Monday, 9 December 2013

Gifts from the Heart.

 A little Bohemian/ Moroccan/ Indian home made by Shayni
I love my home.  It is an eclectic mix of India/Morocco/ Mediterranean style.  Just like the little house Shayni made a few years back at school. The perfect handmade gift.  Much of our house is kitch.  Gaudy.  Like Gaudi's architectural fusion of art and kitch.  Our home is a reflection of ourselves.  And in fact, just recently, it was not the first time that someone has called me a hippy.  A parent just recently told me she was talking to another parent -and he mentioned he had spoken to a teacher but couldn't recall her name.  She asked what the teacher looked like - "like a hippy" he replied.  She said she knew exactly which teacher he was talking about - me!  This has amused me somewhat in the past - my knowledge of hippies paints a picture of someone who wearing long hair, leather sandals, tie-dyed clothes and into drugs and free love.  This is not me.  But I do like to wear ethnic or bright coloured clothing (usually pre-loved) and grow food.  Is that really hippy??

Coffee-bag lined bread bag
I have always fancied a bread bin to keep my home-baked bread in.  I make it in a bread maker, but the loaf is so fat, it is hard to find a plastic bag to wrap it in to keep it fresh.  The type I fancied was a wooden one with a little door that disappears into itself like a garage door, but I realised I never had the bench-top space to own one in reality.  So eventually, I have created my very own version of a soft bread bin.  It has recycled coffee bags to line it and to keep it fresh, and a fabric outer, with velcro at the top for easy fastening.  So far, all test runs have proven to be successful.  Mmmmmn, wonder if there is a market out there for bread bags??  Could make great Christmas gifts!

My bread bag prototype
We have a lovely German HelpXchange couple staying with us at the moment and so I thought I would make them a farewell gift - what fits into a backpack and is useful on the road - aha!  A travel document pouch to keep it all together!  So I set about making a lined, recycled coffee bag pouch with internal pocket for storing a memory stick and other little travel treasure.  I hope they find it useful!!

So maybe it's the hippy in me, I love to make and create things!  So that's why I love Christmas.  Not for me, the busy, noisey, hustling, bustling malls with it's piped Christmas tunes.  I prefer to take my time and make gifts from the heart.  If it can include some recycling, the better the challenge.   I found an old woolen blanket at an opp shop and gave it a little TLC revamp.  There was a hole in it which was nicely disguised with a great big contrasting heart, and the frayed edges got a checked edging.   It was gifted to my son's girlfriend as a hipster TV blanket.  She loved it.  Yay!  My son asked me if I liked her a couple of weekends ago when they were over.  I replied that I didn't like here quite as much as he did, but I certainly liked her plenty!  And that I hoped she'd be around for a very, very long time.  They're moving in together after a year of long-distance alternate weekends each commuting the 9 hours by bus between Hamilton and Wellington.  

Up-cycled Hipster TV blanket
I have been finding time to tutu in the little garden shed and made this wooden sculpture.  It was supposed to swing freely but only does a 180 degree clockwise and then back to it's original starting point - so it's more like a pendulum.  Sorta.  Anyway, that one I gifted to my garden.

View from top
I have included some images from previous year's gifts, all hand-crafted in the garden shed with cedar shutter off-cuts.
Planter box for seedlings makes a great gift for gardeners

A variety of wooden boxes for storing bay leaves.
My most recent project: a little set of shelves

Bay leaf boxes and a jute string dispenser for avid gardeneners
A jewellery box with compartments, a ring stack and a hinged lid with opening arm to
secure it when open.  The hinges were old shoe leather.
Even Shanti has had a cat toy made for her.  I noticed she loved to sniff at the catnip plant, so I dried some leaves and then made a little bag with tassles on.  I threw it at her and she immediately started to shred it with her hind paws and sniff at it in a druggy-like haze.  Had to try to rescue it as it is her Christmas present to go under the tree!  She is after all, a member of the family, albeit a very naughty one!  She loves all the paper fall-out on the day.  

Raw, unbleached cotton dish towels and cat toys
There are still many projects I would like to get stuck into - alas, not much time left in a work day!  The other recent little project is herb-flavoured salt.  It is sooo delicious.  And easy-as to make.  I make it for ourselves and then some to give away at Christmas. Seeing the Rosemary bush look set to turning into a tree, I took to it with a secateurs and pruned all the out-of-control branches.  Popped the leaves and a big bunch of parsley into the dehydrator for a few hours and then ground it all in our old second-hand coffee grinder.  It works out perfect when you have a cup of dried, ground herbs to 2 and a half cups of unwashed natural sea salt.  I have also experimented with chilli salt - dehydrate and grind your chillies up and add to the salt.  In this case, a tablespoon of chilli to 2 and a half cups salt is sufficient, unless you want  to blow your Christmas recipients' socks off.

Mediterranean Salt
I received a lovely surprise early Christmas gift from the Heart from my daughter 2 days ago, when she presented me with a Christmas angel picture she had painted for me on a piece of cardboard.  Will be framing it.  Can't wait for our annual Christmas break which starts in 2 weeks time - my project list is as long as my arm!  Bliss!
Christmas angel painted for me by Shayni

Cool little corn angel gifted to me by a friend
sits atop our Chrissie Tree

Aquilegia or granny bonnets in the shady parts of the garden - gifts for the heart!!

And for the love of making and recycling.... check this amazing website out - the owners made a stunning home for very little money, out of 2 old shipping containers.  Wow!  Awesome!

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