parts of your life at once, just focus on one part and work incrementally.  The problem with most healthy-living plans is that they require you to live as a ‘perfect person’ for two full weeks up to a month or more.  I don’t know about you, but I usually last about 2 days…. and once I ‘stuff up’ by eating a chocolate bar on the 3rd day, I give up on the whole plan and feel worse than when I started 😦

Healthy living involves both eating well and participating in regular exercise.  If you’re lazy like me, it’s easier to improve on the eating well first.  And if eating well three times a day proves to be too difficult, try focusing on breakfast.

1. Don’t skip breakfast.  (Obvious I know.  Plan it, Eat it)

2. Read the labels on your breakfast cereals.  (It’s scary how much sugar or salt they pack into some of these things!)  Simple guide on how to read labels:

Make comparisons using the per 100g column rather than the per serving size column.

Positives include:  wholegrains, dietary fibres.

Negatives include:  sugar (okay if dried fruit is included), sodium, saturated fat, other additives.

3.  If you are too lazy to read labels, and if you live in Melbourne, try the 100% Australian Muesli (Meet the Maker Gourmet Products) you can get this at Farmer’s markets.  The fruit are dried in orange juice which gives it a real kick!  Definitely one of the yummiest cereals I’ve had (and I’m not usually a fan).  What’s more you are supporting local farmers and contributing to more sustainable living! Image

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Too lazy to……Sort out my Snail-mail

One noticeable  change in my life between my tween years to my twenties is my attitude towards snail-mail.

During my tween years, I loved getting mail because it meant, ‘brown paper packages tied up with strings.’  (Please no one make snide remarks about a great classic)  Usually, it involved a card, a present – or even both.  To a child, this meant personal attention and I reveled in it!

Once I hit my twenties however, snail-mail automatically became associated with invoices, parking fines, or unwanted advertising material (compounded by the phenomenon that no one seems to send things in the mail anymore – aside from the occasional wedding invite, thank you and Christmas cards.  Sad story indeed.)  As there is no incentive whatsoever to open my mail (you can guess the content from the none-too-well-disguised envelopes) I  began to encounter real problems for my lazy self – such as forgetting to pay invoices, losing invoices and worse still…..not opening letters of love declarations until years later (just kidding).  Here are the lazy person’s step for dealing with your mail!

1) Realise that this is a must-do job (there are real consequences if you don’t, eg. fines) and not an optional job (ordering your books in height order might be aesthetically pleasing but there are no real consequences if you don’t).

2) Designate a place where you will put all your mail after you collect them from the mailbox, but don’t open them right away unless it looks urgent.  I use a pretty vintage-styled  mailbox.…but  a basket, a shoebox or any container will do.  Now, I choose to free myself from the need to open my mail right away.  Giving myself permission to not open my mail, is the only way to ensure that I will actually put away my mail.  Afterall, how hard is it to take the mail from the postbox and put it in the correct place, provided you don’t have to read it?

3)  Designate half an hour a week to sort out your mail.  I do this on a Saturday afternoon over a cup of tea (incentive).  Each time you open an envelope, you have to follow-through with whatever action the correspondence requires.  Do not put it aside.  If it’s an invoice, pay it.  If it’s a survey, complete it.  You get the gist.

4)  File away.  I use a pretty folder with tabs.  The moral of the story is : keep.  Be a hoarder.   Trust me, you will need it in the future!  If you don’t have it, murphy’s law will apply.

Tadaa – good luck!

PS I wish I got paid for product placements, but I don’t.  The mentioned items are simply things that I enjoy, and I hope you do too!

Photo Credit: Kikki K

Too lazy to…….make a Midnight Snack

Picture this.  You come from a household which upholds the tradition of eating dinner at an unearthly hour (read 5:30pm) for no rhyme or reason.  It is now 7:00pm (the normal hour by which the rest of the population has dinner) and you are starving.  You manage to entertain yourself on you-tube or by watching the latest episode of Big Bang Theory, to take your mind off the hunger.  By 10:30pm this strategy is no longer viable.  You need to eat – before you become grouchy and offend.  It is now too late (read too lazy) to drive or venture beyond your house to get food.  What are your options?

This will depend on how you score on the laziness sale.

1) If you are only a little lazy, try making a 5 minute chocolate mud cake.  I kid you not, the title is not exaggerated.  This is the most dangerous recipe known to me (mankind).

Ingredients

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug

Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.  Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.  Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.  Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high).  The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed!  Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.

EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

2) If you are very lazy, I suggest a Milo Covered Banana.

Peel the banana, and slice pieces into a plastic cup with lid  (the smaller the pieces, the more chocolate covered pieces you’ll get) – common sense really.  Scoop in milo (lots and lots of it)  Close the lid and shake (it is important that your lid is on securely).

3)  If you’re uber lazy, eat a hard-boiled egg.

Boil water in saucepan.  Once water comes to boil, put (not drop) in egg.  Wait for 3-4 minutes.  Turn off heat, drain the water and serve.

4)  If you’re any lazier than this, I cannot assist – best to eat dinner at a later hour.