Wednesday, December 17, 2014

5 things you can do to build resilience during sad world events and tragedies

My black red frangipani....beautiful isn't it?

I'm ignoring the media today. My brain and heart and soul will not withstand any more sadness over events that are out of my control. I'm reverting to my position, that all we can do is look after our own loved ones and those who live around us as best as we possibly can, love them heartily and guard them with prayers.

I'm sending healing thoughts and prayers to all that need them today. I know I need them myself after the tragic events in Martin Place yesterday, and other even more tragic ones in Pakistan, reported this morning. I cannot change what has happened, but I can pay my respects to those who have lost their lives, and those who have lost loved ones, by being the best that I can be to show how much I honour this life, and the privilege I am granted in being allowed more time to love it.

Here's how...

1. Good health...this is an area that we cannot afford to take for granted.

We need to look at it this way....

Imagine your health is the numeral 1, like this...


...and every other thing in your life can be represented by a zero...


Work, family, faith, home, garden, hobbies, emotional wellbeing, mental health, and so on....all zeros.

Each zero you add to that numeral 1, increases your appreciation of your life, and enhances your life experience.


Take away that 1, your health, and you are just left with zeros.

Please, everyone, put YOU first. It's not wrong. It's not selfish. It's sanity. Only with good health can we deal with whatever life is going to throw at us next. With poor health, our ability to deal with everything else, including devastating events on the world stage and events closer to home and in our own back yards, is compromised.

Poor health leads to expenses that we cannot predict. Poor health puts strain on our family and our relationships. Maintaining a health lifestyle, watching our diet, and doing whatever we can to prolong our good health makes good financial and emotional sense.

2. This means mental health too. And as sad as events of the last several days, weeks and months makes me, I cannot change them. I cannot erase them. I could not have prevented them. At these times, my world MUST be minimised to the immediate needs of my family and friends. Only then can we support one another, vent our fears and grief, hug each other and move on.

3. Stay mentally active and engaged. Today, I am embellishing little quilts for my granddaughters. I'm trying to make them really special and whilst I do not have my friend Annabels beautiful embroidery skills seen here, which are some of the best I've ever seen, I do have an artistic eye, and they're looking very pretty.

4. Perform Random Acts of  Kindness. I've gifted lots of potted ivy grown from cuttings earlier in the year, but my hydrangea cuttings taken at the same time, did not survive. A lesson to be learned there, but I'm not sure what it is! I do have a magnificent black red frangipani though, so three special neighbours will get a branch of that in a pot.

5. Appreciate the beauty in the small things in your life. Speaking of frangipani, the frangipani here in my city are magnificent this year. And it's the first time in my life I've noticed the many colours in which they come. From white, to yellow to soft peach, to deep apricot and four or five different shades of pink. Ours are the only red black ones I've seen anywhere, so I'm hoping the cuttings will be appreciated. They look magnificent in the front yard and driving up to the house, I imagine that these are my replacement for my longed for deep red Mr Lincoln roses.

Photo credit to Learn2Grow with thanks.
So today, although my heart is heavy, as I'm sure is yours, I will move forward, love those who love me, value my fortunate life, and trust in our Guardian Angel and our own human resilience to face life with unbridled joy and thanks.
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Friday, December 5, 2014

DIY glittered Cameo ornaments for your tree....

The Diva and I love making our own Christmas ornaments.
Not for us, the mass produced snowmen and reindeer and Santas, although they get a fleeting look-in for the sake of the Season.
We love glitter, and fur, and feathers, and sequins and lace and olde worlde charms and the like.
This year we've gone with a cameo theme for our little trees. Yes, we have more than one. If you're going to go miniature, you need more of them!
Last year, it was pearls and roses and ivy and owls, and you can see that here.
Having worked with cameos for dance costumes earlier in the year, I guess it was inevitable that we'd lean towards silhouetted ladies and lace for Christmas.
These ornaments took less than 30 minutes to produce.
You'll need:
Vintage sheet music printed from the link below.
Cameos printed and cut out.
Lace trim, sequin trim, jewellery making charms, bows, roses, glitter, braid or whatever takes your fancy as embellishments.
Hot glue gun
Normal paper glue
Then just:
First print out your vintage sheet music here.
Cut the sheet in half across the middle, and use each half for one ornament.
Then find some suitable cameo silhouettes or use the ones we used, below. Print those out and cut carefully around them.

Fold each half of your sheet music in half like a book page.
Glue the cameo to one side of the page.
Embellish as desired using your trims, charms, glitter and lace.
Remember to add a loop to the middle of the top edge to hang your ornament. I just used odd offcuts of toning trims and braid.
Allow to dry overnight and hang on your tree.
This picture below, is our tree topper. This was made by printing out a larger cameo, and pasting it to a paper lace doily. I then applied a generous layer of paper glue, and sprinkled it liberally with white glitter. I pasted a second doily behind this one, leaving a pocket to slide it on to the top of our tree.

Newly embellished tree photos coming soon....
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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Unconventional Christmas Decorations...30 second Pointe Shoe Bling

I'm leaning towards less conventional Christmas decorations these days.
Santas been done to death here, and frankly in this house, we all know that he's a bus driver in Norway. True story. I've seen it on Pinterest ;-)
So we're glittering Reindeer silhouettes, and making miniature cameo ornaments (that's those ladies in profile, not the machine thingo), and finding other ways to bling up Chez Mimi.
Speaking of that time waster of all time wasters, Pinterest....this idea popped up there before I was addicted. You know, when we all first started Pinteresting, and we kidded ourselves we could walk away from the screen whenever we wanted?
Even back then, I knew it was a dead certainty for this household as we have thrice worn Pointe and Demi Pointe shoes up to the wahoo as they say.
Diamante neckwear was obtained from an Asian man in the centre of the local shopparama for three lousy dollars well over a year ago. But despite having the shoettes, and the bling, I just haven't found time to stitch the darned things decoratively where they're meant to go.
Tonight I just dragged it all out, wrapped both vintage and new rhinestones around thrice worn pointe shoes, and popped them under an upturned Hurricane Lamp.
I'm rather chuffed.
I think it might stay there well beyond the Silly Season.
What do you think?
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Friday, November 21, 2014

More gift wrapping ideas....

A $2 Christmas ornament....
...adorns a gift wrapped in a lining of marbled A4 paper....

...which is then swathed in clear, crackly cellophane...
....and embellished with white organza ribbon...

...oh the sweet anticipation..
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DIY Christmas Cards for the artistically challenged...

We always hand make our Christmas Cards. Who needs another generic Santa or Rudolph swinging from their piece of string across the windows this Christmas?
Whilst we'd love to create gorgeous artisanal Scandinavian treasures, that particular talent doesn't appear to be in our genes in this house.
Still, what we create with Clag glue, pearlised card stock, organza ribbon and a ballpoint pen, isn't all bad.
We're fans of the monochromatic, tone-on-tone style Christmas here, so we figured our hand made cards should reflect that.
All you need is:
Pearlised card stock
Glue with a brush to apply (Clag is ideal)
Star shaped cookie cutter
Organza ribbon
Position the cookie cutter on your card. Paint the inside of it with the glue. Sprinkle liberally inside the cookie cutter with glitter. Leave to sit for a minute or two to dry. Tip the excess glitter back into your container.
Tidy the edges with a skewer.
Tie a lavish bow along the folded edge.
Hand write your preferred Christmas slogan on the front.
We inscribe the inside simply, adding foil stars and tags with Christmas wishes on them to fly out upon opening. Things like 'Be Merry', 'God Bless', 'Enjoy the Season' and so on.
We like our little cards.
Made with love.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Motherly Advice...Best ever DIY Home Facial....

On the topic of looking after ourselves, I thought I'd post my Mums old method for a home grown facial. This costs virtually nothing, can be done at home in about 30 minutes, and is a great pick-me-up when one has....ahem...overindulged.
You'll need:
Your usual facial cleanser
2 towels
1 large bowl filled with boiling water, and a kettle of boiling water ready to top the bowl up for the second stage of your 'facial'.
1 handful fresh herbs or the contents of a couple of herbal teabags....any kind
Cheap thick moisturiser, whether your favourite facial cream or a cheapo like Sorbolene OR mash an avocado or some berries or mix some oatmeal with milk (not rolled oats....too messy) and use that.
The Oatmeal is particularly good for problem skin.
A face washer, moistened well and put in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator to chill.
A second face washer, wet well, and wrung out, set close by your bowl.
Then you:
Cleanse your face well.
Spread one towel on the table, and set the bowl on it.
Fill it about halfway with the boiling water, and add the fresh herbs or contents of the teabags...just rip them open.
Put on some gentle music, and sit with your clean face over the steaming bowl, draping your head with the other towel to create a kind of 'tent' to contain the steam.
Sit there for as long as you can stand it, and allow the steam to soften your skin.
Remove the towel, and set it aside for a moment.
Use the wet facecloth to gently mop your face of impurities.
Slather your face well with the moisturiser, or the oats or whatever.
Resume the steaming for another few minutes, then dunk the facewasher you've just used, into the water, wring it out (careful the water may still be quite hot) and use that to remove the cream or other stuff, from your face.
Then use the chilled washer to plop on your face as you lie down for a second to cool off.
Use your usual moisturiser to finish, and you're done :)
Go on....tell me you don't love it!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Finding 50 and Fabulous...the Supplement debate.

What do you think about taking supplements to ward off ills, and hang on to youth?
I'm consistently divided. Is that a tautology?
Like luxury skin care products vs budget ones, there is much debate surrounding the popping of multivitamins and supplements vs following a normal healthy diet to prolong our looks and good health.
I've taken supplements on and off for my entire life. Much as the use of both luxury and budget skin care has been a lifelong practice, I've felt compelled to do so by a Mother who was queen of 'do all you can to stay healthy and live long' proclamations.
All I can categorically state is that I believe that had I not done these things, I may look or feel differently to the way I do at the age of 54. I will never know how much impact this practice has had, as it might equally be that I haven't smoked, taken recreational drugs, or consumed other nasty substances.
Well....that is to say that I do enjoy a glass of wine, I do eat butter, I do eat sugar. I'm human. And I do not subscribe to current thinking that one or the other of those things is evil. Call me a rebel.
I do not eat processed foods if I can help it, and takeaway in all forms is banned in my house. That's just a snobs choice if you will. I cook a better burger than either the M people or the HJ people, and my grilled salmon leaves the one from the takeaway down the road for dead. Although I admire greatly, the addition of 'grilled salmon' to the menu of the local fish and chippery. Perhaps that has helped.
I've done a lot of reading and layman's research, and I think overall I prefer to take a few supplements, use organic skin care, and eat sensibly, than risk my health and vastly diminished youth ju-ju (my terminology for whatever happy hormones may be left floating in my body post menopause), than not.
Many of these also support organs in the body other than the skin, so that in itself is beneficial.
My current list of supplements includes:
Co Enzyme Q-10
Fish oil
B Complex
Women's Multi
Antioxidant blend
Chlorophyll liquid
I force the first six down with a swig of the seventh in a glass of juice each morning and feel very pious.
I recently bumped in to a girl I used to go clubbing with, back in the hey day of the Disco in the 70's and 80's. I wouldn't have recognised her by her appearance. It was her curly hair, her eyes, and some certain mannerisms that jogged my memory. Well...that and her name on her name tag. When I mentioned to The Diva Daughter that the lady had been a friend many years ago, she was incredulous. The poor lady looked fifteen years older than me, and she is in fact two years younger. A victim of the drinking, drugs and debauchery of our era. Sad really. Even sadder was the resignation to her lot in life, her sparkle gone and all traces of the pretty twenty year old I once knew, lost forever. So perhaps much had occurred in the intervening years.
Still, part of me wonders how much our respective lifestyle choices, including the taking of nutritional supplements over recreational ones, figured in the difference in our appearances thirty years later.
All I can say for certain, is that if you're twenty or thirty-something, and reading this, catches up with!
What do you think?
Supplements or no?
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

DIY Owl Cake and Heat Proof Buttercream Frosting...

Here's my first attempt at a fondant covered character style cake.
I didn't just make this for any old soul. It was a special labour of love for my darling little granddaughter no. 2, who has just turned one. Happy Birthday little petal :)
You might remember the giant cupcake I made for her to be photographed with for the invitations to this grand event....
I've been dabbling in cake decorating for a year or two, ever since my daughter in law asked me to make a Princess cake for granddaughter no. 1 for her first birthday.
This was my first fondant covered cake and I was pretty proud of it overall.
The owl was more challenging and do you have any idea how many variations on 'owl cake' there are out there in cyber world....I'm talking thousands. So it was hard to arrive at a decision on how the owl was to be accomplished.
In the end, it was just a round cake. Crumb coated, covered in buttercream and smoothed, chilled overnight, and draped in hand tinted supermarket fondant (big cheat!), before using coloured fondant to model the features.
I used egg cups and port glasses to cut the eye circles, a heart cookie cutter to cut the breast feathers and impress the wings, and the wings themselves were cut from the curve of a bread and butter plate. The heart cutter came in handy again to cut the sweet eyelashes (just one side of the cutter), and the beak, ears, and feet were hand modelled.
A dusting of edible pearl lustre, brings it up a treat :)
The quote my daughter in law had for a similar cake was $400. I kid you not. And, might I add, it wasn't nearly as pretty as the one I made with LOVE. And cost? $40.
Don't be frightened of decorating with fondant. It's a bit like plasticine modelling and heaps of fun.
Like a lot of things though, it  helps to have the base right, and a good smooth buttercream undercoat seems to be the key.
Here's a great buttercream recipe for use in hot weather....a must for grand babies birthdays here!
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup Copha
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons of flavoured essence (I used Rosewater)
  • 6-8 cups icing sugar
Mix the first five ingredients then slowly add the sugar till you get a consistency you're happy with. It needs to be fairly stiff, but still spreadable.
Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of this, and allow it to chill. Then coat it lavishly, smoothing and squaring it up at the edges, before allowing it to chill again. There are lots of great Youtube videos on how to do this if you're not sure.
I found this one particularly useful....
Then knead the colour into your fondant, a few drops at a time. Remember you can always add more, but it's fiddly to add extra white fondant to fade the colour if it's too dark.
Dust your bench liberally with icing sugar and roll out like pastry or dough, flip it on to the rolling pin, then drape over your buttercream'd and chilled cake. Smooth it down with your hands, and trim. Again I viewed a few Youtube tutorials to get my head around this.
Then off you go with modelling your decorations. I did mine on the day and fixed them with a little water, but apparently you're supposed to do them ahead....cest` la vie...grandbaby did not notice.
A triumph, I think. What say you?
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Belly Bands....pretty gift wrap idea....

I was marbling/dip dyeing some paper the other day. No fuss for me. No turps or shaving cream.
I just tipped a glass of water into a cookie tray, blobbed some acrylic paint in, swirled it with a chopstick, and dropped a sheet of blue paper in, face down.
I then flipped the paper over, rested it on a clean teatowel, and allowed it to dry. I think it's pretty. All sort of soft and reminiscent of a Monet painting.
Once dry, I cut it in half, stuck it together with tape to form a long 'band', and wrapped it round the so called Belly of my gift.
A sliver of toning ribbon, adds a little flourish.
I love the idea of Belly Bands. They just add a little extra anticipation to the unwrapping and unveiling.
So, do you Belly Band? Or is it all too much bother?
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fascinating time with Flora...

I had such a lovely time last Saturday.
I attended a Make your own Fascinator workshop with my friend Flora.
Flora is an uber clever millinery type, who fashions pretty things from wisps of fabric that the rest of us wouldn't credit with a second glance.
Here's some of her gorgeous things.
So a few of us went along to see if we could inhale some creative neurons just by being in Floras presence, but alas, we had to actually DO stuff!
Fortunately all was well, and none of us were to shabby in the creativity department.
Here's what my Fascinator looked like when I had finished it....
...that's a couple of hours worth of cutting satin and organza petals and hand stitching, thankyou. Not to be sneezed at.
And of course, the first picture above, is what my fascinator looked like after Flora had waved her magic tidying and stiffening wand over it. Ahem. Thanks Flora....mwah!
Clearly I have a few things to learn yet!
But honestly, what a gorgeous way to spend a morning. Fluffing around with pretty stuff and fashioning gorgeous girly things. It doesn't get much better.
If you'd like to learn how to make your own Flora style fascinator, then there are worse ways to go about it.
Flora might have another class sometime soon. Best you keep your eyes fixed on her blog for further news ;-)
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Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Elegant Bloke....

I just had to share this post on a funny, sort of twee blog that has some great little nuggets of wisdom on it....
A light hearted dig at the 'gentleman', and well worth a is the rest of the blog on which it appears.
I've always been of the opinion that clothes truly do maketh the man. A well dressed man is something to sigh over. Mainly because they're a bit thin on the ground if you ask me!
My own bloke, bless him, is of the surf shirt and baggy shorts brigade, and no amount of begging and pleading on my part will change him. His idea of dressing up is wearing a shirt with a collar.
He makes up for it in other ways though, so all is not lost.
For example, he always smells lovely. Sometimes just of Johnsons Baby Powder, but most often of Eau Savage....swoon....
He always says please and thankyou for the most mundane things. We've been together nearly twenty years and he still thanks me for making him a cup of tea or passing the salt.
He works hard to give The Diva and I the life of which he believes we are worthy, and cannot resist an opportunity to spoil us.
So yes, there's more to the Elegant bloke than just his clothes.
But have a peek at that list anyway.
Happy reading!
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Finding 50 and Fabulous....Silk scarves & Pearl earrings...

My favourite earrings pictured here. A black pearl stud, with a large freshwater pearl drop, teeny diamond betwixt the two. These are so versatile and I wear them almost every day.
I don't know about you, but as much as I'd love to be swanning around in designer gear all the time, I have to be honest and say as a Mum, co-business owner, and Chief Wardrobe Assistant to the School Dance Faculty, there is little call for designer gear. Neat jeans and stylish shirts seem to get me just about everywhere as a matter of fact. You too, huh?
Jimmy Choos and Pucci shifts just don't cut it at our school gate.
I wore a dress for the first time in months last Friday night. The occasion was a Justin Timberlake concert that I attended with my fourteen year old daughter (or did she come with!), and I just felt like dressing up.
I wore my LBD, vintage two tone heels, and carried a vintage 50s white patent box bag with teeny weeny polka dots all over it....

Well the dress annoyed me, the heels more so, and the box bag, whilst appropriate in every way, was a pain to manage with it's tiny little handle.
What I really needed was jeans, a stylish shirt, a cross body purse, and shoes to dance in.
Lesson learned.
Problem is, we all like to look nice. A bit o' glamour in every day life is a must have, and watching Downton Abbey and the Oscars, only does so much.
My solution is....ta-da....the silk scarf, and the pearl earrings.
Now the scarf doesn't have to Hermes`, although I do love a soft and pretty Hermes scarf and am fortunate enough to have been gifted one or two...
They do look so lovely tied to the handle of your bag, and oh-so-wonderful to have if there is a nip in the breeze. Untie from bag, swing over shoulders....instant warmth and glam.
You can be just as happy with a $1 thrifted bargain though, like this gossamer silk beauty I picked up at a charity store, not so long ago. Very practical, and not likely to induce apoplexy should one spill a spot of liquorice tea or a crumb of jam tart thereupon.

The same goes for the earrings. A perusal of eBay or somewhere like Grays Online Auctioneers (where I got mine), yields many little pearl studs for very little moola. Don't go all fancy though. No chandeliers with gypsy inclinations. Stick with basic and plain and you can't go wrong.
Throw on your jeans, a simple shirt, silk scarf slung around shoulders or tied inventively, ballet flats or lounge faves are leopard print or beige suede lounge slippers studded with crystals or my divine little Lanvin flats (thankyou Musician Husband...mwah!)...
....a swish of mineral makeup, you do have your lashes and brows tinted and groomed don't you, a swipe of lip gloss....and you're good to go.
What's your go-to everyday Glamour look?
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Finding 50 and Fabulous....Lesser known French Beauty Secrets....

So we all know about eating foods high in anti oxidants and limiting wine and caffeine, but as a regular visitor to France, here are some things I've learned on the ground. The things that real people do to enhance their enjoyment of life. Because a joie` de vivre is far more important than just looking young!

(My own photograph)
  This is a photograph I took of the staircase in an apartment building where a friend had generously lent us her apartment on the Left Bank for our stay, as she had fled Paris for the Summer to retreat to her country Chateau. As one does. When at home, she, and we, walked up and down these stairs several times a day. That's a lot of stairs, people. And that's in addition to just walking to the Monoprix for groceries, and the other usual stuff that one does in Paris. Walk, instead of driving. Soak up your neighbourhood. Enjoy, breathe.

(My own photograph Hotel de Ville Bordeaux)
Furnish your home beautifully and spend money on things that will last a lifetime, not a season. And make sure that the furnishings and colours of your home frame YOU as the inhabitant. Choose colours that are flattering to YOU, and use soft lighting to enhance the display of precious items, and to make everyone who enters your home, look their most beautiful. People won't know why they love coming to you, but they will adore how they look when they're with you! In that vein, can I add....mirrors, candles, chandeliers, lamps...lots of them!
(My own photograph)
Fresh flowers and greenery are good for the soul. This is a display outside a convenience store and florist in the tiniest little town in South Western France. The floristry side of the business far outstripped the priority given to more mundane goods like butter and milk. Always have fresh flowers and greenery in the house. Be it as cut foliage and blooms, or as pot plants. I always have a mixture of both.
(My own photograph)
Eat the best quality you can afford, in moderate amounts, and present it elegantly, at a table presented equally beautifully. None of this eating on laps thankyou.
And just in case you need reminding, here is a list of the good things to eat. But really, the French people I know don't worry about it too much. They eat what they like, when they like, but always, always moderate portions.
And some more obvious secrets? Well here they are....but I do prefer my list ;-)
Use Argan oil
Use a clay mask weekly
Rinse hair with lemon juice or red wine vinegar (once or twice a month)
Wear lighter makeup
Laugh and walk more
Get a magic haircut
Drink more water

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Pretty pearly cake....

I made this for my almost one year old grandaughter.
Isn't it pretty?
It's not a small cupcake, although you can't really tell from the photo.
It's about the size of a basketball. Huge. Well, huge for a cupcake.
It's baked in two halves of a really odd looking tin that looks like a pedestal and a Madonna style bra cup...
....but in fact you bake the top and bottom of the 'cupcake', join them with filling of some sort, and ice the top dome to your liking.
My daughter-in-law chose this pretty shade of lilac, which I then dusted with edible pearl dust for shimmer. A few lilac and white sprinkles, some supermarket bought sugar flowers and we've got one sweet cake.
These cakes retail for around $70 here, and for around the same amount, I've now got the tin, and the know-how to make as many giant cupcakes as I like. The actual cake cost less than $10 to make.
Someone tried to tell me that cupcake fever is over, and that it's a dying trend. Well try telling that to a one year old. Or a fourteen year old really.
This cake was a hit, and I now have two orders for giant cupcakes for other friends of my daughter-in-law.
I'd say a success....yes?
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Friday, August 29, 2014

Pretty in Pink Springtime wreath....

It's nearly Spring in my part of the world.
I've been out this morning plant new herb beds, potting a conifer which I'll use as my living Christmas Tree, taking cuttings from my oversized and gorgeously gaudy red geranium plant, and pruning my standard bougainvillea, in both blush and fushchia, thankyou very much.
I had a hankering for a bit of pink in my entry corridor and this repurposed wreath seemed it would fit the bill. I made it a couple of Christmases ago, but my penchant for a Pink Christmas withered fairly quickly. It was all just a bit too quaint for a girl like me ;0)
So after considering my Chanel inspired wreath gifted to me by my lovely blogging friend Flora, and deciding that Chanel shouldn't be hung outdoors, I dug this one out. I'd actually forgotten about it and was snaffling around seeking the makings of a new wreath, and lo and behold...there it was! All pink and pretty and spring like.
The Musician Husband will faint dead away at pink at the front door, but he'll recover. It's only for a minute.
If a replica is what you're seeking, it's not hard.
1 bamboo crafting hoop
2 pink feather boa
1 posy pink roses
Hot glue gun
Wind the boas around the hoop, securing with dots of glue.
Add the posy, fastened with glue also.
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