Monday, 30 September 2013

Procrasti-crafting: Earring holder

This afternoon when I got home from college I was very distracted.  Instead of working on my Old Testament essay which is due at the end of next week, I decided to do some craft. 

I’d been wanting to make an earring holder from a photo frame for a while but hadn’t really looked into how to do it.  Perhaps when I looked into it today was the beginning of my distraction. 

One that I looked at suggested using a staple gun to fix some burlap onto the back of a frame.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a staple gun lying around.  But I had some cheap IKEA frames that I got from a quiz night and thought I could at least try using a normal stapler.  The worst that could happen would be breaking the stapler. 

Some other earring holders I’d looked at used lace strung across the frame.  I had some lace left over from the wrapping from our wedding presents (I kept all the ribbons) that I thought would be perfect for this project.  Here’s what I used to make my earring holder:

I took out the back of the frame and the plastic photo protector in front so I had just the frame.  I stapled the lace to the back of the frame, doing the high sides first and then the inner edge so that the lace would be tight across the frame. 

Here it is up close:

The wood was surprisingly and pleasantly easy to staple into.  Well, on one side.  This was the nice side.  The other side wouldn’t let the staples go in straight and I think I wasted a whole unit of staples trying to do that side.  They weren’t all pretty in the end, but I added some glue over the staples for good measure.  I can’t guarantee that all IKEA photo frames will work for this project, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

Here’s the finished product.  I’m very happy with it. 

I made this one for my studs so I used a lot of lace and stapled the strands close together.  I’m thinking of making another one with bigger gaps between the lace for some of my dangly earrings.  You could also paint the frame if you wanted to. 

Now that’s done, I should get back to work!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Growing plants and friendships in Spring

I wasn't sure about posting about what we did during Spring Break (yes that's really what they call it, sounds so American).  I know one purpose of this blog is to let you know what we're doing, but I felt like I would be writing a diary entry and I didn't want to do that.  But this week, now that we're back at college, I've been reflecting on our break and thought I would share what we did and my thoughts about Spring Break.  

There were a few things that I wanted to get done during the break, and not all of them happened, but I'm still pretty happy with the way I spent my time.  It was only one week, apparently typical of most tertiary institutes here, but it felt odd (and insufficient!) to us who are used to two weeks break between terms or mid-semester (but perhaps we were spoilt).
For the first few days we pottered around, went to the shops a couple of times, slept in and generally did whatever we wanted to do.  I started a new project that I'm pretty excited about.  We bought some potting mix and I used some pots I'd gotten from one of our neighbours who was giving them away, and I planted some herbs (parsley and coriander, and we already had some basil growing on the windowsill).  

I've been wanting to grow our own herbs for a while now because I'm sick of buying a bunch from the supermarket and watching most of it go limp because we don't use it all fast enough.  I also planted the end from a leek we had eaten and a small spring onion in the hope that they would grow.  The herbs haven't started growing yet, but we can see a new leek starting!

The best thing about the holidays though was that we went away with some friends from college.  We went to the south coast and stayed in the parent's holiday house of the friend who organised the holiday.  

I was really touched to be invited.  I wasn't sure that we were good enough friends with anyone at college to be invited to come on holidays with them, except perhaps our college neighbours in first year with us.  So it was really nice to be thought of and invited.

We had a lovely time away.  J went sea-kayaking with the other guy who came down while most of the rest of us went for a cold walk along the beach.  We had a surprise early birthday dinner, took silly photos on the beach, played games of Bible Taboo (the clues have to relate to the Bible), played a Greek vocab 'game' (which was just taking turns to give the English translation), drank lots of tea, and went for a bush walk that ended in a tunnel crawl to cliffs overlooking the ocean.  It was lovely to see friends outside of college, to relax together and get to know some people a bit better.  

I've noticed that since getting back to college this week, even though it was only two days that we spend away with this group of people, it has made me feel like we're better friends already.  I don't know what it is about going away together that does this, but I'm really glad it happened.  I was unsure about if I would be able to make deep friendships here, but I've discovered that I've needed friends here.  To my delight I think this has been happening, slowly but surely.  

Monday, 9 September 2013

A lesson in humility

I've often felt like humility is the opposite of boasting: being quiet about success, or even attributing it to God for extra spiritual points.  But I learnt tonight that it's much more than that. 

Tonight we had an encounter with our neighbour, the noisy one next door.  We were on our way out when he asked to speak with us. 

We stood there, unable to get a word in as he accused us of a lot of things that weren't true and lectured us about being respectful neighbours by being quiet on our stairs.  I got slowly angrier at his hypocrisy, arrogance and lies but didn't want to show anything.  It was a lesson in humility to listen to him and not defend ourselves and to apologise for not being quiet.  I shed my anger once we got into the car by telling J all the reasons our neighbour was out of line and pointing out his hypocrisy and lies. 

As I reflected later on I knew that there was nothing else we could have done.  Part of me wanted to argue back and tell him about all the noise that he makes and his disrespect of his neighbours, but I knew that wouldn't be helpful in any way and would just put him off side even more.  We took his accusations and apologised.  This is how I felt I should respond as a Christian. 

After all, we have the ultimate example of humility in Jesus.  Though he was mocked and scorned, Jesus never said word against the accusations thrown at him (Mark 14:55-61).  He humbled himself even to death on a cross.  And that is what saved people from sin and death, not a verbal defence against his accusers. 

I don't think I'm very good at it, I didn't like doing it, but God is teaching me humility. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Saturdays are for craft: Material Flowers

Saturdays are great.  We take Saturdays off from everything; college work, other work...  Actually that's not strictly true.  I have done some house work on a number of Saturdays.  Often Saturdays are washing day, and sometimes I clean the house on Saturdays too because I often don't want to use study-time as cleaning-time. 

This Saturday we did do a bit of work.  We had a working bee with the other college students who live around us.  We do odd jobs around our houses and in the gardens and common spaces.  J did a lot of mulch moving and I was involved with fixing up the sandpit.  After shovelling out all the sand we fixed up the lining on the bottom and then sifted all the sand back into the sandpit.  That’s right, sifted.  We strung up the sandpit cover (made of shade cloth material) using the poles of the shade cloth that covers the sandpit and filtered sand through it by swinging the cover back and forth. 

After the morning I didn't really feel like doing any other 'work' like hemming some pants or filling out psych application forms.  So I did some craft. 

I've been wanting to try out these flowers for a while, that I found on Pinterest.  I've now made two, and I decided to document the second one I made.  This was fun and satisfying.  I haven't done anything crafty in a while and It makes me think I really should do it more often. 

The details of how to make these flowers are here, but I did a few things differently so I thought I'd share how I did it.  The main difference was that I sewed mine, and while the tutorial does suggest this as an option, she used glue so I thought it would be worth showing how I made these flowers by sewing.  Glue is obviously faster than sewing, but I don't have a hot glue gun and I didn't want to have to hold and wait for runny glue to dry.  Plus, I find sewing relaxing in some way and I feel like I would have more control than with glue. 

You start with cutting out nine flower shapes from some t-shirt material.

Cut out a circle of felt in a similar colour (I didn’t have orange so I had to go with yellow).  Because it will be on the back it doesn’t really matter because it won’t show. 

Then you have to fold the flowers to make a ruffled or layer petal look.  Fold a flower in half, and then in half again. 

Then you attached the folded flower to the circle of felt.  I just stitched along the edges of the fold so that the petals could lift a bit (more on this later).

As I added folded flowers I continued with the same bit of thread, working along the folds. 

After this you add a second layer of folder flowers, but off-set from the first later by a 45 degree turn.  The picture should explain it. 

Here I've now completed two layers (though you can't really tell).  Sewing the second layer was tricky.  I didn't want to sew all the way through the bottom layer of petals (that's a lot of material to go through) so I tried to sew it onto the top flap of the petal.  This is a bit tricky but manageable.  The whole thing isn't as rigid as you might think so you can do a bit of bending to get the needle in underneath the petals you're sewing on. 

Now you make the central petals.  This bud is made by folding a flower in half (once, not twice this time) and rolling it up along the fold.  I rolled it so it was a bit of a cone shape, the pointy end being where the fold is. 

This bud then gets put into the middle of the petals you've sewed on so far.  I'll admit that at this stage, glue would have been far easier.  But soldier on! 

I didn't do this, but in hindsight it might be best to sew through the bottom of the bud to hold the whole thing together before sewing it onto the other petals.  Mine kept unrolling (a problem I didn't have with the first one, go figure) as I was trying to sew it in. 

Once you have it attached then comes the final stages in making this pile of petals look like an actual flower!

Sew the top layer of petals up onto the bud, as pictured below.  How much of this attaching you do is really up to you and your flower.  If it looks like there are gaps, or the petals need some fluffing up then attach some petals with a little stitch.  Glue might also be easier here, but I felt like I had more control with the stitches.

I also sewed the edges of the petals together from the back because I found that they were a bit flappy and left obvious gaps between them.  This isn't a necessary step, you decide what to do based on how yours turns out. 

There it is, the finished product!  I sewed a little loop on the back to put a bobby pin through so I could wear it in my hair.  You could also glue it onto a headband, hang it from a necklace or glue a brooch pin on the back. 

If you do make one, let me know how it goes!

Monday, 2 September 2013

College Antics

Tonight we had the College Revue, a night of hilarity and fun.  My thoughts before the revue was that it would be like a camp concert or talent night, but for college students, thus hopefully raising the general standards of the acts. 

It did not disappoint.

We had songs with re-written lyrics, infomercials, an acapella fugue, a drum battle, even a musical number. All involved comedy, with a nostalgic note at the end. 

It was so funny and full of in-jokes that make you feel part of the community (if you get them...).  It was the kind of thing that you didn't want to end (except that you're getting tired and it's almost your bed time).

A thoroughly enjoyable night with a community I love being part of.