The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Friday, 31 January 2014

A new month!

A new month isn't quite as exciting as a new year but I still love it. It is a time to look back over January and see everything we achieved so far. And for a little review of how our goals are going. Being only February it is good.... plenty of time to get back on track if we have already wandered off.

I go back to my first pages and look at the goals I set. I see one of them was to improve my fitness and be able to swim 40 laps at the pool and I did that! I have managed 40 laps a few times now and am averaging 110 per week! Others were to lose weight and I lost two kilos so that is ok. But what ever it is a new month is a good time to check your progress and then plan the month.

My gorgeous diary was a great investment. I am using it everyday. Sundays I plan my week. Each week I include something painful! those things that are a huge pain to get around to like the dentist, jobs we put off. This way I get one out of the way a week and thats 52 a year. So I gradually conquer things like air conditioner services, comparing insurance plans and all those things that we put off. I try to do them on Mondays so they are done and dusted.

The beginning of the month also is a good time to look ahead at each event and birthday and get them organised. We have four birthdays and Valentines Day. So that gets me thinking about them. 

Now I haven't always done this. I have always liked writing a diary but I never really used it as organisation or planning or goals. But I suffered depression a few years ago and I learned to keep a gratitude journal and then to plan and organise and celebrate. I can't tell you how much this has helped me and how much more I get done.

My diary came with stickers and labels. I am amazed they even have my name on them. This diary is from Erin Condren and I will be getting another one next year! But really you can use any book as a planner. It's the time you take that makes it work and ends up saving you so much stress, money, sanity but also brings you so much joy. Feeling and being organised is such a huge thing to do towards feeling happy and not stressed.

At the end of each week and each month I add in a little list of all the things I was so grateful for and so happy I got done. Also anything that was special and I want to remember. Then I look at the week, month ahead. 

Sundays I plan the week. Overall it saves me so much time. I often will look and realise that if I combine several things together I can save time, petrol etc so I will group them together and do them all on the same day. Sometimes just planning well ahead for birthdays I save a lot of money. I always over spend if I leave things to the last minute but if I plan ahead most times I have made gifts, written a letter and had time to make it look special. 

There is real satisfaction in settling goals and reaching them. It gives you the confidence to set new goals and take little steps towards them. 

One of my weekly get-it-out-of-the-way things was the doctor and annual unfortunate female tests... I did that a week ago. But I hadn't seen my doctor in a little while. She was really happy that I was fitter, thinner, swimming and my tests were done. I felt great. I knew each one was due to planning and goals. Or truly I would not have lost an ounce, swam 40 laps or exercised at all probably! 

Remarkably small steps get you to amazing places. Like losing 12 kilos in a year is only 250gms a week or so. Really it all breaks down into such small changes. We just forget to do the daily little things and thats how planning helps.

Write it down. Break it down into little bits. Give yourself rewards too. And things go wrong and there are bad days and the wheels fall off. But big deal! Everyone has that. Nelson Mandela had bad days. Martine Luther King had bad days. Their bad days make mine look like a walk in the park. (While I'm not comparing myself to anyone like them!)

My little exercise so far today makes me feel really proud of what we have done so far this year and very grateful. It puts a spring in my step thinking about a new month!

And now to add to the story of Andy ... he has become a virtual celebrity in the nursing home and known now by Wilma and Kath, the two old ladies.... and one particular homeless man, Bruno, remembers Andy from the blessing bag before Christmas. Andy has seen him several times since and always chats to Bruno. So Andy came home to tell me Bruno sends his love. He just loves us apparently. And I think of something to send into Wilma and Kath every week and they are so excited to see him. So I get all these little messages and stories. And I share this because really Andy's morning job could be considered dead boring and badly paid. But instead it is a massive blessing and joy to us and to Wilma, Kath and Bruno as it turns out. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Pure silk.

Silk to me is pearl in fabric form. It has that same luminescence. So beautiful. You have to feel silk to understand and it is nothing like satin or other substitutes.

A silk pillowcase is a beauty treatment in itself. Really. Dermatologists, plastic surgeons, hairdressers and beauty therapists all recommend them. Now we are talking about 100% pure silk. 

There is a brand sold in gift stores that sells gift boxed silk pillowcases for around $100 each. Now you can get online pure mulberry silk pillowcases for around $25 and they are very good. But I will help you make them for a few dollars and besides revolutionising your beauty routine they make gorgeous presents for your girlfriends.

First of all the benefits of silk. When I first learned this, from a beauty therapist, I hoped all this would be true as I rather fancied a beautiful silk pillowcase. Anyway it is all true as I have used them for a few years now.

Ok first of all your hair. In the morning you wake up with far less trashed hair! Your hair looks pretty much like it did when you went to bed rather than a birds nest gone wrong. Obvious bonus and time saver. But more.... because your hair slides over silk it is much more gentle overall. Anyone with hair loss/thinning hair should use a silk pillowcase. 

Now your skin. Have you ever woken up with a crease line on your face making you look like you aged 90 years? This just does not happen. Next many of us use face creams before bed. A cotton pillowcase absorbs your face cream. A silk one will not, your face will absorb it instead. 

Some sleep positions really squash our faces. A silk pillowcase will lessen this effect and we will form less lines and wrinkles from how we sleep.

Many of us have had a child with very fine hair. Fine delicate hair mats and knots like nothing else and we have to patiently and gently de knot it in the mornings which is a real pain. A silk pillowcase will pretty much solve this problem and so many headaches. So this is a lovely gift for a Mum with this problem or for a little girl with long hair.

For anyone with hair extensions this will also help keep them in and make them last.

When making a silk pillowcase allow an extra large turn under section inside it as silk is so slippery that extra amount holds it in place better.  The way to get your hands on beautiful silk very inexpensively is at the op shop. It is there and no one knows. Your best bet is in the scarves department. Most have labels and once you know the feel you are searching for you will find 100% silk scarves for a couple of dollars. The other one is in the lingerie section. I have found wraps and dressing gowns in pure silk and these have a lot of material. The label will confirm if you have pure silk. This is a great way to get a good amount. I have found them in mens dressing gowns also and I walk along the dresses and evening dresses isle too. Like my earlier pillowcases with crochet edging I think it is fine to mix two or three pieces of fabric to make up a pillowcase. This can be very pretty if you end up with a collection and can make things look nice together. Plus with the scarves you tend to get vintage prints some of them are amazing!

I love that this is such a nice thing and has so many benefits. Your pillow is your "home" for eight hours or more a day. It should be beautiful, comfy and feel lovely. While upgrading our mattress is a big expense keeping your pillow just right for you is more affordable and makes a huge difference to your sleep. We all need a new pillow now and then and we need to wash them too and refresh them.

The first time you sleep on your silk pillowcase you will notice so much difference! I hope you love it! 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The softest skin.

Soft dewy looking skin is about the nicest thing I think, beauty and health wise. Maybe next to soft shiny hair! 

I have been lucky enough to try microdermabrasion and some very good scrubs. Oh my goodness they make a difference. To give you an idea for someone who has not been exfoliating well a course of six or so microderm treatments will get you back to fresh lovely skin. It is like a miracle.

My friend Nerilie went for a course after I had been telling her about it. She seemed dubious but anyway I saw her immediately after her first treatment. In her usual cut to the core way she said "OMG my neck is a different colour!" and yep that is about the size of it. And my Mum went and returned bouncing around like a school girl as some age spots and pigmentation she had were gone as is erased and yes in one session she looked so much younger. And she did, it was a remarkable difference.

Over the years skin sort of appears to thicken and darken and in my mind it is no different to buildings in the city... they get dark and dingy and sometime a team come along and pressure clean the whole building and it looks new and fresh and restored. Same thing!

Having felt the results I at least knew what to aim for and not to ever let dryness, flakiness, build up etc sneak up again. Now the next thing is after this your moisturiser just disappears! Have you ever felt moisturiser just sort of sits on the surface? Same with a treatment mask.  Then your makeup goes on so beautifully, smoothly. 

Ok so you can do this at home. For almost free. This is the scrub I use after trying and buying millions that are too coarse and scratchy. 

This is what Lucy has to say about it...

I have always needed to use facial scrubs because my skin seems to get congested easily, and it doesn't help that I love wearing makeup. I used to buy facial scrubs then I thought I was a genius when I started using an exfoliating glove with my everyday cleanser. That was until I was given the honey scrub to try! The granules are finer yet more affective and your skin feels smoother than you've ever felt, truly like a babies bottom! My skins overall appearance is much smoother and brighter and I don't need to exfoliate as regularly. It's all natural and my skin gets less redness using a natural product. My skin is glowing and clearer than ever! I recommend this product to all!

Thanks Lucy. She is one fussy chick with her products and makeup too!

Now this is messy. I use it in the shower or bath. And I use it for everything, legs, arms etc as well.

The recipe:

3/4 fill a jar with dark brown sugar. This is the sugar that is fine and slightly moist... if left it goes hard and lumpy. It is NOT raw sugar. Dark brown sugar is treacle brown, soft and fine. Castor sugar will not do either! 

Pour over this a couple of tablespoons of glycerine. Then fill the rest with runny natural honey. If it is not runny then warm it slightly in the microwave. Once warm and runny pour that over and stir your mix. It will be like lava! It will need a stir now and then.

Ok keep sealed in your jar.

Over time it improves! This also makes a divine lip scrub.

Now if you have not exfoliated much then start gently. For best results lay back and work this into your skin working on one small area at a time. Think of your face as divided by a grid of 1 cm squares and you are working on each square individually for a few seconds each. Then re work congested areas like around your nose, chin etc. This is going to take ten minutes or so. 

Now heres what I do. I have an electric toothbrush with a soft old head. I apply the scrub to my face and extra to the toothbrush. Then I use the electric toothbrush to work every centimetre of my face (sparing around eyes as they are too delicate) If you try this do a small test area. Also do your lip line and gently do your lips. The head must not be scratchy. Once you have done a test area wait and see how it is. To begin I would moisten my face although now I use this on dry skin and only add water as I am rinsing. Honestly the first time you have to be gentle until you establish what your skin can take and each time up the anti. 

So I will lay there and work over my face and take 10 minutes or so. The honey gives you a boost, it is sensational for your skin. Then I wash my hair as I said this can be messy and this way I just don't care. But this is the closest thing to microderm I have ever found and I don't think I would ever pay for microderm again.

After apply moisturiser or a mask. And if that soaks in re apply. And if that soaks in re apply! You are aiming for soft and dewy. If you have dry dry skin use Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. It is not really just hand cream. It is clear and thick. I got this tip from a vogue magazine! I used to moisturise then feel dry again in half an hour. I would add more in the night, I would still be dry in the morning. I tried everything. I did not know what properly moisturised skin was yet I tried every brand for dry skin. This stuff is about $8 and at last, I apply and in the morning my skin is soft and moist! The first time I reapplied about six times! it just kept soaking in.

Now the thing is exfoliated skin is truly like baby skin. You must not get it in the sun. It will burn, freckle and be damaged. You must wear sunscreen and hats and stay out of harsh sun.

If you feel like you have new skin wait until after about 6 weeks of this. It can be like a miracle. I do this at least weekly but twice a week is good. But we all have different skin which is why try gently, build up and see how you go. When you apply makeup it will feel amazing. You won't be able to believe how your skin feels.

I hope this works for you and you love it and it saves you a few thousand dollars! 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Baby blue softness.

Colour is such an amazing thing. These jars I have decorated for Chloe's kitchen, now palest blue, look so sweet and soft! Yet before they were just ugly jars really. That's the power of paint. Really transforming. Also uniforming. A mismatched set of anything even furniture will come together with paint.

Chloe loves soft pale colours especially blue and aqua. And hydrangeas! So hopefully I am set!

I have one large hydrangea transfer left from this set so I am hoping to find a white tin or even a box to use that one. Then I will have used every transfer in the set. 

I can never buy paints in the soft colours I want or at least not in the tiny quantities I am using. Mixing up your own shade is really easy. I just add a few drops of blue to a jar of white and keep going until it is JUST blue (or whatever I am making) and that is how I get the soft colour. I used to sell vintage goods to a beautiful shop called April Love. One great seller was vintage dressing tables. I would paint them the palest pink shade that I mixed myself. Eventually there were people who asked for this colour and it became known as "Annabel Pink" I thought to have a pink named after me the best most exciting thing ever! 

A set of jars or canisters for someone as a gift would be lovely. There are a lot of girls who love strawberries or cherries... but any motif that is a favourite would make such a personalised gift. You could paint little pots or tins this way for desk organisers also.

I have seen tins painted in this way. Painting over biscuit, lolly tins or formula tins in your colour. Truly a whole heap of food storage looking pretty is so easy and inexpensive. I am working towards my new pantry so I am still painting! Between painting I am culling and cleaning. An organised kitchen is my dream. While my current kitchen is semi falling apart I am guilty of somehow letting all kinds of things sneak in there that really do not have to be in a kitchen! Removing every item that can be somewhere else, removing things I just never use, excess things I do not need.... each step is getting me there. The kitchen challenge on A Bowl Full of Lemons blog is just wonderful and helpful. When I am stuck I go along with her challenges and they really transform your space. So I am inching towards a wonderful kitchen!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Soak away your cares, aches, pains and toxins!

Bathing is such an old ritual. I love my bath. I couldn't live with out it! Now I know many people now do not have a bath as houses are even being built without them. And the more this happens the more people are going to spas and health retreats to bathe. 

Obviously you can be clean showering. But the soaking effect of a warm bath that opens your pores and soaks you is entirely different. Your skin is your biggest organ and a main way your body gets rid of toxins. Almost all health retreats and spas feature bathing. It is also soothing. A soak can be so relaxing. The warmth can ease so many pains. 

Happily the ingredients used by the worlds best spas are available and inexpensive. I recently read Dr. Oz's detox and he includes this treatment as part of the detox. It is used also in weight loss where people are detoxing and drinking lots of water to flush out their systems and cleanse.

You just need a box of epsom salts which is usually around $5 at the supermarket or chemist and this will give you two detox soaks. Allow yourself plenty of time and run a warm bath and about two cups of epsom salts. Soak and relax. If you like you can rinse in the shower afterwards. 

the only thing better is a spa bath. For anyone who has not bathed for a while if you do a spa bath and or detox you will be utterly amazed at the state of the bath after you get out. Like where did all this gunk and skin cells come from! (eww) Well that is just natural and good! Next day if you do it again it will be much cleaner afterwards. Doing this once kind of proves its benefits right there! 

Nana B loved baths and I think they helped her live such a long healthy life. I truly do. I must have inherited her love of them but also the belief in their health benefits.

 A soak and relax in the bath before bed sets you up for the most glorious sleep. This kind of 
relaxation is one of the best things you can do for yourself. People are so rushed and stressed. We need quiet and we need calm. 

Making the bathroom calming, soft lighting or a candle and away you go! Now if you don't have a bath when you go away on holidays or to somewhere with a bath or spa take your detox kit and make the absolute most of it. You will feel like a new person!

The second one is Lectric Soda Crystals. Sports physicians use these as a soak for aching muscles and they really work. It is also inexpensive and you get them at the supermarket in the cleaning isle! They refresh and relax and feel amazing. Your skin feels beautiful! 

Both of these treatments are soaks. You need to allow at least ten minutes and the longer the better. There are days that after doing this I can fall into bed and just melt to sleep and feel so good. I can see why people pay plenty of money to experience this in a spa but we can do it easily for ourselves. Really so basic and yet many people have not had this kind of relaxation for ages, let alone daily. In a world of rush rush rush our bathing and bedtime routines are just vital. So many people, even children, live on a small amount of sleep. Always tired and always stressed. This shows in how you feel and on your face. No amount of moisturiser or makeup makes up for too little sleep. Some of the best beauty tips are very basic. Drink plenty of water, sleep plenty, eat well, soak often and relax and nurture yourself. We do so much for others but we have to look after ourselves. Add a little bit of nurturing to your day. Everyday!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The pretty pantry.

I have collected glass jars for a long time. I love the really old ones with a greenish blue tinge to the glass and if you look carefully there are little bubbles in the thick part of the glass. Love!

We are doing up our kitchen and my big thing is to make a pantry which I haven't really had in this house. I will be able to display my jars! 

So just now I am repainting some of the lids and adding new jars into the collection.

Once I went to a party selling pantry storage and it cost hundreds to deck out and organise your pantry. And in plastic that now a few years later would not even be considered food safe. I'm so glad I thought badly of plastic as food storage then. Nan always made biscuits for us. She always gave them in a big jar or a tin and they always were so fresh and crisp. But once I stored them in a plastic container and they went ick and soft and tasted weird. So I stopped using plastic and since most plastics have been proven to get into your body and be a health problem!

So my good old jars are appreciated even more than ever. I just love them. The most I have ever paid is a few dollars but most have been 20c or 50c. I have giant ones for flour, sugar, pasta, rice etc down to tiny ones for spices. 

These jars had really ugly lids so I tackled these last night with some very pale pink paint. I put a few drops of red into left over white paint....

They dried over night and this morning I added my transfers. I get these from Arwen Moore Design Studio. I had trouble once but in the US transfers are water slide decals. Once you know this you have a huge choice! But I love Arwen Moore the best as my supplier. They also sell on etsy. 

I use a little clear varnish under and over them. This just makes them so much tougher. 

I am about to do a set of eight in palest blue with hydrangeas for Chloe's kitchen. Hydrangeas are her favourite flower. And pale blue is her kitchen colour. I think they will be so sweet.

While the kitchen is happening I am repainting all my jar lids and adding little roses. I can't wait to have them on shelves where I can see them and reach them easily. A well stocked pantry and things where you can see what you have is another whole subject. I love pantries! But building up a great storage system is so inexpensive and fun to collect too.

Once in an op shop I found a little jar with a pink lid and a tiny rose on top. It was obviously very old and hand painted. This made me think of the lady who had decorated it and her kitchen. That is when I started doing the same. Ladies also painted tins and decorated them for their storage. Remember baby formula tins being turned into canisters? I think women have always tried to make things lovely from what they had. My Mum used to cut pretty pictures from magazines and cover boxes with them. I think that was my first craft when I was little! These simple little things are just so lovely! 

Our holiday Monday is very relaxing. I hope everyone has a little rest and enjoys their day off.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Beautiful Day.

Yesterday we had Lucy's "hens party" and it was a beautiful day! We met at Chloe's and all hopped on a little bus and were taken to a beautiful winery/restaurant in the Adelaide Hills with the most beautiful view and surroundings. The day was just perfect, mild and sunny. I kept thinking if only the wedding day could be so perfect! 
We had a long lunch of a million little courses and each thing was exquisite really....  All the girls and the grooms Mum and Sister are lovely and it was lovely to sit and chat with everyone. Then we all headed off again to another winery or chocolate and wine tasting. This was on a hill over looking vineyards and gardens, just lovely. 

On the bus we played silly games and there was a lot of laughter! I made favour bags for everyone. I always think it's nice to have a souvenir from a special day. Well they were a success.

In each I had a little frame, thinking with the wedding coming up everyone could use a frame as a small gift.

The brides favour had an extra little silver frame in it and I decorated it with a wedding cake and wedding dress....

For the grooms Mum I had a groom theme and she really liked it!

Today I'm tired! But it was a beautiful and special day and all the girls were so lovely. Chloe did most of the work to arrange the day and had a little silver crown for the bride to wear which was gorgeous! Everyone dresses up and looked amazing! Days like these are special and I was so grateful it was all so nice. A happy day.

Thursday, 23 January 2014


I have always loved gardens and flowers. I had my first proper garden at my first house when the girls were tiny. 
I always just wanted a cottage garden full of flowers. I managed it too, from a really plain boring garden I added and added until it was a riot of colour. The only way I have any evidence is to show a photo of the girls at that house with the colour in the background....

Well that little one, Lucy, is about 2 there and tomorrow is her Hens Party before her wedding! And Chloe has planned her day which I know is going to be beautiful.

Their little flowers picked from the garden really remind me of how lovely that garden was.

Since then I have had a few homes and repeated the planting until I have lots of flowers. 

Our last garden before this one we got married in. It really was a tiny enclosed yard and the bedroom looked out on to it. We also ate out there most nights. I will always remember this one as special....

This garden is probably the nicest of them all but not at the moment as there is so much damage from the heatwave. I have so much work to do. Some things are very burned and sad. But it looks pretty from the front and unless you come in and look around you wouldn't know how much I have lost.

Out the back we have a lovely eating area. That is number one to me, a place to eat meals outside. At the previous house that was just a tiny little area yet we lived in it. Here we have more space and it is shaded by a big tree. This also happened to protect things from the burning sun last week.

There are lots of areas that need work and even re doing but I am not going to show you those until they are fixed! 

I truly think even a small balcony or courtyard, any little space, can be turned into a lovely spot to sit in the sun, eat a meal, read or have a cup of tea. And that this one thing makes life much nicer. If you don't have a little place and can make one, even if you improvise with a box for a table and a little chair then do it! I remember seeing on TV that in countries with tight space and little sun people know the exact time the sun will hit their yard and will be out there waiting for it so it is not wasted! We take it for granted a little but we have so much of the year that eating outside is lovely. We love long evenings outside. Once it is dark I have solar fairy lights that turn on and everything twinkles. These add so much! They are $15 in Cheap as Chips and are wonderful! I have two sets out the front and two out the back. 

Next week after recovering from this Hens Party (!) I will get stuck into the damaged parts of the garden. Once it is done I'll take some photos of the hidden bits!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Live and breathe pure fresh air.

I have always loved gardens and we use our garden as an outdoor room so much. Bringing some garden inside as well has so many benefits.

Years ago I read a NASA report on house plants. I was surprised NASA would even have a report on house plants! They found that living plants cleanse the air in your home removing toxic chemicals from the atmosphere. They recommend you have at least 4 houseplants that are healthy in your home. They even have a list of the best toxin removing plants. Others also believe that fresh and alive plants improve the mood of a room and bring peace and tranquility. But the health benefits to your family sold me!

Needing some new house plants I was looking in the nursery. I have orchids that are inside when flowering but they are all outside now. So I need to fill those gaps. Plus a few plants have grown so huge they have had to be moved outside! My nursery trip proved most plants are $20 plus and then you need a nice pot. I noticed a single orchid is $50 too and noted to divide mine as some could make 5 or 6 plants! My friend Barb told me how to do this so I will give it a go.

So I am on a challenge to pot up plants for myself and gifts for free. I have some nice pots on hand to use. Once I run out it seems IKEA may be the best place to get extra nice little pots cheaply.  Or if I think of a way to make some I might do that.

Now I know someone with a whole row of Jade Plants.  A website I like has a lovely list of plants and uses that is really good! I loved this article! I know Jade Plants are thought to bring prosperity and good fortune and are expensive. Potted up they often have a red ribbon around them. So a trip to see my friend produced twenty cuttings which grow easily as they are a succulent. Twenty!

In my garden I have spider plants. These are good air purifiers and grow easily from the shoots they send out. They look lovely too. I found 9 suitable to start plants.

At Mum's house she has tiny ground succulents and they multiply like crazy. With a knife I gathered some from crowded spots and got another half dozen little plants.

My uncle has "hens and chickens" and Chloe got a whole boxful from him for her garden. They have taken off and look stunning! My aunty has Agave and already gave me huge ones... a metre wide! I saw one this big for over $200 in a shop! So my garden has several of these in difficult spots and they look amazing! You just cut them off and in they go and they just grow. That easy.

When I prune my hydrangeas in Autumn I am going to strike them in pots. One flowering small hydrangea is $30 in a plastic pot. I should be striking them! 

So from my little haul yesterday I have potted up some and I have lots in water waiting. I think I will attach a tag to the Jade Plants to explain the traditional uses. 

How cute are these? Cost $0. 

Some of the days haul. In one day I have enough for about 30 pots.

Being summer it is probably not the ideal time. I will keep them inside as I have big window areas. When they are in sight too daily watering is easy. These are my baby spider plants!

Watering this morning I spotted a tiny baby ivy coming up.... once you start looking for something you start finding! I also have other plants that should be divided into more. At the farm there would be so many other options as well. 

Where ever you live there will be easy possibilities and with a little forward planning lots of lovely gifts are yours to give.

Another idea would be to take seedlings of herbs and pot them up and grow then for kitchen gifts. They grow really quickly! 

This is really fun and has so much potential! We are surrounded by abundance, sometimes it amazes me!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Flower girls and weddings!

Last night I had all my supplies gathered ready and so I put together the flower girl baskets. I had already sprayed them white so they were ready to go.

Really it was a lovely job and very pretty with ribbons and flowers everywhere!

It seems anything ordered from a florist is hugely expensive. Once again I looked at a bunch of sticks in our local florists when I went past the other day and yep they were $60. This bunch of sticks consisted of 8 sticks. So then you get to stunning blooms, real or silk , and arrangements and construction things just go crazy.

Many things are really easy to do yourself. Florist supplies are available and I have found much cheaper online. There are You tube tutorials and blogs to show you how to do just about everything.

Now these baskets hardly qualify but still they would have been another few hundred to ask the florist to do them. 

I had a test run with one of the flower girls. The idea is the ribbons are as long as possible so they flow in the breeze without hitting the ground so my little model helped me work out how long I could have them. She is so excited! These little girls are so cute and lovely.

The baskets will be filled with rose petals. The girls are taking this like a university degree... the art of delicately sprinkling petals!  I love this, taking ones role so seriously and with such enthusiasm!

My Nan started floral work in her teens. She first made wreaths for funerals and then eventually made flowers up for weddings and shows. She won every ribbon imaginable in the Royal Adelaide Show. She was featured in a book for her floral carpets! A floral carpet is really making a picture or design on a tray all of flowers, greenery and moss. It is like a thick carpet. Hours would go into these creations. Nana was always happy. I now think it was between her flowers and afternoon naps and general attitude on life that made her so content and happy. Immersing yourself in beautiful things is lovely after all.

Lucky I finished this as the tennis came down to a nail biter and thriller and by then I sat back with these complete and loved the brilliance and good sportsmanship I was watching. And just to add to the experience I remembered Nana would stay up all night to watch the tennis as she loved it so much! So there I was being my grandmother all these years later. 
If I needed any more proof that what we do now,  our attitude and our work,  affects not only those around us now but for generations.

Monday, 20 January 2014

A project finished and a sweet thing.

Last night I finished my gift wrapped soaps for the time being. I wanted to make some in blue and it took me a while to gather things. But I love the results!

Helen asked where do I get the pretty buckles? The first ones I used on the pink soaps were from Spotlight. They came in packets of two from the bridal section and were about $1 each. But now I know you can get bulk lots from Ebay or Etsy. Search buckles or "ribbon sliders" and there is a huge choice. They are used a lot of wedding invitations. Now I have seen the choice I am in trouble! 

The larger ones look nice. I would measure my soap and aim for them to be at least 50% of the width of the soap so take measurements when buying online as that can be tricky.

I am so pleased. I did these watching the tennis! Plus it is fun messing with pretty things. And now I have a great supply!

Now I have to tell you about my husband. Regularly he delivers goods to a nursing home and he chats to the residents as he goes in and out. Last week he found out there are two old ladies that never get one visitor. NEVER. And have no families. NO ONE ever comes to see them. So he tells me about this and we are just mortified. So we have made a pact. Every week he will call in on each of them with something, a card, a letter a small gift. I thought we should ask staff if they are diabetics or anything and I could send something foodie as well. So today off he goes carrying these....

Now Andy is a blokey looking bloke and all of that but he is happy to march off with pink flowers. Later he sent me a text to say he delivered them and oh my goodness he got a big reaction. I think he is so nice and sweet. So next week I think a pretty soap each will be the next thing. This is the beauty of having plenty of stuff on hand and it makes it possible.

When he messaged me his words were so happy I know it made his day as well as theirs!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The love of stationary and the joy of letters.

Writing letters and beautiful envelopes and scented paper arriving in the mail... love!

Every now and then I will make a few dozen cards and some writing paper kits for my stash. When we go away on a trip or holiday this is my kit I take. This box is full of pink paper and envelopes, cards, stamps. mini address book, pens and stickers. On holidays I tend to write lots of letters. It is so much fun.

The step before is making a supply of cards. Since lovely cards are now around $10 I make them all and this lot are all just magazine images with sparkle and ribbons added. It works out 50c to $1 a card mostly. 

Half a dozen packed into a lovely box or wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon to tie it up makes a set which is a sweet gift. To letter loving friends or even an elderly person this with some stamps and a pen added is a gorgeous gift. A years supply of birthday cards could be a stunning present.

Letters are lovely on quiet days, hot days, rainy days.... sit quietly and write something lovely to someone. Most of us adore something beautiful in the mail rather than bills and junk! To me this is one of the joys of life. 

I never tire of writing in lovely cards. The best of all is finding gorgeous vintage writing paper in an old box, usually with satin ribbon around the papers.... sometimes I have found these in op shops. They are divine! 

A little collection on hand means you always have a card when needed. I love to write thank you cards. So many people do wonderful things and are never thanked. Thanking people is part of being grateful and the mere act makes you a happier person. 

Writing to someone lonely is also just a beautiful thing to do. It takes minutes. Tomorrow I have to go to the doctor and it is often a long wait in the waiting room. I take a few cards and will sit and write for the time I am there. Those are the nothing moments you can turn into something lovely. xxx

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The softness of muslin.

I adore muslin. It is a humble and inexpensive thing but so soft and has so many uses!

For years women have used muslin for baby wash cloths as they are so fine and soft. I caught on to this and found them so beautiful to use myself I have used them for taking off makeup and my own face. After you have used them ordinary wash cloths seem really coarse. The thing is the very fine weave is soft but lightly exfoliating and picks up any flakiness on the skin. They are fabulous.

Firstly I bought baby wash cloths and added embroidery to them but in the end I could only find these with terrible coloured trims and so I started to sew my own. Muslin by the meter is only a couple of dollars per metre. Spotlight has it although only in white. Ebay has it in colours and patterns and mostly I am buying swaddling cloths and cutting them into wash cloths to get pink, lilac etc. I make them double thickness so I sew them like you would to make a pillow and turn inside out so your seems are inside. Then I crochet around them.

However now I have made so many I now fold and crochet as I go and don't do any sewing at all as the crochet is holding down the folder over edge. Either way is fine. 

You will find that some muslin is softer than others and finer than others. 

Once I have my size cut out and two layers together I crochet an edge in fine cotton. So far I have never bought this as it is always in op shops. I have purchased pure silk thread on wooden spools for 20c! Mum has given me some fine cottons too as she wasn't keen on something so fine. You need a very small crochet hook and the muslin is easy to get the hook through as it is so soft. An alternative would be to find some fine soft cotton lace and sew that around the edge. This looks just lovely and is very soft.

For babies I do a smaller face cloth and for ladies I do a larger one around the size of a mans hanky. You can do a really large size as a swaddling cloth as a gorgeous summer baby gift. Just divine!

I work a rose into one corner in the perfect colour to match. A tiny bow of ribbon would work or a tiny rose applique. 

I wrap in cellophane and tie up with a lovely ribbon before giving as a gift. My wrapped soaps kind of go with this as well when I am making up a present for someone.

It took me ages to get some muslin in baby blue but at last I have some so that is one of my next projects. Maybe white and blue also would be lovely! This is the problem, so many lovely combinations. I might use some lovely lace if I find some I really like.

It is nice to work on these little light projects in the hot weather too when crocheting a blanket just wouldn't be practical as it would make you feel hot!

Have a lovely Sunday to everyone. We have a really nice day here, so thankful for that!