A bit of DIY in the winter

Oh hiya!

We did a thing! Not an amazing thing, but a thing nonetheless.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I have been trying to get back to the creative side of myself that I love but felt that I had not been engaging with as much as I would have liked too. I was feeling a little drab and we had recently moved into a new place with more outdoor space than our previous place. I was excited to have something to decorate again and keep me busy as we are in Melbourne and like a lot of places have been in and out of lock down, but didn’t want to spend much money as we are trying to be more conscious about recycling materials rather than buying new all of the time and also we are saving money for future (and depending on restrictions our combined income varies). So I was a little unsure how I was going to do what I wanted, be more creative, enjoy myself and keep within a budget…… Then I remembered my partner is a carpenter and I do have quite the imagination and well hello hello I was back on my DIY bullsh*t! (insert partner groan here but how you think a thick glaswegian accent would sound)…..

I am not what you would call a diagnosed hoarder.. but I do like to keep things that may actually get used again in the future… so I had a few things already lying about like old sample paints, and decided to re-use some old pallets we had previously been using for seats to build a corner lounge for our deck. I do all of this for fun so there are no sponsors behind the scenes either, I just find being creating and making things with my hands the best therapy for my soul. It also is a great mindfulness activity if you think about the 5 senses and how many of them you can use all at one e.g. sight, sound, touch, smell and taste (especially if you forget to wear you masks and end up with a mouthful f sawdust from sanding).

We did have to buy a few things, but made sure we kept the costs low by only buying what we really needed. We did go to our local Bunnings and buy some good pieces of wood just for the frame.. we dont plan on getting sued because we host a party and someone has too much of my fruit punch that may mostly be alcohol and not so much fruit punch (although it does pack a punch) and then fall through our seat because it wasnt strong enough… so first things first my partner and I came up with the measurements for the seats using all of the usual methods.. how many steps is this length.. guess… actually why dont we use the tape measure… where is it… I dunno you had it last… is this millimetre or center meters… inches? did you write it down.. dang it.. do it again… until we knew how much wood we would need. The it was off to Bunnings to pick the wood for the frame and get them to chop it to size to start with just so it would fit in the car.

My partner also has his own tools so it was handy that we could then cut the wood further to size and use a nail gun to put the frames together… I also learnt that I am petrified of nail guns especially when it comes to nailing the corner pieces of wood together, as one wrong move and you will shoot the nail in the wrong direction so that it comes out the other side of the wood and nearly into your partners finger! Lesson learnt.. luckily no fingers were harmed in the making of this lounge.. We also used wood glue to assist with the corners for that extra hold. We got lucky in that my partner was pulling down a balcony as part of an insurance job and there was some pieces of wood we could salvage and use for the seat covering, which was fantastic as wood in Australia right now is super expensive and as I mentioned we are trying to recycle more than just buy outright. The recycled wood was already painted white with some dirt and mould on them.. so I got out my trusty $20 second hand sander and got to work sanding them back.

I actually love sanding, I find it so therapeutic to feel the vibration of the tool in my hands, going up my wrists, into my elbows and along my upper arms to my shoulders (although I need to take regular breaks otherwise my hands and arms get too tingly and start to feel funny). And whilst it may sound strange, I love looking at the paint and wood that is coming off from the sander like vibrating sand patterns on the sheet or ground underneath.. it is quite hypnotising along with the vibrations.. trans like almost if you stare at it too long and really focus on the patterns, what they are doing, how they look, how they are changing and also listen to the sound of the vibrating tool.. again 5 senses really getting used here and a great way to just be present in that moment.. although taste probably shouldnt be included in this one so try to remember to use a mask when sanding especially if sanding pre-painted wood.

Now most little DIY projects I have done have involved painting to spruce up the old furniture.. and I love a whitewash (or any colour washed out look) not only because it has that boho rustic vibe, but also because you can be a terrible painter and no one will know, it hides weathering well and is cheap! There are so many quick and easy you tube clips you can follow, but the basics are you buy the paint colour you want (I just get sample pots $15 Bunnings lasts so long) and then mix paint and water in a mixing tray so it is thinner than the usual paint. Depending on the effect you are after you can do 2/3 paint 1/3 water or equal parts paint and water. The water really things out the paint and you get so much more, but depending on the colouring and the wash effect you are after, you will need to do several coats.

I also really enjoy this painting technique, not only because of the benefits I mentioned above, but also it is quick and easy and a great way to relax and see your creative side come to life without having to actually paint portraits or pictures. You can be creative in deciding how much wash effect you will have and where, so if there is more of the wood grain showing through in one spot you can either add more paint to it to cover or less to really make them a feature and pop through! I should have also added that during the sanding process this is also where you can be creative. I never sand it right back to just the raw wood underneath as I want this effect of the differing colours to show through when I am painting, depending of course what the colours are and if the furniture was painted previously or just stained. If I am doing a whitewash then I like there to be darker patches of wood that comes through.

This however, is the first time we have made the design of the furniture from scratch and not that it was particularly intricate or hard, but we choose to do a corner lounge to well fit into the corner space of our deck. But rather than making it all connected, we did choose to do two separate seats that just sit next to each other so that if we ever need to move them into a space that is not the corner we can do so easily. Although, my partner had a good point, we didnt want them to actually look like they were separate seats and so he designed the wood style and spacing to be the same so that they looked like they flowed as if they were attached and indeed the same piece of furniture.. so clever. It was such a fun thing to do together, although I must say, couples that DIY together, swear alot together ha!

A couple of things that you need for this project are below;

  • sander (electric much quicker and easier but you can also use a hand sander too)
  • filler/putty (if you are using pre-loved wood like us, you may want to fill any of the old holes from bolts and nails, filla is quick and easy)
  • paint samples
  • paint mixer tray/wood
  • paint brushes (several different sizes)
  • bio degradable drop sheet
  • lacquer
  • measuring tape
  • spacers (so you can make sure you have the same size space between the wood)
  • saw (hand or electric)

Many of the above things you will keep for other projects so they are hand to have around and any tools that my partner didnt have we got second hand off gumtree or facebook market place rather than buying first hand through a store. I also really like going to Mitre10 over bunnings, there isnt much of a reason for that other than they are closer to my home and I like the products in my local one. If you are really into researching about the companies you buy from there is a website ‘shop ethical’ where you can search companies and they provide you with a rating and some information on them.. I think Bunnings is more ethical than Mitre10 but then are owned by Westfarmers who have some issues so you need to dig deeper into the actual owners too. But I dont get too much into all of that, and just try my best here and there, perhaps this is something I can be more conscious of in the future.

Anyway, I digress and what I also wanted to mention was one of the other reasons I really wanted to make a corner lounge for our deck…not just to help me along the way to becoming the hostess with the mostess (although I will one day take that coveted title) but to give us a place that we can soak up the sun and relax, particularly in the winter mornings when there is a little bit of sun poking through the clouds! It s so hard to get outdoors and get some vitamin C in a Melbourne winter (particularly during this past year and a bit) and having a deck that gets the sun all year round is close to unheard of in melbourne soooooooo, now that we have that we are going to make the most of it! It is such a great way to start the morning in winter with a cup of tea and a spot of sun sitting outside.. crisp air with a touch of heat both on the inside and out makes for a beautiful morning… which makes it that much harder for work to then suck the full life out of you.. so it just sucks half of it 😉

Anyhoo, we did a thing and that thing was fun (although at times there was swearing and arguing.. to be expected with a strong spirited Aussie and Scottish couple).. and now we have a sweet corner lounge big enough for both of us and some friends to hang out on. we are now onto cushion shopping which will actually be the most expensive part of the project.. who would have thought!

So bye for now and keep smiling 🙂

Phillip Island Weekender

Well hello hello! It has been a while since my last post, and a lot has happened in that time, despite being in a lock down of some shape or form for the majority. Whilst it has been draining at times, we have also been having a load of fun, trying new things, getting creative at home and getting to know our surrounds and own state a little better.

Normally we would try to escape Victoria in the winter months for a warmer climate, but due to the recent difficulties in organising holidays in other states and the potential last minute lock downs and boarder closures, we decided to focus on doing short weekends away in our own state when we can to keep breaking up what can start to feel like a mundane ground hog day (although I loved that movie, i wouldnt want to actually be in it or living it). It has actually been a great reminder that we live in a beautiful state and that whilst cold, it can still be quite enjoyable. Victoria really is a fantastic place to live.

If your like me and enjoy reading about and seeing pictures of others experiences and escapes than hopefully you will like this lil update from one of our recent self care weekenders. Last weekend we decided to cross the wee bridge over to Phillip Island and stay for the night to explore the sights and indulge ourselves just a little (but ended up being a lot). We got such a pleasant surprise with all of the activities there are to do there, and some unexpected sunny days! We will definitely be spending another weekend there again.

Given there are so many things to do on the island I’ve made a short list of the things we did whilst we where there for two days, one night and a wee brief on how I found each one.

  1. Nobbies Centre – Antarctic Journey and coastal walk for whale watching in winter months

We absolutely loved getting our big kids on and going through the Antarctic Journey! It only cost $19 for adults and although it is small there is an educational section where you learn about all sorts of sea animals and thermal imaging where they make you go into a cute little chill box, like you use to when you had macca’s birthdays to get the cake out of there freezer.. except in this one there is no cake, you just get cold trying to work out some blocks.. then you go out and see your thermal image and how bad you are at keeping in warmth compared to a penguin… but the best part is the visual section.

This was amazing and I had such a sense of serene calm and relaxation come over me the entire time I was in there. There are screens all around you playing different clips from the sea.. seals frolicking, whales breaching, penguins and crill… you name it they are playing it! Ad best of all, unlike a david Attenborough show, you kinda know the seal may be about to get eaten but they dont show it they just move on to something else and whilst you know it likely didnt end well you are left with a smile and floating step.. likely due to the best symphony of music and blue light that lulls you into this ultra relaxation mode with a gorgeous mix of whale song. A whale trance if you were in there long enough.

You also get to play a little virtual reality where it seems like you are in a scene from sea world but without the animal cruelty and small pools. This was fun but interesting trying to film and pretend to pat a cheeky penguin or seal virtually sliding across your foot or a killer whale jumping out of the water at you, whilst also trying to forget that you look like a fool and other people can see you. A great way to let loose and have some fun cos everyone looks ridiculous doing it, there is no graceful way to try and anticipate where a virtual penguin or whale will end up and if your are stroking them right or if you should even be stroking them at all cos nowadays a stroke is kinda creepy so then you quickly swap to a pat and then step into the pool accidentally and its all over but you ended up with something on the video and you need to move on so someone else can also suck at it and you both give a nervous giggle before exiting. The kids will absolutely love it but also gives the adults some childhood fun as well.

Then after a hot chocolate and enjoying the views from their eatery inside the centre (and psyching yourself up to go outside), you go outside into the chilly air and do a lovely, slightly windy (ladies and long haired pals put your hair up as you will end up eating it) walk along the cliff edges where the penguin huts are. Unfortunately they were all sold out of tickets for the penguin parade due to operating at restricted capacity and are of course the only place on the island that does it.. but we still got to see some baby penguins in the huts waiting for ma and pa to come back and feed them. We also got to see massive birds that seemed to a mix between a sea eagle and a goose they were bizarre and everywhere and some where sitting outside of the penguin huts that had babies in them.. so not wanting to see a bit of David Attenborough baby eating (I am not sure they would eat them but I’ve seen that many of Sir Attenboroughs shows that I am now scarred and think everything is a savage baby eater no matter how sweet and innocent it looks).. we continued on the cliff board walk.

The views were stunning, the water multi layered blues and whites and the sea weed/grass a bright green on the rolling hills that looked like a painting it was picturesque. Another highlight though, was getting to see a humpback whale and calf lolling about in the cliff edge covering of the bay!! whilst there were no full on out of water breaches we did witness blowholes theirs and a rock one and some humps out of the water. The video wasnt the greatest and I did contemplate buying a camera and massive lense like the paparassi have but then remembered I am too lazy for all of that and I just used my samsung galaxy phone and so ended up with the video that I have. Follow Phillip Island on insta for much better videos and photos.

Beautiful views and the whales were just to the left
There were baby penguins inside this hut.. not sure if this bird was nesting or waiting..
Baby penguins

Definitely a must do when on the island!

Coastal boardwalk was amazing

www.penguins.org.au/attractions/antarctic-journey

2. Swan Lake Nature Reserve – board walks, wallabies and bird watching

This was a sweet little walk and I say little because it was more like a 1.5km stroll. It was easy as, starts with a short gravel path between trees and bushes where if you walk slowly and quietly enough you will be able to seen the small dark brown wallabies that are littered throughout. They are quite shy and dont stick around long for a photo but there were quite a few of them when we walked through around lunch time.

Next part of the walk is a boardwalk that is heavily covered in bird droppings over the middle mesh that sticks to your joggers but that is because there is an abundance of bird life there to see. Whilst the walk is only short, if you are a bird lover the board walk splits in two at the end and there are two different huts you can sit in and watch the birds floating in the lake out of make shift wooden windows you have to open yourself. It was a great spot for spying on birds or kissing in secrete if you are feeling like young teenagers again.. happy to take the chance that someone may come in that actually wants to see birds in nature and not a pair of horndogs reliving their youth. There is also a handy painted mural of all the birds you will see with their actual names so you dont have to keep referring to one as red ball bag head…. although their names werent much better as there was a hoarehead named bird (sound it out)….. Aptly named swan lake as there are loads of black swans getting about bossing the other birds and pooping all over the boardwalk, we really did enjoy this walk but didnt spend too long there are we arnt avid bird watchers nor did we care to see if we would get caught out in the bird watching hut.

3. Sherwoods Restaurant and Bar – sweet roof top garden bar with ocean views

We stayed in Cowes not far from the main street that runs along the water and it was perfect walking distance to this sweet bar. Over two levels of cute artworks and a cosy inviting feel we enjoyed a wine and beer in their roof top beer garden that had a sweet little view of the ocean between the pines. A perfect spot to watch the sunset and unwind and if you are lucky the owner tells us you can sometimes see whales in the bay from there.. although from this distance a pair of binoculars would be handy and he said he had some so could be in luck for next time! Inside upstairs they also have a sweet window nook where you can enjoy a wine and watch the street go by. We didnt stay for food as we already had dinner booked but it smelled great and would love to try it next time.

Roof top beer garden views

4. Beach HQ Restaurant and Bar – fantastic food, drinks and balcony overlooking the ocean

Again this was only a short walk from where we stayed and it was fantastic food and location right across from the water front. I only wished we had more time as it would have been lovely to see the sunset from here. we were out on the balcony that was fully enclosed and i think there could have been an extra heater down our end as it did get a little bit chilly. However, the food, drink and service was great and I would eat there again.

5. North Pier Hotel, Bar and Bistro – amazing food and atmosphere, cozy fire and ocean views

This was our favorite bar of the trip! Beautiful location across from the water and such a sweet and cosy atmosphere for a pub type bar that was actually quite big. It was great to have a separate side that was more for the sports bar and then a restaurant side that had a cosy fireplace and all floor to roof windows where the sun light came through like a little green house but without being too hot.

The food was delish and the portions were amazingly big! We hadnt intended to stop here but after a morning of adventuring we planned to stop for a quick small bite so we didnt get too full before dinner and found ourselves in a close to full on food coma afterwards. I highly recommend the salt and pepper calamari and steak sandwich. We were not mad at all at the fact that we rolled out of there fully satisfied and nearly ended up changing the dinner booking.. but I am glad that we did stick to our original dinner booking because that was also lovely and the weekend was about exploring.

There is also accommodation connected to this hence the hotel in the name. The rooms looked great on booking.com and a large portion where across the road from the ocean but right next to the bar and restaurant so equally great location but I wonder about the noise. Not that it would matter if you were the one making it and then getting sufficiently tipsy to sleep through the rest.. or you could relive your youth and stay to last drink calls!

6. Tropicana Motor Inn – sweet upgraded motor inn with pool (unheated) but king spa in the main room

Well I have to say this was a delight and a fantastic surprise as we originally were not intending to stay the night. what initially started as a one day exploration turned into an overnight spa bath celebration of regional Victoria and the fact that we dont have kids so it didnt matter how overheated and disoriented we got in our room. This place was cute and had everything we needed. Whilst essentially it was your typical old style motor inn on the outside with the old school windows for your breaky tray to be slid through at whatever time they think breakfast is.. and the standard pool (not heated), it was the inside that had me!

They all had new key pass locks on the front doors and a brighten up inside with a king spa right in the corner of the room next to the bed with a view of the TV, so you know what that means for a young couple…. beers, bubbles and the AFL haha. We ended up sufficiently over heated and light headed with a light sprinkling of bubbles on top and it was a great way to end the night, relaxed cozy and sleeping like babies after a good dose of milk!

The owner was lovely to chat to and very welcoming to the area with some good tips on places to go and whale sightings, i would highly recommend staying here. www.tropicanamotorinn.com.au

7. Wild life park – crazy big, a huge range or animals and so much fun feeding the kangaroo’s, wallabies and emu’s!

This was by far the high light of the trip! we didnt know what to expect going there but knew from the little research I had done that we would at least get to see a variety of animals and the illusive Koala which was exciting for my Scottish partner. But we had no idea just how up close and personal we would get with kangaroos, wallabies and emus! Again the price was low round $20 and that gets you one free bag of feed.. but I would recommend getting at least 2 or 3 bags each as the emu’s are bossy and I felt like I had to keep feeding them to keep them in control. My two bags did not last the whole trip, but my partners did, he wasnt going to be bossed about by no Australian bird…. big beak or small beak 😉

A hot tip about hanging with emu’s.. they have no idea about personal space.. like not one idea. Bossy Bruce’s the bunch of them and they are not very mindful when shoving their strong beaks straight into the centre of your palm trying to scoff all of the food before the sweet little kanga’s get any. You stop for a second filled with the thought of standing up for the underdog and perhaps consider what it would be like to give a wee liverpool kiss to an emu before realising they are not scared.. not at all and before you know it they are up in your grill eye balling you breathing out their notstrils and the scent of danger and how much of a weakling you are is in the air (like they are going to knock you down and steal all you have or at least ruin your best sunnies) and you are quickly shoving your hand back into the feed bag and giving them everything you got… I was definitely taken advantage of by the emu’s they saw me coming a mile away! And they are not shy of the old creep up behind and pop the head over your shoulder trick, made me jump a few times like I was back on the trams with someone reading/breathing over my shoulder.

The kangaroos however, when they got a quick chance, were the softest sweetest creatures and their wee muzzles and nuzzles felt great in my hand.. much better than a hard pointy beak. I would be careful of letting very small children hand feed the emu’s as it might hurt for them, but there were also some gentler emu’s that didnt actually hurt. I would recommend adults feed and distract the emu’s whilst the littlies feed the kangaroos – we did witness a crying little girl.

The koala section was only small and there were only three koala’s sleeping in trees with their tops cut off and whilst it was not the most exciting part of the day, you could pay extra to hold and feed one which would have been great to do. We still enjoyed watching them and trecking around the whole site which was quite big. There is also a friendly swan just waddling round that also tries to take your feed bag so dont let him bail you up or think that he wont try grab the bag.

8. Surf beach – beautiful sites and the start to the Forrest Caves best at low tide

This beach had some of the prettiest views going and whilst we only stopped for a short while due to being on our way home, it was still so lovely to take the 50 odd steps to the top of the dunes and take in the beautiful dunes, sands, water and sky line. This is also the start of the trek to the Forrest Caves which you can do at low tide (dont forget to check in the morning when low tide is as it was different both days around 11am or 12:30pm when we were there).

Next time I will be doing the walk to caves as it has a special meaning to the indigenous peoples and I love all of that kind of cultural learning and site seeing.

9. The Store – great breakfast spot with an option to get some groceries or shopping

This was our last stop on our way back home. It was a recommendation from my partners friend who had grown up on Phillip Island.. it was also a top recommendation from instagram so we knew it was a must do and it did not disappoint! whilst the menu is small the food was great, we had the breaky bun and I loved the old style ceramic mugs and tea pot our english breaky tea and milk came in. There was outdoor seating in the garden that gets sun as well as some outdoor undercover and also some cute inside section if you can work out how to actually get in there.. I am sure there was a day but we tried to go through the kitchen then it got awkward so we decided to sit outside under cover which was just fine.. but their insta makes the indoor seating section look devine and you can spy in from a window outside (I am sure there is a door but that morning we were in numpty mode).

You can also do some shopping for local produce and some other crafty nik naks. Check out their insta handle thestore_phillipisland

Well I hoped you enjoyed my little recap of our weekend away and remember that it doesnt have to be a long trip to be a fun trip worth taking. It does you a world of good to get out and about and take a break, explore, relax, laugh, smile, step in all the animal poop you can find and care about how you are going to get it off your shoes later!

Until next time, stay safe and smilling 🙂

Mindfulness Activities: Paint by Numbers

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been trying to get back to being more creative and artistic.. always trying only sometimes achieving. I use to love to dabble in painting when I was younger (some 20+ years ago now!) .. usually with my mum, who was quite artistic and always trying to show me how to create beautiful and easy flower petals which I could never quite master with my heavy handed approach. I always started out heading towards the canvas or table or wooden seats, or a piece of bark (we owned a hobby farm and painted lots of hand made furniture and whatever was lying around really) but by the time my hand got the paint brush closer to the object being painted my hand had had enough and would lose all elegance and smoosh the paint brush straight onto the canvas so that all my petals just looked like big splodgey messes. Mum is a nurse so fine motor skills is one of her stronger skills.. not that I am making excuses for myself… but well I guess I kinda am..

Anywhooo… I had been searching for another activity to do so that I had a few to switch between during lock down, as that is my to a T.. constantly jumping from one thing to the next and so I knew that I needed to have several activities that I can jump between, and some that could be completed fairly quickly and others that would take time where I could do bits and pieces of when I was feeling in the mood. And in my search of things to do, I stumbled across the craze Paint By Numbers. Absolutely perfect activity to assist with getting back to or starting to become creative!

Paint By Numbers is super easy to do, and great that you can pick a picture that you like but actually contribute to it being created! Rather than just picking a print online and waiting for the finished product to arrive at your doorstep, you just pick the picture and wait for the canvas (already with backing frame) to arrive at your door with paints and paint brushes. It is important that you review which Paint By Numbers site you are on as I did make the mistake of ordering from the American site which charged me more money, but did not take too long to get here, around 4 weeks or so, given the current Covid climate with post.

But there are a few tips that I would give to anyone looking into trying it out for themselves;

  1. Make sure you are on the Australian Paint By Numbers site, thinking you are getting a good deal and then seeing nearly double the money come our of your bank account isnt fun for anyone (especially not when you are meant to be on a spending limit);
  2. Make sure the canvas comes with backing frame, its fine if you just want to paint onto the canvas and you are willing to pay for it to be framed later but this can get expensive and at times is slightly harder to paint onto just the canvas… or you can be like us and build your own backing frame! (but that was for a separate project which I am still doing and will write about it in another post ;))
  3. Purchasing the easel (canvas holder) is recommended! It is much easier and better for your posture to paint upright, but then you do need to remove it from the easel when doing the finishing edges that are hard to reach whilst it is in the easel
  4. You may want to buy your own paint brushes if you are planning on doing more than one, or if you easily get annoyed, as they are not the greatest quality brushes and often the paint would ball up into a blob on the end making the thin brushes not so thin. I regularly had to clean them off and then dry them abit so they werent too watering and it did get a little time consuming but wasnt the worst (I didnt buy my own brushes but am considering it as I want to start doing some free hand painting of my own)
  5. Be prepared to spend many hours a day painting away and feeling as though you are getting no where for the first week! Especially if there are lots of small pieces such as one would find from picking a cherry blossom tree to paint (cough cough, I did that)

All in all, I had so much fun doing this activity! It did take me around 2 months to complete as I did not paint every day and sometimes I didnt paint every weekend. So it was nice to have the canvas there to paint a few hours at a time when I was feeling in the mood. I would put some relaxing tunes on and open a cider (strongbow apple low carb as I am kinda dieting… kinda not though) and paint away. It was great after a frustrating day working from home or if you just wanted to be distracted and take your mind off other things. It does fall under the category of a mindfullness activity and I found it was really good to help me slow down, focus my thoughts on the task at hand and feel creative and happy.

Definitely recommend giving this one a go, enjoy!

After many many hours and weeks of painting.. so many tiny blossoms different shades of pink!
Was great to do some painting outdoors in my courtyard and get some vitamin D! This stage of painting it had to come off the easel so I could get the edges at the top and bottom of the canvas.
Complete and on my wall! So satisfying 🤗
Final product my Paint By Numbers mindfulness activity 👩‍🎨

Up-cycling at home

I am always trying to re-use items that I have purchased rather than throwing them away when they have been used for their original purpose. Although I am also going through this never ending mind battle of trying to be more minimalist, one; so there is not as much clutter, two; instagram influencer’s made me think less is more, three; so there is less things to clean (particularly dust, a pet peeve of mine as it makes me sneeze relentlessly!) and four; my partner has me on a spending limit (dam wedding and future to pay for)… But I digress!

So in my search to unlock the creative traits within me that I have not been using as much as I would like and long to have back in the fresh air, I have endeavored to re-use more of my purchased items so they are not ending up in the bin once they have fulfilled their original intended purpose. So here is a short update on some of my creative up-cycling endeavors that I have been enjoying whilst in lock down in Melbourne 🙂

Candles to plant holders

That’s right! I have been turning my used candle pots into new plant holders… pot plants… plant pots whatever tickles your fancy. It has been a fun and cheap activity especially whilst I have been in stage 4 lock down in Melbourne town. It is nothing new or mind blowing, but often people forget how easy this can be and just how much money it can save you… more recently a goal of mine since my partner put me on a shopping limit (i’m not sour about it at all…)!

To start… usually your candles are not burn down to absolutely nothing, so you will need to remove what is left of the candle wax and the wick. Depending on how much wax is left in there, I usually use a steel butter knife to see what I can work free and pull out that way. Then I pour boiling water from the kettle (so as to not use too much water) into the candle pot and melt the rest of the wax, so it can be easily wiped out with a cloth or paper towel.

Cleaned out candle pots ready to be turned into plant pots

Secondly.. once the wax has been removed the wick is usually very easy to take out. I also use the steel butter knife for this as usually it is just stuck onto the inside base of the candle pot with light glue. I give it a rinse out and wipe down again and then it is good to start filling up with dirt! I do not usually buy dirt as I have a small garden that I get it from and most plants will be fine to start out in dirt from your garden, although if you want to know more about how to pot plants more professionally there are so many good books around. I am currently reading ‘Wild At Home: How to style and care for beautiful plants’ by Hilton Carter (a gift from my mum!). But I am also lazy and like to cut corners, so more frequently I just grab dirt from my garden and use the book as a guide for ow to care for the plants once they are potted. Although I do have a glass bowl I am going to turn into a terrarium and I will follow Carter’s advice on that one, as I also want the inside of the pot to look better given everyone will be able to see it. and by everyone I mean me and my partner and out very judgemental cat.

This little succulent is one of my favs and I add it to nearly all of my pots for that extra flare! It’s also super easy to strike.

Thirdly… so the dirt from the garden (or bought from a shop, or taken from your neighbour or local park, whatever tickles your fancy) is now in the ex-candle holder. I like to fill it pretty close to the top but not level with the top, no particular reason other than that is my preference. Then you can stick your chosen plant into the dirt firmly so that it will not easily fall out. I have been breaking bits off of my succulents as they are super easy to strike new stems from and take to any dirt really. They also go well inside, as long as they have enough natural sunlight to help them grow. They also do not need a lot of water so they are perfect for me, you just have to remember that candles holders to plant holders do not have a drainage hole in them and so you don’t need much water otherwise you may drown them causing the base of the plant to slowly rot.

Candle pot to planter pot 1
Candle pot to plant pot 2

So as you can see, I have had some fun up-cycling my old candle holders into new pot plant holders and using everything from within my home already! I am by no means a professional gardener so the language my not match what you see in the books but hopefully it has given you some ideas of ways to up-cycle what you own. Enjoy!

Birthday’s in lockdown

Never could I imagine that I would find myself planning a lock down 30th birthday.. my oh my how the times have changed!

Whilst it was a very different experience to the usual, get as many people together at once, drink as much as you can and stay out for as late as you can, (throw in a strategic power spew so you can last the night), it was still a very enjoyable experience (not that spewing is enjoyable, but if you know, you know). Initially I was quite anxious that my partner would not get the opportunity to enjoy himself, as I did on my 30th (some 4 years ago now.. that’s right older woman alert!) but these are the times that we are living in and we decided to embrace it for what it currently is.

So I set out planning things that could come to us, given we could not go out. We are currently in a stage 4 Covid lock down, which means we can only leave for 4 essential reasons and we also have a curfew that starts at 8pm. However, To my surprise, there are so many things out there once you start looking! People have really taken advantage of these hard times and changed the way they operate to ensure you can still make the most of your time in lock down.. and boy did we make the most of it!

First of all, uber eats has been around for a long time now, so I am not saying this is a new thing that has been set up post covid. However, I do think that the way we perceive ordering in.. has changed since covid. For example, what we would normally order on uber eats has changed slightly.. I would never have considered ordering a fancy meal particularly steak on uber eats. Normally I would go with simple things like burgers, chips, pizza and other things I would consider to be more fast foods. Something that doesn’t matter if it has cooled down slightly or you have to reheat it. I would previously have the mind set that only certain things can be delivered and still be edible.. and steaks would not have been on my list of foods to consider. We would normally save that for what we considered to be dine in only options.

As I mentioned earlier, services have been changing the way that they operate in these times and many of the restaurants that either may not have been on uber eats previously, or did not have take away options for certain meals on their menue has changed. Steakaway is now a thing! We started this search after I had seen a chef’s post on my local community facebook page. He was a very experienced chef who had lost work as part of the lock down restrictions and finding ways to continue to do the work that he loves whilst earning some money. He is making different restaurant style meals each week that people can order and he will deliver to your door (or you can pick up) that also includes reheat instructions! Amazing! A culinary experience right in the comfort of your own home at affordable prices.. well I never!

Whilst we did not order through this chef as that week he was not doing a dish my partner fancied, we decided to explore what options there were available to have steak delivered, as that is my partner’s favorite eat out meal (you can never cook one as good as you get in a restauraunt.. or at least we cant). To our surprise we came across the Marbl steakaway! A fantastic array of steak options to chose from straight off the pan into the take away boxes so that they are rested and ready to eat when they get to your front door. We did not have to heat them up, they were perfect temperature (although starting to cool and may have had to heat them if we left it another 5 minutes), along with onion crisps (not rings) but fried bits of onion that were crispy and delicious, as well as chips and mushroom gravy! Marbl is a restaurant in Prahran so only 15 minutes from where we are, personally I wouldn’t order steak from any further away than that, otherwise you will need to reheat it, which will cook the steak further and I find it doesn’t taste as good.

To top off the lovely dinner, I also found a cake maker through instagram! Caked Melbourne. This lovely young lady makes cakes to order for all occasions and even had a Covid mini cake size perfect for two. Although the size was surprisingly big and we are still eating cake 3 days later! The circumference is a bit smaller than a mud cake from coles or woolies, but it’s height was about 3 layers tall. You can pick your own color scheme and a small personalized message for the cake which worked a treat. We also decided just one cake would not do, as you do.. and so we also ordered 4 caramilk cheesecakes in cups, which were the perfect size given how sweet they are. We definitely did not need these any sweets, but they were a treat, and we wanted to indulge.

All the eating was topped off with some good fun face times with friends and family from Australia, Scotland and New Zealand to mix it up. To give the family face time some extra giggles, I arranged for family to send me funny pictures of my partner to put into a small video for everyone to laugh at his expense, and boy did we laugh thanks to the many posses and unexpected behaviours of my partner over the years! So whilst it was definitely a different way to celebrate a 30th birthday, we still had loads of fun, with good food, drink, family and friends which made us feel connected and not like we were celebrating alone.

I highly recommend not taking the mind set of we are in lock down lets not celebrate at all if we cant celebrate the way we want. Half the fun is being able to adapt to whatever situation you find yourself in, and find the bright side of being able to connect with so much that previously would not have been possible!

The Covid Novalist

Like so many right now, I am currently at the end of my second week, of a six week lockdown for the second time!

Melbourne Victoria, our home away from our original homes (South Coast NSW and Glasgow Scotland), is currently in the grips of the second wave.. very different to the first wave! But for some reason, this second round of lockdown seems harder than the first. We are more tired, more sluggish, and more bored than the first lockdown. There doesnt seem to be the same level of novelty there was with the first, like when you were a kid and you camped out in your backyard. It was kinda exciting, even though you knew you were still at home not really in the wild you could invoke your imagination more, pretend there were tigers, lions and bears.. oh my! But someone always took it that one step too far, like going to the toilet in the backyard when it was five steps to the indoor flushable loo.. bringing your reality back and resulting in the end of the backyard camping trip, and the commencement of the fight over who will pack the tent down.

Currently, we are at the stage where someone has gone to the toilet in our backyard… looking directly at some Karens out there.. the novelty has worn off and we are starting to face the fact that this is our reality now. No more camp trips for quite some time…

So, while I was sitting at home having finished the Vikings Series on Netflix (I love Ragnor!) and wondering what to do next, I started reading my sisters blog. My eldest sister currently lives in Copenhagen Denmark with her wonderful Danish husband and gorgeous Aussie/Dane 9 month old daughter (come back to Aus already!). She has been blogging about her experience being a new wife and mum in Denmark and the fantastic adventures they have been having, traveling, eating, and parent life. It got me thinking, what a good way to lift my spirits and focus on the positive during this tough time, then to reminisce about my own experiences..

So as much as this is a blog to provide others with hopefully good insights on adventures they may also like, it is also a cathartic journey for myself, to lift my spirits, get my thoughts out, and reminisce on the good times. I hope you enjoy 🙂

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Just an Aussie with a Scottish fiance navigating (trying to understand each other) life together in Australia.

This site will be filled with some of our travel, culinary, and life adventures and recommendations, that I hope you find interesting, entertaining, and perhaps a little bit useful when thinking about some adventures you’d like to have of your own.

Any suggestions/recommendations always welcome!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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