Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A rebel in her own mind

The French have an expression I love ... 
'Refaire le monde' 
Literally, 're-make the world' or 
Make the world what you'd like it to be.

It's a popular expression used to describe those moments whiled away in conversation with friends. It evokes images of wonderful dinner parties or lazy afternoons chatting away the hours, of dreams for the future and memories of the past. For the French, ' Refaire le Monde' pretty well stops there: having a lovely conversation that will be stuck on pause until you next see your friends for a good bout of reminiscing about the old days or vaguely pursuing the what ifs...  

photo found here

What I've always found peculiar about this phrase is that, inspite of the verb, in real life - it has nothing to do with any action other than the art of talking.  'Doing,' is not a verb for the people in France, it is a verb for the Government.

I came to France expecting a country of revolutionaries brandishing slogans like 'Joie de Vivre.' There is none of that; little joie de vivre, and certainly no revolution.  France drowns in its own traditions. While we have scrumptious cheeses, great wine, fabulous villages and 65 million essentially lovely and well  meaning individuals - we have a general apathy about the state of the world and our own country, and an inherent distrust (may I go so far as to say dislike) of any sort of change, that I find alarming.  This can be found anywhere you may say - Sure! However, in my personal experience, it is particularly entrenched here.

The part that touches me most at the moment is the education system. 

My nearly 11 year old will be starting college this September. I left the parents' information evening in tears. Not because my little girl is growing up - but because this system is just so, so SAD.

She will start school at 9am and finish at 5.30pm (with a bit more than an hour's lunchbreak in between), except for Wednesday where they finish at lunchtime so they can go to afterschool activities. Until they are 13/14 yr's old, in order to keep up with lessons, they are expected to do at least an hour's homework each evening, after which it grows to 2hrs per evening. She will have some 'free lessons' which she will spend in a room with god knows how many other kids (we live too far away from school for me to be able to pick her up for that lesson), and in which she will be admonished for whispering or looking out the window, rather than concentrating on the books in front of her. 

Can anyone explain to me, realistically when my child will be able to play, imagine, create or discover the pleasure of learning and discovery? Let alone getting to bed at a reasonable hour. 

Of course, there are longer school holidays here. Thank goodness for small mercies, with weeks so crammed full of books and lessons - I guess she'll need more holidays. To my mind, more holidays do not make up for a balanced schedule. 

Am I whinging? I think so. In fact, I'm distraught. Not only am I saddened and sickened by this education system, that so many people find normal, but I was also brought up not to whinge. ACTION! Which basically means, if you don't like something - do something about it. Armed with my 'positive planks' that's what I set out to do... but it's not enough...

I have just spent a few months finding out all I can about homeschooling my kids (thanks Camilla and Jeanneoli, amongst others). Yet I have also started my own business (after a good deal of struggle with prevailing attitudes) and need, for various reasons, to become financially independent. It seems pretty insurmountable, given my environment, to be able to teach 3 messmonsters full time and become financially independent simultaneously. Could this be the year to try? The French have finally brought out a system by which one can be self employed and only pay social security charges and taxes based on what one earns - rather than in advance (ie BEFORE YOU EARN IT!), like it was last year and those before. 

Anyone else out there done it??? Let me know - I'm in need of a bit of encouragement... 

Would I move them back to Australia/NZ for school? This very afternoon! I dream of them having drama clubs and sports to choose from and swim carnavals etc etc; various outlets for their energy that can orient them at least into other avenues when their self-esteem is flailing. Everything that the French school system doesn't offer. But there is the small matter of Mr (French) Beaker who forms an important part of the family equation... Moving a French person takes years - unless he is a yachtie! Mine only gets seasick.  Faith might be able to move mountains, but she never tried to uproot a French person.

Anytime anyone lifts a finger to change the French education system, the strikes go out in earnest. Nothing, REPEAT NOTHING, must be changed. None of the parents I talk with  really like the system, but not enough to want to change it. After all, they went through it and they're alright. Overtly fearful of any form of change, but they're fine, normal, nice people. 
So why do I have such a sense of dread?

As I paint my 'positive' in tears today, I wonder how my child is going to pay for having a rebel mother. I was brought up to work hard at my studies and work for what I wanted to achieve. But this is too much. If she does not keep up with those lessons because I think it is too much for her to spend so much time studying after an already over full school day, how will she feel in class? Falling behind is not a fun thing for a tween, a teen, or anyone for that matter. So somewhere in there, I'm even likely to become instrumental  in maintaining a system I can't abide by. 

Friends say that I will be able to bring my messmonsters a different perspective, because I have a whole other outlook on life. I don't think that, where I come from, my outlook is in fact that different. Or is that the years talking? In any case, it seems like so little with which to confront the mastodon that is the French education system... And then ...

... I chanced on this piece by one of my favourite 'guerillas' earlier on this morning.  Keri, famous author some of you may know already, has just finished reading a book on revolutionising the education system. I've just finished editing 100 pages on the same thing (albeit in Africa) for an NGO, and it all just seemed to fall into place. 

Guess what I have to do is go straight to point 13 then activate point 8, point 3 being illustrated by the fact that I pinched this list!!  Allez - time to make a mess with my paints and inks... I may just be able to bring Point 7 out in a positive light.

Thanks for listening to the rant ... don't know what I'd do if you weren't around...

Monday, March 29, 2010

AWOL: a tale of strange (dis)appearances

"Didn't the fox never catch the rabbit, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy the next evening.
"He come mighty nigh it, honey, sho's you born--Brer Fox did.
(from, The Wonderful Tar Baby Story, as narrated by Uncle Remus)

Mighty nigh but not quite, eh Uncle Remus!!
Meet my my newest excuse for not showing you any new work... 10 feeds per day  and some serious supervision so he doesn't go AWOL from his temporary new mummy until he's big enough to fend for himself. In the mean time - he runs fast, so I am getting lots of exercise in the back yard ;-)

When we are not rescuing 3 week old rabbits, we are setting fire to the dangerous pirate ships* that sail to 'La Rivière' to bomb us with chocolate fudge cake...
I shall pop over to catch up on and admire all of your latest adventures this evening. For now, it's time to make hay while the sun shines, feed 'Chanceux' ('Lucky') who has become my shadow, and sneak in a few brush strokes while he's between feeds. 

*The super duper mega cool 'successful' version of this pirate cake comes from the blog 'Chapter 40' which you can find on my sidebar. I have to race off so can't put in the link till later. In the mean time - go have a look through her February and March posts where you'll find out how to make it.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The trees are happy

"...but it was so long since he had heard a bird sing in his garden that it seemed to him to be the most beautiful music in all the world.

Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open casement. 'I believe the Spring has come at last,' said the Giant; and he jumped out of bed and looked out. 
What did he see?
He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree that he could see there was a little child. And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving there arms gently above the children's heads."

From, The Selfish Giant, by Oscar Wilde.

This is one of my favourite stories. One I remember fondly from my NZ childhood, snuggled up in bed on a Sunday morning listening to the radio.

It seems that the trees are happy here at La Rivière at the moment, waving their blossomed branches gently in the blue sky. That's inspiration enough for me!

Back later with some Wishcasting Wednesday thoughts, a bit of Saving the World, and some globetrotting ...I've missed you over the last few days ;-)

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Right under Washington's nose!

A slender acquaintance with the world 
must convince every man 
that actions, not words, 
are the true criterion of the attachment of friends.
George Washington

If you've been reading recently you'll know that I've been on a lucky streak. This lucky streak has been going on for most of my life. Well - that's how I see it anyway. But recently, things have really been picking up! Life has been even more full of surprises than usual... 

 For example, I won my very first giveaway. (OOPS! It was my 2nd - so that means I'm extra lucky. Cheers and applause!!) I knew the parcel was coming ... Ma chère Gigi had forewarned me. What she had brilliantly kept secret was it's exact contents, so  I wasn't prepared for was the beautiful aroma when I opened the mailbox. It seemed vaguely familiar, but I couldn't quite put my finger (or nose) on it. The day the box arrived, the messmonsters were all jostling each other to get to it first- it's nearly Pokemon's birthday you see... 
'PAS TOUCHE!' said I in very bad French, 'c'est pour moi!!'

To the messies' disgust, I took my time opening the parcel. They just couldn't understand why I didn't rip the paper off and fling it on the floor in wild abandon like they would do. Actually, although I'm  annoyingly precious about conserving wrapping paper, I confess to wantonly throwing myself onto presents  food, art, supplies, food, life, exquisite clothing, brocantes, food... with wild abandon - so 3 pairs of inquisitive little eyes eventually left digusted, in search of more promising adventure. But not before Libellule threw  at me in her usual flippant manner, 'Maman, I smell lavendar!' What can you expect from a child who has Provençal genes? 
So that was it! And right under Washington's nose at that, for the said lavendar was beautifully encased in a small glass bottle and wrapped in a fine beige tissue paper, which was humbly adorned with a tiny red stamp. That tiny red stamp wore nothing but Washington's face! 

I spent a while contemplating that stamp.
Before I unwrapped the parcel...

I then spent a while examining the BOSTON bottle inside from every possible angle, before letting myself discover the rest of the box, which in itself was a visual feast. A vibrant rainbow of blue, yellow and red that took me all the way to the Dominican Republic and the back streets of its cigar industry. From France, to Boston to the République Dominicaine... Two extra countries without leaving my sofa. Travelling in the mind's great for the morale, not to mention the bank account!


I could just tell from the whimsical and careful way everything was wrapped, then placed inside the box that Gigi did not become a poet, but was born one. Poet is as Poet does. Poetry is not merely about writing words. Many of us are word mills. Ahem ... (blushing)

A true Poet feels before she thinks.  This shines through, not only in the delicacy and poignancy of Gigi's prose, but in the regular, imaginative musings and snippets she shares of her daily life in her blog The Magpie's Fancy. And for me, (blessed I be) it was oh so present in the thoughtful arrangement of  goodies she added to the exquisite photo that was the initial prize. I have one of these typewriters ...I wish I could type butterflies with it.  

There were many other wee treasures in that vibrant cigar box: a little red notebook, more of the polished sea glass I love so to add to the collection I started with Fearless Nester, hearts nestled safely within the folds of a woven nest, vintage cards, precious beads to adorn the simple string bows... 
...and two of my favourite words: 
They just ooze challenge and adventure, don't they? 
Conjures up all sorts of fun ideas, like treasure hunts...

Now Mr Washington, I dare to agree and not disagree for once. Should I consider intently this slender acquaintance, I am certain to find that the attachment of friends is both defined by words and sealed through actions...

In other words - you've won a heart!
Merci Gigi, 
Je suis sincèrement touchée.

For more secrets and fun ideas from artists around the world, don't forget to pop over to Seth's Secret Sunday at the Altered Page ... it's up there on my sidebar.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

You've got mail!

It is nearly midnight and I have rewritten this post 5 times now. Sometimes I wonder if it is just me that takes so long to find the right words - or if you all have the same dilemma. 

Do you?

Of course, a good dose of the wearies doesn't help. Nodding off on your keyboard only reduces your alphabet to a lot of zzzzzzzz's! Never fear though possums - the old second wind has kicked in and we may now chat all evening, or rather into the wee hours of the early morning ;-) I'll just have to inspire myself with the postcard LaWendula sent me this week in order to continue (you can see it in my collage below! becoming a collage maniac).
If you've been reading along this week you'll notice that I've been on a lucky roll!
Yup - almost every trip to the mail box has been a winner!
Do I go to the mail box everyday? you ask.
Why no! But at the moment all my numbers come up
I keep hitting the jackpot
I am worried
I may be developing an unhealthy addiction to checking my letter box!

LaWendula organises a paper swap every month to which I've signed up as a participant.
This month's theme was 'Letters and Numbers' and we both had a great time (at least I did) rifling through our ephemera to find bits and pieces that the other might find useful, attractive,  fun to play with, inspiring ... or even odd. Now - the alphabets, that's my game so I could hardly not dive right into this theme. 

You don't have to be an artist to participate ... just a lover of ephemera. A collector of those stray bits and pieces that get lost in no man's land between rubbish and 'next month's project.' This swap is great for the soul. I get a real kick out of seeing an enormous envelope of my stuff leave the house. 'Yeah! Decluttering!' I say to myself, allowing myself a moment's pause to savour the emotion. 

And how do I feel, you may ask, about hiking up to the mail box and coming back with a similar sized envelope to the one I just sent away so much for the -uncluttering!? Why happier still - All is justifiable in the name of art - at least as far as recycling paper is concerned ;-)

It's getting a bit late for Madame to continue ce soir ... so take a wee peek into the treasure chest above ... It holds the key to Sunday's post!

Bonne nuit ;-) 

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mind the Gap!

"The gaps are the thing. The gaps are the spirit's one home, the altitudes and latitudes so dazzlingly spare and clean that the spirit can discover itself like a once-blind man unbound. The gaps are the clefts in the rock where you cower to see the back parts of God; they are the fissures between mountains and cells the wind lances through, the icy narrowing fords splitting the cliffs of mystery. Go up into the gaps. If you can find them; they shift and vanish too. Stalk the gaps. Squeak into a gap in the soil, turn, and unlock - more than a maple - a universe."
- Annie Dillard
(found at Whiskey River AGAIN ;-)

When Jamie Ridler asks us what we would like to pay attention to for Wishcasting Wednesday today, I would have to say...
The Gaps!

I look for them between the in and the out breath. The pause between each giggle. The moment just after the nib has come out of the ink, before it touches the object of my intention. Always, always chasing the gaps... seeking the silence ... knowing the secret is there. In each form there is a counter form. A perfect letter blossoms out of the gaps, the space, the counter form. Therein lies the secret. To so many things it would appear ...

Speaking of gaps. I was in another land last night, sometime just before midnight. A land of Dr Seuss and pants-pinching-plants in French Forests. That must be what distracted me terribly. So engrossed was I in being lucky, that I completely forgot to mind the gap. Unfortunately, while I wasn't paying attention, two wonderful and talented blogging friends ...slipped right through it.

First there was Lisa, from Art, Lettering and Life. Lisa is a calligrapher whose talent I covet immensely. If I can develop half of her technique in the coming years, I will become quite an accomplished calligrapher. Yet it was Lisa who awarded me some sunshine...Truly lucky am I!

Then there was Rue, at Rue & Hyssop, who speaks so expertly of moons and runes and rituals. Her journey of self discovery always leaves me with some thought-provoking insights. As she says... "Although Bacchanalia doesn't get it's day or two on the calendar, I think it's a wonderful option to celebrate in lieu of St. Patrick's Day. I just can't drink green beer. But wine and revelry - absolutely" 
Yes! A girl after my own heart ;-) Thanks Rue for tagging me!
Some of my most cherished finds have come from paying attention to those gaps. 

This antique wooden crucifix complete with 'benitier' (for holy water), was waiting, patient as a saint, in the shadow of the rich and almighty antiques of a distinguished brocanteur. 

His (for Crucifix is masculin in French) red velvet finery was long past its day. But I loved him none the less. Gently and reverently I removed his holey robes before restoring him with the white purity he deserves, and a few simple words worthy of a crucifix ...  

'Pour qui est bon, le monde est bon'
For the good, the world is good 
(Hindu expression)

Keep an eye on my Etsy shop 
He'll be filling in one of the gaps before the week is out!
True to word he went into the shop tonight, 
and promptly disappeared to fill a gap for someone else ...
Thank you Sister!

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Did I ever tell you how lucky you are?

"When you think things are bad
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad...
Just do what I do!"

"Just tell yourself, Duckie, 
you're really quite lucky!
Some people are much more...
oh ever so much more...
oh muchly much -much more
unlucky than you!"

For suppose that you lived in that forest in France,
where the average young person just hasn't a chance
to escape from the perilous pants-eating-plants!
But your pants are safe! You're a fortunate guy.
And you ought to be shouting, 
(Dr Seuss)

So that's what I'm doing, not just for the pants
(Against Aussies, French forests just don't stand a chance)
No, the reason I'm making a great song and dance
Is to thank these 3 women for making my day
And to give them back joy in my personal way

To Faerwillow at Serendipity, Thank you for the Kreativ Blogger award. Your own blog inspires me with positive, uplifting thoughts to guide each day. May you benefit from the brightest blessings that you so generously wish for others. So pleased I fell or stumbled upon you!

To Jeanne at Collage of Life,  Mille mercis for the Sunshine Award twice in 2010. I must be doing something right ;-) Jeanne, I have become accustomed to having your honest but gentle opinions and eye for truly beautiful things filling my world - to the extent that I can't imagine life without you... Warning to others - do not 'just pop over for a quick read' of Jeanne's blog when you have 'work' to do - all ideas of working fly straight out the window when faced with subjects such as beauty, joy and the odd spa retreat in Provence!

To Maurie at This Northwest Life, I am honoured to have been bestowed with the Happy 101 award from a fellow nature lover, hiker, brocanteuse and ecochick like you. If you wanted to know 10 amazingly interesting things about me ... you can get the puffed up long version here.

I know the goal is to pass these on to other bloggers who inspire and show particular signs of being globally head and shoulders above all the heads and shoulders. The problem is, I'm bedazzled, confuzzed and confounded by the sheer number of entertaining, informative, hilarious, touching, talented people there are in cyberspace sharing their lives with us. So much so that I am completely unable to reduce them to a mere 10 or 12. So in this post HERE, I suggested a treasure hunt. 

Rather than take my word for it ... I invite you to step out into the complete unknown and meet a few of those lovely (of course!) people who follow my blog. I dare you - choose 1 per day for the next 12 days and blog about who you found. I'll drop by and say hi when you do!

Phew, I'm feeling quite humble tonight
Thank you for the vote of confidence and happiness
I'm taking this as an indication that I'm doing something right ...
Now, a lucky girl like me should get some sleep.
And while I still have my wits, and my pants about me
I will bid you all adieu for ce soir

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hearts don't have wrinkles

A gorgeous sunny day to take out my quills and nibs...
This wooden heart has been winking at me 
from it's hiding place in my dining room ahem! studio
for a couple of months now
La Marquise de Sévigny was a wise woman
all the way back in the 1600s

I guess she meant a heart that loves...

Never grows old!
More about her and the heart when it is finished,
(needs an English translation on the back)
have some other goodies on their way too.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

On ne diminue pas le bonheur...

... en le partageant

En attendant la reprise de mes pinceaux adorés... 

je jette un coup d'oeil dehors

et je retrouve toute l'inspiration qu'il me faut ;-)

Cette semaine, un peu plus de calligraphie 
à partager avec vous...

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Making history

(thank you Jackie for the wonderful photo)

Alors les filles???

This is exactly what I would like to teach my girls
Well, one day... once I've taught them how to 'eat proper' anyway ;-)
I'll lead by example then shall I?
What about you?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Change the world ... Where was I ?

If you read further down below you'll notice I started this post earlier on this morning. We were in the process of chatting about one of the things I love doing best: thrifting then upcycling 'stuff' into what I like to call 'Functional Art!'
Possums it's more than just decoration... 
Better than an addiction...
It's a lifestyle!

(vignette of my garage after a 'tidy up:' from 4 year's of 'thrifting')

For me, it all started when I was still living in Paris and Libellule was soon to be born. One more baby meant lots more storage space. The size of a baby being of course inversely proportional to the quantity of STUFF you need! I knew exactly what cupboards I wanted, but I just couldn't find them. When I did find exactly what I wanted - it was sooo far out of my budget that I decided I would just have to make it myself! Isn't that just the way? 

Necessity is definitely the mother of invention!

So I enlisted the help of my best friend Cécile (who I'm hoping will start a blog soon) who initiated me into the delights of thrifting and patine. Many a midnight hour we would meet up 'incognito' to comb the streets of Paris looking for any 'interesting' piece we could find that was 'dans son jus.' We would bribe the menfolk with golf and wine so we could spend every Sunday morning for 6 months getting up at 5am to be amongst the first at the Paris fleamarkets and vide greniers. We were even known to scavenge off the local streets in broad daylight: while I stood guard over our finds; she would race off quick smart to get her mini. You can only imagine the adventures we had trying to fit oversized wrought iron beds, armoires, enormous shutters from manor windows, chandeliers etc etc into her mini - or lug them kilometres home at midnight. Yet shove and lug we did. Every single one of those pieces has its own past life, a soul and a story to tell... right up to its rebirth into a different object like the ones below...   

It's become a way of life for me, creating and designing my own lighting, furniture and storage. It was initially a way of being able to work, contribute to the finances of the household (if only by saving money on pieces of furniture we had to replace after the fire), and still be at home to look after the kids when they were little so they didn't have to do those looooooong French school days of 9-5 without being able to come home for lunch, or having to stay at afterschool care till 6.30pm. 2hr lunchbreaks sure do cut your day in half but it always seemed better than having them coming home shattered after the equivalent of an adult working day... But I digress :)

I've gone off the traditional and beautifully feminine patine a little recently, opting for the more 'industrial' look. All those years of painting pearl grey, anthracite, cream and white have invested me with a need for colour and streamlined! Hence the blue and orange lamps that were once linen and cream ...

(old school benches bought for 1Euro each painted in l'Ile d'Yeu colours, 
wonky old deck chair picked up off the footpath and brightened up with some new fabric
... and lots of snow on Monday after spending Sunday eating lunch outside in the sun...)

Seeing it's Change the World Wednesday, I have a challenge for you. Before you make your next purchase, be it lighting, storage or furniture, ask yourself again if you couldn't make it out of a couple of things you already have, or take a trip to your local thrift shop, flea market, or antique store to rummage around for some cheap bits and bobs that, with a bit of love and care, could become your own masterpieces. If you're not a DIY expert (like the resident Beaker for example), maybe you have a next door neighbour or friend who is. Offer to exchange your excellent baking skills for a couple of lamp bases. It's worked for me a couple of times ;-)

Or, if you have a bit of spare time, try and find a course that can teach you the basics of wiring or patine. All chandeliers/candlesticks/cast iron or brass beds etc can be painted with acrylic paint then 'distressed' and waxed to give you that great finish we all love so well. Alternatively, you can boost them with a bit of colour - still acrylic. In fact, you'd be surprised what you can't paint with a water based acrylic paint. I'll be giving some Patine courses with Leeann from Fabulously French this April at her gorgeous little village in the Dordogne if any of you are dropping by this way. 
(light made by Cécile from 'thingy' found in junk pile)

And seeing it's Wishcasting Wednesday also, where Jamie Ridler asks us the question, "What do you wish to say no to?" 

I have another tiny thing to ask of you. 
'What?' you may ask...'Why how can I be of service?'
I knew you'd all help ;-)
Spring is nearly upon us - the time for private home sales across France. A time when many of my old clients ask, "Are you sure you couldn't just paint my bookcase for me?"
"Couldn't you do just one more 'decoration' sale?"
"Théophile needs a new commode..."

"NO!" I must say, "NO!" 

Give me the strength to say NO and stick to my calligraphy. I have set out on my new path and You can all help me here. Because I am both terrible at saying NO, and still lured by the attraction of lost and forlorn objects. Go and buy those poor, lost things from the fleamarkets that were so part of my past life, and fix them up yourselves for your homes!! I still get pangs when I see old chairs/tables/armoires/buffets/drawers etc that need nothing more than a bit of a tender, loving spruce up to take on new life! It doesn't have to be me...
You can be that life giver!! It's fun! Rewarding! And keeps you away from the television!! 

Phew ... now after that marathon effort, it's nearly time for homework and dinner. You won't hear from me for a couple of days. It's time to catch up on my painting so I can finally update my Etsy shop!
Bisous till then...

Change the world ... change your decoration!

Hello Possums! This is going to be one of the fastest posts ever written. My fingers are going for the sprint record at the typing olympics and it's shaking the whole house.
For it is a post that MUST be written. Only now, after teaching Pokemon's pre-school English class this morning (If you're happy and you know it, CLAP YOUR HANDS !!) and taking an hour to put a collage of 4 photos together I now have exactly 10 mts before racing back to school to pick those little messmonsters of mine up for lunch. 

Last Wednesday (and Oh GOD ARE WE WEDNESDAY AGAIN ALREADY?) over at Reduce Footprints, my favourite Green blog with lots of fab ideas for reflecting on how we can actively reduce waste and improve this wonderful world we  live in, SF hit on a topic that was right up my alley. Take a trip to an antique store...BUY SECOND HAND!

(Lamp made from Henri II buffet pieces and small wood base, table made from repainted vintage table base missing it's marble slab, and slice of tree trunk. Took a while to cut the bark off it and sand it down, but I liked the effect)

You may remember that in one of my past  lives I used to paint furniture, rewire and paint old chandeliers, make lamps out of bedposts etc etc. Well, I still do! Only I rarely sell them anymore - I make them for the family. And I know there are a few others of you out there who do too! Hubby, Beaker used to grumble when I came home from yet another attic sale, flea market or second hand store with dusty, broken bits of wood and metal and hopelessly grubby sheets and fabric. 'What are you going to do with that? ' He'd say. Normally by the time I'd finished a piece he'd ask where we were going to put it in the house, not realising it was the same junk I'd bought months earlier, and then he would grumble because I'd sell it!! So, after he went nuts at me because I sold the coffee table I was working on (for him to put his evening tea on by the sofa - it's true, we did need one) to a girlfriend who dropped by for coffee as I was finishing it one day. I decided I would indeed make a few more things for the house, on the condition he didn't question what pieces of ephemera and rust I came home with. A deal was struck, and, seeing as we had no furniture left after the house fire, I thought it was time I set about finding a cheap way to get things back into order at home. GOONESS ME - my time's run out... 

That's ok - I'll be back to add some more after the kids are settled into their sports this afternoon...In the mean time, here are a few ideas ...

Wash up old monogrammed sheets and sew them into curtains (I have NO ability with a sewing machine so I KNOW anyone can do this...) Make sure you get to the flea markets EARLIER than the antique dealers so you get the goodies before they do - that's what keeps the prices down. You've heard the story about the early bird...
Alternatively, you can make them into bedspreads and duvet covers. I tried one, but had a friend sew the rest as it took me 13 hours to make a single duvet cover for my daughter's bed ...I told you I was no good at sewing!! All our beds have duvet covers made from vintage sheets that you can dye (I prefer them white... )

We needed light in our little rented place ...
(finally going to be REIMBURSED by the insurance 4 YEAR's LATER - but hey, better late than never!!!) So hop! Rewired an old sconce and fixed it to an old door I found lounging around at the tip. All the poor door needed was a bit of a scrub and some white paint...

This one plugs into a socket in the wall as there were no wall wires where we needed the extra light. Wiring is not difficult, but it does take a bit of time. Easy stuff to do while you're sipping a drink outside watching the kids in the pool, or sitting by the fireside of an evening.

Ok - time's run out... Can hear the messmonsters hollering for lunch from 15km away... Back to add some more later. 

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The secret of success according to Bruce Mao

THE SECRET OF SUCCESS, a book of quotations celebrating human creativity. 

1. Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

Still no time to paint... or calligraph
My quills and nibs are calling.
In a brief attempt at escape I stumbled upon Bruce's Incomplete Manifesto
Quite a bit of wisdom in there...
Enough to keep me satisfied until Thursday afternoon when I can pull my inks out again! 

Monday, March 8, 2010

If "the world belongs to the energetic..."

And ...
"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."

Then (if I am to believe Mr Ralph Waldo Emerson)
that must be why I'm still up burning the midnight oil on exciting projects...
Lucky I converted this old storm lantern into a lamp a while ago
Midnight oil's not easy to find in these parts ;-)
Back soon...

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