DIY Chalkboard Menu

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This was one of the easiest DIY projects I’ve ever done that I feel ridiculous for not doing it sooner. I bought a small tin of chalkboard paint years ago with the intention of making myself a kitchen menu. I’ve always liked writing down a list of all the meals planned for the week (mainly so I don’t forget about them and waste food) I also like lists – they help me think. Now that I have a toddler it’s even more important to meal plan. So for years I’ve been thinking about the perfect ‘something’ to make into a menuboard. I thought about new frames, thought about hunting down secondhand frames, thought about finding some scrap wood and painting that up – which just meant this little project has sat off to the side for too long. So the other day on an absolute whim I went down the road to the local Op Shop, saw the perfect frame (The Op Shop Gods were looking out for me that day!) and bought it for a grand total of $5. The frame had an ugly 80’s ‘painting’ in it (by painting I mean a print of a painting but then clear lacquer is messily brushed over the image to give the appearance of a real painting). I lightly sanded it, cleaned it, put masking tape around the frame edges and then gave it two coats of the blackboard paint. It honestly took about 15 minutes (not including the dry time). I think it’s turned out so well! What do you think?

 

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When you need something

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When you ‘need’ something what is the first thing you do? Just go out and buy it? I’m pretty sure that’s what alot of people do. I like to think of it as “no conscious buying“. And what’s the opposite of that? CONSCIOUS BUYING. Giving great consideration to each and every thing you buy. My Mum mistakes ‘being thrifty’ as buying a super cheap knife on sale at Red Dot. That’s not thrifty because if that knife isn’t going to last it’s not only a waste of money but a waste of resources and will become landfill.

Today I bought a bassinet. It was after a long discussion with my partner and alot of research. It occured to me how much effort I had put into something someone else might have just gone out and bought without the blink of an eye. Having a baby (any day now!) has put me in what must be the biggest consumption period of my life. These are necessities (not just a new dress to wear on the weekend) but every thing I’ve bought I’ve given great consideration to.

If you still don’t understand what I mean, here’s a little glimpse into how my brain has operated for everything I’ve bought.

  • So I think I need X.
  • I research X and decide whether this is something we really need.
  • If I decide it is something we need (not just want), I then research all the different types of options for X.
  • I decide what factors to consider when making a decision for this purchase (eg. quality, colour, cost, storage, duration of use, sustainability etc).
  • I decide whether buying secondhand is an option. If it is, I check the availability and prices brand new and then compare this to secondhand. I check for secondhand via Gumtree, eBay and Op Shops. I also check the prices of hiring. Sometimes you might even be able to put the word out via your social networks to see if anyone has what you need.
  • I take my time and eventually find what I need.

That’s pretty much how my purchasing experiences have been over the last 6 months. It has applied to the new car, the cot and bassinet, the nursing chair, clothes for baby, clothes for me, EVERYTHING.

Someone might say “but it seems harder” – well the benefits far outweigh the hassles. You make a far more educated decision, you usually save money (or at least know that you’re spending alot of money for a good reason) and you can even save the environment.

And you could easily replace the ‘X’ with something like ‘new dress’, ‘bookshelf’, ‘camera’ – you name it, the same consideration should be given to everything you consume.

My guest post at Recycled Fashion

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2011 was the year I achieved a few resolutions by the way of the 3Things Project by Oxfam, one of them being to become an Ethical Fashionista. This involved upcycling and recycling clothes. During this time I discovered a mass of great blogs out there who were doing the same thing, one of them was Recycled Fashion.

Recycled Fashion’s motto is awesome:

So, when the lovely Erica from Recycled Fashion decided to take some much deserved time off over Christmas, I offered to do a guest post on my favourite recycled fashion item: the scarf! One of the easiest things to find in a thrift store, and one of the easiest fashion accessories to achieve – I wanted to show everyone my favourite accessory.

You can check out my guest post here.

How to host an eco-conscious Christmas

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My girlfriends and I started a dinner club this year, an excuse to get together monthly and have a great girly chat over a good meal which we all take turn to host. I put my hands up for the first Christmas dinner.

With (oddly enough) half of my guests coming from the northern hemisphere (Canada, North America, the UK & even a Perth-ian living in Denmark but home for a visit) one the biggest requests was for a ‘traditional Christmas dinner’. These northern hemisphere girls miss a big hot Christmas dinner, over the top decorations, Christmas carols and most of all SNOW – and Australia just can’t give them that.

So, I offered to make their dreams come true (kind of). I also wanted to demonstrate how easy it is to have an eco-conscious Christmas – so this is how I did it. Cue Bing Crosby’s “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”.

Christmas Decorations

The girls wanted snow, so I cut out snowflakes using recycled office paper (i.e. paper that has been printed on and discarded). I threaded them with cotton thread and hung them. I used these instructions for the patterns.

What goes perfect with snow? A log fire, only as we’re in the middle of summer in Australia I decided to play a DVD of a log fire instead!

I also made bunting to add some colour, though I wouldn’t say this was particularly eco-conscious as the fabric was new, they will be reused every year and I did end up using all the scraps for other things.

I also used recycled jars as candle holders and wrapped material scraps around them.

Gifts & Treats

Initially we were going to play Secret Santa, but to reduce the unnecessary stress of buying a present, I decided to do something else.

Whilst I could have used the reusable bonbons I have already made ready for Christmas day (DIY tutorial is here)  I decided that I was going to do something different – at each girl’s seat I placed a Gingerbread letter (their first name initial) and a handmade gift.

The gift was a unique handmade brooch for each girl using the leftover scraps from the bunting and some thrifted buttons. On some of the brooches I even used the plastic netting used to hold a bag of oranges I bought (looks just like tulle!).

Christmas Dinner

As half of the girls (including myself) are vegetarian I opted for vegetarian Christmas meal. I ended up making a “Tofurkey” which is a big tofu log stuffed with delicious cornbread stuffing (which I initially found on the Kind Life website called Tofu Not-A-Turkey), hasselback potatoes, maple glazed pumpkin and green beans with almonds. For dessert I made sticky date pudding, not quite traditional but an easier option for those who don’t like Christmas pudding!

We all had lots of fun and lots of laughs. It was so easy to make it an eco-conscious Christmas that nobody would have even guessed it was. It goes to show that the spirit of Christmas is about spending quality time with friends and family, that’s all you really need.