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Church Rose Prints by Skels

I was inspired a little while ago, whilst trying to work out what to do with an awkward bare wall in my new apartment, by seeing a bunch of window rose designs on a random Google image search. 

Church windows are absolutely stunning things. I used to sing in our local church choir, and was lucky enough to sing at Peterborough Cathedral in the UK as a teenager (achieving my DeansChorister Award, no less), and must admit to having spent most of the time just staring around at the beauty inside the cathedral. 

Notre Dame

A rather famous rose on Notre Dame in Paris

While the colours and refraction of light surely give the biggest wow factor, there are also some pretty complex shapes involved, and window roses are, I think, the best example of this. How on Earth, before 3D printers and computer aided design, did people ever manage to create such perfect symmetry, by hand? That’s some skillz, yo.

So anyway, I decided to recreate some window rose shapes in the artwork for my wall, and I’m really pleased with how they turned out. I chose a muted navy blue to match my couch, and copied the mossy green colour from a feature wall in the same area. Then spent AGES trying to find square frames.

finished

If you like what I’ve done please feel free to download the shapes for personal use by clicking here. You can change the colour layer to anything you like using this .psd file. 

Click to download .psd

 

Jewelry boxes are great and everything, but like earphone cables, my long necklaces conspire in the dark, tangling themselves into an almost inseparable mess. So I devised a solution which is actually so simple I’m kind of annoyed I didn’t think of it sooner.

You can spend ages collecting beautiful necklaces, why hide them away in a box while they aren’t in use?

How to:

  1. Find a stick
  2. Clean the stick
  3. Add some colour to the stick (I went for a slightly aboriginal style using some paint I had leftover from another project)
  4. Hammer nails into the stick at intervals. Top tip: If you’re fussy like me it pays to put a little effort in here. I used a gridded mat to make sure that my vertically hanging necklaces ended up at equal distances apart. With a bendy stick, if you just measure along its length, your items may not be evenly spaced.
  5. Attach string at both ends. Mine just looks tied, but it’s also PVAed into place so nice and secure.
  6. Hang from wall.
  7. To prevent the stick from swinging every time you touch it, attach a couple of blobs of white-tak where it makes contact with the wall. This will also protect your paintwork from scratches.
  8. Hang jewelry!

 

Before and after - IKEA Malm

I’ve been slightly obsessed with Channel 7’s House Rules over the last few weeks. Probably in part due to the fact that Vince and I recently moved into a new place and I’ve got a serious case of the nestings. I usually cannot abide reality TV in any of its forms, but something about House Rules really took me.

In two of the renovations teams chose these wonderful, huge, padded headboards for the bedrooms. It never occurred to me that this was done outside of hotel rooms and the 1970s, and I was instantly taken with how awesome and inviting it made the beds look.

Our own bedroom suffers from too much bright white wall space, and looked a little on the clinical side. As renters, we can’t just add a splash of colour to the walls, or hang shelves, nice big mirrors, or artwork (as good as 3M hooks are, I just can’t trust them with something heavy above where I sleep!), so I’ve been looking for clever ways to soften the wall space. A big, soft headboard might be part of the solution, but as a part-time student with fees to pay, I could forget spending $1500 for a good one.

Then I stumbled across a DIY version. This was an IKEA hack, using the exact bed we had. Bingo!

The building phase

Building a bigger headboard

Step one would be to build the headboard up nice and tall. We didn’t have the shelf unit that the people in the IKEA hack had, so we ventured to the As-Is section of IKEA and were lucky enough to find some battered shelves in exactly the right thickness of wood. We bought two – which just happened to be one in black and one in white – and raced back home to hack them up.

Chopping to size

With Vince’s help and a circular saw loan from a friend we attached the two boards together, trimmed them to size, and braced them to the existing headboard.

Retro Headboard - WIP

The stapling phase

Despite this looking pretty funky as it was, I now needed to find some fabric. I had my heart set on a light grey velvet, so I scoured the Internet looking for Australian sellers of my dream material.

Pfffft! Australia and eCommerce are apparently only mild acquaintances, so reluctantly I ventured out to actually go to a shop.

To cover the headboard I also purchased a 5 metre big roll of value wadding. I doubled up on this for extra softness and with Vince’s help I wrapped the headboard, stapling the wadding into place. The same process saw the fabric stapled into place, and after some fiddling with the awkward corners, we were now the proud owners of a plain padded headboard.

Upholstering the thing

But I wanted tufting.

I planned out my arrangement of tufting and settled on a fairly wide diamond pattern. To ensure the correct spacing Vince and I added string as a guide, and we measured from the middle out, stapling in a tuft every 28 cm.

I want to point out at this stage that staple guns are fun. I wished I had opted for more and smaller diamonds.

To hide the staples I made some buttons with the left over fabric, a button making kit, and my trusty glue gun. These were then carefully hot-glued to the headboard. Hot tip for hot-gluing: just leave the strands be. Once they are set they are much easier and cleaner to snick off.

Tufting and buttoning

And presto! We’ve gone from a boring black stumpy headboard to what is actually a pretty dramatic feature. Sure, it’s not in the same league as the $1500 professional headboards, but for a measly $100 in materials I’m pretty darn pleased.

Before and after - IKEA Malm

The shark culling program in Western Australia is atrocious. It boggles my mind to think that anyone can think it is a good idea. Yes, shark attacks are tragic, but you have to face the fact that we don’t own the beaches and the coastal waters, and they are a vital part of individual habitats and vast ecosystems, with thousands and thousands of other organisms calling them home. If you want to go swimming where they live, accept that you may actually encounter some of them.

“You can kill any shark that gets out of the sea and starts killing us in our natural habitat of streets and pubs and internet cafes” – Ricky Gervais

Bang on.

There’s not a lot I can do aside from spread awareness of this utter barbarity. So, armed with my mobile phone and some grey craft card, I decided to take my message to the giveit100 masses. Briefly I became a unicycling Great White Shark. Check out my vid!

#noWAsharkcull

Like my outfit?

Shark Fin

So, what’s this #noWAsharkcull all about?

In Western Australia, seven people have tragically lost their lives in shark attacks in the last three years. In the last 20 years the number of fatalities is only 20. At face value, this looks a lot like the probability of being attacked by a shark is increasing, and that the waters are becoming more dangerous. But any smart person knows that a correlation does not necessarily mean cause and effect. What about the amount of people heading into the oceans? Has that increased? Are more people venturing out further from the beaches?

In any case, the probability of a fatal shark attack is still tiny. In 2012 you were seventeen (17) times more likely to just drown at the beach (17 deaths by drowning versus one fatal shark attack).

Culling will keep us safe!

Despite all this, the WA Government thinks that there is a serious problem – serious enough to put culling plans into place. Drum lines with baited hooks are being deployed to catch – and kill – sharks larger than 3 metres; meaning Great Whites. Great White Sharks are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, officially listed as “Vulnerable”, so this is totally bananas, yet it is happening. The first shark was killed on Australia Day, which is supposed to be a proud day.

Worse still, these enormous hooks don’t just catch 3 metre sharks, do they? No. There have been a number of reports that undersized Tiger Sharks have been killed on the lines. A “near threatened” species, by the way.

Jump on the band wagon

There’s an online petition you can sign if you disagree with the culling here: http://www.nosharkcull.org/petition. Like I said, I can’t imagine how anyone can actually support the culling, but it happens (protesters in Perth had eggs thrown at them by culling supporters calling them hippies), so the more friends the protest can get, the better. Spread the word.

And if you get stuck explaining why sharks are awesome, here’s a little help…

I appear to have neglected to post about my latest project: unicycling.

Just over two years ago I saw unicycles for sale on some website somewhere and suddenly got the great idea of buying one. I did so, and for about three days it was the most awesome thing in my life. However I very quickly discovered that balancing on one tyre is flipping difficult, and falling off was not at all fun. The unicycle found a little corner of a room to live in and stayed there.

It was shortly after this that my parents visited me in Sydney for the first time. My brilliant father, rather than thinking I had gone mental for purchasing such a thing, thought it was a great idea, and told me that I shouldn’t give up, and that I should stick at it and one day master the art of unicycling.

Of course, as some of you know, it was just days later that my father unexpectedly passed away. You kind of forget what you were doing after that happens, and before you know it, another two years have passed and you aren’t really sure what you have done with them. But whenever I saw the unicycle sitting there in the corner of the room, Dad’s encouraging words rattled around my brain for a bit, and I would promise myself, “one day”.

One day” happened when I saw a post on Lifehacker about Karen X Cheng and her new website, giveit100.com, where people document their progress at something for 100 days, in the form of daily ten-second videos. A brilliant idea, and a wonderful site of positive energy and friendly encouragement. I decided that my 100 would be learning to ride my unicycle.

Image

The rest of the process is documented, in video, here: https://giveit100.com/@skels/kzer34

Honestly, if you have something you want to try your hand at, or some change you want to make in your life, you should consider signing up to giveit100.com. It’s a great incentive to have daily video spots, and so great to actually document your progress. Looking back at day 2, where I’m wobbling about and hanging onto doors in my apartment, really makes me giggle now, and is a great reminder of how far I have come.

Happy Halloween, WordPress!

Spooky Halloween Spaghetti Bolognese

Yesterday was the last day of my 8 weeks of no sugar. I made it.

I feel I ought to admit that it wasn’t actually hard at all though. Not once did I feel real withdrawal cravings or any symptoms like headaches or grumpiness. In fact, while occasionally I would gladly have gobbled a biscuit or two if I could, I’ve only really noticed good things since giving up the white stuff.

As I mentioned in my mid-way post, I really have noticed a vast increase of my attention span, and a notable improvement with my temper. It’s actually pretty scary to think that when you are eating can really affect your behaviour that much, but at the same time, it’s something we all know, deep down.

In the second half of the challenge/experiment I didn’t notice any additional benefits, but I did notice a change in my tastes. Two weeks ago I succumbed to ordering a cider on a hot afternoon in the city. The brand, Bilpin, has been my favourite since my birthday last November, but that day, when I took my first swig of Bilpin, I was disgusted! It really did taste like the most sickly apple juice, and I could not take more than three sips before handing it over to my boyfriend and ordering a glass of wine.

I also snuck a sip of my boyfriend’s vanilla milkshake a few weeks back as well, as we sat in a cafe waiting for our lunch. I loved milkshakes pre-IQS, especially strawberry ones. But this one was also far too sweet for my palette.

Then finally, this weekend, I visited a Hog’s Breath Cafe, where a good friend ordered a monster 400 g steak slab, slathered in a BBQ-style sauce. He offered for me to try some, so I carved a small piece, aware that I wasn’t really allowed the sauce, and took a bite: Beef Cake. It literally tasted like a cow-based dessert. Gross!

Beef Cake

This is now day-1 of no rules and so far I’ve eaten two Weetbix with milk and chia seeds and a sugarless latte. And you know what? They were sweet enough already. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes, but I don’t see myself pigging out on Haribo for a looooong time.

And that, really, was the point. I’ve kissed sugar-dependency ‘good-bye’. Ha!

Edit: I just ate a Kingston biscuit. It didn’t taste overly sweet, but did have a bit of a weird aftertaste. And at 8.2 g of sugar per biccy, that was almost as much sugar as I’ve been eating in total per day for 56 days. Oh God – time to see how my body reacts!

This isn’t a craft, but it is an experiment. Therefore I want to write up some of my findings here on my blog.

25 days ago I decided to quit sugar

Before you scream “fad diet” “you need sugar” and “crazy person” at me, let me go into a little more detail. Firstly this is just an eight-week program, not forever. I’ve always had a sweet tooth and adored sugary treats. I just accepted that this was the way I was built and it’s okay because I don’t actually drink sugary drinks, I’m not a big drinker, and I do like salad.

Not good enough.

In the last few months I’ve noticed a dependency. Sugar on my porridge; sugar in my tea; mid-afternoon chocolate; late afternoon biscuit; ketchup/barbeque sauce with everything; and always, always, pudding after dinner. I tried cutting back, but failed, allowing myself exceptions for any damned excuse. So when I heard about the I Quit Sugar program I decided to give it a go. I’m an all or nothing kind of a gal, and it was time to go cold turkey.

The other thing you should know is that I’m not being a nazi about it. I’m avoiding any and all ADDED sugar, and not eating anything obviously sugary – including fruit. I’ve switched to a low sugar bread and have started checking the labels of any food I buy, discarding anything with more than about 4 g of sugar per 100 g. But I do have the odd tomato, sweet potato, milk, and stuff, and I am drinking wine (there is no frutose in red wine, and that’s the bad stuff).

Today, 25 days in, I thought I’d see just how much sugar I am having.

Still there, but way down.

9 grams today came from sweet potato and two cherry tomatoes in my salad (3 and 1 g), onion and light sour cream in my Stroganoff (1 and 2 g), some rice crackers (1 g) and a handful of Smiths chips I succumbed to at Friday Beers in the office (1 g).

So it’s not completely gone, but it is most definitely an improvement.

So how is it going?

Well! It’s been surprisingly easy to do really. It certainly helps that I know that I can make no exceptions, but honestly my cravings haven’t been particularly noticable. I thought the biggest problem would be having my tea and coffee sans sugar, but in actual fact I quite enjoy them without now. My tastes are changing, thank goodness!

It’s not been a complete breeze, however.

The biggest difficulty is breakfast. What do you have for breakfast when you can’t have sugar-loaded cereal/yoghurt/a bowl of fruit, but don’t want eggs every flippin’ morning? My problem exactly. The IQS cookbook have a few suggestions, but mostly they involve Stevia, which I’m trying to avoid as I’m worried it will make me crave sugar more. I’ve discovered that I actually like Vegemite on toast, which was a shock to my English, Marmite-loving tongue, but I do seem to be getting through a lot of eggs.

And how am I feeling?

In many ways I just feel like myself, but a little less obsessed with when I can have my next snack. However when I put some thought into it I realised that there is a little more going on:

  1. I have a longer fuse. Sure, things still piss me off, but rather than fly off the handle, leaving a trail of devastation and mean words, I seem to be way better at just stating what is wrong, and why I’m annoyed.
  2. I have a much better concentration span. I’ve been getting stuck in to some nice projects and losing track of time, rather than doing ten minutes before losing interest and wondering how long I can last before visiting the vending machine.
  3. I am enjoying other food more. It used to be almost like the savoury was just the boring part before the nice, sugary food. But now I’m discovering a real love of proper meal-type food.
  4. My teeth are cleaner.
  5. I’ve lost close to 2 kg without trying.
  6. I’m actually sleepy at normal-person bed time, not buzzing until 1 am.
  7. I can’t handle my booze. No, really. It’s almost as if sugar in your system cushions the effects of alcohol, and now I can’t handle it. Last weekend, after a couple of glasses of vino, I very suddenly went from totally OK to TANKED. My usual ‘that’s enough now‘ guage had broken and the next day I had turned into a whimpering hangover baby.
  8. Similarly, caffine never used to affect me. It does now.

So that’s where I am at, almost half way in. Supposedly the worst cravings are yet to come, but I kind of find that unlikely at this stage. I will find out and report back in about 30 days. In the meantime, to anyone reading this thinking they’d like to make some changes, start by reading nutrition labels. You’ll be AMAZED how much sugar is in stuff. Then spend a bit of time at the supermarket finding better versions of stuff. It will actually help a lot.

What follows is a post from my old blog, moved here for keeps. Originally posted August 2, 2009.

I baked a special cake for Vince’s birthday. I spent way too much time decorating it, but then I am an ex sufferer of OCD so I have very obsessive tendencies, and it had to be perfect. I got the idea from the Something Awful forums, but I thought I’d share how I did it.

Vince's brain is made of rainbows

How to Bake a Rainbow Cake Read More »

Zombie Apocalypse, 2010

A few years back I saw one of those Facebook status games on an old school-friend’s profile. It looked fun and I was bored so I decided to copy it to my status.

Look to your right. Whatever object you see there is your designated weapon in the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse. Comment on this post to tell me what it is.

After getting over 20 replies I had the brain wave that this would make a pretty cool cartoon, so I set about the epic task of drawing everyone wielding their weapons, ready to defend against a brain-thirsty zombie horde. I was quite pleased with the finished article. Check it out (click to view big version):

The Zombies Are Coming to Facebook!

And here are the Facebook responses I drew:

Facebook Zombie Planning

YouTubed

A few weeks later Vince posted a short vid onto his YouTube account that he sneakily took while I was doing the drawings. I was pretty embarrassed at first, but he assured me that it was just a chance to practice his editing skills. Now I’m quite glad it exists :)

Until next time, perhaps you too should consider your strategy for the zombie apocalypse…?!

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