Garden

Christmas Craft: Christmas Wreaths

Last modified on 2013-12-13 10:39:57 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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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Christmas Craft: Christmas Tree Branch

Last modified on 2013-12-13 10:39:32 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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).

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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!

Coffee Sack Ottomans

Last modified on 2013-06-06 04:02:05 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

A while ago my husband ordered some foam rollers for some back relief. You lie over one on the floor and gently roll over it to release some back tension. The only problem is that we ended up with a few more than we had bargained on! So what to do with the leftovers?

I had the idea to cut them in half and pull them together somehow to make ottomans for our balcony! Read below to find out how I did it. I was pretty happy with the results and I think they match the rustic look of my home pretty well. You could use some gorgeous chevron patterned outdoor fabric to sew a cover, or even better- just grab a suitably sized outdoor cushion and sew the corners down!

Happy creating :)

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I started with four high-density Styrofoam rollers, some masking tape, two old cushions with covers and two gorgeous second-hand coffee sacks from Reverse Garbage in Marrickville. You could also ask your local cafe where they get their beans from and whether they might know where you could source some sack.

The sacks that I picked up contained a second plastic sack on the inside, making them relatively water-proof. If the sacks you find don’t have plastic on the inside you can pick up some thick plastic and use your sewing machine to make a rudimentary inner cover- it won’t be seen so don’t worry too much about your handy-work!

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I used our hand-saw to cut each of the pillars in half making a seat. If you’re unsure of the height use a chair you love as the model. If you can’t find Styrofoam you could also use stacked milk-crates, palings of wood or if it’s a foot stool even 2 litre soft-drink bottles with a cardboard top- really!

I used masking tape as that’s what we had at home- but if you buy gaffa tape that will work even better. wrap around the body of the four cylinders at least three times and from top to bottom, wrapped around, at least twice- the more the better!

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Grab your two pillows and cut the filling in two parts- then rip one bit in half so that you have a long ream of stuffing. Set aside the other bit.

Wrap the filling around the foam columns, fluffing as you go. Pull sections of the filling off to fill the gaps in-between the columns. You can add more filling at this stage to make the ottoman more ‘puffy’.

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Wrap the second half of the pillow in the cover. Twist the mid-point of the cover and tuck underneath- place this on top of the base as the seat- take it for a test-run now to make sure it is ‘cushy’ enough.

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Decide which sides of the sack will be the front and top and slip over the base you have made. Flip the ottoman on it’s head and pull the sides down to sew a tight, knotted hem at the bottom to (meaning you knot the twine as you work your way down the hem making it super strong!)

Once the base is sealed flip the ottoman on its side to fold down the corners of the sack and sew to be flush. Repeat on the other side. If you were working with fabric you could also do this by pinning on the base and then slipping off to sew on the machine.

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Handy tip: Instead of using a regular needle that will grab the hessian use a bobby-pin with the end of the twine knotted to the back.

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And that’s it! These are my two cute little ottomans that sit on my balcony- at the ready for when guests come over for a drink or two :) I particularly love the printing on the sacks.

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Garden Pot-Plant Stool

Last modified on 2013-05-20 12:13:35 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

Over the past year I have been obsessed with perfecting our little balcony.

I don’t know that I’m quite there yet- but adding a few bits here and there- and finally finding some plants that will stay alive- has really spruced up our outlook.

We’re super lucky to have large trees and an established garden underneath us, so a few clustered pot-plants have made our balcony look lush and green.

Our balcony doesn’t have any walls, just a glass railing, so I’ve had to come up with a few nifty ideas for going vertical.

The first is my garden pot-plant stool and then my vertical pallet garden. I hope you like them!

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So first I bought an Ikea Bekvam step stool in a flat-pack for about $15 and then a sample pot of orange acrylic paint for about $9.

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A few coats of paint and now I have this lovely stool to stack my pot-plants on :) Orange is an accent colour in my house. I think it looks great in the garden against the green.

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My second project is this pallet garden. I bought some little cutlery tubs, drilled small drainage holes in the bottom, and hung them with S hooks to the sections in the pallet. I then tied the whole pallet back to the railing with some rope.

I filled them partially before I dropped them in to the slots, and then topped them up and gave them all a really good water once they were in. I finished my set up with solar-powered lights and a candle panel.

#Whimsim: Night and Day 1

Last modified on 2011-04-15 10:47:15 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

So as you may have read in my earlier blog post, last weekend I went down to Melbourne for a girly weekend away with four of my university girlfriends at the request of the birthday girl.

It was AH-MAZING! There was shopping, eating, comedy shows, music gigs, more shopping, drinking and more than a few lovely Melbourne finds.

You shall be warned that one of said girlfriends introduced me to an iPhone App called istagram. It is not only the funnest way to play with filters on your iPhone pics, it also conveniently re-sizes my pictures to be wordpress ready! I think I will be using this feature a lot more in the future ;)

There was so much activity packed into our weekend, and so many gorgeous and fun photos taken, that I have decided that it will be easier to split up the weekend. So this is #Whimsim: Night and Day 1.

#Whimsim being of course the hashtag we used to plan our getaway on Twitter (What Happens In Melbourne Stays In Melbourne…or on The Nookbook at least ;)

Three of the girls arrived early to make the most of the weekend. My friend and I got the same Tiger Airways flight down Friday night. My work being located so close to the airport, I had time for a quick swim, before catching the train one stop to the airport. Having checked-in online, I sauntered straight to the departure gate where I met up with my friend.

From the airport we managed to navigate ourselves through Tiger Airways ‘Terminal 3′ (aka converted bus terminal :p) to the departure area of the city Sky Bus which took us to Southern Cross Station in Melbourne CBD within 20 minutes. From there we got the free hotel shuttle further into town and closer to
The Nunnery, where we were staying.

The Nunnery is an old convent located at 116 Nicholson Street Fitzroy, just opposite Carlton Gardens, Melbourne Museum and the Exhibition Centre.

Nicholson Street, and the whole Fitzroy area, really appealed to my architectural design sensibilities. There is a wide range of old to modern houses, with every shade of grey in between. Below is Crantown House, a delightfully gothic style house located at number 82.

When my friend and I arrived at the hostel, our three other girlfriends were tucked up in bed! What?! This is meant to be our big weekend away!

We dragged the birthday girl out of bed, had a quick squiz around the hostel, and skuttled down to the closest bar to kick-start the weekend. The other two ‘sickies’ were busy being pikers staying in bed ;)

As you may or may not have noted I have a bit of a fetish for maps. These were some beautiful items framed and mounted on the staircase wall.

After a drink and a bit of a gossip, we tucked ourselves into bed quite early for the anticipated big Saturday.

So here starts the real Day 1. We had a brief sleep-in and tottered off to Campos Coffee at 144 Elgin Street
Carlton. Coooooffffeeee sweet cooooofffffeeee :D

I loved the idea of this plant box in the Campos bathrooms. It was absolutely packed with beautiful glistening greenery and I would love one in the bathroom of my future dream home.

After our coffee break we were ready to hit Brunswick Street for some serious shopping. Luckily it was a gorgeous day in Melbourne and the rainclouds did not so much as rear their ugly heads for the whole day.

In a strange and wonderful 50s and 60s themed store we saw these strange and wonderful fragrances. Gin & Tonic? Dirt? Surprisingly these scents were not only delightful, they were spot-on!

I spied this whimsical light in a high-end fashion store. The sort of store that has such a lack of affordable clothes that you start looking up to avoid spying price-tags at eye-level. Does anyone know who the designer is?

It reminds me of the amazing sky-dive formations I saw when I did the big jump with my boyfriend in Queenstown New Zealand.

This shop was eclectic without being messy. I LOVED their stuf! Unfortunately, after taking this ‘window’ shot and the shot below of my friend, I was asked to ‘Please stop taking photos of the store’. I’m not really sure what this was about, but it’s certainly not a reception I’ve ever seen in Sydney. Perhaps the shop keeper thought I was going to ‘steal’ the stores ideas? Calm down missy. It’s cute, but not really that original.

Shopping on your own is quite a feat, but shopping with four girls? It feels like you’ve done a marathon and it’s not even lunch yet! I had to stop for a quick sugar pick-me-up.

So glad I did too with delicious flavours and a fun artwork (that might look a bit scarily like me?) at Trampoline Gelato 381 Brunswick Street.

Just across the road I stumbled across Fitzroy Nursery. I guess the thing that caught my eye about this place, was that in such an urban, busy area of town, there was still space for a bit of greenery to nudge its way in-between the clothing stores and trendy cafes.

I had an idea a while ago to create a similar space in Sydney. I had just moved into Newtown and was looking for some urban courtyard varieties of plants for my garden and planter boxes. There was nowhere around! So I thought: “Wouldn’t it be great to have a nursery that specialised in simple urban varieties and had a nice place in the shade to sip on a coffee or two?”.

There is now a similar nursery down the south end of King Street, but still no nice place in the shade to rest your weary gardener’s knees.

This little guy reminded me that Easter is just around the corner! This week I will be posting a blog about cute DIY Easter gift ideas, so check back in in a couple of days. I know you will love my idea, it’s so cute!

One of my friends had continued wandering while I was busy eating gelato ;) She found the best second-hand shop we stepped into by far, Sheila Vintage at 382.

I found this amazing pencil skirt for work on the $25 rack! It’s a write-off purchase because I’ll wear it at work…right?

All of my friends from uni are in the media industry. We organised our whole weekend via Twitter, a little over Facebook for those ideas that just cannot be expressed in 140 characters or less. Does it show? :p

I wizzed into T2 to grab some sample tea. My desk at work is covered in T2 varieties to suit my mood; Early Grey to wake me up, English Brekafast (with a dash of milk) for a rainy afternoon, China Jasmine for the mornings or White Rose to make me feel clear-headed.

I love their range of tea accessories almost as much as I love their tea. How decadent to place this tea-light fueled glass teapot on the table at the end of a wonderful dinner party. I’m thinking a Turkish-inspired blend?

We stopped into this gorgeous store Harem at 248 Brunswick Street.

Another reminder of Easter came from these fluffy little guys! Wouldn’t they look just gorgeous out on the grass for an easter-egg hunt?

Trotting along from Harem some of the girls disappeared into a designer outlet store to try on jeans. It wasn’t really doing it for me, so when I spotted super classic furniture and styling store Wilkins and Kent, Brunswick Street lost me to
number 230.

This was a cute, but slightly over-priced clothing and accessories store Kinki Gerlinki, at 209 Sydney Road Brunswick. I absolutely adored their modern vs Chanel plastic bow elastic belts and thermal carriers.

When my paternal grandmother passed away my father discovered rolls of beautiful old Masonic and Army certificates of recognition belonging to the men of my family.

My father had them in a cardboard slip under his bed in an attempt to protect them, so my sister and I decided to look into more beautiful, and chemically appropriate, archiving options. I tell you, apart from framing each individual one, there were not many options! This is where the amazing Zetta Florence stepped in.

Zetta Florence is a beautiful archival and signature stationery store based in Melbourne, but they post far and wide. I will post photos one day of the gorgeous teal coloured archival box that they put together for us, but there is a photo of a similar one below.

Their flagship store is located at 197 Brunswick Street, and I had to have a quick browse while my friends were grabbing us a table at the Little Creatures Dining Hall, just across the road at 222.

Luckily for me, there was a seat, ordered tapas, a pot (or perhaps a pint…) of Little Creatures Pipsqueak cider and four gorgeous friends waiting for me when I had finished my shopping spree.

Julia bought this gorgeous little bird hairpiece from Harem.

Alongside maps I have a love of all things Alice. I don’t know why, but I love everything to do with Alice in Wonderland. I think I identified with the confused and magical little girl in the book, and loved to dream of crazy, far-away places where unexplainable things are the norm.

At 159 Brunswick Street, Alice & Co. is a store devoted to orginal and near-perfect reproductions of unique Alice in Wonderland prints. When I was living in the UK I bought a gorgeous 1920s print of Alice, the mock turtle and the griffin at Portobello markets, and from the looks of this display window, I knew I wouldn’t be leaving this shop empty-handed.

Finally we made it down to Blackbird market, located in The Worker’s Club on the corner of Brunswick and Gertrude Streets.

I saw these quirky jewelry designs by Grandma’s Florals and decided to get a scrabble ring; ‘A’ after my boyfriend :)

After all that walking, we shuffled into a Mexican-themed furniture and decoration store that was closing down. The birthday girl spied these surprisingly comfortable rubber-tubing chairs. They were just what we needed for a quick break.

When we started to drift-off we decided that a whole day of shopping was enough to warrant a focused bee-line back to the hostel quick nap before dinner. But at over $400 per chair I don’t think any of us could afford to be taking one away with us :/

This is one for my boyfriend. I can see this taking pride of place on the mantelpiece of our future dream home :D

Tune back in: #Whimsim: Night 2 and #Whimsim: Day 2 and Night 3 COMING SOON!

Thanks for reading The Nookbook.

Festive fun!

Last modified on 2011-03-03 05:06:05 GMT. 5 comments. Top.

Ok, so having been on holidays the past couple of weeks, I have stock-piled all sorts of interesting things from the festive season.

Before Christmas came Thanksgiving. Now, I am not American, but I grew up celebrating with my jolly American neighbours. They have since moved away, but a big group of us still celebrate Thanksgiving every year.

I look forward to seeing everyone again, but I also look forward to the amazing food! Everyone brings their signature dish meaning everything is cooked with love and you know what to look forward to for next year :D

Nothing beats pumpkin pie!

After Thanksgiving came Christmas. I have shown you how I made some gingerbread stars for my boyfriend’s family. The first batch of these burned terribly…what to do with burned gingerbread cookies? Make them into cute gift tags of course!

I just coated them with spray lacquer, let them dry, skewered holes to thread string through, painted them with bright red and green and decorated with glitter paint and Christmas themed confetti. Very Merry! They looked gorgeous with my simple Christmas gift-wrap.

On Christmas day there were a few beautiful things that I felt the need to capture. I was inspired to make this natural wreath from a feature in the Christmas issue of Inside Out magazine.

I used a metal coat-hanger pushed into a circle as a base. Then I wrapped two dry palm fronds around the edge, securing with thin wire and plaiting as I went. When the base was complete, I chose succulents, cumquats and bright flowers to dot along the wreath. Just gorgeous!

We decorated our table in a red and silver theme this year. I thought it looked too lovely not to capture. I was in charge of the drink this year, so rather than a plain old punch I made delicious sangria! I also put together a punch wreath. I layered thins of lemon, lime, orange, apple and glace cherry around a round bundt tin.

Then I poured in pineapple juice, brown sugar and water mix and froze it. Just before I served the punch I placed the bundt tin in a little bit of tepid water to free the frozen wreath from the tin. It kept our sangria nice and cold. Festive and functional!

Last but not least, just a little snapshot from the way I celebrated the New Year. The Whitsundays were simply stunning.

2011, you look good to me!

Thanks for reading The Nookbook

Berrima Escapades

Last modified on 2011-03-03 05:08:44 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

My boyfriend Ash has family down in the Southern Highlands (or SoHi as I like to call it). We find ourselves heading down there for one thing or another every couple of weeks. It is about two hours away from Sydney, but it feels like it’s a world away.

In SoHi the pace is slower, the temperature is cooler, and the shops are boutique, friendly and unique. Every time we go down I try to discover a new area of SoHi and I am yet to be disappointed by what’s on offer.

The main town of SoHi is Bowral. Bowral holds the grocery store, cinema, Target…all of the boring stuf! To either side of Bowral are smaller towns with very distinct personalities and histories. One of my recent adventure day trips was spent discovering Berrima.

I may have studied a history major at uni but, lets be honest, I am not as interested in the mundane facts of history as I am of its spoils…specifically home antiques! If you ever get the chance to visit Berrima on a beautiful day like I did, you will enjoy a gentle stroll through the main drag to check out the many great shops, cafes and buildings.

I went with Ash and his willing sidekick (he will hate that I wrote that!) Alex. Being with two boys and not having much money majorly reduced my shopping time, but it was probably for the best with so many shops to get through!

We stopped for a burger at the local cafe/general store. By FAR best value for money on the whole strip and very friendly service. PLUS you get to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine whilst watching beautiful day trippers saunter past with their pooches.

BE WARNED! Berrima is not a cheap town! I would recommend staying nearby and driving in for the day. But it is very relaxing and absolutely beautiful. Not only are the wares interesting, but the actual buildings are all sandstone, wood and iron, a style that really appeals to my aesthetic.

Definitely visit Heritage listed Harper’s Mansion. Not only is there a beautiful old house, complete with period furniture and interior fittings, there is also a fun hedge maze and large garden that will be gorgeous in this spring’s full bloom.

I will definitely be heading in again when I have a bit more money! But until then…I’ll be checking out other towns in SoHi!

Any recommendations let me know.

Photos of Harper’s Mansion…

Photos of Berrima town…

Thanks for reading The Nookbook

Red Hot Chilli…Flakes!

Last modified on 2011-03-03 05:09:33 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Last year my mum and I decided to put a chilli plant in our garden. We figured it was a great idea because we use chilli a lot in cooking, but we completely underestimated the growth rate of chilli!

Finding ourselves with a surplus of chillies that were dying off fast I decided to come up with some creative things to do with them.  Picking each one off the plant and stringing them up to dry in the sun, I watched them carefully over two weeks until I thought they were ready.

Chilli flakes add a great flavour to cooking. With their slightly smokey, sun-dried flavour, these Chilli flakes are great to keep in the fridge to add to stir fries, soups…whatever you like! Have fun!

Thanks for reading The Nookbook