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.

Monday 30 June 2014

Pantry love.

We have made progress in the kitchen and I have some pantry and storage cupboards! It is so much fun to start to work on my pantry and building it back up.

Knowing we were ripping out an old kitchen I ran things down so it would be easier to manage. The weeks using things up saved us a lot of money too. So now it is a bit empty and even my jars are empty... but still here are some pictures anyway.

This is the top part of my pantry cupboard. I am using this for my tins and jars of supplies, dry goods etc. 

I really love tins and jars. They keep things so fresh and crisp. I have collected old jars for years. I like the thick old fashioned glass. It is beautiful. Especially the old greenish bluish glass, it even has bubbles captured in it. Mostly I have paid 50c or $1 for them. I have lots for preserving too, in another cupboard.

This is like the books Where's Wally? if you remember them? Only this is "where's Chippy" :) 

I learned years ago it is possible to spend a fortune on pantry storage but I stopped that and now plastics are in question for their safety with food. Jars and glass is lovely and there is never that plastic smell or taste. And soooo cheap. You know I have never broken one. I think that is because of how thick old glass jars are. I love Pyrex and Corningware as well and pick up lots in op shops and it is kind of fun to collect!

There is a lot of joy in a lovely pantry. I love just to see jars lined up, preserves lined up looking gorgeous and full of summer produce. A row of jams I just made is a picture of happiness to me!

But more, a good pantry means you are not running to the shops every time you want to make something, you have spare milk and basics. You have emergency meals. (One of my pantry meals is to keep everything for tuna mornay and that has been a saviour lots of times) 

A list of pantry meals is very helpful. It might be simple things like pasta with a simple sauce from tinned tomatoes but there are so many ideas and it is good to have a list for emergencies.

A well stocked pantry means in a tight week you can avoid the shops altogether or save a lot and just buy a few things to fill in the gaps.

I haven't organised my canned goods and herbs and spices yet. I am about to work on those!

Once my jar collection grew I started to paint the lids and add transfers. The trick to finding transfers is to know in the US they are called water slide decals. I get mine from Arwen Moore Design Studio on Etsy. You get a whole sheet of maybe 30 or so for about $10. They are so pretty. I have a heap of jas also in my sewing room for pins, bobbins and so on...

I still grab jars when I see them and I still see boxes of old Fowler preserving jars in country op shops. I love them! I get so excited when I find them.

Now to build my pantry back up. I always allow a stash of $20 in my purse incase I find a really good special. If something I use is half price then this is my chance to stock up. Also now and then I get a gift card (ie from Woolies for everyday rewards) and if I have a $10 gift card I will wait and choose things on half price so I can turn that $10 into $20! Even one extra item on special a week and you soon have a pantry you can go to in an emergency for a heap of meals. And save running to the shops for bits and pieces. 

The other cupboard that is finished is for glassware etc. I have put cake stands in there, I love my cake stands!

Well, this is progress with a long way to go! But I can't wait to get my stove and sink etc. Is it normal to love a sink? I am really excited about my new sink lol.

If you feel your pantry could use a makeover or you would like to improve your storage Pinterest is just wonderful for ideas. I have found so many tips there. Getting it all clean, fresh and organised is lovely. If you keep plenty of Bay Leaves in your pantry you will never have pantry moths. Every time I go to the farm I pick branches of Bay Leaves from Mum's tree and this works brilliantly. 

While it is so cold and rainy I am happy to be working away on these things indoors. I feel like celebrating as we are making progress! 

Thursday 26 June 2014

A cure for Burnt Mouth Syndrome (and other pesky ailments....)

My friend Helen encouraged me to share this information so here goes...

I am 51 and I have mostly been pretty lucky with my health. But suddenly a few irritating things started to bother me and it's not surprising I guess I am going through menopause... 

Previously I've had migraines, badly when I was younger and not as bad now. They are a shocking thing and all I can say is identifying your triggers is a great help but it can take years to work them out!

For many years I suffered from Restless Legs Syndrome. For most of those years I didn't even know what it was called. Just very uncomfortable and a bit like pins and needles and you just have to move your legs! Once on a plane flight it got going and really it was the most dreadful seven or so hours. Sooo uncomfortable. 
This is one of those things that doctors don't seem to know what to suggest. (Another I notice is tinnitus, the noise in your ears. Most of us get it now and then but some people have loud and continuos noise... that would be so annoying!) Well, medicine doesn't seem to have answers and although minor really things like this can drive you nuts and get you down too. 
I googled and read everything I could on Restless Legs Syndrome and tried a few things. Eventually I saw a suggestion to try Magnesium tablets. So I started taking Calcium and Magnesium (combined) at night AND I HAVE NEVER HAD IT SINCE! Just like that.
How I wish I had tried that sooner. Why no one could tell me this I have no idea but for me it was a complete cure. It is wonderful. A few times I've become lazy and gone off this formula and I will get a hint of it back and it reminds me to get back on track.

This year I developed another one of these lovely ailments that Doctors have few suggestions for. I thought I had eaten something that irritated me. The back of my tongue felt burned and inflamed. Like I had drunk boiling water or something. Very uncomfortable. The next day I was fine but the next evening I had it again.... and this repeated for months. Then it started earlier in the day and earlier... I tried everything, sucking ice cubes, lollies, antacid (someone suggested that) and it was awful. The doctor had no idea and told me she had heard of it, it can be with menopause or stress. It got so bad it was hard to sleep and I read that it can last for years which is a depressing thought. Also I started to feel quite panicky when it would start knowing it would not stop until I went to sleep.

Once again I googled and read up and tried a few suggestions, nothing made any difference at all. Then I read to try Vitamin B3. Also to try Magnesium. Instead of my low dose magnesium with Calcium I got a higher dose Magnesium tablets and a Vit B multi. And took two of each! The first day I had an improvement AND I HAVENT HAD IT SINCE! It may be only one or the other of these tablets but I haven't been game to stop one, I'm happy to take them and over all feel better too. Why oh why couldn't anyone have told me this? 

Meanwhile Helen suffered hot flashes and they were awful for her. She took Remifemin a herbal supplement and she has not suffered them anymore!

Now everyone is different and what agrees with one person may not with another. But just in case anyone suffers Restless Legs or Burnt Mouth Syndrome it is worth me mentioning how this worked for me just in case it might help someone else. You always have to check it is ok to take something especially if you are taking other drugs so always check. But I have been so lucky to find these simple solutions to very pesky problems. 

While I am at it I will mention that often at the end of winter I really suffer a craving for sun and get very tired and miserable. It is a common thing called SAD which is Seasonal  Affective Dissorder. Basically lack of sunlight and Vitamin D really affects many people and you feel quite sluggish and depressed. I get actual cravings for sunlight... 
My Doctor told me to try Saint Johns Wort, a herbal supplement. This has helped me so much. Even though it's a herb you have to follow instructions as you cannot take it with other drugs. But it has a good reputation for helping with depression and anxiety. It really works for me. That and getting into every bit of sun, being outdoors everyday and being busy with lovely projects. These things have made the last two winters much much better. 

I really hope this helps someone!

It is so wet, cold and gloomy here! Really I cannot remember it being this bleak in years. The garden is a mess but I have just a few bright spots of beauty that I am really appreciating. They might be glimmers of spring...

Have a wonderful day and weekend. xxx

Tuesday 24 June 2014

The happiness factor of creating something.

I started a really big crochet project in the first week of May. We were going on our few days away to Tumby Bay. I remember the trip was six hours drive each way and I worked on getting this going all the way and way home. That 12 hours got me going!

I can crochet in the car as I don't have to look at it. If I have to look at something I would feel car sick. So crochet is a good car activity for me. 

Anyway, last night I finished it! It covers our queen sized bed and drapes down each side and down the foot of the bed. This is the biggest thing I have made! It is very warm which is perfect timing as it is freezing here now. It is also very heavy, you have to be determined to roll over under this! 

There is quite a bit of sparkle through it and it is about 90% pure wool so I am happy with that.

Now what next? 

I know having things to work on just increases my contentment factor no end. It does me good. It keeps my mind on nice things, calms me down and give me lots of pleasure. I have been able to give a pink blanket to Kath in the nursing home and she loves that rug and it is on her bed every time I go there. She tells everyone who will listen that I made it for her! And I have been able to give one to charity too.

Sometimes when you can't do much you can make something. When I was younger my Nan's great friend was Mrs. Mann. Mrs. Mann was wonderful! She was an older lady and she was in a wheel chair and eventually lost her legs. But she was always happy! I put this down to she was always busy and so kind and generous. She knitted like you would not believe. When I had Chloe then Lucy she knitted them the most glorious little dresses. True heirloom things, that I have kept until now. What a wonderful lady she was. She just blessed people and gave continuously. I wonder how much her knitting made her life of suffering and in a wheelchair better? She was so productive!

Another of Nan's best friends was Loris Smith. Loris was also the most cheerful lovely lady. She walked with crutches as she had polio when young. Loris sewed beautifully. Well, all Nan's friends looked after me apparently as when I had babies she sewed me layettes of little singlets, soft gowns and all sorts of gorgeous things. It was all so beautiful. I also kept her things. I used everything and I admired Loris so much for her kindness, she was also so productive and so happy. She also inspired me to learn to sew.

So my theory is productivity helps us be happy. I am sure of it. These ladies both had disabilities yet it no way hampered their productivity. In fact they were more productive than most people. And happier!

Another was Mrs. Birze. She had come to Australia fleeing the war and knew no English. They moved in next to Nan and Pa. Nan helped teach her english and they became life long friends. Her stories were the first I knew of the horrors of war. She made a wonderful life and spun wool and knitted the finest things. (including the most divine lacy skirt for me) And she was another happy lovely lady who blessed everyone.

So there is something to this! 

You don't have to be great at anything as we all improve as we go. And many times we have supplies we could use to make something without even spending any money to get started. Plus people to help us improve our skills. 

Every time I improve my own skills I feel happy and excited to keep going!

So later today (after painting two kitchen walls) I am learning a new stitch on You tube for my new projects.

Even Andy, who is a man after all, admired the finished product and was shocked at it's size. I have been working under it for so long but he hadn't seen it spread out! 

Mum produces so much knitting for family, friends, charities. You would be shocked to see the volume! No one ever has a baby without lovely rugs and hats etc given to them. She sends supplies with the Nuns who visit people so they have something to give when there is a need, knits for premie babies in the hospitals, cancer patients and hopeful great grand children.

When the weather is like it is now, stormy, wet, freezing, I am more than happy inside and in my spare time and evenings working away on a project. Never bored and never do I think I might go to the shops for an outing or other pitfalls that you can fall into if you are not busy and content. Truly my happiness factor is highest when I am producing something. If I stopped it would be a bad sign! 

Get stuck into projects and save money on gifts as well. Turn things you have into something special. It's amazing what you can do. it is like with baking, a few ingredients that are almost worthless become something fantastic with a little effort. Now wonder this makes us feel good. 

I can't wait to get to this evening and start my next project!

Saturday 21 June 2014

Clean and fresh.

I love the house to smell nice. In general I think a clean house is the most important thing, bins emptied everyday and the house full of the aromas of lovely cooking and plenty of fresh air. Linen that smells of sunshine and towels that smell fresh. These are the basics of your house smelling good.

Over the years I have tried all kinds of scented candles and room fresheners, diffusers and so on. Many smell just dreadful like cheap motels trying to mask something nasty! Many are really just chemicals that I am doubtful we should be inhaling in the first place. 

I have found a few candles/diffusers that smell just divine. And they are very expensive. You do get a couple of weeks of bliss from them but after a couple of months they have lost the best bit and become blahhh! 

My favourite scents are vanilla and caramel fragrances. Love them. But beautiful scents from baking are hard to beat and have a good effect on everyone. Who doesn't love to walk into their home to the smell of a beautiful dinner cooking! 

In a quest to save money, reduce chemicals and have everything clean and smelling good I have used a cleaner recipe I originally got from Simple Savings called Miracle Cleaner. The smell is very fresh as it uses Eucalyptus Oil. This is a good oil as it is a natural germ killer, dust mite killer and smells good. People comment how good your house smells. It is one of those smells that smells clean. You just assume everything is clean and hygienic when you smell this. My daughters husband loves this scent. She adds it to her washing as well.

Now this recipe I have made using different oils. I think the oil should not be just a good smelling oil but a germ killing one. I have used lavender oil and orange oil in place of eucalyptus with really good results. So think of what scent you would like to use as it will fill your home and it will last really well. It is absolutely wonderful and once you have the ingredients you are set for a really long time as this goes a long way. It takes a minute or two to make and each batch lasts just ages.

I pour one lot into bottles. This goes into buckets of water for floor washing. The rest I put into spray bottles. You can recycle a spray bottle or buy one for a couple of dollars. The spray I use in the bathroom, on counter tops etc. It really cuts through grease and stubborn stuff. And when you have cleaned the house smells really wonderful.

This is my current batch made with lavender. Normally I use a lavender dish washing liquid as my detergent component so that it looks lavender in colour.

In a large jug mix 2 dessertspoons of washing soda. (this is in the cleaning isle it is also called lectric soda)
1 litre of water,
40 ml detergent (I use a good dish washing detergent)
200ml of white vinegar
and 40ml of eucalyptus oil or lavender oil or orange/lemon or whatever...

Mix together and pour into your bottles and spray bottles.
For the floors pour a couple of spoonfuls into a bucket of hot water.

If your hands end up in this it feels really soft and lovely. I have found bought cleaning products often take my breathe away. I cough splutter and know I probably shouldn't be breathing this stuff!

Now you can also make your own wipes with this. I pack a big jar with soft cloths. You can get really inexpensive mircofibre cloths and re use them again and again. Then I pour in some miracle cleaner diluted down. If I am filling a big jar I would use two desert spoons miracle cleaner and the rest water. I make it so that I fill the jar with cloths and  about one third fill the jar with water then shake. This way the cloths are all damp. Then you just pull a cloth out to use as an instant wipe. They are really handy. In the kitchen they really cut through sticky stuff and they shine your sink like you wouldn't believe! 

If I see flannelet sheets in the op shop I grab them! (well if they are a dollar or two) I launder them and tear them into sections about the size of a large mans hankie. Some I save for super soft hankies if someone is really ill. They can then be thrown away. They are so soft that they are a saviour. Because it is the softest fabric and has been worn out and washed 100 times it is just soooo soft. I swear by these. The others become soft cleaning rags and for jars of wipes. Really they are so good and between the softness of them and the scent and effectiveness of the cleaner these have me cleaning and dusting away very happily. At the end I love how the place smells!

This is very old fashioned, money saving, healthy and good. We can spend a fortune in the cleaning isle in search of some miracle. Save that money. I hope because of this you will be a few hundred dollars better off every year!

A really good website for make your own cleaning products is One Good Thing By Jillee. She is great and there is something for every need there. I use a lot of her ideas. 

How often do we buy a cleaner hoping it will do something impressive but in the end it just sits in the cupboard!? I find with this recipe it smells so good that I really enjoy using it and so much more cleaning actually happens. Mixing up a new batch is wonderful too and instantly fills the house with a clean fragrance.

I hope you are having a great weekend and keeping warm! xxx

Thursday 19 June 2014

Needing to cut back and save...

I must apologise for my lack of blog posts. While we are renovating it has just been all consuming. The mess, the dust, and the cooking outdoors! Well, we are getting there! Doing it ourselves means we can do this (and only just) otherwise it just wouldn't be happening. 

I can't wait to put up photos of the end result!

This leads me to last night we watched the state budget details come out. It was really terrible. I felt quite sick. So many bills going up for the people while the government do things like spring $8 million for a new office for a new guy (the office is already there this is to upgrade it) and they said oh this is just a little bit,  a drop on the ocean and makes no difference. Well, it makes a lot of difference to ordinary people. I just know so many people who have no heating etc as they cannot afford it. I felt really upset!

So how do we not throw our hands in the air? How do we not get discouraged? How do we find hundreds of dollars when things are already accounted for? This is what so many people are wondering today.

At the same time I am in the hardware shop buying items I need to re plaster the wall where we removed cupboards from. The guy tells me, no, I cannot re plaster this myself (I went armed with photos) and it is a professionals job. I reached a stale mate with this guy. So I said to him if I don't do this then it simply won't be done. Still he said I couldn't do it. I literally had to wait until he turned his back, get what I needed and bolt towards the cash register!

I guess I should go back with photos when I have finished? 

There certainly are times when DIY is not a good idea. Brain surgery for one. But with online instructions and You Tube tutorials so many things are made really easy and there are massive savings.

In a tight budget so many basic skills come in wonderfully handy. From knowing how to hem a pair of jeans to knowing how to turn leftover vegies into a good soup. Knowing how to make muffins or scones as they can be sweet or savoury and extend anything! All our kitchen skills, budgeting and planning skills, shopping for bargains, making our own gifts, growing some herbs and vegies, making preserves, using what we have to the maximum advantage.... they all stretch our budget hugely. 

Now I'm looking at what new skills can I learn that would help us? One is as I have some lovely crochet cotton I am learning a new stitch that looks like bobbles and is suitable for swiffer mops, dish cloths and general cleaning cloths. It is so pretty! You can then throw them in the wash and continually use them to wipe things down and even clean your floors. Except they are so gorgeous, very vintage homemaker. I think they will make lovely gifts and be beautiful to use as well. So I have some sweet gifts planned from those.

I am also just making up an all purpose cleaner from a recipe I got from Simple Savings. I am trying an adaptation of it using lavender oil. The idea is your home ends up smelling beautiful as well as being sparkly clean. Once I have tested it I will share this with you as it is a huge money saver and also you don't need air freshener or scented candles as your home smells beautiful. Little projects like this cheer me up on these kind of days!

It is cold and wet but we are making progress and I hope next week things will start to return to normal!

Have a wonderful weekend! I am so looking forward to being able to make soups and stews again in my beautiful new oven and have countertops to work on! 


Saturday 14 June 2014

Make your car a happy place.

Recently I had the chance to downsize my car. I had lived in the country and had a four wheel drive as the roads were terrible and so were the kangaroos! It was a great car and served me well but not so good for city living and as the price of petrol goes up it became expensive to run.

Now I have a much smaller car oh my goodness what a saving! It is saving money in several ways but petrol would be number one. I cannot believe the difference!

My car is a small white car with no distinguishing features.... and it didn't occur to me what would happen next... I went to the supermarket and when I returned there in front of me were what seemed like a thousand small white cars. Opps, I didn't even know my rego number! 

Sometime later after working out which was my car I resolved to personalise it so this wouldn't happen again. (nd I took a photo of my number plate!)

I spent $25 and gave my car a Bluebird upgrade. I ordered car magnets based on my business car and cut them out to suit the shape. I really love it. (it is the same on each side)

Then I hung something that looks like me so that I can also spot that and pretty up the inside.

Then I thought about all the things I need and stocked it up with tissues, nail files, hand cream, hand wipes and so on.

My friend Mimi had inspired me. Recently she made over the console of her car so she has hand cream etc. next to her. She has a lovely blog called A Tray of Bliss. Her ideas are always lovely and she is the best cook. Thank you Mimi for the inspiration on this!

And it has worked! I have no trouble recognising my car and I feel instead of plain it is personal to me. I really love it! Every time I get in to drive I am greeted by things looking lovely and smelling lovely. After adding things that are good to have on hand and making it look nice I made it smell lovely as well. It smells faintly of my favourite perfume. 

On a practical level I have added a good first aid kit, a torch, a bottle of water, a rug and a stock of shopping bags. Now I feel very happy that I am prepared.

We spend so much time in our cars, ferrying people around and running errands. We might as well make it a pleasure. This little bit I did was amazingly simple but really it has made a difference. It is lovely. I love it!

I'm committed now to keeping it clean and sparkly and my little place that I love. 

Flylady has it that every week you clean out your car. Wisely she knows that a few minutes a week keep your car from becoming cluttered and messy and irritating. It's true. Things become kind of depressing when they are a mess and cars seem to easily accumulate rubbish. We may as well make driving a pleasure and make this little aspect of life so much nicer. 

I hope you have had a lovely weekend. It is very cold here! xxx

Friday 13 June 2014

The order of the day.

A friend of mine is the most amazing hairdresser and always looks beautiful. She once said to me people say they don't have time in the morning to do their hair as they would like and she said to me "yes they do, it's just that they do things in the wrong order". She went on to explain that in the morning if I was to shower and pop velcro rollers through my hair then do everything else and take the rollers out last thing my hair would be perfect everyday. (well more or less!)

I can honestly say every morning when I get ready I think of Holly and what she said.  There are people who achieve so much everyday and people who achive nothing everyday and most of us in the middle somewhere. I think a lot of it has to do with the order of the day. Some clever use of this little phenomenon can make us much more productive.

How can we use order and timing to help us? I think it's the same as with everything else a little planning makes us see things more clearly and saves lots of time overall. Like putting dinner on early and you know it's cooking itself while you are busy with after school things and early baths. It is just cooking away and will be ready when you are. It's kind of an insurance policy against whatever might happen later in the day!

This also involves being realistic. I remember when the girls were babies. Late afternoon just was a bad time, I would be tired and if they were going to be grizzly this would be it. Evenings could be downright overwhelming.  I soon learned to have dinner on way before then so I did not have to try to cook dinner then. And I learned to bath the baby early and did that for a while until this period passed. Just to take the pressure off that time. But babies or not we have times that work mounts up and you hit a bottleneck of too many things in too short a time. Stress! Working out what those times are for you and deciding on "relocating" some things to another time just just save the day.

Planning soup or a crock pot casserole for the next day, knowing I may be late, tired or busy, I will part prepare it the night before. Have the meat thawed, maybe cut some vegies and a few things sitting there next to the waiting crock pot on the bench. Then even getting it going is easy.

If mornings are pure chaos the evening before becomes part of the order of your day. A few things set and ready to go the evening before can make it all go so much more smoothly!

In the morning get all your handmaidens working while you are doing the things you need to do. Then so much is accomplished and you feel like you're off to a wonderful start. Everything is happening and your helpers (washing machine, bread maker, crock pot etc) are all going flat out. it's a great head start.

When you plan your order of the day plan your breaks. You will do so much better and get much more done if you allow and make sure you have a morning tea break, lunch and an afternoon tea break. Instead of feeling burnt out, headachy and stressed you will feel calm and refreshed and ready to carry on. Seriously it took me ages to learn this. Flylady teaches to take regular breaks, admire what you've done, have a cup of tea then move on to the next thing. It truly works!

We all have days that just go wrong! But when every day goes wrong then re planning the order of the day might be in order! Set things going and do what you can while other things are happening and you just sail along nicely! If the weather is going to be sunny, just now in winter, I will do a load of washing in the evening so it is ready to hang out first thing. It gets more things out in that sunshine before it passes! That is how I helped the order of my day last night.

Have a lovely weekend. I don't think we have sun for long so I'm taking full advantage of it! xxx

Tuesday 10 June 2014

You can't buy...

You have heard me talking about Laines Letters so many times. Of all the things I learned reading them the biggest is this.... you cannot buy most of the things that are really important. No amount of money will buy you the list of things I am about to talk about. Your own work, your own hands and your own attitude are just more valuable than you can know.

You cannot buy atmosphere for your home. There is no candle you can burn that makes a happy nurturing and safe atmosphere. No interior designer and no amount of money can buy safe and cosy. Nope that stuff just isn't for sale. But you can create it, increase it, maintain it and nurture it through all the loving little things you do.

You can't pay someone to look after your child as you would. No amount of money ensures even the basics are going on when you are not looking. A Mothers watchful eye cannot be easily replaced. Unfortunately no amount of money spent  protects a child in a strangers care. This is a hard one. There are times we may have no choice and there is an age where you have no choice. But none the less money does not buy trustworthiness.  I heard a judge say that pedophiles are smart. They always place themselves where children are, where they are most trusted and where they have access. They are not stupid. Parents are! I have never forgotten that. 

You can't buy relationships. No amount of gifts and stuff replaces spending time with someone, loving them, knowing their thoughts and feelings. 

You can't buy style. We all can visualise vast amounts of money spent by people only to look tacky and worse.... you just can't buy style.

You can't buy empathy, sympathy.... I'm not sure it can even be taught to some but a good example and good discipline can teach it and nurture it in a child.

You can't buy class.  Like the funny scene in Eliza Doolittle when she is at the races... she speaks BEAUTIFULLY but the content is so terrible it's hilarious. 

You can't buy practicality. No amount of money is enough if it all slips through your fingers. Good sense and wisdom just can't be bought either!

You can't buy grace. Restraint. Humour. Kindness. Determination. Resolve. Resilience.

In the end you can be hire help for certain things and we can learn and increase our skills and understanding over time. But really the overall atmosphere of our homes, the general state of things comes down to us. The wonderful part of this is that a beautiful atmosphere can be created without much money. We can look nice and act in a gracious way with little cash. Clean brushed hair, clean clothes, good manners, considerate nature... all make a person who is respected, not large amounts of cash spent on this seasons wardrobe. 

Really you can't force anyone to learn anything. A person has to have a teachable heart. We have to have teachable hearts and want to continually learn and do better. Like when Helen Keller's brain suddenly "got" the relationship between the squiggles on her hand and the item she was touching and she realised it was language, had meaning, mean't communication! That huge !!! moment when we understand a new concept and things are not what we thought or presumed! That mind bending moment when you realise there is another way you had never thought of! Well, you can't buy that you have to be teachable and willing to accept new ideas and possibilities!

You cannot buy peace or contentment. A million dollars on relaxing therapies still might not relax you and no amount of money buys contentment. As far as I can see these are things that grow as kind of a fruit of how we live our lives. No amount of stuff fixes a hole in your heart.

You can't buy love. Especially with kids. They can stop a fraud a mile away. Many of us will have someone in our hearts who we know loved us. I am betting when you think of it, it's not the things they bought you, it's the time they spend with you and the way they made you feel.

What it all means to me is so much comes down to us. I know not everything but so much... Rather than feeling overwhelmed I think lets feel important. Our work is not for nothing, it is irreplaceable. Our attitude sets a tone and affects everyone around us influencing people enormously and changing generations to come. With little kids we are laying down a foundation and you only get one chance to do it. It is soon gone and they have grown into another stage. 

There are so many ways your daily work is truly worth more than rubies.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

A simple card tutorial. Part 2.

Yesterday we started on a simple way to make lovely cards. Today I am showing you how to make crepe paper ruffles and use your cards as gifts as well.

I buy a pack of crepe paper for 90c. That's the price in our local cheap shop. You can choose a colour you like. I buy white and while it is still folded (as it comes) I pop the whole thing into a tray filled with a brew of tea or coffee. I want it to look antique. You need to help the "dye" get into the centre and right through it. Then I sit that in the sun to dry which takes a few days. I try and open it up a bit to let the air into it. This lot I added a tiny fleck of pink fabric dye to my coffee to get a pinkish brown that looks old and faded. When it dries it looks crinkled and shabby which is what I am after. Then I cut it into the width I want, usually about 3 cm wide, but whatever you want.  I cut it while it is still folded so it is quick to cut even strips.

Run a steady line of craft clue along where you want to place your ruffle. Fold under the end of your crepe paper strip and press it into the end where you want it placed. Then gently squish little pleats and make it ruffle up together, press and keep working along your line. End folding under the last bit. Quickly adjust it anywhere you are not happy. You can be full or soft as you like with this effect. The first time practice this on a scrap rather than on a card you have just right! Once you have done this once it is so easy. It looks wonderful on gift boxes, gift bags, tags etc as well. From you 90c you get an enormous amount.

You can also do rows of ruffles....

I gives a soft and romantic effect. I love this stuff! 

As I said yesterday consider confining yourself to ensure your card fits in an envelope when you are doing ruffles etc. if you are wanting to post it. Otherwise I don't worry... ruffles and trims can make it tricky with envelopes.

At the end of the day no two cards are the same. My idea of success is when someone loves their card. I try pretty hard to give people a card that I think is in the colours they love and with images I know they will really adore. Most times as I assemble a card I will know who will end up with it. 

The whole bonus here is working away on something like this is really fun. If you were a little girl who loved to colour and cut and paste this craft is for you! You find yourself absorbed in what you are doing and it's lovely. 

Now this is a really simple method. There are stamps, embossing, 3D methods and all sorts of beautiful things you can do to make gorgeous cards. My online friend Susan makes stunning cards with great technical ability that amaze me. If you get into it the sky is the limit. You can make stunning invitations, thank you's and get well cards. You can pack them up into groups and include a pen and give them as a gift. What a useful and money saving gift too. Lining a pretty box with tissue paper, fill it with cards and tie it up with a ribbon. Or use a cellophane bag and tie that up prettily. Now you have wonderful gifts as well. We all use and need cards. 

Things do not have to be perfect to be beautiful. Remember you are hand making something with love. Do not be too critical of your work! Many times there are imperfections, it is ok. Many times charm is the result of imperfection. 

Now you have cards in plentiful supply and you are not worried by the price of them you can give them freely. Write thank you's and beautiful notes. These will be gifts in themselves. 

I make a card like this every week for Kath in the nursing home and fill it with a letter. In her dull room she has displayed my cards (and flowers) and her room is looking much prettier. Something pretty to look at. But if I was buying them, well, I wouldn't really be able to send one every week! Just bless people with your cards. They are often enough and no further gift is even needed.

Bless people with your cards and nice words. You can have an abundance of beautiful cards on hand all the time and a lovely time making them.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

An easy card making tutorial. Part 1.

I've had some requests to do some tutorials on card making. I often say making your own cards and gifts is the most massive money saver. I just had a look in the newsagents and selected a few cards I thought were nice and the average was about $8 with some really divine ones being more. 

I am making this super easy. I'm going to show you how to make very simple cards using bits and pieces you might have (and can certainly save from now on) for card making sessions. My aims are to keep the price right down, use up things I have and make cards that are really pretty for my family and friends. To keep plenty on hand at all times so I never have to buy one. 

Yesterday I gathered up some lace scraps, ribbon and bits and pieces I have that are really left overs. I had purchased blank cards. These ones are from Cheap as Chips (our local cheap shop) and they are $2 for a pack of ten. I choose soft pastel colours. Choose whatever suits your own taste and who you are making cards for. I also bought a packet of butterflies as Chloe loves butterflies and they appealed to me. They were also $2 for 6.

I found this book in an op shop for $1. It is perfect for my cards and I'm guessing it has 100 suitable images. The other thing is it has good quality paper, heavier glossy paper. I also use English home magazines that Mum buys. Cheaper magazines have thinner paper and it is not so good, it shows wrinkles and glue marks making it difficult. So go for good quality paper. The imagination is the only limit here. Beautiful childrens' books make gorgeous baby cards, think Beatrix Potter, Winnie the Pooh... all lovely. I have used illustrated bird and rose books, wildlife and also music books etc depending on who I am making cards for. This book of glorious flowers is really good for me and my colours...

I really love a larger square card as they look lovely with a great image and I use these for gift giving but I use a standard sized card mostly when I am going to be posting a card to save on postage. Think of that as you go.

So yesterday I had these supplies that I picked out as they went together with my flower and colour themes. I have another box of bits that are more rustic but I was going pretty/girlie. So think in terms of a theme and a bit of a colour scheme. Apart from your images you could use buttons, broken jewellery, lace, fabric, braid, ribbon, motifs, sequins, old cards, glitter, pressed flowers, doilies, stickers, stamps, wrapping paper, string ... anything really. Save save save every pretty little thing that comes your way. Once I used a lovely jewellery catalogue and made card covered in diamonds! Another time I made cards with gorgeous high heels and handbags from a vogue magazine. Imagine a book on ballet for a young girl studying ballet or a book on ships for a little boy. So many cards just right!

I simply select my image and trace around my card with a pencil and cut it out. Using a glue stick glue this to your card. Turn your card over and if there is any overhang carefully cut that off so everything is straight and flush.  When placing something like a flower a general rule is do not centre things, be a little off centre. And when gluing things on be the same, things tend to look natural in odd numbers and off centre. That's nature! I try to incorporate several elements into each card. I have a little play around and when I am happy I just glue things on using craft glue. If I am going to be posting the card I keep things within the front of the card so it will fit in it's envelope. If it is going on top of a parcel I go crazy and might add a ruffle, 3D elements etc as it doesn't matter. I will make it a pretty feature on top of the gift wrap.

As you know I get a lot of pretty bits and pieces from op shops and especially old slips and nightwear. Another way to get lace inexpensively is to cut up old lace curtains. (see below this is just strips of curtains) A lace panel might be $3 at an op shop and give you 100 metres of lace! This also looks lovely on parcels. Torn pretty floral fabrics also make nice ribbons. Crepe paper is gorgeous for ruffles and I will show you how to do that tomorrow. It is so cheap to use this as one pack lasts forever!

The steps I've been through today will make a pretty card with some embellishments and use up all sorts of bits and pieces you might have saved. Each one will be unique!

Often I tie a ribbon though the middle and attach a charm. I might use three thin ribbons or one thicker one...  I will include ideas on this tomorrow.

While doing this I still save the little leftovers to use on gift tags which are smaller again. Tiny little bits will make gorgeous gift tags. I will do a tutorial in them another day... they are just so sweet and very handy.

It's a bit gloomy here today and my kitchen is ripped out... I had to find a clear space to do this tutorial! It was actually an enjoyable distraction. Even looking at the colours and flowers brightens me up! 

I hope you will have a play with your supplies and enjoy making cards. They are so handy and fun to give. xxx