Oh my goodness – it's December! And you know what that means? That's right! It's time to put up the Christmas tree, crack open a beer (or pour yourself a glass of bubbles, if you're classy!) and put on some Christmas carols!!
I love Christmas, I really do! I love the atmosphere, and the joy and the frantic rush to get everything done before everyone goes on annual leave. Closely followed by watermelon, cold drinks, lazy summer days, swimming pools and salt-sticky bodies after a day spent at the beach. So, so GOOD!
I love Christmas carols too, but I seriously despise the crappy, over-produced elevator Christmas music soundtrack that's been ubiquitous since Halloween ended. It's truly awful.
So to help stop your ears from bleeding, and welcome the festive season with style, this month's playlist features loads of vintage Christmas carols by Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby, as well one single, truly Australian, Christmas song that never fails to make me pause and listen.
Welcome to the festive season, friends! I hope it's wonderful!
This month's playlist is a more relaxed and cruisy pace than October's playlist. It's full of acoustic guitars and laid back, folky tunes, perfect to see out the last month of Spring with some relaxed and non-stressy making.
Put the kettle on, get out your crafty kit and have a listen!
I’m a new blogger and in many ways I’m a new crafter, sewing enthusiast, photographer, stylist and filmmaker (among so many other things). These past few weeks I’ve struggled. I wear many hats and among them I run a boutique communications business, Red Hen Writing. I’m also mum to a very active toddler. I love it but sometimes it leaves little room for my other loves — such as Make + Do.
I started blogging because I needed a space to produce content that I ‘wanted’ to produce, rather than content that I was ‘told’ to produce. I went to my first ProBlogger Training Event in August and I met some amazing bloggers: both newbies and old hands. I came away feeling enthused about all the things I *should* be doing to make my blog better. I made lists, plans, goals, and then…
I became overwhelmed with all the things I should be doing — needed to be doing — to make Make + Do perfect and I was paralysed.
Then I started the comparisons. This is not a good thing.
I want Make + Do to reflect the things that make my heart sing. However: I’m new, I make mistakes and I’m still learning.
I’m not going to beat myself up over the things I’m not. Today, I’m fighting my fear and embracing the art of wabi-sabi: the Japanese philosophy of being perfectly imperfect.
An open window, my newly painted turquoise desk and a posy of freshly foraged paper daisies makes my work days pretty and fun!
As part of that, I’m sharing some photos of my workspace. It’s clean and spacious and minimalist but that’s as much ‘styling’ as I can do. It’s not perfect.
My desk is an old extension dining table that I repainted. I made mistakes that are obvious. I painted over scratches without sanding the surface back. I didn’t apply the paint fast enough and there are some rough sections. My toddler *helped* me and there are still some odd marks where I let her do her thing.
All of these things make this desk less than perfect.
Each of those imperfections tell a story. A beautiful story that only I can decipher. As I work I can see those perfect imperfections and it makes me stupidly happy. Include some bright paper daisies I foraged yesterday afternoon, my favourite editing pens, and my white headphones popping out against the turquoise table-top, my camera and my laptop and it makes my day complete.
Not perfect, no, yet perfect in its imperfection.
So today I embrace wabi-sabi. I will keep striving to be just a little better than yesterday, but I promise, I will slow down enough to see the wind tugging at the imperfect petals cheering me on in their yellow-ness.
Because — after all — life’s most beautiful stories reside in the imperfections.
Disclosure: I attended a networking event sponsored by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint where I received some free products to try. This post is the result. Please see my disclosure policy for further information.
It was so fun to play with a camera, and my family, and some paint. It was also heaps of fun to play with some video editing software and Vimeo! And hey presto – just like that I made a film about it!
In case you missed it, here are my 6 steps to furniture-fabness!
1. Clean your step stool and give it a light sand if you need to.
2. Give it two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Napoleonic Blue. (You'll need two sample pots for this stool – dressed pine is very thirsty and soaks up the Chalk Paint despite being so thick. Otherwise you'll need to make an emergency dash to the shop to buy another one, mid-project, like I did. Bummer!)
3. Trace some circles using cups of two different sizes.
4. Paint them in two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Pure White.
5. Finish the piece in two coats of Annie Sloan Clear Wax. (Apply these as thin coats and wait a good day or two between coats – it should not be sticky!)
6. Enjoy your stool that's been transformed from boring beige to bright blue happiness!
Have you transformed some furniture from boring beige? I'd love to hear your story – so tell us below! Feel free to link to your project if you've posted it somewhere.
Our hands were covered in wonderful colours after the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Niche Networking Evening at ProBlogger 2014.
Let me tell you a little story about my first adventure with refurbishing furniture. The year was 2001. I was in my early twenties, broke as all get-out, living about 2000 kilometres from any family, and having the time of my life. Like most twenty-somethings, I really didn’t own much of anything; I certainly didn’t own much furniture.
I was ‘gifted’ the ugliest secondhand couch known to humankind. Although it was free, its mission-position brown timber and poo-brown vinyl cushions were revolting. I mean, I was seriously considering taking that sucker to the nearest dump and sitting on a blanket on the floor instead—it was THAT ugly! But … having never restored furniture before, I decided it couldn’t be that hard, could it?
I learnt the hard way that hand-sanding an entire couch is time-consuming and, quite frankly, stupid. When I upgraded to a power sander I also learnt that the polyurethane finish wasn’t all that conducive to being removed.
Enter the paint stripper.
Here’s the thing—paint stripper is nasty, nasty shit. The moment I removed the lid I swear my nose hairs melted. But man, did it do a GREAT job of removing that old paint. Until.
Until a tiny piece of stripper-covered paint landed in my eye.
Safety directions are there for a reason. You know the ones that say always wear eye protection, use in a well-ventilated area, keep away from children under the age of 25. You really need to take heed of those! And I didn’t.
You know you’re in trouble when something hits your eye, stings then you have the briefest of moments where you think, ‘oh, that’s not so bad’. And then it’s all ‘Oh. My. Lord. Sweet. Baby. Jesus. My eyeball is on fire and I can’t bloody see!’ After blindly stumbling up stairs, tripping over the dog, shouting incoherent babble at my housemate, thankfully I was extremely fortunate and didn’t suffer lasting damage. My pride and my desire to refurbish old furniture died a quick death that day.
Fast forward 13 years.
I’m a parent now and I hate putting the health of myself or my family at risk just for the sake of keeping ugly furniture out of landfill. I equally hate beige. And that poses a problem. While I don’t live in Woop Woop, I live just down the road. That means I have limited choice: boring beige new stuff from the local furniture shop or mission-position brown from Vinnies. And every time I think of refinishing furniture my horror paint stripper memory raises its nasty head and I think maybe I should lie down and wait until the feeling passes.
So many bold colours to choose from in Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint range. Let’s start with Antibes Green…
Then I heard about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and how you don’t need to do pretty much any surface preparation apart from ensuring the piece is clean. Yeah, now that’s my kind of life-hack: which is just a fancy way of saying ‘I’m lazy and like shortcuts’.
Recently, I was very fortunate and scored an invite to the Annie Sloan Niche Networking Night at the ProBlogger Training Event. I got to hang out with uber-awesome Pip Lincolne from Meet Me At Mikes and most importantly I got to meet my bloggy buddy Anya Bykar from Clear Design Studio. I also got to play with paint, drink cocktails and eat amazing food. After learning lots, and painting lots, I fell in love with this paint.
I love that it’s water-based. I love that it has low volatile organic compounds (nasty compounds that cause other paints to smell ick and give me a headache), I love that it washes up in water, I love that it’s safe for baby and kiddo furniture, and I love that it comes in bright bold colours as well as lots of muted tones.
Although known for muted colours and the shabby chic look, Annie Sloan Chalk Paint isn’t restricted to beige. Bright colours abound!
Oh, and I particularly love that I can avoid nasty paint stripper forever!
I came home armed with a small selection of sample pots and inspiration to paint the world. I will be sharing my projects here and on social media—so please follow me on Instagram if you want some sneak peaks as my works-in-progress take shape.
I promise you, there won’t be any beige in sight!
Bright oranges join Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint range. This is Barcelona Orange.
Have you upcycled, recycled or refinished furniture too? Were you happy with the result? Feel free to share your ideas below! And keep scrolling down for some more photos of the evening!
Getting my paint on at Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Niche Networking Evening at ProBlogger 2014.
Wooden beads and bangles waiting for the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint treatment at ProBlogger 2014.
Annie Sloan offers two choices when it comes to the finishing wax: light or dark.
Before I bought my sewing machine I spoke to lots of women who sew. I wanted to know if buying a sewing machine, especially if I've never sewn before, was a good idea. Without fail, every single one of those friends said “yes!” They quickly followed it up with something like “I'm not an expert or anything, but I really love it.” Everyone I spoke to mentioned the overwhelming joy of creativity, achievement, satisfaction and pride.
I loved their enthusiasm and it inspired me to try something new. Something I previously thought didn't interest me.
It's been a couple of years since I first stitched those wobbly lines, and I recently realised that sometime since then I shook off the ‘newbie' tag. I'm not quite sure how that happened.
It's hard for me to remember that I once stitched so slowly a sewing teacher said “I was going to ask the mechanic to look at your machine because it's making a funny noise, but you're just stitching reallyslow“. It was said with scorn and I didn't go back to that class. Ridiculing students is pretty poor form.
After that less-than-stellar class it took me a while to give it another go. I made a nappy bag for an expectant friend and although it took me ages to complete, I was thrilled with the results. I finally understood the satisfaction all those sewing friends had mentioned. I made a lot of mistakes but I got a shot of confidence, and the creative problem solving was such a buzz. Unpicking mistakes – not so much!
I've moved beyond basic bags and skirts, and a year or so ago I made my first couture-style retro shirt dress. I'm still no expert, but I'm not a newbie any more either. I want you to experience the pleasure of sewing too. I want to give you the confidence to give it a go – you're gonna love it! So I'm preparing a series just for newbies (minus the scorn and ridicule – I promise!). Together we'll cover Preparation, Tools, Paper patterns, Useful resources and we'll wrap up with a simple and easy Project that will pass on some confidence.
You don't have to be an expert to enjoy sewing. It doesn't matter what skill or innate ability you have, creative self-expression is immeasurably good for the soul. In fact, it's the sense of pride and satisfaction that drives us to shift from newbie, to intermediate, and ultimately to expert.