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I periodically get on DIY kicks. Sometimes it’s sewing, sometimes it’s food… recently, it’s – let me start back a little further.

What with the dancing and everything, I discovered a newfound love of makeup. And also how comparatively crap my existing, elderly, cheap makeup was. So, I gradually invested in better quality makeup, in the right colours for me, and generally the result makes me happy.

I have funny skin, sometimes. My face annoys me, because it’s greasy around the chin and flaking-off-terribly across the eyebrows. (Of all the things I had to inherit from Mum, why that?) So, moisturiser became a requirement. To be fair, this was one of the things that goes with realising that, at age 29, I should probably attempt to take care of my face and/or act like a grownup. Astonishing concept, I know.

But oh man, moisturiser is expensive, and smelly, and half the time it irritates my skin, and wah wah wah. Then, lightbulb! Why not make my own?

Some time ago, I’d bought a jar of coconut oil on a whim. I mostly use it as a deep conditioner for my hair. Then I bought some beeswax – I think I originally pondered making a candle? Then I had a lightbulb moment, put the two together (along with some olive oil and butterscotch flavour oil), and voila – lip balm. Which I also use as cuticle cream and t-zone moisturiser at night. Even my lovely husband has noticed the improvement in my skin!

I ran out of coconut oil, inevitably, so ordered more from that fine source of all random things, The Internet. The stash arrived today; and an hour or so later, I have two bottles and four jars full of moisturiser. Coconut oil, cocoa butter, olive oil, vitamin E, beeswax, butterscotch and coconut perfume oils. It’s a lovely consistency, I inexplicably smell like walnut instead of any of the other options, my skin is lovely and soft and happy.

I am going to have to offload some of the results onto my mother, because otherwise I will still be using this in Christmas 2015. But you know, I’m OK with that.

Originally published at spinneretta

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This has been the LOVELIEST Christmas.

Christmas day, we had the usual suspects for dinner, five altogether. Boxing day, we had seven; then the 27th, a pair of friends with three kids dropped in, for a further excellent dinner.

There has been lots of food and ham and puddings and ham and more food and we don’t want ham again until at least Easter, seriously, and fruit mince pies – I still have 1.5kg of fruit mince jarred up, will it keep until next xmas you think? and excellent company, and games of the card, computer, and beach-ball variety, AND I still don’t have to go back to work until the 7th Jan and I am a happy woman.

I’ve cleaned some things, but not all the things I want yet. Still, I’m happy with the overall success of Operation 2012: the house is still a bit of a problem in certain areas, but I feel more on top of the overall operation. Life-management is always a work in progress.

I’ve also had the time to be crafty. In the last couple of days, I’ve finished these two. It’s continuing to be a good vacation.

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It’s been a mildly productive weekend. Mount Washmore has been re-vanquished, and new laundry hampers obtained. One is black, one is white; the uses should be pretty obvious from there.

We actually operate three hampers; darks, lights, and my delicates slash stuff I’m going to wear again but isn’t clean any more. It works well.

I also got my crafty on. Coming up to giftmas, I knew I’d have to reorganise the cards, envelopes, wrapping stuff, etc etc etc. Last time I juggled the snug, I’d tidied via the method of “put things in a drawer, worry about it later” and last night was “later”.

After four shelves in my Expedit were rejuggled such that their contents were a) accessible b) sensibly arranged, five drawers ditto, I was left with a pile of tidy things. Two large Tupperware containers were called into service, and two Pringles tubes have been modpodged with fabric, sealed, and commissioned for the purposes of holding tape. Said tape was previously corraled in a ziplock bag, which did work, but made the drawer an absolute arse to rummage through.

I also bought some decent eyeliner, for the first time ever. One of the things that became apparent with the round of dance performances in the last month was that either my makeup-application abilities were sorely lacking, or my actual makeup was sorely lacking. I bet on the latter, bought some decent brushes, a gel eyeliner; found the makeup mirror hiding in a drawer in the spare room (why?), repaired it (the plastic support frame had cracked), and this morning experimented with my new eyeliner.

A webcam is not really an ideal source of eye photography, but I’m quite pleased with myself. Eyeliner! where it belongs! unsmudged! Hooray!

Originally published at spinneretta


Sep. 16th, 2012 09:36 pm
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I spent a few hours today painting this little guy.


He’s a Windstone Paint Your Own Foo Puppy.


Aug. 22nd, 2012 12:52 pm
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I finally started the chair/sofa upholstery project. I’ve been plotting it for months – having the idea, finding the supplies, buying the supplies – fabric is NOT CHEAP – finding bobbins for my 30-odd year old sewing machine.

I’m quite proud of myself. It’s quite a lot of work, and I planned it carefully and executed it carefully.

I’m going to sit on the chair for a couple weeks before I do the sofa. Find the bits that need more thought, see if there are any bits I need to reinforce.

The chair has been firmly adopted by my Tigra-cat. She grumble-growled at me when I attempted to dislodge her from it, the other night. Apparently it is comfortable!

I have succeeded in keeping the snug (mostly) tidy and (largely) organised, even with Project in Progress. It’s nice having storage and workspace, and knowing I can do what I like without falling over myself. Operation 2012 for the win!

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To complete my reputation as an occasional throwback to the 50′s, here is the apron I made today.

I’ve been wanting a 50′s style apron – full skirted and so on – for awhile. It finally occurred to me that I had a dress that didn’t fit well – too high waisted for a bust as full as mine – but when cut down, it would make a fantastic apron.

And it does! I even lined the skirt. And it’s hanging on my dressmaker’s dummy, in the snug, with my newly-rearranged furniture, surrounded by the other crafty things I love.

It’s been a good weekend.

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Some of the 34 boxes that shipped over from the UK contained my Ikea Expedit, Expedit-desk and Expedit-addins. I have wanted one of these for YEARS and I am really rather happy to finally have one.

The how-I-have-one possibly requires more explanation. When we visited the UK last December, Tobermory rather unwisely introduced me to IKEA. It was Christmas, after all, and the family were shipping stuff over from the UK, after all, so… if we asked nicely, and paid some of the shipping, and it was Christmas… please?

Of course he said yes. And my in-laws graciously included the IKEA in the shipping of Tobermory’s other things, without charging me extra. That was nice!

So, the boxes got home just before I went to visit Nay, then I went to Congress. Two weeks spent looking longingly at IKEA boxes.

The day after Congress, I built the bookcase; which, as predicted, involved a certain amount of swearing, bashing-it-with-a-hammer, and finally giving in and begging Thaqui for help because I was both too short and too weak to get the bookcase from horizontal to vertical by myself. I’ve spent a few hours after work and most of yesterday getting it all loaded up and banishing the old furniture from the snug.

The snug is now tidy, has a 2 seater couch and an armchair, and all my craft stuff is a) accessible b) tidy. The desk is protected with a piece of perspex custom-cut by some dude off Trademe, so that I can e.g. get paint on it and not fret that I’ve damaged my desk forever.

I’ve had great fun organising it. Figuring out what addins to put where. Reorganising the various shelves and boxes I already had. Realising I had an entire drawer full of ribbon, because I inexplicably love wrapping gifts so much that I have enough of a stash to last me for the next six Christmases. Discovering my sewing machine fit perfectly into a cubby, and stashing it promptly out the way. Putting a cushion in one of the shelves for my Tigra. Stashing little yellow highlights here and there, because I still love having yellow and grey throughout the snug. Labelling my fabric scissors so that no-one else uses them. Moving the wrapping paper out of the blanket box that holds my fabric stash.

The next Project on the list? Patchwork upholstery. The chair and couch are in here now, easily accessible; all I have to do is get started.


… sometimes I worry about myself. When did I turn into an adult?

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Tobermory struggles to sleep in a light room. And our bedroom, being on the light side of the house, is quite light at night. A french door plus a window about the same size will do that for you, particularly when you take street lights and so on into account.

The solution up until now has been a sleep mask, of course. But I took a couple of days off work as a happy-birthday-to-me (I am now 28, hooray?), and took the opportunity to poke about the local emporium. Fabric ends from manufacturers, crafty stuff, Misc Mistake Colour Paint, and similar sorts of things. Anyway, they had a bolt of blackout fabric – there was 6m left on the roll, the roll itself was a 3m drop, and I got the whole thing for eighty bucks!

Last night was our first night with both new blackout curtains hung.

“‘s nice not to have to wear the mask. Unless I want to be Robin and solve crimes in bed.”

Originally published at spinneretta.com

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I go through crafty phases, wherein I make many of a particular kind of object. Lately the thing has been bags. This weekend I’ve made four.

This is probably the best, though. It’s an insulated tote, for the transport of my lunch to and from work. It’s pink, covered in polka dots and mushrooms, and really terribly, terribly unlikely to be accidentally picked up at work by someone who thinks it’s theirs.

One of these (from Nude Food Movers) is my favourite lunchbox. I’ve always been one for nifty containers – things that have a purpose and are also nifty or cute. So a lunchbox with shaped holes for different things? and inbuilt extra little pots? oh yes, I am all over that. It’s also sensible, which helps. But, as a rule, coldbags are, well, dull. They’re dark blue from the supermarket, or red from the butcher, and also excessively large for one person’s lunch. There’s a neoprene sleeve that fits over my lunchbox, but it doesn’t have a particularly useful handle. Also, the alternatives are purple with hearts (I am not a hearts girl – mushrooms, yes, hearts no) or green with graffiti-ish scribble, clearly designed to target the eight year old boy market (I am neither eight nor male).

So, while on the “let’s make bags!!” kick this weekend, I took apart a big fat boring blue bag that one of the cats had pissed on (it’s been washed!), took out the insulation layer; sewed together a bunch of strips from a quilting fabric roll; tacked in the insulation; lined it, added a zip, and handles. There’s a bunch of mistakes I’ve made – if I was going to make another, I could infinitely improve on it. But, for a bag constructed on a whim with no pattern? I’m pretty damn happy.

Also, I neglected to check to see if my lunchbox would fit until after the bag was made. I am relieved to find out that it does.

Originally published at spinneretta.com
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Jan. 23rd, 2011 09:27 pm
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This rather confused looking yeti is what happens when an amateur seamstress combines a teddy bear pattern with a sheepskin. I’d never made a teddy before this weekend.

My fingers may never be the same again – sheepskin isn’t the easiest thing to sew, and I don’t sew all that often. But it was fun.

My grandmother, on Dad’s side, used to make teddybears. I have a lovely collection of bears she’s made for me – from standard furry bears, to an amazingly embroidered and beaded calico bear named Loppy. She’s found her hands too gnarled with arthritis to be able to sew bears now, but she still does Hardanger embroidery (I also have some lovely pieces that she’s made for me).

Originally published at spinneretta.com
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Mar. 7th, 2010 07:28 pm
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I have painted the living room this weekend.

When we moved into the house, we agreed to give it a full year before making any changes. We didn't quite stick to that; curtains in the living room and bedroom were changed at some point, basically because the ones the previous owners left us were a bit crap.

The blue that the previous owners painted the lounge, while it's a pleasant colour in it's own right? I really, really struggled with it last winter. Winter in Auckland tends towards the cold, damp, rainy, grey, wet, soggy, and horrid. Coming into the nice 'warm' living room that was a dark, damp, grey-blue sort of shade? I really hated it.

It seems like a silly thing to fixate on. It IS a silly thing to fixate on. But I just aaaaaagh blue blue dark wah cold wah damp wah wah. I lean towards SAD, and I hate winter at the best of times, and... and it's officially Autumn in New Zealand now...

So, I repainted this weekend. I did admittedly have something of a misunderstanding with Tobermory regarding the distinction between "dislike paint fumes" and "find paint fumes headache-inducing-leading-to-migraine"; I'd misunderstood the latter to mean the former, and then assumed that subsequent grumblings about painting meant "Tobermory does not wish to help" rather than "Tobermory does not want to be in the house when it happens", in that wonderful fashion I do sometimes have of assuming I know what he means instead of actually listening to what he SAYS.

Whoops. I am at least forgiven.

Originally published at spinneretta.com.
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The bathroom is just about done. I still need to touch the edges of the bath up (ie, remove the rest of the paint) - I was careful about paint stripper around the edges, not wanting to damage floor / skirting boards / wallpaper etc.

Of course, now I want to rip all the wallpaper off and paint the bathroom walls instead. It's crappy wallpaper, it's already lifting in places, and I like painting.

I have yet to convince Tobermory that my desire is feasible.

In the meantime, I have been doing other things. Various wedding-related things (I am attempting not to be boring about wedding planning, or a bridezilla, so I'll spare the details); most recently making the remainder of my wedding dress.

I bought a dress off TradeMe for $38.50, including P&P. It was a size 22-24 (ie, much too big for me) and the skirt was ridiculously gathered up. There's enough material in this thing that I've cut it down the side seams, turned the rear half of the dress into an overskirt with a train (for the ceremony) and have enough fabric from the dress-front to be able to make an overskirt (no train) for the reception.

This means that my wedding outfit has cost $400 for a custom-made corset (admittedly quite costly, but I will definitely wear it again, because, you know, corset) and a further $100 for underskirt, overskirt x2, and a wrap so that I can keep my shoulders and that awkward little bit of armpit chub under wraps.


Originally published at Spinneretta.
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I have a 25-year-old Bernina sewing machine. It used to be my mother's, and when I left home she sent it with me on the grounds that I actually sew on occasion, and Mum never does.

Ever since we moved into the house in '08, we've noted that at certain hours of the evening (in the last hour or two before sundown), the light coming in the kitchen window makes it very difficult to sit on one side of the kitchen table. You have to carefully align yourself with someone-on-the-other-side's head and hope they don't move (much), eat with your eyes shut, etc.

We periodically mutter "We should do something about that!" and this week, I finally did.

Ideally, eventually, I want blinds in the kitchen. But I haaate venetian blinds with a pure and bloody passion, curtains are impractical in a kitchen (too dirty), Tobermory doesn't like the Holland blinds I grew up with, and this leaves us with roller or Roman blinds; of which pre-mades don't work, because our kitchen / dining windows are decidedly non-standard sizes, and custom-mades are ridiculously expensive. I can technically make Roman blinds, but I am not confident enough of my abilities to attempt it in a high-traffic area like the kitchen.

So, on Saturday, I went to Spotlight, bought a curtain track and found some curtain fabric on clearance. As a bonus, after I cut the curtains to an appropriate size, there was sufficient remaining fabric for me to make a Roman blind to put in the smallest bedroom.

When we moved in, the previous owners left us curtains. Some of them were OK, some of them were, in my opinion, ugly. This bedroom fell into the "ugly" spectrum; the wallpaper in there is dark blue / bluey-silver stripes; the curtains they left were beige/coffee coloured patterns. It kind of worked, I guess, but mostly didn't. The fabric I bought for the kitchen was grey* (the kitchen is blue/grey-silver/black), so the blind is MUCH better for the little room. It's also a lot darker (two layers of thermal backed fabric will do that for you), and as this room tends to be used as the "oh god I have a headache where is the dark" location, this is a Good Thing.

It is also a colour that will look excellent when the room is eventually re-painted; I have vague plans to paint that room a lemony-yellow, and yellow/grey/white is a colour scheme I rather like. I suspect I will have to re-thread the curtain before long, I am not confident that the cording I put on will last; but it's good enough for a first attempt.

It felt like it was almost fated to work out, in a way. I had the idea, the fabric was left over and exactly the right amount for a blind. I found dowelling at Spotlight (for the pockets in the blind) that were EXACTLY the right width for the window on special, and when I took down the curtain track, it turned out I could re-use the curtain track screwholes for the blind.

I have done no laundry or bathroom cleaning, but I deem this weekend a Success!

* To be perfectly honest, the fabric quite strongly resembles a shower curtain; it's grey with a silverish wavy stripey thing down the fabric periodically. In fact I am sure I've owned a shower curtain like this before. But it was $15 for 2.9m by 2.something of the stuff, with the stuff you hook curtain hooks into already sewn on, and thus a Bargain and I do not turn away bargains when I am making temporary solutions.

Originally published at Spinneretta.
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