Young, Beautiful Avatars & Other Discoveries of My Week

Can I tell you about my week in only a few minutes? I shall try!

Why am I in such a hurry? I’m eager to get back to the editing of my latest children’s novel. The end is in sight. I have almost completed The Angels of Gum Tree Road!

Talking of gum trees, Sophie and I took a few walks through our beautiful Australian bush this week. With cameras in hand, we went in search of suitable twigs to make Thomas Bear labels. 


I’ve decided to send some of Thomas’ bears off to new homes. Before they leave, I want to attach a label to each one, bearing its bear name, together with Thomas’ name and birthday. All my homemade ribbon and tape labels were miserable failures, so I sent out a call for help on my Facebook page, and received some great ideas.

One friend suggested I use a scrap of wood as a label. This made me think of twigs. I’m going to try sanding back a piece of gum tree twig and then writing the words upon it. I might even experiment with some varnish. If I tie the twig to some jute or other string, I can put it around the bear’s neck. What do you think? Will this work? I’ll try it out and then post some photos if I’m successful. I rather like the idea of sending a bear off overseas, accompanied by a little piece of our native Australian bush.

Of course, not all Thomas’ bear labels have to be the same. I might make some of Patchwork Pottery’s labels which look like custom labels, but are in fact homemade.

Or I could use a pigma pen to write on fabric.

Two lucky bears will be getting fabric labels made by Chris’ son. (Chris is from the blog Campfires and Cleats.) I was so touched by his offer to help me. These will be very special labels indeed, made by an expert young sewer. 

Thinking of Thomas makes me think of Lucinda. Dear Lucinda read my story, An Exquisite Gown of Love on Restless Press, and then decided to donate her wedding dress to Angel Gowns. It will be made into very special burial gowns for babies and young children who have died far too soon. Isn’t that a huge act of love? You could hop over to Lucinda’s blog, Navigating by Joy and read her post, Why I’m writing about wedding dresses on Mother’s Day.

I also want to send you off to read another of my friend’s posts. Kelly wrote Are They Doing Enough? Do you ever get a panicky feeling, wondering if your kids are doing ‘enough’? Kelly has a suggestion for any homeschooling mothers who might be feeling inadequate. 

Sophie has a big smile on her face at the moment. We were able to buy Photoshop Elements 13 and Premiere Elements 13 for her, at a student’s price. She’s busy learning how to use the new software (and teaching me at the same time.) Sophie’s discovery of the week was lots of free Photoshop Actions. We’ve been having fun applying different affects to our photos.

Charlotte wants to improve her digital drawing skills. She loves concept art and illustration and so I’ve been looking for an online course in this area. I discovered The Magic Box, put together by Disney character designer, Chris Oatley. Charlotte is eager to sign up and try out the lessons.

Flannel flowers

Yesterday I spent some time experimenting with Voki:

Voki is a FREE service that lets you create customized speaking characters.

My school teacher husband Andy uses Voki as a teaching tool. Of course, when I saw the software I couldn’t resist the temptation to sign up for a free account and try it out too!

It didn’t take me long to make a couple of Vokis. There weren’t any avatars of ageing unschooling mothers with fading red hair, so I had no choice but to be young and beautiful. (I suppose I could have been a cat or dog or an oddball instead.)

I put together a little speech (lasting only a few seconds) and then tried the text-to-speech option, choosing an Australian accent for my avatar. Although I tried tweaking my spelling, she just couldn’t say ‘homeschooling’.

Then I made another avatar, and uploaded a file of my own voice. I think this worked better.

How could we use Voki? Well, I wouldn’t use it in the same way as Andy, but maybe children (and mothers) could have fun messing about with the avatars in their own way.

You can share your Voki avatars by embedding links in web pages, or by providing a link to the Voki website. But I made videos of mine, using the Snagit screen capture software. There’s a 15 day free trial if you’d like to try it out.

Well, that’s a a few of this week’s discoveries. It’s now time to publish my post and then do some editing of my novel!

Enjoy the weekend!

You can also find me on…

Facebook, (where I share a lot of discoveries like these ones)



Amazon, and


Thank you for reading my post!

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  1. Reply

    It sounds like ou had a wonderful and productive week. I hope yo're still enjoting clement weahter and good writing speed.

    1. Reply


      I did enjoy my week. Lots of interesting things to do! Our weather has turned cool and wet, so we won't be walking down the bush tracks today. Suddenly it feels like autumn. The editing of my novel is going well. I'm really looking forward to finishing it so I get back to blogging. I have lots of post ideas. I hope they still seem like good ideas when I get around to writing the posts!

  2. Reply

    The avatar with your own voice is very personable. It makes me believe that the avatar is you.

    1. Reply


      Making the avatar was a lot of fun. Maybe I'll make some more. I wonder what character I could be next time. I could be a queen or a cat or even a pumpkin. Thank you for watching my little video!

  3. Sue, How exciting that you have nearly finished your novel. Well done! Thank you for finding time to strew for us lots more unschooling resources and update us on events in the Elvis household, in this post and your most recent podcast.

    I love Photoshop (I have Elements 12). I found The Photoshop Elements 12 Book for Digital Photographers by Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski very useful – it taught me everything I needed to know to get using the software. The only downside is that now the Christmas photo gifts I make for people take me twice as long! (Still, at least I have fun making them.) I see the authors have updated the book for Elements 13, though it looks quite expensive at the moment.

    I love your Voki animations. Cordie and I are going to have a play.

    And thank you so much for linking to my post, you are very sweet!

    1. Reply


      I always get so excited when I discover something new. I love sharing with you!

      I hadn't thought to look for a Photoshop Elements book. I visited Amazon and there are quite a few Kindle Photoshop books which look interesting. Not as good maybe, but much cheaper than a paper copy. We could read the book in colour on our tablets. It's funny how photo editing is getting to be a longer and longer process. I used to be satisfied with the original photos but these days I make some changes and then make a few more… It's good fun though!

      I hope you and Cordie have fun with Voki!

    2. Sue – I read the book I mentioned on my tablet. I love e-books – I can carry around dozens at a time. When I go to the gym I cycle through about 6 different books while I do 30 minutes on the cross-trainer!

    3. Reply


      I love carrying dozens of books around too! I don't have to decide which one book to take with me. I can take them all! You cycle your way through 6 books in 30 minutes of exercise? Oh my! I can't read while exercising but I do listen to podcasts sometimes!

  4. Reply

    Sophie is so beautiful! I love reading your stories and adventures!

    1. Reply


      Your comment made my day (and Sophie's!) Thank you so much for stopping by and saying hello!

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