Christmas Craft: Christmas Wreaths

I just love a beautiful wreath- I make one every year! There’s something about a lovely wreath hanging on the front door- heralding to all visitors ‘Merry Christmas!’ (or in our case- in an apartment- bringing joy to everyone who wanders by :)

The last time we had Christmas at my mum and dad’s house I made this Australian-themed succulent Christmas wreath and when my husband and I were in New York for Christmas I made this New York winter Christmas wreath.

This year I decided to make a geometric wreath with washed colour I’ve been seeing lots of geometric wood designs (like the beautiful geometric candle votives from The Design Farm) and I’ve been trying to think of a project combining light wood, washes of bright colour and geometric designs- a Christmas wreath was perfect!

I used a recycled bed panel with a divet line- lightly painted them all with a white base and then painted the rest in hand-mixed acrylic paint applied with a wet paintbrush for a washed-out look.

I allowed to dry between coats and used a fine brush to apply gold lines over the divets at the end for a bit of gilding. I marked and drilled holes halfway through both sides of the wood matching the wood dowel pieces I selected and used a mallet to gently drive them in to join together to form a square.

To finish I coated the whole thing in a gloss sealing spray, let it all dry, and then weaved eucalyptus branches through the gaps. Wreath done!

I had so much eucalyptus left that I figured I might as well make an outdoor wreath to adorn our balcony! To make a branch wreath like this- start with a thick, strong end bending in one direction and match with a softer, more pliable branch bending in the other direction. Bind at the top and in bunches at the softer, leaf end.

Find smaller branches bending in opposite directions so that the leaves are always moving in the same directions down towards the base. Secure as you go with twisting wire attempting to overlap so that only the very top bind is visible.

It can be nice to gather the leaves to flow down slightly off-centre mimicking a more natural shape- rather than a precise wreath. But either can be lovely- just don’t take it too seriously :) At the end- go back around and trim off any leaves that are sticking out or sickly looking. You can spray paint the whole thing at this stage- either with a subtle metallic glisten or a fantastic neon bright.

Bind the top, and cover the wire ties at the same time, with twine. Attach to the door or hang up and secure with a neat bow. You can move around the wreath and decorate afterwards if you wish. Either with decorations as I did (white porcelain stars) or with brightly coloured flora such as berries, succulents or flowers.

Have a very Merry Christmas! Try a wreath. Its a lovely welcome home in this hectic season.

signature

colour-wreath-door-closecolour-wood-wreath colour-wreath-paintedcolour-wreath-diycolour-wreath-door-fullleaf-wreath-closeleaf-wreath-far

Christmas Craft: Christmas Tree Branch

Merry Christmas! I don’t know about you- but everything seems to get just that little bit manic in the lead up to Christmas.

I don’t know if it is just because of the shut-downs that happen over Christmas- but you go to the shops at this time of year and people behave like they are preparing for the apocalypse!

At this mad time of year- I must admit- I do delight in a little bit of Christmas Craft! This year I decided to make a Christmas tree that would suit our little apartment. I also had this concept of it falling from the roof.

I found a lovely big branch, lightly sanded it back, spray painted it white and gilded the ends by brushing on gold metallic paint. I finished it off by winding battery-powered Christmas lights around the top and tying on hole-punched, cardboard Christmas bauble coasters (both from Ikea).

signature

finished-close white-christmas-tree-branch-closewhite-christmas-tree-branchpainted-christmas-tree-branchpainted-christmas-tree-branch hungfinished-with-lightsfinished-with-lights close

 

Looking for more Christmas ideas? You should try out these super-cute Christmas cupcakes! I’ve also got cute Christmas gift-wrapping ideas, Christmas decorating ideas (including and Australian-themed succulent wreath and Christmas star cookies!

I also made a few cute Christmas wreaths that I will be posting about very soon. Happy Christmas crafting!

Halloween Craft

Halloween is my absolute favourite celebration. My mother is of Irish heritage and we have always loved Trick or Treating. The first time I went without mum or dad was with my sister- she was in year 6 and I was in kindergarten.

I grew up on a street with an American family- we started doing Halloween properly when they came to settle in Australia- or perhaps the timing just coincided well with the time I started growing up and becoming more interested in cooking and making my own projects? Either way- I’ve made all manner of costumes, decorations and tasty treats since (green iced cupcakes anyone?!)

Over the years my Halloween fun has become a bit more sophisticated- highlights include trekking to the BOC centre in Sydenham to pick up dry ice pellets- to create fog in our kitchen and bathroom sinks of course!

This year I was inspired by a snake wreath concept in Martha Stewart Living Halloween edition. I recreated the look but put an Australian spin on it- deadly brown snakes and spiders and knotted, rough-weaved branches.

I also loved the super simple paper-bag gravestone lanterns- also from Martha Stewart Living Halloween edition. I didn’t have time to print and cut out stencils- so instead I hand wrote epitaphs and created spray-paint stencils out of layered masking tape!

I had so much fun making these decorations- and it only took an afternoon! If you didn’t want to go out and buy snakes and spiders or you wanted more craft for the kids to do- you could make your own creepy crawlies!

Get creative- but to start with you could make snakes out of filled stockings or toilet rolls linked with a string through the middle and spiders could be made from an egg carton cup and twigs or felt pipe cleaners legs! The trick is to put your spray paint to work making a uniform colour before hand painting the finer details.

Have a super spooky and wondrously wicked Halloween!

signature

I started off with these fantastic branches I found- this could be a great activity with the kids in itself! Get them out hunting for the perfect shapes. A wide-forked branch is a great starting point for a wreath- after that you’re looking for rounded corners and wiry accents.

halloween wreath craft branches

Next I laid out all the components to start visualizing the shape. I started with the forked branch and gently weaved from there- hooking in just one end and securing the tension as I went with wire ties. Once I had finished the base I weaved the snakes in and stuck the spiders over the wire joins with blu-tack.

halloween wreath spiders snakes

I also decided I needed to give the wreath a message- so while I was making the spray paint epitaphs for the gravestones (more below) I made a Happy Halloween sign! I simply wrote out the letters with masking tape, spray painted over the whole thing to create a blotchy black pattern and peeled the masking tape back.

halloween wreath craft sign

Voila! A Creepy, Crawly, Halloween Wreath!

halloween wreath craft left

halloween wreath craft front

I also made these fun and easy gravestones. I used different sized paper bags I had lying around the house. Some of them had brand names and logos on the front, so I deconstructed the bags, turned them inside-out and stuck them back together.

I then wrote out my epitaphs or blocked them out with masking tape before hard-spraying (for the words) or soft-spraying for adding texture to the bag.

gravestone halloween craft

 

I’ll be lighting these from inside with candles for a party on Saturday! They’ll be lining the walkway up to the front door :)

gravestone halloween craft graveyard

Thanks for reading The Nookbook!

Tool Rack

So we have a million and one tools, nails, screws, drills, bits and bobs, all crammed into this one, very unattractive tool box- which, coincidentally, also was squashed by my husband motorbike in it’s first week in our home :/

I was constantly rummaging through dangerous spikes to try to find the most-used tools- so I decided to make a tool rack! It was super easy and I must say- now that it;s up we’ve already used it many times and it is so bright, colourful and neat that it makes me smile every time I see it!

Take a look through the steps below to make your own.

signature

A quick video of my completed tool rack sitting pretty in the laundry:

First of ally evaluate your tools one by one and put aside anything you would like to have on hand. For me this was mainly different sorts of screws and hammers, but for others this might be an assortment of nails and screws, different paint brushes or pens and textas.

Next think about how you would like to arrange AND affix these different items to your board. For me this meant measuring out the space above the washing machine in the laundry where I was going to hang the board and laying down my tools in the order I thought I’d organise them in. Take a photo at this stage so that when you go ahead with drilling holes everything fits as it should.

At this stage I started thinking about how I was going to affix the tools. All of my tools would stay up from dowel pegs (either under the handle, or looped through the middle) but you might consider hooks to hold rubber bands, cups to hold smaller paint brushes or even mini drawers to hold screws etc.

tool-rack-1

I then took myself off the Bunnings to get a piece of MDMF cut to size, pick up a pot of salmon sample paint plus waterproofing vinyl spray, a packet of wooden dowel pegs, a bracket to affix to the wall and two door hinges to affix my board to the bracket (as well as screws and nuts).

tool-rack-2
I painted the whole thing in two thin coats of salmon paint with a sample pot rolling brush. I think a fun colour really pops in a boring space like a laundry and makes gritty tools look much more appealing. I then sprayed the whole front and back of the board in waterproofing vinyl as it is going to be in the laundry.

Once dry, I placed all of my tools out on the board, referencing my earlier photo, and marked the centre of the spots for the dowel pegs with pencil- use a ruler over the top of the tools where possible to make the corresponding spot level. I then drilled a shallow mark in each spot while the tools where still on the rack- just to make sure the dowel would sit snug enough to hold the tools, but not too snug so the tools couldn’t actually fit!

Then I removed all the tools, lifted the board up and drilled all the way through- I used a drill bit that was just a bit smaller than the dowel pegs. I then hammered each through with a rubber mallet, drilled the hinges on and popped it up on the wall! Couldn’t be happier with my new easy to access tools :)

tool-rack-3

Thanks for reading The Nookbook!

Spring Clean

It’s officially spring- hail the gods!!

I am absolutely NOT a winter child. I was made to lie in the summer sun. I would love nothing more than to live somewhere tropical where there is only a wet and dry season- no cold!

In the meantime- I’m celebrating spring. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the most beautiful of all- tiny bright green buds are forming on the perennial trees! So beautiful.

As the weather warms up we find ourselves opening the balcony doors and inviting the outdoors in. Taking a bit of extra care with the plants, firing up the BBQ and just sitting out on the cane setting with a cold G&T in the afternoon. Those beautiful rays of sunshine can also cast a spotlight on all of the dull and dusty items around the home that could do with a good refresh!

In the spirit of the time of year I’ve taken a few little projects around our apartment that are perfect for a spring refresh. Hopefully there is something that will inspire you not to chuck that sad-looking furniture and instead- give it a bit of a scrub, maybe a lick of paint, and have something good as new!

signature

 

dressmodel and table

This beautiful dress-makers model from an antiques store was a birthday present from my husband. It was sold in original condition- meaning it was filthy! I removed the screws, gently pried away the wooden parts from the canvas body and kept note of where every part originally lived!

I then gently sanded back and oiled all of the wooden parts and chucked the canvas body in to the bath to get soaped up and scrubbed down! I used shampoo and a scrubbing brush, rinsed with water and then washed down all over with a light vinegar wash to remove the last of the detergent (did you know that detergent remnants can attract dirt? Just a cup of vinegar in a litre of water will remove any residue).

The dressing table was originally my neighbour’s- covered in green paint and fair stickers, it was a sight! A few years ago I decided to rescue it- sand it all back and paint it with some left over white house paint. It didn’t stand the test of time, and after a few dusting sessions I started to notice marks and discolouration on the top.

So I sanded it back quite vigorously, with various grains to get a smooth finish, removed the handles and re-polished them and recoated the whole thing in interior acrylic shine white paint- just a sample pot was enough to do it!

dressmodel close

Another neighbourhood find was our hard wood dining table. It was discarded and had no sheen. I laboured for days sanding by hand (before my husband gifted me with a orbital sander!) but it was a labour of love. I used about 4 different grits of sandpaper, a stain and lacquer (a few coats- sanding between each) and finished with the same oil I used on the model above.

You wouldn’t need to go to this much effort to get similar results- just two grits of sandpaper, using an orbital sander, and a two-in-one stain and lacquer would do the job. But I must say, running my hands over the table and feeling the smooth rewards of my efforts is pretty fantastic!

table close for web table for web

Finally, after a few weeks of watching seasons of Mad Men back-to-back I developed a bit of a penchant for a post-work martini! That started the idea of a bar area.

I purchased an Ikea adjustable bookshelf, washed and shined my glassware, and gave my orange Kitchenaid stand mixer and Breville blender pride of place in the in-set kitchen servery.

I re-furbed a council clean-up chair (the comfiest spot to have a drink!) and later added a French-Polynesian floor lamp (made from fabric from our Tahitian honeymoon) and a 1920′s tray drinks stand for making G&T’s.

cocktail bar for web

The blender and bar area was perfect for creating these ‘Mexican Night’ frozen margaritas- made from fresh tarragon leaves, chopped, coconut rum (instead of triple sec), tequila and lime juice, blended with ice, served in a salted-rimmed cocktail glass (sticking to the glass thanks to a rub of a lime wedge) with hot, crispy tacos- of course!

The perfect drink to cool down now that the weather is heating up! Hopefully you’ve found some inspiration to give a few things around the home a new lease of life- and let the sun shine proudly on your shiny ‘new’ things!

cocktail for web

Thanks for reading The Nookbook!