Inspiration: Magnificent Wales (Part 1)

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There is nothing more inspiring to the creative life than travel. Colours, textures, sounds, sights, people all different and all jolt the senses and open your eyes to the new. Our recent stay of nine days in Wales was a visual feast, so opposite in colour and sights to Western Australia. The vibrant, jewel colours, the muted light, often against a grey sky, the cold, the mountains covered in green, stone walls, green fields with sheep greyed by mud, water, rain so much rain and the small winding roads leading to quaint little towns. Nothing could be more different to the flat, sun-drenched oceans and dirt, the massive blue skies and the heat that I am used to.

Beautiful Wales, captured my imagination with her vastness, deserted roads, and ancient ruins of castles, spattering the landscape.  A language impossible to pronounce, that sounds like a song being sung and seems that it would be difficult to sound bitter or even bored.  The people so friendly I made acquaintances and had good, long conversations in many towns.  Wales has inspired revivals, poems and music, and it’s not difficult to see why.

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If you like this, Pin It and if you like us Like Us on Facebook. We will be back in the next few days with some delicious inspiration from Wales and some Valentine’s Day loveliness.

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How To: Celebrate Australia Day

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We are jetlagged and happy to be back home from an incredible three weeks spent in Europe.  Before we give you some European inspiration, we need to get straight to the point…

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26th January, Australia Day, is our favourite day of the year.  It is BIG in Australia, a much bigger celebration than New Year’s Eve.  Why?  Because we love our country.  Sun, surf, sand, and hardworking, laid-back, friendly people with great attitudes and lots of smiles……What’s not to love?  And our country is so beautiful it takes your breath away…  So much diversity, so big.

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So, how to celebrate Australia Day?  Here are some of the things that we do to celebrate:

  • Have an Australia Day party with mates and family.  It can go all day, starting all in the morning and finishing early the next morning.  That is no worries.  Make sure that there is plenty of food and drinks for everyone.
  • Drink Beer.  Australian beers are great to try.  On this day it’s ok to drink a little more than you would otherwise because… it’s what we do.
  • Remember the original owners of this land.  Remembering Aboriginals as the original owners of this land is important to us, recognising that they looked after this land for many tens of thousands of years before we arrived — just over 200 years ago.
  • Have a barbie in the backyard with all your mates.  This is what we all do.  But please don’t put shrimps on the barbie.  We call them prawns….. and we don’t cook them on the barbie.  We cook lamb (Australia is full of sheep) and sausages.  A typical Aussie barbie goes for hours and everyone brings their own meat and a salad to share.  The men cook the meat and the women fuss over the salads and bread.  When it’s time to eat, all the salads are put onto  a table and the meat is piled up on a platter, and everyone fills their plates.  There is a lot of food as there would be nothing worse than not having enough.  I’m not sure why, but at an Aussie barbie, usually the women and men socialise separately.  Probably because the men talk about the cricket and footy while the women talk about other things.  When I’ve taken people from overseas to Aussie barbies they usually find this really weird, but to us it’s so normal that we barely notice it.  Beers are a must at an Aussie barbie.  Men stand around the barbie drinking.  Women might drink wine instead of beer.  But the beer never runs out.

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  • Go for a swim at the beach.  We all do.  The weather over here has been as hot as hell (we were lucky to have missed 47 degrees celcius in Perth by being in London).  Because we have so much sun and a massive hole over the Ozone layer, we go for a swim and a boogey board in the early morning for an hour or so and then again in the evening.  Australians (particularly those on the West Coast) don’t go to the beach for the whole day.  It’s too hot and you just get burnt and dehydrated.  While you’re at the beach.  Don’t forget to make a sandcastle.
  • Eat lamingtons.  Lamingtons are gorgeous little squares of vanilla sponge cake, dipped in chocolate and coated in coconut flakes.  We grew up on lamingtons, our grandmas had a plate of them waiting for us when we visited.  They are delicious and melt in your mouth.  Usually it is so hot that the chocolate melts all over your fingers making a big mess.  Yes, they are a must for Australia Day.
  • Eat pavlova.  Pavlova is a meringue pie, covered with cream and usually topped with fruit.  Once again this is a very sweet and sugary dessert.  It is so good.   We often put strawberries on top because the tartness of the berries counteracts the sickly sweetness of the meringue and it is delicious.  We eat pavlova at a lot of our celebrations and the person who makes the pav is pretty popular with everyone.
  • Listen to Australian music.  Some radio stations play 24 hours of the best Aussie music of all time.  We listen iconic musicians like Jimmy Barnes, Cold Chisel, INXS, Crowded House and even Kylie.

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  • Watch fireworks.   In Perth we have a huge fireworks display over the Swan River, and a few hundred thousand people line up along the river to watch them as the sun goes down.  It’s spectacular.  We bring picnics, drinks.  We tend to go together in big groups and make a whole day of it.  You will find people setting themselves up on the banks of the Swan River from the early morning until late at night.  Many people bring cricket bats and have a game of cricket with their mates.  We bring big eskies full of food and drinks, sunscreen, blankets to sit on and fold up chairs.  In Perth, many people now catch the train to the event or even ride bikes.  It’s one very hot day so if you are going remember to wear a hat, sunscreen up like nothing else and drink water, then some more.

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Have a wonderful Australia Day! If you are not in Australia, feel free to celebrate still. If you have Aussie friends, they are sure to be homesick on this day. Why not take them beers, mates and have a barbie, while listening to loud music and getting rowdy? Enjoy! We will be back with more European inspiration in the next few days.

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Happy New Year, Looking Back then Forward…

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2013 is coming to a close.  I will be celebrating with some friends, a dip in the ocean and sitting around outdoors sipping on some Moet and nibbling on some sushi.  Perfect, non?  And then packing my bags as we leave for Paris in two days.

2013 has been exciting and amazing… and I’m sure that 2014 has many more in store for us here at One Hour Craft. It has been fantastic to have this blog up and running again. I have appreciated the input from so many sources, the encouragement and the feedback. I have felt more like I personally know what I am doing and there has been a flow to that has made it seem easy and natural to be back.

2014 will see us expand and take on more challenges over here…. But before we reach there let’s look back at some of our readers’ favourite tutorials from the past three months…

  • Our Chai Cleaning and Room Spray proved to be a big hit with our readers.  It is lovely and we have found that bugs including mosquitoes really don’t like the spicy fragrance.  It has been fantastic on hot, mosquito-ridden nights over here and we use it all the time.
  • We loved sharing one of our favourite drinks The Roasted Toasted Almond, which would be a great addition to any New Years Eve party.
  • Our ColourBurst necklaces are so fun to make and look fantastic.  When we gave all of ours away as presents, our friends and family loved them.  Always a great sign!
  • We gave away one of our most cherished recipes for Thai Pumpkin and Fish Curry.  This is a such a versatile recipe, great for a tv dinner or outdoor quick meal and equally special for an intimate dinner party with friends.
  • We loved making our whimsical little Cherry Necklace.  A great, quick little present to make and adore.
  • We continued our love affair with tassels, including this great little tutorial to make Simple Tassels and our great party decorations, Paper Tassel Garlands.
  • Our recent Fabulous Fringe is a personal favourite and looks great on so many different sorts of jumpers…. and possibilities for so many more looks.  Love.

And our personal favourite posts….

  • We loved getting on our bikes more often.  Love bike riding and love encouraging others to get on theirs.  What a great New Years Resolution, to ride your bike as much as you can.  Great for the environment, great for your bod, great for your head, also there’s even a study which says that people who ride bikes have better marriages.  What’s not to love???
  • The Dior-Inspired Double-Sided Earrings may be our favourite earrings of all time and they have been worn to death.  They are the perfect mix of edgy sophistication.  The bomb.
  • Open-Fire Cooking is a passion and one we hope to do more in 2014.
  • Our Orange Power Cleaner is by our favourite cleaning product and keeps our home smelling delicious.  I am obsessed by it.

Looking ahead.  In 2014 we will be…

  • Connecting more with our readers….Can’t wait.
  • Running several awesome workshops in collaboration with different artists.
  • Collaborating and connecting with many more gorgeous creative friends, artists and artisans.  Can’t wait!
  • Expanding with more contributors.
  • Blogging from our various travels, the first being Paris, Beautiful Paris.
  • Writing another book?!?
  • Writing for some of our favourite magazines.  Again.  Yay!
  • Bringing our readers much more inspiration and creative love…

Cheers to a bright and happy 2014!

Maria xxx

Christmas Eve in Collage

collage11. Aviators love. 2. Lemon juice in water for breakfast. 3. Sunnydale Banana Milk  4. Gluten-Free toast with banana for breakfast.  5. Our colourburst necklace, great for the beach.  6. Grubby yellow thongs we live in (yes, flipflops are thongs to us!).

We thought we’d capture our Christmas Eve (so far) in collage…. I know that the idea of spending Christmas at the beach is very foreign to most. This year the weather is a few degrees cooler than sweltering and incredibly pleasant. We spend a lot of time in the water, eating outdoors, going for walks, eating fruit and light foods and soaking up the sun.

collage21. Our reindeer antler card ready to give to a friend.  2.  Banana Milk.  3. Cane hat by Stella McCartney for Target.  4.  Wrapped.  5.  Me, Calvin + Millie  6.  Bikini  7. Bling from Indo 8. Candy cane from our advent calendar  9.  Aviators love.

collage31. Sarong to wrap up in for lunch.  2.  Australian flower pendant designed by a friend (now departed)  3.  Niulife Coconut Vinegar – delicious  4.  Mango!  5. Flowers delivered by lovely friends.  6.  Favourite Spanish heels.  7. Our delicious Roast Vegetable Salad.  Good enough to live on, recipe coming soon.

collage41. Bathing suit.  2.  Real Living Magazine for a bit of afternoon relaxing.  Presents all done.  3.  Coconut water with guava nectar.  4.  Bright pink mirrors love.  5. Wrapped and ready to go thanks to Millie.  5.  Our tassel and bone necklace.

And still to come, another dip in the Indian Ocean, meeting up with friends for drinks, dinner with other friends and Midnight Mass…. followed by a mad rush home and me staying up well into the night wrapping presents and making a few extra cards. We hope your Christmas Eve is relaxing and wonderful.

If you like this Pin It, and enjoy!

Article: How to Create a Happy, Relaxed Homemade Christmas (Part 2)

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This is the second part of our article How to Create a Happy, Relaxed Homemade Christmas (Part 1). In the first part, we discussed how to simplify making cards and presents. Part 2 covers how to simplify homemade Christmas decorating, gift wrapping and Christmas gatherings.

1. Christmas Decorating

If you have already brainstormed as suggested in the first part of this article you will already have some ideas as to what you would like in your home.
Thankfully, Christmas decorating has a finite number of elements. These may include Christmas tree, Advent Calendar, Lighting, Other decorations, Garlands, Wreaths. For ideas, Pinterest is always a great starting point.
Let’s tackle each element separately. But before we do here are some tips on simplifying Christmas decorating as a whole:
• Start and continue Christmas decorating traditions in your home. For example, in our home we have wreaths which are beautifully homemade and are carefully packed away and brought out at the beginning of each holiday season. Children especially love the continuity, while we feel very nostalgic on opening them up.
• Visit your local Christmas markets and buy these things, supporting other artisans in your area. This is great if you are time-poor but still want a homemade holiday. Or, you could browse Etsy, there are always thousands of options for exquisitely made one-off decorations, generally at affordable prices.
• Throw out the idea of a colour scheme. In the past I have fastidiously chosen a new colour scheme for Christmas each year. But this is harder to do when you are working, running a business, raising a child, running a home, travelling etc. I find that the colours I have been drawn to over the years haven’t changed really. And so my colour scheme is eclectic and somehow it all just works. It tends to be dominated by blues and ocean colours which really work well with the rest of the décor in my home. Reusing ornaments also helps to keep costs down.
• Organise a crafternoon with girlfriends to make wreaths, ornaments or garlands.
• Keep your decorating minimal. This is my trick. I am a minimalist by nature anyway, and not drawn to fussy things. A few carefully chosen decorations well hung, always looks more chic than a lot of stuff.

Now let’s look at some of the elements of Christmas decorating in more detail:

Christmas Trees

• Invest in a beautiful tree that can be used year after year. This is a much more sustainable solution. There are a lot of gorgeous tree available on the Internet. We have had the same tree for the past ten years.
• Lights look fabulous on the tree. We use the same lights each year.
• If you do not have enough decorations, paper decorations are easy to make and look incredible. Why not make geometric shapes from card, or stitched paper decorations.
• Keep it light. A few garlands of pompoms, hearts, even small bunting look beautiful and not too over the top.
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• Simplify your Advent Calendar. A lot of the Calendars on the Internet are huge, containing a mountain of lollies each day for children and adults to devour. This isn’t necessary. Make a simple Advent Calendar with one lolly each day and everyone can take turns. The anticipation of waiting for their day actually makes this more exciting for children, not less. An Advent Calendar can be as simple as a beautiful piece of drift wood, hung from the wall, 24 candy canes strung from it with fishing wire.  Try our simple Star + Cane Advent Calendar or our Little Birdie Advent Calendar.
• Reuse last year’s calendar. If you do make a fancy calendar, then make it so that you will be able to use for the next few years at least. Then take the time to wrap it in tissue paper. It is like Christmas for children when they open these boxes at the beginning of Advent.

2. Gift Wrapping

Gift wrapping makes a present. One of my greatest pleasures at Christmas is to see all the gifts wrapped and under the tree (before our gorgeous Ragdoll cat tries to pull them all apart). Homemade wrapping doesn’t need to be fancy or over the top. Here are some tips to make it simpler.
• Wrap all of your presents at the same time. Once again, get together the whole family or friends also, to help.
• Brown paper is a really good starting point for wrapping presents. Or choose another neutral colour, then add a gift tag and a ribbon.
• Your presents don’t need to be overly decorated. Adding lace, extra hessian strips, this and that, takes a lot of time. Keep it simple with beautiful wrapping and a bow or Baker’s twine.  For a simple, chic wrap try Perfect Wrapping Tutorial.
• Gift tags are easier to make than cards.

3. Christmas Gatherings

The most daunting has been left til last.
Christmas gatherings can be really stressful. Sometimes just the number of them can be overwhelming. Often there are extended family dos, office parties, friends’ drinks, family meals, school events, drop in visits to loved ones, bbqs etc. Here are some tips to make them simpler.
• Take out your Iphone or calendar with your partner and coordinate the dates for your gatherings. If you put these into your Iphone, in the notes section write down what you will be required to bring with you. Also write these onto a list so that you will know when they are and what is required of you.
• Be willing to say ‘No’ when required. Attending too many functions is just exhausting and leaves no time for just enjoying the season. Cancel one evening out and spend some time on the couch snuggling, watching the lights on the tree, listening to the Elvis Presley Christmas album and sipping on a gorgeous cocktail. You will thank yourself.
• Focus on being hospitable, and not on entertaining. The difference is huge. Being hospitable means opening up your home and your hearts to people, making them feel welcome and looking after them. Entertaining is about impressing and really doesn’t take into account others. It tends to be me-centred, nitpicky and perfectionistic. Remember that friends and family will only take away the way you made them feel from your function. Food and décor will be forgotten.
• For big dinners such as Christmas lunch there are several ways to simplify and still keep it homemade and gorgeous. In our family, each couple brings something different for the meal. Someone brings the ham, another the turkey, another a few salads, another brings dessert. It is delicious as everyone puts a lot of effort into their part. Everyone brings wine, drinks and extras such as bonbons, chocolate, sunscreen (our Christmas is normally around a backyard pool). It is like a gourmet potluck.  For a wonderful dessert try our Peach Flan.
• If you are going to a gathering and are required to bring nothing, always bring something. A small gift for the hostess is all that is needed. This can be a small package of little sugar cookies, a small loaf or even a bottle of homemade lime and ginger cordial. This is always appreciated and makes people much more willing to put in the time and effort to host great functions.
• Set aside some time and make some hostess gifts. If you make a few batches of cookies and carefully package them, you will be ready to go for the last-minute get-togethers that often happen around this time.  Our Lime + Pistachio Meltaways or our Gluten-Free Chocolate + Peanut Butter Cookies are delicious recipes.

Wishing you a wonderful time preparing for a Homemade Christmas.  We have more Christmas tutorials coming in the next few days.

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Article: How to Create A Happy, Relaxed Homemade Christmas (Part 1)

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Would you love to do a homemade Christmas but the thought of it is so stressful that you find yourself getting stressed already?  Are you sick of factory-made, ugly Christmas crap ?  Would you love to lead your family in a more environmentally-friendly and creative Christmas?  Do you dream of making the presents, the decorations, the gift wrap, the cards, and the food from scratch?

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If you find yourself daunted by the whole idea of a Homemade Christmas, we have great tips to help you make it easier and more enjoyable.

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Break Christmas down into several elements.

Basically, a homemade Christmas has a finite number of elements which is great.  These elements are cards, presents, wrapping, Christmas gatherings (such as Christmas dinner), home decorating.

Take a huge sheet of butcher’s paper and plan under these headings.  This is your first brainstorm.  Under each heading just spend a few minutes and write your first ideas that come to your head.

Under presents, write down the names of everyone you will be giving presents to.  Write the age of the children next to their names and then start to jot down some ideas for homemade gifts.

Under the title of cards, write down your ideas for homemade cards, and make lists of colleagues, friends, extended family and others who you give cards to.

Under the heading of Christmas Gatherings, write down the gatherings you are committed to and underneath write down what you are expected to do for this gathering.  For example, the Family Christmas Gathering on 21 Dec, I will be bringing a dessert.  Write down any work parties, neighbours house for drinks and any others you will need to plan for.

This will take some time and once you have finished you will now have a very visual and more clear path to a homemade Christmas.  Now move onto the next steps…

Now we tackle each element in detail.

Each element needs to be looked at in more detail.

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1. Christmas Cards

Write lists of Christmas card recipients under headings such as colleagues, friends, family.  This will create a hierarchy of sorts.  Don’t be afraid to make different cards for each group, according to your level of intimacy.  Make the best cards for your husband, partner and children, extended family make simpler cards and for colleagues and distant friends, make cards that are even simpler.

Give yourself a deadline for handing out cards.  For example, cards being sent will need to be finished three weeks before Christmas, work colleagues’ cards will need to be finished by the last day of work.  Place deadlines in your phone or on your calendar so that you stick to them.

For card ideas, browse sites such as Pinterest.  There are many ideas.  Choose three different ideas for each group.  To keep your choices simple, choose minimalist designs, choose simple colour combinations and choose designs which can be partly made on a computer.  A way to make this easier again is to think of which techniques you will use to make the cards.  Drawing and painting cards is time-consuming.  Techniques such as printing, sewing and stamping are a lot quicker.  Anything you can easily replicate is easy to make.  Photo cards and quick to make.

Now to begin making cards, make a list of the materials you will need to make your cards.  Gather and mark off any materials you already have.  Make a list and buy the other materials on-line or head out on a shopping trip.

Then map out a space of time to begin making your cards.  A great idea is to make cards in an assembly line and ask your children to help you.  Or ask a girlfriend over for an evening of cardmaking and make both of your cards in one sitting.  Another way to tackle cards is to set up all of your materials on a small table for a few weeks.  Let the people you share your home with, know not to move anything or help themselves to it.  Then whenever you have a few minutes, sit at the table and finish your cards.

When all your cards are made, write on them, envelope them, address them.  Place a stamp on those that need to be sent and put them all into a shoebox marked clearly ‘Christmas Cards’.

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2. Presents

You have made your list of Christmas gifts.  If it seems overwhelming there are several ways to simplify.  These may include:

  • Negotiating with family.  A few years ago, our family decided to stop giving gifts to the adults as we have many children and it was becoming very expensive.  Our extended family is huge and we only give cards.
  • Give family gifts or couples gifts.  Instead of trying to find a gift for your sister and brother-in-law, give them a couples gift that they will both enjoy.  Couples gifs may include giving a basket full of great products for amazing chemical-free, homemade Home and Skin Products such as Moisturising Bars, Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Scrub, Coffee Scrub Bars, Orange Power Cleaner and Chai Room Spray.
  • Make the same gift so that you can make them in an assembly line which is much quicker.  This year my family will be giving all of the grandchildren the same present.  They will each be getting a pair of homemade pyjamas, which will be a pair of shorts for the boys and girls and a screenprinted/ appliqued tshirt.  All of the boys’ pjs will be the same and the girls will be the same.  We have nine children, so this will be fun to see.  Another idea is to screenprint tshirts for all the children, or make them a gorgeous bag each.  This idea cuts down on costs too as you can buy in bulk and use materials more economically.
  • Give an early gift.  This year we will be giving family gifts of advent calendars in the next few weeks to friends.  They know to expect these and are not making or buying their own.  This will simplify my list as I can mark these off my list and just give these families a card on Christmas day.  They will have the whole of Advent to enjoy their gift from us.

When you have made your final list, you will be able to sort people into different lists, as you did with the cards.  Remember that a lot of making a gift attractive is in the packaging.  For example, Cookies in a Jar are a great gift to make for colleagues.  These can be made at the same time and take very little time or materials to make.  They are also inexpensive.  There are many variations of gifts like this.

Tackle the presents in order of difficulty to make.  Tackle the big ones, like your husband and children first.  When you have your lists, make the list of materials you will need.  Hunt around the house and work out what you have, mark this off and then get on-line or go shopping to find the rest.

Once again, when tackling the presents, it will be easier to make them in an assembly line.  For example, if you are sewing bags, cut them all out at the same time, and then construct the same step at the same time.  This makes it a lot quicker.  Enlist the help of children and your partner, if they are able to help.

Or if you are working in small chunks, set aside a table and make it out of bounds.  Then you can work on them when you have a spare 10 minute block.  Of course, if they are for your children or partner, you will need to be a whole lot more secretive.  This is what evenings are for.

We hope this is helpful.  Join us for part two in a few days’ time, where we will tackle, gift wrapping, home decorating and Christmas gatherings…

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