Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm not blogging much...

.. at the moment.
Had you noticed?

I think there's alot to it. I am looking for work, but I'm also being picky. I value that working part-time has provided MANY opportunities to hang out with The Chief. I can op shop and craft to my heart's content, without too much fatigue. However, on the money front, it's not so great. Particularly with all that op shopping. 

Co-habitation is at the top of the priority list right now. I don't want to let the team down financially, so the job thing has to be done. Things are tense with my family. The Maternal Unit is unhappy at work, and stressed, and seems to enjoy taking it out on me. The Paternal Unit is as he always is. 

The birthday felt like a massive anticlimax on the family front. My brother called, which was nice. I was very very spoiled by NitaJane though, and it was just lovely.

Op-shopping and Wombling (for hard rubbish) has been productive. New cookie jar, several new chairs, heaps of art supplies. Very inspiring vintage collector cards and prints and books.

I signed up to take a short course with the women's circus, and so am launching into a healthy eating with potential weightloss regime. Basically meaning stop eating pizza, though Loui & Franko are ace, and cut back on V, even though I get the sugar free one.

Mum got stopped in the supermarket today by a kid I taught in 07-08, asking how I was. I thought that was really sweet. Especially since he is a blooming little muzz-tech who was always striving to be too cool for school. He's a good kid, that one. I'd like to think I had some hand in that.

Popped into Pip's shop and talked to her and her hubby about taking NitaJane to High Tea at the Windsor. Was way too embarrassed to introduce myself though. I think it's something I need to work on. I used to be mega confident and outgoing. Now, not so much.

In other words, it's been busy times, it's been stressful times. I try to keep positive goodness on this blog, and haven't felt inspired to share anything till now. Sorry.

Will try better.
I promise.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pip's Game

Pip started this over at Meet Me At Mike's.
I am feeling a bit down and blah and uninspired lately, and haven't blogged. Hoping this will get me back into the swing of things!

Making : pyjama pants; birthday cakes; birthday presents; whoopee
Cooking : birthday cakes

Drinking : water, LLB

Reading: just finished 1788. About to start on some old fashioned chick-lit

Wanting: time. space. inspiration.

Looking: through photos, trying to choose prints for my sis' birthday gift

Playing: sea shanties

Wasting: time jumping through centrelink hoops

Sewing: pyjama pants

Wishing: I had the time and the money

Enjoying: my relationship; sewing; travelling

Waiting: to co-habit
Liking: my new grandpa vest; cookie jars; thermos'

Wondering: about stuff

Loving: massive birthday spoils

Hoping: for more massive birthday spoils
Marvelling: at people. good. bad. ugly.
Needing: more hours in the day

Smelling: lamb shanks in the slow cooker

Wearing: awesome sailor style pants, most comfortable boots ever, warm salvos jumper

Following: peeps on twitter, rafters

Noticing: that it's lighter later

Knowing: that there is an end point for the tough stuff

Thinking: alot about those passed

Feeling: furklempt

Bookmarking: so many places: craft, bloggy shopping goodness

Opening: deliveries from ebay/etsy (hello gocco!)
Giggling: @ that pesky pop up squirrel photo bomber
Feeling: still furklempt

So that's where I'm at.. 
Have had some awesome oppy finds, house stuff and clothes, and was whisked away to Tassie for a glorious birthday weekend adventure...

And I take great pleasure in saying that I got soaking wet at the swollen gorge on the weekend...

(feel free to copy the list and repost.. credit where it's due.. backlink to here)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

what am i?

this is the question that was posed to me during a tweet-conversation recently.

what am i?

i am an ex-teacher. i am a woman. i am an aspiring small business owner. i am a photographer. i am a teacher's aide. i am a friend to some and potential friend to many. i am an audiophile. i am an artist. i am a partner. i am a lover. i am a nerd. i am an op-shopper. i am a marketeer (not to be confused with musketeer... it's each for their own in market-land!) i am a consumer. i am a producer. 

i am me.

who are you?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shopping Fun

I spend quite a bit of time of late shopping. Op Shopping, Market Shopping, Crafty-type Shopping. I've scored many, many great find over the time, including my bike, Sally, Clive and my fabulous typewriter. I thought I might let you, gentle reader, in on my shopping secrets. Hopefully, in return, you will share some of yours.

2 Mason st, Newport.
Open Monday - Saturday

I visit Vinnies in Newport. They are great for furniture and books. They have a varying range of clothing, though a lot of older-people style of clothes. Their range of knick-knacks is so-so, but they have some great patterns, a selection of knitting needles, and on the odd occasion, piles of crafting supplies. One time I bought about 10 rubber stamps and 10 different colour, good quality, still sealed stamp pads for about $15. I also got these goodies at this Vinnies.

Challis Street Neighbourhood House
Challis Street, Newport
Open Monday - Wednesday, Friday & Saturday

Jasmine runs this place. She is fantastic. As is the op-shop. In an old, slightly run-down house, each room dedicated to groups of clothing. The front room is ladies' jackets, coats, pants and dresses, the next room; ladies tops, tshirts and jumpers. Across the hall you will find tables piled high with toddlers and kids' clothes, linen and blankets. Opposite the kitchen, you will find men's shirts, jackets, jumpers and tees. Out the back, in the shed, every available surface, and a large amount of floor is covered with crockery, cutlery, records, vases, pots, tupperware and plastics, books, and framed pictures. Jasmine's prices are cheap, the reception is always friendly, and you can have a good yarn with whoever is in the shop when you visit.

Kororoit Creek rd, Newport
Open Monday - Saturday

There is a lady who work here and has done for ages. She is really nice and friendly. Most of the staff here are. As with many Salvos' stores lately, they're starting to get a bit more expensive, but have a very good range. Lots of brand-name clothes here, particularly jeans. They have a variety of crockery and knick-knacks, some linen, and some pretty good furniture. As always, you have to have a lucky day with things like this, but quite often at the Salvos, you do!

Laverton Trash & Treasure Market
8 - 18 Leakes Road, Laverton
Open Saturdays and Sundays
Entry: $1.00 per person

Where to begin? Well, we begin most Saturdays, generally aiming arrival for 10, to coincide with the opening of the donut shop. Imagine your dad/uncle cleaned out their shed. Their shed that has been accumulating stuff for the last 25 years. Then they collected everything that was in there and put it on a tarp on the ground. Multiply that by about 6o, add a few dodgy blokes with KMart goods and big trucks, a healthy mix of pirated jewellery, DVDs and some questionable folks, and there you have the joy that is Laverton Market. Saturdays are bigger and better. Bargaining is mandatory. And the hot jam donuts rival those at Footscray station.

Coburg Trash & Treasure Market
Newlands Road, Coburg
Open Sundays
Entry: $1.10 per person

New on the radar, Coburg market is quite similar to Laverton, on a smaller scale, and with a variety of stall-holders expectations of prices. Many of them think that they are at Camberwell market. Others, I have had give me things for free. This market has lots of garage salers, tools, veggies and plants and you can score some good records, clothes and books too.

Value Savers
Somewhere on St George's Rd, almost as far down as Bell St.
Open every day I think. Maybe not Sundays.

A little bit pricey, but some good bargains to be found. I bought my current favourite jacket here for $9. They have some cool linen and crockery, some knick-knacks, and loads and loads of clothes. Colour-sorted too, so bonus points for those of you out there who are, like me, just a lil bit OCD. They also have a decent selection of books, records and kids toys.
Open 24/7

Okay, this one requires dedication. This is a check every few hours deal, but you can score some great stuff. I got my typewriter from a guy on gumtree, but I have seen everything from pets, clothes, fruit trees, pianos, furniture, entire kitchens, garden boulders, poultry. You name it, you'll probably find it on here. Lots of foreign students getting rid of their ikea before going home. But the occasional score, if you're prepared to keep an eye on the site, and drive out to the middle of nowhere to pic stuff up. I did score 6 rolls of film for nothing, but sent the guy an express post envelope cause he was too far away. No big dramas, and with those costs, the film was still cheaper than I could have bought it!

:: I'm Coveting :: v2.0

So Pip started this game last week over here, and I decided, in honour of my impending birthday, and a lil bit of play money I am soon to have, I have been checking out loads of stuff online, and hereby present my Covet List, aka If-You-Wanna-Know-What-I-Want-For-My-Birthday-Look-Here list.

A sewing mannequin. I have been sewing some, and am planning to sew some more, particularly now that Sally has come along. I think having this in my space will be motivating. Also I could use it for all kinds of display stuff when I am not sewing. The Chief used to have
 one, but I think my sister has it. A vintage one would be awesome.

A gocco printing press. What is gocco? You can find out here, here and here. I want one. No really. I really, really do. I have found a site to buy one from, and hopefully when the Tax Dept is done, I will be able to get one! Huzzah!!!

This necklace is awesome.

Polaroid film is totally floating my boat.

Season 6 of NCIS. Yes!!!

and Season 4 of How I Met Your Mother. It's GOLD!!!

A copy of Pip's book, Meet Me At Mike's

A copy of 
or another book like it. This kind of crafting is what I like!

Also, Melbourne Design Guide, as seen here or you can buy it here. While you're in there, have a browse. It's an awesome, awesome bookshop.

I love lots and lots of other stuff too..  I do. Maybe you can share things you are lusting after?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sally the Sewing Machine

This is Sally. Sally is my new sewing machine. I scored Sally for the princely sum of $20 from a lovely guy at Laverton market on Saturday. (He was asking $35. Oh yes. I am the master!!) She is sweet, clean and runs like a dream. I am in the process of looking up all of her ins and outs, how to thread her up and use her in the best way.

I have started making my pyjamas and getting them ready for Evie & Mabel's launch, some time in late October. I am using repurposed op-shop sheets, that are smooth, soft cotton and some of them even have the quaint, faint smell of moth balls.

Suggestions are more than welcome. Colour combinations, custom orders, pocket ideas, or even just what you love best about your favourite PJs is what I need!!

In fact: Comment and tell me... 
What do you love most about your favourite PJs??

Friday, July 31, 2009

I heart Vinnies

Just a short un, but I scored these treasures at my local Vinnie's today for 50 cents each! Joy!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

jetsam and flotsam

I came home the other day and almost exploded. As some of you know, my living sitch right now is far from ideal. I am with Miss NitaJane half the time, and at the folks for the other bits. In theory it's great, but in reality, it means, never anywhere long enough to do, say, laundry. Or take op-shop goodies out of their bags, wash, dry and carefully place them. And so as I entered my space a couple of days ago, I could no longer cope. I locked the doors, turned the record player up loud, cranked out some classics (think Sea Shanties, Cabaret Soundtrack, and Celtic/Australian Folk) and started about organising, sorting, cleaning, and finding homes for things.

And so The Great Rearrange began.

I'll admit it's something I'm known for. When I was teaching, the room layout and displays would change radically at least once a month. Something about continually being in the same surrounds makes me feel static and stale. If a change is as good as a holiday, then I am on an almost fortnightly vacay.

For the most part, it's productive. A good opportunity to clear out, to organise, to find that project that you've been meaning to get back too (yes, I mean you, Gary Mk II!), but for me, the absolute best thing about it, is the freshness. I always get the best night's sleep after The Great Rearrange. Sure, moving heavy furniture alone, spending a solid four hours working hard, and the inevitable clean sheets are a contributing factor, but when you get a solid week of decent sleep, there's something to be said for it.

And so, here I sit in my newly arranged, cleaned, tidied, organised, sorted space. And you know what. It's nice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

:: I'm Coveting ::

Was over here and thought Pip was onto something, so here goes...

My Tuesday covets are:

One of these.
Some of these empty cases to put my own things in. Like a cowboy.
One of these guys. My grandma has one, and I saw one at Coburg Trash & Treasure on the weekend, but he was a bit out of my price range.
Space. Wide Open Space. With good storage for my pretty goodies.

Lucky Last, one of these little adorable creatures...

What do you covet? Feel free to share (unless it's your neighbour's wife, in which case, might be best to keep it to yourself....)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Feathers For My Nest

There are plans afoot for cohabitation. I am terribly excited, and full of fantastical plans, visuals, and thoughts of games of Rummikub, pots of tea, colourful cushions and a multitude of knick-knacks dance through my head. My favourite game of the moment is When we are living together... Much time is spent carefully grouping and placing a combination of our collected goodies according to size, colour and era. The frequent That IS going in your room, isn't it and the Your (insert cool object here) will look really cool next to my (other cool object) all contributes to the ever-increasing ball of positive energy that is going and will go into building our home.

The older I get, the more time I spend reflecting on the things that make 
me happy. There is a picture of my (maternal) grandparents from when they were very young, sitting together on a moon. I later found out that it was at Luna Park. [Incidentally, the moon set is now at Melbourne Museum. When I took my grade there last year, I got a photo on it!]

There is also a photo of my (paternal) grandparents from when they were young, riding bicycles beside each other through the streets of Utrecht, in the Netherlands. 

I really wanted to have these photos in my house. I lost both of my grandfathers last year, and with them went alot of oral history that can never be retrieved. I went on the hunt for copies of these photos, and in a box of stuff from Pop and Nana's, found photos dated 1931! It was amazing, and moving, to explore these photos of their life before me, before my dad. To find photos of my great-grandparents, but to not know their names and stories. It's made me even more determined to preserve family images and stories for my own children.

Admittedly, I take alot of my 'style-tips' from my grandparents, but am also spending more time exploring alot of crafty-money saving ways. I like re-using. I like sustainability. I like not feeling bad about the amount I consume and contribute to the pollution of our planet. And it's a great way to justify the expenditure at markets and op shops. 

I am currently collecting old sheets. I have long been an exponent of op-shop sheets. They are soft, smooth, well worn, and often have a faint smell of moth-balls. We had alot that we used for camping. On the same bent, I have an ever-growing collection of old white pillow-cases. Each one that I have got has beautiful embroidery on it. It's fabulous, cause they all look gorgeous, though they don't match.

Records. I have rediscovered records. In such a big way. I pulled out Dad's Sergeant Pepper's album during the week, and a wave of comfort and familiarity fell over me as I listened to the gentle crackle under the music. And the obscure Sea Shanties, Hammond Organ, Broadway Musicals and Australian Folk records are all added bonuses!

My fabulous new cookie jar. I am getting together a nice new collection of odd bits and pieces, all of which are full of character. I do think this guy needs a name though...

There are so many things that Feather My Nest. All of them full of character and heart, and expressions of me. I am so looking forward to building a home that expresses me, her and us. 

And having it photographed for a home magazine, a la Pip Lincolne...

What feathers do you need in your nest???
Leave a comment and let me know!!

In the mix...

Life has been busy! And good!

I haven't blogged in a bit, but for good reason. A number of things and treasures have been keeping me busy of late...

jobs: of which I have acquired two! I am working as a teacher's aide in junior grades in Thornbury. Oh how nice it is to come home from work and report play-dough making as the highlight of my day! I am thoroughly enjoying not being in charge, and rediscovering the pleasure of teaching. I even think the pay cut is worth it! I also got a job working at Coles, though I am yet to start.

evieandmabel: though I've not been blogging, I have been busy like a bee, slowly getting organised with an etsy shop, some branding, and most importantly LOTS of ideas for crafting goodness, and hopefully, financial benefit!

screen printing: that's right, I've been exploring instructables again and have turned my hand to screen printing. Toying around with the branding for evieandmabel. I took lots of pics, but of course, have left my camera at the folks' house, so they will be up soon. It was kinda fun too!

Op-shopping and marketing: now if you know me at all, you will know how integral this is to my life! Lots of records coming home with me at the moment, of note: Sea Shanties and Hammond-a-go-go. I saw a fantastic bar today, black vinyl on the front, fluro light under neath to light up the glasses on the mirrored shelf. Alas, my soon-to-be-housemate was uncontactable, so approval could not be sought. Luckily, I found this little fellow to cheer me up.

For the fantastic price of $1.oo!!! And of course I had to go and buy a packet of Kingstons to pop into him. SO adorable.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Redscale Film.. More DIY photography

Those who either follow this blog or know me, know that I have had some spare time on my hands of late. It is also likely that you know I have been playing around on the web looking for cool things to do with my cameras.

It was on a blog where someone had posted instructions for redscale film. I have seen it before on the Lomography website, which you can check out here in your own time. When you venture across their shop, you will find redscale film, at quite an expensive price!!!

In my surfing of the web I also found a few other fun facts:

ff #1: PhotoColor in Heidelberg has a "Film Amnesty" where film processing, printing and scanning is uber-cheap till the end of July.

ff #2: South Preston Safeway has 4-pack rolls of Fuji Film for $5.40

ff #3 flickr is an awesome source of ideas to steal, errr, to take inspiration from when you are stuck for ideas of what you should go out and shoot.

So I have stocked up on film, have scoured flickr for some cool redscale inspiration, and set about making some film.

I used these instructions. I have neither a darkbag or a darkroom, but found that a room with the curtains drawn, and respooling under 2 doonas sufficed. And there is only one step where you need to be in complete darkness, and it's really quite easy.

So I made three rolls of redscale, sacrificing one for the initial spool to use, as per the instructions. I went into the city and shot off two rolls in my lomo and loaded one into my old SLR. 

I have been waiting oh so patiently to get the film back, and I did today (excluding the one which they accidentally gave to someone else, but they are subsequently doing for free and posting to me). I am absolutely going to make at least 4 more rolls of this and get out there again!! I am SO thrilled with the results!

And of course, the brag shots. Please, please, please respect that my photography is my art and do not steal and/or reproduce these photos. Thanks!

Hope you give it a try!!!

An itchy-bomb tree with awesome sky background.

Powerlines and cool clouds.

Flinders Street Station around dusk.

Federation Square lights around dusk.

For the photonerds:
The Fed Sq and Flinders st are both exposed at 400 speed, as per the film. They are really underexposed, which is why the reds have come out so deeply. The others were exposed at 200 speed though the film was 400, letting in a bit more light, and changing the tones to softer reds and oranges, but giving more detail.

Anyone keen to come out shooting, let me know, we can make some redscale and go nuts!! Especially before the end of the month so it's cheap to develop!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Oh so succulent...

My grandparents used to have an old chookshed, that was covered, every surface in plants, many of them succulents, all of them planted in anything and everything. Old jam tins, broken mugs, teapots and even old bottles.

I have been collecting cuttings (or pullings-offings) of succulents over the last little while and creating little portable gardens as I live between a number of houses...

Incidentally, the "I Love Grandma" mug, on the right, is one that I bought my Grandma, The Chief* (my grandpa got an "I love Grandpa" one) when I was about 8. I remember going into Myer in the city and on the rooftop they had this Christmas Wonderland. They had a shop for kids, where you entered through a kid-sized door and no adults could go in. I chose these ones especially for my grandparents. I haven't ever seen them anywhere since. This actual one was found at an op shop about 3 weeks ago. I took this one over to The Chief yesterday as a gift, and she was drinking her cup of tea out of the 'Grandpa' one as hers broke years ago and she no longer has it! Pretty cool I reckon!

They look cute.

* My grandma is known as The Chief. Always has been. In my memory, that is the only thing I have called her. And everyone else. Even my grandpa! So you know. The Chief rocks.

DIY Macro Shenanigans!

So in my endless free time (and it's oh so carefree!) I have been exploring instructables. I heart instructables. I have also rediscovered a bunch of old cameras. I have also bought a bunch of old op shop cameras for dismantling/Macgyvering purposes.

[I love the look of 'hacked' things. Lots of hot glue, duct tape and other similar attaching methods make me happy. Such the sense of achievement in making your own cool stuff!!]

I found an instructable for a macro lens which is nicely called "Ghetto Macro". Please understand that I felt it appropriate to substitute the RedBull can for a V can. RedBull gives me palpitations. And not in that happy way.

As you can see, the examples of the resulting photos on the website look fabulous. So I though, hey, I could do that! It took a good hour or so, but lets see what happened....

Using the V can, sharp scissors and a 'hacked' lens of an op shop camera I bought for 50c, I started to assemble my lens. I'm not going to give instructions. Go to instructables, it's someone else's baby!

I used my dad's soldering iron to melt through the camera body cover. Rolled some black cover paper for inside the can, and slid it on in there.

Note to self: talking on the phone while trying to use a very sharp knife to remove the semi melted edges of the camera body cover was not a good idea. Hot glue gunning the CBC and the can together. And hot glue gunning the inside of the lens cover. (which is then attached to the end of the black cover paper tube inside the can.

The finished product. The absolute beauty of this new lens is that my film SLR (I know, I am *so* oldschool, and my DSLR are compatible, so it is interchangeable!
I think you'll agree it looks pretty cool, and I can't wait to take this camera out with this lens attached...

I guess the only problem is...


and so, bearing the scars of my Macgvering (yes. it really is a verb. like versing.) and still without a macro lens, I have learned some good lessons, and am still keeping my eyes peeled for a different lens to use at the end, that might work just as well..

It also led to another idea.. Kaleido-vision. I bought a kaleidoscope, and am currently developing a way to attache it as a lens to my camera... Photos will come. You know they will!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Making Stuff

I'm back!
That's right! 

I have had some time away, and have been searching for work. So far nothing has turned up, but it has meant I have loads of time on my hands (aside from my centrelink commitments) to get up to all kinds of mischief!!

I have been making alot of cool camera stuff, results of which will soon be here. Projects that are currently underway are as follows:

- DIY redscale film. I bought a pile of film - it's super cheap at South Preston IGA, and followed information from my new favourite webby,, to respool it back to front to make redscale film. I have shot off a roll and a half of this film with my lomo, and have bought some new batteries for my old SLR, so looking forward to getting started with that!

- DIY macro lens. Playing with instructables again. Using an empty can of V, a camera body cap, an old lens from a Vinnies camera, a hot glue gun, a soldering iron, tape and my wily Macgyver-y skills, I have fashioned a kind of macro lens that I can use on both my old film SLR and my newer DSLR, which is exciting. That one will follow soon!

- Kaleidoscope Cam. In the theme of playing with shit to make cool camera stuff, I bought a $4 kaleidoscope from the local cheap shop (thank you Twin Y at Northcote Plaza!) I am going to take the beads and translucent glass out of the end and see if I can't take some photos kaleidostyle!!

Results will be up as soon as I can afford film developing and scanning...


and welcome back to Evie & Mabel!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dream Catcher

Miss Nita Jane is a sufferer of horrible dreams. I hope she won’t mind me telling you this. I’m sure she will let me know if she does. If she does, I will delete this bit, and write an equally interesting introduction to this blog. In any case, I often sleep quite lightly when I am beside her. It means I can gently bring her back to safety and comfort from the horrors she faces in her sleep.
I was worried about leaving her again, and wondered whether young Gary was up to the challenge of keeping my girl feeling safe and cosy in her sleep. I figured he was a bit green, and so I decided on making her a dream catcher.
I have never been a follower of these things before. In fact, in the past I have often thought of them as quite tacky. However, the picture in my mind was like no dream catcher I had seen anywhere, and so I decided to persist. I kept my eyes peeled for bits of discarded metal, feathers, and anything else that would serve to preserve my girl’s peaceful sleeps.
All items gathered, I packed them together and set out to her house, where I was spending the evening. As it happened, that night I had terribly vivid and unsettling dreams myself. So much so, that I had huge heebie jeebies the next morning and felt like I couldn’t stay there. I packaged up my materials again and headed for home, determined to make the dreamcatcher that very day.
I plonked myself in front of the telly at Mum and Dad’s and set to work. In my collection of materials were: an old metal insert from an embroidery hoop ($1 from the Salvos); 6metres of thin black ribbon ($7 from Lincraft); some lovely purple ostrich feathers ($5 from clegs); assorted bits of metal and stuff I had collected in my travels; diamante buttons ($3 from clegs); and the piece de resistance, something I had been hunting for for ages, some old chandelier crystals ($6 for a handful from a closing-down second-hand shop on High Street). I also had assorted bits of black cord, ribbon and elastic that was left over from other projects.
All in all, not a great deal of outlay. I looked at a few websites for help with the initial weaving and knotting of the dreamcatcher frame, but otherwise, I just made it up as I went along. It was quite easy once I got the rhythm going, just a bit fiddly with all that ribbon tagging along for each knot. And yes I used the whole 6 metres of ribbon. With no wastage. Good guess, eh?

Once I had finished the frame, I started pinning on the treasures that I had gathered, trying to work out the best spots for each of them. I sewed them to their chosen spots and after each one, held it up to see what it looked like. I have deliberately left plenty of space for Miss Nita Jane to add her own treasures. Hopefully things that bring happy thoughts with them and will chase away the bad dreams.
We hung the dream catcher above Miss Nita Jane’s bed. So far it seems to be working reasonably well, there has even been a night of no dreams at all, which is just fabulous. I don’t have a pic of it up on the wall, but surely she will read this, and hopefully put up a picture for you all (hint hint, honey!).

I loved this project. It had a very useful purpose, and I really enjoyed putting my own upcycling spin on a traditional object. The rhythmic knotting was very therapeutic, and it was a great project for the cold, rainy Melbourne Friday that it ended up being created on.

A good day’s work, methinks.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Evie & Mabel On Hold

That's right folks. I'm up north again with little time or supplies for crafty goodness and projects!
You can, however find me over at my travel blog,

feel free to stay in touch either here or there!!
I'm back first week of June with fun upcycled wedding outfits and jewels! and a tan!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crafty Angus - Gratuitous Photos from a Proud Mama

Angus helping me with my crafting.. We were working on Gary Mark 2.

All tuckered out from a tough day of crafty goodness.

Feathers For My Nest

So this is the post that was meant to be before Boony took over...

A couple of afternoons ago, I sat outside on a new crocheted rug (from Jasmine's op-shop, sadly not done by me), enjoying the sunshine, sewing (Gary Mark 2) and generally enjoying life. Angus sat with me on my rug and Boony, snuggled into his nest, basked in the warm autumn afternoon sun.

The other cat that lives here, Cassie (yep, that's three all together) likes sitting on paper. She will happily sit in any room, if there is paper to sit on. Boony is not fussy, but thoroughly enjoys creating a nest from wherever he sits. Angus likes to choose somewhere he can curl up and hide from the world.

It got me thinking about nests. For those who haven't explored my travel blog, here, I have taken the year off from my life, and have been spending time travelling within Australia. My car is still in Darwin, and I am heading North to collect her next week. I spent a month living at Ayers Rock. I was acutely aware that as my surrounds changed so frequently, there were a few things that I like to have around me, little relics that make me feel comfortable. Feathers for my nest.

The first is photos. Selection is entirely dependent on purpose. My photo selection at Ayers Rock was all about reminding me why I was doing the trip. Inspiring photos from other travels. Photos of art. Photos to keep me inspired through homesickness and fatigue.

Another is Monkey. Monkey (a creatively named soft toy, who is, you guessed it, a monkey) came with me. I have had Monkey since I was a little kid. NitaJane seems to think the fact that he is wearing overalls is somewhat representative of my tomboy-ness. Monkey is very comforting to have around. He has been with me through some really hard times. He volunteered to stay with The Chief (my grandmother - that's a whole nother story) when she had her Triple By-Pass. He was there after Toota (my grandfather. Again, nother story) died. He has taken alot of my tears. Monkey is friendly, happy and gives awesome cuddles.

The other feathers in my nest don't travel with me. I love vintage homewares. LOVE them. I am starting to think that my style is not vintage, not flea-market, but ugly-chic. I am developing quite a collection of extraordinarily ugly bits and pieces. My latest purchase was just today. Souvenir Salt and Pepper shakers from Mount Gambier - Bright Red Cows. A collection of old vases. 1984 Calendar tea-towels. A deliciously hideous orange acrylic dome with acrylic daisies on wire protruding from it. The list goes on...

I love my old vintage mirrors. The way they make the light bounce around the room, and just open it up is fabulous.

Nag Champa. The smell of this makes me feel instantly homely.

Plants. I love gardening, and have missed it alot. I can't wait to get home and start up a garden of my very own. In pots of course.

I know there are many other things to add to my list of Feathers for my Nest. It's hard for me at the moment, everything is all packed away. I don't feel as though I have done this post justice yet. It will be one that I revisit. When I am able to photograph some of the things I like to Feather my Nest with.

I would love it if you would post some photos of the Feathers you use for your Nests up here. It's always inspiring to see the spaces that others find inspiring. Well it is for me anyways!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Boony.. the post which was going to be something else.

This blog started out as one called Nests. The preamble to the blog mentioned Boony. In introducing you, dear reader, to Boony, it became apparent that he deserved his own post. And so, here it is.

[The main thing that prompted this line of thinking was my brother's cat, Boony.] Those of you who have met Boony, I can already see the knowing nods, but no. It's not what you think. For those who don't know Boony, continue reading for a short introduction. Boony is a mammoth beast (who could also be described as an extaordinarily large and heavy cat). He is white and fawn in colour, so slow-moving his gait could be named an amble, and so moody, you would think he had something that is not particularly feminist of you, and you should be ashamed of yourself for thinking it. At least I am ashamed of myself for thinking it. For which I'm sure NitaJane would be proud. However, I digress.

Boony has been known to walk into a room and hiss at the nearest animate object. There is no rhyme nor reason to it. He seems to enjoy hissing at me. He has taught my little ladyboi kittycat, Angus to hiss. He enjoys lying in the sun. He leaves fur on everything. He has been known to growl at passers-by when he is eating. He eats his food. Then he eats Cassie's. Then anything that Angus has left. Then table-scraps. But the funny thing is, he can tell the time. Insomuch as, at approximately 3 pm every day, Boony can be found sitting in the driveway in a sunny patch. Coincidence, you may think. Not so. 

Boony lives down the road from a school. ALL of the school kids who walk home past his house know him. They call him over. They pat him. They talk to him. He is nice to them.   He lays himself at their feet, begging for a tummy rub. He wraps himself around their ankles, leaving a trail of white fur. Then he promptly comes inside and starts yowling for his dinner. On the odd occasion that he forgets, or is running late, you can hear the kids saying to their bewildered parents, "Oh, that's Boony's house." or "Boony lives there, Mummy!"

So remarkable is Boony's neighbourhood notoriety, that Andrew, a nice friendly bloke who lives down the street (not two or three houses down the street, no no, about 4 - 5 BLOCKs down the street) often sees Boony at his place. Or in the street behind his place. (Incidentally, Boony is nice to Andrew as well.)

Boony is known for walking into a room, waiting till his presence has been acknowledged and promptly collapsing onto the floor, remaining in the landing position for hours on end, until someone happens upon a creaky floorboard in kitchen, at which point he leaps up, thuds loudly into the next room and cries until he is given some food.

One last thing that Boony is famous for, is making nests. He will find somewhere to sit, inside or out, and make himself a nest. He will nuzzle into some towels creating and indentation to sit in. He sits on newspapers and somehow manages to nestle into them. And he sits in the garden, regardless of what new planting has occured and creates a nest for himself.

It was here that I found him this afternoon, in a sunny spot under the huge oak tree in the back yard, snuggled in the dirt, using the rough bark as a pillow.. which got me thinking about nests... But that is now a whole nother blog post.

In the meantime, for your viewing pleasure (and so as to form an accurate image in your mind), I present, Boony.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Miss NitaJane has a thing for owls. I'm not entirely sure where it comes from. I know that since we've been together I have added to her collection of owls from such worldy places as Paris, Cesky Krumlov, and Laverton Market. She is quite picky with the owls she likes. They're not allowed to be mean or scary owls. They should be happy and friendly (a fair enough prerequisite, I would think!). Happy and friendly owls generally have eyelashes. You should file that away for future reference.

So with the time I have on my hands, the limited funding, and the desire, inspiration and motivation that I have been getting from blogs, shops and life in general, I decided to try my hand at making soft toys. Where to begin? I checked out a load of my crafting books. Making Stuff had, as always some cool ideas. As did Sock and Glove. However, ultimately, I hunted around for resources, and they were what dictated how my owl would work out. 

On Friday, after having completed all of my duties, I sat down with Stella the Sewing Kit, an old scarf and a bag of stuffing that I had picked up at Vinnie's ($3 each! bargain!) and some felt. I totally made it up as I went along. I sewed the outline of the owl and used the offcuts to make wings. I stitched on the wings in a very haphazard fashion and went about making some eyes for my owl. The easy bit was working out what they looked like. The hard bit was finding the right size. I persevered. I had bits and pieces in all the right colours.

I decided that he needed some feet. Claws don't make for a friendly owl (so I'm told) so he is quite the flat-footed little one. I used back stitch, a shabby and quick version of blanket stitch, some felt and some stuffing, then attached these to the bottom of the toy. And I need to sew him a beak too. Otherwise, how will he talk?

The owl is not quite finished. I need two black buttons for eyes. I am considering a tuft of hair on top. I will definitely be making another one and trying to perfect the art. In the meantime though, he has been dubbed Gary by Nita Jane, who has tried to steal him away for bedtime cuddles already! Lo, please find and enjoy the photos of Gary the Owl. Latest edition to NitaJane's ever expanding motley crue of happy, friendly owls.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Goodness

This year I was faced with a dilemma... with most of the family on a health kick, I didn't want to contribute to the inevitable guilt that would have come, should they have consumed the vast quantities of chocolate I intended to buy for them.

My initial plan was to give blown eggs that I had dyed and made pretty designs on with the special Greek Easter dye. However upon my first attempt to 'blow an egg' (no, that's not a euphemism!), I decided that it was not going to work. And I made omelettes.

Back to the old drawing board, I decided instead, that I would think about Easter in the 'new life' sense. I took myself off to Bunnings and found myself all the ingredients required for what were sure to become a hit Easter Gifts. 

I gathered my seeds, packages, stickers and textas. My first job was to sort out the seeds. I had chosen carrots and lettuce, both favourites of one Mr E. Bunny, and also chosen varieties that should be sown in Autumn or Winter. I packaged them up and made labels for each one.

I then made labels for each of the other elements of the whole package. The "Magic Grow Pellets" (Jiffy Peat Pellets), the Sowing instructions for each type of seeds, and the overall package label.

Everything went into the bags together and created a fabulous "Easter Bunny's Treat". The demo model of one of the peat pellets had 3 carrot seeds in it, and has already begun to sprout!

As I handed around the gifts to family and friends, everyone seemed impressed... And the best bit? Not only will no-one GAIN weight from my Easter Gifts, but hopefully they will all get out in the garden, and be able to reap what they sow in 12-16 weeks! 

"Oh, Brother!"

I say this much in the same vein as the cleaning lady said, "Oh, Mr Hart, what a mess!!" 

I found myself a typewriter! A Brother 210 portable typewriter, to be precise, and boy is she a beauty!

In great nick, she was retrieved from someone's shed. I bought her for a princely sum of $5 from a lovely lady named Colleen on ebay. My new typewriter is a gloriously shiny and unblemished white finished metal. She comes with a solid black cover, a full set of alpha-numerical keys, and the promise of many hours cursing the bruised tips of my fingers.

It is with pleasure that I recall the first sentence she produced since coming to my home:
'"Hooray!" they all shouted. It was finally time for the princess to be freed.'

*happy sigh*

Monday, April 13, 2009

Found Objects, Upcycling & New Clothing Rebellion (NCR)

NitaJane and I spend a fair amount of time at our local trash and treasure market. In fact it's not local to either of us anymore, but we happily traipse across town at least once a fortnight to visit this little gem. 

It costs $1 each to get in, amazingly good jam donuts at 60c each, a fabulous assortment of eccentrics and a glorious fruit and veg stall that consistently plays Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton as you peruse the green beans, butternut pumpkins and farm-fresh eggs.

Said market is my current fossicking ground, as I search for the ideal 'found objects' from which to create jewellery. Saleable jewellery would be fabulous, but for the interim, I am hoping to make something to wear to A & G's wedding, which is not too far away. I purchased a vast collection of industrial objects with which I filled my pockets. So much so that I have been referred to as Jackie Paper* for the last week! I have made two necklaces so far, which I will put up photos of soon.

On that note, I am particularly enjoying alot of the thinking that is going into working out other uses for stuff. Raiding sheds and markets, keeping my eyes peeled as I wander the streets, and exploring my local op-shop, alot of my energy is going into ways that these items can be used in new ways... UpCycling. 

I have spend a bit of time at the local oppy's lately, hunting for something to wear to the wedding. (yep, I found something) In doing so, it has made me very aware of the sheer volume of clothing that I have, about 80% of which I rarely, if ever, wear. And so I have decided, that in the interest of a being as sustainable as I can, I am going to do my utmost to refrain from buying new clothes. The last time I bought new clothes was in Katherine, about 8 weeks ago. I bought three new pairs of pants, because the pants I had with me no longer fit. I'm happy to say that I have worn all three pairs of pants quite a few times. Even though this is the case, I have decided that I have enough clothes that I should not need to buy any more.

My self-imposed guidelines (note, these are guidelines, not rules - it's something I am aspiring to do!!) are:
  • If I feel like I need something new, I will go home and search my wardrobe for something similar or alterable.
  • I am allowed to buy clothes from op shops, garage sales, or markets, so long as they are not brand new.
  • Should I need new underwear, then that's allowed.
I am very conscious of trying to be mindful of living a sustainable life. I'm working hard at trying to ensure that my clothes, jewellery, homewares, and food are as environmentally friendly and sustainable as they can be. Evie & Mae are going to be as green as they possibly can! (Aside, of course from the electricity needed to share my thoughts with you all....

*Jackie Paper, who found fame with the lines

"Little Jackie Paper, loved dragon, Puff
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Sounds of the Past...

Yesterday, I ignored the sunshine, and sat in the lounge room, in my pyjamas, snuggling with Angus (my cat). Outside I could hear a group of about 6 kids, playing some game involving bikes, jumping gutters, and lots of gasps and laughter...It occurred to me, that though these were sounds common to me when I was growing up, it is something I rarely hear anymore. As kids, we spent hours and hours, building cubby houses, climbing trees, and hiding our secret pet mice from Mum and Dad. We used to jump on our bikes and ride all around the neighbourhood. We all knew about the secret alleyways, the houses with big dogs, or nasty people, and, most importantly, we all knew that if we pooled our resources, we could get enough chips to feed an army. Dining venue of choice was on top of the fort at the local park.

There are alot of sounds you don't hear anymore. And you don't miss them until you suddenly realise they're gone. Lately I have been playing with lots of cool old stuff, as well as travelling, all of which has brought to mind some sounds that are nigh on extinction.

And so, for your aural pleasure.... recall if you will...

The sound of the needle on a record player before the first song begins. Purists will argue that the ONLY way to listen to The Beatles is on vinyl. Indeed, the song Hey Jude never sounds right to me when I hear an electronic copy of it. Mostly because the record I used to have had a scratch in it, and so I keep waiting for the "don't make it ---- don't make it ---- don't make it baaaad".

One of my favourites, the shutter on an slr camera. No not the recorded shutter sound that your mobile phone makes, but the crisp, clear sound of a shutter opening and closing and capturing that glorious image you had discovered.

The sound of a sprinkler. Simple pleasure, yet one that is totally lost. Who doesn't remember running under (over, around, through) the sprinkler on a hot summer's afternoon? Who doesn't remember getting a soaker hose, running it along the edge of a tarp you found i
n your Dad's shed, and making your very own Slip 'n' Slide? Who doesn't remember taking the green plastic slide that your little brother got for Christmas, lining it up with the wading pool, smearing it with dishwashing detergent, and stickytaping the sprinkler to the handle at the top, thereby creating your very own backyard WaterWorld Fun Park? Okay, so I wasn't brought up in the most water-saving-aware house... But no matter where I am, the sound of a sprinkler makes me want to strip down to my undies and singlet and cartwheel through the rainbow!

The ding at the almost-end of a line on a typewriter. 
Not the whirry electronic ones, no no. I'm talking a proper, old school typewriter, th
e kind that has the tips of your fingers bruised from having to hit the keys so hard. And I know I am not the only one in the generation that learned typing at school on typewriters!!! (Thank you, Sister Jean!)

Spokey Dokeys. Have you ever ridden your bike so slowly, so as to make each and every one click as it hit the rim of your bike? Did you colour coordinate yours for your favourite footy team?

The sound of a video tape rewinding. Now I know I still have a VCR. I like it. I like the crackle when you put it on, and the jumpy static as it struggles to find a clear picture on an ex-rental family movie from 1987. And the whirring rewind sound that alerts you to the fact that you have just sat on the remote. Bliss!

Tram's bells. Still available on some lines, but the 96 has this stupid recorded bell sound. It's weirdly resonant, and it was one thing that I could ALWAYS hear on a Saturday morning when I live in St K.

KZFM. Need I say more?

The sound of a Polaroid photo being ejected from the camera. Yes, I am the proud owner of a polaroid camera, and though the film is potentially the greatest extravagance right now, I love, love, love it! Closely followed by the Rolf-Harris-esque sound of waving the Polaroid around to develop it.

I'm sure everyone can think of a lot of other soon to be extinct sounds.. Please feel free to share them and the memories attached to them!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jam Club

This is an idea from quite awhile ago.. I never put the time and energy into getting if off the ground, but then that was a big part of the reason why I decided to adjust my life around my ideas and ideals.

The idea was borne on a road-trip down the coast from Sydney to Melbourne. It revolves, again, not dissimilarly to the Errol Plan, having a group of six or eight people, who would get together say, once a month.

Each person would make jam or chutney of their choosing. It would be important that someone would coordinate, so that we didn't end up with 6 lots of strawberry jam, though!

We would all get together in someone's lounge room (in my mental 
image, the set is warm and cosy, everyone has a nice cup of tea and we are all sitting on assorted pieces of furniture. At least one of us is sitting on a vintage vinyl poufe. There is probably a cat somewhere around the place...) and discuss the methods we used to make the jam, the origin of our fruit content and the choice of design for our labels.

The Jam Club would perhaps change to a Soup Club during Autumn and 
Winter, when fruit was not in ready supply. You would end up walking away with at least six different meals that you could freeze and take to work or have at home with your friends. 

It is still something I am definitely interested in getting up and running. I think one of the most important things to note, is that no-one would be expected to share their recipes!!!

It harks back to the days of, certainly my grandparents, where sharing the goods was the norm. Will work especially well if you can keep Errol away from the backyard orchard!!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Malvern Star-Cycle

One of my current projects, making this gorgeous Malvern Star roadworthy and spiffy while I'm at it!!!

She's just beautiful.. I started this project knowing very little about the mechanics of a bike, beyond 'if you turn the pedals, the wheels will make you go'. I did some research online, spent a little bit of money (not alot.. cause I don't have it!)

I bought some new tyres and inner tubes from KMart. I had always asked my Dad to fix punctures before, so didn't really know where to begin. Using a tyre tool, I was able to remove the old very, very well worn tyres, and decaying innertubes, and replace them with shiny new ones.

I took to the chrome work with some good old-fashioned jex and elbow grease, which brought up a fabulous shine. I followed this up with some cut and polish on the body work. 

I have bought some bright red rust-proof & repellent paint and have set about painting up the spokes and mudguard.

I have bought a new chain, but am yet to find any kind of instructions that I can actually follow. It's a bit tricky because of the gears, so if you know someone who can do it, please, please let me know! 

The brakes need a slight adjustment and then she is ready to go!

I think the best thing about the whole thing, is that I feel such a sense of achievement. I have done all the researching, found the money to do it, though I am going through a particularly frugal stage right now, and am making a proactive move towards environmentally sustainable transport, and getting some independence while I am car-less.

Go me!

Errol - A Timeshare Revolution

Today, in my abundant spare time, I was browsing through gumtree, and stumbled across a 'free to good home' ad for a black-faced sheep.

A sheep I thought, would be the perfect solution to NitaJane's current lawn situation. What better, more environmentally, free way to keep the grass below ankle level, than a sheep?

I proposed the idea to NitaJane, only to be met by laughter. What would the kitty cat say? What would the landlord say? Who would pick up it's poop? 

Undeterred, the idea blossomed. The poop of a sheep is fabulous fertiliser. It is nowhere near as fragrant as the poop of it's canine and feline counterparts... And wouldn't it be fantastic if this sheep could be shared amongst friends?

Why not timeshare? In times when (in a hypothetical but somewhat realistic way) we are deeply enmeshed in the domestic bliss of a house, a couple of kids, organic gardens and home made jams, wouldn't it just be a fantastic idea to get a group of households together and invest in such a wonderous, environmentally friendly gardening revolution? 

We would all invest in a sheep, and we would call him Errol (this part is non-negotiable). Errol would then be shared from household to household on a weekly rotational basis, where he would benefit from the nutritional variety of different grasses and table scraps, and we would benefit from free fertiliser, short lawns, the company of Errol the Wonder Sheep, and a deep sense of community and environmentally-sound practise.

Winners all round I say!