Saturday, October 31, 2015

10 tips to avoid the cycle of Depression and Disorganisation....

 
"Possessions, like fat, insulate us from the outside world, building a wall of junk which we can hide behind. Our clutter becomes an insular mechanism for shielding ourselves from pain. We all do this to some degree, but few ever make the correlation. The sheer act of acquiring stuff, too, can be a self-medication. How many of us shop in order to feel better? But it´s a temporary fix that, in the end, only adds to our depression.”– Christy Best, Professional Organizer
 
This is a topic that fascinates me, because I see not only myself, but most of my family and friends flitting along a sliding scale of mood and materialism much of the time. Shop to feel better? Sure! Then feel overwhelmed by clutter? You bet! Declutter and start all over again? Often! We've all done it if we're honest with ourselves.
 
Well, I'm no expert, but I have learned a few things over my 50+ years here on the good Earth. Here's my personal thoughts on this topic. I'm no professional, but I'm a Mum and Nanna, and have been a career girl and a stay at home Mum, a single parent and a married one, so I've seen life from all sides.
 
First of all, if we are organised, and live in a household run on a smart routine, a budget that allows for a bit of fun whilst still meeting our commitments, and healthy lifestyle habits, we won't need to 'shop to feel better'. We'll feel content with what we have, and where we are in the scheme of life. This goes for the entire family. A peaceful home, generates people who are at peace with life.
 
If we are busy AND disorganised, routines evaporate in a puff of good intent, and we can spiral into a sort of temporary chaos. Not only do you suffer personally, but smart routines, clever budgets and good habits tend to go down the toilet, so the entire family suffers. The family get tired and scratchy with one another because they're out of routine with sleeping and waking times, they eat poorly because basic food pyramid and 5/2 fruit and veg servings are abandoned,  we neglect our 8 glasses of water a day so our body and it's waste elimination cycles don't function efficiently, we feel sluggish because we don't get out in the open air and exercise and get our Vitamin D. It all adds up to yuck.
 
The washing then mounts up because we're tired and out of sorts, and can't be bothered, and stress ensues because someone doesn't have a part of their uniform or a shirt for work. Meals are focused on quick and easy, rather than tasty and nutritious because we're all worn out. More scratchiness results and we're all unhappy. Does this sound familiar?
 
You can then become stonewalled and I know if it's me, I don't attend to important tasks in a timely fashion, because the sheer number and enormity of tasks overwhelms me. In preference to tackling things in my usual timely and orderly fashion, I do nothing, or distract myself with unnecessary tasks, because I can't complete things to the high standards I set myself. Is that you too?
 
Then I start to feel like a Deer in the headlights, where I simply can't start on anything, because I can't make a decision on what tasks need my attention at a given moment. I get out of the house and go browsing in my favourite homewares, garden or thrift shop because it soothes my mind. Then nothing gets done, and I'll usually arrive home with some little purchase or other, and the buzz I just got from my little spend-up evaporates because all of those tasks are still there. Stuff still needs to be done. The amount of money spent is not the point. Mostly it's $10 or less. It's just that it's not an item I need, and it's comfort is extremely temporary.
 
The thing is, that all we have in a day is a string of moments. And it's what we do with that string of moments, that dictates whether we have a peaceful life, or a chaotic one.
 
That's where my Mum used to say 'Just do one thing Darling. Then do one thing more.'
 
Of all the advice my Mum ever gave me, that is probably the most useful. Do one thing. Then do one thing more, then another. Don't think. Don't procrastinate. Just start. And keep going. It's a really valuable mindset to cultivate.
 
Now on the subject of depression, which apparently is the curse of modern society and now being treated in epidemic proportions, I've seen people who are depressed because they have nothing, and I've seen people who are depressed despite having everything a human being could want. Conversely, some of the most content folk I know, have 'nothing' compared to others. And the ones who have 'everything' and are content, would happily give it all away tomorrow and still be content.
 
So how is this 'contentment' accomplished? It clearly doesn't have much to do with 'having' or 'not having'. It has to do with 'being'. And learning to just 'be', is a fast disappearing skill in todays must-have society.
 
Can I share some tips that have worked for me? They're not a magic solution, and I don't pretend they'll work for everyone. But maybe they can help you too. Maybe, just maybe, they'll help you to find time in your day to just BE.
 
1. Get enough sleep. Seriously, this one thing can make all the difference. That might mean disconnecting from technology earlier in the evening, watching less TV, going to bed earlier, and making sure that you've exerted yourself sufficiently throughout the day to actually tire yourself out. If you've sat around on the computer all day, not only will you not have accomplished much else, but your body simply won't be ready to sleep. It might mean seriously evaluating your caffeine or alcohol intake. It's well known that those two things are sleep thieves. It might mean something more basic like whether your bed is comfortable, whether your pillow needs renewing, or the linen needs changing. And give your brain time to wind down too. A little quiet time whether via a warm shower with lavender body wash, or a soak in the bath with candles lit, is a good strategy.
 
2. Eat well, and eat nutritiously. I do not advocate giving up sugar or carbs or any other of a million things that are supposed to be bad for us. I've always thought the mantra 'all things in moderation' was a good one. If you're not familiar with the Healthy Food Pyramid, Google it and re-familiarise yourself with what is recommended for a human body to function at it's peak. I bet it isn't takeaway and deep fried. Go to bed on the hungry side of full. A full stomach at bed time is another sure fire way to deprive yourself of a restful night. Indigestion anyone?
 
3. Spend a part of your evening, preparing for tomorrow. Train your family to do the same. Set out the breakfast dishes, fill the kettle, make the lunches. Iron your outfit if it needs it, set out your accessories, make sure the kids have done their homework and that any messages or notes from school have been handed to whomever in the family is the designated 'note reading' person. Sign permission slips, put money into envelopes or transfer it online...however your school does it. Then it's done. Don't leave things till the deadline to act.
 
4. Make sure the car is fuelled and ready to go, or that everyone has their bus pass or train ticket or whatever it is they need. You don't want to run late because of a basic transport failure.
 
5. Get up at the same time every day. The human body likes to know what comes next. Go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time, just for a week, and see if you don't feel better. We get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. We accomplish so much more that way.
 
6. Try to keep all of your tasks contained within each day. By that I mean do todays washing today, get it dry, fold it and store it. Don't let todays washing (or meeting, or report) mount up with tomorrows and the day afters. If Tuesday is shopping day and Wednesday is cleaning day, don't let the shopping, the cleaning and your Thursday tasks, mount up until Thursday when you've probably also got to pay bills or go to work, and suddenly you find you're under pressure to do three days worth of stuff in one day. I call it Task Leakage. I avoid Task Leakage at all costs. If it means I'm up an hour earlier to hang washing to achieve this, then so be it.
 
7. Get the family in on the routines. If they can help accomplish some of the tasks in your routine, then so much the better. My family know that if their dirty clothes aren't in the clothes basket by 7am, they don't get washed today. They know that if they haven't written their needs and wants on the shopping list by shopping day, they miss out for a week. They know that the school snacks are all on the third shelf of the fridge and the middle section of the kitchen cupboard. All else is off bounds. They know that Week 1 on our family menu means Thai Noodles and home made Cornetto icecreams, and Week 4 means Lasagna and home made Toasted Marshmallows. Don't bother asking me to change. You get what you like once a month, I get to choose not to cook it unless it's on the menu that week!
 
8. Prioritise. Making gifts for friends and family is a favourite pastime of mine. But
what's the point of making a birthday present for a birthday three months from now, if you haven't done the washing and prepared the meal for today? That creates stress on every possible level, rather than alleviating it, which is the intent of making my own gifts. I think sometimes we bloggers are a bit guilty of this one. We need a photo or a post for the blog, so common sense flies out the window. That's a path to blog burnout and family stress. Attend to the needs of your real life before you worry about your online one. The online community can wait. Make up two lists. One called 'Essential Tasks', and called 'Fun Stuff' or any variation on that theme. Before you can start on a task on the Fun Stuff list, you have to accomplish three on the Essentials Task list. What a great motivator this can be. You'll be amazed how quickly and efficiently you'll whizz through those Essentials to get to the Fun. I promise! And the best part is, you get to do your Fun Stuff, guilt free.
 
9. If you feel you're in that Deer in the Headlights mode, the best course of action is action. Do something. Anything. But it must be something on the 'Essential Tasks' list. Do one thing as Mum always said. Then do one thing more. Keep going.
 
10. Don't let anyone guilt you out of your well earned routines and sense of accomplishment. Yes it might be boring to your friends that you won't meet them for a coffee and a spendup because you're too busy baking for the week, or cutting and colouring your own hair, or doing your budget for the next month, but who'll be laughing come tomorrow or next month, when you're organised and they're not? Learn to nurture a sense of accomplishment and joy in the simple tasks of a well run home, and teach your family to do the same. You will feel so free.
 
I hope some of my advice is helpful to you. Like I said, I'm not a professional, but I have seen a bit of life, and I know what's worked for me. I hope it works for you too. I hope it helps you find the time to BE, and helps you find a path to being FREE.
 
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Friday, October 30, 2015

Five Star Frou-Frou #25...A Blissful Teatime...

A Pink Tea for October: The Charm of Home
 
It's all about tea at Five Star Frou-Frou this week.
 
Sherry from The Charm of Home shared her gorgeous Breast Cancer Surivor Tribute Tea seen above...
 
...and over at Parsimonious Décor Darling, we were treated to a stunning Fall display featuring twig and wire teapots....
 
http://fromparsimonioustoperfection.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/set-your-table-with-flair-autumnal.html#.VjL34v_ovcv
 
...and finally, Lynn at Quaker Hill Farm, shared this darling vignette and her mouthwatering recipe for Apple Pear Spiced Tea...I'll be right over Lynn...yum!
 
http://quakerhomecottage.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/apple-pear-spiced-autumn-teaa-cozy.html#more
 
I'm dizzy with teatime possibilities now!
 
 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

There's money in your refrigerator...

 
There's money in your refrigerator.
 
No, really.
 
Go on, have a look.
 
Can't see it yet? Look closer.
 
No, it's not $100 dollar bills. Or even $10 ones.
 
It's food.
 
See that half full punnet of strawberries with the mouldy ones growing hair on one side? And the tin of condensed milk you opened to make that slice that only needed half a tin, but that you popped in the fridge still in the tin, convinced you'd make another slice tomorrow...and that was a week ago? And what about that onion you halved and wrapped in cling wrap, then forgot about and cut up another onion the next day? The asparagus spears that you bought and then didn't use because you decided on chicken risotto instead of asparagus and parmesan fettucine, they're there at the back of the crisper going wrinkled. The celery's limp because it's shoved up the back of the crisper with leaves and all, and you can't even see it. Half a lime drying out all by itself. Surely that's gotta go.
 
Yep.
 
All of that....money...down the drain.
 
A while back, I started this little routine, where before I menu planned prior to the weekly grocery shop (a huge money saver in itself), I'd clean out the refrigerator and pantry. This was mainly to ensure I hadn't missed a meal or two in the making. I'd line up all the stuff I was about to toss, on the bench, and do a mental tally of how much money I'd spent on those items. To my abject horror, some weeks I was throwing anything up to $50 in the bin, through poor storage, forgetfulness, change of heart or just plain laziness. That's $2500 a year or a decent holiday! No more.
 
I looked in my refrigerator this morning and saw the aforementioned limp celery, 3 baby cucumbers gone soft at one end, the asparagus and onion half also mentioned above, about a teaspoonful of grated parmesan, 1 tiny green spring onion, a scant 1/4 of a bottle of lactose free cream, and the last of a punnet of fresh coriander. Now upon a time, I would have just ditched all of that.
 
In the pantry I found a handful of gluten free spiral pasta, certainly not enough for a meal, a packet of Italian Soup Mix bought when it was still Winter around here, and the last of a packet of pickling spices. I could have tossed that too...BUT....
 
Immediately I saw possibilities. With practice, so can you. There are many ways to use up those little bits of almost nothing hiding in your refrigerator, turning them into delectable morsels for eating or gifting. Let me share a few.
 
It's unseasonably chilly and wet here today. So stock made with limp celery leaves, halved onions, a couple of chicken necks, and Italian Soup Mix mean delicious Tuscan inspired soup for dinner tonight, complete with gluten free toast drizzled with real Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil, carefully nursed home from our recent trip.
 
Good Basic Stock recipe...To a large saucepan of water, add the celery ends and leaves, 1/2-1 onion quartered, 2-4 cloves garlic, 12 peppercorns, 6-10 chicken necks or 1-2 chicken carcasses, a teaspoon of stock powder or 1-2 stock cubes, and any other sad looking vegetables in the crisper, peeled and chopped into large chunks. Let this simmer for up to 3 hours. I usually then drain the liquid into a large bowl (I once accidentally drained it down the sink...waaaah!), squishing the vegetables to extract as much goodness from then as possible. The stock then becomes a soup base or the cooking liquid for a risotto, and I use the cooked and now almost pureed veges to add to my doggies' healthy food base.
 
Healthy Dog Food Recipe...For his food, I steam a huge batch of brown rice using the absorption method, add the veges mashed well, allow it to cool, then in goes three eggs, a good swig of olive oil, some lecithin granules, some Brewers Yeast, and a raw dog food/bone meal pattie. That all gets mixed and divided into 2 cup serves in ziplock bags. To each ziplock bag, I then add a Weet-Bix or a half a cup of rolled oats and two tablespoons of powdered milk. To serve it to doggie, I tip it into the bowl and add half a cup of hot water to soften the oats or Weet-Bix, and mix well. He LOVES it and after a snack later in the day on raw chicken necks, he's pretty darned happy.
 
End of the Week Soup Recipe...To the stock, for our dinner, I'll add more vegetables, diced finely this time, some herbs and spices (bay leaves, spring onion, basil, thyme), and a diced chicken breast or two which will only need simmering in the stock for about 5 minutes to cook through and remain succulent. Yum. I'll have soaked the Italian Soup Mix for several hours, adding a teaspoon of Baking Soda to keep the colour of the pulses vibrant, before rinsing well in a colander till they stop frothing. They then go into the soup for around 45 minutes or so. Ready.
 

Limp celery sticks were easily rescued by a bath in iced water, followed by a pat dry, a paper towel blanket, and a snug bed-down in a ziplock bag. Even the root end of the celery is going to be reinvented as a stamp for home made gift wrap...that's if the Pinterest pins saying you end up with an image that looks like a rose are to be believed!
 
 
 
Pasta Recipe...Little bits of pre cooked pasta, parmesan, the cream, the spring onion, and an egg, stirred over a low heat until thick, like an old fashioned custard, made me a delicious authentic Pasta Carbonara for my lunch.
 
 
Really Easy Pickle  Anything recipe... Refrigerator pickles are not difficult and you can add anything you like to them. The baby cucumber, I sliced thinly,  and the almost-almost-done-for asparagus was halved lengthwise, and blanched quickly. To recycled jars, I added a sprinkle of pickling spices, the half a lime sliced and divided equally between the jars, then the blanched asparagus and baby cucumbers slices, and a pinch of chilli flakes, with the remaining whole sprigs of fresh coriander (cilantro) winding decoratively around inside the jar. I added a teaspoon of coarse salt to each, and covered the contents in white vinegar and rested them in the fridge for a few hours and, presto.... I had Thai inspired refrigerator pickles. These are unbelievably good with chicken or fish or cold meat. Try. You will like, I promise. Gift in a hamper to the men in your family...they will love you forever!
 
 
Further inspection of the depths of the crisper, yielded two punnets of strawberries, both opened and half the berries missing...grrrr to the Husband and Daughter....hulled, halved, simmered with sugar and lemon peel, and with Vanilla Galliano added...presto two little jars of gorgeous jam to gift.

Any Fruit Jam recipe...You can make small batches of jam you know. It's just equal parts by weight of any fruit and sugar, stirred together till the sugar dissolves, and simmered with a lemon peel or some commercial pectin like Jamsetta, until a teaspoon of it on a cold saucer wrinkles when pushed with a finger. That's usually about 10-20 minutes. Check it often and give it a stir pretty regularly too. Spoon the cooked jam into cleaned and sterilised recycled jars, seal, and tip the jars upside down on the bench until they cool. Set them upright when cooled, and the little popup button in the middle of the lid, should suck in, vacuum sealing your jam. That's it! Again, play with flavours, add liqueurs or essences like Vanilla or Coconut or Rum, and have fun coming up with your own specialities!
 
 
How much did I save or generate in value, by my efforts today?
 
Hmmmm...I reckon about $10 in ingredients were rescued, and anything up to $80 on gourmet deli purchases for eating or gifting were manufactured, and of course there was one very tasty lunch for me!
 
I'll call it an even $100 at least, I think. And that's from food items I would once have thrown away. Shame on me!
 
See? There really IS money in your refrigerator!
 
How much did you find in yours?
 
Tell me about it...warts, mould and all.
 
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Soignee` Storage and Scented Scenic Sachets....


Isn't it funny how one little idea can change the way you think?

That happened to me last week, when I saw Jes's post at Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, on linen storage, here.

I too, lack a proper linen cupboard, and struggle to find a way to neatly store our extra towels, sheets and Winter blankets.

Well, thanks to Jes, no more!

After seeing how neat and visible her pretty floral sheets were in those opaque plastic tubs, I had to replicate the idea.

Now I'm not one to leave a good idea alone, so being the dedicated Francophile and Good Traveller that I am, I expanded on her idea slightly.

First of all, off to The Graphics Fairy where I found this French Apothecary Label....

This I printed out the pre-requisite number of times for my tubs.

I then used Google translate to find the French substitutions for the very plain contents of each tub, and hand scribed them onto each label, gluing them into place with craft glue.

This one below, says 'Dog Linen'. It looks far lovelier as 'Chiens Linge', doesn't it?


Next of course, the contents of each tub (apart from our doggies'), had to be appropriately scented for storage.

I had a few small teaspoons worth of the Aromatics Elixir talcum powder that I had worn on our wedding day, nearly 20 years ago, and decided that this would be a pretty way to use it and have it preserved forever.

Next I printed out scenes of our recent and not so recent travels, and altered them using Picasa 3, and the '1960s', 'Cross Process', and 'Saturation' enhancements to give them a Vintage feel.

Do you like them?


...Mykonos...


...Istanbul...


...Paris...


...Naples...

I printed these out on A4 paper, and folded the edges towards the back to create a sachet, which I glued and filled with half a teaspoon of my Aromatics Elixir talc.

Each sachet was then both glued and stapled shut, and a toning chocolate or navy satin ribbon stapled to the tops, where I tied each into a swooping bow, seen both here below, and at the top of this post.



Now every time I open my tubs to remove or store things, I'm greeted by fabulous reminders of our travels, and the divine perfume I wore on my special day.

Very nice indeed.

Imagine baby photo sachets filled with Johnsons Baby Powder, or Christmas ones scented with Cinnamon Sticks...my brain is in overdrive imagining the variations!

Thankyou to Jes, for inspiring my new storage idea. Everything is now neat and tidy, easily accessible, and beautifully scented.

Happy me :)


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Monday, October 26, 2015

Insourcing #21...My DIY Life...Roses everywhere...

 
Well, last week was a great one.
 
Not only did I find this magnificent Kleopatra Rose for my garden, but we also planted 2 Black Genoa Fig trees, 2 variegated Cumquat trees, 2 Mulberry, 2 Dwarf Pineapple Oranges, 2 Meyer Lemon trees, a Tahitian Lime and a Kaffir Lime. We have dwarf Avocado, dwarf Mango and Tropical White Peach still to come.
 
I'm beside myself.
 
Two of my sons are also getting into self sufficiency in a big way, and have planted a staggering array of veges and herbs in some fab new pods they've sourced. Guaranteed to grow, folks. Guaranteed.
 
Savings? I don't really know yet, but with figs at $20-$40 a kilo here, I'm thinking our $350 outlay on our 12 fruit trees, will be repaid in figs alone within a few months! Of course the potential to gift baskets of organic fruit and berries, and lavish bunches of Kaffir Lime Leaves to friends, family and local charitable organisations is enormous too, and the feel good factor in that cannot be calculated!
 
Having plucked two of my new roses from their respective Mother plants, and displayed them proudly for a few days, I was determined to find a way to utilise them to their last breath.
 
 
Rose petal hand and body scrub was the solution.
 
 
Equal parts salt and macadamia oil, the petals of one each of my Kleopatra and Just Joey roses, and a drizzle of Rose Geranium scented oil whizzed for no longer than 3 seconds in the food processor, and a gift was born in the blink of an eye.
 
Decanted into a recycled jar, gold heart sticker attached and lush baby pink double satin ribbon holding a bamboo spoon in place, and we're done.
 
The bamboo spoons are available at catering supply warehouses, and they're the perfect thing to scoop this divine scrub into your hand. I'll probably paint the end of the handle with metallic or pearlised paint to tone with the ribbon I think.
 
Savings...well a lavish little gift like this would normally set you back around $20...mine cost about $2. Happy me. This is where it's such a bonus to have clean, recycled jars, gorgeous ribbon, and pretty stickers on hand. You never know when inspiration or the need for an impromptu gift, will strike!
 
 
I knitted two notebook covers (don't ask, you'll see soon enough), scribed a pile of white butchers paper with suitable festive slogans in cursive script with a fat black pen, made some keyboard dusters (yes, you'll have to wait for that one too!), and finished some pillow cases for my granddaughters.
 
All in all, I added to my gift pile to the tune of about 17 gifts, at a saving on similar retail items of around $20-$40 each. That's a budget saving of at least $340. Just as well because Christmas is just 60 days away!
 
Of course, my fruit trees didn't save us anything this week, but cleaning, dog washing, catering at home for a small celebration, and baking, certainly did. I would estimate that those things in tandem would have set us back in the realm of $600 if we'd paid someone else to do them. Which, had I been working full time, we most certainly would have, and not thought twice!
 
How did you save this week?

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Five Star Frou-Frou #24.....Neutral Style....

http://www.funkyjungle.it/2015/10/bergamo-alta-and-distressed-jeans.html
 
Hi everyone, and thankyou all for visiting this week!
 
I had a very difficult time choosing features this time round. I love that because it means we are all showcasing our best. Thankyou.
 
In the end, I couldn't resist Alexandras post over at Funky Jungle. Not only is she sharing stunning photographs of Bergamo Alto in Italy, but she's doing it whilst looking very fabbo indeed. Check out her post and the little peek of lace at her neckline at the back. Gorgeous!
 
http://www.dancingdogcabin.com/2015/10/fall-mantel-vignette-pumpkins.html
 
Melissa at Dancing Dog Cabin, shared her swoonworthy neutral Fall mantel. What a great example of restraint and style, whilst still celebrating the change of season.
 
http://littlewhitecottageinwoods.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/of-fairies-and-witches.html
 
And the inimitable Cielo, over at The Little White Cottage in the Woods, prettied up bowling balls to use as features in her very special garden.
 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Embellished luxury chocolates...great quick gift idea for the craft challenged!

 
Beautifully embellished luxury chocolates can be very expensive in the high end designer chocolate shops, but fortunately they're easy to replicate.
 
My chocolate bars are all Lindt, and they are the perfect size and thickness to wrap and decorate beautifully for gift giving either simply with a card, or as part of a larger hamper.
 
This one is wrapped in a sheet of pink A4 paper. A small paper doily is glued around the base, and stick on diamanté` dots glued in a pretty swirl. Silk crafting ribbon loops, swirls and flowers are held in place with tiny dots from my hot glue gun. I just randomly swirled the ribbon as I went, fastening it with the glue as when the design pleased me. A final diamanté` in the centre of the flower and a couple randomly dotted here and there to catch the light is a pretty effect. Finished with lush milkshake pink velvet ribbons, this one is a favourite.

This second one was done for a male teacher. Simply wrapped in a square of black crafting felt, and held together with thin red satin ribbon, it has a hand made gift tag made from black cardstock attached. Messages reading 'Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all men' in French, typed up and printed out to size, are glued to the cardstock, and copper gold glitter is applied to the edges. A festive, yet masculine idea.
 
 
This third one is my teenaged daughters favourite. It features a desktop wallpaper image of two Japanese Anime style friends, fingers linked pinky style as a sign of their bond. Decorated with black ready made rhinestone swirls and navy blue velvet ribbon, it's a pretty gift for a schoolfriend.
 
 
Finally, simple and traditional, this one was gifted to her teacher yesterday along with a heartfelt handwritten card. Simply wrapped in red felt, and tied with Christmas ribbon from a Cake Decorating supplier, it is simple and elegant.
 
 
These chocolates were under $4 each, and the embellishments not much more. Gifted with a handmade or bought card, with a message from the heart therein, they'd be a gift welcomed by anyone, young or old.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Very Special DIY Gifts...Jasmine and Neroli Youth Oil...

 
My facial oil, or as I like to call it, 'Youth Oil',  is seriously one of the most gorgeous things I've ever used on my skin.

I resorted to concocting this recipe because I was jaded by the effects of the expensive creams and serums I'd been using. I still love my Thalgo and Dragons Blood, but this is a lovely alternative, and very natural, when my skin flares up in protest as it does from time to time.
 
It probably cost me $100 for the initial ingredients, but that will make me two years worth of luxurious facial oil....or some for me and some for friends and family. Because any time anyone gets close to me when I've used this, they can't help but inhale and say 'You smell heavenly! Where do I get some of that!'
 
The consistency of this is not oily as such, it's more fluid and silky. It spreads like a dream, massages in swiftly and leaves your skin soft and scented like a warm Spring evening.
 
If you're going to make this one, please make sure you buy real essential oils, not fragrance oils.
 
Store this in a little plastic kitchen container (those little cube shaped ones are ideal), in a cool dark place, and decant into your pretty bottle with an eye dropper for easy use. I use about 1/2 a teaspoon or one eye dropper worth, per application. I use it all over my face, including under the eye, on my neck and my chest and décolletage.
 
My skin looks fresh and plump and I smell lovely, and so will you!
 
Into your small sealable kitchen container or bottle, combine:
 
Four tablespoons each of two cosmetic grade oils... I like Macadamia best, paired with Almond or Apricot Oil
10 drops Vitamin E Oil (available at Pharmacies)
10 drops Neroli Essential Oil
4 drops Jasmine Absolute
 
Decant, using an eye dropper, into a smaller bottle, for daily use if you wish. I keep mine in a little bottle with a glass stopper. It looks just as luxurious as any packaged cosmetic I've owned.
 
I like to use this in the morning after cleansing or washing with home made goats milk soap, allowing the oil to be absorbed for five minutes before applying 100% pure Aloe Vera Gel as a makeup primer.
 
Allow the Aloe Vera Gel to dry completely before applying mineral makeup powder or foundations.
 
Use evenings too, after cleansing or washing with goats milk soap, as a gorgeous night time treat for your skin.
 
This is also absolutely lush as an oil cleanser if you don't have access to goats milk soap. Simply remove a lightly massaged application of oil with a muslin facecloth, and followup with another lighter application, massaging gently in an upward motion whilst the skin is still warm.
 
Gorgeous!

My daughter can't resist snuggling up to me when I've applied this as the scent is so warm and enveloping. That's not a bad thing with a teen! The Musician Husband is a fan too :)

Try it. You'll like it.

And it makes the most exquisite gift.

If you don't like oils on your face, then you could do worse than just use this as a luxurious, long lasting scent. Just double the amount of Neroli and Jasmine.

Either way, it's a winner. I promise.
 
...Mimi...
 
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

50 & Fab....the underlying story...

 
As ladies of a 'certain age', it's our job to not give up.
 
We all look after our hair, our diet, we exercise, we don't leave the house without our lippy on.
 
But there's more.
 
C'mon. 'Fess up. Who amongst us has started wearing *shudder* chain store undergarments. It's okay. I won't tell.
 
In the manic tangle of career enhancement, child rearing, and life in general, at what point do we ladies decide that $3 knickers and Tshirt bras are good enough?
 
Truly exquisite lingerie is expensive I know. I have been fortunate enough to have a son whose girlfriend managed a high end Lingerie store, and who kept me constantly supplied with beautiful undergarments for some years, in much the same lavish vein as this embellished bra, pictured above. The French do it so well, don't they? Alas the son and the lingerie girl parted company and now I'm left to my own devices.
 
What to do?

 
This is the good part though.
 
Exquisite lingerie is unbelievably simple to sew and you only need the tiniest scraps of fabric and lace. This little Teddy (as these delicate onesies are called) is little more than four panels of light as air georgette, and some lace trim...and a little patience. The little ribbon and rhinestone sash is for embellishment only. No I did not sew this one, but I've sewn similar ones as gifts.
 
I like Mrs Depew for genuine vintage patterns.
 
Ohhh Lulu Sews have some rather lovely things too.
 
The Diva, now that she is nearly sixteen, is old enough to appreciate the difference between chain store and custom made, even in lingerie. And even if she can't afford it.
 
If I can teach her to make her own, and perhaps even some for her friends as gifts, then that's a big plus.
 
 
This gorgeous chemise is embellished with Dancers. How divine. And you could do this with a purchased slip. You can still buy slips, or petticoats if you prefer, in most department stores. That IS allowed if you're going to embellish them with beautiful trims and wear them as nightdresses.

 
Imagine these wisps of prettiness hanging in your wardrobe. I can tell you they'd be a lot more comfortable and alluring than the wired and moulded garments of torture that we've been led to believe are our friends. My Nanna used to wear similar things under her house dresses. Bless her little European heart. Perhaps that's where my own love of special lingerie was born.

 
This vintage chemise could be very easily replicated with small panels of silk, and lace cut from the bottom of continuous curtaining. If you can lay your hands on genuine silk lace at a price you can live with, then go for it!


The Diva made a set like this for herself not too long ago. Not quite as elaborate but very pretty all the same. Mrs Depew's tap pants and deconstructed bra pattern were used.

 
Here's another version that's even easier to make. Ohhh Lulu has similar bras here. And the little boxer shorts are just that. Boxer shorts with a lace trim.

 
Nanna also had a set just like this. So cool and comfortable.
 
I'm working on some now.
 
What do you think?
 
Wire and moulding?
 
Or wisps of wonderful?

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Insourcing #20...my DIY life...

 
Honestly...why would you give your family memories to someone else to create?
 
In the last month, I've created some lovely ones. And saved a motza to boot!
 
Just this last weekend, I wrestled a virtual carpet of fondant onto a cake for a special someone. Someone elses Nanna wanted $650 for this cake. Well, hers had fondant Winnie the Pooh and Friends on top, but I can do that too..with a bit more notice! Little plastic figurines were substituted this time around, but the rest of the work was all mine. Do you like my freehand fancy Parchment writing? And that impressed design is done using a cake stamping thingy. You're meant to fill the indentations with piped icing, but the Pinterest trends say otherwise.

 
A strip of Winnie the Pooh fabric pressed neatly into shape substituted for ribbon with Poohs face which I was unable to source. A bit of lateral thinking folks!

 
And each of these special someones, had a brooch belonging to Great Grandma affixed to their second birthday cake, so this one had one too.

 
The Diva and I insourced a succulent garden in a bowl for a friends birthday. Having viewed one not nearly as pretty for $65, we had no angst in gifting DIY!

 
Likewise we enjoyed a Mango Strawberry Acai bowl at a nearby fruiterers café`, and loved it. $13 each seemed a little steep though, so we've since made our own. That's not chocolate friends, it's Acai and banana puree`. Very yummy. We've been having a home made one every day, at massive savings.

 
I found a use for my collection of vintage milk jugs and vintage cups sans saucers. So nice to scoop out sugar and dessicated coconut with something pretty. The little jugs and cups live inside the canisters, so no more fumbling for spoons and whatnot to scoop things out. I like :)

 
I found this vintage Californian jam tin label at the local Thrift store. Hung it on twine in my kitchen. Love. I wish I'd kept some old IXL Plum Jam labels from my childhood, but who thinks of it when they're 5 years old?? $12 gave me my dose of nostalgia.

 
I made Victorian posies for the girls that dance with The Diva. Little dried red roses, dried lavender, wired into a miniature bouquet and framed with tiny paper doilies. They were prettier than the photo, and welcomed by all. Saving $10 a piece on other end of year gifts. When there's 15 'friends', that's a lot of saving.

 
I completed my trio of Pyrex mixing bowls. I'd had the biggest one for yonks but hadn't found the two inner ones. I snaffled them on eBay for $10. Thankyou to the nice lady in Gympie. My eye for symmetry is now satisfied. Similarly I found those retro coloured clear acrylic bowls at the top, to round out the display. Same shape as my white ones, but in a complimentary colour to the Pyrex. I love a good sideboard display, don't you? Especially when it's useful too.

 
I made a gluten free lasagna. We detest the gluten free pasta on offer, so I make gluten free crepes and use them in place of lasagna sheets. Leave the sugar out of the batter though, or it's all wrong. Looks and tastes the same, I promise.

 
I grew a rose. I know. Unbelievable. Flushed with success, I've planted three more. A Just Joey, a Red Intuition, and a baby pink Floribunda Bonica rose. Faux Fuschia (see her fabulous blog on the right) says that you really can grow roses around here. I'm testing her theory. I've saved space for a Duchesse de Brabant. I read on another blog that they even grow near the ocean. Goodness! I've persuaded the Musician Husband to plant Hydrangeas too. They're going great guns. I'm turning into my Nanna I swear.

 
Somebody admired my May Gibbs Gumnut Babies spice jars. They've been there so long that I don't think about how pretty they are. I use them every single day. Aren't they sweet? There's 24 of them. all with a different picture.
 
Here's Thyme....

 
...and here's Cloves...

 
 They were an investment back in 1997. They came two a month for ages. $79.95 each pair. An heirloom in the making. I know people knock The Bradford Exchange, and those dolls they do are downright creepy, but who could go past a Gumnut Baby Spice Jar collection? I thought I wanted Wedgewood ones, but these are so much sweeter. Just right for a Nanna like me.

 
I made a feast for the Dance Teachers. Backstage at Annual Concert is mayhem. And who needs another bouquet of gerberas? Food rules, folks. Leg ham with real butter on soft white bread...

 
...and individually wrapped Apple Crumble Pies in cellophane bags with gold hearts affixed. And airy whipped cream too, of course.
 
They were a winner!

 
I fashioned a bold feather posy for another Dance Teacher who is a little more Avant Garde. We saw a similar one for $150. Sheesh. She liked it a lot. Posy or duster or both...her choice. A useful thing.

 
Another friend admired my Eiffel Tower Lamp which took me a whole week of poking with a needle to create. I'm glad I persevered. That saved me a couple of hundred dollars.

 
I finished a kitchen makeover and tidy up, rehoming every little thing in the pantry into vintage pastel canisters. I like it now. I don't feel like something deadly is going to fall on my head every time I open the doors. We were thinking of a kitchen reno at considerable cost...like tens of thousands. No more. All we needed was a declutter and tidy up.
 
I can't decide whether to line the back with vintage mirror tiles (on left) or pretty vintage paper (on right). What do you think?

 
If I had to include the kitchen reno in my calculations for savings over the last month or so, I've saved my family about $40,000. Don't look at me like that. It's true...lol!
 
It just goes to show what a determined soul can do.
 
If I worked outside the home, we'd be spending money left, right and centre.
 
Long live the stay at home Domestic Manager, I say.
 
What can you do to save your family money today?
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