Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Elbow grease

When I was op shopping a few weeks ago I picked up this wooden bowl. It was quite unloved and in a sad state as you can see below, but I loved the shape and thought that it would make a fantastic fruit or salad bowl.

It looked as though it had been through a dishwasher - all scuffed and rough. (Wooden items should never go through the dishwasher as it will make them swell and crack, as well as destroy the finish!)

There weren't any cracks or chips though and I knew that with a bit of sandpaper and oil I'd have it as good as new.

So I gave it a good sand with some fine sandpaper to smooth the surface and take away the remnants of the previous finish.

I found some good wood wax recipes online which used beeswax. I do want to make that one day soon but on this day I didn't have any beeswax, so I just used the oil I had in the cupboard which was rice bran oil. And didn't the wood just drink it in. It was so lovely to see the colour change and become rich and silky right before my eyes.

I rubbed the oil in and then buffed the bowl with a dry cloth, and ta-da! A beautiful salad bowl, bought for a few cents and some elbow grease.

Linking up to Op-Shop Showoff at Blackbird Has Spoken.

Sunday, 21 July 2013


 It's an exciting time for me because my hellebores are in bloom! Inspired by a photo I saw a few months ago in Sweet Peas For Summer, I rushed out to pick as many blooms as I could to float in a bowl. That turned out to be only four, as the rest haven't opened fully enough to float, so I filled the rest of the bowl with camellia blossoms. I love all these soft pastel hues, and the frilly petals mirror the fluted shape of the handmade pottery bowl I found recently while op shopping.

 I visited my mum recently and she had two hellebores. I was instantly smitten with the one above left, which has amazing fluted petals in soft pink. This photo doesn't really do it justice, because it drooped as soon as I divided and transported a clump. But there are another couple of buds still on it, and if not this year there's always next. Above right is a common maroon spotted one, I do love its freckled cheeks though and it would have been lovely if it was flowering fully so I could put it in my bowl!

 These are two I got last year. The left one is a picotee and the right one is called Pink Lady. They both have really large, bell shaped flowers that have bloomed for the first time this year. I really love the clear pink of Pink Lady, I was expecting it to be a bit more muddy but it's quite lovely.

 I do think hellebores have been lumped with an unfortunate name as they are so much prettier and less boring than the name implies! A common name is Winter Rose but I don't really call anything but a rose a rose, so I'm kind of stuck. Perhaps I'll just keep calling them my beautiful darlings.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

July flowers

I think this is the easiest time I've ever had finding things to put in July's mosaic! There is no shortage of little flowering gems tucked away in the garden. My winter bouquet in the middle square is comprised of rose hips, cyclamen, penstemon foliage, wintersweet, hellebores and even a rogue delphinium. Around the garden I have lots of polyanthus and pansies, camellias and daphne, and the first of the hellebores are opening softly. So there's no trouble finding things to pick and bring indoors.

How is your garden flowering this month? Head over to May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and get some inspiration!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Little winter treasures

On a quiet moment last weekend I walked around picking tiny treasures for little bouquets. There's certainly no shortage for colour and scent at this time of year. I found daphne, polyanthus, camellia and erica, which looked sweet posied up in little glass bottles. Mr Lui came to investigate while I was setting them up, luckily his nose is very photogenic. And I received a surprise packet of winter cheer in the mail - thanks Sue! ♥ which brightened my day no end.

I'm playing catch up today due to being struck down with the dreaded lurgy late last week. My head has finally cleared and I have some photos to go through. July's Flowers will be up tomorrow!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Vintage-look birdhouse wall decoration

 Earlier this year I decided to make a birdhouse. Ever since I got my garden I've wanted to put a grouping of  rustic, wooden, handmade birdhouses somewhere together. I had some wooden planks lying around to use, and I figured it couldn't be that difficult to cut them to shape and hammer them together. (I'm a fan of the rustic look - imperfections are my friends!) I cut (with my hand saw) a couple of house shaped pieces, and they sat around the garden for a month or so while I debated whether to cut walls out of the same plank or look for some thinner wood. It was very thick you see, and would have made for a rather chunky birdhouse. I was also a bit wary of the drill attachment that makes the big holes; it would require a trip to Bunnings and some enquiring and figuring out on my part and I hadn't quite gotten round to it yet, not to mention what was I going to use for the roof? So all these things were percolating until it occurred to me... it doesn't need to be an actual house... I could just paint it to look like one! And once that decision was made the entire process became easy peasy. (Note: I didn't make the taller birdhouse, this tutorial is just for the smaller painted one.)

Here's how I did it...

 Supplies: wooden plank cut to a house shape (mine measured approx 20 x 11 cm), a small decorative picture frame for the roof, a chopstick, strong wood glue, paint in a light colour and a dark colour, sandpaper, varnish.

 I used the same technique as for my Vintage-look Garden Sign to distress the wooden house shape. Once that was done I painted a circle for the birdhouse hole. I then cut a chopstick to approx 2.5 cm long, drilled a short hole in the front of the house for the perch, and glued the chopstick in place.

A fancy picture frame makes a great faux roof! Mine was the right size so all I had to do was snap it in half diagonally, and carefully file and sand the sharp edges. Then I glued the pointed house roof within the frame. (Spray paint the frame before you glue it on if you want to change the colour.)

If you're going to keep your birdhouse plaque outside, give it several coats of a good outdoor varnish. Attach a wire or picture hook at the back for hanging, or just prop it up behind some pots!

Have fun creating your own birdhouse groupings, I'd love to see pictures if you make one!

Linking up to Matariki Crafting at Tartan Kiwi.

Monday, 8 July 2013


On a cold winter's night there's nothing cosier than snuggling up in your bed with a nice warm hottie. I crocheted this thick warm hottie cover based on the pattern that I shared here. I adapted it a bit because this yarn was SO thick (bonus: it worked up very quickly!) and embellished the finished cover with a delicate snowflake. This is for The Hottie Project, a collaborative project where crafters around the country are making hottie covers to donate to children in Christchurch. If you'd like to make a hottie cover or two there's still time - for more information see here.

I'm also linking up to the Matariki Crafting Linky at Tartan Kiwi.


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