Sunday, November 25, 2012

DIY origami advent calendar

Right folks, it's time to get crafty. I love Christmas craft. At primary school when the last couple of weeks of term rolled around and we started to wilt in the summer heat, out came the red textas and the cotton wool for the making of toilet roll santas, and the macaroni for decorated jars. This was the kind of schoolwork I liked!

I've grown up just a wee bit since then, but not enough to leave the pipe cleaners behind altogether. I still have boxes of lovely papers and more markers than the average Officeworks store. But in recent years I haven't really roused them very often.

Well this year I'm back with a vengeance. Remembering how much I loved them as a kid, I decided to make an advent calendar for my young niece and nephew. I think it's so cute I thought I'd share the process with you all.


The project can be completed from start to finish in about three hours. You’ll need the following:
  • Preloved children's book(s) or old magazines - 25 pages of at least 16 x 16cm in size
  • Numbers 1-25 printed on paper (printable attached)
  • 2 metres of string
  • Washi tape
  • Double-sided tape
  • Ruler and cutting mat
  • Scissors
  • Upholstery needle 
  • Little goodies for hiding in the cups

How to make the advent calendar

I used old Golden Books for colour but you can use any paper.
  1. Remove the pages from the books and cut each into a 16 x 16cm square
  2. Make 25 cups by following these instructions for making an origami cup
  3. Use double-sided tape to stick the numbers onto the front of each cup
  4. Use washi tape to stick the flap down on the back of each cup
  5. Thread your upholstery needle with string and thread the cups onto the string by piercing a hole in each side. Start with number 25 and work backwards
Now for the fun part. It's time to fill the cups ready for December's treasure hunt. As this calendar was for little kids I filled mine with chocolate coins, puffy stickers, plastic jewellery, and little tree decorations. I made a second 'grown up' calendar for some friends and filled it with handmade chocolates and decorations. Double-sided tape sealed the deal to close up the tops of the cups to avoid peeking.

That's it! All thats left to do is to hang it as bunting over a mantel or bookcase and countdown til December one.

And remember, no peeking!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Disconnect to reconnect

Lately I've come to the realisation that I have contracted what I thought was a very modern affliction - infobesity. "What?" I hear you ask. Fundamentally, it boils down to the fact that I'm taking in a magnitude of information beyond my ability to assimilate it all. I confess much of my spare moments are spent reading whatever I can lay my eyes on, flicking from email to book to website to blog to twitter in order to take in as much content as I can. This would be ok if I had control over it, but unfortunately I don't think I do anymore. I feel like I'm constantly thirsty despite the sheer volume I'm digesting.

Knowing that I'm just about to advise you to stop reading this and shut down your computer, I better get straight to the point, hadn't I? Well I think I've discovered two main causes.

Firstly, I have FOMOOI. This is a bit like FOMO (fear of missing out), but it's not an experience I'm worried about. Rather it's a fear of missing out on information. Each tasty morsel leads to another and then another, and despite feeling well and truly full I continue to stuff myself with words and images. I'm constantly tempted by a catchy title, the promise of wisdom or a yet more gorgeous graphic. Yet I worry if I stop I might miss out on some important snippet about the particular topic of interest, of which unfortunately I have many, that may lead to some life-changing break though.

The second cause I believe stems from feeling compelled to take in the mass of information by outside forces. How many unread emails do you have in your email inboxes demanding to be fed? How many unread books on your shelves want to be admired? How many unwatched downloaded movies do you have in your media player? Have you read all of today's Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Flipboard streams? How many unread articles in your 'Read it Later' app?

What are you reading?:

By now you probably get where I'm coming from. It's not so modern. Alvin Toffler had it right back in the 1970's in his bestselling book 'Future Shock' where even back then he talked about 'information overload'. He thought that the presence of too much information made it difficult for a person to understand the issue at hand and ultimately to make a decision. I couldn't agree more - the more I read the less clarity I have. I find my attention span is waning and I'm skimming at best. It's a surface life.

It can't go on - I'm mentally exhausted. Worst of all I'm finding this obsession with information is sometimes keeping me from connecting with my real life. My friends and family don't care if I have emptied my inbox or read the latest article about 'How to give your work that edge'. But they do care that I spend time with them in person, alert, fully present, actively listening, observing and interacting with joy. Afterall, isn't real life the best source of knowledge?

If this resonates with you I ask you to join me in taking on these seven missions for a day, a week, then maybe a month in attempt to slow down what you take in making space to assimilate and reconnect.

Here's what I challenge you to do:
  1. Read one book at a time. Choose carefully, like it was the last book that you'll ever get. Savour every word, the writing style, the sound of the pages turning. Don't start another until you finish it.
  2. Don't 'link off'. When reading something on the web, if tempted to 'link off' to another site, don't. Save/write down the name/URL of the site to a list and don't look at the list for another week. If after that time you still really want to read the contents of these links, then do so, but one at a time and mindfully.
  3. Don't save articles to 'read later' apps. I know this conflicts with item two, but seriously, when do you ever go back and read the articles?
  4. Read magazines in one sitting. If you're like me you have a few half-read, must finish mags lying around. Finish them up in one sitting, photograph any bits you love and then give them away to someone who will love them. Or just give them away if you know you'll never read them.
  5. Reassess who you follow on Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/email and cut out the noise. If there are people/pages you find you always skim over, unfollow them, and create a social media wish list of people/pages you will reconnect with if time permits. Then your time spent reviewing is out of conscious choice and those people you follow know you're truly listening.
  6. Archive unwatched media. Someone gave you a few series and you haven't had time to watch them. They keep asking you have you watched it yet? Don't let it get in the way of life. Archive it off or if you're never going to watch it, delete it. 
  7. Now, put down your book, shut down the computer, turn off the TV and go and play
Disconnect to reconnect:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Surprise nomination

Sometimes life just throws you the loveliest surprises. The gorgeous Miranti over at Pen & Peplum has nominated me for a Liebster Award, which is for bloggers with less than 200 followers. I was quite aglow after discovering her tag because Miranti has an utterly delightful blog. It's all about beautiful workspaces and improving worklife. If you're a stationery addict it's the place to go get your fix.

Now, down to the rules. To qualify I must: Post 11 random things about myself // Answer the 11 questions Miranti asked of me // Nominate 11 more up and coming bloggers, and notify them and link them to my post // Create 11 new questions for these blogger to answer // No tag backs.

So to begin, here are 11 random facts you didn’t need to know about me:
  1. I'm most inspired in the early hours of dawn with the possibilities of what the day may bring lapping at my feet.
  2. I drink about seven cups of tea a day. 
  3. I'm not shy, but an introvert. I take a bit of time to warm up, but when I do I become quite extroverted. A glass of champagne always helps.
  4. Red is my favourite colour.
  5. I was born with the hiccups.
  6. I am always being accused of being a mischief maker.
  7. My cat Sasha made a modelling debut on the blog Desire to Inspire.
  8. In Jane Austen's days I might have been a very accomplished woman, but loving sewing, baroque music, drawing and making your own chicken stock isn't as cool in the 21st century.
  9. Although I'm a designer, I also have degrees in art therapy and psychology. But I'm not analysing you, I promise!
  10. I get the giggles.
  11. Mais oui, I am a Francophile.
ikea dress

Miranti asked these questions of me:

1. What did you want to be when you were growing up? A graphic designer. As a kid I'd sit at the dining table with my cherished Crayola Caddy and later a set of 72 Derwent Artist Pencils and draw logos and make up brochures - even though at the time I didn't even have a label for the job. Geek!

2. What is one simple pleasure you like to incorporate in your life daily? Tea. Brewing a cup is the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night. I can't imagine life without it.

3. Most memorable meal? A best friend's older sister had a Jewish boyfriend who was both a doctor and a chef. I thought he was so exotic. Once when I stayed with her, he made from scratch quail ravioli with a walnut sauce. I'd never tasted anything like it, and no food has ever topped the memory.

4. If you could live in any city in the world, where would it be? Paris...and London. I can have two can't I?

5. How do you handle stress? I lock myself away from the world in my introvert hampster ball where I recentre myself with peace and order... and a cup of tea, bien sur.

6. If money wasn’t an issue, what would you do for work? Helping people find courage to illuminate their true self.

7. If you had to tattoo one word on your body, what would that word be? Courage

8. Favourite drink? Tea. A strong scottish style brew.

9. What one item of clothing best describes your style? The shift dress my mother made me from some IKEA fabric. My sister thinks it's like wearing a lounge, but I love the simple shape and the playful geometric pattern.

10. If you could decorate your workspace however you wanted, what would be your feature colour? Yellow. Sunshine and light feed my creative spirit.

11. What is your favourite season? Easter in Australia marks the beginning of Autumn - cool crisp mornings, clear skies, warm rich colours and home cooking. And chocolate. It's my favourite time of year.

Eleven up and coming blogs I am loving:

These bloggers have so many talents. Some don't advertise how many followers that have, but hey, I think they deserve an award.
  1. Pavinee // Have a Merry Day
  2. Kate // My Dear Angel
  3. Julianne // Jookiku
  4. Mel // Armoire, Pegs and Casserole
  5. Bonnie // The Wheelbarrows
  6. Lena // Mina Moka
  7. Merle // Curve of the world
  8. Becca // The Dabblist
  9. Melanie // Creative Mix
  10. Silkie // Rosehip
  11. Suzanne // Paper Ivy

And my questions of my nominees:
  1. What is your greatest strength?
  2. What was a moment/event that changed the course of your life?
  3. If someone was to give you one gift, money is no object, what would you want to receive?
  4. What dish are you renowned for cooking?
  5. What was your favourite subject at school?
  6. Your ultimate career would be?
  7. Do your personality traits and interests make you feel as though you should have been born in another era, and why?
  8. Your favourite colour?
  9. What is the most courageous thing you have ever done?
  10. Your perfect holiday: relax or explore?
  11. What makes you laugh?
I can't wait to read the responses. Have a lovely weekend all!
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