Sunday, 24 February 2013

good luck bells

In my quest for the perfect home I've been doing all kinds of things. Purging stuff I no longer want or need. Giving things away, selling some, re-purposing others.

I want a home thats comfortable, welcoming, a place where I feel I can relax and be myself and where my soul will feel peaceful.

Most of the time I achieve clutter.

Partly that's due to the fact that I art & craft everywhere, not just in my office.

I have an easel with an unfinished painting on it in the living room, along with the trolley I used to hold my materials. I have a side table and an ottoman acting as a work area and have commandeered one of the armchairs for night time crafting (mainly wiring and beading).

My brain never stops. 

I don't want it to stop, but I'd like to come into a room and not have the heaps of stuff lying around needing attention: unwashed dishes, unfolded laundry, etc.

I guess there are two solutions to this problem... 1. find myself a wife. Or 2. (probably more achievable) actually make time to do the housework.

But its so boring!

I saw this and thought how perfectly it described my life.
But I digress.

In the quest for the perfect home I started looking at feng shui as a means to an end - the end being a home with a peaceful, fortune-ful and happy atmosphere.

Somewhere in my readings I came across the lucky bells for the front door. Apparently metal bells are best and they need a red ribbon or thread.

Well, I have bells. I have red ribbon.

So last night (when I should have been downshifting my brain in readiness for bed) I started this little project.

Being me, I couldn't just hang bells on the front door with red ribbon.


I wanted something that said 'zefi'... something old, something repurposed. Something interesting. And pretty.

I found this old tea strainer spoon thingy amongst my collection of wind chimes paraphernalia.

I created a double bow using two different widths and shades of red ribbon (in case the luck gods were particular about the red), threaded the bells on very fine wire - three lots of three bells (small for the bow and larger for the dangly bits), and for a bit of bling, added a few pearl beads to the strainer.

Now every time our door opens it chimes to bring in good news and luck!


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Monday, 18 February 2013

{almost} no sew curtains

I did tell you I was on a roll didn't I? Weeks of very little from me, then suddenly I just can't seem to shut up about the things I've made and done!

Do you remember when I found a ton of old cotton flour and bank deposit bags at an op shop ages ago?

Most of them are from the 80s, but that one with the woman holding a cake on it is in pounds so I figure it has to be from the 60s before Australia went metric.

At first I thought I wanted to make cushion covers out of them, but some are pretty old and the shape doesn't really lend itself to a cushion unless you trim the image (no way) or lie the cushion sideways (not ideal).

I also thought they'd make great (interesting) curtains for my ugly kitchen.

A talking point type of thing, if you will.

So first thing I did was sort out how many bags I'd need for each window. I have two windows in the kitchen. One is tall and narrow, the other is tall and a bit wider. The first looks out to the front yard but is positioned in such a way that you cant really see out of it much, sandwiched as it is between the cupboards holding the microwave and the stove/rangehood.

The bigger one looks out into the mud room now that we've enclosed that tiny porch.

I won't go into what I'd LIKE to do with the kitchen layout and window placement.... I won't...

The tall narrow window gets the full HOT afternoon sun and had a venentian blind on it... very necessary if you didn't want the kitchen to become a furnace on days like today. However the venetian blind was broken and I wanted it gone.

It was peach.

Need I say more?

I decided it needed a full curtain - 4 bags, 2 across and 2 down. I ironed them and sewed them together on my trusty ancient Singer sewing machine (bought for me by my father at a Trash and Treasure market about 20 years ago - well done dad!)

Using some small curtain clips I'd bought from ebay (cause the only place I found them locally was insanely expensive) I suspended them from the window sill using some old curtain hooks and a stick of bamboo I ripped out of a screen....

Ok. I didn't have a curtain rod which would fit so I improvised!

On the other side of the room I had put up a hanging rail to hold the frying pans and some totally useless/display only bits and pieces. I only needed a short curtain to cut out some of the glare but still allow us to look out the window to the front gate if we bent over the sink, leaned to the left and carefully pressed our faces to the window all while avoiding braining ourselves on the sharp cupboard corner.

Don't you love the layout of our kitchen? I know Wayne does. You'll recognise him. He's the one with the band aids all over his head.

Hm. Not quite right... It was lacking something (and I don't mean how crooked it is... I fixed that.)

The main problem, as you can see on the narrow window, is that the curtain looked see-through with the strong sun behind it.

I couldn't leave it like that. Not in this heat. So I grabbed this girl's best friend - burlap!

I cut a piece of burlap slightly larger than the flour sack curtain I'd made, clipped it all together and voila! Much better!

I did the same with the other window too, only this time I cut the burlap longer so it would go behind the rail and cover a bit more of the unsightly mess in the mud room.

Not bad for an almost no sew project. Basic and easy.

Just the way I like it!


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Beyond The Picket Fence

The Girl Creative

home is where I hang my hat

Its way too hot to be doing much today. They're predicting 35 degrees in Hobart and that means at least a couple of degrees hotter in the Derwent Valley.

Life on the farm has been going well, if you don't dwell on the fact that we're seriously close to running out of water and desperately need rain.

And we don't grow crops. We only have 3 horses feeding on about 11 acres of pasture. And we have bore water so we can water at least parts of the pasture every day and keep the horses in fresh water.

Progress on the house painting is slow. I've been lucky enough to have the help of a friend from the mainland. I met Basia when she was a real estate agent, she sold my house in Melbourne for me before I moved to Tasmania in 2003. We stayed in touch and she visits almost every year. Till now she'd only ever visited Tasmania to hike and cycle, stopping in with me for a day or two at the end of her trip.

This year Basia came over to pick cherries and look for other work so she's been staying in my house in Fentonbury. She's the best guest ever – she's always doing stuff! On her various visits she's done tons of gardening, this time she's helped paint the house on two long days, fixed curtain tracks and hemmed curtains for my house in Fentonbury.

On Saturday she came over and we painted the north and east sides of the house – all that's left to do now is paint the top bits (including the underneath of the roof) on 3 sides, topcoat the window frames and paint rails on 2 sides.

Ok, that's not a small job, but its manageable. The majority of the work has been finished. I'll do the rest over a few weekends, providing the weather doesn't suck isn't too hot.

Meanwhile I'm on a roll of some kind... I'm itching to do things. This happens to me every now and then. This time I've concentrated the feeling on doing something in the kitchen.

I have an ugly kitchen. At least its ugly in my opinion. The people who put it in loved it. 

I dream of a country kitchen... all white on white, with some minty green or aqua, antiques and rustic items on display...

Over the last year I've been trying to make it more Zefi-friendly in small ways that don't include knocking down a wall, putting a bigger window in a more appropriate spot (which will mean moving the hot water cyclinder), putting in a new sink, moving the stove, putting in more drawers and getting rid of those horrible corner cupboards who's doors keep falling off their hinges, getting a new, not blue laminate, benchtop...  

One of the things in this kitchen is the huge pantry cupboard. Its handy. Sure. But its a big flat blob of white laminate. I've been thinking of making it into a big flat blob of chalkboard....

Here's my vision thanks to the miracle of Photoshop:

Nice huh?

Ok... nice for Zefi!

This morning, among other things, I removed the handles and filled one of the holes. I have some cute little knobs I want to use.

Stay tuned...

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The Girl Creative


Sunday, 17 February 2013

upcycled baking tray sign


As promised.... (drum roll) here is the better dog grooming sign!

This one was made using a rusty old baking tray which had seen better days - it began its life as an eager young tray, looking forward to doing its best, cooking oven fries and such. Then it started to lose its good looks and was banished to defrosting dog food. Things went from bad to worse when all the defrosting lead to corrosion and rust... causing it to be tossed out into the yard where it spent the last 2 years covering a hole its human meant to fill.

Then one day said human was thinking of making a sign and walked by the now much bigger hole and saw the poor rusty tray just lying there, waiting for the ultimate death (the tip). Suddenly life looked up for the old tray - it was brought inside, sanded within an inch of its life to get rid of the loose rust, then painted over with black rust guard paint to protect it.

But back to me...

When designing this sign on the computer (I use InDesign for all my type stuff) I found the best way to fit Dog Grooming and an arrow was to be a bit imaginative - hence the sideways 'ing'. 

I think its cute.

Anyway, I used a symbol font for the pointing finger cause arrows are just too boring. Then I used Stencil as my font cause it kind of lends itself to being cut out... don't you think?

I printed it out, cut it out using a scalpel (yes, you heard me... scalpels are so much easier to cut stencils with than stanley knives). I then traced the letters using a pastel pencil.

I used some of the enamel primer I am using on the house to fill in the letters, joining them up so they no longer look stenciled. I did this twice to get a smoother look.

I think it came up pretty well.

I asked Wayne to drill a hole on the handle to match the one that came with the tray and then he made 2 wire hooks to fix it to the fence near the front gate.

No one can miss it now!


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Saturday, 16 February 2013

the dog room sign


I have a new 'Dog Room' sign!

When I'm grooming dogs I find that people who've never been to our place before will wander around the yard aimlessly, not knowing where to go. I used to have the blackboard on the front porch with instructions: 'Dog grooming in the shed behind you', but since I started painting the house the chalkboard has been moved.

I thought it was time I did what I'd always planned and put some signs up to direct people to the right place.

The first thing I did was consider what I had on hand which would I could use to make a sign. I had plenty of timber, but I also had this cute little wire thing I'd found at a tip shop which I thought would make a great wall hanging sign holder.

I have no idea what this thing was used for originally, unless it was to hang bananas on... I drilled holes in it and voila! A bracket to hang a sign off!

I also have quite a few of these old metal tool boxes. The smallest one I had was a perfect fit for the hangy bit thingy. 

(You only get the best technical terms here!)

So... since I was already painting the house and had the undercoat enamel tin opened, I used some of that paint to paint the letters on the metal box.

I had made myself a stencil (for a sign I'll share tomorrow) so I simply re-used it to do this sign. For this sign I decided to shortcut the process. Instead of drawing the letters and then painstakingly painting each letter by hand as I did with the other sign (the neat one), I just painted over the paper carefully as you would a proper stencil.

Given I was using a paper stencil I'd cut myself and not a proper one, I had a bit of 'leakage' under the stencil. Not to worry. I wanted this sign to look a bit rustic. After all, its going on the side of a very rustic old house-come-shed-come-grooming-room/workshop/feed storage/laundry and whatever else we need it for.

You'll notice the chippy paint on the old timber windows, the unpainted boards, the general aura of abandonment and disrepair...

Of course I had to hang the sign on the bracket. I only had one piece of chain I could pry open to attach on both ends. All my other chains are too heavy and too impossible for this job. So I improvised. I got some rusty old wire and made myself a hook for the other side.

It now hangs off the door frame (the entrance to the hydrobath room with the grooming room to the left) between my dying herbs in colander planters (you may remember them from this post when the herbs were new and still happy to be alive) and the four leaf clover Wayne made me out of rusty barbed wire.

PS: I cannot grow herbs. I'm going to put succulents in those baskets. Or plastic plants. At least I can't kill them...

This is the view as you drive into our yard. I think people will get it. Don't you? Especially with the new sign at the gate directing them to look that way.

Stay tuned for that sign tomorrow!


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Homespun Happenings

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

tea light chandelier

I had this idea that I'd like to try making a dangle which could hold a tea light and shine on its own light, not just rely on the sun hitting beads and crystals.

So when I found these tiny little glass craft bottles, I thought they'd be perfect for the job!

First I filled them with a mix of pink and yellow crackle glass beads and aurora borealis beads. Then I made little wire hooks for them.

I found a little cup shaped metal bowl in my junk collection and an old vegetable steamer. 

Put them together...


I tested it out with a tealight in it, just to see how it looks. 

Sort of like a cross between a spaceship and a jellyfish.

But it brings a smile to people's faces when they look at it and go "Hey! That's a vegetable steamer!"

Yeah. But with a difference!


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Sunday, 10 February 2013

a very easy project

Last night I went through the old sewing basket Merrill gave me. It used to belong to her mother. In fact, it looks exactly like the sewing basket my mom owns. When Merrill asked me if I wanted it I said yes. Of course. Not only does it remind me of the years I spent raiding mom's supplies to make dresses for my Barbie dolls, I didn't have a real sewing basket. I've been using an ugly plastic container for years.

So, last night I sorted through it, re-wrapping unravelled thread, putting aside all the old bits and pieces which I'll want to use somehow, somewhere, one day. Then I added my own threads into it and viola. A new sewing basket.

Naturally, there were a few odd buttons in the bottom of the basket.

Aren't there always?

And I had this tiny little memory box frame.

It just seemed right to put them together.

A small tribute to Merrill's mom.