Category Archives: just stuff

Too hot to craft

Summer had been hiding for quite a while, and I’ve got to tell you that I liked it. Unfortunately, the past few days have been in the mid thirties, and so very very hot. In the grand tradition of Melbourne newspapers, the Brisbane Times ran an article on how it was the hottest day in 4 years. Hardly the “hottest day since 1912” headline we used to get in Melbourne, although their need for sensationalism led to the “hottest second tuesday in January for almost 100 years” type reporting on the weather. Obsessed, I say.

Anyway, weather reporting rant aside, there is no way I am going near anything wooly, unless I’m sitting in the passenger seat of an air conditioned car. Although now would be a very good opportunity to drag all my wool out into the sunshine and do an anti-mould booster treatment.

So I turned my thoughts to taking plant cuttings – it seems it’s the wrong season for that too. That hasn’t stopped me though, it’s very easy to roam the neighbourhood taking sneaky cuttings. I have my eye on a hot pink frangapani a few streets over, and am looking for some purple crepe myrtle. Our house is on a corner, and I think it would look fantastic with a border of purple crepe myrtle along the footpath!

This site has lots of good info for taking cuttings, and it cracks me up how crepe myrtle becomes crape myrtle across the pond!


My Hoot cake

I’ve made a lot of cakes, biscuits, slices and desserts in my time, but never have I made a kid’s birthday cake.

So for my son’s first birthday, I made a Hoot the owl cake, from the ABC2 kids tv show, Giggle and Hoot.

hoot the owl birthday cake

It’s just 2 butter cakes with 2 batches of lovely butter icing. Even with my sometimes dodgy oven, it turned out quite well. The cakes even baked pretty much flat, which was helpful. The template is made of 2 round cakes, with the head cake being a bit larger than the body cake. My larger cake tin is a springform tin, so I could use the base as a template to cut the body to fit around the head. The wings and feet were made from that leftover overlap.A good tip for cutting out cakes is to freeze (or at the very least, chill) the cake first as it won’t crumble as much.

To my surprise you can buy black food colouring at Woolworths – though it probably would have been a better idea to just use licorice. I mean, honestly, when am I going use black food colouring again?

I’ve joined the Universal Craft Blog Directory

Touted as becoming the biggest list of Crafty Bloggers out there, it will be a Universal Craft Blog Directory for all your crafty goodness!

It’s still in the early stages of building the directory, but will soon have its own website and a proper categorised database.

It’s easy to join…. All you have to do is add your blog to the list and then post a message on your own blog, and add their button to your sidebar.

Couldn’t be more simple!


Decoration FAIL

I’ve been using Pinterest for a little while now, and am absolutely loving all the beautiful pictures that everyone else is pinning. Makes me feel like I should be pinning beautiful things too. This is an example of what not to pin.

I am thinking of having a party for my son’s first birthday, and of course, need decorations. Here’s what I’m thinking (from Wednesday):

Only maybe in blue and yellow.

So I tried a practice run. Thought to myself, self, you don’t need to go back and re-read that article, it’s just yarn and glue and a balloon. So I blew up the balloon found my fabric stiffener and craft glue, mixed them together and started soaking and winding my yarn around the balloon.

And it looked good, even if I do say so myself.

I came back to it a few days later and found it a little worse for wear.

It was at this stage that I went back and consulted the website to discover that there’s a lot more involved. Looks like I’m going to be shopping for corn starch and really getting stuck into it!

And this is what it looks like after being left out in the rain for a few days…

Henna hair dye

I have bored many friends with my search for the henna hair dye that I used to buy in Melbourne, and it continues to this day.

The reasons why I use henna

  • it turns my grey hairs golden (or bright red with redder dyes)
  • it usually costs about $3 a packet and you get 3-4 dyes from that
  • it makes my hair really shiny
  • no chemically smell

My preferred brand is/was Uttam Herbal Henna, and I was able to buy it at the indian grocery store in Malvern for about $2.75 a box. This henna is a greenish colour powder, and  I actually let it soak for 24 hrs beforehand, then left it on my head for about 2 hrs.

Up here in Brisbane, I have found quite a variety of henna dyes, but was led astray by labelling – it said natural brown, but I spent a good 6 weeks with vivid red hair. I should mention that they also had mahogany and apple red colour options available. If you’re interested in the redder henna dyes, these were a few dollars at 7 Hills Spice Store on Marshall Lane, Kenmore, which coincidentally was where as kids we all used to walk to buy lollies when it was just a boring corner store.

These redder hennas are brownish coloured powder and smell slightly like tobacco, but don’t freak out, this is normal. Like most hair henna dyes, make up a paste and apply to clean hair.

At Woolongabba I struck gold – this place has the equivalent of a full height bookcase full of henna hair dyes. The one that dyes brown for me is in this silver packet. The powder is greenish. I just mix it up with hot water to a yoghurty consistency, then leave it for 24 hrs, apply, put a shower cap over the top and wash out 2 hrs later. In Melbourne I would wrap my head in cling wrap to try to harness the heat from my head – the theory that heat helps henna develop better. I’ve also heard of people using a hairdryer to heat their hair as the dye sets.

Coopers Plains, Brisbane

Neha Herbal Mendhi – This is another one I’ve found that dyes brown for me – at Reliance Fresh grocery store on Orange Grove Road, Coopers Plains. I found this one by accident when waiting for takeaway from Lily’s Kitchen one time. This is a jumbo packet – 500g, and can’t quite remember how much it was – $5 or $7, I think. Update for Feb 2014: it was $7.99 yesterday.

Another store for Coopers Plains – Indian Grocery and Spice Store on Boundary Rd – I came across this store on the way back from the train station. There’s not much english on the packet, but it was $3 and probably 200g. It comes as green powder which I make up to a gloopy consistency using hot water. I then leave this to sit overnight. The last photo here is a shot of my hair before dying, so probably about 6-8 weeks after the last time. The colour holds really well, my only problem is all the grey hairs that creep out after a while!


Back story

I should mention that I first started using henna from Lush – where they sold big blocks of it for about $25. I soon found this a big pain, because you have to grate these blocks down before you can add water, then you need to leave them on your hair for 6-8hrs. I used to wrap my head in cling wrap and towels and go to bed with the alarm set for 2am to have the shower to wash out my hair. Too expensive and too much effort, also I found the end result a bit disappointing – the colour was quite weak. I’m not even sure that they sell these anymore.