Tag Archives: craft

Recycled Christmas!

29 Nov

The Christmas season is upon us again, and now that decorating time has arrive once more, my thoughts turn to Christmas 2009. My husband and I had just moved into a new house and were rather poor as I had just quit my job, so we decided to dub the celebrations a “recycled Christmas”. I got my hands busy and folded myself what seemed like hundreds of origami stars out of newspaper, then stringing them together to make a long garland. I also publicly embarrassed myself my husband at gatherings with friends by pilfering all used red or silver soda cans from the table and smuggling them home. From those I cut stars which were used to decorate the tree (a similar method can be found here). A tree skeleton (an elm branch, I think!) painted white served as our regal tree that year. It was the best Christmas!
Every year since I have craved another recycled Christmas, but now with the super prevalence of Pinterest and with Little Bug incubating in my tummy (and therefore the need to save the dollars), I feel it is the right time to revive the recycled Christmas! Let’s see what comes out this year.




Life update

5 Aug

Life gets so busy, and I haven’t managed to integrate my writing into it as I’d like… yet. Little Monkey is a whirlwind of activity, and my dishes are left undone for the majority of the day (week?). Yet I’ve got more than 14 projects swimming in my head right now, and each idea never ceases to split and multiply like a healthy amoeba. I never have a shortage of things I want to do!
I’ve managed to begin one or two of my projects, which I had hoped to write about (and I suppose I may still…):
A down light over my dark dining table, made from a hardware work lamp;
A shade for said light;
A bookshelf made from reclaimed wood;
A crochet quilt for Little Monkey…
but I think I must face that some ideas must be sacrificed so that my dishes can remain clean, family remain fed and in clean clothes and just some of my projects will be able to live on and be finished!

Palette planter box

11 Jun

Time has been tight lately, so there’s nothing like a bit of child labour in a kindergarten if you’re going to palm it off as an educational experience. Wink.
You may need to know that I work in a kindergarten (do not rock up at a local kindy and ask if you can use the services of their little workmen) and the kids had a blast.

I started with six old posts, a stack of palettes I had collected from the side of the road and no real carpentry skills except for the ability to make things up and use my imagination.

We began by hammering out the old nails. In our case it wasn’t too hard, but I’ve heard that some palettes are almost impossible to extract nails from. This left us with a good stack of boards. I did all the sawing, but my 3-4 year olds helped me pre-drill little holes (press the trigger on the drill) and then hammer nails into them. What troopers. We put together a whole planter box over the week!

The kind people at Bunnings donated their soil, mulch and seedlings, which we’ll be digging in today. And look what we have!


Illness and a happy garden

19 May

Our whole household has recently been down for the count, brought to our knees by our familiar winter time foe, the cold bug. Last year my small son was generous enough to carry home every stray virus he happened to come across. Unfortunately I thought that we would go unscathed this year, but evidently I was being a little optimistic.
While sickness is highly unpleasant for the regular person, for the tragically creative it seems it can be one of our greatest nemeses. So for me, being too beaten up by the cold to lift a hand to housework, ideas of crafts have been left swimming around in my head like distorted little pond fish. Let’s just say not all of my delusional craft ideas have been feasible, ie. getting root hormone gel on your hands doesn’t mean your index might start to sprout roots and that you can produce a cute little finger garden.
I’ve also taken to reading a LOT of Lucy Maud Montgomery, which is something that can really affect someone’s writing and normal patterns of speech. For reals… as LM Montgomery might not say.

I have been taking time to go out (between chapters in ‘Anne of Avonlea’) and tend to my balcony garden. It’s a nice little “outing”, just far enough outside to shake the feeling that my body may actually be fusing with the walls of my apartment.

My little plants seem to be doing well. Broccoli, carrot, lettuce, garlic and onions are all sprouting. Snow pea seedlings are looking fairly happy, as are the new strawberry plants. One thing that looks decidedly unhappy is the poor tiny little rose bush that I took from my Oma’s garden after she passed. I do not know much about rose bushes and so I hope the thing revives.
But as far as food producing things? They revive me and help me feel that to dream something into being isn’t too much of a hard task.

Monster art

30 Apr

I’ve seen crafters with a sense of humour incorporate a touch of whimsy in their pieces before; I’m thinking Dave Devries’ bizarre if not slightly grotesque artworks with his Monster Engine project.
This repurposing project by Chris McMahon & Thyrza Segal is slightly more lighthearted and a stroke of genius. I’ve always wondered who buys the icky old paintings that hang about in thrift stores. Now I know there’s another life waiting to escape from these apparently dull wall decorations. I’ll keep this in mind next time I feel like incorporating a touch of humour into a room. Inspired!


Life is better with a garden

27 Apr

On April the 7th, a sad thing happened. Our large European family had to say goodbye to our Oma. Having migrated to Australia in the late 50’s, she is a symbol to me of endurance, perseverance and resourcefulness. This woman truly was resourceful. She could probably coax a garden to thrive from the cracks in her pavement. Sometimes she had nothing. Not nothing. Less than nothing, because there were times (with 8 kids and a struggling husband traumatised by life and the war) that she was really hard up. She had her dark phases but still she thrived; she was robust, as put by her GP when at 80 years old she walked the 5 kms into town for a checkup appointment. In her latter years she seemed to bloom into a bright spring flower.

My cousin and I visited her house after the funeral. It was nothing like it had been when she was living there, just an empty shell like her body had become. But we saw evidence of her life that comforted us. Cheerful paintings of the Mediterranean. A ceramic pie dish ready for a pie. Herbs and seeds drying out on the bench for future use. And a prolific garden which she clearly tended with dedication and care, despite being 81 and in need of an oxygen tank (which she called “her little doggie”, as it followed her around everywhere on a lead). Her positivity and warm approach to life regardless of her struggles encourages me to face her departure with thankfulness and a bright heart. We used to joke that the Grim Reaper would never dare knock on her door, as she’d most likely tell him off and reprimand him for having “dirty shoes when I just swept the porch”. Yet she met this Challenge with the same peaceful embrace that she had met many other of life’s challenges. So I am proud to be her kin. I just had to write in that little tribute to my roots before proceeding.

Since Oma’s passing, I have turned into some kind of jam making, olive curing, herb drying, garden dwelling machine. Not machine as in robotic and unfeeling. As in… I just don’t know from where I’ve developed this never ending enthusiasm for homely tasks. Not that I wasn’t this way before, but it now seems all I can do to fight my urge to plant broccoli. The only slight challenge in the face of my desire to grow things (on the cusp of winter of all seasons) is that I live in an apartment. It’s not a huge dilemma, I’ve been growing the odd citrus tree and occasional herb in pots for years. But now that I’m tempted to bury my fingers further in the dirt, I’m flirting with an interesting challenge (one I am sure my Oma would wholeheartedly endorse). How much can I actually grow on my balcony?

It’s a question I asked myself after my husband passed me some inspiration (after seeing the renewal of my enthusiasm) in the form of a segment by Peak Moment. It’s well worth a watch, as the measures this gardener has taken in order to become more self-sufficient is remarkable. While not everyone can implement all of her measures (such as myself, an apartment renter), even adopting some changes would change a person’s lifestyle.

So let’s see! The broccoli, garlic, onions and peas go in this weekend. I’m interested to see how many pots the Body Corporate will let me get away with before they come a-knockin’. Since my curiosity currently stands as a flirt and hasn’t proceeded to become the all out serious deal (which it may yet become), I’m keen to see what will come of my extreme challenge. Either way, there is one truth we could probably all take as a lesson from my Oma. Life is better with a garden.

Or, more philosophically; When you are challenged, hard up, overcome and pressed, secure your roots deep into the ground for nourishment and warmth and turn your leaves to the sun.
Thanks Oma.


Dear Self…

26 Apr

Dear Self,
Sit down and work out some one year business goals to make clear what you hope for the future.
Dear Self… sit down with chocolate and work out business goals. Chocolate and tea. Mmm, choc chip chai flavoured tea. Perhaps with cookie…s. Yes, more than one.
No, Self! Reign it in! You must make time to sit down and do this. You and chocolate. Cream. Dollop. Large flowery tea cup. Tea cakes. Cakes. Ugh.
Dear Self, this is why you currently do not have a one year flan in place. Uh, plan. *sigh*