Category Archives: Create

DIY Gifts: Embroidery Messages

Embroidery has always been an intimidating craft to me. I never thought I could master something so intricate. But a recent visit to youtube (can’t currently find the link, will update though) showed me that it doesn’t have to be tricky, or intricate or even learnt.

All I needed was some aida fabric, an embroidery hoop, a needle and some embroidery thread. I freehanded with pen a little message for Isy-girl and started stitching in my own special way. I’ve since learnt that I’m using the split stitch, but as long as it works, I don’t mind.

It’s such a sweet, personalised way to pretty up a room, make an inexpensive house-warming gift, or tell someone you love them. Of course, the message is up to you, so you could make it a little sweeter, a little cheekier or a lot naughtier. ;)

Gift Challenge: 6 Year-old Boy

A few months ago, I challenged myself to only give gifts that were either handmade, homemade, vintage or repurposed/recycled. I’ve had it fairly easy up until this point, with only Easter (homemade chocolates) and Mother’s Day (a bunch of handmade blooms as mentioned here) but we’re coming into prime birthday season here so I’ve had to put my creative thinking cap on and get cracking.

One of our nephews had his 6th birthday last week and I decided about two months ago that I would make him a gift that would help with his reading and sight words. He’s in kindergarten this year, so the challenge was to make it age-appropriate and fun enough to not look like a learning toy.

After thinking on the idea for a long time, I eventually came up with a magnetic storyboard. (You know the magnetic words you can buy in gift shops, where you use them to make up funny poems or crass stories on your fridge? Think a six-year-old’s version of that.)

You’ll need:

large magnetic whiteboard
large whiteboard 
AND magnetic paint (I had trouble finding it, but this would be a cheaper option)

primer (multisurface white undercoat is your best bet)
tin of blackboard spraypaint (I use White Knight as outlined here)
acrylic paint of your colour choice
magnetic tape
plain paper
list of sight or Dolch words and nouns

1. Prime the frame and magnetic surface of your whiteboard. Allow to dry.

2. Paint the magnetic surface using your blackboard paint, being sure to follow instructions. I’ve outlined my tips here. A good rule of thumb with spray paint is to either recoat within one hour or wait at least six. I’m impatient so I’m sure to recoat within one hour.

3. Allow the blackboard paint to dry thoroughly. Using a paintbrush and an acrylic paint of your choice, paint the primed frame, being careful to not get paint on the blackboard. Allow to dry and recoat if necessary.

4. Once dry, prepare the chalkboard by rubbing a piece of chalk over the entire surface and then cleaning it off with a damp cloth. It’s now ready to use!

5. Print the Dolch word and noun lists as shown here and here. Print them in the tables, as is, this will make the assembly much easier.

6. Put on a good movie and, using the table as a guide, cut out each of the words. I tended to cut close to the first letter and then left a gap of two or three spaces after the last letter, so the words wouldn’t run into each other when put in a sentence.

7. Put on another good movie (or maybe season one of Arrested Development) and apply each word to the sticky side of the magnetic tape, pressing down firmly as you go.

 8. Cut each word to size.

9. Stick to the board and you’re done!

Also be sure to include an amazeballs handmade birthday card (courtesy of Isla).

The birthday boy dug his gift a lot, and was really excited about having his very own blackboard. A few things I would do if I made a gift like this again though:

1. I would spray each of the words, once magnetised, with a gloss spray or a paper sealer. They just tended to get a little grubby with constant handling.

2. Include a couple of magnetic tins to store the words in while not in use. This would keep it much tidier and not as overwhelming for someone who is just learning to read.

3. Include 10 or 20 blank paper magnets, to allow additional words that aren’t on the list, as well as names and places that would make story writing more fun.

I’m really enjoying the challenge so far though, and have already started planning Christmas gifts. Between now and then though, I think we’ve got 8 kids birthdays, a handful of adults and Sparky’s 30th, so I’d better keep planning. (And not leave it to the last minute again.)

Repurposing: Craft By Using What You’ve Got

Sparky and I are still very much in the furnishing and decorating phase of the renovation (not to mention the painting phase…ahem) and we’re on the look out for quirky bits and pieces to adorn the walls. Proviso: we don’t have a lot of cash to spend on this stuff at the moment, so we’ve been looking at what we already have and ways to reuse and repurpose it into wall ‘art'(?).

I subscribe to frankie, and every issue they include a pretty wall poster by an emerging artist. Last issue was a world map, which I loved. I’m kind of past the whole “stick posters to the wall with Blutac” thing – it just reminds me of my high school days way too much (Jonathan Taylor Thomas, I’m talking about you in particular) but I wanted to see it on the wall somehow.

I dug around in my project box (where I keep odd photo frames, cardboard, paper and fabric offcuts etc) and found some old white frames that I’ve lost the glass for. Perfect! I cut the map to fit and presto! I already had another white frame decorated with felt offcuts, which coincidentally matched the map colours well, so I think I’ll hang these three together somewhere.

From these…

…to these!

I did something similar with more felt offcuts a few weeks ago, and while the photo is craptacular, I’m actually really happy with the result. I showed the mirror repurpose a few weeks ago, and these pieces are just continuing the theme.

Isy helped me with the top right-hand piece, hence the reason it’s much more beautiful than the others.

I really love being able to pull things together from scrap and leftovers. Sure, it’s not high art. It’s probably not even art at all. But I love it nonetheless.

Repurpose Me: Unloved Mirror


Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had wonderful weekends? Ours was fairly packed with friends and family, so it was busy, but in a really especially very nice way. And bonus: I’m finally starting to feel better.

A few months ago, my sister and I co-hosted a garage sale, and while we sold almost everything we wanted to part with, I did mange to come home with a box full of new (old) things. One of them was an outdoor mirror that had certainly seen better days. I considered just hanging it in the garden somewhere, as is, but liked the idea of giving it a new outfit and putting it to use in the house instead.

I’ve been working on a felt wreath for the house for a month or so, and have hundreds of little triangular felt offcuts that were too good to waste, so I kept them aside until I thought of what I could do with them. (I also used some of them to for little wall hangings a few weeks back).

So armed with my hot glue gun and about an hour, this is what I came up with:


It’s certainly cheerful and a vast improvement! Bonus: it fills in a blank spot on our walls (been blank going on 2.5 years now – well done us!) and it cost me zero dollars. Win: win: win.

Trove’s Farewell Fire Sale over on Etsy

 As you now know, I’ve been making a move towards a simpler life these past twelve months. This has been a move that came about initially from a massive case of burnout while running my jewellery business, Trove.

In July last year I was at the absolute end of my wits trying to juggle work plus being a full-time mum plus running the house and managing a big renovation/extension plus being pregnant. I came to a point where I realised I was not committed fully to anything, and that I needed to make a massive shift in the way I was living.

Fast forward to now and I’m a fair way along that path, still hurdling obstacles but at least I have a clear goal in mind.

I’ve been slowly clearing our home of extraneous objects and things that have been weighing us down, but up until now I hadn’t been able to open a few of the boxes in our storeroom. They hold the last of my Trove stock (around 300 pieces) and I think I was subconciously holding on to them, as selling them off would be to finally admit defeat.

But I’ve made a shift lately and I know that I need to clear the decks completely so I can keep moving forward, so here’s my opportunity to you and anyone you may know who loves beautiful, handmade jewellery – at a CRACKING discount no less.

Over the next few days I’ll be listing the rest of my Trove stock for sale on Etsy, and there is nothing over $20AUD. My retail prices used to range from $35 – $90, so this is seriously good shopping.

Go on, tell your friends, your mum, your kids and your work friends to pop on over to the shop. It’ll be worth their while!

Rings $35 $10

Earrings $55 $18

Necklaces $66 $20

Statement Necklaces $79 $20

Neckplates $79 $20

Earrings $55 $15

Studs $40 $10

Necklaces $60 $15