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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Inspiration: Anya Brock

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Being an art teacher, an artist, a crafter, running a craft blog and a mother, the creative cup can get pretty empty. The constant demands upon me creatively can be seriously taxing. But as with every trade there are tricks that you learn along the way. There are failsafe ways to keep your creative cup full to overflowing that each artist or creative must discover, largely through trial and error. I have found several ways to keep my cup full. One of these is to surround myself with other creative people. Most of my friends are artists, fashion designers, art teachers, painters, writers and musicians. I love talking art, fashion, jewellery, painting, music with them.

Apart from being around my friends, I also fill the well by keeping abreast of art in Perth and going to exhibition openings and going to listen to live music that I think will be promising. I also love supporting other artists. So, Friday evening was a great night where we did both. First, we went to see Anya Brock’s exhibition opening, Unplanned at PS Art Space in Fremantle.

Brock is a young Fremantle artist who is known for her bold, colourful paintings cockatoos and birds. These are breathtaking. But this exhibition was a return to her roots of using bold geometric design. Her designs remind me so much of the design work of Australian fashion designers Sass and Bide. The balance and use of colour is amazing. The pieces have a contemporary, tribal feel to them. In fact, Brock is covered in tribal tattoos herself and said that she is drawn to them. I loved her paintings.  They are fun, imaginative, wistful and remind me of doodling on a pad while talking on the phone.

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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.
Advent Calendar
• 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.

If you like this, please Pin or Tweet it. And if you like us, then Like Us on Facebook and tell your mates.

Inspiration: Weekend in the Forest

forest1 forest2 forest3I take any opportunity to get out of the city and into the country.  The West Australian country is beautiful.  Mostly it is huge distances, big blue skies and red dirt.  But there are pockets of lush forest.  Some of the biggest forests are found about four to five hours drive south of Perth.  The Karri trees are huge and ancient and provide a green and lushness that we don’t get in Perth, a more beachy and hot, dry place.

Down south, whatever is planted, grows.  Spring is beautiful in these tiny towns, where people take time in their gardens and fill them with colourful flowers.  Our recent weekend away left us feeling renewed, connected, refreshed and ready to keep bringing it every day.

Thanks to our lovely readers for coming back here. If you are inspired by the outdoor life, you may like our Open-Fire Cooking Tips and Recipes.   If you like this, then Pin It by hovering over the images.  If you like us, then Like Us on Facebook and let your mates know that we are here.  We have more Christmas goodness and articles coming in the next few days….

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Inspiration: Island Design (Part 3)

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This is the third and final post titled Island Design, a collection of inspiring photos from our recent ten days’ holiday on a few tiny, Indonesian islands.   Our first post is here and you can read our second post here.  The handiwork, the traditional pottery, the woodcarving, use of colour, patterns was so inspiring that we wanted to share them with our readers.

The colourful patterned photos below come from a Hindu temple, which was situated next to the former house of the ruling monarch (now a tourist attraction only).  The temple and former residence are extremely old.  Maybe 2000 years old.  It was very hard to find any information as no-spoke English and there were no other Westerners in the vicinity.

In our travels, the use of the colour blue seemed to be very prevalent.  Building and homes, in particular, were painted all different shades of blue from  bright to a turquoise to a really green-blue.  They stood out like gems amidst a lot of noise, dust, dirt, rubbish, stray animals and chaos.

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Spooky (Last Minute) Halloween Inspiration

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Here are our last minute Halloween ideas, to create a stylish and spooky Halloween.  These are our top picks from the myriad of Halloween tutorials and ideas on the Internet.  And of course we included our two tutorials from this year.  Our spider web tutorial can be found here.  And our angel wings tutorial can be found here. Other links can be found below.

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Spider Web. Glass Shard + Blood CupcakesBlack Ravens. Gold Pumpkins. Blonde VampireZombie Girl. Grenadine Syringe DrinksDevil CupcakesAngel Wings.

Inspiration: Island Design (Part Two)

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Selamat Pagi! This is the second post from our recent ten days spent on a few tiny Indonesian islands. We were totally inspired by the simplicity of design and the natural materials used. The use of everyday materials such as wood, sand, bamboo, banana leaves etc was amazing. The beauty was raw and not overthought. The effect was calming and light.

If you would like to read our first post on Island Design, it is here. And come back next week for our third Island Design post.  The next one is a little different and more colourful.

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Inspiration: Island Design

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Selamat Pagi! Sorry for our week-long absence. We have been snorkelling, relaxing and soaking up the sun on a few tiny Indonesian islands. While we were there, we were so inspired by the simplicity of island design, the natural materials, the simple lines, the use of renewable resources, the beauty of structures on the island and the no-fuss way of island life.

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We have returned to Perth feeling very inspired to create simple lines and spaces. Also very thankful to live three hours’ flight from Indonesia with its beautiful people and breathtaking landscape. This week we will be straight back into OHC business. We will be posting some more Halloween posts and some food + more photos of Indonesia.

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