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How to Have a Happy Birthday

Birthdays have always been a bit tricky for me.  For a long time I believed that something bad would always happen on my special day (mostly because, for several years in a row, I had disastrous birthdays where loved ones became gravely ill, pets died, people got in car accidents and general chaos and doom reigned) and so I tended to try to just get it over and done with as quickly as possible.

As I got older and, particularly after surviving a life-threatening illness, I starting believing that having another birthday was actually pretty good.  Bad stuff could still happen, but then it could on any other day, so why worry about it?

Usually, I try and organise a dinner out, or a get-together of some description with friends or family or both.  This year, I just wanted time on my own.  I didn’t want to involve anyone else, which sounds really selfish and unsociable, but I just wanted to spend my day pottering about by myself, doing as I pleased and not having any schedule to follow.  I highly recommend it 🙂  I don’t get lonely and am quite happy with my own company.  I wanted a stress-free, restorative, recharging kind of day.

So, my idea of a good birthday goes something like this…..

1. Dress in a comfortable outfit, in your favourite colours.  
Makeup and hair done for no one else but yourself.

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I don’t feel blue wearing blue!

 

2. Take yourself out for a delicious, hearty breakfast…….

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Field Mushrooms on Sourdough, with Goat’s Cheese and Poached Eggs…

3…..and eat it all up.  Don’t feel guilty at all.

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All gone!

4.  Visit a favourite, gorgeous shop.  Wander around for an hour or so and don’t buy anything.  Feel good that you didn’t spend unnecessarily (even if it is because you’re a bit poor right now and couldn’t afford to even if you wanted to).

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Antidote in Mount Hawthorn
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Hammered and stamped recycled spoons at Antidote – Love them!

 

5. Make yourself a birthday cake and share it with loved ones at dinner time.   It doesn’t matter if the cake is a bit homely looking.  People will be polite and eat it anyway.

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6.  Drink vast quantities of tea, preferably out of pretty china so you feel like a lady.

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Tea for one!

 

7.  Go op-shopping.  Buy shoes for a ridiculously low price (in this case $4.25).

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New shoes! (well, 2nd hand new!)

 

So, for me, a perfect birthday is one in which I spend time doing things I enjoy, with no schedule or plan.  I ended the day with my brother and his family, which was lovely – I even had candles on my cake and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me.  Delightful. Maybe spending a day on your own isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it was exactly what I needed and I’m so glad I did it.

So how do you spend your birthday?  Do you like to ignore it, go all out and spoil yourself, or plan a quiet day of solitude and reflection?  Whatever you do, I hope you always feel loved and appreciated on your special day.

Thanks for dropping by x

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How to Measure Christmas

Christmas Day is just around the corner.  I can’t believe how quickly it has come up this year.  I probably say that every year, but this last twelve months has whizzed by, and so much has happened.  It’s been such a strange, disturbing year, with a lot of loss and grief for so many people.  I don’t know about you, but I am praying for a much kinder 2017.

My Mum is currently suffering with a nasty cough/virus and it makes me very anxious.  I can’t bear for her to be ill.  She is always so healthy and I sometimes forget she is a senior now, and small illnesses can be potentially dangerous.  Also, being sick at Christmas sucks!  I know she feels miserable and concerned and also annoyed that she can’t do a lot – she hates neglecting her garden and other chores.  I just worry incessantly, especially as I am not just around the corner but 30 minutes drive away, and I can’t keep a close eye on her.  Luckily, my best friend’s Mum is just around the corner – in fact, she is taking Mum to the doctor’s this morning (I would have done but had no one to cover me at work). Hopefully she will get some antibiotics (even though she hates taking them, she admits she probably needs some this time) and be on the mend soon.  We’re meant to be spending Christmas Eve with my brother and his family, but I don’t know if she will be well enough at this stage 😦

It’s funny how, in the lead up to Christmas, you think about all the things you would like, and hope that Santa obliges.  This year, I just want my Mum to be well, and for us all to have a nice, peaceful, stress-free time together, with no dramas.

This week, I managed to get all my Christmas shopping done in record time.  I have less people to buy for this year, for one reason or another, and it made it much easier.  I made a few gifts too, which meant less spending (always a good thing) and less stress (a very good thing).  I also decided not to do the fancy wrapping I always do, which usually ends up with me stressed out of my brain and wrapping gifts every night until midnight, making sure they all fit a “theme” and all look decorative and pretty.  Not this year.  I used store-bought wrapping paper and did nothing fancier than tying them with string.  I didn’t even use matching tags!  *gasps*  It just made everything so much easier and quicker and reduced my stress by about a million percent.  I am wrapped and done, ahead of time.

Whilst looking for gifts for my Mum, I pretty much followed the list she had given me (an Ian Rankin book, some gardening stuff, a Michael Buble CD, pyjamas) but I always like to get her some other little extras too, so she has some surprises.  I found this set of measuring cups in an op-shop and thought she might like them.  They look vintage (although I suspect they are not) and I liked the little Wintery scene on them, which I thought would also make them ideal for Christmas decorating, if Mum didn’t want to use them as actual measuring cups.  I just thought they were sweet.  And at $5.00 for the three, I wasn’t exactly breaking the bank.

I hope she likes them, and is well enough to enjoy all of her presents.
That’s all I want for Christmas.

Best wishes to you all.  Stay well and take care of each other x

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Easter Treats

Just an extremely quick quickie post today, showing you what I made for my workmates for Easter.  I wanted to photograph it nicely and make things look all prettified and classy…but that didn’t happen, so here’s a picture of the little baggies I made, sitting
un-artistically on a colleague’s desk.

I bundled up little bags of chocolate-covered peanuts (“Bunny Poo”) and some Easter eggs (“Bum Buts” – an Aussie slang term for eggs), made up a little label and bunged it all together in a white paper bag.  Not fancy, but I think it was cute enough.

Hope you have a delightful Easter weekend, regardless of your religion and beliefs.
I, for one, am just looking forward to some days off and time at home.  It’s supposed to be a bit cool and murky, weather-wise, so time spent snuggled up inside sounds good to me, even if I am bemoaning the start of the colder weather and already wishing it was Summer again.  Hopefully I will get some crafting done and just chill, de-stress and rest.  I foresee some sleeping-in in my very near future ie tomorrow, most likely.

Eat lots of chocolate for me!

🙂

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Clay Tags

Clay Tags

I have been cleaning and tidying all day today due to having yet another rent inspection tomorrow.  I was hoping to be tidied up before today but, with the Christmas festivities and then New Year and my general procrastination, I didn’t get really stuck in until today.  I have to go back to work tomorrow (sigh) as well so it’s kind of a double-whammy of getting-my-act-together-ness.

Whilst tidying up, it is a general habit of mine to get distracted by anything and everything.  Mostly, I get distracted by my own stuff.  I find things I had forgotten about – unfinished projects, supplies I never put away, bits and pieces that are supposed to be part of something but never made it that far.  Today I found, amongst other things, these clay tags I had been making MONTHS ago to put on Christmas presents.

They’re just made from air-dry clay, rolled out fairly thick (to prevent breakage), pierced with a skewer, allowed to dry out and then stamped on with various phrases and sentiments.  Easy-peasy.  Now if only I had remembered to use them 🙂

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Worried that I will forget them again, I put one of them on the outside of the basket I have stowed them in – as a visual clue to what’s inside.  There’s not telling if that will actually help me remember…I could stamp “do the dishes” on my forehead and I probably wouldn’t remember to do them, so there’s no guaranteeing this will help me in this instance either.  But here’s hoping, I guess.

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So, I am aching and tired and over the whole cleaning scenario.  I even weeded the garden and did ironing today (!) so my body is basically going “what the hell???”  and hurting left, right and centre.  My feet are confused, due to me being on them all day, too.  Being tidy – it’s not good for you.  I think it is actually a health hazard 🙂

Hope you’ve had a productive day x

Gift-Giving When You Don’t Know What to Give

Gift-Giving When You Don’t Know What to Give

I like buying presents.  Truly, I am one of those people who actually likes to give more than receive.  It’s not even a non-selfish thing.  I LOVE buying presents.  It’s fun and you get to make someone else happy and let them know you’re important to you.  What can be better than that?  Plus, it usually means you get to go shopping.  Which is always a good thing.  And it’s GUILT-FREE shopping because you’re not spending the money on yourself.  So it doesn’t actually count as spending!  Woo!

But some people have everything.  And you think “Ugh, what can I get this person who has everything and doesn’t need another mug/vase/notebook/photo frame?”  It’s quite the conundrum.

Never fear, I am here to help you.  After many years researching (ie shopping) I have found that the best things to get people are the things are actually kind of mundane.  But they’re the things that we all need and use from time to time and often don’t have, right when we need them.  There’s also lots of stuff we need but can’t be bothered buying for ourselves because we’d rather buy shoes or cupcakes or something.

So, here are some handy ideas for the next time you’re stumped for a gift.
Put some thought into it and a little bit of heart too.

  • Greeting Cards – Nearly everybody needs these at some time or another.  Buy a selection of birthday, thank you, thinking-of-you etc cards and bundle them up in a nice box or basket.  You can get really nice cards for $1 or $2 or, better still, make some yourself.  It will save the recipient time and money, which is never a bad thing.  Remember to buy cards for each gender as well, or more uni-sex ones if you can find them.
  • Wrapping paper – Same deal as greeting cards.  Find some inexpensive sheets of paper and bundle them up in a pretty package with some accompanying ribbons, stickers, or other trim so they can gussy up their gifts.  Wrapping paper is always the thing you forget to buy when you have to give someone a gift.  Save them the trouble.  Again, it’s a good idea to go with designs that will suit any gender.  Stripes are good, as are spots and geometric shapes.
  • Tea Towels – Yes, it sounds dull, but how often do any of us treat ourselves to a nice new tea-towel?  I don’t know about you, but I have a drawer full of grotty old tea-towels that really should be made into dusters now.  I never get myself new ones.  In fact, I “save” any really pretty ones I have because I don’t want to get them dirty.  Duh.  But if I had more decent ones, maybe I would use the ones I have.  Buy a set of pretty-but-practical towels in cheerful colours or in tones that match the gift recipient’s kitchen.  You can tie them up with a ribbon and pop a wooden spoon or other utensil in as well, just to add to the theme.
  • Cruelty-Free – OK, stay with me on this one.  Finding cruelty-free products can be tricky.  If you’re someone who, like me, will NOT use products you know are tested on animals or brands you just aren’t sure about because they never display it on their packaging, having a trusty list to go buy is VERY handy.  Do some research, look at websites such as Choose Cruelty Free (Australia) or PETA and compile a list of suitable brands (write them in a nice notebook or type them up and laminate in a purse-sized format) for a vegan or animal-loving friend.  Add a couple of items from the companies you’ve listed.  If your intended recipient isn’t in to makeup or hair, you can do the same sort of concept with cleaning products, skin care etc.  It’s a thoughtful, helpful gift that will save them time in the shops, especially if they’re new to the whole cruelty-free world.  It will show that you validate and support their beliefs and that you care about them enough to take the time to make a truly unique and heartfelt gift.
  • Donate on Their Behalf – I know some people think this is a crappy gift, but it really can be a nice thought if you choose your charity wisely.  Some people really want to give, but don’t have the funds to do so.  You can purchase gift  donations to everything from charities that support women’s rights, to organisations that provide sporting goods to children in poorer countries.  Give the gift of clean water or employment opportunities, educational supplies, mosquito nets, livestock or just a good old cash donation.  Make your gift count.  What do you give someone who has everything?  You give them a gift that will help someone who has next to nothing.
  • Recipe & Baked Goods – So you make the world’s best brownies? (well, I think mine are pretty good as it happens…) and your friend loves them?  Whip up a batch and while you’re at it, type up the recipe and have it laminated. The recipient gets the yummy goodies AND your secret recipe, which is pretty awesome.  Present the goods in a nice container and it’s win-win all round.
  • Mix CD – Now, I have talked about my fondness and sentimentality over the good old mix tape, so it’s no secret I love this somewhat daggy gift.  There is nothing more personal than sharing your favourite music with someone.  It’s like letting them in to the inner sanctum of your life.  Maybe.  But this can be a really neat gift.  I actually made one for my brother a couple of years ago, with a bunch of songs that we loved as kids, mostly one-hit wonders that don’t get played much nowadays.  He thought it was the best gift ever.  Bringing back memories is as important as making new ones.  It’s important to make the song-list one that the recipient would like, not just a selection of tunes you’re crazy about.  Make it personal to them – maybe songs from the year they were born or the year they graduated high school.  You get extra points for giving it a cool, handmade cover.  Make it old school, baby!

So, there you are.  Just a few suggestions that might help you out next time in you’re in a quandary about what to get someone.  I think the secret is always to make the gift very personal, very individual to the person you’re giving it to. Make it look like you put some thought into it – not just grabbed the first thing you saw on the sales rack or next to the counter when you were buying your groceries.  It’s not hard to do and doesn’t need to be expensive.  You can buy a box of chocolates for someone, but arranging them in a pretty jar tied with ribbon and a lovely handmade tag makes it special.  It’s all in the presentation, people!

Now, go buy me something! And make it awesome! (Kidding).

Have a lovely week everybody 🙂

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?

🙂

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my! (Animal Jars)

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my! (Animal Jars)

A quick post this evening with a quick and easy craft project.  You may have seen these on other sites (they’re ALL OVER Pinterest at the moment), but they are so easy and satisfyingly fool-proof, you should definitely give them a go.

You need jars (with lids), super glue, spray paint in your desired colour (I used silver chrome) and plastic animals (like the kind kids get in zoo or farm sets, but you can of course use dinosaurs or other creatures). Make sure the glue and paint are suitable for use on plastic.

Start with some nice jars with metal lids – I bought some from $2 stores and other discount places, but you could be good and save jam jars if you plan ahead.  Make sure they are nice and clean, dry and free from any grease or grubby fingerprints (a good idea is to give them a wipe over with a vinegar and water solution and dry them with a clean, lint-free cloth).

Remove the lids and using a strong adhesive (I use Pritt Gel which has apparently changed its name to Pritt All-Pupose) attach the critter of choice onto the top of the lid.  Leave to dry and set (24 hours is usually best to make sure it’s nice and sturdy and won’t break off at the slightest provocation!).

Remove the lid and place on something like an old yoghurt container or similar that will fit inside the rim of the lid (that will enable you to spray evenly all around the lid and not have it stick to whatever it’s sitting on).

Shake your can of spray paint as directed and then have fun coating the lids and critters in an even coating of paint.  Spray-painting is addictive…I kept looking around my house for other things I wanted to paint – I even considered having a chrome-coloured bookcase (haven’t quite given up on that idea yet!).  Leave to dry – doesn’t take long to be touch dry but it’s best to leave for a few hours to make sure it is set and isn’t going to smudge or budge when you handle the lids.  I found that one coat was plenty (with just a tiny bit of touch-up where I had missed spots or underneath the animals).

Put the lids back on the accompanying jars and voila! You have some nifty animal containers for storing bathroom stuff in or to give as gifts (or to give gifts in!).  They’re really cute and amazing in the metallic colours – I am going to do some white ones next.  They’re so easy and the result is very cool and looks more expensive than it actually cost to make them.  Give it a go!

🙂

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