Archive for the ‘ Garden ’ Category

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.


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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!


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!

Life Instyle Trends

On the weekend I decided to go down to Melbourne for Life Instyle- Australia’s only boutique trade event showcasing emerging trends, brands and products that are on the cooler side of style and design. I knew I would see some beautiful, inspirational design- add to that the promise of seeing a beloved friend living in Melbourne (who I don’t get to see anywhere near enough)- and I’d booked a ticket!

The offering at Life Instyle this round was phenomenal- lots of really interesting designs, styled beautifully in the gorgeous Royal Exhibition Hall. The event is mostly for makers and designers from around Australia to exhibit their wares to distributors and media in the hopes of being stocked at stores and covered.



This year there were also fantastic talks from design and media industry professionals on trends, social media and e-retailing- all really interesting to me!

The main themes that I pulled from trends talks is that style is really reflecting a ‘living’ concept. Genty Marshall, from New Black, is an internationally recognized Design Futurist that presented at Life Instyle. I found this take really interesting- that we don’t follow trends- trends follow us. For example, with the overload of information that we have coming at us every day in the digital age- Genty is observing an international trend towards nature and chilling out- getting back to the human, hand-touched and real experience. This combined with our current environmental conscience is creating a powerful force in design!


How does this then translate? Well I guess that’s up to the designers to interpret and us to adopt. I did notice some key things that fit this trend though so I thought I’d run through them- natural, animals and brights. Have a look at some of the best bits I saw (below) and let me know what you think- do you identify with the need to ‘switch off’ and crave things that reconnect you with real life?



Thanks for reading The Nookbook!

Life Instyle Trend: Natural

It’s all about luxurious, natural touches- shown best by Caravanserai‘s display of items:






This rolling pin is a kitchen queen’s dream! Definitely on my wish list.

There were some beautiful, natural displays, such as this by Water Tiger


Or this part of the daily live styling event by Greenhouse Interiors:



This clever dome housed Telegram Open House- creating intimacy in a large space. The clever folks at Thinkers & Makers Society created the vision (more about them at the end).




I desperately wanted this medium size mango wood cheese board- so beautiful! But as it was a sample they wouldn’t sell it to me :( Ah…the one that got away!

The luxury and natural trend may feature in bathroom spaces- but it was definitely flowing through to laundry and cleaning as well! The Cooking Company displayed my favourite of many luxury cleaning ranges- The Laundress. The Funkis stall (not pictured) also had an extensive range of beautifully designed wooden brushes- I wanted all of them!


I purchased the ingenious sweater comb (for removing pilling) and three gorgeous, fresh laundry-scented candles.


These ship-motif clouds by Pili Pala Pieces would look perfect in my husband’s den (which doesn’t exist yet… :( so I couldn’t allow myself to buy them)


Sustainable Stubbies, brainchild of glass sculptor Ruth Allen, up-cycles bottles in to design items- such as these gorgeous pendant lights. Imagine a bar highlighted with a hanging bottle light installation!


Super-fun and festive, creators Dick & Dora created these over-scale wooden Christmas baubles and bunting as shop displays- but when the enquiries started pouring in they decided to manufacture them for retail sale! How glamorous to feature a string of baubles along the wallway instead of the traditional tinsel or miniature decorations. More from them in the animals section below.


The Thinkers & Makers Society is a grouping of trade professionals who combine forces to create exceptional installations- such as this ‘Australian Made Stall’ and the dome above. They also do spectacular shop fit-outs.


These moss balls were so imaginative and ethereal. I love this concept! More of these in the Brights trends report below.




Thanks for reading The Nookbook!

Life Instyle Trend: Brights

The final part of the ‘Living’ story? Brights! This is the neon of last year re-imagined. This trend seems to be all about injecting a bit of vitality in to your decor- in muted tones and pastels as well as neons.

The Family Love Tree filled out their enticing display with more of those fabulous peacock chairs and re-imagined lamp shades, bed heads and more. It would be a fantastic makeover to find a vintage piece of cane furniture and spray paint it a vibrant tone- but for those who don’t have the time this is where you would go to find what you’re after!


The displays inside the expo were so captivating.


More of the hanging moss balls (seen in the Natural trend report above) by Thinkers & Makers Society.


Lightly is stylish but incredibly playful- a mix that is hard to get right but I feel you can see the balance achieved perfectly with the shot below- great styling skills!


The Design Farm creates these beautiful candle votives. They caught my eye straight away, and at first look seemed quite simple, but once I picked one up and turned it in my hands like a giant precious stone, I realised that simplicity was actually quite sophisticated! My favourite would be the stout, chunky orange votive second from the front- gorgeous!


The team at Rawspace produce yet another captivating and joyful piece (more in the Animal trend report). I am constantly dreaming of New York (well- it has stolen some of my best friends you know?!) and would love to add this piece to my home to feel at least one step closer to that crazy city.


This geometric print baby onesie from Master and Miss could make even the most stylish lady clucky!


Last but not least- MY gorgeous Sterling & Hyde orange Robin handbag. I saw this the minute I walked in to the show and couldn’t stop thinking of it until the day I left- handing over my cash in exchange for the joy of toting this on my arm every day! It fits my beloved iPad in it like a dream and is so well made- I could not be more chuffed. Add that the friendly face of one Bec Jamison-Jones and the lovely chats we had- and this was the best buying experience I’ve had all year!


Thanks for reading The Nookbook!