Saturday, September 6, 2014

Smiley Face

Pinkster has the flu.
We had flu shots, so WTF?

There are so many lurgys going around this year: the fever & vomits, the fever & ear-aches, and now a return of H1N1 (Swine) Flu!

My poor little mite has been coughing and coughing, her temperature shot up into the 40s. After she saw the doctor we were told she has to wear a face mask if she goes out in public.

At first she used a pretty one from her doctor-dress-up kit.

It didn't cheer her up enough, so we thought about making her another more cheerful one.
We had us a few discussions about how being ill can make you not feel like smiling, so this is what we came up with.

It's a proto-type, we're still working on the final version, but its a start. I used a piece of left-over quilted pillow protector remvoing one layer of wadding. It's a bit thick having two layers of fabric with light interfacing between, but I fugure it stops the germs escaping better than just a layer of cotton.

But most importantly; for now her smile is back

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

From Garbage to Glamour

She-Who-Worships-Pink apparently now worships animal prints.  I could say "oh dear" but in all honesty I must say that she's a chip off the old block.

I promise, I have never nurtured or encouraged this - so it must be a matter of DNA. Or just her innate sense of style.

Walking through an enormous fabric store, my Pinkster strolled past a roll of sparkly fabrics in both her favourites; blue and pink. She didn't bat an eyelash.

Then she called me over to another table; "Mummy! This is beeyewdiful; can we use this?" Her tiny little fingers were tugging at a roll of leopard print Lycra. Then she gasped and grabbed the one next to it: faux snake or maybe crocodile, it was hard to tell.

You see Pinkster (I can still call her that, right?) had designed a dress for her latest favourite Bratz doll.

Oddly her current favourite doll is the one I recently rescued from a kerbside garbage bag; washed, dressed, coiffed and offered prosthetic feet (long boots).

But apparently, one extreme make-over wasn't quite enough. 

She drew a picture of her design, once she'd chosen her fabrics; some leopard print Lycra and sequined lurex. (Would not have been my first choice of fabric combinations.)

Then the nagging started: "Mummy pleeeeeeeease, make it." "today?"

Well all in all, as much as I had little confidence in her fabric combo,  the dress turned out quite well. 

Pinkster asked me to put up Bratz's hair in a French Twist, before removing her bangles to thread them through her ears!

I think my girl might just have an eye for this stuff...

Friday, August 15, 2014


"Did you get that out of the trash? You did! You trash-picker!"

"I'm not a trash-picker. I'm a recycler. That's a lot more romantic. Isn't it?"

 ['The Wild' Movie]

This week has been Council Clean Up, where households put out rubbish that's too big for the bins and the council trucks come along, smash it up and dump it as land fill.

I've been out with a fellow civic minded green recycler type, picking through the trash and I've been equal parts thrilled and appalled.

Thrilled at all the stuff we rescued from land-fill including one brand new, I swear it's never been sat on, Ikea Klappsta armchair. 
This had been pitched out (then rejected by other civic minded recycler types) I suspect, because of the wobbly legs. 
Well somebody didn't read the instructions did they? 
I got it home got out my tools and put the legs on the right way.  
It's gorgeous. It's not land fill.

My friend similarly rescued many more items of good, even lovely furniture, but some of it was very much worse off for the poor weather.

The appalling part is that people throw good quality useful stuff, unceremoniously onto the curb without giving it a thought.
I felt like putting charity shop leaflets in peoples letter boxes or a note even, saying something like:
 "Do you know that the Salvation Army will pick this stuff up, free of charge, and give it to families in need? Or sell it and feed homeless people?" "Surely a phone call is less trouble than dragging it onto the curb?" 

I just hate waste: that's why I filled two suit bags with around 30 plush toys, expensive toys, in mint condition - apart from the fact they'd been left out in the rain.  I took them home dried them on the line, washing the dirty ones, and donated them to charity myself.   
Apart from the fact that watching Toy Story 3 has scarred me for life, I think of all the poor little kids, who through no fault of their own, don't get nice toys at all and it breaks my heart to think of this stuff going into a dirty rubbish truck to be smashed up, buried and turned into pollution.

She-Who-Worships-Pink came with me on her first 'trash or treasure hunt' and she asked if she could find some treasure to keep. 
I told her"If it's clean and in good condition, you can take one teeny- tiny little thing" :

Yes, this was the first thing she laid eyes on!
We found a pitiful Bratz doll, hair all matted in a tangled ball, with a mix of craft glue and general crud, naked with no feet and again I thought of Toy Story 3...

I wish I'd thought to take before photo's - who doesn't like an extreme makeover - but you'll have to take my word for it - she really didn't look worth rescuing.

But in 15 minutes after a good shampoo, a brush through with conditioner, some prosthetic feet (old Barbie-doll boots), leggings from one of my old dolls and another Barbie hand-me-down blouse...She's like new and Pinkster adores her.

The little Pinkster decided to do a presentation for news this week on re-using and recycling which has turned out to be the hot topic this semester: 

And unfortunately the bear goes everywhere..


Friday, August 8, 2014

Seeing The Light

For as long as we've been in this house, every time I use the powder-room I've known I'll never be happy until I have two big holes in the door.
You probably wouldn’t imagine that knocking holes in a door would be a solution to disguising a great mess.
You might imagine going by my last post that mess is a problem in our home. Well sometimes. Maybe.  Just a bit.
But I mean, look at the view from our downstairs power-room. <Urgh.>  My laundry ‘aint pretty - not in the least, but with the door closed the powder room looks like a dark cave.

I’ve been thinking about having window panes inserted to replace the top two door panels for ages- years in fact. That solution would let in the light, while I close the door on the mess.
I’ve asked two handymen and three builders and they’ve all scratched their heads and talked about removing the door which involves removing the frame, part of the wall. Buying a new door and doing all of the above to get it in.. Well, I think that’s serious over-kill. 

I wanted to do the same with the front door of the house, and I ended up with a brand new door. Which then had to be primed (several times), and painted and sanded back (several times) and that all took weeks to complete.
So during a visit from family, my sister’s clever husband took a look.  He uttered words that were music to my weary ears: “I’ve actually done this's quite simple.”
As he checked out mine; knocking a bit on it to see if it was solid, he reminded me of a beautiful door in their home with two gorgeous stained glass panels.
“See here? This beading is nailed in, get a fine chisel under it and you can ease this off. Then cut out the panels – replace the beading on the back, silicone in the glass then nail back the beading on the front.”
More music to my ears, and I understood most of it. Beading, also known as moulding, is the trim inside a door panel: 

We started out running around the edge of the beading/moulding with a Stanley knife to cut through the thick paint, then worked the chisel around slowly working off the front moulding.
After measuring up the panel size, minus mouldings, we stopped by the glaziers to order the glass panels, then headed to the hardware store, where among other things I bought a new chisel and a new toy.
Ryobi Multi tool - I cut, I shaved and I sanded!
I also needed new beading, as I wasn't quite gentle enough in places. oops but as it turned out, the original moulding was very wide anyway which meant smaller panels and less light.

So the whole thing went merrily along just as my renovation wingman had described. I should call him the reno-Pilot really because I certainly had neither the expertise nor the courage to tackle this on my Tod, and wouldn't have at all if he hadn't motivated me (pushed me into it)

So this is the story in pictures:

Ta Dah!
Many thanks to my clever Brother-in-law who recognises a procrastinator when he sees one and knows just how to give a gentle shove :0)

Saturday, August 2, 2014


I'm cheating this week on finish up Friday, by showing off something that was finished on another Friday.

I love sneaky spaces, especially home work spaces. My own home office takes up a quarter of one bedroom which is not ideal and I've had to add a shelf unit at the end of my desk, which ends a meter before the doorway, jut to improve the view from the main passage.  The paperwork is bad enough but when I'm sewing, the moment anyone hits the top of the stairs, my messy desk is the dominant feature of the first floor.

The apartment I just finished needed a work-space and fortunately there was an enormous cupboard in the main living area. I took half of this to create a hide-away workspace.

It was almost too simple, just a matter of adjusting the shelves to create a desk and adding a pull-out keyboard drawer and some accessories. My fabulous cabinet makers did all the hard work retro fitting the old cupboard with new shelves.  Because it was so old there weren't any movable shelves (and the shelves were hideous raw timber slatted things) so it took a bit of working. I had an elecrician install an additional power outlet inside the cupboard bottom to run the computer, printer and modem.

The fun part for me was buying office accessories to dress it up, with an Ikea SPONTAN magnetic message board and  Ikea Kassett magazine files and a print for the back wall:

I'd like to do this at home and reclaim my guest room - I have the cupboard space (it just needs a good clear out).
I've since found  a number of attachable keyboard shelves available on Amazon. Who knows, maybe I can figure out a way to make a hidaway sewing station too...

Maybe I should call my favourite cabinet makers for another nifty creative design.

Maybe I should be clearing some cupboard space first.

Special thanks to Creative Space Constructions - for truly inspired solutions and quality finishes. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The 'S-H' word

She-Who-Worships-Pink-but-not-so-much-blue-since-Frozen-has-been-surpassed-by-Narnia was in the bath.
I was on the phone.
Pinkster whispered to me "I have to tell you something terrible" and she gave a little sniff. A sure sign of oncoming tears.

I said a quick goodbye to her Auntie, put the phone down and squatted next to the bath. I rested my arms along its edge with my face close to hers and said; "tell me, sweetie".

"Well, I did something so terrible I'll have to go to the principals office and.. sit in the punishment corner."
I smiled gently, "Darling I don't think you could have done anything so terrible."

She whispered "I said the 's-h word!" and she gave a little sob.
She explained that two older girls had heard her say something and when asked, the little friend with Pinkster had dobbed her in for saying the S-H word.  She said in horror; "they STARED at me, mummy!'
They also apparently said they would tell their teacher.

I stroked her face, tried not to register my shock and said "remind me again what is the S-H word?"
She whispered even more fervently: "Shut-Up".  The look of abject shame on her face and suddenly I'm almost laughing.

But you cannot laugh in these situations; this is serious and dramatic stuff to a 6-year-old.  My rule is, she must laugh first or things will go very badly.

So I explained about the ‘other SH word that means pooh’,and that gave her pause.
And I explained about swear words. I explained about older kids who have older brothers and sisters who use real swear words. One of these kids she'd mentioned, I know has older brothers and I also know for a fact their mother uses that ‘other’ S-H word (I’ve heard that first hand).

“So sweetie, there is a very bad word that is an S-H word. ‘Shut-up’ is actually two words anyway, and if you did get sent to the principal’s office, which I don’t think will happen because those older girls didn’t hear you for themselves, he would ask you what S-H word you said and you would say ‘Shut – up’ and he would probably laugh, because he was expecting the other real swear word…” 

It was a long sentence but that often works with her. Build up the suspense with a long narrative and the punch-line works better.

She laughed then, and I knew we were back in safe territory. She whispered; “is pooh a bad swear-word?”
“No darling doctors often ask you about your pooh and they don’t use swear words, do they?”
“But the teachers say that: (and she whispers again) ‘shut-up’ is bad.”

I explained: “Well it is a very rude thing to tell someone when they’re talking, and your teachers are trying to teach you not to be rude to others – that’s a good thing.”
“But it is definitely not a proper swear word.”  I elaborated; “I say it all the time don’t I? I tell it to the dog next door, to people honking their car horns; I tell it to my phone when it rings a lot and also to the TV whenever our prime minister is on it…”

That really got her giggling.  I shrugged, "Well everyone knows he's an idiot so that really doesnt count", I said.
"Mummy!' she gasped, 'you said the eee-word!"
"idiot!" she whispered and she bit her lip.

linking with Mummy Monday
laughing linky too

Friday, July 18, 2014

Busting My Botox Budget

Did I ever tell you  about the time my Botox budget was blown on a plumbing bill?

No? Well, our hot water heater - a mammoth 400 litre tank housed precariously in an upstairs cupboard - truly an accident waiting to happen, one day just coughed, spluttered and then died.

Naturally this happened on the weekend, between Christmas and New Year. It cost a bomb and almost  the plumber's apprentice his life during it's removal. OK maybe he would have just broken several necessary limbs..

I forget how much they said it weighed empty, (perhaps as much as Arnold Schwarzenegger; definitely as bulky), but be assured it was a lot, and being two meters tall it couldn't go down our narrow stair case.

So they had to remove the lacework balustrade on the balcony and lower the empty tank on ropes to the ground. Which is where it almost took a life, being too heavy for the man upstairs.  Fortunately Mr Frenchie saw his sneakers sliding toward the balcony edge and quickly grabbed him around the waist, thus saving him from an untimely end.

Well if we thought our tank was heavy, the invoice was weightier, and I was forced to empty my slush-fund: the one where I'd been saving up for Botox.

So I enjoy warm showers again but I have more crows feet than Alfred Hitchcock's other shocker; The Birds.

there are more crows feet around my eyes than in this playground...
My crows' feet would give  Tippi Hedren nightmares.

But this story is not about my crows' feet, or Alfred Hitchock or even the exhorbitant cost of holiday plumbing emergencies.

This is actually about the hole that was left behind and what I have done with it.

So in the aftermath, I was left with a two meter tall by one meter wide box behind doors.

What to do?

I thought, how about the Mother, Father and Fairy-God-Mother's of all linen cupboards?

My next thought was of the wobbly ironing board I have on the back of the downstairs powder-room door where the iron's cord only just reaches from the laundry..

So, what if I could have a linen cupboard with a hidden ironing board? seeing as how there was the electrical outlet just below the old water heater cupboard ....


My genius cabinet makers, piano-hinged my existing doors to become bi-folds to the wall and built a drawer that pulls down and into a fold-out ironing board.

Now I have more cupboard space, and I can get rid of the wobbly back-of-door-ironing-board- eye-sore in the powder room.

But I still have terrible crows feet. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Flat Out

The past three months have been some of the busiest and most stressful in my life. I've been busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest, but today is Friday- Finish Up Friday - I finished a Flat.

Yes there has been much blogging on the subject; the whirl-winds of activity followed by weeks of waiting just to have blinds hung. Then the bloody upstairs neighbor complained about the noise from the hammer drill and we had to down-tools and wait another week.

But anyway it's done:

Er this is the before shot you know...
Dated, dirty and unhygienic with meters of dirty jagged silicone around the sink and food preparation areas. The back corner of the bench was also collapsing due water damage.
This bathroom was a shocker; dated, dark, scruffy and dirty with no storage and even less sex appeal.

This was as bad as it gets: the plumbing and waste (circa 1950’s) were incompatible with most modern fixtures. It also had also a history of leaks which had been patched with limited success. The ceiling had to be replaced due to age and water damage... Truly a nasty piece of work- I'm sure my plumber is still having nightmares about it..

again.. Ta-Dah!
What followed was a very long, and messy, total strip out, re-plumb, new waterproof skin, re-tiling of the  floor and walls (to ceiling), installation of an exhaust fan and down lights –frameless shower screen – bespoke cabinetry and a built-in cistern. 

The living room, like the rest, was dated and scruffy with walls painted in a colour that gobbled up light rather than reflecting it.  The carpet was well worn, patchy and lifting at the edges. .

 Now it has new carpet, new paint, a cosy fire and somewhere to toss your keys as you come in the door.

Then I really went to town on some extras, my cabinet designer was like a happy puppy with a bone when I told him what I wanted and this is what we came up with:

With the kitchen so short on storage space, this ‘Smart Sideboard’ offers two large cupboards with ample storage, deep enough for dinner plates. The centre panel has space for larger platters and tall vases and the clever little thing folds out into a dining table.

Everyone needs a place to work so we retro fitted an in-home workspace with an internal electrical outlet and pull out keyboard or laptop table.

So it's done - I can get my life back, enjoy morning coffees with friends, get pedicures, go back to the gym get back to the novel..  and look for the next building project. :0)

Special thanks to Creative Space Constructions - for truly creative solutions and quality work.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sew Pink!

"To sew, or not to sew: that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous malfunctions,

Or to take arms against a sea of time constraints,

And by opposing end them?

To succeed or not succeed; in sending one's offspring forth,

into the world dressed as another?"
(William Shakespeare & Me)
I don't limit myself to vandalism of great artworks, sorry Will..
I like to take risks. And not just with famous artists or bards.

Like taking my little daughter to a fabric shop a week out from the next dress-up party.  I know from experience she will be overwhelmed. She wont be able to limit herself to less than five fabrics for the one dress...
But it's worth every minute to watch the excitement on her face as she skips around a forest of glittery fabric rolls arms and fingers stretched, touching everything.  All the ooooooh's and aaaaah's and 'WOW, mummy look at this!"

This was the case with the fairy costume. The fabrics were a little pinker than I'd hoped (I had imagined pastels) but of course She-who-Worships-Pink had other ideas and it was her dress so what the hey.

 We came away with Pink panne velvet, hot pink georgette, pale pink and hot pink tulle and a couple of meters of pink ribbon.
So this is a rough sketch of the design, my quazi-tutorial below is even rougher!

I started out as I often do,using the stretch velvet to make a tube dress. Then added to the waist a full skirt - nothing fancy just a long straight piece sewn together on the short edge (this is where you measure your skirt length) gathered on one long edge. I cut the bottom long edge into a sort of petal shape and left it a raw edge. Luckily you can get away with that using tulle; my sewing machine chews up fine edges.
I tacked then sewed this to the velvet tube at the waist line, leaving the bottom of the tube below the waist to act as a petticoat.

I used some ribbon sewed into the top facing for straps to be tied into bows on the shoulder. Across the bust I gathered rectangles of tulle in both colours, and hand stitched that over the bust.  Pulling it in vertically at the center front I added little clear butterfly beads (from the $2shop) over the top  of the stitching line.

After that I cut leaf shaped pieces of the georgette finishing the edges on the machine with a fine zig-zag.. Miraculously I managed this without having the fabric chewed up and stuffed below into the bobbin housing, which is what normally happens.

This is where you can have fun and just get creative: I sewed these spaced at short intervals over the skirt waist sewing more butterflies at the top of each - but you can play with shapes and layers all you want. At this stage it's just getting all dreamy and floaty which is what little girls are after.

As the day came closer the weather got cooler. Strappy dress was looking like an uncomfortable option not to mention an invitation for a chill, so I pulled out a girls bolero pattern. 
I re-cut the pattern front on some brown paper - cutting away and reshaping it to lay open under the dress's bust detail and tie underneath with left-over ribbon. As it turned out the bows on the dress sat over this as well which added more detail and made the bolero look like part of the dress.

That's it for this weeks crafty.   I'm  still renovating so I need to go now and attach some handles on a cabinet Pinkster and i finished last night, there are venetians to be hung,  paintwork retouching..

One of these days Fridays I'll finish up an apartment!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Delicious Paws

The Lake House  is one of my favorite quirky love stories.
In the movie, Sandra Bullock's character tells Keanu Reeves in a letter;
 "I love the smell of Jack's Paws." I know an odd comment in a 'get to know you letter'.. may put a few blokes off right there..but anyway. I did say quirky.

But this comment gave me pause for thought (pun intended).

Dogs get pretty stinky, but surely with all they tread through and on that would make their paws the worst part of them from an olfactory perspective?

But curiosity got the better of me so during our nightly tummy rub session I pulled a paw up to my nose.

Wow. What is that
Like oatmeal cookies and fresh baked bread or something. I got the dog walker and the house-sitter on board and we debated several earthy/ foody smells. 

But there's agreement all round: Buddy's paws smell tasty!

Well following my recent trip to a French Deli to buy genuine French saucisson sec I started to cut some slices: obligatory glass of red already poured, and there it was; 'that' smell. 

I sniffed the meat and since Bud was hovering, salivating just next to me, I bent down grabbed his paw and sniffed.

Buddy's paws smell like freshly sliced  French cured sausage! 
No kidding - I am not mad- I made Mr Frenchie sniff too and if anyone knows his native cured meats he does.. he agreed. Absolutely

So it became unanimous; Buddy is one delicious dog.

Next time I went to the deli, as many people do, the owner admired our elegant orange dog tied outside. Stupidly I told him about the saucisson fragrant paws. He looked kind of started then a bit offended to be honest. 

He gave me a pained, moderately indulgent - 'this Aussie is nuts' kind of smile, so to compensate him for the trauma of his interpreting my claim as - 'your food smells like my dogs feet' - I bought half a dozen sausages at $8 a pop.

He really is delicious