An upcycled gift: a baby succulent and bunting


Last weekend my friend Laura had a birthday party. She is the only person I know who would choose to cook for 20 people on a day when people should be cooking for her! She is Belgian, a lovely person and a fantastic cook. For her birthday dinner she cooked a Belgian beer stew, roast potatoes and green beans. An enormous bowl of homemade mayonnaise was pass around and slathered on everything.

I wanted to make her something homemade for her birthday. I decided on a baby succulent upcycled into something special. I grabbed my supplies: a small succulent, an empty baking powder tin, a few scraps of fabric, two skewers and some thread.

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I love baking powder tins. I like buying products that have reusable packaging. These tins are so versatile and quaint. The first thing I did was punch a few  holes in the bottom of the tin so that excess water would be able to drain away from the soil. I resorted to using a thin metal screw driver and brute force. Three or four holes in the bottom should be plenty.

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Next I carefully transplanted the little succulent from his plastic pot to the tin. This was a bit fiddly and I had to redo it a few times to make sure he was snug. I used an old teaspoon to manoeuvre the soil around. Once he was in place I also watered him (just slightly) to settle the soil.

The next step was to add some bunting. Because what is a birthday present without bunting? I used two skewers as poles and placed them gently in the soil – trying to avoid the succulent’s roots. I then snipped them to the height I wanted using strong kitchen scissors.

I used this tutorial to make my bunting. But before I glued the bunting to the thread I sewed Laura’s name in split stitch.

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Once I had finished all the letters I glued the bunting to the thread and tied it to the skewers and I had a perfect little present for a lovely friend.

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An aside: I have been reading Erin’s recent posts on gift giving at Christmas (over at Reading my Tea Leaves). I really like her approach to minimalist gift giving and quality over quantity. I also think that a homemade gift can be very  special.

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Weekend reading: cancer, cats, dogs and smart people


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Ursula K. Le Guin on Aging and What Beauty Really Means. A lovely piece on the difference between cats and dogs – and cat and dog people.

CatsWhen did girls start wearing pink? Did you know that “[t]he generally accepted rule [was] pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl”?

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the T. Swift. Joanna Robinson tells us why she loves Taylor Swift. See point three: She Makes Cat Ladies Look Good.

What living through cancer in your 20s looks like. Beautiful and heartbreaking pictures of 30-year-old photographer Amelia Coffaro’s battle with breast cancer.

The Food Lab: How to Poach Eggs for a Party. Did you think poaching eggs for a group of people was impossible? I did and I was wrong.

Why smart people are stupid. Question: “A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?” Once you have your answer, head on over to read the article.

Women Having A Terrible Time At Parties In Western Art History. I can identify with all these woman. Sometime parties are hard work.

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Weekend reading: Taylor Swift, freezing your eggs and Ebola


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Don’t Say Goodbye. Just ghost. I am a ghoster. I will say goodbye to the host if I can but I am not going to take 20 minutes to say goodbye to everyone at a party.

If All Disney Princesses Were Taylor Swift. The whole gang is here: Tayriel, Jaslor, Swift White, Mulor, Taylorella and Tay. It’s the only way you could make Disney princesses any better.

Facebook and Apple to pay for female employees to freeze their eggs. Facebook and Apple are trying to keep talented women in the workplace for longer.

These Cyclists Found an Awesome Way to Demonstrate Why Bikes Are Better Than Cars. Yes bikes take up less space than cars. But I think this is a good reminder of how much space drivers should give cyclists on the road.

Facebook introduces Safety Check. In the event of a disaster the Safety Check tool will help you let friends and family know you’re safe, check on others in the affected area and mark your friends as safe.

After terrorist threat, feminist video game critic Anita Sarkeesian cancels lecture at Utah university. A scary reminder of the threats and physical danger feminists have to deal with.

Relax. You’re not going to die of Ebola! Is the panic about Ebola more dangerous than the disease itself?

Diet Coke – Taylor Swift Kittens. Could there be anything better in the world right now than Taylor Swift drowning in kittens?

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Weekend reading: living with a lion, finding your purpose and haters


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DIY: Woven Rope Doormat. A tutorial on how to weave your own doormat. I think it could easily be adapted to make place mats.

The Food Lab: Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles. A great idea for healthy lunches. They look delicious and are much healthier and tastier than store-bought instant noodles.

1971: Living With Neil the Lion. This is what happens when a lion becomes part of a household (great pictures but also stitches).

7 Unusual Questions To Help You Find Your Purpose. The first question is really important: What’s your favourite flavour of shit sandwich and does it come with an olive?

Rise and shine! What kids around the world eat for breakfast. Kids in  Amsterdam eat chocolate shavings on bread for breakfast? I think my parents were conning me with porridge!

Stop petting your stupid sweet cat, it apparently doesn’t even like it. A study has shown that being held or stroked for too long can be stressful for cats. Not sure we needed a study to figure that out – the biting and wailing might have been a sign.

Thank You Hater! by Clever Pie and Isabel Fay. This is a hysterical song for all the haters in the world. The chorus is my favourite: “Some might say you are a…sexually aggressive, racist, homophobe, misogynistic, cowardly, illiterate, waste of human skin!”

How to know if your batteries are dead or alive. Suzelle teaches us another useful trick!

 

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Weekend reading: loving criticism, preventing burnout and sunburn


Learning to Love Criticism. This New York  Times opinion piece looks at why professional women are often at the receiving end of personal criticism.

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The Adventures of Business Cat. I loved this comic strip about the very serious adventures of business cat. You know you’re doing well when your business cat boss leaves a dead bird on your desk.

Rangers rescue baby elephant. These pictures show rangers jumping into a drinking hole at Addo Elephant National Park to rescue a baby elephant. They managed to get the baby out but when they ran away it started following them. “Please don’t leave me!”

You don’t need 8 glasses of water a day. How much should you drink? Three or four cups a day should be fine. (And tea/coffee/juice counts!)

“Preventing burnout is part of your job. Staying well rested is part of your job.” A necessary reminder about why having down time, looking after yourself and taking leave is important.

How the sun sees you. This video shows the not-yet-visible changes in people’s skin and the amazing power of sunscreen. And, as summer approaches, an important reminder that “a tan is a sign of skin injury”. Find out what actually happens to your skin when you get a sunburn.

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Frankenstein upholstery: how not to recover a stool


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I found this little stool at Resurrection, a charity  shop on Melville’s 7th Street. I didn’t like the fabric but the I loved the shape of the stool’s legs and its proportions. I flipped it over and saw that the seat could be removed. The shop was having a 50% sale so I happily handed over R82.50 and took it home.

It took a while to decide what I would do with it. I settled on recovering the seat with spotty blue and white fabric that I had left over from a skirt I made. My next task was to hunt down a staple gun. Luckily a friend had one that I could borrow.

So this weekend I gathered my supplies and sat down to make over the stool. I flipped it over and tried to unscrew the seat. The screws wouldn’t budge. Even enlisting the help of my stronger armed boyfriend didn’t help. We had a closer look and realised that the stool’s previous owner had used a fair bit of glue when they inserted the screws.

To recover the stool properly I would need to take the stool apart (forcefully) and then put it back together with a drill. But there were two things standing in the way of this responsible plan: I don’t own a drill and I wanted to recover the stool now.

I decided on a compromise. One day this little stool will get the love and attention it deserves. I will forcefully and lovingly take it apart and recover it properly. But for now (whether now is two months or two years) I will have it in my lounge and it will look lovely.

I started recovering the seat and taking pictures for the blog to show you how I did it. I even took a picture of the staple gun to show you that you would need a staple gun! By the fourth picture I realised that there was no way I could post these pictures and tell you with any authority that this was the way to recover a stool. So this isn’t a tutorial for how to recover a stool, it’s rather an example of making something work until you have the money or the tools to do it properly. And to be honest there was no skill involved. I pretty much wrapped the seat of the stool with my fabric, slide the fabric under the frame and staple gunned the hell out of it. It’s not pretty down there.

But you know what? When you look at it (not too closely) you can’t tell. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. That’ll do little stool, that’ll do.

IMG_4319-001If you enjoyed this post follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also sign up for email notifications (at the top of the page). Pop by on Friday morning for my Weekend Reading post.

Weekend reading: adulthood, blogging and meatballs


“Adulthood” Is a Myth. Fake it ’til you make it. Or something. A Practical Wedding has published the most wonderful essays on what it means to be a “grownup”. In this essay Hayley Cotter talks about waiting (sometimes desperately) for that “adulthood” feeling.

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Growing a minimalist wardrobe: step 1. Erin, from Reading My Tea Leaves, offers some useful advice to those wanting to slim down their wardrobe.

Smitten Kitchen: Lamb meatballs with feta and lemon. I made these for dinner this week and they are delicious! The lemon, mint and olives are a welcome change from a normal tomato sauce.  I served the meatballs with mini pita breads.

The Next Big Thing. Daniel, over at Manhattan Nest, has bought a new house! It’s tiny and hidden in a mini forest. I can’t wait to see what he does with it.

When Blogging Becomes a Slog. The New York Times takes a look at Young House Love‘s (temporary?) exit from the blogosphere.

Suzelle shows us how to peel a lot of potatoes. You will need a drill, toilet brush and bucket!