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Delight and Things

a little peek at what delights me

Tag Archives: diy

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Half of the district, myself included, headed to Port Lincoln on Sunday for the annual Kimba Cup horse race. Always a popular day out for people on the Eyre Peninsula, this year marked the 100th year – so celebrations were in order.

Now, not everyone is into gambling at the races. I’m not much of a gambler myself – much to my man’s chagrin, because I’ll often pick a winner but never back it. But I still love going to the races. It’s usually just a beautiful day out with good friends, a few drinks, and fantastic people watching. The best part? Race day fashion. Usually there are gorgeous dresses, hats, and fascinators to admire and covet. Never have I experienced an event where people put so much time, effort and thought into how they appear. (This may be due to my upbringing in an adventure sports town, where the most you thought about your clothing was how well it was going to move and whether or not it was going to protect you from the rain or snow).

So in a stroke of forward-thinking genius, I recently purchased some feathers and buttons and ribbon and things to create the perfect fascinator to match my dress. See, the last few times I’ve been headwear-less due to poor planning the lack of hat shops on the farm.

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Armed with my craft glue, I got to work. I used felt for the base of the fascinator, cut into a teardrop shape, and glued two pieces together and let dry on a upside down bowl to get a bit of a curve in it. Then I sewed/glued an alligator clip on. Then I got to work with the feathers – layering them based on size and colour, and sewing each one down individually. (I can’t say the back of the headpiece is very tidy!)

Once all my feathers were on, I painted a piece of lace that I had black (as my dress had a bit of black in it) and once dry, glued that onto the bottom, folding it over to cover up the fluffy bits and feather ends. Then I stuck the last of my cream feathers through the pearly buttons I had, and sewed those on, too. Voila – a fabulous fascinator that perfectly matches my dress!

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Here’s a sneak peak of what’s been keeping me busy the last few days… check back in to see it in it’s completion.

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It’s that time of year again. December has come and it seems this year I am hit with a christmas fever that I didn’t have last year. Last year I was looking forward to not making a huge deal about the holiday, and I was excited to experience my first hot christmas. I was happy to join a family down in South Australia that I’d never met. I was happy to get up in the morning, open presents with the kids, then have a beer, put on my swimsuit, and head to the pool. I was happy to eat prawns at lunch instead of turkey at dinner, and honestly I hardly even noticed that I was lacking the christmas traditions I was used to. I genuinely enjoyed the creation of a beer can christmas tree (see, the family I was staying with owned a pub) and was suitably impressed at how beautifully it turned out (once the lights were up, the tree was aglow – with all that aluminum reflecting, the tree looked practically like it had a halo). Of course, I could put some of this down to the fact that I was a teeny tiny bit distracted because just days before that I’d met a boy who I had a pretty big crush on… the one I’m still with almost a year later… but I digress.

This christmas I feel a bit different. No, I’ll say a LOT different. I am longing for mittens and fireplaces and winter ales. I’d like to put on some christmas carols, bake a batch of gingerbread, have an eggnog, and decorate the house. I’m pining for the family christmas movie collection with classics such as White Christmas, Love Actually, and The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. (Although there are some who may watch Love Actually at any time of the year, in our household, it’s strictly a christmas film). (And heck yes, I said The Muppet’s Christmas Carol – I may be 24 years old but that is hands down the ultimate version of Dickens’ story). I’m craving hot apple cider, mom’s magic sleigh bell bars (a name that we made up for them when she invented them one christmas), and I’m missing the snow falling outside, the icicles reflecting christmas lights, and the smell of a freshly cut down fir tree in the house. Man. Christmas in Australia is totally not the same as Christmas in Canada.

But I’m getting my Christmas on. I’m going to make my christmas a unique blend of casual summery Aussie beaching and wintery Canadian family merriment. My good friend happens to have an extra christmas tree, so she drove over a nice, surprisingly realistic looking 7 footer yesterday. No, it’s not quite the same as heading out into knee-deep snow to chop down your own tree with an axe, but it’ll do. I’ve got baubles and lights and candy canes. I’ve tuned on to a 24-7 christmas radio station online. I’ve got…. well, I’ll admit I’m watching James Bond at the moment, not something festive, but I’m sure there’ll be some christmassy movies on tv in the next few days. I bought ingredients to whip up that batch of gingerbread I mentioned earlier. And to add to the christmassy goodness, I’ll share a few great links I’ve found.

Wishing my christmas tree looked like this. I’m seriously in love with this ‘tree of a different colour’ as the creator refers to it. Maybe next year.

A crafty idea for a reusable advent calendar. Love the simplicity. I’m keen to paint tiny little paintings that you can hang facing inwards from the pegs and flip over each day.

Can’t get motivated to get out the address book and write up those christmas cards? Perhaps one of these amazing cards will inspire the perfect holiday message.

Printable christmas bingo. My family has a bit of a christmas jeopardy tradition, but perhaps they could slot in christmas bingo for a bit of a change-up.

I’m happy to get a bit more engaged in the season then I did last year because I know it won’t all remind me of home – and I have the feeling that when I’m diving into the impossibly aqua ocean on christmas day here I won’t be wishing for snow. A skype call home and all will be right with the holidays, I’m sure.

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I read this little post on Apartment Therapy (a great site for all things home related) and really felt I had to share it. I’ve lived in quite a few different places, my family home for a long time but since then it’s generally been 3 months here, a year there, etc. I have learned a few things from each place I’ve lived in, and I am only JUST starting to figure out what I really want in a home. I’ve been in my present home (yes, I’ll call it my home even though it’s half way across the world from where my family is) since February, and I am guilty of wishing something was different pretty much every day, but I’m learning to love it. There are a few simple steps you can take to make yourself feel better about your home – and they don’t require much effort. Click the link in the paragraph above to view the whole post, it really is worth a read.

I definitely like the list they wrote, but I can’t say I practice all ten of the tips they’ve listed. So I’ve altered their list to make it more “me”.

Make your bed every day. This one was on their list – I’ve kept it. I started doing this in the last year university (prior to that I slept on a pull-out couch, which no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t “make” it). It sounds crazy, and I realize some people love the idea of coming home to a premade ‘nest’ of mussed up blankets and pillows, but this 20 second step in my morning routine seriously makes a huge difference in my day. Perhaps it’s something about seeing everything neat and orderly as I leave the room or maybe it’s feeling like I’ve already had a ‘win’ before I’ve even had my coffee or maybe it’s even just the small stretch I get when leaning over to smooth the duvet, who knows. But I do know that it helps maintain a sense of tidiness in an otherwise slightly cluttered room (thanks to laundry baskets that seem to have an aversion to the four walls that make up our bedroom).

Unplug. I love my computer. I like watching movies and the odd tv show. And while I don’t love phones, they are necessary. But there is a time and place for all of these things – I find that I get ‘teched out’ and need a break. I understand we all wind down in our own way, for many it’s turning the tv on and vegging out. I have no problem with having the tv on for a while, but I heard a scary fact not long ago – the average Australian adult watches 3 hours of tv a day (that’s 22 hours a week!). Maybe it’s time to reduce those statistics. On to phones – there is nothing worse then spending time making a meal, then have the phone ring and you’re left to then eat it while listening to someone’s one sided phone conversation. As for computers, I am guilty of sometimes tuning the other person in the room out because I am so focused on whatever I’m doing, and that’s not fair either. So turning off the electronics in your house for a period of time each day can go a long way to creating a happier home; it forces you to actually create your own entertainment.

Install hooks. I am a hook-addict. I like them because they keep things from becoming piles on the floor. Although some people argue that they simply convert your floor-piles to vertical wall-piles, I tend to disagree. If you have nice towels/clothes/hats/etc, then your hooks turn into renewable art of sorts. Pretty patterned shirts look nice hanging together on the wall. Hats add character. Even towels manage to break up a big wall. Hooks can also  hang your jewellry, adding sparkle to the room. But the top reason I love hooks? They act as a place to put clothes that aren’t fresh out of the laundry clean (which would go in a drawer/wardrobe) but aren’t dirty enough to deserve the laundry basket (ie. that pair of jeans you put on after your shower, wore for two hours while you were out for dinner, and then you took off when you swapped into your pyjamas to lounge on the couch). Ahh, hooks. Maybe this one just applies to me, but they definitely make my home happier.

Roll with it. Yes, there are things I don’t love about our house. But it’s a whole lot easier to accept them than to stress over them. So, I’ve embraced the things that previously bothered me and used them to my advantage. I have created a space where the shearing back-sling that always hangs on the verandah actually sort of looks like it’s meant to be there, I’ve displayed the old wagon wheel leaning up against the fence rather than hiding it, and I’ve filled the rusty bathtub in our yard with dirt and it’s now growing asparagus amongst other things. I’ve decided rather than hating our lime-green laminate kitchen counters and brown lino floors I’d call them ‘retro’. I’ve left the ugly mosaic tiles in our bathroom but changed the walls from dingy blue to buttery yellow, which has actually made the tiles look way nicer. I painted the home-made yard gates a cherry red. I’m trying to get climbing plants to climb up our water tanks. I’ve accepted that I’m not going to be living in a designer home any time soon, maybe never. But I’ll roll with what I’ve got, and do the little things I can do to make it nicer.

Frame your photos. It’s too easy these days to take great spur of the moment photos on your amazing digital camera (or even your iPhone) and, after a brief moment of excitement while loading them to the computer, forgetting they’re there until the next time you open up the photos file. And no more excuses that you can’t find the time to go to the photo store – apparently you can get them done online and mailed directly to your door! Framed photos is one of the easiest ways to make a space feel like home. It gets you excited about the idea that the four walls you are living within are yours (or at least, if you’re renting, your’s for now). Although I don’t have a whole lot yet (let’s face it, even though I’ve been settled for almost a year here I’m still technically living out of a backpack), I am slowly putting more and more memories on our walls.

Do the dishes as you go. I do not have the luxury of having a dishwasher. Hell, sometimes I don’t even have the luxury of having water, if it hasn’t rained for a while. (No, I’m exaggerating, we’ve never not had water – we’ve only not had water to certain sections of our house – always unfortunate if it’s the toilet). But that’s besides the point – the point is, doing dishes is not my favourite activity, but nothing makes me grumpier than walking into a disaster zone kitchen. So to avoid getting grumpy, I do the simple thing of having a sink full of hot sudsy water while I’m cooking, then when something’s dirty and I’m finished with it, it goes directly in to soak. If I have a moment where I’m simmering something or waiting for something to rise/cook/absorb/boil I can quickly do one or two (or the whole lot!) and it really doesn’t seem like that big a deal, because I’m already in the kitchen and already busy. Everyone reading this may think it sounds simple or may already do this, but it seriously saves me some frustration.

Let the light shine in. This one may be purely personal,  but I cannot function in a house with no light. When we first moved into this house there were some amazing curtains in our kitchen. And I mean amazing. Picture a kaftan from the 70s – they were a orange, mustard, and lime green floral pattern and they were faded out, with still bright parts where they overlapped the wall, not the window. I lived with those curtains for 5 months until one day I couldn’t take them any more and ripped them down. Then burnt them. (A little drastic, I know, but what can I say). And that afternoon, Jamie walked in and said, “Wow, it looks so much brighter in here, doesn’t it? We should have done that ages ago.” Indeed. It was a simple thing that took me under 5 minutes and it felt a thousand times better. When in the city later on I bought some new ones (because the light is pretty glaring at eye-level in the morning) but they don’t block out the light, they just filter it. Our kitchen feels so much cleaner now, all due to some sunlight and $20 curtains.

Get crafty. Maybe not everyone has the skill to do major building projects like tables and chairs, but you give me an example of someone who can’t buy a can of spray paint and revamp a lamp. Or bring an old pallet inside, lean it up against the wall in the hallway, and tuck shoes between the boards, creating a fully functional, if rustic, shoe rack (my solution for our front hall). Or take a spare metre of amazing patterned fabric that reminds you of that time you traveled in… whereever… and create a cool cushion cover by simply doing some tricky folding and safety pinning (instructions here). Google it, people, there are heaps of amazing DIY tutorials out there for anything you could ever dream of having in your house. And not only will it give you something to do on a rainy afternoon (or during one of your tech-free evenings) but it will give you a sense of pride once you’re done.

Start a one-line-a-day gratitude journal. This is another I’ve kept from Apartment Therapy’s list. I like that this can be as simple as thinking about what your favourite part of your day was before going to sleep at night. I honestly think sometimes we get so wrapped up in what went wrong during the day we forget to think about what went right. Maybe it’s just that you were grateful for your awesome shoes that you wore to work (not so applicable for me, seeing as I’ve got steel capped work boots, but…) or that your dog was playing in the sprinkler and ended up being a goofy, soggy mess. If you take a minute to think about what you loved about the day, you’ll start to see that even on the worst days something good will happen.

Plant some veggies. I know not everyone has hectares and hectares of space to have a veggie patch, like I do. But there are some amazing resources online to help gardeners with even the most compact of spaces. Check out this link here if you have roughly 4×4 ft of space, or try your hand at planting tiny veggies like these ones in a window box. And if you’re in a city, check out some of the great community gardens that are around (although I know there’s often a wait list to have a plot in them, so maybe trying to grow some veggies in a pot at home would be faster). But I recommend giving it a try, because it’s a  bit of a delight to cook with veggies that you grew. It doesn’t get fresher, it tastes amazing, you can feel safe in knowing there were no growth hormones or pesticides used, and you can brag about it when you invite people over for dinner. And it’s fun going out each day and watching things get bigger.

Have a morning song. Some mornings, I just can’t get inspired to get out of bed, and as I walk through each room I find things that make me grumpy. And if that’s the case, I’ll play my morning song (Gravity, by John Mayer Trio). It usually makes me feel better about things. I think hearing the house full of music brings creates good energy, without sounding like a yoga teacher or a monk. And I love that it usually sets my mood for the rest of the day. Just make sure it’s a song that makes you feel good. Mine’s calm, cruise-y, and slightly blue-sy which lets me wake up slowly and puts me in a relaxed mood. But you might want a bit more energy for your morning – choose what suits you. And I’ve just said a morning song versus a morning playlist because often that’s all I’ll have time for in the morning… I clearly press snooze a little too often.

If you can’t get out of it, get into it. I’ve stolen this one from Apartment Therapy, too. But I like it. Basically, the idea is get super pumped about the things you hate doing. Hate taking out the trash? Turn it into an Indiana Jones epic trash-taking-out adventure. Vacuuming? Crank up the tunes and turn it into a 5 minute vacuuming dance party. These are actually the sorts of things I do every day without actually realizing it. It makes the mundane tasks seem… awesome.

Anyway, hope this gives you a bit of food for thought for your own home. And if anyone has some great tips that they practice, let me know!

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My two favourite holidays are Thanksgiving and Halloween. Unfortunately, this country doesn’t celebrate either. On October 8th, which is Canadian Thanksgiving, we ate tacos for dinner. I’m lucky I even remembered it was Thanksgiving – I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Jamie, who said “happy thanksgiving” as we sat down (bless him – the Aussie who before meeting me had never even heard of pumpkin pie). So no, we didn’t really celebrate. It’s hard to have a family gathering with a turkey cooking in the oven when you’re family is halfway across the world and you have an oven that doesn’t seal entirely well, adding extra heat to an already 40°C day. And also, we had indulged in a Thanksgiving feast at my grandmother’s house in July when we were in Canada at my special request, so I wasn’t feeling like I’d missed out too much this year.

Halloween, on the other hand, is not something that we could just recreate in July. Halloween needs to have the perfect combination of autumn leaves, cool nights with wood fire smoky smells, and everyone on board to transform their houses into gruesome graveyards, insane asylums, mad scientist labs, monsters headquarters, and more. It also requires the shops to sell tiny bite sized candies and face paints, and mothers everywhere to dust off their sewing machines to create a costume out of scrap fabric laying in the back of the cupboard. It needs pumpkins to be in season (and I mean the classic orange ones, not Queensland blues). So needless to say, we did not have Halloween during our visit back home.

But I was seriously in need of a Halloween fix. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and force-feed Halloween down the throats of our community. Although it’s a bit difficult to trick or treat when the houses are quite often more than 1km from eachother, I figured I could at least host a party and show these Aussies what the big deal was. It was party planning time. While in Adelaide for a wedding I bought a bunch of decorations from the classic spiderwebs to skull lights, and with the help of a few friends even tracked down a few orange pumpkins. I invited the kids down the street to come over for a pumpkin carving night and we created some amazing jack-o-lanterns (after having to explain what a jack-o-lantern was). I got a bit crafty and built a giant paper mache Frankenstein head to hang at the front door. I stuffed hay into my old work clothes and hung my scarecrow look-alike from a noose in the driveway. I created a murder scene in the bathroom. I baked ghosts and bones and had punch with floating hands in it. I even had a good friend who has a cupcake business create some seriously cool halloween cupcakes – awesome!

It was really funny treating people to a whole new holiday – everyone was so delighted with it all and was wide eyed at the decorations and food and everything halloween-y that I just took for granted having grown up with it. Of course, it wasn’t quite the same as home, but everyone got into the spirit and dressed up, and we ended up having a bit of fun. Although you can’t go too wrong with good friends, a few beers, and a bbq with farm fresh meat on it, can you? It’s just an added bonus that a dead Fred Flintstone was cooking it for you.

So – Happy Halloween everybody! Let’s hope those of you who celebrate it are feeling sick to your stomach from too much candy, and that those of you who don’t will one day have a random Canadian move to your town and host a halloween spooktacular.

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While helping shift some rye seed from the silo to spreader the other day I looked up and noticed some fat black berries on a tree nearby. No, wait, not berries… olives!! Totally excited, I pulled one off, yelled “Look, Jamie, OLIVES!” and before he could say anything, stuffed it in my mouth.

Olives on the tree

BIG MISTAKE.

For those of you out there who live in Mediterranean climates where olive trees are plentiful, you’re probably just shaking your head right now. For those of you who don’t, please take note: fresh olives are not delicious. And by not delicious I mean positively awful. I’m fairly certain it was the most bitter thing I have ever put in my mouth. I immediately spat it out and ran to the ute in search of some water.

Jamie was doubled over with laughter – he has fresh olive experience and to his credit was trying to warn me but I was just too excited. “You’ve got to cure them, Raine.” I felt humiliated by the olive tree and so, even though I was mad at it, decided that I was not going to be beaten and started to collect the rest of them off the branches.

Again, thank goodness for the internet, as a handy google search started me off in my 3-6 month mission to produce edible olives from the tree. It’s so far involved soaking the olives in water for 10 days, and then in a brine. After a few more days of soaking them in that, I’m supposed to jar them up and let them rest for 3-6 months until they are yummy. If all goes well, I will let you know the process I used. But there’s no point in posting it if I simply end up with aged undelicious olives.

I really do hope they work though, for three reasons:

1. I love olives. And I love things that you can make yourself.

2. My dad has a fairly large olive habit (read: $40 plus a month spent on olives alone) and I think he may be the proudest father in the world if I started curing my own.

3. Wouldn’t it be great if you could call yourself and olivier? Too bad if it’s not an actual thing – I’ll be the first.

My fresh olives

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