beads, buttons and books

A dusty, old, crumpled cane purse languished in the “Daggy for $1″ box by the front door of the St. Vincent de Paul store.  It had almost no redeemable features.  Except for 28 pretty, handpainted wooden beads that were strung across the top.  They were worth $1.


Especially when mixed when some orange buttons and a length of my beloved cream crochet cotton – it’s very tough, I yanked and yanked and yanked and couldn’t break it.


A necklace within minutes.  At each end, I finished with a button, stitched over and over with the crochet thread.  At one end, I then pulled the thread back through five beads/buttons.  At the other end, I tied a loop in the thread, with which to pass over the opposite button and fasten the necklace.


Very simple but a sweet addition to summer t-shirts.

It’s good it didn’t take long, ’cause Carolann arrived just as I was finishing, with another project – a library bag for her little niece who’s been visiting for the last fortnight.  She’d brought some lovely Dick and Jane fabric, and a circus-pretty red stripe.  I added some lolly-orange poplin, a strand of yellow pompoms and some red wool for a bookmark.


I tried something new with the bag – I folded the bottom corners in – so that the points met the ironed fold of the bottom – and stitched around them.  This gave it a squared bottom and will make it easier to pack full of books.


We gave it a test run with Abby’s new “get-well” book “The Moon Man” by Tomi Ungerer.


This is a beautiful book – the illustrations are exquisite and the transformation of the Moon Man as he lives through the phases of the Moon is delightful!  The story is not just amusing and wistful but thought provoking, leaving the reader thinking about the people that so long to be part of what is good – I instantly thought of the refugees that endure weeks at sea in sinking boats to reach Australia’s shores and its promise of plenty and security, only to be shoved in desert prisons – but are feared and persecuted for their differences. By no means, is this message delivered in a preachy, preachy way – but it sure is clear that the poor old Moon Man is short-changed during his earthly adventure. He has, at least, one spot of the dancing he dreamed of each night as he gazed down at our planet.


The bag is very lovely, and will hopefully see many years of good use.  I love a bit of collaborative effort – two imaginations make for such good crafting days!

keeping cool in winter

Strange but true.  Here we are on the 25th August and we are into our second day of mid 30 celsius temperatures (that’s 95 fahrenheit for all you stateside folk).  Yesterday it was quaint and sweet – getting ready for summer super early.  Today, well, it’s just hot.  Real hot.  Stupid hot.

So we’re doing our best to keep cool.  The to-do list has been thrown out.  The doors and windows have been flung open.  We’re scantily clad, drinking lots of cool drinks and keeping movement to a minimum!

We’re breakfasting in the early morning cool of the porch …


Taking a moment to absorb the damp, sweet coolness of the freshly hand washed linen …


Eating blueberries … from the freezer … (yes, the linen dried in less than 10 minutes!)


Finding the breeziest spot, pretending that it is indeed December and stitching a wee decoration for the tree – from this divine book, in gorgeous Danish cotton thread – that my lovely friend Diane sent me …


Braving the heat of the back porch to stitch Abby a quilted cold pack pouch – she’s still unwell with sinus pain, poor sweetpie … (I used one of her old cloth nappies on the back – that made her laugh!)



When the whole house was creaking and sizzling with the late afternoon sun, popping Abby into a cool bubble bath …


When the sun finally goes down, slipping into the cooler garden and choosing a pretty sprig for the table …


And when dinner is over, the chores are done, and the child is sleeping; taking a shower as cold as I can bear, and while still wet, laying on the stripped bed, under the fan, with a huge new book …


… well that’s what you do in summer, isn’t it?

And yet, aren’t they flannel sheets?  Oy!  The madness of our weather.  What’s a girl to do!?

making monday

This is becoming a bit of a theme – it must be something to do with the energy and optimism of a new week!

I love Mondays – it is such a good day to tidy up the house after a busy weekend, put everything to rights, then settle in for some lovely crafting – my enthusiasm and imagination is always bubbling on a Monday, not yet subdued by day to day busyness, cooking and washing, errands and school runs.

Despite it still being “winter”, Brisbane recorded the hottest August day on record today, so it was onto the porch nice and early, trying to capture as much of the breeze as the day had to offer.  I do so love winter – in fact, I am always longing for a much colder, longer winter! – but there was a lovely feel to this unusual day.  It sparkled of summer holidays, early sunrises, late sunsets, the fresh warm air tickling our arms and legs,  the wafting fragrance of jasmine, and the many pleasures offered by long weeks of pottering with my family, preparing for the coming Christmas (omg, I said that word!).  All we needed was a trip to the beach and I would have sworn it was December!

Instead, I farewelled Mum, emailed Julian (who’s in Chicago this time), made breakfast for and read to Abby who’s home sick, and then, when she was sound asleep – I always know she’s truly unwell when she *sleeps* as opposed to draws and reads and plays in bed – gathered up some of yesterday’s hard rubbish treasures.  Hee! hee! hee!  Honestly – it’s better than any shopping I’ve ever done.

First up – this grotty wooden tray.  Mum was appalled.  Put it back, she shrieked, it’s utter rubbish and filthy.   Well of course it is, it’s hard rubbish!  But a tray is so very useful.  I love them hanging on my kitchen wall, waiting to carry drinks to the porch, breakfast in bed (usually Abby – I cannot even remember the last time I had breakfast in bed), and … when we’re tired and floppy, dinner on the sofa whilst we watch a film.

So I gave it a wash, thinking I would paint it.  But as I scrubbed, it turned out to be quite nice wood – and the back revealed that it was made in Sweden.  I would have felt a bit mean smothering it in paint, so I took it downstairs, and scrubbed away at the already patchy varnish with some steel wool and methylated spirits.


Now it certainly didn’t come up perfect – but that’s good, ’cause I don’t want it to look spanky new.  Just beautiful and well loved.  Whilst scrubbing, then sanding, I was imagining stencils, then decoupage, but finally settled on applique.  Of the modge podge variety.


With Swedish Horses for a Swedish tray. This modge podging stuff is such fun.  I glued on the horses and flowers, the painted three coats of modge podge over it all.  The veneer on the bottom left hand has lifted slightly but Mum’s a whizz at reglueing veneer.


I’m ever so thrilled with it … we’ve tested it out, and it works well.  Fancy that :-)


In between coats, I re-purposed another useful kitchen item – also designated ghastly by mum – but I could see the potential.  I have three.  Each a different colour.  One for the kitchen, one for porch (I’m picturing little glass jars for flowers) and I think I’ll put the last one in the bathroom – for the oft-used items – talc, sunscreen, shea butter, and the hair elastic jar.


They are the little plastic covered, wire baskets the milkman used many, many years ago, when he use to deliver our milk each afternoon.  The bottoms are a wee bit marked, but after a good scrub, they were positively shining.  Here’s the first one, jars in place – at the front cinnamon sugar for toast, almond meal for crumbles, roasted cashews for snacking, and at the back dried cranberries for baking and school lunches, corn kernels for popping, and peanuts for cooking and baking.  I couldn’t resisted a little quilted scrappy sash, buttoned on (more stippling practice) and before I could restrain myself …


… modge podged lids.  W-e-e-e-l-l … the lid was off, the brush was already wet and they look so sweet with the red check of the Bonne Maman jam jars.


And best of all – it looks so tidy and well organised.  These jars always live on the bench, but they were very higgledy piggledy before.  Some were in an old square baking tin, but others (that didn’t fit) were clustered around in a very displeasing way.  Now, if we need to move them so as to have more space beside the mixer we can do so effortlessly.  And the old red coated wire even matches the mixer.

Who needs to visit the mall when there’s sidewalks to be trawled :-)

milo tin + wee quilt

The possibilities for craft loveliness are everywhere.  It’s been sooooo long since I practiced by wibbly free-motion quilting – I don’t think I’ve done any since last Halloween! – and little quilts provide such a good opportunity for cowardy custards like me.  And I have got my hands on some of Anna Maria Horner’s beautiful Good Folks fabric, a fat quarter of Heather Ross’s Bicycles, and some of my new favourite red.  My favourites are always reds and oranges.  And they’re always reds and oranges that are about to disappear.  Hmph!


So I washed out our latest empty milo tin, made up a wee, wee quilt …


Sewed a backing on, right sides together, turned it out the right way, stuffed in a piece of batting, added some rickrack …


And wibbled my way round and round.  There are a few spanners and a sharp corner or two, but once I began, I couldn’t understand why I waited so long to try free motion quilting again.


There are so many uses for a quilted tin here at Bootville, that I foresee many more such tins.  In fact, thanks to their airtight lids, Milo tins are VERY useful.  They may be good for storing dried pulses – I could add an embroidered label .  Now that would be quirky.

p.s. my beloved Nikon D80 has taken off for a conference in Chicago – what a nerve! – so I’m having to make do with the old Canon Powershot – which I used to think was marvellous – but now … it just seems to lack the crispness.  So if my photos look a little bland, blame that wretched travel hungry Nikon.  Oy!

colour love


I was having paint mixed at the hardware store the other day, when I noticed one of the sales assistants adding the last bit of sticky tape to a wonderful, impromptu work of art.  The paint tin tumbler was out of action and she created a “sign” to let the other staff know, using the above colour chips with the letters inked in black pen, every letter a different font.  She taped them across the glass door of the tumbling machine in curves, as if they were bunting.  It looked marvellous and customers and staff stopped to comment and applaud.

Colour is a beautiful thing.  Adding it to the most mundane, dreary places creates a little piece of magic that stays in people’s hearts for many years to come.  Sometimes, I aim to be a little more understated with colour in my crafting, but when I try, that colour button inside my heart leaps up and down and sings out for more, more, more!  I just cannot embrace that beautiful, soft neutral palette that is so popular at the moment – especially amongst the gorgeous Japanese and Scandinavian crafters.  Thus, I am resigned to the reality that my stitching and crafting will never be defined as subtle.  Perhaps I am channelling the rioutous and rich colours of my sub-tropical town.  Deep down, this pleases me and brings a genuine smile of excitement to my face as I add more and more colours to each of my projects.

As I waited for my little pots of colour, I chatted with the sales assistant about her other works of colour in the huge and otherwise sole-less hardware store – the lime green harlequin pattern that adorns her safety goggles, now they are super cool.  And she insisted I bring home my own rainbow of colour chips … it didn’t take much to convince me.  Abby is delighted with them, and has taken them away to her bedroom where she will put them to good use.  She takes after her muma. :-)

Now tonight, I am sitting with a gorgeous new embroidery book on my lap, trying to muster up the energy to fetch my embroidery threads and linen.  I have two boxes of simple DMC colours but now, am feeling inspired by the colours I spent my day with at the shop.  It took me almost 5 hours to put away all the new embroidery thread stock – and I am in awe at how many people there are out there, producing beautiful, hand dyed threads.  My new swoon is for Weeks Dye Works Embroidery Threads – oh the magical colours, the names!  Who would not want to stitch in Butter Bean, or Thyme, Strawberry Fields or Peach Fuzz.  And I know I will soon.  But tonight, I am settling for a simple DMC451 on a pale grey blue Jobelin.  And the pattern, a cameo/silhouette.  What a good night.


For many years now, I have been completely content to spend my days pottering around my family’s home.  I spend hours cooking, far less cleaning, occasionally wash and fold the laundry, play and read with Abigail, and of course, devote hours to sewing and painting and making, using my love of crafting as just one expression of my love for my husband and daughter and the home we have created together.

This year, I have stepped just a little out of my comfort zone.  I have attended weekly classes and workshops on Buddhism, put down the preferred fiction, and read books on happiness, joy, compassion and love, and the importance of sharing this with all we meet.  And I came to the conclusion that my daily life had become quite self indulgent.  Yes, I am a diligent mother and wife, but if I simply concentrate on what’s within my four walls, I am failing my community.  Mmm … I truly mean that … failing.  To quote the magnificent John Donne …

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a part of a continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less …”


So after procrastinating for over a YEAR – I’m a slow mover – a month or so ago, I joined a group of 40 odd people at an information session for volunteers at a large, local hospital.  My first preference was for a role as a Ward Nanny in the Mothers’ Hospital but I was more than happy to massage feet, run errands, keep day patients company … wherever I was needed would be the right spot for me.  At my interview, I said as much, but after describing my life experiences and what I hoped to do in the future, the HR coordinator nominated me for a position as a Ward Nanny.  I smiled for the rest of the day … and in private moments,  clapped my hands with glee and jumped up and down.

Today, was my first day.  What do I do?  I provide support and friendship to mothers.  I offer to run errands, settle their babies if the mums are at their wits ends or tired, encourage the mums with the feeding and bathing of their babies, sit and listen, accompany them to baby care classes.  Be their companion for the morning.  Some mums are confident and content, some are frightened and exhausted, many are a bit of both.  All are new mums who have such a great adventure ahead of them and it is my immense privilege to be there at the beginning, even in the most simple of ways.

It was a quiet day on the ward.  I chatted with a mum whose family and friends are a l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-n-g way away and was able to suggest the services of the local Maternal and Child Health units as good, supportive places to find other new mums, professional help and build friendships.  I attended a physio session on baby massage – that was so good, I wish I had possessed these skills when Abby was born.  And I even learnt how to pick up a newborn baby sideways, so as to help them develop strength in their neck muscles.  Julian suggested practicing on Toph but I think she’s probably the wrong shape.

But the best part of the day came after I had popped my volunteer smock in the laundry hamper, signed out and was trudging home – wondering why I ever agreed with Julian that the walk home would be quick and good for me.  As I rounded a corner – a couple of blocks from the hospital – I came upon a young, very pregnant woman who was holding her stomach and crying.  I had walked a couple of paces past before I registered her distress, stopped, questioned whether I should ask if she was okay – can you believe that!  As a society we have sadly become so conditioned to “minding our own business” – walked back and asked if I could help.

She cried harder, grabbed my hand, squeezed it and said oh yes, thank you so much.  She had terrible sciatic pain shooting from her back, through her hips and down her legs, and had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for days.  Now she had an appointment at the antenatal clinic with the physio and didn’t know how she was going to walk that far.  I tried to convince her she should sit in a nearby shop whilst I got her a wheelchair but she wouldn’t hear of it and instead, leaned heavily on my arm and we ever so slowly walked to the hospital – the pain in her back and hips was so intense, she couldn’t even lift her feet, but shuffled.

I listened to her talk about her toddler, her dreams of becoming a horticulturalist, her desire to move her family to the country where life would be slower, quieter, more friendly.  I know I’m going to sound sentimental, but it was a wonderful 15 minutes of connecting with a sister of my community.  Of being in the right place, at the right time, to make a little difference, to add some love and comfort when it was needed.  We rested every now and then and when I delivered her to the clinic’s reception, I hugged her and wished her well.  Likely I will never see this woman again, but the opportunity I was given to help her, was a wonderful affirmation that it is right for me to put down the needle, take off the apron and give a few hours of my week to my community.

how to get rid of a funk

Some mornings, you think you are going to have *this* kind of day, but in fact it quickly turns into *this* kind of day, and before you know it, you are trying to rescue the day … without much success.

So you eat a cocoa and cranberry cookie, and then another one because the first one didn’t help.  The second didn’t either, so then you have a banana and a cup of tea because you don’t want to add ridiculous over-eating to the funky day.

So you think you might start a new project that’s been buzzing around your mind for a few months – you take out the fabric and supplies, start dreaming, start planning, start cutting … and you only have about 20 cm of vliesofix instead of the couple of metres you need.  Bummer.  You could go to the shops, but you’ve already opened the kitchen windows and it would be a waste to close them again.


So you have another cookie and wonder if it’s too early for lunch.

You think about the piles of projects that surround you and none of them seem like a good idea.  So you ignore them all and think perhaps you’ll read the archives of one of your favourite blogs – but that only makes you petulant because she’s being creative and you’re not.  ‘Cause you’re in a funk, remember.

So you ring your best friend to tell her about your funk – but she’s at the dog park – huh!  So you ring your husband – probably less sympathetic but at least he hasn’t heard this morning’s calamity yet – but he’s in a meeting – huh!  You cannot ring your mum, because she’s already listened to you for half an hour.

So, as you’re aimlessly wandering about the house, you spy the first tiny quilt of your quilted triptych.  Y … e … a … h.  Maybe you could play with number 2.  That could be okay.  So you find the fabric and settle down to some hand stitching with your favourite-ever cream crochet thread and the texture that appears under your fingers is comforting – and slightly de-funking.


Then, your best friend rings – she must have sensed the funk in the message you didn’t leave on her answering machine and asks if you would like her to come over for some de-funking.  Yes please.  Then you remember, you haven’t made the bed, taken out the rubbish, put on the laundry, swept the front porch, brought up yesterday’s laundry, taken down the recycling, or cleaned your teeth.  Oh my goodness.  You have a marvellous burst of energy – solely fuelled by the knowledge that the dearest friend you’ve ever had will be here in less than an hour.

She rings the doorbell as you are hurling the pillows back on the bed.  And do you know what?  Even though she stays for an hour and listens so attentively and compassionately, you don’t even talk about the funky calamity for more than a few minutes.  It’s over.  It’s in the past.  It’s so ridiculously trivial and really the problem of other people’s unhappy lives – not yours.  You talk about crafting and children and friends and things you’d love to do together in the next few weeks, and the wonderfully exciting thing that’s happening tomorrow that you’ve been waiting for all your life … well, at least the last few weeks :-)


You offer her a cocoa and cranberry cookie – sharing them makes them so much more satisfying – she goes home, you sit down and finish the second tiny quilt and give heartfelt thanks that you are worthy of such a lovely friend.

And of course, you’re very grateful that funk left.  It just wasn’t welcome.

the beauty of a book and a bit of practice

Abby has lamented many times during her primary school life, that she cannot cartwheel.  I always respond with – nor could I, never mind, you can’t do everything well – and only occasionally, maybe if you practiced you could?

Today, we forewent the cello picnic to buy vegetables for dinner and since we were across the road from one of our favourite bookstores – Avid Reader at West End – we called in, me for the next Colin Cotterill and Abby found “The Daring Book for Girls”.  We have “The Dangerous Book for Boys” and it is a great trove of ideas and fun that Julian and Abby have been sharing for a few years now – I will never forget the Christmas holiday of the Bow and Arrow.  Ahem.

“The Daring Book for Girls” was on sale and Abby snatched it up with delight, assuring me it contained all she needed to know about cartwheels.  She’d checked it out before.


Now this seemed a good idea to me.  I have always been one of those people who are dedicated to the notion that if you have the right book, you can learn anything.  This has worked well for me for many years – I was the mother with her bedside table piled high with breastfeeding and infant development books.  Everytime I felt as if I was a failing mother or completely out of my depth, I would pull out Sheila Kitzinger or Penelope Leach and within a few minutes reading, I would be able to find my breath again and be ready to pick that wee baby back up and try again.

It also worked for cross stitch, and cooking, and furniture restoration, and soap making, and more – my groaning bookshelves are testament to this!  Strangely enough, it didn’t work for patchwork.  Nope – there was a lot of fabric chopped up strangely and then quietly deposited in the bin before I gave up and went to a patchwork class.  However, I think this was more to do with the fact that the book was a mass produced number with no author, published by a media company and for sale at a book outlet!  I’ve become more selective since then.


So “The Daring Book for Girls”.  Would it help Abby master the cartwheel?  After Abby shared the introduction with me .. ” we present stories and projects galore, drawn from the vastness of history, the wealth of girl knowledge, the breadth of sport, and the great outdoors.  (this is) … a book of possibilities and ideas for filling a day with adventure, imagination – and fun.  The world is bigger than you can imagine, and it’s yours for exploring – if you dare”, I was amused and interested.

But after reading the first page of essential gear for the daring girl, I was completely sold … “Patience – Forget perfect on your first try, in the face of frustration your best tool is a few deep breaths and remembering you can do anything once you’ve practiced two hundred times.”


Yes, yes, YES! There is nothing in life I have attempted that I was marvellous at the first time – you should have seen me trying to breastfeed for the first week :-) – and if there is one lesson I want to share with Abby it is this.  Practice.  And enjoy practicing. It will get you where you want to go.


So we have been practicing, laughing, practicing, making up silly songs, practicing, landing on the dogs, practicing, reading and re-reading the directions,practicing, chanting the routine, practicing, tapping out the hand movements on the ground, and practicing.  I think my days as a cartwheeler are well and truly gone (something to do with not being able to reach the ground with that first hand!) but I think Abby will be wheeling around the back garden by the weekend.  She’s practicing marvellous visualisations and saying what she wants to happen whilst doing it – what a girlie! :-)


Now, the evening gloom has deepened, the mosquitoes are getting frisky, and dinner and bathtime are calling.  There’ll be more cartwheels tomorrow.  And for the weekend, we are eagerly reading up on backyard tents, paper making, wooden scooters, climbing, building a campfire, making fudge and lemonade, and playing Chinese skipping.


p.s. today is day one of no-poo.  We have our little squeezey bottles filled – baking soda and water in the green, and apple cider vinegar and water in the red.  I washed my hair with them this morning and it is so soft and shiny.  I showed Abby how to use them tonight – and her hair is soft and clean and tangle free.  Everything I’ve read (see!  it happens almost everyday!) has said to prepare for a couple of weeks of transition – hair being a bit greasy as it adjusts to it’s new, healthier life – we’ll see how it goes and let you know :-)  But I can assure all those interested – despite the strong vinegary smell when we first apply the apple cider rinse, we do not smell even slightly salad-like!  Thank goodness. :-)

keeping up with the household making

Oh my.  Last week, my glee over our successful weekend “hard-rubbish-thrifting” led to me embarking upon several new projects.  Painted goods were lined up on the front porch.  Fabric and stencils were mounded up on the table on the back porch.  I spent the week dirty, paint smeared, with dust in my hair, and glue under my nails.  It was bliss :-)

However – there’s always a however – nothing was finished and today, I must admit, everything looked a little overwhelming.  It was time to “tidy up” and cross finished projects off the list.


The hot glue gun needs to go back into it’s box and downstairs – yo-yos stitched, glued onto the lampshade, lampshade finished. Excellent – lots of tidying up done.


But it’s not really a lampSHADE is it?  I stripped off the daggy, dirty cream satin with gold braid number, scrubbed the frame down with methylated spirits, wrapped the frame with 1/2 inch strips of patchwork fabric (modge podged on) and then added the yo-yos.  I tried not to – but I think they make it look ever so pretty :-)


It still needs rewiring – but after spending an hour trying to wriggle the cord up the base, I’m leaving it for Julian – definitely more his cup of tea than mine.


Now, time to put this morning’s cookies away – cocoa and cranberries.  Our cookies have been living in the sweet little ebay canisters – in plastic bags.  I don’t like to have the food touching the inside of the aluminium containers – they are a bit pitted – but I don’t like using the plastic bags either – yuck.  So, in order to put away the cookies, they needed a bag.  Stencilled osnaberg.


Boy oh boy, am I loving freezer paper stenciling – before long, everything will be yo-yoed AND stencilled.  It is foolproof!  Truly!   And when you add a bit of embroidery and a bit of applique it is so pretty.


All done – cookies away.


And a bag for the five stones.  I used the two back pockets from Julian’s old jeans.  I stitched them together along the old stitch lines, added a draw string and five buttons.


And look what Abby’s brought home – an order list for more five stones – 11 sets!  They were a huge hit at school!  For those who haven’t met five stones before – they’re like knuckles.  I was introduced to them in primary school in Malaysia.  Everyone made their own from scraps of fabric, filled with rice or lentils, and hand stitched across the top.  To play, you sit in a circle (like you would for marbles) – you toss the five stones into the middle, pick one up, throw it into the air and snatch up one of the remaining four and catch in the same hand.  Repeat this until all four have been collected.  On the next round, you have to pick up two at a time.  The third round, you pick up one and three.  And the final round, you pick up all four.  Any misses or drops, you lose your go and it passes to the next player.  It’s a lot of fun :-)

A productive day – much tidier – and happiness all around.

quotable sunday :: Elizabeth Zimmerman


[ tools of choice this week ]


[ adding the personal touch to the soon to be re-covered vintage ironing board ]


[ discovering english oak under layers of white, red, green, and mustard paint ]


[ recreating the five-stones of my childhood, out of an old pair of Julian’s jeans, for Abby ]

” You know, if our ancestors had thrown out their furniture every decade, as we do, where would we go for antiques?  Let us give some thought to the well-being and enjoyment of our descendants, patch up our lares and penates, and hang on to them, so that the future will inherit at least some relics of our heedless and wasteful age.  Working over something, and repairing it, – whether we re-finish furniture, fix over an old house, or put new cuffs on a sweater – not only gives things new life and makes them look cared-for,
but embeds them still deeper in our affections.”  (The Knitter’s Almanac, p. 27)

quotable sunday :: William Morris


~ Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful ~

Oh I so try to live by this mantra.  Sometimes Julian has to remind me, point out the useless, the silly, the downright ugly :-)  But I’m so much better now that I’m getting old and sensible :-)

We’ve been having such a wonderful time lately, cruising the suburbs on the Sunday before the council’s hard rubbish collection, finding items that we consider very useful and sweetly beautiful – but that which others have left on the kerb to be munched into splinters. Honestly, as I clean and repair and paint my finds during the week, I am counting down the sleeps until the coming Sunday!

A marvellous haul tootled home with us today – a vintage wooden ironing board, a couple of serving trays, an antique cane chair, an antique spoon backed chair, a vintage woman’s bike with front basket, back luggage rack and stand, a wooden standard lamp, a wooden and linen laundry hamper, a wonderful vintage lowboy – cupboard with drawers inside, and the piece de resistance – an antique CHAISE LONGUE!  Can you believe it!

We had to ask the owner/disposer if we could move it back into his front garden whilst we hurried home to unload what we had previously considered to be an amazing collection and then come back for the chaise.  He was highly amused, but amiable and as we carried it back inside, warned “You do realise it’s broken?”  “Do you mean here, where the dowel has come unglued on the back rail?”  I asked, having already sat and laid down on the chaise and looked underneath, checking for wonkiness.  “Yes,” he replied very seriously, “We have the whole suite upstairs – matching armchairs, and a sofa, but when this chaise broke, it was just no good to us.”

Oh – my – goodness!  What a strange world we live in! So very indulged materially, that we have become terribly, terribly wasteful.  You wait and see, with a minimal amount of effort – but a lot of love and joy, this chaise longue will be beautiful and give us many, many years of useful comfort.  We also rescued quite a lot of smaller household items – a perfectly good pruning saw (Mum’s been meaning to buy one at the hardware store for months), a blackboard/easel for my nephew Oscar, a expandable safety gate for the doggles, a new laundry trolley for Mum, a pair of wooden curtain rails, a rattan blind in perfect condition and a wooden planter box.

So, long may the words of William Morris guide the nesting of the Boot family.  Useful and beautiful.  I think we can manage that :-)


p.s. this is my new work-a-day apron,
perfect for hard rubbish thrifting, painting, sanding and cleaning,
and it’s ticking both boxes for me – beautiful and useful – and tonight, dirty!

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