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Showing posts with label Home Projects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home Projects. Show all posts

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thinking about Yarn Thrift

by Amanda of Amanda Brooke

If you have been by my blog recently you would have seen my latest creative achievement...a cardigan I am a little obsessed with.


Originally I tried to make it in a finer DK weight yarn from my yarn stash, but I was getting frustrated with the 'loose' structure and I didn't have enough to double-up the yarn to make a thicker ply. So I went out and bought some new balls of yarn. It wasn't a huge investment as this project uses very little, but it was still new yarn and I felt a bit guilty about buying new yarn when I had so much at home. What made the bit of guilt turn into a little more guilt was when I went out and bought more...as I just had to start another cardigan after enjoying this one so much!

This guilt has got me thinking about a few things. Firstly that perhaps I shouldn't feel guilty at all.

Why?
  • I am making something that brings me great joy.
  • It costs less for me to make this garment than most of the knits available in shops today
  • I am able to choose to use 'pure' fibres compared to most knits available in shops made from acrylics
  • I am making something that is practical not unnecessary

The second thing that I have been thinking about is if I can be more thrifty with my current yarn stash or if I could make another cardigan without actually going out and buying more 'new' yarn.

My ideas:

  • Unwind a project I know I'll never finish if I think I can use the yarn for something else
  • I could make the next cardigan stripey? I could tie or use same 'like' yarns together and use up odds and ends for a scrappy and unique look?
  • Source the yarn from local garage sales, op shops (have purchased some from an op shop once before but find it hard to determine the ply/fibre without packaging), clearing sales
  • Advertise locally for a particular yarn I am seeking. Maybe someone has something in their stash they no longer need.
  • Save 'pocket' money to use towards new yarn purchases and not feel I need to start something 'right now'!!! Practice patience in other words.

Do you have any yarn thrift suggestions? How do you curb or justify spending money on new/raw items for your hand made creations?

Amanda x



Thursday, December 29, 2011

Upycling Christmas Cards

by Amanda of Amanda Brooke

I receive Christmas cards, as do my children from their friends, despite the fact that we rarely send cards ourselves. There are many ways to recycle your received cards and I started up-cycling mine yesterday into decorations for the tree next year.


Start by cutting 8 circles from your card fronts. They can be any size (larger circles are easier to handle for small children).


Trace a triangle shape with equal sides, that fits neatly (with the points against the edges of your circle shape) and cut out.


Trace around the triangle onto the back of each circle and fold the drawn edges towards the printed side of the circles.


Start matching the folded edges together (see image above) and join with glue or use double sided tape. Join two sets of four circles together and then join the two halves.


Leave a small opening at one end to thread a knotted piece of string through so the paper ball can be hung.


Easy, whimsical and a great way to up-cycle your cards! This is also a simple enough project for kids get involved in these school holidays.

Hope readers here had a lovely Christmas and I will back writing on my blog later this week.

Amanda

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nature Deficit Disorder - Holiday Decoration Edition

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

With Thanksgiving behind us, there is no denying Christmas is right around the corner. Our quiet country road was abuzz with traffic on Black Friday with families heading to the neighbor's Christmas tree farm. Conifers are king in our neck of the woods, with Christmas trees being a major agriculture crop due to our high rainfall and acid soils providing perfect conditions for growing trees. In fact it's hard to keep land clear here, it naturally wants to grow trees.

That being said, many people do get a natural tree, but still buy many decorations for the rest of their homes that aren't natural at all. I have to admit I am a sucker for the bright colors of ornaments and lights, but I'm trying to end it there, and have more natural decorations to go along with the fir tree we will decorate.

Douglas Fir bark with lichen.

No matter where we live we can look outside in our surroundings and find something to decorate with. My daughter and I challenged ourselves to make a bouquet to get us in the Christmas spirit. But, it had to be out of ordinary plants available nearby, and put together quickly. She took off with the camera, and I took off with my trusty Felco pruners.


Cotoneaster, bird planted.

She was attracted to the berries on various plants, all these are natives or wildings and just part of our landscape on the farm.


Snowberry.

English Holly.


In the wintertime we cut firewood on any dry day that we are all available. We're taking out dead or damaged trees, and the dead trees have loose bark. Living in a rain forest means moss and lichen grow on anything that doesn't move. It is lovely and perfect for bringing in to dress up a vase or to decorate with.

For our impromptu arrangement we went for scotch broom and sword fern for filler and just added a spray of holly and a multi-branched snowberry to add some contrast.



We know this bouquet wouldn't win any prizes at the fair, but it was fun, didn't cost a penny, and we brought a little bit of the forest into our house to enjoy.


What types of greenery or natural items do you have in your neck of the woods to decorate with?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Documenting the Firsts

By Megan at The Byron Life


This week I have been packing boxes in readiness for our return home and I came across Melody's cherished  "ballet book" - a simple scrapbook I made to document her first ballet classes. I wrote about its creation on my blog last year and I thought readers here at Simple, Frugal and Green might appreciate the idea that memory-keeping needn't be an expensive or elaborate affair. 


***


I’m no Martha when it comes to scrapbooking, that’s for sure. No designer layouts and special albums for me; I prefer to wing-it with whatever’s at hand. While my efforts wouldn’t pass muster with serious scrapbooking enthusiasts, I am happy that I have at least made the effort to document and celebrate some of the significant events and activities in my girls’ lives in this form.

Pictured above is a crazy-huge scrapbook of Ella’s very-first artwork from her toddler and pre-school days. We made this book together when she was a young child, I think she was four-years-old, and we took it off to a local copy shop to have it bound. For many years she would trot out this book to proudly show visitors and to this day it is still one of her most prized possessions. It is an especially important keepsake to Ella as she has developed into a most talented young artist and this book documents her “early years” (or her “bunny years” as I like to call them as that was about all she was interested in drawing for quite some time!)

This one is a book I made last year to document Melody’s first year at ballet. It has photos and mementos from her first ballet classes through to her first performance and I have written the text in very simple storybook style. It is now one of Melody’s favourite bedtime reads (what three-year-old doesn’t love to read a book all about themselves?) This book was made late at night, after Melody had gone to sleep, while I was pregnant with Maddison and finished just the night before she was born. So, for me, this book is also infused with those special pregnancy/birth memories... I gave it to Melody for Christmas and it was one of her favourite presents.

I think this home-made, free-form approach to scrap-booking works better for me because I get intimidated by expensive, “perfect” scrapbooks and I procrastinate over what is the “perfect” thing to write and add to them. If I am just winging it with less expensive materials, in a less structured way, I relax a bit more with the whole thing and don’t end up placing such huge expectations on myself that I never get around to doing anything.

The results are, in a word, wonky! That’s my style... But they are made with mama-love, and I reckon that’s what really counts.


We have some significant things happening in 2010 – Maddi’s first year being one of them - and Melody has oh-so-enthusiastically started pre-school a couple of days a week, so right now I am playing away documenting these major events.
This is the start of a scrapbook of Melody’s artwork from her first year at pre-school. As you can see, it’s made from a simple, old-fashioned scrapbook, and Melody is the creator-in-chief - from making the artwork to start with to sticking it in her book each week. I can’t wait to see how her drawings and paintings change over the year. The book is covered in one of her paintings and then clear contact paper is applied over the top.

While these books will ultimately be in the possession of the girls, I freely admit the making of these is as important, if not more important, to me than them! Childhood, that most powerful of times, scoots away from us so, so quickly... I want to savour, and remember, every moment with my girls while it lasts.

x
Megan

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Small living

By Aurora @ Island Dreaming

We live in a small house. At first it was a necessity - it was the only two bedroom house we could afford to rent at the time. The rent is still incredibly cheap and so we are using the opportunity to build up our savings. The house is a mid- terrace, with a total living space of just 51.5 square metres (approximately 625 square feet) including the bathroom, stairway and hallways. There is also a small patio yard at the back, about 3.5m x 4m. There are now two adults, a toddler, a baby and two homebody cats packed into this space. The house is not exceptionally small for the UK and there are many in almost identical houses down our street who have an extra child, or a dog, or an extra adult packed in.

I have been into a few of my neighbours' houses. Some of them are kept completely clutter free, with minimal furniture and decoration - absolute bliss to my eyes that are more accustomed to scanning various piles of stuff from toys to laundry to bubbling demijohns in our own home. Yes, those homes are lovely. But contrary to appearances they do not lack stuff - it is just the kind of stuff that can be tucked away out of sight, single purpose gadgets and inert objects. The TV is the sole source of entertainment with a few DVDs lined up neatly on shelves. Very few books to be seen, certainly no arts or craft materials. Nearly every function of life has to be outsourced for lack of space and tools. In short, there is absolutely no resilience. Disruption to the food supply chain? You will be hungry in three days. Your internet connection fails? You will be bored.

I love the idea of minimalism - of having as few possessions as possible, of not being defined by the stuff we own. It would be very easy to do in the city too, with 24 hour shops and every kind of service under the sun within walking distance. At one point last year I became completely enamoured with the 'Tiny house' concept. Could a balance be struck between lack of stuff (actually a very green concept) and a modicum of self reliance? Some of the approaches I wish I had learnt, or implemented, when we first moved in:


  • Resist the temptation to hoard things for a rainy day unless you have a project, a timeslot and an adequate storage place in mind - fabric that will only become mildewed before it is finally used, packets of seed you will never have the room to sow and a down winter jacket that sees daylight once a decade are no good to anyone.
  •  Stack as many functions into as few objects as possible. Have a large hob to oven casserole instead of a casserole and a saucepan. The baby is bathed in the kitchen sink in our house - I don't know how we ever justified a plastic bath cluttering up our tiny kitchen the last time around.
  •  Ensure you have like minded friends with whom you can pool resources. Resist the temptation to own every tool  - everyone can justify a clothes airer, but everyone owning a pressure washer is ridiculous.
  •  Make sure your possessions reflect your priorities. Sell the fiction books if you no longer read them to make time and space for craft supplies. My knitting needle collection has been pared down from around twenty five pairs to eight that I will use regularly - and now I focus on simple patterns that I will actually make and wear as opposed to the wonderful but complicated fashion pieces in magazines. Knit to live, in my case, not live to knit. In effect, pare down your ambitions and you can pare down the amount of stuff you need to own, whilst still being productive.
  •  Do not feel guilty for limiting the number of toys your children have. We have given up buying toys as family and friends tend to furnish our house amply at Christmas and  birthdays. It is a sad fact that many lie discarded at the bottom of packed toy chests, or are broken within a few days. Our son tends to play with the same few things he has since he began to be aware of toys - bricks, marble runs, the odd figurine, musical instruments, art materials and his all time favourite, the cardboard boxes they came packaged in.
  • Learn to use the space you have unconventionally. Store bulk food under the bed in airtight plastic boxes. Make stored pumpkins decorative book ends each autumn. Use the space under sofas for yarn and the space under the bath for tinned food.

I now understand that our house will never be entirely uncluttered, but that is the price to be paid for cheap rent and a continuous succession of interesting experiments - usually involving some form of living organism that needs to be watched. There can be no tucking bread dough or drying seeds in a drawer out of sight and mind.  Our tiny kitchen windowsill currently has assorted trays and papers with saved seeds spread out to dry, along with the teapot, washing up liquid, a triffid like house plant that I have been meaning to re-pot for an age, some children's paint brushes soaking in jars and a few stray bulbs of garlic hanging from the window catch. There is a box of brewing equipment and a 25kg bag of barley stashed in our wardrobe. The living room windowsill is covered in green tomatoes interspersed with bananas (for all the street to see) in the hope they might ripen up.

We are still prioritising our stuff and gradually reducing and replacing it until it suits our small living quarters. Frugality and resilience are not synonymous with possessions and hoarding 'just in case'. They are states of mind that encourage creativity and problem solving, balanced with just the right 'things' to achieve an ends - in effect, living much better lives with less.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lime wash

Francesca @ FuoriBorgo

This past week, we've been busy doing some necessary maintenance around our ancient house, which includes giving a fresh coat of paint to the walls and ceilings (here). Some of our walls are colored, and for those I buy eco-friendly paints, which are pricey but something we don't skimp on, for our family and the environment alike. For our ceilings and white walls, instead, we use lime, which is natural and solvent-free, and inexpensive. Also, lime is particularly suited to the thick, centuries-old stone walls of our farmhouse (but it also works on timber and brick). The walls are built of stone, sand, clay and water, and soak up lots of humidity in the cold season; thanks to its porousness and anti-bacterial properties, lime tends to prevent the formation of mold. All this almost for free.


limewash


For the ceilings, we use lime putty, which is the easiest lime preparation to handle for painting: I dilute it with water and then apply with a brush. For walls, instead, we make our own inexpensive lime wash: I get a couple of kilos of slaked lime at the building supply store (which the shop clerks usually scoop out of 25 kilo bags and just give me for free), slowly mix it with water, let it sit overnight, and apply the next day. Over a day or two, the lime wash cures to a hard, opaque white layer with a rough texture that I personally really like.


So this is how we use lime and make lime wash. However, I did a little research on lime washing, and found differing opinions on the subject, especially as to whether additives (salt and glue) should be added to the mixture to make it more durable, and whether it's suitable for interiors. Should you want to give lime wash a try, you might read up on it first. Here are some starting points:


All you need to know about lime wash - points out to the importance of using good-quality lime wash and a suitable substrate.
Fias Co Farm white wash recipe - has some safety warnings about handling lime, and is of the opinion that lime wash should not be used for interiors (which is contrary to our experience - see above for information about properly preparing and applying lime wash)

Have you ever used lime on your interior walls?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Building a personal library

By Aurora @ Island Dreaming


This week I finally got around to buying and putting up the shelving that I have needed for far too long. The books that have been stacked in various corners of my house collecting dust are now lined up neatly on accessible shelves. The prolonged lack of suitable book housing has done me some favors. In a burst of enthusiasm for minimalist living this year, I got rid of a lot of my books. I was forced to think long and hard about whether the books I owned represented who I now was - did they provide me with the information I needed now and for the future I was planning for? Most of my old geology textbooks didn't make the mark, whilst most of my DIY and craft books are ready to take their place on the new shelves.

I grew up in a house where to discard a book was sacrilege - they were the most valuable possessions you could own - an attitude which led to indiscriminate book collecting. When I walk into rooms full of books, I often wonder if they are there to genuinely educate and refer to, or to give the impression of scholarliness, or a message about who the owner is.  If most of those books were not read, or read more than once, its a terrible waste of a resources. This is not to say that having a range of books on a breadth of topics not of immediate relevance to you is a bad thing - indeed, if you have children, you will do them a great service by letting them read widely and explore the world through books. Reading books is still a great pleasure, but I feel now that there is a limit  to the amount of chaff I am willing to store in my own home.

The internet has revolutionized the way we access and disseminate information in my lifetime. It is a mine of useful information - but it is just that, a mine. You have to put a lot of time, energy and discrimination into finding good resources. Because of the sheer quantity of free information it is possible to accrue with a few mouse clicks, storing and using that information can be a further challenge. I use a blog reader to read blog feeds and bookmarks in my browser for other web pages. I then go through and purge the bookmarks on a regular basis, or print/write out the gems that I genuinely need to remember.

And then of course there is personal experience. We live in a culture that is far too dismissive of personal experimentation in favor of deference to paid experts. I think personal journals, blogs and scrapbooks are important resources - whether you keep a general one about your life, or topic relevant ones. Every author, even when trying to provide a generalist overview, ultimately colours their writing with their own experience - not a bad thing itself, unless as is all to often the case, the work is held up as a benchmark, a gold standard that everyone else should be following. Keeping a record of your own experience - including, most importantly, all of your failures - is one of the best references you can have.

I am now working towards something more personal. I have a few generalist books - basic gardening techniques, a basic sewing book, a crochet stitch dictionary, a few very different but well thumbed cookbooks. But I no longer collect reference works indiscriminately - I don't need four books that repeat most of the same basic information but might contain the odd gem of wisdom that may or may not be useful to me. Instead I am building up scrapbooks of information directly relevant to me - tips pulled from library books, newspaper clippings, internet searches and personal scribbles of our experiences. I have reacquainted myself with our local library, instead of heading straight to Amazon - the three week loan period is just the period of time needed to work out whether a book is a keeper or not.

So far, my own folders and notebooks include -
  • A notebook of recipes we use on a daily basis.
  • A gardening journal of successes, failures, notable weather events, planting dates and yields.
  • Brewing and wine making records and recipes.
  • A file of craft patterns, doodles and stitch techniques, inspiration and DIY instructions.
I feel I will have achieved something when all of this information is truly mine - when my own observations and reflections, ideas and projects outnumber the printouts and  clippings from experts - when I have applied the knowledge, evaluated it and learnt from it. I also look forward to having something to pass on to our kids, something they can build on in their own lives if they see fit.

Do you have a library? What are your priorities when it comes to collecting information - and how do you organise it?


Sunday, January 30, 2011

5 signs that its time to declutter

by Eilleen
Hello everyone,

I hope the weekend is treating you well. Readers of my personal blog would know that I moved house last month. Someone once told me that moving house is right up there on the list of major stresses in life. And having done it recently, I think one of the causes of this stress is that its one of the few times in life when our stuff-overload blindness (SOB) is ripped off and we see how much stuff we actually have. To save you from clicking on the link, SOB is basically my ramblings on how we use stuff to project our identity but we don't actually see how much stuff we (or others) have.

When I prepared for my move, I was very surprised at how much stuff I had accumulated in the two years since I started my new life as a sole parent. (I started my new life with only a bed, dining room table, kettle, iron and ironing board.)

I had accumulated so much so that I ended up having to declutter again. The declutter consisted of:
  • 1 commercial van load of stuff given away
  • 1 commercial van load of stuff I sold
  • 2 full car loads of stuff sent to the op shop (charity shop)
Those who have been to my old place (you can see my old place starting from this post) have often commented on how uncluttered my house is. Despite that, I *still* found - if not exactly clutter - then excess stuff I don't/barely use.

So now I've realised that in order to keep to the level of "decluttered-ness" that I'm happy with, I have to regularly declutter. And I've realised that the time to declutter (for me) is now. Why?

Because:

1. I'm realising that there are now too many instances when I can't find things that I know I have.
2. I am spending a lot of time thinking of storage solutions (do I really need that much storage?).
3. The kids are finding it difficult to keep track of their stuff and to keep their rooms tidy.
4. I keep tripping over stuff.
5. I am starting to feel overwhelmed at what I have to clean-up/tidy-up at the end of the day.

Now I know that my current state of clutter is partly due to the fact that I still have stuff from my old (and bigger) place which don't really fit into my new (and smaller) place. But really, to determine what else has to go its time I take heed of the signs and start decluttering.

So for the month of February, I hope to get rid of a whole heap of stuff. Wish me luck!

My living room in my new house (and yes, I have put the Christmas tree away for now)

Friday, December 31, 2010

My Little Veggie Hanger

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
After seeing yesterday's post from my co-writer Amy, I now have serious pot rack envy. I could really use the cupboard space freed up by hanging a few pots and pans, for food storage instead. The ceilings in our house are so low, though. Even a pot rack with a very low profile might be more in the way than useful; maybe look too cluttered. I think I'll tape up some paper cutouts first, to see if a permanent installation is what I really want.

I thought I'd share photos of a hanging rack I do have installed in my kitchen, though - one I designed and hubby built. My husband had taken out a piece of the wall between kitchen and living room, opening up our small space and allowing for better airflow inside (with no central HVAC system, open circulation is important for both our summer cooling and winter heating). I thought the wall cutout would make a perfect space to hang foods to dry: chiles, corn, beans, garlic, items from southwestern cuisine that grow well in my high-desert climate.

The rack is a two-foot piece of one-inch wooden dowel. Aries made a couple of end brackets, then stained everything to match our existing woodwork. Brass "S" hooks were threaded onto the dowel before installation, the open ends facing my kitchen for easy hanging access (the hooks slide easily, but can't be removed). Attached to the top of the cutout, it's attractive, decorative, and useful - perfect!