Welcome to my blog, hope you enjoy reading

Monday, December 27, 2010

And then it was over..

Another Christmas has come and gone, in the blink of an eye. And what a lovely one it was! We had a lovely time relaxing with family, eating, drinking and lounging pool-side. For once I was glad is wasn't a scorcher too - it was just nice. 
I hope you all had a great day! Did Santa bring you what you wanted? Did you eat your weight in trifle and pav... again?

While the babies in our family were well and truly spoilt (some might say it was a little OTT - but will we ever learn?), the big people in our household didn't do too badly either; not that I was expecting it - but thank you so much to my lovely Mr DD, who got me the new Arcade Fire album and The Exquisite Book, which i'd been going on about for ages (it really is awesome)! 

Jolly's aside, Christmas really is less about the gifts for me, and more about the planning; the preparation.
The tree, the wrapping.. the FOOD.
It means pouring over the menu and carefully choosing each component.. and finishing off with a delectable and triumphant dessert with which to get your guests salivating in anticipation! But then, what will accompany your incredible creation? There can't just be one.. and what if it's not a traditional trifle or pav? Can you even have Christmas without one or the other?! Holy messing-with-convention, Batman! I suppose you've guessed by now... for me, dessert is KING.
This year, as my star attraction, I went with a by Annabel Langbein: The Free Range Cook. It looked absolutely mouth-watering on the tv, and surprisingly easy... well SHE made it look easy. Of course that translates to: easy for me too (eerr, in theory)!
This first attempt was successful, apart from the bit when I didn't know what my own oven settings were and accidentally cooked it on Fan-Grill, and it ended up a flat, charred mess of a round. Queue attempt number 2: and the odd panic aside (I would make for great telly if I ever dared enter MasterChef.. my tanty's would become that of legend, i'm sure) it turned out perfect!! Strawberry Lemon Puff - I salute you. You are glorious.

To go with this - as if there wasn't enough to fit in, I made some family friendly chocolate truffles. They were supposed to be mint infused, but for some reason they weren't as fragrant as I'd hoped, so they ended up just being freakin delicious plain chocolate truffles coated in nuts and cocoa. It was so muggy when I made them, that they don't look particularly pretty, but OMG they were amazing! Mmmmm..

But wait there's more!! 
Chocolate overload here we come!! I present - Nigella Lawson's Snow Flecked Chocolate Brownie - which would've, if i'd remembered to take a photo, looked like this:

photo via bloguez.com
It was good news for our family in the end though. I actually forgot to take the Brownie down to our Christmas hang out on the day, so we took it to Boxing Day dinner at a friends instead. Great with left over trifle, it turns out! 

I now weigh approximately double what I did on Xmas Eve. Remind me why I let that Zumba auction on TradeMe lapse the other day? 

If only wrapping presents (and unwrapping, for that matter) burnt as many calories. I'd be a lean Mama machine in no time!!!

Here's a peak at how my Present-wrapping with scraps production line turned out: 

The silver paper in the middle is a wallpaper sample I couldn't find another use for. 
I made paper cut of stars to use as decorations to brighten up my brown packaging paper, and printed out some free labels! Paper doily's also make great labels, and scraps of fabric add a splash of colour too.

I'll never ever be one to take my presents to the Gift Wrap stall at the mall to be quickly covered up, like someone sprung running from the bathroom to the bedroom without a towel, in a panicked rush. And even though at my age presents are the least important thing about the whole day, and the season,  I still love the look of childlike glee that springs to your loved ones' faces once they've ripped through the layers of a lovingly wrapped parcel, to be greeted by something they've been secretly hoping for aaages. It just makes me melt inside! 

This was the last thing we saw before we went to bed all cooked, wrapped and sewn out, on Christmas Eve..
Excuse the blurriness...

A happy and safe holiday season to you all! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Hand-made Christmas!

Christmas is fast approaching and OOPS! I'm ridiculously behind AGAIN with shopping.. and everything in general. Oh well. I might aswell channel that guilt into sharing some ideas on how to make your pressies stand out in the crowd, all the while allowing you to use up any scrap paper or bits and pieces you have lying around the place. Because I don't know about you, but as much as I like the outside of my presents to look as good as the inside, I hate spending heaps of money on fancy wrap that get shredded and ripped, screwed up and tossed away the second they get near a small (or large) pair of hands. Such a waste!

So here are a few budget friendly options:

photo via Decor8

Brown packaging paper.
*Adorn with some ribbon or twine and perhaps some fancy masking tape (see above) to create a gift that looks really special.
*Let your kids, or you, loose with a marker and draw your own decorations on the paper before you wrap. Find a bold pattern to copy, such as a Marimekko print or similar, which shouldn't be too hard to replicate, and enjoy! (This would actually work really well as a gift too - only grab a plain white plate and and porcelain pen, and get drawing!).
*If you happen to have some of Nana's old doily's lying around that you don't plan on using, try covering your brown paper with one and fastening it with twine or raffia for a cool neutral look.

An old sewing pattern.
Combined with ribbon or twine, old pattern paper give a lovely vintage feel to gifts. A nice sprig of greenery would compliment nicely too. I'm talking rosemary or lavender here, not some limp parsley, ok. Just use a few layers so you can't see through it! Beautiful.

I guess you could use you an old Central Leader or North Shore Times, but how about an old Chinese/Asian paper, for something different? It's probably better if you can't actually read it anyway ;)

Old wallpaper.
If you're lucky enough to have some old vintage wallpaper lying around that hasn't been framed or stolen by someone, how about wrapping up a present with it? Grandma would probably LOVE it.

Fabric off-cuts.
Great for wrapping things like soaps, or clothing for children. Especially if it's bright and fancy. Don't worry about the fraying edges, it only adds to the effect!

Paper cuts.
How About Orange blog shows you how to make your own 5 pointed star, by simply following a few instructions and folding and cutting your way to decorative glory. So easy and you can do it with any left over paper. The red does look particularly fetching though. I made one in pink, which is also cute. Actually, that blog has MANY great things to make and do. Go there - NOW.
Personalising gifts is so much fun. Once I've actually done my shopping, I'll try and post some pics of what i've done.
In the mean time, I'll leave you with a selection of freebies I've found to put the finishing touches on your wrapping. I warn you, they're gorgeous.

Top left: Amy Moss of Eat Drink Chic Blog gives us gorgeous typographic gift tags.
Top right: Free gift tags from Bambino Goodies
Bottom left: Smitten Blog Designs' adorable Christmas tag freebies.
Bottom right: To use as gift tags or ornaments or art! Free Lisa Rupp bird ornaments spotted on Creature Comforts blog: I LOVE YOU!
**Creature Comforts also have this wonderful bow gift tag, free to you on their blog. I am soo getting me one!

Happy wrapping, savers!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Just for Josh!

Ain't Facebook great? Keeping up with all those people you might've otherwise lost touch with completely since school, and getting to see how their lives have turned out is too much fun to NOT keep coming back! Especially when they grow up, get married to lovely men and have the most gorgeous bubba's!! Aaahhhh, the cluck factor. Gets me every time!

My friend Kate from college sent me a lovely message the other day, after I posted the latest link to my blog. I was soo chuffed just to know people are reading - and then she asked for my advice!! Too exciting for words really. I looooove giving advice (some might say, a little too much! haha), especially when it comes to beautifying ones' home.. and how to do it cheaply.
I should really have called this blog 'Design Hacker' (much like Ikea Hacker), because I just love finding awesome expensive stuff to recreate for a fraction of the cost. It's so satisfying!!

Kate wanted some advice on what to do in her wee son Josh's room. So I went to work and found some budget friendly ideas that should make the wee man, and his folks, smile with thrifty delight!


For kids, bright is best in my opinion - but you don't have to go overboard with it. Their little brains need stimulation, sure, but yours doesn't need to ache every time you walk into their room.

1 2 3 4

1. Resene Spray
2. Resene Soapstone (this was just my version of your 'cream', to match to)
3. Resene Outrageous
4. Resene Drover.

Cream is the colour of the walls - and I think little bursts of orange, yellow and aqua would work well for a boys room.

These go well with a pale base too:

1. Resene "Reservoir"
2. Resene "Pursuit"
3. Resene "Hendrix"


If you're keen to get out the paint brush and have a go at remodelling Josh's drawers, then this is a cool way to do it.
I painted Lila's drawers (which were bare MDF) white (Porter's Paints "Milk"), then painted the odd drawer and drawer handle a different colour, using red (Porter's "Chili") and duck egg blue (Porter's "Glass"). Here's an example:

I also love this one.

(tip: I bought a small can of "Milk" to use as the base, but then just got a couple of tester sized pots to paint the accents with. Much cheaper than buying 3 big pots).


Esty have an insane selection of gorgeous prints; framed or unframed, that are perfect for kids walls. But you could also make your own if you have a capable colour printer and something nice to say! Pick up some second hand frames and give them a lick of paint or pop to the Warehouse or Factory Frames for some new but inexpensive ones, and you're done.

Wall art: 4 for $20 at this Etsy store! Bargains!

To add a bit of interest to your display, team painted wooden letters (Spotlight have them for about $3 each), different shaped objects (eg. butterflies or other easy silhouettes cut out of paper/bark) or embroidered quilt rings to create a cluster. These are really easy and inexpensive to make. Fabric + felt + a black sharpie + glue/stickie + quilt ring = adorable. And if you put a cork tile under the fabric, it can act as a cork board too. But if you do that, make sure your quilt ring is huge and your fabric is a loose 'knit' and printed too, to disguise pin holes.

A statement piece would look great as the star of the show. Something like this, perhaps:

These are made locally by Hayley at The Art Room, and screen printed by hand. Amazing aren't they? I love how bright and fun they are! Limited edition prints available here.


I made Lila a tree, which was pretty easy. But if cutting loads of leaves out of wallpaper doesn't appeal, then how about an easy painting project?

Or, you could get really adventurous and make your own Fabric Wall Silhouette!

I love this too - find a packet of cute flash cards and peg them up as art. Throw in some cute photos of little Josh, and it should look gorgeous. And CHEAP!
You can get all the twine/pegs you need to string them up at any $2 shop.

If you can fit it - cube storage. Best thing ever for lots of fiddly kids things! They are relatively cheap too. Best bargains come via Warehouse Stationery (i know!) and Target. Buy some cute and colourful 'drawers' to finish the look. These ones and cheap and do a great job. We have them in red :)
Or, how about this for a crazy cheap solution? Mitre 10 Pine shelving unit for a measly $39. You could paint or stain it any colour you wanted and simply add the fabric boxes to create your own cube look; and 2 side by side would look even cooler.

via OhDeeOh

But if either of those options simply won't fit, how about wall shelves made from recycled drawers?

You could paint/wallpaper the inside of them to make them match your colour scheme. Place them evenly, or randomly over the wall. You could even paint some kind of hanger device around them so they look like they're attached to a structure? I'm planning on doing some in Lila's room, as I have a couple of spare drawers floating around that aren't needed. I think they'll be super cute!

As I briefly mentioned before - floating wall shelves (Mitre10/Bunnings/Warehouse) are a great option too.
Add colour by painting or wallpapering the under side of them with different colours/prints, and hang a few, one of top of the other. Something like this:

You could even use wrapping paper or scrapbooking card. I love the extra element of surprise!


No need to spend a heap on new curtains! Make this instead.

Rugs are so expensive too. But Trade Aid have really cute ones for under $100.
Or, get creative with some faux fur from Ikes/Geoffs Emporium and cut out clouds or stars or circles to use as mats!

I really hope I've been of some help. Let me know! And if you want any more advice, of course just ask!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Things I've done...

I thought I'd finally share with you what I've been Destitutely Designing in my house lately - just incase you thought I'd forgotten what the whole point of this blog was!
This weekend was very satisfying for me. I got a lot of what I'd been wanting to do done, and it's great to sit back and enjoy it now... before I get stuck into the next lot of jobs on my list, that is.

Let's start with the ugliest sister of all: The fireplace! *cue shiver down spine*

Excuse the crappy 'before' photo, this is all I could find! However I think i've succeeded in showing you how ghastly the fireplace looked before I painted it to make it .. a little less ugly.
This was the absolute bain of my life, I swear. But the white transforms it from dark, drab, moody and totally overbearing; to light, bright and most importantly: INVISIBLE!
Sure, you can see a few imperfections: the cracked grout and the bowing, but i'm just glad I don't walk into the lounge and snarl anymore when I see it.
A few strategically placed ornaments and photos, and voila! Not bad. In fact, totally livable!

Here is my entrance way, before and after the addition of my gorgeous coat hooks, which I picked up during a trip to Italy a few years ago, and my new bird hook from Urban Outfitters. LOVE them!

Also, that's my old mahogany table (Sorry, no before pic available! I can tell you it was brown though.. use your imagination) which I spray-painted sunshine yellow. It's only 90% finished thanks to the windiest month on record (I reckon)!! Still, I really love the lift the colour gives it, and it looks great against my beloved wallpaper.
Now I just need another new pair of shoes to sit under it, to finish the look.. don't you think?

Onto the dining room! Nothing remodelly has happened here lately, but I had a clear out of all the clutter, got a new table, and now I love it. Gone is the couch (ah, what room is this again?), and I've moved the new table into the middle of the room and parked my new chairs around it.



This orientation is MUCH better. Also, without the clutter and confusion of the couch in there, it clearly defines it's purpose. I used to hate getting trapped in there when friends came round. It was just easy to plop yourself on the couch while I rustled up some food close by in the kitchen, but it's the darkest room in the house in the afternoon, being on the south side of the house - so not very cosy, despite the log burner.

The blinds (made by my Mum out of fabric from Ikea which was $9 a metre - which, when you consider the 10 metres I bought will easily dress a lot of the windows in my house, is ridiculous good buying) will actually move to another room once I get the wallpaper up. But I love them, and they will make another room very happy in the future!

I 'made' these lovely vases myself, out of some fantastic bottles I found at the thrift store the other day for $1.50 each. Just pour in some paint and make sure you turn it a bit so the paint covers every inch of the inside of the bottle, turn upside down and drain the excess. Leave to dry. Easy!

Last but not least, the laundry/bathroom. It's not finished, but check out the difference some new gib and a lick of paint makes!

From this:

To this:

Sorry, the after pics aren't really that mind-blowing, but I'll get it all finished and THEN I will blow your mind!

Oh, and if you're wondering what came of the couch from the dining room?
Lila and I now have a lovely place to hang out and play and read magazines, in our delightful little sunroom. One day it too shall be glorious, but for now I'm just happy I can sit down with Captain Feathersword or Dorothy the Dinosaur or Scarface Claw; or whoever Lila decides she's going to be that day, put my feet up and enjoy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happiness Is...

Handmade gifts**, a painted out fireplace*, a dining room re-arranged*, Chocolate Cherry Trifle, good friends and great food; a toddler cooing over lights on a Christmas Tree, totally divine freebie art, DIY table adornments*, and of course the giddy feeling you get when summer finally arrives. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!

**'Buying handmade' is the new black. Not only can you find something unique to gift, but it's often a lot cheaper too. There's also the knowledge that you're helping a humble crafter keep on creating and not pumping money into a mega-money-making-gift-monopoly-machine. Or something.
There are craft collectives popping up in every neck of the woods, so why should online by any different? Etsy is a goldmine for cleverly crafted treasures, but it's soooo popular these days you really have to trawl through the muck to find the shiny jewels. You may not know, but there are alternatives - and I've found a few. Have a longing gander at these and maybe go one for one on 'em? It's so blinkin' tempting, I dare you not to!

1. Supermarket. As good as a daily Etsy Finds email! All awesome, not a lot of fat because there are so fewer sellers than the aforementioned. Go there now.
2. Foxes. Homegrown online store which sells predominantly kiwi design and handmade objects of desire. Designers are hand-picked by the experts for their awesomeness. Have your debit/credit card at the ready.
3. Felt. Another homegrown online market, but anyone crafty can sell here. Such a great source for hard to pick Christmas presents.
5. Georgie Love. Makes you wish you were Australian. Only for a second.
6. Made It. Sometimes it is good to be this close to our Ocker cousins ;)

*pics to come when my silly battery is charged!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ho Ho Ho! And a bottle of rum..

Well it's almost that time of year again - and I have to say, it's become a whole lot more fun with the addition of the small person to our household, who is currently (and so my wallet would agree, a little too soon!) obsessed with Santa Claus - or 'Sen-tors', as she calls him.

I can put this fascination down to one day a few weeks ago, when my Mum took her out to the mall for a morning play/shop. When I came home from work that day she was going on and on about something called 'Sen-tors, Mama!'. It took me a while, but finally I clicked as to what she meant!! Mum must've really gone to town explaining who this Sen-tors was, because from that day on - there has been little mention of anyone else, bar the Wiggles. But that's a whole other level of obsession.

Last year was the first time we had a 'real' christmas tree. I'd been putting it off because both myself and Mr DD suffer from horrid hayfever at this time of year - but I actually think it was worth it. The smell is like nothing else, don't you think! So earthy and warming. I cannot go back now. Plus, our Small Person will be truely enchanted this year, by the decorations and lights (if her reaction to in store Xmas Lights displays are anything to go by). We might even have a go at making some of our own decorations to hang from the branches!

I still have a few days to get the household adornments together, but as a start I was inspired by a friend to have a go at making my own advent calendar.
I started with some bankers envelopes, some paint, a few scraps of felt, a gold marker, some glitter and of course, glue. Pop in some sneaky treats and a lolly or two, peg to some twine or ribbon on a wall or board, and voila!

Hung on a very ugly old wall, they still manage to look lovely and festive, and i'm sure our Small Person will take much pleasure in destroying each lovingly put together package to dig out its treasure each day of December. And we will have the camera ready to capture the look on that wee face as she does so.. *melt*.

Sure, advent calendars aren't the most expensive things in the world to buy - but it's so much cooler to make your own! This is pretty cheaply done - the treats inside probably cost $4 altogether (hair clips, stickers and a lolly here and there), and you can use anything you have lying around the place to decorate the envelopes. The more creative the better! And what fun to have with your kids too!

Happy Festive Season everyone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Big Cheat.

This HAS to be my Destitute find of the year. I can't believe I'm sharing this - because now i'm actually going to have to kill you. Jokes! But just be careful with who you tell..

As you know i've been eyeing up Eames replica chairs for a while now. You'll pay upwards of $250 for these beautiful babies (just the replicas!), but today the budget Gods were smiling down on me. Oh yes!

Because where did I find one just like this - for an downright stupid, nay CRAZY, amount?!

And don't even try and tell me you're not surprised! I was looking for something entirely different and just about fell off my chair when I saw it. Even if the quality isn't as good when we get it - I DON'T GIVE A RATS AT THAT PRICE!! Talk about cheap and cheerful - this is bloody cheap and ECSTATIC!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...