Tuesday, December 17, 2013

An Elegant Christmas

We're having a low key Christmas at our house.
A more elegant Christmas.
Not for us, the oversized plastic tree of years gone by.
No sequinned or blinged out wreaths either.
Not a scrap of tinsel to be found.
Instead it's a German Ivy, trained over a bamboo hoop for the last several months. An ironwork Eiffel Tower and some charmingly rustic jingle bells tied with tea dyed muslin providing a nod to a traditional Christmas.
A baby Thuja Conifer, perhaps all of 80cms tall, is displayed in a perfectly proportioned white French Urn, white feather boa at it's base, tulle and hailspot netting fascinator, resurrected from my daughters dance costume recital as tree topper. She and I made some miniature ornaments fit for a miniature tree. Little tags that say 'Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all Men' in French. We threaded pearl glass beads in shades of pewter on to bracelet elastic, and added tiny feathered angels and glass reindeer to perch amongst the foliage. White rosebuds from a bouquet from Husband, are dried and repurposed continuing our neutral theme. Fairy Lights add the mandatory Festive glow.

And to greet our guests in the entry hall, a twig tree in a silver vase, prettily adorned with miniature white owls, a linen bow, and a glittering life sized owl to keep it company.

No green or red. No loud or brash. No Santa or Nutcracker.
I know.
It's not for everyone.
But for us...it's perfect.
Mimi Mama

Monday, December 16, 2013

Very Special DIY Gifts..The Modern Girls Decoupage`...

So you thought that Decoupage` was all about Victoriana images and antique music, didn't you.
Here's my Modern French twist on Decoupage` Baubles.
Aren't they fab?
These were Christmas baubles that had seen better days, and I was about to toss them, as you do, when I had this idea. Note too, that I've since successfully used polystyrene balls to achieve the same result.
I downloaded and printed out vintage French poster images by Rene Gruau, a graphic artist and fashion illustrator I admire, and also found some fabulous vintage advertisements for Dior, The Lido, Vogue and others.
Here are just a couple that I used....
If you Google 'vintage French posters' you'll find lots of gorgeous stuff.

So, knowing nothing about the 'proper' way to decoupage`, I cut my images into all sorts of triangle shapes so that they'd be easier to apply to round surfaces. Then I simply painted my bauble with Royal Coat, (a bottle of which I'd had in my craft cupboard for about ten years from my previous flirtation with Victoriana images and wooden boxes), and started applying them.
I didn't worry about creases, preferring to see them as part of the charm of the bauble.
So here's what I started with....

And here's how it looked finished...

These are the reverse sides of the first picture in this post.

Two coats of Royal Coat to finish and they were done.

I thought about spraying them with glitter, as I do adore a bit o' bling, but decided against it, preferring the vintage look.

The best thing about these, is they don't have to be stored after Christmas. Not being an obviously Christmassy montage`, means you can display them in a glass bowl, all year round, injecting a bit of French Frou-Frou, into your day...


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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sparkles, giftwrap blanc, and yarn...

I adore Butchers paper for gift wrapping. I think elsewhere in the world, it may be referred to as Carpenters paper.
It's a blank canvas that does not limit you to snowflakes for Christmas, pirates for boys birthdays, roses for Mothers Day and golf clubs for Fathers Day.
It's also sold by weight..isn't that odd?
We paint it, potato stamp it, write French greetings on it, or paste favourite photo memories on it to tailor it to our recipient.
But here's our favourite way to use it.
Plain, simple and yet so effective.
Wrap your gift in plain Butchers paper. This one was a chunky scented candle, and the other thing I love about the Butchers paper is that it's thinner and more pliable, yet sturdier than flimsy gift wrap for oddly shaped gifts.
Now we've discovered this brilliant stuff at our local dollar store called Eva Foam. It's thicker than craft cardboard, more pliable as it is indeed a sort of foam, and super glittery, thus saving us the task of glittering it ourselves. Lacking Eva Foam in your area, of course use anything from glittered craft cardboard, to Victoriana or designer label images pasted to cardstock.
Cut a pleasing shape from your foam or cardstock, be it a simple rectangle as pictured, or something more complex like a star, heart, favourite animal or car, or designer logo. I've done some very special designer ones which I'll share with you tomorrow, so stay tuned.
Now simple bend your glittered shape gently in half, avoiding creasing it overly much, and cut two little tiny slits, much as you would imagine buttonholes to sit, in your shape. These are to thread your yarn or ribbon through.
Tie your yarn or ribbon around your gift (we use a couple of rounds to make it look generous), and tie firmly in a knot on top of the gift.
Now thread the ends of your yarn, up through the slits in your glittered shape, seat in firmly on top of the knot and tie in a bow.
Ta-da! Very pretty and stylish gift embellishments for the teeniest, tiniest price of a fraction of a cent. We estimate you'd get at least one hundred glittery embellishments out of one sheet of glittered foam or cardboard and one ball of yarn.
Mimi Mama

Friday, December 13, 2013

Embellished luxury chocolates...

Beautifully embellished luxury chocolates can be very expensive in the high end designer chocolate shops, but fortunately they're easy to replicate.
My chocolate bars are all Lindt, and they are the perfect size and thickness to wrap and decorate beautifully for gift giving either simply with a card, or as part of a larger hamper.
This one is wrapped in a sheet of pink A4 paper. A small paper doily is glued around the base, and stick on diamanté` dots glued in a pretty swirl. Silk crafting ribbon loops, swirls and flowers are held in place with tiny dots from my hot glue gun. I just randomly swirled the ribbon as I went, fastening it with the glue as when the design pleased me. A final diamanté` in the centre of the flower and a couple randomly dotted here and there to catch the light is a pretty effect. Finished with a lush milkshake pink velvet ribbons, this one is a favourite.

This second one was done for a male teacher. Simple wrapped in a square of black crafting felt, and held together with thin red satin ribbon, it has a hand made gift tag made from black cardstock attached. Messages reading 'Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all men' in French, typed up and printed out to size, are glued to the cardstock, and copper gold glitter is applied to the edges. A festive, yet masculine idea.
This third one is my teenaged daughters favourite. It features a desktop wallpaper image of two Japanese Anime style friends, fingers linked pinky style as a sign of their bond. Decorated with black ready made rhinestone swirls and navy blue velvet ribbon, it's a pretty gift for a schoolfriend.
Finally, simple and traditional, this one was gifted to her teacher yesterday along with a heartfelt handwritten card. Simply wrapped in red felt, and tied with Christmas ribbon from a Cake Decorating supplier, it is simple and elegant.
These chocolates were under $4 each, and the embellishments not much more. Gifted with a handmade or bought card, with a message from the heart therein, they'd be a gift welcomed by anyone, young or old.
..... Mimi Mama ...x

Friday, November 29, 2013

DIY Chanel Pop Art....

Inspired by this iPhone Scribble above, found on Pinterest, using my own bottle of Chanel No 5 as 'the model', and armed with Butchers Paper (do you know they sell that stuff by weight? I am now the proud owner of 10kgs of it!)...and just four artists crayons in black, white, soft grey and deep yellow, I created this....

I just covered an old picture that I was a bit tired of with the Butchers Paper, and went for it. It's not meant to be neat or realistic. It's meant to be Pop Art-ish.
I popped an interpretation (that's what it means when you can't draw it properly!) of a Chanel camellia in the top corner to fill the space a bit.

You could do smaller versions on card stock with a bit of bling on them, or A4 sized ones, framed in gold embellished frames for that hard to buy for friend.

Just try to not be too picky.

It's an interpretation, remember....*wink*....

I'll be working on some other interpretations in the next few weeks.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bookcase makeover....still going....

A timely purchase of French inspired storage trays has me working overtime on my office bookshelf makeover. I'm hoping that these trays and a few well placed trinkets will have my office area looking "chic", rather than "shack"!
I'm stealing ideas grabbing inspiration from Jen over at Craft-o-maniac for some little Christmas inspired vignettes in gold, black, white and woodtone. I adore her colour scheme and elegant style, and I'm hoping she won't mind me having a design crush on her stuff.
So while, I lug magazines to the thrift shop, rehouse sewing bibs and bobs, and generally fluff and frivolise, why not pop over and visit Jen. She has a linky party on and there's some fabbo stuff there.
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Motherly Advice...Make ironing a pleasure

 'Woman Ironing'  Armand Desire Gautier (French 1825-1894)

First and foremost, have a decent ironing board with padding beneath the cover, and comfortable shoes to relieve fatigue. I'm assuming that like me, you prefer to get the ironing over and done with in one fell swoop!

Secondly, do treat yourself (that sounds odd, but having good equipment to perform your household tasks IS a treat of sorts) to a decent iron. One that feels light in your hand, preferably cordless....this is the twenty first century after all...and a decent steam and spray function.

Start with the most delicate items, ironed on a lower temperature, and move upwards to the more substantial items requiring the higher temperatures.

Make sure you have plenty of coathangers! I have been buying six velvet covered hangers a week for ages. An investment of just $6 a week, now means we can use these exclusively. They take up less space in the wardrobe, and the clothing does not slip from them.

Put a little of your favourite fabric softener into a spray bottle and use it as ironing aid.

Not only will it make your clothes and ironing area smell beautiful, but it'll make the ironing easier.

Alternatively, add a teaspoonful of Lectric Soda and a few drops of your favourite essential oil.

It'll perform the same task.

Have some music playing. Use your iPod or other techno gadget, or just have a battery operated radio in your ironing area. Sing along. Singing always makes the task go quicker.

Iron near a window, where the breeze can blow over you and you can enjoy the view outside, no matter what it is. I'm equally at peace looking at rainforest, water, the backyard, or a city skyline. My favourite ironing view though, is my front garden, so I iron near the window that best shows off my roses and hydrangeas.

Set up your favorite movie or TV series, and iron while you watch. The time will fly!

Take pleasure in knowing that no matter what you wear, it will always look better ironed! Even the most threadbare, vintage, or aged clothing is more flattering when fresh, and pressed.

Ironing won't be fun, but it will become a task you can take pride in.

What's on your Tray of Bliss today?

Custom scented shampoo and conditioner

Todays tip is to have beautifully scented shampoo and conditioner with which to wash your hair.
And by that, I don't mean expensive.

I mean something that you love, whether it's Green Apple, Peach, Coconut, Berry, Lemon, Honeysuckle, Frangipani, Jasmine, or something else.

An easy way of having shampoo and conditioner that is scented exactly the way you like it, is to buy unscented shampoo and conditioner from a health food supplier, or online, like this...


...remembering that the more you buy the cheaper it is, so find a friend who wants some luxury in their life too, and go halves :)

You can buy the most divine essential oils online with which to scent your shampoo and conditioner, and my current favourite is either Jasmine or Frangipani and those in a shampoo and conditioner....to die for.

Decant it into glorious embellished bottles (being careful with glass in wet areas of course!), and see if it doesn't make you feel like a Princess.

Be your own Lady-in-Waiting

The truly wealthy or blue blooded, all of them have someone to perform the more menial tasks for them.

I suggested recently, putting your towel out on the end of your bed or the edge of your vanity, beautifully folded with toiletries tucked inside.

You can extend that idea to much of your daily routine.

The trick is to think 8-12 hours ahead.

What will be happening eight hours, twelve hours, 20 hours from now? What can you do NOW to make that run more smoothly or make it more luxurious?

For me, it will be dinner time. So I've just prepared a green salad in a pretty bowl and set the table with placemats, dinner plates, polished cutlery and linen serviettes. I even had time to iron the serviettes at this time of the day. Not essential but a nice touch. I've put a vase of greenery in the centre of the table too.

The gluten free Chicken Parmagiana is sitting in the fridge ready to pan fry and bake for a few minutes, and the potatoes are peeled, diced and soaking in water ready to be roasted.

Likewise, lunch is ready. It's my Quinoa Salad, and it's all ready to go, in the fridge.

Twelve hours from now, we'll be heading off to bed. Our towels and toiletries are already laid out and fresh pyjamas are floating on the line in the sunshine, lightly scented with homemade Sunlight (Velvet) soap laundry detergent. They'll be neatly folded and snuggled inside the folds of our towels too.

Twenty hours from now, we'll be heading off to breakfast at a friends house, so our clothes are already ironed and ready, and I've done a Bircher Muesli in a crystal bowl to take with us.

Blueberries need to be purchased at some stage today to add to the top of the Muesli.

So here I sit now, the next 24 hours pretty much under control, and now I just have to find that cleaning lady to do the dusting, polishing, mopping and vacuuming. Mind you, with home made Jasmine scented furniture polish and Eucalyptus cleaner, that task isn't all hard either.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Bookcase makeover time!

I'm inspired.
I've been drooling over the furniture makeovers over at Three Mango Seeds, and wow...wow...wow!
I used to be a big furniture renovator but the Musician Husband has made me promise that I will not bring another stick of furniture into this house....at least not till I've got rid of some first!
So thwarted as I am, I have to seek inspiration to make the most of what's already here. And actually it's not that hard because I'm ALWAYS  up for a project!
So using this beautiful makeover as a guide....
...I'll be turning my overstuffed office bookcase....
....into something a little more civilised....ahem!
No painting necessary, thank the stars, but a tidy up and some beautiful embellishment is definitely in order.
Graphics Fairy here I come!
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Saturday, November 23, 2013

How badly do you want it....Week 5....new pleasures...

After 5 weeks, I've lost 4 kilos (nearly 9 pounds). I've done it safely, slowly and steadily, without food supplements, shakes or protein bars.
In the process, I've found some new (healthy) pleasures.....
Cottage cheese dip instead of Brie on crackers. This is my own recipe and is just delish.
To one tub of low fat Creamed Cottage cheese, add two diced tomatoes, 2 finely sliced shallots (spring onions), 2 teaspoons of curry powder, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Mix well, and enjoy on crackers, lettuce leaves or in halved and hollowed out tomatoes. Very yummy and due to it's similarity in appearance to egg, palatable to little old cottage cheese hating me!

Peach tea with a hint of orange, in a delicate china Limoges cup. A new favourite and recent addition to the supermarket shelves here. Light, just a bit fruity and tastes like something, unlike many other herbal teas which, to me, taste like hot water with a scent waved over them. I've completely eliminated caffeine in the form of coffee or normal tea, and I feel better for it. I really look forward to my fruity cuppa these days.

Chilled water with lime slices, in a crystal tumbler. Yes, you might remember I said I detested iced water. Change of heart. No wine here these days, so an iced water in a nice tumbler, makes me feel part of the merriment, so iced water it is. I've grown to like it and my waistline certainly likes it more than wine!
So despite not having done much exercise for a few days due to some really annoying head spinning spells that are not a brain tumour (they've checked!), not blood pressure, not diet related and it seems, are perhaps inner ear related, I've done well, weight loss-ly speaking.
It's all about finding new things to love.
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Christmas confectionery packaging....

I love making confectionery for Christmas gifts.
It gets eaten, everyone loves it, it makes people feel special when you say you made it yourself, and it doesn't clutter anyones' home. It can't be regifted, it doesn't collect dust and there's no such thing as ugly confectionery!
I always think though, that if you're going to gift something you've made yourself, you really have to make an effort with the presentation. So with this in mind, I visited a packaging warehouse yesterday to see what I could find to make gorgeous gift packaging.
Shown here, are a gloss white 'Acessory Bag' with ribbon already attached, a Cake Wedge, and a polka dotted cellophane bag with polka dotted ribbon.
That marshmallow Christmas Tree is simple generic brand Giant Marshmallows threaded on to a red striped paper straw with a red jube 'star' on top. Packaged like this, it will be perfect for The Diva to gift to her 13 year old schoolfriends.
The Cake Wedges are for fudge. I've made the fudge in round cake tins this year and will cut it in to wedges just like a piece of cake to go into these. Some foil ribbon curls and jingle bells atop will look very cute and festive. I'll add a paper lace doily underneath the fudge too.
The Gloss Bags are for tinted sugar and tinted sugar hearts. I'll share how to make these tomorrow, so stay tuned. They're so simple and look unbelievably pretty in these. I'll also use them for my special edible gold leafed chocolate truffles :)
None of these things were expensive and they just make your homemade gifts look extra lush.
Everyone will think you've spent hundreds at a posh deli or sweets boutique.
I bought mine here....
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Christmas in the Tropics....Hastings Street, Noosa Heads

Noosa is a wonderful spot.
Safe, white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, stunning blue skies and balmy weather, a haven for lovers, families, retirees and tourists.
This is the Hastings Street 'Christmas Tree'.
Sure, she's not very traditional, but this year, she is bathed in Ballet Pink fairy lights and she looks a treat.
Fairy lights twinkle and sparkle in the trees overhanging Hastings Street at both ends, and driving into it is reminiscent of driving down a miniature Champs Elysees`.
If you're in the area, pop down to Hastings (as it's fondly called) and see the very French inspired Christmas lights for yourself.
While you're there, you can feast at one of the many restaurants, have dinner at the Surf Club (honestly the best seat in the house along there), indulge in a Gelatissimo, a coffee, or just fish and chips at one of the picnic tables along the foreshore.
There's something for everybody and every budget.
We love Noosa :)
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Each day is a little life....luxury at the dinner table...

These are my Mother and Grandmothers serving spoons. I love them so much and they are so beautiful, that I tie them with this organza ribbons and hang them on the wall when they're not in use.
I've taken them down today for their annual polish up for Christmas. We often use them, but in their tarnished state, which I find oddly comforting and homey.
But for Christmas, they must be shiny, so shiny they will be.
I long ago eschewed nasty plastic serving implements. Not good for the soul.
In the absence of heirloom serving spoons, even dressing up your normal cutlery with a bit of double satin ribbon, can make mealtimes extra special...
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How badly do you want it....Week 3...

Well after doing a lot of sitting on the North Shore at beautiful Noosa Heads on the weekend, I decided to add hills to my walk...

This may not look like a very big hill to you, but I can assure you that if felt like Mt Kosciuszko when I was walking up and down the thing. I waltzed down the hill, wheezing my way up the other side, only to realise that I had to do the same to get back home. Three hills later, I stumbled home, cursing my years of inactivity. I used to run up those dang hills.
After doing that, 20 crunches, 20 lunges, and 10 minutes of stretching, then buffing the bod with a gorgeous body scrub (the scrub was gorgeous, I was most certainly not), and dressing in decluttering gear, lunch was required...
Here's my super tasty Quinoa, Walnut, Coriander and Chilli salad....

You'll need:
1 cup Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa)
1 1/2 cups chicken, vegetable or beef stock
Bring this to a simmer, then cover with a tight fitting lid and switch off, leaving it on the hot plate. It will cook itself in twenty minutes, so long as you don't peek! So peek at your peril! If you cook with gas, you may have to give the Quinoa another blast of heat after about ten minutes.
Then chop or dice:
2 large red chillies
A large handful of fresh coriander (cilantro)
A large handful of walnuts
And measure out:
1/2 moist coconut flakes
1/2 minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
Toss it all together once you've fluffed the cooked Quinoa.
Tasty, healthy, yummolicious lunch.
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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Colour branding....

My Five Star Frugal strategy today, is to use colour to create an illusion of luxury.

I'm a Coco Chanel fan. I've read about her, watched docos about her, and I find her fascinating.

Alas, I cannot afford Chanel in my life, apart from this wallet I got at the oppy for $8, which isn't a real one, but it is a very nice copy, thankyou.

I can though, incorporate Chanels' distinctive black and white branding, into my life.

So white dinner plates and black serviettes with beautiful serviette rings...pearl if you please...homemade.

Black and white striped cushions on my sofa.

Coffee cups with black, white and gold accents.

A quilted white bolster cushion with black tassels and gold ribbon trim.

A little bit of the Chanel feel, for no cost...or very little at least.

If you're a Tiffany lover, then go for mint and black, Dolce and Gabbana perhaps over the top gold chain embellishments and more gold, Hermes would be some restrained tan and equestrian motifs, and Dior, well...I'm thinking black lace.


Each day is a little life....always have something beautiful in your day...

Limoges teacups and a single rose.

I've wanted these gelati Limoges cups for many years.

Now I have four of them, gifted by my adult sons.

I use all four, each and every day, and they bring a smile to my face every time.

Today it's Peach tea, tomorrow French Earl Grey, then perhaps Chamomile and Ginger.
A singular pleasure for me every day.
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