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!