Monday, October 29, 2018 I saved money in October 2018...

I love reflecting on what we've achieved in the last month. Sometimes it's staggering how much we insource, and almost every month, we learn a new skill. You can too!
This month, we ate well from our pantry, refrigerator and garden. The weather is about to warm up considerably here in the Sub-Tropics, so we made the most of enjoying cool weather food for the fading days of late Spring.
Gluten free pizzas are a favourite here since I mastered gluten free pizza dough as seen above. You can find that recipe here.
Likewise, gluten free pastry is a new favourite. I used my Nannas old faithful recipe, and found that lard makes all the difference. That one is here.

Fried rice has been a go-to easy meal in this household since...well...forever.
Here's that recipe in a couple of sentences Nanna style.
To four cups of cooked rice that you've steamed the day before (or these days, 1-2 family sized packet of precooked rice), add two crumbled chicken stock cubes, a handful of diced bacon, and a cup of mixed frozen vegetables. Stir fry until heated through, and add a teaspoon of Sesame Oil, a tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/2 a teaspoon each of dried garlic granules and dried onion flakes, and any diced leftover meat such as chicken or roast that you might have in the fridge. Done. Just as good as any takeaway...better even.

Of course, now that we are moving into hot and humid weather here (when it's not thunderstorming!), sometimes a platter of chilled things is the only way to go when friends come around. Likewise chilled water is the order of the day over cups of tea and coffee.

The apples have been so sweet, juicy and delicious lately, that it's almost criminal to do anything to them, but we do love a good baked apple with greek yoghurt and honey now and again. So when the aforementioned thunderstorms reduced the temperatures for a nanosecond, these little pretties went into the oven.

Nobody can resist those new yummylicious home made gluten free pizzas. They're a new Saturday night treat. Sometimes more often. We load them up with roast pumpkin cubes, baby spinach, diced capsicum, fresh herbs and semi dried tomatoes, and go easy on the fatty deli meats, so they're lighter and healthier.

And...okay...not the healthiest, but so yummy and retro, home made gluten free sausage rolls. Again, I load the meat with grated carrot, zucchini, cubed eggplant and capsicum and handfulls of baby spinach, wrap it in purchased cheaty gluten free puff pastry, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. In 15 minutes I'd made 18, which is enough for two hearty meals for the three of us for around $10.
One tray went straight into the oven, and one went into the freezer for another day.

Of course you remember that I love fridge cleanout day and I was proud to only have to discard half a tin of coconut cream that had been decanted, but not labelled, and thus forgotten at the back of the fridge.
Here's my fridge all ready for the grocery delivery, which was mercifully small this week, and mostly consisted of pantry items. Here you see all my veges ready prepared for the week ahead. These include julienned carrots, diced green capsicum, halved cherry tomatoes, cubed pumpkin (for those pizzas!), sliced cabbage for coleslaw for burgers and stir fry, and more. This saves us so much time, energy and effort. It's an odd reality, that one hour of preparation, once a week, potentially saves you several hours when you're busy. Truth!

Here's some of my Chinoiserie cushions and pillow slips, either ready to stitch or already stitched. A bit different, but I LOVE them.

And here's a bit of faux tortoishell for you. This one hand painted by me. This is all but finished except for the glass top, which is on its way. I can't wait to share it with all of my pretties back in place.
Here it was before. Not awful, but just in need of a glamor makeover, like many of!

Going back 20 or so years ago, I'd stained everything this cherry colour.

That included the chess/coffee table, which I neglected to photograph in it's 'before' condition when overcome by a painting and gilding frenzy.
This is it actually upside down so I could paint it more comfortably. That carved detail really POPS when highlighted with a bit of gold leaf Rub 'n' Buff!

And once painted and gilded, Husband laid some faux tortoise shell of a different kind. This is the acrylic that pick guards on guitars are made from. It's found a new life as a coffee table surface.

We love it!
I can't begin to tell you how much money this saved us in October. But professional Faux Finishers are not cheap, and of course, you know that making your own Fake-Away and preparing meals saves a bomb.
I'm going to say $1200 saved on either a professional painter or a new desk.
About $300 on the coffee table.
Minimum $300 on preparing and avoiding takeaways.
And stitching new linens and cushions myself...I'm not kidding when I tell you that has saved at LEAST $500-$750 for the kind of designs I was admiring. That's a whole other story!
I'm calling October a $2300 month of savings, and that's conservative.
You CAN have Champagne taste on a sparkling water budget.
You've just got to be prepared to get your hands dirty.
Tutorial for that Tortoiseshell finish coming up later in the week.
How was your October?
 photo signature_zps33fd9dfd.png

Monday, October 22, 2018

Homespun Things....DIY Decals....

Look at this bit of specialness!
Pretty retro inspired swallows gracing my pretty retro inspired benchtop mixer.
I know.You want one now don't you. Stick with me.
The instructions are at the end of this post.
It all started with this image found on Pinterest.
So pretty...
I thought I recognised the birds on this mixer, and sure enough, I eventually found them on The Graphics Fairy website.
They look like this....

So here is my mixer.
It's a Sunbeam, not a Kitchenaid…
I printed the Graphic Fairy birdie images out, trimmed them, and went to town trying to find a good position for them.
But try as I might, they didn't look right, due to the very different shape of the Sunbeam, over the Kitchenaid mixer.
I had seen another image of swallows that I liked at The Graphics Fairy.
And one that had a slightly more Chinoiserie bent to it, over a traditional European one.
Almost more of a tattoo feel...though please note I do not have tattoos... I just like the colouring of them.
Look here it is....
So I saved that one, resized it accordingly, and did another in a mirror image, because now I knew exactly how I was positioning them.

See here, where I've printed them out on paper, to finalise where they'd go.

Fortunately I had some Waterslide decal paper that I'd ordered for another project, so lickety-split, I printed them out on that.
Waterslide decal paper is available on eBay and at selected stationers and craft stores, and it's about $3 per sheet. That's really economical when you consider how much Etsy stores charge for customised waterslide decals. I've added a link below.
You need an inkjet printer, and I purchased mine several years ago for $35. The stationers all have them, and I actually think I bought this one at the supermarket. So they're readily available.
Of course, the expense is in the ink cartridges, and they do come with cartridges intact, that will last you quite some time.
I buy the replacements for mine online for about $35-$40 each for the black and the colour, and they last at least six months. And that's with Daughter printing out assignments and whatnot, and me with all of my craft projects.
So in short, you need....
Waterslide decal paper available online
Inkjet printer with black and colour cartridges
Images that you like, resized accordingly
Spray clear enamel paint to 'set' the ink on the new decals
Print your pretty images out on your waterslide decal paper, coat them with the clear gloss spray enamel, and wait for it to dry. It won't take long. An hour at the most in fine, dry weather.
Then trim your decals close to, but not right up against, your images. You need about 1cm or 1/4 of an inch, all the way around.
Apply your decals in the preferred position, following the instructions that come with the paper.
These are not difficult to apply at all, but if you've never used them before, sacrifice a practice sheet and some smaller decals, perhaps for storage jars or similar, to make sure you can transfer them smoothly. They can slide around a little for repositioning, but do treat them gently.
Keep a clean, dry cloth close by to smooth them out once applied.
Be careful, they are fragile.
That's it!
Enjoy your new fancy-schmancy mixer!

Of course, you can use these decals on ANTHING really.
They're no good on anything that needs to be immersed in water, and they're definitely not dishwasher safe. A gentle wipe with a clean damp cloth now and again, is as much as they tolerate.
But for furniture, canisters, storage jars, mirrors, boxes and most other things that just sit quietly minding their own business, they're the bomb!
Waterslide decal paper available here.
Swallow images available here.
Original Kitchenaid bluebirds on a branch here.
Have fun creating!
 photo signature_zps33fd9dfd.png

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Life changes on the horizon....

Life changes are afoot friends!
Big ones!
See, there I was, in the midst of my Chinoiserie-Hollywood Regency bedroom makeover, and having a fine time painting anything I could lay my hands on, when I received a phone call.
I got dressed like this, went for a comfy chat with a friend...
...and was offered a job!
A real outside-the-home corporate one.
With money.
Well, I thought about it for a while, because, you know, I've worked pretty hard a being retired and content.
But here's the thing.
It's a job helping people. A role where I know I truly can make a difference.
And it's only for two years.
So. Why not? I mean really. I've actually already been performing this role on a volunteer basis. So why shouldn't someone pay me to do what I've already been doing for years?
I start very soon.
Meanwhile, with a commencement date looming and unfinished projects the order of the day at Maison Mimi, I'm in uber-productive mode!
I painted this vintage lacquerware stacking thing a new colour....
Look! Pretty, isn't it?
 I painted a $3 thrifted frame pink..
I painted these cranes pink too...

 Then changed my mind and painted them Hermes orange instead...

I love them now.
I scored a pair of lamps at the thrift store for $6. I embellished them with Greek Key trim.
I love them too now.

That there underneath...that's my first attempt at faux tortoisehell. More on that later. You may recall me saying I try things 27 times before I give up? Well I'm on my 19th try of faux tortoishell and by jove, I think I've got it!
These fabrics are somehow coming together harmoniously for the new bedroom décor. I think my brain almost has that one worked out as well.
Thankyou to Judy for that stunning crane print. Isn't it divine?

I admired some Blanc de Chine figurines, inwardly cursing myself for not snapping up the one I'd seen at my usual thrift store haunt for just $7.
They I remembered my collection of Willow Tree figurines, gifted over the years. I love their sentiment, but not entirely loving their colour.
So, as you do, I painted them with gloss white spray paint.

Behold a new sort of perfection...

I adore them now. Honestly, is there anything you can't learn to love with a lick 'o' paint?

Back to that tortoishell. Here was attempt number 6. It wasn't quite right either.

I gave up on that for a minute and painted my cherry stained desk, satin black.

It's rahhhhther glamorous now. Especially after I refinished the handles with a bit of Rub 'n' Buff. It comes in a tiny tube and is a thick cream. You rub it on, and voila! Gold leaf perfection!
I liked the black desk so much, I painted the chess table black too. It has this lovely carved detail.

So I looked at that, and looked at the Rub 'n' Buff, and well, you know what happened next....

A bit glam, right?
No, not me. This is me in some new corporate wear. Different?

In the midst of all that painting and Rub 'n' Buff-ing, I trotted out this Hatchimals cake for Granddaughter number two.
It's true my love for the Grandies knows no bounds, nor limitations of imagination or creativity.

Here's version 5 of the faux tortoishell. Kinda nice, but not quite the look I was after either.

This faux tortoishell with gold overlay got my attention though!

 Leading me to Version 18 of my attempted faux tortoishell, which, if I hadn't sponged like the tutorial said, would have been almost perfect.
Of course with Rub 'n' Buff in one hand, and an old etching stencil in the other, I had brainstormed a way to replicate the above look, no worries at all.
I'm well on the way with that project now.
This needs to be glazed, embellished with flourishes, and preserved under a glass top, and I will be in heaven.

In other news, work has commenced on a She-Shed!
The slab was poured just this morning!
It's not a pretty back yard one.
Mine is under the house.
But it will still look a little like this...

...and this...

Feast your eyes upon my pewter shantung bedspread.
$6 thankyou very much.
I had admired a similar one for $450.
Happy me.

And this wee box?
I was about to donate it, when inexplicably, one almost identical, showed up in my Pinterest feed.
I think it's valuable.
Either way...I've rescued it from the 'donate' box and given it pride of place on my bedside table for now, until I find out more about it.

So that's all my news.
I'm sorry to have kept you in suspense.
Life changes. But it's all for the good.
What's changed in your corner of the world lately?
 photo signature_zps33fd9dfd.png