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.

Saturday 30 November 2013

Christmas table happiness.

My American girlfriends are the best decorators. I notice they really know how to celebrate the seasons and they redecorate their mantles, entrance ways, doors and tables for each season and celebration. How beautiful! Also what a way to appreciate the seasons and remind ourselves of the various lovely things about each celebration.

Hopefully I've shown ways to use the things you have and create pretty things yourself. I don't want any of my projects to be about spending money, I want them to be about using what you have and altering or re using things for new purposes. 

Your table really sets a scene and changing it regularly keeps it relevant to the season. I re made my Christmas table centrepiece and we will have this all month and on Christmas eve I'll set it all ready for Christmas day. 

Using a cake stand that's not too high (you want people to be able to see each other) I've just used anything that sparkles to create something that glistens. I've used jewellery to add sparkle, chandelier crystals, glass, pearls... just a gathering of things. That's a favourite bracelet at the bottom... the big sparkly flower....

Today is special as we put up our tree and decorations. December one is my self imposed traditional day to put up the tree! 

Having the table looking nice is a good start and even if someone comes for coffee it's nice to have it looking lovely. I add cut glass plates and crystal glassware to the table and the whole thing looks lit up. When you add lighting and candles things look even better!  My glassware is all from op shops including my crystal champagne glasses! They are just divine and I got them all for $1 each. I still buy them whenever I see them as we use them and you get breakages. If you don't use your "good" things consider getting them out and making your table beautiful. To do this costs nothing but will make everyone feel special. No one is more special than your family. Saving things for important guests makes no sense to me. I'd rather impress my family who's opinion I value over some strangers or even friends.

My version of an advent calendar is to do something everyday in December towards a beautiful Christmas. Often I hear people say they don't feel the Christmas spirit. You know it's true Christmas is a very tough time for anyone suffering. But if really there's nothing wrong with life and you don't feel the Christmas spirit then do something wonderful to help someone. Once again this doesn't have to be about money. DO something, bake something, maybe a random act of kindness everyday... soon you will feel the Christmas spirit until it makes you cry. Then you've got it. 

Friday 29 November 2013

DIY beautiful cake stands.

Cake stands are so useful and so easy to make! This week I gathered some supplies and made two new ones since I have been using them for so many things. 

There are special glues that look exactly like glass, clear and strong, perfect for this. It is Soudal Fix All crystal in Super clear. I'm sure there would be others suitable but this stuff is fabulous. 

I had two candle sticks and bought two plates, one is a deeper dish style and one is flat. One was $3 the other was $1.

Simply decide what looks right and glue your plate to your candle stick. You can build two or three tiers doing this. If you do just glue one layer at a time allowing 24 hours between each layer. Be careful to centre things perfectly and make sure it's stable, decreasing in size as you go up.

One of mine is a flat cake plate the other more a bowl and suitable for sweets or ornaments or even jewellery.

I love how they turned out and they would make a gorgeous gift. Cake stands are really expensive unless you come across them in op shops. This way you can make whatever you like. You could use a white candle stick and white plate or go floral or anything you like. 

For Australian girls Cheap as Chips has perfect candle sticks for $4 right now. Gathering the components is half the fun for me. I think I would like to do a three tier one for jewellery....

Thursday 28 November 2013

I'm dreaming of a sparkly Christmas.

Last weekend I decided to glitter some branches to fill a tall vase I have.  At a florist they asked for $60 for a bunch of sticks. As I bolted for the door I remembered sticks I had from another project and if I added to them I would make do.

I spread the sticks on my outdoor table over newspaper and with a foam brush added glue along them as much as I could. I worked in areas with a tray underneath to catch stray glitter, or most of it. You would not want to do this on a windy day! 

It was a bit of a fiddle but I enjoy it so it was ok. Spray glue would be a faster way to do it. I would move the tray along, scoop out the fallen glitter and re use until I had fairly well covered branches. Really you need a few patches of glitter per stick, not total coverage. 

You could also use small beads, crystals, anything sparkly for this.

Then I added glitter to some little nests I have. I bought these a few years ago from an online craft store, they were very inexpensive. I have used them in several projects. The little eggs were also from an online craft store. Once dry the easily nestled in between my branches and looked super sparkly.

The birds are new Christmas decorations and were about $2 each. They clip on anything and looked right size wise too. Two nests are for the Christmas tree on Sunday when we put that up. 

it's an example of how a little glitter turns ordinary items into Christmas decorations. You can make gorgeous displays for so little. The nests would be a lovely project for kids home from school, they would have great fun with this.  

My vase of sticks looks much better than a vase of sticks sounds! It sparkles so much near a window and looks so pretty. And my little bird seems to be happily nesting away in her sparkly nest! 

Wednesday 27 November 2013

T towels.

Nice t towels are very hard to find. Mostly they are yuk. I did see one I loved and it was $24. Another time I was given a linen one. It was apparently coated with some water proof substance and despite washing in hot water etc it would never dry dishes. I thought it was the ultimate irony really. Anyway it was useless.

Eventually I decided to make my own and have ever since. I do a double thickness using a thick absorbent cotton on the back and a pretty one on the front. Then an edging. This could also be crochet like on the pillowcases which would make it less expensive.

It takes a lot of material to make a stack of these as I like to make them a generous size. I just watch out all the time for beautiful vintage style fabrics. In thrift shops I buy old curtains, sheets, doona covers and remnants. Vintage linen is often pristine or even in the packet still! Curtains give you so much material as do sheets. A double size sheet set is often around $4. So it's a huge amount of fabric for so little. Also I have purchased flannelette cream sheets from cheap stores as this is absorbent and good backing. The fabric part is then only around $1 or less per t towel.

I soak and wash everything to clean and pre shrink it.

Then the fun is choosing what goes with what and which fabrics suit your friends and their kitchens and your own!

I purchased edging from Spotlight but many times I have also picked up old trims from thrift shops and many cheap shops carry them too. I think a crocket edge would be lovely. I go right around but one edge would be ok too. And I make a loop in a corner as that's handy. 

A supply of these is so useful. They go into the picnic basket, over food and are so functional.

Last year I added pot holders. I made them large so they can be doubled over.

For these I purchased crown images on etsy and sourced crown charms to sew in a corner (also etsy) Even with this they worked out about $4 each all up. 

And for myself and a couple of bird loving friends I did the same with bird prints. Mine still make me smile when I use them. 

Often I think I wonder what these would be in a gift store? 

It is really simple sewing and I manage Christmas presents by starting in January! Doing a few projects a month I end up with heaps of things. I tend to sew in summer, knit and crochet in winter and embroider all year around. Mum just gave me the most gorgeous crochet cotton in a soft muted blue grey.... now to plan what to make with it! 

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Baby sweetness.

One a hot day like today I think having projects to work on indoors out of the heat is lovely. I'll go out in the evening and water etc but try and stay out of the heat mostly if I can!

I just love the sweetness of childhood characters and the stories that go with them. This one is borrowed from Winnie the Pooh and Piglet and he are in deep thought about something! It's a child's coat hanger with vintage lace along the bottom.

And this is a little hot water bottle cover. I made this one up. It's best friend bunnies! 
I love that you can make stuff up and your own little imagined story! 

Also both of these projects are great for smaller bits of blanketing, to use them up well. I hope my friend Jacqui sees this post! 

Monday 25 November 2013

Beautiful beautiful tulle!

I'm always on about how to make ribbon and gorgeous things for a tiny amount of money as things can be so expensive.

Tulle has so many uses and in coming posts I'll show some more. It can often be cheaper than wrapping paper per meter.

For tulle garlands like these you need quite a bit. I would try three metres if you want to try it. Provided it has come from the store neatly folded do not unfold it. Laying it out and cutting miles of strips is just too hard. Leave it folded and simply cut roughly 2 inch strips so that as it unfolds you have long strips. It doesn't need to be continuous.

Once you have a pile of strips simply run a long running stitch through the middle on your sewing machine. Use the longest stitch. Now it depends on your tension.... run a bit through. Mine on normal tension with result in a gathered strip... like this...

If it doesn't gather then adjust the tension to be tighter or simply pull up the threads yourself every now and then to gather it. Either work. 

Now you don't need to be very fussy. If the strips are uneven or crooked it won't show just keep sewing! When you get near the end of a strip overlap the next one over it by a small amount so you have no gap. 

You will find a huge length is gathered up and you end up with a couple of meters of garland.

This is a job once the girls were eight or so they would have loved to do for me. Hello, it's straight line sewing and looks lovely so it would be great fun to do!

Once it's done it can be used in so many ways. Imagine instead of streamers at a party, along the mantlepiece, around the Christmas tree... over a girls bed...

On Sunday we will put up our tree. The first of December is THE DAY. I'll post how it looks on the tree!

Meanwhile it is like photographing air. It would possibly help it I had a camera but I don't this is my phone. 

But the end result is so pretty! 

Sunday 24 November 2013

Powder puffs.

Nana loved powder puffs and especially ones for face powder. I bought them for her lots of times. So maybe that's where I get this love of powder puffs. But I adore scented powders.

Lovely powder puffs are a rare thing now and i you do find them they are an expensive thing. They are ridiculously easy to make.

From a craft/fabric store purchase fur by the meter. Choose what you love the most. I have had pale pink before which was gorgeous. It comes in a huge selection of colours. Then choose a wide satin ribbon for your bows.

Decide on the size you would like them and find a plate or something round just a little larger as your template and draw these onto the reverse side of your fur. 

You want fur on both sides. Sew them up like little pillows, fur inside and leave 1/4 open so you can turn them inside out and insert an inner.

For your inner use either wadding ie quilt wadding and use the thickest one or use foam as I did and I really like that. You want it to end up feeling thick, not thin. 

Cut them a little smaller and insert and the stitch up the last bit by hand. 

Now you need to tie luscious looking sating bows and centre them. Stitch them on going right through to the back so they are firmly fixed and can act as a handle. Trim leaving them looking generous.

In another post I'll cover making powder and gift boxes so these can sit on top to make a complete gift although wrapped in cellophane and scented these would be lovely gifts just as they are.

They feel beautiful and now I have a supply again and some presents!  

Saturday 23 November 2013

Pearl and crystal ornaments.

I love Christmas. It's a beautiful time. And decorating has started!

I'm not keen on red or green. By not keen I mean I really don't like them at all! So Christmas is sparkly mainly. Or clear. That's my joke that my favourite colour is sparkly or clear as it's really true. But you can choose whatever colours you personally love for this project.

Use cheap basic decorations which you can see at the bottom right of the picture.

It's easiest if you place your pearls or crystals in a small bowl. Work fairly quickly and apply craft glue all over your ball, not too thick or it will run. Then simply sit this into the bowl of beads and I use a teaspoon to gently cover the glue. Once you have a fair few on I start patting them into place with my finger. When you get pretty good coverage I start adding individual beads to fill spaces. At this stage they will slide around to move and allow more and more to go on until your'e satisfied it's covered well. 

Let dry and then add a strip of tulle or ribbon to make a soft bow. I like tulle as it looks soft and romantic. And costs about a cent!

I did some pearl and one just crystal. There are tow colours in the pearls, a white and a cream. I like the cream best. I had left overs and did one using them which gave me a mix of pearl and crystal and it looks really nice! Left overs often turn out the best!

They are really sparkly and I'm thinking when they are next to lights will be even more so!

Pearls come in all kinds of colours. Now I'm imagining soft pink or baby blue ones! 

Cradled in tissue paper in a little box these would make a gorgeous gift for someone having their first Christmas tree or just a special ornament from a friend.

The thing is to have fun. Possibly you have beads around to use. Imagine making one from  broken jewellery that you might have that has been in the family. It could become an heirloom.

Friday 22 November 2013

Pretty bottles and another stand.

There are so many good functional products that we use everyday but they come in the ugliest bottles! It's not so bad if they live in the cupboard but my dish washing detergent just always ends up near the sink. 

These times just transferring things to a lovely bottle makes it look so much better! There are lots of things that will instantly seem better this way. Salad dressings on the table, sauces etc. Mouth wash and bubble bath in the bathroom. 

The same really works for things like biscuits in a nice jar or even laundry powder in a big jar with a pretty scoop.

Doing the dishes isn't really a fun job but things can look a little nicer!

I sit it all on a little cake stand and it keeps it off the bench too.

With my final cake stand, which is really a two tier wire stand, I've made a little tea and coffee station. We are short on kitchen cupboard space and this has freed up a cupboard and I really like it!

I just love finding practical uses for pretty things that make daily tasks seem a little bit nicer. 

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday 21 November 2013

Gift bags.

Little gift bags to pop things in are really useful and pretty. Both types I have used here come in lots of sizes and colours and work out really inexpensive and miles cheaper than individual ones from a newsagent.

They can be filled with gifts but also with cellophane packaged biscuits and goodies to give away. In a coming post I'll share my very best recipes for Christmas baking.

These simple things all make great activities for kids. They might be able to be decorating them for you while having a fabulous time!

With the organza bags before stamping them you need to insert a piece of cardboard or paper into the middle. This will stop the stamp going right through and ruining the back. Let it dry and then remove after you have done your glitter etc.

These both are great as party favour bags. Again think of themes that would suit your party or child or wedding even. I have dreams of doing baby shower ones for my daughter. And she's not even pregnant yet but that's a minor detail!

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Sparkling banner.

My first Christmas decoration of the season is up! I made a banner of glittery letters and it was really fun and quite messy. 

I purchased wooden letters to spell my word, in this case "nest" and Andy drilled holes in them for me so that I could string them together. I simply sprayed each letter with spray glue and over a tray outside sprinkled a thick layer of glitter over that. Next time I would use Mod Podge as the spray glue was a little light I thought. Anyway it took a bit of fiddling to cover the sides of the letters as well as an even coverage on the fronts. I let it dry and shook off the excess glitter and repeated to do all four letters. 

I wanted to keep it slightly rustic so I used twine to string my letters together. finding a place to hang it was the next thing and I chose over a lovely mirror in the lounge room. Then I added a little bird to a nest and stuck tiny eggs into the nest and bits of sticks and yarn to make the nest more comfy! They are gravity defying eggs by the way!

And another little bird and a real feather I found out the front recently, then a silk rose to finish it off.

It looks cute and as if the birds really are nesting! Nesting is (obviously) a favourite theme of mine, it means homemaking! And birds are so happy and sweet to me.

Glitter is so much fun now I'm eyeing off things with a view to make them over with glitter as it is very transforming! Christmas is the perfect excuse to play with glitter!

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Beautiful cake stands.

Cake stands make a spectacular occasion out of eating any cake. A homemade cake or even a purchased cake, it doesn't matter, as soon as you pop it onto a cake stand it is more glamourous! It's a simple trick to making things seem more special. Even with cup cakes, slices or chocolates it really works.

Your desert also the becomes a pretty table centre piece which adds to the look of your table. All so easily! If you want to make someone feel special serve their cake this way.

I've collected them and if I see one in a thrift store it's inevitable it's coming home with me. Many I have paid $2 or so for. So I have spares and use them in other ways.

They are wonderful for grouping things together and keeping them off your surfaces at the same time. One in the bathroom keeps soaps and wash cloths together and looks luxurious so it's hand and pretty at the same time.

Another keeps my perfumes and moisturisers together on my dressing table. It looks luxurious and much better than them all scattered around and makes cleaning and dusting easier as well. 

Grouping candles together on a cake stand looks beautiful. Add a few sparkly Christmas decorations and you have a stunning centre piece. If you have unused cake stands seriously consider putting them to work. 

In another post I'm going to show you how you can make your own stunning stands for any occasion.

My project today is to make a Christmas table centre piece and use a big stand I have in the kitchen and put it to work. Hopefully if they turn out ok I'll put up pics in a couple of days! 

Monday 18 November 2013

An ounce of help is better than a pound of sympathy.

Sometimes the nicest thing you can do is make a meal for someone. I remember many years later a meal someone made me when one of my Nans died. it was the kindest thing. Another time I remember someone sending me a meal on a tray when I had been sick. It was wonderful! 

Those times when it's late, it's been a long hard day and someone has cooked you a meal it's a relief. It is the best! It doesn't have to be fancy. A wholesome meal just makes you feel better. 

Earlier this year one of the girls was really sick with a virus. It wiped her out. Complete little meals were run over to her place over and over. Having some one who does these things in a crisis is a big thing. You can see the relief in someone who needs a meal.

So many things can be made into individual portions. A big favourite of mine is to make things from cakes to pies to meat loaf all in a large muffin tray. You get neat individual sized portions. Great to freeze too.

A crock pot full of soup is another. You get so many portions and chicken soup is a great one if someone isn't well. The crock pot (slow cooker) is the most helpful thing. My secret is to make up a beef or chicken casserole and it will be so tender. Then use this as your filling to make a series of pies. Just use puff pastry and decorate them nicely and there you have ready to cook pies. They freeze perfectly and a golden pie can be a gift for a family (make a big one) or a single person. With these I always have a heap of meals in an emergency and never get caught out.

When I have lots of eggs I'll cook up a series of quiches for everyone. They are yum hot or cold and can go for lunches as well, for those I will make them in the muffin tray as they are just the right size. 

All these things I see made up and looking beautiful in our local gourmet store for $30 for a quiche and more for a decorated meat pie. Pfft we can do it for very little!

Sunday 17 November 2013

Sweet gifts.

Lovely pillowcases are such a nice gift. For a baby shower, for a little girl or for your Grandmother, all women seem to love them when they are special and pretty. It is a personal and sweet gift.

Previously I showed soft floral ones with crochet edges. This time I've made ones with flourishes of lace and embroidery. They are so soft and delicate. I made mine from scratch but you can cheat and buy some and add lace, embroidery, monograms etc yourself to personalise them.

Another day I'll show how to do some by adding lace to a ready made pillowcase.

For shadow work (above) you need a fine voile as the stitches need to show through. Voile is inexpensive and beautiful! It tends to come in gorgeous soft colours.

Ribbon embroidery is quick and easy. Country Bumpkin have a lovely magazine and I really taught myself from those. But you can learn on You tube. That's the way to learn anything for free, it's fabulous.

Embroidery is a beautiful summer thing for me. Keeping a little supply of things for gifts is so handy and making something especially to suit someone in their favourite colour is perfect. Even if someone is unwell or in hospital a pillowcase is the sweetest gift.

In the summer sales picking up some soft voiles means a divine pillowcase for a present is going to cost  a tiny amount and probably become something cherished!

Saturday 16 November 2013

A new bathroom.

My daughter this year bought her first unit. This was a massive event! She loves all things Shabby Chic, pretty and her favourite colours are pale blue and tiffany blue. 

I had been crocheting away in pale blue cottons and chenille and by the time she had her place she had matching facecloths, hand towels and bath mats. 

Bath mats are really easy, chenille works as it is absorbent and also dries quickly. It's hard to find pretty bath mats too so making your own is an idea. Each year for the last few chenille has been in cheap shops here and only a couple of dollars a ball, but at the end of winter it goes out for $1. If you use white once your project is made up you can dye it any colour you want! I currently have some white and am thinking of dying as the colour choices have been basic and this way there is no limit!

Chloe was so happy with her new bathroom and BATH (we all love baths!) that she took a photo for me. It is super cute.

When saving towards a place of your own a "glory box" is an old fashioned but wonderful idea. A place to save things towards your dreams. What could be nicer? Chloe always kept a glory box of things for when she had a place of her own and making things for her collection has always been fun for me. 

Friday 15 November 2013

Frames have so many uses!

Frames are often wasted, empty in sheds or lovely but filled with a random picture you don't like much.

A lovely frame has so many possibilities! A horrible picture can be painted over with blackboard paint and become a handy blackboard for your kitchen.

Under the glass can be filled with photos or pretty pictures and if handles are added you have a lovely tray. Little feet can be added too and felt for a soft underside.

A larger frame can be filled with cork board or chicken wire and become a memory board, display kids art, or an inspiration board.

This is the tip of the iceberg too... and these are just some things I've done around home.ç<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Thursday 14 November 2013

A dream journal.

I love journals. The whole experience of writing things down, planning and dreaming. To me if it isn't written down it didn't happen. And if it's not written down it probably won't happen.

Every year my daughter makes me a journal. Each one is covered in details of things she knows I love! They must take her hours but each year she obviously saves every image she sees in magazines and catalogues of things she knows I adore. Then makes them into a collage on the front and back of a blank journal. 

Each year seems to have a theme. She does the front and back covers. The end result is gorgeous! I look forward to seeing what comes next!

She knows me well too, we have jewels and pink, birds and cupcakes and endless delights.

It's a fabulous idea you could adapt for someone close to you, just personalising it for them. Imagine a french theme or ballet or fashion. What about shoes for our shoe junkie friend? It is a little bit of an inspiration board right there. Inspiring every time you look at it.

They have a glossy contact finish and look so professional and usually a little note wishing me a wonderful year inside the first page. 

Fancy journals and diaries are expensive, this would be priceless but cost so little to make. It could equally well be a diary or planner. 

Many of us have a pile of magazines. They need to go into your inspirations scrap books and be made into wonderful things so you can enjoy the images everyday! 

Wednesday 13 November 2013

So many uses...

My Mum has always used clothes pegs (clothes pins) to keep things closed, packets of things in the pantry and in the fridge. Useful but not very pretty!

Then I was given some pegs painted pale pink and covered in little hand painted roses! Suddenly I liked pegs! Since I have seen them on Etsy covered in glitter for uses at Christmas time. 

I made these to close and finish little gifts in tiny paper bags and cellophane bags. I did some last year and pinned them to the Christmas tree and used them to pin Christmas cards across a little line I set up and it looked lovely! With a magnet stuck on one side they could be used to hold notices on the fridge.

As I was doing them I thought of my friend who would adore these with little ballerinas. But the options are endless! Imagine on party favour bags or on a little line in a bedroom to pin drawings or photos.