Sunday, 15 September 2013

Crochet floor rug

Something that I probably haven't written about before is that I love to crochet. Crochet is no longer the domain of our grandmothers with new and different types of yarn becoming available. One yarn that I absolutely adore is Zpagetti yarn.

Zpagetti yarn is made of stretch cotton fabric offcuts and comes in so many beautiful colours and designs. Their website offers some inspiration for different projects you can complete with zpagetti. Also you can ogle the beautiful macrame items that Ouchflower makes with this fabulous yarn. Ouchflower also has an amazing blog with helpful hints on the various knots that you can use when making macrame. So head to her knot school and get crafting.

One project that I tried with zpagetti that turned out amazingly was a crochet doily rug. I used the pattern from a blog called Dandelion Days. I must admit though that I did not include Round 4 mentioned in the pattern as I could not get this to work, otherwise though this pattern was easy to follow and turned out beautifully (well I think so anyway).

One little tip though for working with this yarn is that you will need to take regular breaks. The yarn is very thick and you will need to use your muscles to work with it. Also the biggest crochet hook I have ever seen is essential to getting the right look.

My next project is to use the same pattern mentioned before to make myself a couple of very stylish bath mats and with Christmas now fast approaching I am sure that they would also make very personal gifts for friends and family. I know that I would love to receive something that someone has spent their precious time and energy creating.

So put some time aside in your calendar to get crafting, you won't regret it.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Baking, baking, baking

Busy, busy, busy (or is it lazy, lazy, lazy). Whichever way I look at it my blog has definitely been on the silent side. I have been busy though, I promise you with lots of new things to add to my blog over the coming weeks.

For my first blog back in a wee while I thought I would celebrate my all time favourite kitchen Kitchenaid Mixer.

I was so lucky to get my gorgeous mixer as a 30th birthday present from my thoughtful boyfriend and I have been using it non-stop. I have been inspired partly by Mary Berry's Baking Bible (also given to me as a birthday present from a good friend) and partly by a want to make things from scratch...from 'real' ingredients (no packet mix cakes for me).

I find baking a way to relax and enjoy the art of making something for yourself, friends or family. It shows that you care about those people important to you - you have taken the time to make something that you hope they will enjoy (and you also get to lick the spoon).

I have challenged myself to bake something new each weekend to share with whomever is around. One weekend it was pavlova (Day to Day Cookery Book), the next it was lemon meringue pie and this weekend it has been strawberry and coconut muffins (I added a little bit of me to this recipe by adding vanilla bean paste, making 6 giant Texas muffins instead of the usual 12, and drizzling with white chocolate).

You don't need a mixer to bake something absolutely delicious (although just so pretty) so join me this weekend or any day of the week and bake something new that you have always wanted to try. How about some Amish friendship bread, chocolate eclairs, creme brûlée, whatever tickles your fancy. And share it with someone special to you or as a welcome to a new neighbour.

Yum, yum, yum

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Chatsworth House

Now something that you may not know about me is that I absolutely adore the UK. I have travelled to the UK a number of times with my most recent trip happening in October 2012.

My boyfriend and I have hired a motorhome on a couple of occasions to travel around England, Wales and Scotland and I must say it is truly the best way to see the beautiful countryside and experience the people.

If you are looking for a cheap way to travel the UK you really cannot go past a motorhome. We used JustGo on both occasions and we were never disappointed ( But I digress because what I really wanted to tell you about is a fantastic place we visited called Chatsworth House.

Now some of you may know Chatsworth House as Pembley from the BBC Pride and Prejudice series (Mr Darcy...swoon) but it is so much more than a film set.

You all know how much I love gardening, well Chatsworth House has an absolutely amazing garden. But when I say garden I mean 'grounds'. It is truly a massive house with massive grounds to explore.

This photo is not a fake. This is actually just one area of what the gardens look like at Chatsworth House (I must admit I was pretty proud of my very limited photography ability when I saw this photo printed out).

I literally could have spent all day exploring the house with its amazing art, sculpture and a truly magnificent library that book worms around the globe would die for (me included), the awe-inspiring gardens with the autumn colours catching the light, trying local produce from the on-sight store, and buying myself little treats from the gorgeous gift store.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed my visit here. If you get a chance to visit the UK you really cannot go past Chatsworth House (

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Recommendation: The Simple Things

I love nothing more to curl up with a good magazine. The stories, photography...I just love it. So I was super excited to come across a new magazine about 5 months ago now. Now I must admit that I am absolutely hooked. I read each and every page and I try to ration myself so that the magazine lasts the whole month but that never ever works out. I have usually read the whole thing, cover to cover, in a couple of sittings.

The magazine I am talking about is called 'The Simple Things' ( I cannot recommend it highly enough - you just have to give it a try.

You may find it hard to hunt down this magazine in your local newsagent (I have seen one newsagent stock it but they are way behind in the issue department. Remember you can always ask your Newsagent nicely to stock it. Remember say it with a smile). The best way to get this magazine is to buy it on Newsstand (if you can). You will not be disappointed.

It is a UK based publication but who doesn't love to think about a winter wonderland when they are melting in the Brisbane heat and a lot of the articles are just that, absolutely fantastic stories that everyone can enjoy.

The magazine's philosophy to me is to enjoy the simple things in life, hence the name. Don't let those little things pass you by. At the end of every magazine there is a list of simple things that just make you smile and feel all warm and gooey inside. Some of my simple pleasures are big squeezy cuddles with my boyfriend, the afternoon light in my backyard looking out of my vegetable patches, my cat Yoda meowing at me when I get home, a cool shower on a hot day. I really could go on but that is what this magazine encourages - it is to take pleasure of those simple things in life. Now who can't get on board with that.

So if you love eating, growing, making, living and escaping (I think we all love living personally) then you will love love love this magazine. Happy reading.


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The journey of my front garden

I bought a house with my boyfriend just over a year ago now. It was a brand new house and very little attention had been paid to the landscaping side of things - even down to the fact that the builder's had put bitumen stones around the house as 'paving'.

I have always had a love of gardening. I think my Dad instilled this in me as a child when we used to 'help' him with the gardening to give my Mum some relaxation time. I remember our fern walk and feeding our staghorns bananas. So when I moved into my new home I wanted to make the garden my own. My lovely boyfriend is not a keen gardener but he is more than happy to help me with my adventures.

I thought the best place to start my first foray into gardening at my own home was my front garden. Here is a bit of a picture of what I faced.

The builder had put a smaller triangular garden in the corner of the front yard. I decided to expand this garden across the entire front yard so I used a hose to map out the curve that I wanted and then my Dad and Uncle helped me dig out the lawn.

I wanted curves because I wanted something natural looking and not so hard edged hence the use of the hose to mimic curves (curves are also a good idea to hide any imperfections - straight lines tend to accentuate them). I added manure and cultivated the soil with a garden fork. Lucky for me the soil looked neither too sandy or clay-like so I didn't need to bring in any additional soil.

My initial thought was to have an English style cottage garden to attract bees and birds however I soon learnt that my front garden gets very very hot and dry. It faces north and I was undertaking my planting scheme in the middle of Summer (not the best time to start a new garden but it worked out in the end). This meant that I needed to think of something else.

Luckily for me I learnt that our local council offered free plants to those people with brand new homes. They offered 24 free plants if your home was less than 12 months old. They also offer 8 free plants each year. So I was entitled to 32 free plants. This was fantastic!

Please check with your local council to see if they provide this free plant program. Even if they don't, most council nurseries are very reasonably priced and stock plants that are native to your region and do well in your climate conditions. Here is a link to my local council's offering (

If you cannot source free plants, another great place to look is at your local markets. I have been lucky to source some fantastic plants from my local markets. In addition, your friends and family can be a great untapped resource. Most plants will grow from cuttings or can be divided so do some research, talk with your friends and family and take some plants from their garden. I have found this very rewarding - it is like a living family heirloom. I have taken cuttings from my parents and I have them growing in my garden. This means that when I have children I can hopefully pass a cutting onto them.

So back to my garden - here is what it looked like after I planted my 32 free plants (along with some freebies from the family).

I mulched with sugar cane and made sure to keep the water up to them regularly whilst their roots established (during the summer this was pretty much every day). They were so cute and small. Tube stock is great if you are not in a hurry for a garden. They are usually cheaper and do grow well if looked after.

Now here is what my garden looks like now.

I did not loose a single plant which I am ecstatic about. Now don't get me wrong, some looked quite sad for a long time but I enjoyed looked after them and seeing them flourish.

Lots of people can be simply too scared to start something but with gardening you can never really do any wrong. Just give it a go. If something does not work out you can simply try again with something different. My garden worked so well because I chose plants that suited my area (this is mostly an Australian native garden). I also made sure not to overwater my plants (overwatering is a killer). I used my finger to test moisture levels and I made sure to top up the mulch when it looked a bit flat and drab.

But perhaps the best thing I have found for my garden is the Urban Composter ( Any type of food can go into this compositor bucket (cooked, uncooked, bread, dairy meat, leaves...anything) and you simply spray the scraps when you put them in with a compost accelerator. The Urban Composter has a tap which gives you the best liquid fertiliser that goes such a long way and the plants seem to absolutely adore it (they thrive on the stuff). Once your bucket is full you just mix the scraps into the soil and 6-8 weeks later you have brilliant natural manure for your gardens. It is a fantastic way to cut down on your rubbish and get added benefits from it (but the juice is a wee bit stinky).

Gardening is a great way to relax (I always spend just 20 minutes in my garden when I get home from work to wind down), learn and try new things and meet the bugs, bees and birds. My style of garden may not be for you but find what you like and give it a red hot go.


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Paper quilt

I recently tried a crafty idea that I saw in a past issue of Frankie Magazine - I made a paper quilt for my wall. Now I hear you asking what is a paper quilt, well here is a little picture of how it turned out in the hallway of my house.

You can use any paper that you like to make your paper quilt. I must admit that I searched for weeks to find the paper that inspired me. I was very lucky to stumble across Love Mae ( Love Mae has many wrapping paper designs to choose from and they are very reasonable priced in my opinion anyway. 

If you would like to make a paper quilt for your wall or to give as a gift to someone you love (the little hexagons would look so cute bundled up, wrapped in string with an instruction sheet) then here is a little step by step guide.

What you will need

Wrapping paper of your choice
White cardboard 
Glue stick

You need the same amount of cardboard as you do your wrapping paper. You will need a little bit more cardboard for your hexagon template.

I used wrapping paper that was 35cm x 50cm and this made quite a few hexagons.


1. Print out a hexagon template. My hexagons are approximately 9cm wide however you choose whatever size works for you. I simply searched for a hexagon template in Google.

2. Cut out your hexagon template and glue it to a piece of cardboard. Cut around your hexagon so that you now have a nice firm hexagon to trace around.

3. Now make sure that the size of each piece of your wrapping paper is the same as the pieces of cardboard. Glue each sheet of wrapping paper to the corresponding piece of cardboard. I found that using a ruler to drag over the paper helped get rid of any bubbles (don't press too hard of your could mark or tear your gorgeous paper). I foundd this bit kind of tricky but I persevered and got there in the end. 

This step could sound a bit unnecessary however I found it easier to attach the shapes to my wall. I also think that it will help them last longer.

4. With the paper now glued to the cardboard you get a tracing. Trace as many hexagons as you can fit onto the cardboard side of your paper. 

5. Cut around each hexagon that you have traced. This will leave you with a lovely pile of quilt pieces in the varying designs of wrapping paper that you chose.

6. Choose a place where you would like to show off your craftiness and attach the quilt pieces to your wall in whatever design that you like. I used small pieces of blu-tack to attach the pieces to the wall. I also left a small gap in between each quilt piece as it tends to hide any unevenness with your cutting (I certainly found that anyway).

7. Voila! Stand back and admire your new paper quilt wall art.

Now this only took me about two hours to achieve. Remembering that I love to break for cups of tea on my deck and give my handsome fat cat, Yoda, a belly scratch, so it may only take you an hour or so. However long it ends up taking you I certainly found the process and the results extremely fun. I love looking at my wall of craftiness.


Recycled furniture

Now everyone has their own particular fancies when it comes to furniture and that is why recycling furniture is fantastic. Recycling old pieces allows you to pick the style, shape and colours that make you happy.

If you are like me, you can rarely find what you are looking for at the mainstream stores or if you do find something amazing, the price is not so amazing (it can be down right scandalous). This is why recycling can be so great. You get an item you need or want at the price that makes you smile and with a little TLC, voila a new piece of furniture emerges that has your stamp of personality.

I must admit that I had no idea where to start with my recycled furniture expeditions but I think i can now impart some of what I learnt from my stops and starts.

Now where to start, what to do in the middle and the end result.


1. Think about what you need or want. For me this was more storage in my kitchen. My Tupperware and bakeware cupboard was getting out of control so I wanted somewhere to put all my baking tins and platters. 

2. Identify what space you have available. I didn’t have any wall or floor space available in my kitchen but my kitchen is part of my open plan living area. I did have a space there but the height of the space was restricted by an air conditioning unit. So I knew I wanted more storage with space for bulky items and that I could only get something up to a height of 160cm.

3. Ask yourself what style of furniture you like. I am very partial to 1950s style furniture, but my boyfriend is not, but I know that we both like a country feel. With this in mind we agreed on a kitchen dresser. Yay!

4. Think about how much effort (elbow grease) you are willing to put into upcycling the piece that you select. This can make a difference to your budget and the condition of the item that you choose.

5. Now for the budget. Think carefully about how much you are willing to spend, remembering that there may be some costs involved in recycling the piece of furniture that you choose. I personally did not want to spend over $150 on my recycling attempt.

6. Get searching! You can use the internet if you like to relax at home and take your time (with an optional cup of tea and cat in your lap). Ebay (, Etsy ( and Gumtree ( are great sites to try and source second-hand furniture at a reasonable price and I am sure that there are many others. Another way of sourcing your recyclable goodies is to plan a day (hopefully with a good friend or sister) and hit all the local thrift shops (and tip shops if you have access to these). They can be a gold mine for recycling. You may also stumble across some other things that you love along the way too. I personally like to collect anything that has a mouse on it.

6. 'Don't judge a book by its cover' - remember this little saying when you are looking at second-hand furniture. It may not look neat, it may not look clean, it may have lumps and bumps but as long as the structure is sound you could be onto a winner. You can be fairly safe with solid timber pieces however depending on how handy you are you can pretty much overcome any issue. But remember - how much effort are you willing to put in? If the item is made of ply and some of the ply is delaminating, you may have to replace whole sections - is this something you are willing and able to do? This is really about being realistic - a bit of self reflection and honesty people. 

Now back to that little saying about a book. Here is a picture of the item I ending up buying on Ebay for $100.

Hiding behind that sticker on the middle door was a lovely great hole but I did tell myself to expect the unexpected when buying online.

7. When you find that item that you just love and is within your price range and elbow grease limit - BUY BUY BUY! That is the thing with second-hand furniture, you may never find another piece like it.

8. Decide what personality you are going to give your item. Are you going to paint it, stain it, cover it with fabric, photos, washi tape, put stencils on it, insert twigs as inlay? There are so many ways to change the way a piece of furniture looks. Look at Pinterest ( for inspiration or Google images, or your favourite magazines. Look within yourself (here is that self reflection again) and get your inspiration. The options are only really limited by your imagination.

8. Research your item as best you can. What I mean by this is understand what it is made of, what items your will need to inject your second-hand beauty with your design ideas. This can get tricky but once again there are so many people with a wealth of knowledge willing to share it with you. Ask friends, family or research the internet or source handyman magazines. I decided to paint my little beauty but not before having to replace both side panels and one shelf panel with new sheets of ply.

To paint any item it is best to sand it but remember to protect your lungs and eyes when sanding. Give the item a good clean with a damp cloth to remove any dirt and leftover dust. Then use a water-based primer to prime where you are wanting to paint (I prefer water-based primers and paints because it is just so much easier to wash up then oil-based). With painting furniture, it is best to use an enamel paint (like the paint you use for doors, skirting boards and architraves) as it is hard wearing so you can enjoy your recycled delight for many years to come.

9. Use that elbow grease and restore your furniture as you have researched.

10. Move your item into place and voila, you have your recycled dream.

Here is the end result of my labours (and my boyfriend helped of course).

Now I know that this may seem like a lot of work but if you put in the effort (both research and elbow grease) you will definitely be rewarded.

I was just so happy with it and you will be too. Don't worry if the paintwork is not quite perfect, or you used the wrong fabric to cover the seat cushion - this is what makes the item special to you and hopefully those who enjoy looking upon it. I know that my friends and family have made my efforts feel special - and my platters all have a fantastic home.