Getting My Craft On (and trying to avoid a cold)

Getting My Craft On (and trying to avoid a cold)

Ugh.  Feeling slightly icky today.  Am hoping it’s just a 24-hour type of thing as I have plans to enjoy my weekend and do a bit of crafting as well as enjoying the Australia Day fireworks tomorrow.  I haven’t been ill in ages (and have jinxed myself by saying exactly that, out loud, today) so I really don’t want to spoil my run of good health.  Just very tired and slightly feverish, headachey and blah.  My Mum is staying for the weekend and she always makes me feel better, plus I’ve dosed myself up on vitamin C, garlic and horseradish, so hopefully I will perk up tomorrow. Being sick on a public holiday just will not do!

Spent some time with my brother and his brood today.  Master M was turning six and so we had a little family gathering to celebrate.  Much fun was had.  The children are so well behaved and such a delight to be with.  My heart swells-to-bursting with ridiculous love for them.  They’re just such NICE little people.  Master M got so “awesome” presents (lots of lego, art supplies and an amazing Minecraft-themed bean bag) and had a lovely time building his new lego creations and playing with his siblings.  He had requested a “fox” birthday cake so his Mum made a delightfully orange one (which was enjoyed by all) and she also had decorated the room in various fox-themed party favours and decorations.

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In the afternoon, I attempted to start making some cards (as a lady at work has requested some from me and I have absolutely nothing in my stash).  I completed one, but as I was not feeling the best, gave up for the rest of the evening.  I’m happy to have made one – it’s a starting point and I didn’t have too much trouble making it, despite feeling under the weather and rather uninspired in general.  I went with my stand-by theme of egg-and-wings.  I just love the combination.

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Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.  For those of you here in Oz, happy Australia Day for tomorrow – hope you enjoy your day!  I’ll be watching the fireworks from the foreshore, just at the end of my street.  I am ethically opposed to fireworks – the environment suffers as do any poor animals and birds in the area – but as they will happen regardless, I might as well enjoy them too.  Especially as my beloved nieces and nephews, brother, sister-in-law, and Mum will come and watch them with me this year 🙂

Gardening for the Non-Gardener

Gardening for the Non-Gardener

I like gardening.  I like pottering about among the, um, pots and such.  I like watching things grow and bloom and I like having lots of greenery around me.  But, I am sad to say, I am not very good at gardening.  I forget to water things, am slack about repotting the seriously-in-need-of-repotting and I have a tendency to forget I even have a garden.  Which is why succulents are a good choice for me.  I can forget about them, at least a bit, and not have lots of dead plants everywhere.  They are easy to grow and come in all shapes and sizes so you can have a nice little collection of interesting specimens that often have pretty flowers and/or colourful foliage.  The best thing about succulents is that you can grow them from cuttings very easily and propagate more plants from just the leaves.  They are hardy (although it is still possible to kill them – trust me) and withstand a bit of punishment and neglect as long as you follow the basic rules.

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I have found that succulents do indeed need to be watered.  While many online guides and gardening books tell you not to overwater them, you do still need to keep them hydrated, especially here in Australia where Summer days are extremely hot.  I have killed one aeonium by letting it get too wet and nearly lost several spiky haworthias by allowing them to dry out too much and get burnt by the full sun.  But on the whole, they are fairly forgiving little suckers and I find that you can muddle your way through their care and keep them pretty happy.

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Tomorrow I have to pot up a bunch of cuttings and propagated “babies” that I have had sitting in my bath tub for over a month.  They’re perfectly happy in there – I haven’t even watered them or anything.  But I really need to get them potted up, although I am running out of room on my little outdoor shelves – might have to give some of the plants away or perhaps set up another area to house them.  I have several friends who also grow them, so giving them away won’t be a problem – I could even take some to work and have them in our little courtyard garden there.

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I had to repot a very fast-growing kalanchoe “Flapjacks”, with its large, paddle-shaped leaves.  It started out as a small cutting but has grown into three big plants that were crying out for a new pot.  So I did them this afternoon – hopefully they will be happier having a little more breathing room.

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I love my little Jelly Bean succulent.  It’s so cute!  It also self-propagates like nobody’s business!  Whenever a leaf drops off or gets knocked off, I chuck it into a nearby pot.  I don’t do anything with it, just leave it to do its thing.  Within a few weeks, there is normally the start of tiny pink roots and not long after that, there is the beginning of a brand new plant.  Amazing!  I love that they are that easy to grow.  I really need to repot my “mother” plant as it is getting way too big for its current pot (which is basically the one I brought it home in).  But it looks healthy and happy enough and has had lots of babies 🙂

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Another specimen in need of a much bigger pot is my beloved “Bunny”.  This little cactus makes me smile with its funny little arms and bunny ears.  I think it is waving in a desperate attempt to get me to find it a bigger home.  It has grown so much since I bought it last year at the swap meet.  I keep promising it a new pot (yes, I am one of those weirdos who talks to their plants!) but have yet to get round to doing it.  Tomorrow, hopefully.

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I’ve got various pots around the place with cuttings and propagated leaves growing in them.  When they’re big enough I may give them their own individual spot, or leave them to fill the pot they’re in.  I love the little mini gardens people make with various kinds of succulents all in one pot – it’s so lush and pretty.

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My other pot plants are also doing well.  I divided, cut back and repotted my poinsettias midway through last year as they were very leggy and a bit pot-bound.  I chopped them back to what amounted to bare sticks, but they are thriving now and have a healthy growth of foliage.  I missed out on their vivacious red colour last Christmas, but this coming year they should be back at their glorious best.  At any rate, I think they look nice even if they’re just green and healthy.

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My white geranium, though a bit shabby, is flowering well and I really like the bright white flowers against the dark green foliage.  I’ve always wanted a white one and I’m glad I have succeeded in keeping this one alive and reasonably happy.

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My Bay tree is growing at a rate of knots and always stays pretty healthy and glossy.  From a little seedling it has quadrupled in size and has been a welcome addition to my kitchen staples.  Adding a bay leaf to soups and stews really does make a delicious difference.

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A couple of months ago the gardener that takes care of the gardens at the front of our properties decided to viciously prune my fishtail ferns and azaleas.  I came home to a savaged, brown patch of garden – horrors!  It looks awful.  I loved my azaleas, and even the fishtail fern (as overgrown as it was) looked lush and green.  Now it looks as though a bushfire went through and desecrated the whole area.  I was hoping it would sprout quickly and grow back, but so far I’ve only got the start of some azalea shoots and the fern has given up entirely.  I hope that after Summer it might all come good again but right now it looks dreadful.  I still don’t really understand why they decided to chop it all down but leave everything else.  I just have an ugly brown patch in the middle of an otherwise green garden.

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      So, while I am no “green thumb” and have a lot to learn in regards to keeping a healthy, happy garden, I’m fairly pleased with how it is going.  It’s just nice to have plants around – I keep quite a few inside as well as they brighten the house up and promote a feeling of calm (supposedly!).  I have herbs as well, such as sage and rosemary, parsley and mint.  It’s lovely to be able to pick your own herbs to add to cooking and at least your know where they’ve come from and that they haven’t been treated with any chemicals or other toxic substances.

I’m determined to get the rest of my garden looking ship-shape this year. The soil needs improving, the garden beds need building up and borders formed to stop the soil running away, weeds need to be gotten rid of and the general overall look needs tidying up.  Because I am in a rental, it is easy to get stuck in the “it’s not mine – why should I bother?” rut, but I really need to make an effort and make it more presentable.  One day, if a miracle occurs, I might be able to afford a place of my own – and I want to have a beautiful garden that will be a joy to be in.  For now, though, I enjoy the little pots and courtyard areas that make up my “garden”, and I will continue to potter about, hopefully not killing things, and trying my best to turn my black thumbs to green.  I’m getting there slowly.

Do you have a favourite spot in your garden?  Do you get to potter about in it as much as you’d like?

A Sentence a Day

A Sentence a Day

For Christmas, my best friend CG gave me a sort-of journal, titled “A Sentence a Day”.  As the title suggests, it has daily prompts for journaling your year (designed to show two years’ worth of entries so you can look back and see how you changed or stayed the same over that period) and encourage self-reflection.  It’s really a book for younger people (I discovered this on one page as the prompt for the day was “What did you do at school today?) but I’ve been happily filling in the pages and have enjoyed having that extra “push” to prompt me into writing.  I’ve been a bit hopeless lately (as would be obvious by the lack of blogging I have done over the last month or so) and so it’s been helpful having the little book to look forward to each day.

So, because I am literally out of ideas this week, and because my house is spotlessly clean and tidy (miracle of miracles!) – I don’t want to mess it up, not even for crafting! – I’m going to take a few of the prompts from the book and write my responses here.  Feel free to do the same on your blog (if you have one) or in your diary or wherever.  It’s cheating, ever so slightly, but I am completely inspiration-less this week.  I hope my mojo comes back soon, otherwise I’m in trouble.

So here goes – I’m just going to flick through the pages and choose random prompts…

  1. How do you feel about speaking in front of people?  Horrible!  Petrified, self-conscious and suddenly devoid of all thought and intelligence!
  2. Who is the funniest person you know?  Definitely my brother 🙂
  3. What’s your favourite sea creature?  Can I say a mermaid? 🙂  I think seahorses are amazing and beautiful but I also love whales, dolphins, seals and stingrays.  Ooh, and those creepy Vampire Squids!  They’re awesome!
  4. Do you have any bad habits?  God, where do I start?!  I chew my fingers and pick at them.  It’s disgusting.  I’m a teeth-grinder and a tongue-sucker (in my sleep).  Various unladylike habits.  All anxiety related, but bad habits nevertheless.  I used to suck my thumb when I was a child.  Then I got braces and couldn’t do it any more!
  5. What is unforgivable?  Child abuse and abuse of animals.
  6. What was the last time you saw a movie at the cinema?  What was it?  Last night!  I saw “St Vincent” with my work friend CI.  Excellent movie, great evening. We had dinner out (no dessert – good girls!) and chatted and enjoyed a great movie starring the amazing Bill Murray.  He’s a favourite of mine.
  7. What’s your favourite flower?  Violets, obviously! 🙂
  8. Describe how your house is decorated : My home has no definite style.  I am a bit schizophrenic in my decorating tastes.  I like bright colours but then I also like white and shabby-chic.  So I have a bit of everything.  I’m only renting so I can’t paint walls or do to much to the house in terms of decorating or changing any structures.  I like to have “pockets” of themes or colour palettes.  Each of my bookshelves has a different “vibe” going on.

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  1. What do you like most about your own personality?  I think I’m quite kind.  I try to be anyway.
  2. What does your dream house look like?  Cute.  I’ve always wanted a cute little house with a white picket fence, a pretty garden, and a warm and welcoming feel to it.  I’d like a porch with a rocking chair on it.  I’d like to be near the ocean and have room for animals.  I’d like an upstairs section (even if it’s just one little room) and a pretty guest room so visitors could stay the night.
  3. Describe your hairstyle : Slightly mental and uncooperative.  I have thick, unruly hair which I have grown to be grateful for.  I don’t try and tame it these days – it does its own thing and I do mine.  We agree to meet somewhere in the middle 🙂

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I have promised myself I will get better at blogging this year, so hopefully won’t need the little book to help me too many times throughout the coming months.  I’m enjoying my nice tidy home right now and so I am trying to hold of from doing anything crafty or mess-making.  I’m not very good at relaxing and doing nothing so I am finding it hard to know what to do if I’m not busy being busy.  I’ve even considered doing some ironing today which just shows I am getting desperate!

Hope your New Year is going well and shaping up to be the best year yet.  There is so much uncertainty and fear in the world right now – I can only hope that your own little corner is peaceful and happy.

Thanks for dropping by x

Quick Christmas Cards (or, An Idea for Christmas Cards that Would have Been More Useful BEFORE Christmas…)

Quick Christmas Cards (or, An Idea for Christmas Cards that Would have Been More Useful BEFORE Christmas…)

Every year at Christmas, there is one thing I fail miserably at…making my own Christmas cards.  But, you say, raising an eyebrow quizzically and looking confused, you make LOADS of cards every year!  Ah yes, I reply, but not for myself to give away.  I sell the cards I make and always leave myself with none.  So I have to resort to shop-bought cards (ew!) or hastily cobbled together handmade ones that are a bit, well, crappy, because I’ve run out of time and energy.  Also, because I am very unorganised and always running behind schedule, it is almost Easter by the time I actually get around to making cards and sending them to people so sometimes I just give up all together.

This year I was determined to make some cards for family and friends and co-workers.  I had zero time in which to do anything but really wanted to give out handmade ones.  So, I had a bright spark of inspiration one night and came up with these simple-to-make cards that I was able to finish quickly and whilst sitting on the couch (that part is very important!).

I started by taking photos of Christmassy objects around the house; I focused on things I had made myself or that Mum had made for me.  I also used some other “props” such as pearl beads or Xmas baubles, arranged prettily in bowls or whatever was handy.  I used some Instagram filters to make them look suitably arty (and to hide my bad photography skills ha ha) and then printed the pictures out in a size suitable for using on a card.

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I glued them to card stock and cute them out, edging them with a black marker.  I stamped Christmas sentiments on a plain folded card and then attached the photos in the centre with mounting tape.  Easy!  They are simple and effective and would work equally well for other occasions (with different subject matter for the pictures).

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I wish I had taken more photos of them to show the finished product…but as it was already coming up for Christmas Eve, I didn’t have time (in other words, I forgot…).

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A simple project that didn’t take much time or energy and made use of things I had around the house.  I’m going to make some birthday cards next, so I always have a stash ready to go.

Hope your New Year is going well so far.  Back to work tomorrow for me – ugh!  I am so not ready. But it will be good to see my workmates and catch up on gossip.  That’s what we go to work for, right?

🙂

Bobtail (Blue-Tongued Skink)

Bobtail (Blue-Tongued Skink)

Visitor at work last week – this little guy :

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I had heard some rustling in the undergrowth by our backdoor and went to investigate.  We’d had a snake in the library a couple of weeks ago and so everyone is on the alert for anything scaly and possibly bitey.  I’m not frightened of snakes (yes, I am one of those weird people) but didn’t want anyone else to freak out or get bitten so I had a careful look in and around the leaves and plants growing by the door.  And there he was, a little bobtail.  Not at all uncommon here in Western Australia – most people, at one time or another, have probably had one of these little guys in their garden.  They are omnivorous and eat everything from insects to fruit, snails and flowers.  They also scavenge for carrion.  They are handy to have in the garden as they do keep a few pests at bay (although they will also help themselves to your tomatoes!).

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This fellow was hiding in the shade and looked comfortable enough, but as it was a particularly hot day, I left him a dish of water, just in case he was thirsty.  Later that day he decided to take a walk right round to the front of the building and try and get in the front door ) attracted by the air-conditioned coolness within I guess.  It was suggested he might frighten some of our dementia day centre members, so I attempted to catch him and escort him away from the building.

Normally they are reasonably easy to catch (although you do need to watch out for the bitey end!) but this one – crikey! – he was FAST!  I had to chase him down the verandah with a towel, hoping to grab him while his head was covered.  But, he was too speedy and very feisty, and as it was such a warm day, I didn’t want to stress him, so I just coerced him back into the undergrowth, hoping he’d stay there for the rest of the day, or at least until people had left the day centre.

I managed to get a couple of good photos of him – isn’t he beautiful?  He sadly had one deformed back leg but it didn’t seem to slow him down at all.  He was pretty big too – maybe a foot long and very strong and healthy.  Apparently, bobtails are usually monogamous when pairing up and can stay “faithful” to their mates for up to 20 years.  They give birth to 1 – 4 fully developed young.  The offspring stay with their parents for a few months before heading off on their own, but stay in close proximity to the family group.  It’s not uncommon to see two or three bobtails walking along together (very cute, if you like that sort of thing!) and they will show you their bright blue tongues if feeling threatened.  They don’t have sharp teeth as such, but do have powerful jaws and can give a nasty bite which, due to their scavenger diet can harbour lots of icky bacteria.

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A different sort of visitor to have at the library, but certainly one I was happy to see 🙂

New Year’s Revolutions

New Year’s Revolutions

Yes, that’s right – REVOLUTIONS.  Because the world has once again spun around on its axis and brought us to another New Year.  I don’t know where the last one went.  It was a year of tears and tragedy, heartache and horrible events, both personally and internationally.  But was it really so awful?  Sometimes we only remember the bad stuff, not letting the good stuff stay in our minds and hearts as much as we should.  I know I am guilty of that, although I do try and embrace the tiniest of moments that bring me joy.

As I write this I am reminded of my precious nephews and nieces, who bring me so much happiness, just by their very existence.  They hold the whole world in their eyes, and their hearts are always full of endless love and gratitude, kindness and generosity.  Over Christmas, I spent a few happy days with my brother, his partner, their four children, my Mum, Dad and Stepmother at my Dad’s property in Boyanup.  We swam in the pool, went spotlighting at night to look for bunnies and kangaroos and had a girl’s day out, shopping and searching for treasures in antique stores.  But mostly, we were together, enjoying the chatter of the children and the closeness of our family.  I am eternally grateful for the family I have been given.  It hasn’t always been smooth-sailing, and there has definitely been trials and tribulations, but we are stronger now for it.  My Mum and Stepmother get along well – there is no bickering or snide comments, no favouritism or possessiveness.  My Stepmother welcomes my Mum graciously into her home and my Mum is happy my Dad is content and has found love again. Past disagreements and acrimonious behaviour has been replaced by tolerance and respect, even love and affection.  I am so proud of my parents and I hope I can be as forgiving as my Mum has been.  I’m not there yet, but I am working on it and finding a small place in my heart for the woman who currently hold’s my husband’s affections.  She may need my understanding and empathy at some point.  Or she may not.  And I must be prepared for that as well.  I cannot wish unhappiness on another person and should not seek to do so.  That would only damage my own contentment, in the long run.  So I aim to forgive and let go this year, as much as I can, if only to allow myself to move forward and be a whole person again.

My resolutions last year were long and varied.  I can’t say that I succeeded in keeping many of them.  But I try not to see that as a failure, rather as incentive to try harder this coming year.  I alway have a million and one resolutions, and that is probably why I have trouble keeping them – it’s just too much to manage in one year.  I need to simplify and de-clutter (see? even my resolutions are messy and unorganised!) and try to just make a few important changes that will help me make more later on.

There is always the obligatory “Lose Weight”, but I am modifying that, so it will come under the heading of “Be Healthy” instead.  That means eating better and exercising more, not just to lose weight and look better in jeans, but to feel better and stay healthy and strong.  I need to stop making excuses and just commit.  I am not hugely overweight and I do ok, food-wise, most of the time.  But I want to improve and cut out a few unhealthy practices, introduce some healthier ones and try to just, well, DO better.  I need to stick to my renal diet and make sure that “treats” are just that – treats, not everyday foods.  I need to exercise every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes to start with – I need to get moving.

I’m going to try and be kinder to myself this year.  I need to improve my own self-image and worth.  I’m not sure how to do that and I don’t know how to stop the little voice inside my head that tells me I am stupid, fat, useless, ugly etc etc.  It’s a nasty little voice and I need to shut it up this year.  Nobody is perfect, but no one is as awful and worthless as my little inner voice says I am.  This year, it is going to get silenced, or at least persuaded to whisper instead of shout.  It might have to be a compromise – maybe we can work out a schedule whereby it is only mean to me on certain days? 🙂

I want to be more creative.  For myself.  It’s great that I make things that people want to buy, but I am never left with anything I’ve made, for myself.  I want my house to be filled with things I have created, things that say “I made this” and “This is me”.  I want to try new techniques and have a go at crafts I wouldn’t attempt before.  I want to fail and be ok with that.  I want to write more and waste less time.  Every day should have at least a few minutes of creativity in it.

I do want to be tidier and more organised.  I have been tidying for the last few days and have managed to clear my dining room (yes, even that took several days to get clear!).  I want to be able to have people over and not be embarrassed by how disgraceful my home is.  I want to try and put things away and not pile stuff up everywhere.  I want my home to be a haven, not an eyesore.  One room at a time, I am going to sort out my “stuff” and de-clutter, which will mean throwing things out (I’m not good at that) and giving things away.  I want my home to look like a grown-up lives here.
But, for now, I have a tidy dining room and can eat my dinner there, and that is a start.

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I want to be braver, in every aspect of my life.  I do not take risks, I do not try new things and I never trust my own instincts.  I just want to be more decisive and trust my own gut feeling about people and opportunities.  I want to forgive myself when those instincts are wrong.  I want to stop hiding and just come out of the shadows a little.  I need to get better at talking to people and not being frightened of social events.  I need to remind myself that most people are too caught up in their own dramas and anxieties to notice my inner turmoil.  I do not have a sign over my head that reads “I am scared” so I should stop acting as though I do.  I should fake it till I make it.

I want to address my physical and mental health concerns.  I need to do some hard work this year to overcome many of these.  I am not looking forward to it, I admit.  But it is important that “being healthy” means all aspects of myself.  This includes relationships.  I need to stop comparing all men to my soon-to-be-ex-husband.  They are not him and I need to allow them to have their own quirks and faults, just as I do, and not strike them off the list because I think I will get hurt again.  I made one bad judgement – it doesn’t mean I will do it again.  So I am going to try to be a little less guarded, which will be difficult, because I have been that way for a long time now.

Basically this year I just want to try.  I want to attempt things and do my best to improve.  If I fail, at least I have tried, and can always try again.

I hope 2015 will be an amazing year for you all.  I hope love and laughter, light and creativity fill your homes and hearts.  Let’s all try to be as forgiving and kind as we can, and that includes being kind to ourselves.  I’m going to try.

Happy New Year, everyone xxx