Monday, 30 July 2012

Making a chipped plate look better!

I bought a whole heap of dinner plates, bowls and side plates from Ikea when they were on special one day - all in purple! They look fabulous and I love them (but then I like all things that are purple so its not that much of an endorsement!)

Like all dinnerware, they get a bit of rough handling in the wash sometimes and end up with a few chips and knocks in them. When the plate is white - its not a big deal as the crockery underneath is white as well. When the plate is purple glazed only - the chip stands out like... a lot!

When I set the table all I can see these days are the chips on the sides of the plates and bowls. A few people have said - "throw 'em out and get new ones" (It's not like they were expensive ones) but I have resisted as there is nothing wrong with the plate - I mean it still holds the food off the bench and enables you to get the food to the table with out getting your hands burnt or covered in food - so they still do the job they were meant to, they just don't look quite so good these days.

And today I had an idea!
I decided that it couldn't be too hard to "stain" the white crockery part of the chip...

So, here's what I did...

I got out all my chipped plates


 
and my purple felt pens



And attempted to match the colour of the pate with them - I ended up using a purple permanent marker (and of course you all have one of those lying around the house now don't you?) And stained the white chip - purple.






In the photo the colours look totally different but in real life - its not a bad match. Its enough to trick the eye into not seeing the chip unless you look for it. I have used a non-toxic permanent marker but haven't quite thought out all the ramifications of maker pen ink and food mixed together on a plate - but in the long term, I suspect I will survive.

I'm guessing that over time it will wash out of the plate and get lighter and eventually disappear entirely - but in the meantime they look a darned sight better than they did!

I am beginning to see why there are so many white plates on the market!

Score card:
Green-ness: 4/5 Better than throwing out and replacing an item that is still useful
Frugal-ness: 5/5 Cost me nothing at all!
Time cost: 30 seconds, tops, for each plate!
Skill level: Once again - just colouring in!
Fun-ness: As long as I don't end up with some toxic poisoning - I'll consider this a bit of fun!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Star card book update

As promised - here is a quick update of the Star Card Book that I am making for a friends birthday present.

I have had all my papers and glues and punches and goodness knows what all over the dining room table all week and as a result we haven't been able to eat at the table. Our Chinese student likes to sit at a table to eat and won't eat with us on the couch - which the others are thoroughly enjoying - and disappears into her room to eat at her desk. In order to prove that we do have some table manners - I finished up the messy parts of this card (the bits that require glue, glitter and scrap bits of paper spread all over the place) and cleaned up the kitchen table after a ten and a half hour day at work. (And then we went and got takeaways as I couldn't face cooking a single thing else)

She has just informed us that she is off to the "Golden Coast" for the weekend with the school for a cultural excursion - Ah well, I really should've cleaned up a bit earlier in the week anyway.

Anyway - these are the inserts for the card - all I need to do now is print out and attach the quotes, memories and photos and stick them on to the pages or the tags.

The stamps pull out and have a longer bit of card in the slot.
 I will name the places we have been to together on them

This tag will refer to a few birthday parties we have had on the back!

The left hand page will have a photo - the right will have some memory joggers on them!

Do you like my we envelope? I'm quite pleased with that one!

The paper used on the left tag is the paper that she wrapped my last birthday present in!
 
Plainer pages for more somber memories...
 Actually - now I think about it - I still have the covers to make too...?! Maybe I will take over the BBQ table since the rain seems to have stopped for a few days...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Scrub turkeys in your back yard!?

Last year sometime the neighbour came over and asked if one of our chookies had disappeared. I had a quick head count and said, "No, why?". She explained that she thought she had seen one of them in the undergrowth in her garden. We went hunting and eventually discovered a Scrub Turkey chick scurrying around.
We were quite pleased to be able to add scrub turkey to our collective awesomely biodiverse backyards and over the next few months excitedly reported sightings in the Poinciana tree, on the fences and general scurrying around.

And then it disappeared and we forgot about it.

Last week at about 6am my chookies went berserk. I leapt out of bed and rushed to their pen (dressed glamorously in my purple bed sox and untied dressing gown) to see what was the matter. From their sqwarking, I had assumed a cat or dog had got into the pen - but when I got there, there was nothing to be seen. No intruder of a feline or canine variety - not even a chicken.

I called to them and they came, nervously, out of their houses and looked a bit dishevelled. I was mystified as to what had scared them. Over the next few days the neighbours commented that the chooks were making some loud squawks occasionally during the day and enquired as to their well being.  I finally discovered what it was - The Scrub Turkey has grown up and has come back and want her share of the gourmet food my chookies get from my work.


That's an 8' fence she is sitting on, waiting to see how close I'm going to get before flying over to the neighbours pergola.

That's her on our pergola roof looking to fly onto the neighbours roof in the distance if I get any closer.

And there she is thinking about coming back into the pen...

One of my kids spent a day chasing it away from the pen with rakes and sticks and loud noises (to the amusement of the neighbours) but it just keeps coming back. We raked up all the food, but that didn't deter her.

She is MUCH bigger than my chookies and I suspect much more aggressive.

The chookies were getting stressed and not laying. I was getting stressed and wondering what to do. The neighbours were getting stressed wondering if they needed to go over and rescue the chookies when they squawked- it was all getting a bit much.

So I decided to call in the Big Guns...

Here's what I did...

I called the local City Council and asked to speak to someone in Animal Management and I couldn't have spoken to a more helpful person - who couldn't help me! It turns out that scrub turkeys are not 'feral' animals and so they wont come and trap it for me and take it away.

They are 'protected' in that you cant hunt or hurt them either. But if I could catch it - they would come and relocate it.

And there in lies the catch - how to catch an animal that can fly from roof top to roof top - just like elasti-girl in "The Incredibles" across the city????

I told the teenager that there was plenty of money and good times for him if he managed to catch the aforementioned non-feral flying native animal (without hurting it). He planned and schemed and rubbed his hands together - and you know what? We haven't seen it since I made the phone call to the council!

Long may that last!!!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Hand Made Star Card (or book) for someone special!

I have a very good friends 40th birthday coming up and wanted to give her something special... Like most of us she either has all the things that she needs or she has the ability to just go and out and buy it as the need arises.

I could buy her some expensive alcohol, perfume or even a day spa (she was one of my bridesmaids, so price isn't an object here!) But I still wanted to give her something that was tangible - something she could hold, see and show to people.

I had been wrestling with this idea for a while and then one afternoon the crafty neighbour dropped in with this crafty magazine and there on the cover was a star card!


One look at that and I knew that's what I wanted to make for Narelle.

Here's what I did...

(Warning... this is a long and complicated post with lots of how to photos- if you are not crafty, this may not appeal...)


First I selected some base card to use as the primary decoration - these are all 12x12 scrap booking card.

Then I selected the base colours for the actual card - you will need 7 sheets of each colour to make the base of the card.
I have cut these scrap booking 12x12's in half (just to make life easy) to get my 7 sheets. That means you only have to buy 4 of each colour.


Taking the dark base colour - I folded them in half.


Then I cut 6cm off the second colour to make them shorter so that when you fold them in half they don't nest inside each other along the spine when the edges touch, like so...


And then I cut 8cm off the end of the 3rd sheet so that it too, doesn't nest spine on spine, inside the other two but sits like the above.

With the bits I cut off the ends (Brown is 8cm and purple is 6cm) cut off, I folded them in half to use as a spacer. When the rest of the card is made this will make more sense.

Using these off cuts - I nested them along the crease of the base card (the darkest or longest card) and held them firm with a paperclip

In the book - the instructions were to hand sew each piece - I'm way to lazy for that and so I simply sewed them along the crease with a large straight stitch with my sewing machine. Leave lots of thread at each end.

So then you get 7 pieces like this.

When you stand them up - you can start to see the card taking shape. The idea now is to join the dark base card together. If you just glue the backs together, it wont be strong enough. The book says we should hand sew each portion to the next along the spine - in a book binding technique that was completely unfamiliar to me...

So what I did was to get two base cards and put them together the two bits that will eventually be glued together, together, folded back the rest and secured it with bulldog clips and then sewed them together along the inner edge. I was concentrating so hard that I totally forgot to take any photos. I did them in twos and then joined the two to another two and then three to a four to make a whole book. Its a bit rough on the sewing machine as it gets quite thick quite quickly. Sew slowly and think before you sew of you will have to unpick several times, like I did!

In the end you should have all the inners joined together along the spine.
Every second page should have the coloured spacers in it and every other page should have two dark base pages that we will glue together. (I have just noticed that this is a photo of one of the mistakes I made so don't look too closely at the card spacing - you are meant to be noting the left over cotton sticking out the top..Oops?!?) 

Then tie all those threads together (top and bottom) in a big knot to secure the spine of the book.

So if you have done it right you should have a book that has two black pages with no spacers in it like this... followed by,

A page with spacers.

Glue the black pages together. Now you should have a book with 2 covers (back and front - don't join it into a circle - leave two unjoined for the cover) and six pages. Keep reading below to get a better idea of whats happening. 

Now we are starting to build the outer star bit. Glue along the edge of the a black page and glue in your middle colour. (see below)

As you can see in the photo, the black pages are glued together but the purple pages are only glued along the edge.

Hopefully this picture gives you a better idea.

This is the base book finished. Note the covers at the top - The whole book should now fold up to look like a book as well as sit opened up like a star.

Next fold the last colour for the outer in half - again so that it will not nest along the spine - and these will be the the part that we will now decorate BEFORE attaching them to the card. I was getting quite excited at this point and wanted to keep going - but if you decorate these parts before sticking them on I think it will save a lot of tears later! 

So, folded in half - I have started sticking some base colours from the first photo, onto the cards. I have printed out some friendship sayings and photos to decorate it as well.

I have decided to upload this now as I have a few days of fairly intensive work happening now and am not sure when I will get a chance to do this - so if you are fairly crafty you can see where its going - If not stay tuned and I will update this post as I go along!

Update 27 July 2012 link - inserts almost finished
Update 4th August 2012 - finishing touches

Score card:
Green-ness: Making a present is not always greener but always appreciated!
Frugal-ness: So far this has cost me about $12 in new papers so for a birthday present it is quite frugal.
Time cost: Up to this point, about 2 solid hours (there was a fair bit of unpicking at one point...)
Updated time cost - Probably somewhere in the vicinity of 10 hours all up. Its kinda fiddly, with a fair bit of cutting and pasting. I left it on the table for a week to get the bulk of it done and then managed to snatch a half hour here and there without having to get EVERYTHING back out again to finish it off.
Skill level: Advanced (or confident) Can be a bit tricky getting the book sewn together whether you sew it by hand or by machine.
Fun-ness: Awesomely fun when it starts coming together! I can't wait to see her face!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Practical Charity - Kiva Loans!

I'm a fairly community minded type of person and always end up donating a fair bit of time and money to various causes. I am studying in this field and over time have come to enjoy helping those who want to help themselves, in more practical ways.

For one of my Uni assignments, I had to write a report on a development organisation (that is an organisation that helps move a community forward by education, physically building something and/or empowering the people). One of the organisations I looked at was called KIVA.



Kiva is an organisation that helps you lend money to entrepreneurs in developing countries. We have similar organisations here in Australia (NILS - No Interest Loans Scheme) but an individual like you or me, is unable to donate money to the scheme to help people buy a fridge, fix their lawn mower or washing machine and improve their life. With Kiva, you can pick who you would like to help, what enterprise you would like to support in whatever country you choose.

The difference between Kiva as a development organisation, and a charity like Red Cross, that you make a donation to, is that the Kiva loan recipients actually pay you back! And then you can loan the money to someone else in the Kiva world... That's an idea that really appealed to me!

I have chosen to make a loan of $25 each month in 2012 as part of my charitable activities this year - and as my entrepreneurs pay me back, I reloan the money to a new entrepreneur. Its great fun!

Here's what I did...

First, you log onto Kiva.org

Have a look around the site and if you are comfortable with what they do and decide that you will participate, then you can make a loan. There is plenty of information about the organisation on their website to read and a video that explains the lending process as well.

Click on the various entrepreneurs who are looking for loans (there are usually a few thousand up for grabs) and choose one.

You are expected to contribute only $25 to each loan. So if Marucia in Peru needs $300 (US$) to upgrade her paddocks and get better crops you will be one of 12 people who will lend Maurcia the money. The repayments rates are over 98% so you have a very good chance of getting your money back to lend or to spend. If you don't happen to get it back - you have only lost $25 not $300.

Once you have chosen a person to lend to - you simply click on the orange "LOAN NOW" button. This will take you to a registration page and then ultimately to a Paypal or secure credit card payment page. They will also ask you for a donation of about $3 for the running of the Kiva organisation as all of the $25 will go to the entrepreneur. I usually make the donation on top of the $25.

After you have made the loan, it will appear on your very own Kiva page and you can track the repayments and any updates that the loanee makes. You can also invite your family and friends to have a look at who you are lending to and encourage them to make their own loans if they want to. There is also the chance to get $25 trial loan.

Kiva is not the organisation making the actual loans to the actual people in the pictures. Kiva is more like e-bay in that they link the seller and the buyer via a website. In the case of Kiva, they link the armchair lenders (that's you and me) with people who want to get a loan via a microfinance organisation in their country. Kiva passes on the $25 you loan to the micro finance organisation who in turn loan to the actual person.

I have made seven loans so far this year - two have been repaid already - and have had no hassles at all. As the loans have been repaid, I get credit in my Kiva account. I can withdraw this money into my Paypal or credit card and use it to go out for dinner - or I can reloan it to another Kiva entrepreneur. And that's what I have been doing. By the end of the year I will be recycling my money and making more loans with out having to put in any more of my own funds into it.

There is quite a bit of info about Kiva on the web - who started it, why and how - for those who like to know this sort of thing. They also have information on their website about the micro finance organisations across the world that they work with.

Kiva's statistics are reasonably impressive:

Latest Statistics*


Total Amount of all loan purchases made through Kiva:$331,851,500
Number of Kiva Users:1,210,089
Number of Kiva Users who have funded a loan:785,372
Number of countries represented by Kiva Users:220
Number of borrowers that have received a loan through Kiva:819,718
Number of loans that have been funded through Kiva:447,881
Percentage of Kiva borrowers who are women:81.49%
Number of Kiva Field Partners:154
Number of countries Kiva Field Partners are located in:63
Current repayment rate (all partners):98.98%

(Downloaded July 12 2012)

If you want to have a look at my Kiva page click here

Kiva is a great way to support people who are doing it tough on the other side of the world - from your armchair! Have fun!

Score card:
Green-ness: ?/5 I'm guessing its fairly green but can't think why at he moment...
Frugal-ness: 5/5 Very frugal to help a charity over and over with the same money!
Time cost: 1 minute to all day - depends how long you spend trying to decide who to help!
Skill level: If you can buy or sell on e-bay then you are well equipped to lend on Kiva!
Fun-ness: Heaps of fun! (and quite addictive)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Home Made Lemon and Salt Body Scrub!

Over the last few days we have been painting one side (yes - just one side) of the house. A few years ago we decided that we would take a week off in the middle of June and each year we would paint one side of the house. (and yes - we are a bit late this year!) It works quite well as it doesn't take us a week, we actually finish what we set out to do and inevitably get other maintaince jobs done as well.

After we did all the preparation work we were both covered in dust and grot and paint flakes and mud and other things we didn't want to examine toooo closely making heavy duty showers the order of the day for the pair of us.

The husband bought and used the gritty grot remover soap - Solvol - But I recalled seeing on someones blog somewhere about a homemade body scrub that was yummy enough (for her sister in law) to eat and thought that would be much nicer!

So while the Husband was in the shower - here's what I did...

Had a quick look in the Blogoshpere for the recipe I thought I remembered seeing on  the Lightly Crunchy blog and found it here (its worth a read for the funny email and the sister in law even if you don't make the scrub!) and then found another yummy one here on little eco footprint.

Getting the idea of the basics required, I went to the kitchen to concoct my own version of these scrubs.

Super basic really - Grate the rind off (one of the neighbours juicy ripe) lemons (or lime if you have one) and put into a small bowl. Then squeeze the juice out and add a splosh of oil (olive in my case but coconut was in the recipe) and soak up the liquid by adding salt (or sugar).

Mix with a spoon, take to the shower and use pretty much straight away!



I'm not sure how long it will last for but I only made about 2-3 tablespoon worth and used about 1/2 to scrub all the paint and dust off me. I'll use the rest in the next few days just because its there!

It was very quick and easy to make, so I would just make it up when I wanted to use it.

I got over excited with it and ended up touching my face with scrubby hands and of course got lemon juice and salt in my eye - tip right there for beginners!!! I did however smell very lemony and have lovely smooth paint free arms and legs!

It would make a nice gift too I reckon!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for being totally natural and homemade!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for being made from ingredients that are cheap and I had anyway.
Time cost: Almost a whole minute I reckon!
Skill level: Grate, mix, stir, scrub!
Fun-ness: Good scrubby fun!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Book List Update!

I read a fair bit and recently I created a book list page on my blog to share my thoughts on various books with those who also like to read.

I have to return a whole lot of books to the library this week and so I thought I had better update my book list before I forgot the book details and never got around to sharing them with you all.

So, if you are reader yourself - have a look at what I've been reading and let me know what you thought of the same books and what books you recommend me to read as well!

To have a look at my book list click here or click on the page tab at the top of the blog.

Happy Reading!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Recovering Christmas Crackers to match your table colours!

We were having a Christmas in July themed birthday party and I managed to get the job of being responsible for organising the decorations for the table.

I had a quick look through my own decorations and decided on a snowflake theme because I had a fair bit of this left over from last Christmas. I had some dangly snowflakes, bought a snowflake mobile and found some snowflake sprinkles. I ordered some green and white helium filled balloons with Christmas and snowflake images on them and thought I was almost done. What I needed next were some snow themed green Christmas crackers.

After trawling the shops for Christmas crackers for a while, it became blatantly obvious that I wasn’t going to get any from a retail outlet and turned to the Internet for help.

I found the perfect crackers on e-bay – in “Assorted Christmas Colours” (green, red and white in the picture) – at a very reasonable price. Yay!

They arrived in good time in one piece.

They were pink though.

I was far from amused and sent the seller a message pointing out that pink was not what I would call a Christmas colour and they agreed and offered to refund or replace the crackers. The only problem was that the replacements wouldn't arrive in time... So I decided that I would recover them to match the rest of the table.


Here's what I did...

Its pretty basic - once you have the concept in your head, you don't even really need the instructions.

Find some Christmas paper and cut it to the right length and width - just the width and length of the part of the cracker with the offensive colour on it.

And glue into place.

Just cut enough paper to cover the pink part of the cracker (I've already covered the ends of the crackers in this photo)


These crackers had a pink image only in the centre bit so I cut a square out of the Christmas paper that fitted over the image only.  
  
The green and red crackers on the right came in those colours and weren't "recovered".
The bottom left ones have had both the ends and middle recovered.
The top left ones have only had a patch put on the middle part.

 If I had more time (and thought there would be enough sober people and bright lights to really appreciate them) I would have painted the pink parts on the top crackers green (or maybe white).

Easy to do and a cheap way of turning an already bought item into one that fits with your table colours or theme rather than having to spend more money, store them or throw them out.


Score card:
Green-ness: 3/5 for using rather than throwing something out - probably better to make your own or go without.
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for being able to find a way to use these rather than store them or throw them out.
Time cost: About 1/2 an hour
Skill level: Once again - simply cutting and pasting!
Fun-ness: More a sense of contentment when it all came together than fun!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Plastic Potato Bag Apron!

Some of my jobs involve doing quite a few dishes. Industrial amounts of dishes.

And being a bit shorter than the average person means that I have to lean practically into the sink in order to wash all these dishes. This leads to getting a wet waistband that ends up rubbing on my tummy and being uncomfortable.

I thought about this and decided that what I needed a plastic apron.

I went to the shops to look for a $2 Apron and discovered that they didn't exist. I could find kid size ones for $10-15, but they don't make plastic aprons in my size.

So I decided to make one. I looked at those $2 plastic table cloths to make myself an apron out of but thought they may be a bit flimsy. Then I remembered I had some really cool plastic potato sacks from another job...

And so decided to have a go at making a very basic apron from them! 


Here's what I did...


Found a selection of plastic potato and chook food sacks...

I cut one bag open to make it as wide as it would go and on a low iron, ironed out the creases

Then I layed out a an apron that was almost big enough and arranged the potato sacks to make an apron that was bigger - and then pinned it all in place.
One sack is opened right up and the other is still a tube - giving me three layers on my waist area... That should keep me dry!


I sewed the whole sack to the opened up sack with a double zig zag stitch across the waist/bust area.


I pinned a ribbon on for a neck and and pinned in a couple of darts for fitting around my bust...

Sewed it all on.


Sewed on a couple of waist ties...


And voila! One cheap and easy plastic apron!


And there it is - being modelled by yours truly!


Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 Very green to re purpose something that would have gone into landfill!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 Was free as I used left over bits and bobs that were lying around.
Time cost: About 1/2 an hour
Skill level: Fairly basic sewing skills
Fun -ness: Great fun and I get lots of comments every time I wear it!
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