No Sew Tote – Up-cycle a well loved tee shirt.

I’ve got this cute little project for you.  You know how there are some tee shirts that you just can’t let go of?  Perhaps a favourite saying, a memorable concert tour, or a souvenir from a place you will never forget.  This is a cool way that you can keep the tee shirt but repurpose it to be useful rather than collecting dust bunnies in a drawer.

Follow my quick little video to make your own No Sew Tote.

Have fun!



Hand Made Stockings for Christmas.

I had a walk around the shops yesterday, not because I wanted to BUY anything, but just to look in the hopes that I might gain some ideas for Christmas pressies to make for my friends and family.

Every year I love to hang our homemade Christmas stockings and look forward to Santa filing them with small but meaningful gifts.

You can guess which one is mine!  Made many years ago in a shoe fetish phase it gets no end of comments and compliaments from holiday visitors, many are envious and want a pair of real ones to match!

What bothered me most as I went up and down the aisles was the amount of plastic, fake and unthoughtful (is that a word?) decorations.

All together it was a bit disappointing so this morning while finishing up my Irish breakfast tea, I indulged in some Pinteresting.

So to give you some inspiration for holiday stocking projects from recycled tea shirts, jeans, tea towels and such, here is a selection of the ones that really sparked my creative interest.  I’d love to know what you think in the comments below.


These cute stockings are made from sweaters.
These cute stockings are made from sweaters.


From a pair of worn out jeans
From a pair of worn out jeans


even a tea towel!
even a tea towel!


This one is seriously cute BUT isn't really made out of an old Converse, BUT it could be!
This one is seriously cute BUT isn’t really made out of an old Converse, BUT it could be!


Giddy up, for the horse lover in the family
Giddy up, for the horse lover in the family


a grain sack and some lace.
a grain sack and some lace.


The real thing!
The real thing!

Yes last but not least is the real thing, a pair of socks.  Who would have thought.

Well I hope that provided you with some inspiration to get your sewing machines out and get creative with the things you already have on hand.  I can bet that in years to come these will be favoured ornaments of the holiday season, long after the baubles tarnish, the plastic fades and becomes brittle and the glitter on the tinsel dulls these homemade with love stockings will evoke memories, stories and be passed to the next generation.





Five Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day that won’t cost Mother Earth.

Being a Mum I am looking forward to Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May.  I tend to think that the real Mother’s Day is actually the birthday of my one and only child as this is the day I truly became a mum, but then we can’t distract from the special day of the birthday boy to make it all about ME now, can we?


We tend to get caught up in the consumerism of Mother’s Day and I recognise that I have been known to rush off on the Saturday and buy the thing we think our Mums will love rather than thinking about the sentiment.  This year it is my intention not only to think about the sentiment behind Mother’s Day but also to consider Mother Earth and the impact of our purchases on the environment.


I’ve put together this little list of five things you can do to celebrate your Mum but that won’t cost Mother Earth and I hope it inspires you to follow suit and think twice before your purchase mass produced, over packaged goods with no sentiment attached.


  1. Zero Waste Gifts – Remember when you were little and at school there was a Mother’s Day stall.  Dad would give you a few dollars (or even cents in my day) and you would file past all the doily covered toilet rolls, some granny’s lovingly crocheted coat hangers, potted plants and handmade bookmarks and would select things that you were sure your mum would absolutely love.  Handmade gifts never go out of style and generally have no packaging associated with them.
    Weekend markets are particularly great places to go to source packaging free gifts but even better to use your own skills and make something with love.  How about this year you cook a batch of scones or one of my favourites – Banana Bread from the book “Sweet Treats” from the Sugar Free Teen (available on Amazon for $5.59 ), wrap up in a cotton tea towel and pop into a basket.  This will give Mum three presents in one and she will appreciate the effort that you have gone to by making the gift yourself.  IMG_8998
  2. My mum particularly likes lovely, fragrant soaps for the bathroom and so this year (spoiler alert Mum) I am going to buy her some Wash Rocks from  These soap free alternatives to soap are made with a combination of Australian and French mineral clays, essential oils that smell divine and some other natural ingredients to form a washing bar that lathers perfectly and is gentle enough to use on your face, body and even your hair!  Leeanne in Western Australia handmakes the rocks and can send them to you anywhere in Australia or overseas.  They come in brown paper bags which can be reused or composted and you can always add a cotton washer, some linen napkins or a scarf to package the rocks and add to the present.
  3. Natural and organic skin care products are always welcome, especially when they are made from all natural ingredients and are organic.  Door of Youth ( has a great starter range that is on special at the moment for just $49 ($89 value) just for Mother’s Day!  Containing 100% natural and organic ingredients including glycolic made from sugar cane, they gently exfoliate and hydrate the skin without the use of those toxic time bombs – Microbeads.doorofyouth
  4. It’s a time of year when we get together as a family and the siblings come from far and wide to be with Mum.  This calls for a family lunch, usually al fresco amongst the trees and roaming chickens in our back yard.  This year, being that it is also MY mother’s day and I don’t want to do any dishes, I am going to set the table with the contents of my Eco Party Box ( ).  I ordered a setting for twenty (we will have left overs for another occasion) and now I have compostable plates, serving trays, cups, serviettes and bamboo cutlery that won’t require me or my guests to spend the end of a relaxing day up to our armpits in dishes.  IMG_8834
  5. Adult colouring books are definitely the flavour of the month and you can either Zen Doodle your own (  or buy from the local newsagent fairly cheaply.  What better accompanying gift that a box of Sprout Colored Pencils!  Available from these pencils once they have been used and sharpened to a stub can be planted in a pot, given some water and sunshine and will grow a variety of herbs and flowering plants.  A unique gift that has multiple uses and keeps on giving!11863288_10153170556529611_5476026055136756071_n


Well I hope this has given you a couple of different ideas for Mother’s Day this year.  I’m sure your Mum will be delighted to receive any or all of them and you can feel great about putting in some effort, supporting Australian small businesses and leaving a lighter footprint on the Planet.





NB: All offers and links where  valid at time of posting.

It’s Beginning to Look a bit Like Christmas…

With the heat soaring to high 30’s this week, the frangipanis blooming and the little baby mangos starting to appear on the Mango tree, it is clearly looking at bit like Christmas here in South East Queensland.  So with the impending first of December just around the corner (the day we put up our Christmas Tree), I thought I should get started on making some “green” Christmas decorations in the shed.

We all know that the planet is suffering from a plastic environmental disaster, but did you consider that the microscopic pieces of plastic that you use in cleaning products and facial scrubs are contributing to this in an unprecedented way?  Let’s find out why there is a movement in many countries to Ban the Bead (micro-beads that is).

Christmas time is not always a happy time for everyone.  If you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed by the whole occasion find out why getting down and dirty in your garden could be just the tonic for your Summertime blues.

Welcome to Episode Seven of Farewell My Manicure TV.  Don’t forget to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE if you enjoy the program.

Until next week



Episode 7




Episode Four – Our Halloween Special!

On this week’s episode of FMMTV we look at creepy crawly things in your garden, worm farming to recycle vegetable waste, make a house for solitary bees to live in using recycled materials, the circular saw and cordless drill and when we get down and dirty in the garden we have a look at growing Pumpkins!  What else!

Episode 4

Sit back relax and enjoy our Halloween Special.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly TV guide by hitting the big green button.

Cafe Style Muffin Wraps


Hey you know those muffins you buy in cafes, how they have that little paper skirt on that is easy to lift away from the muffin? Well a few months ago I discovered that you could buy a box of those little paper wraps from the grocery store.  Weeks later and  I realised this was getting quite expensive (about $4.95 for a box of 24) as I love to make muffins for my son’s lunch box  most weeks.

This is where my frugal and creative self clicked in and I have a short video to teach you how to save yourself some money (better in my Heritage Bank account that theirs), washing up and waste by making your own!

I have written this post for the Heritage Bank Savvy Savers Competition.  The winner is determined by number of votes so I hope you will help me out by voting for my blog post.  If you do the lovely people at the Heritage Bank will put you in the running to win a $100 Heritage Card!!!  Win win!

Have a look and tell me what you think.

Chapter 28 – Peace, Love and Mung Beans Festival

Chapter 28
Peace, Love & Mung Beans Festival

A couple of years ago at one of our New Years Eve parties, the band “Pond Scum” an ad hoc ensemble of musical friends hadn’t exactly rehearsed enough prior to the evening to perform very many songs, and quite frankly after a few brews they were just over it.  Instruments left on stage they got into the sprit of the night and focused on the drinking rather than the playing.  One by one some of the invited guests both friends and family just got up on the stage (yes, we have a stage in our backyard!) and played and sung whatever they knew to the other party goers.  I looked over at my brother and sister in law, glasses of red wine in hand sprawled out on a picnic rug listening to the impromptu concert and the thought crossed my mind how cool it would be to host a Music Festival at our house.
I like a good party, and I tend to get really carried away with trying to make it an experience to remember for us and for our guests to talk about for some time to come.  Like the Cinco De Mayo (15th of May in Mexican) party with Mexican buffet, margarita bar and the stage festooned with handmade crepe paper flowers, the Halloween party with the eyeball cocktails (basically Tequila Sunrise with canned lychees floating in it) and real pumpkins carved into jack o lanterns and the Christmas lights evening with blow up Santa train and moving reindeer.  So now I had another party to focus on I was determined to make it a memorable and better still, an Annual event.
So the Peace, Love and Mung Beans Festival was born, which is actually a pseudonym as we incorporated our suburb’s name into the real title and while many of you will be invited next year we don’t necessarily want hordes of blog readers from the four corners of the world crashing our event!  So please forgive the subterfuge.  Invitations with a 70‘s Woodstock flavour were created to reflect the true spirit of peace and harmony of the Music Festival with all invitees encouraged to register to perform at the festival on the promise of complimentary lanyards and Access All Areas Back Stage Passes.  Camping grounds were provided, and the official T-shirts printed and duly advertised for sale (just to cover costs).  I even sewed up six Balinese style flags in psychedelic colours to decorate the yard and add a groovy feel,only to find them later on eBay for a very reasonable price.  Our local cheap as chips shop was selling pink lawn flamingos and I was dying for an excuse to buy a pair and now I had one!  The chickens and dog checked them out and thought they were very strange animals indeed.
If you have ever had to get people to commit to an event that actually involves performance you will understand that the registrations were very slow to come in and a bit vague when it came to how many pieces and what exactly people would be performing.  In the end we even phoned a few of our friends to see if they were actually going to come to the party regardless of if they wanted to be on stage.  It got to the weekend before and we were so close to canceling the whole thing when a few people started to RSVP.  Phew!
The day before, Benny drove to his brothers place to borrow some PA equipment and lights which we knew were going to make this back yard event as professional looking and sounding as it could.  His brother has a business doing PA for gigs but unfortunately was away on the weekend in question but happy to lend us the gear to use.  It couldn’t be set up in the yard until the last minute because of weather and chance of theft or damage which made the actual day very pressured for Benny.  I chopped cheese, celery and carrot for nibbles platters, fetched tables, put up the flags and then seconded my mother to man the Merchandising Stand and my mother and father-in-law to handle the Sausage Sizzle.
Three o’clock rocked around and the first three people arrived, put outtheir lawn chairs and esky unfolded the picnic rug and set up to have a groovy time.  Then some more families came, then more families and some of them even brought some of their friends which was awesome, and by about half past four it was time to kick things off.  Unbeknownst to some I had been learning the guitar for about a year and a half and had rehearsed a song to play at the festival.  A little nervous about my debut I coerced my sister, brother-in-law and husband to accompany me, and a little band was born.  We performed Wonderwall by Oasis and it went over fairly well except my vocals weren’t well amplified and so the crowd couldn’t really hear my singing which in all honesty is probably a good thing given the nerves.  But in Benny’s words we set the bar fairly low for the rest of the performers so we helped alleviate other people’s fears about getting up there and having a go.  

The first performance out of the way, thirteen other individuals or groups had their turn, introduced by duel MC’s our son and his friend Rory.  Each act was met with excited appl
ause and cheers of encouragement.  We had solo guitarists, singers, a drummer, a comedian, family bands, duets etc including people that had never been on stage before.  To make sure we had enough entertainment to keep everyone engaged for a couple of hours we interspersed some competitions with a 70’s flavour.  There was an air guitar competition, how long can you hula hoop and quoits throwing.  All had prizes of boxes of chocolates so we had good deal of participation by both kids and their parents.  Some of the funniest moments were adults re-living their childhood gyrating their hips to keep their hoops off the ground and strumming the air while whipping their hair around, having a ball. I’m sure a lot of potential funniest home videos were shot on iPhones that day.
Once the actual concert was over, night had fallen and poor Benny could relax from his mixing desk and have a beer, we turned up our son’s playlist really loud and let the kids run riot on the stage.  They loved having a go at bashing the drums along with the music, lip syncing into the microphones, and having a play on the keyboard.  It was such a great time and I am happy to report there was no damage to anything.  Meanwhile other friends continued to arrive just in time to enjoy the laid back party at the end.
Because it started early, most people were gone by about nine o’clock and true stayers by eleven.  Plenty of sleep and a couple of Nurofen and I was already planning next year’s event in my head.  I reckon we won’t have much difficulty filling the bill next time with many friends over their dinner tables already discussing what they will be performing at Peace, Love and Mung Beans Festival 2014.

Crop Circles

Chapter 10
Crop Circles  

If you took an aerial photograph of our house and land you might be mistaken for thinking the aliens have landed and left their mark.  There are six perfect circles about an metre and a half in diameter in a pattern somewhat resembling the Olympic Rings in our garden.  These Crop Circles are a combination of my idea of recycling rubbish left behind by the codger who owned the place before us and my desire to have some raised garden beds in the “no mans land” near the herb garden.
Recycling is a great concept and one that most of us don’t think about often enough.  I think that “reuse” is a long lost art.  Remember the days when pickles and chutneys were home made and stored in oven sterilized jam jars adorned with little dolly caps of pinked gingham.  Paper shopping bags made great masks for children or were reused to hold garbage and newspapers were cut and folded to house the peelings of the potatoes, bean ends and pea pods before they went into the bin.
Some recycling however costs more than it saves and here is one such story…
I wish I had a picture of it, the great grey cylinder of concrete (about 1.5m in diametre and three metres in length) that was once part of a water pipe and was just left, dumped, in our back yard (far enough away that we didnt have to look at it every day).  The artist in me had thoughts of a mosaic sculpture of a face with great orange aggie pipe hair coming out of the top.  So the first time our mate Ian came around to clear some land for us with his excavator and bob cat, we had him lift it onto one end.  It stayed that way for the best part of a year and a half.
Next I priced some of the terrific raised garden beds that were out there in Bunnings and on the net.  Way too expensive for the budget (or lack of one) that I had.  Treated sleepers were taboo because the copper oxide could leach into the soil and eventually be taken up into the vegetables (particularly root crops) and ingested.  Untreated sleepers would eventually succumb to white ants and help to bring them closer to the house which wasn’t a great idea.  Plastic sleepers were again too expensive.  No old water tanks lying around to be ground into several circular sections… but it did give me an idea about what to do with the water pipe.  
So I called a couple of concrete cutters and got some prices.  To make five pieces was going to cost about $250 cash.  Five garden beds for $250, which wouldn’t deteriorate or poison us, sounded like good value to me!  About a week later the guy came and cut them after I had marked them as best I could with a line for him to follow.
 We envisaged that once in sections and lying on the ground we could lift one edge and roll them onto the trailer and one by one bring them up to the herb garden and roll them into place.  We had NO IDEA how heavy reinforced concrete was, even in sections.  The smallest one Benny couldn’t even budge, let alone get it onto its side, and he is very strong!  So we thought we would call up our mate Ian again and thankfully with our special “mates rate” it wouldn’t cost much more to get the crop circles put into place.  The problem with this thinking is Brent.  Once he has a bobcat and excavator on the property he never wants to let them go.  So $300 later… we have lots of lovely cleared and tidy space and the circles are in place.  
Weeks went by and I eventually had some time to start filling the beds.  I had decided I wanted to go the way of the “no dig” garden and had in the shed enough left over mulch and organic potting mix to give the first one a go.  I piled in the newspaper (not nearly enough to suppress the weeds) and the mulch and then thought about the water supply.  Talk about cart before the horse!.  Benny loves to put in sprinkler systems.  He has done this in various homes both ours and other peoples and will sit back and watch his handwork regularly spring to life.  So off to Bunnings we go hi ho hi ho.  Poly pipe, risers, sprinkler heads, filter, dual tap controller, timer etc. 
Anyhow you get the message.  Then with seedings and more organic potting mix and the next five circles worth of mulch our garden beds are coming along nicely.  Have we harvested enough produce to reclaim our $800?  Not yet, probably not ever, but I love looking out from my work space at all our vegies growing and most weekends there are sufficient variety to make an otherwise ordinary omelet quite special.  Benny turns the sprinklers on most mornings and marvels at the symmetry of the water spray. 

Recycling at its Finest

Chapter 7
Recycling at its Finest
One of the features of our new home that we were very excited about was the expansive workshop.  Over the years we have dreamt of having a space for all our tools and a place to work on all the projects we have imagined we would make.  Somewhere that you could leave a project half done and walk away from it without having to pack it away.  So now we have a massive shed with a nine meter workbench running the entire length of one wall.  One weekend Benny got to one of my old cutting tables and dismantled it to make a second wall length bench with bottom storage shelf on the opposite wall.  To give you some idea of the size of this space, with both benches in place we can still drive a vehicle down the centre of the shed!  At the end we store the ride on mower and an assortment of bits and pieces that wont fit under the bench.  On shelving and in boxes are all the tools and fittings and fixtures from a variety of household projects and refurbishments.  
We have a bench vice and a place for the drop saw to be permanently located.  A section allocated to painting has mountains or rollers and paint brushes that when we unpacked all our boxes just seemed to multiply.  How many paint rollers and trays does one family need, and caulking guns?  The shed has sections for camping equipment barely used, old fish tanks have a home until they are needed to house reptiles or guppies once again.  Bits and pieces are all neatly laid out so that when you want something you can actually find it and not have to take yet another trip to Bunnings to buy something that you are sure you have, somewhere!  Best of all, there are racks to house timber, old shelving, a dismantled bunk bed, some off cuts from an old kitchen, some used cupboard doors.  All the bits that are so useful when you want to “make something”.  
So now to the projects…
We have this space by the back door that gets cluttered with shoes and I envisaged a bench seat with boxes under it to house the discarded footwear.  So off I went to the shed armed with just an idea, and hours later the old bunk bed was recycled, into a distressed retro painted park bench (the boxes are yet to be made) and installed by the door.  It has been so useful for parking your butt to pull your boots on and to put boxes for the courier to pick up so that they dont get dusty, or chicken pooped.
The next project was a team effort.  The chickens had up until this point been housed in a “blue box” inside their run, made long ago by a previous owner and slowly being eaten away by white ants.  I noticed the back leg deteriorating just in time and put bricks under the back edge to prop it up in case the inevitable happened and it collapsed.  Which is just what it did!  So it was time to build the Taj Mah Chook House.  I had surfed the net for various designs but finally agreed that it needed to be a bit free form to fit in the weird shaped space at the end of the run.  So I drew a sketch and showed it to Benny, who did the measuring and came with me to Bunnings for the blue board and framing timber to make sure I got the right stuff.
He decided that because we were making it up as we went along that it would be best if we put it together in the shed first to make sure it worked and then undid it and transported it to the chook run and put it back together again!  Only a man would think of doing this I swear!  So that’s how we tackled it. 
On the first weekend we put most of it together except the doors.  A couple of weeks later we put the windows in and then several weeks later (after loads of unseasonably cold nights which I worried was going to freeze the chooks to death) while I was cooking breakfast one morning Benny dismantled the frame and brought it up in pieces.  
We put it back together reasonably quickly and it worked!  Some roofing clip lock aluminum that we were given by our neighbours was used to make the angled roof.  I used some acrylic panels to make the windows.  We wrapped a wooden ramp in some marine carpet courtesy of our friend Glen who was busy doing up his yacht in our back yard.  This stopped the rather steep wooden slope being too slippery.  I put in a couple of perch options, reused the old nesting boxes but put a store bought plastic egg in to show them that this is the new place for laying.  I left the old laying box on the ground until they got used to it but on the first morning one girl had laid where she was supposed to and everyone else followed over the space of the next week.  
The chooks were very impressed and after the first night (when I had to go and physically put them in it) they knew what it was for and where they needed to be.  The following morning Lawson and his friend Cory (who had a sleep over) painting the house bright red and when we ran out of red they used up some old spray cans of blue paint on the back to make it colourful and help protect the boards from the weather.
I put in fresh sugar cane mulch and raked the area and then stood back and admired what we had done.  A true family project!
Benny manages a resort, if I hadn’t mentioned that before.  This means that every couple of months there is a Board Meeting that takes up family time on Saturday but in lieu he takes Monday off to do some projects around the house or have a day of rest (HA HA!).  I keep to my regular work week and try and stay out of his way during his day off so that I dont get dragged into his projects instead of concentrating on my own work.  This particular Monday not so long ago, I heard many noises coming from the shed, at least one trip to Bunnings was had and Benny didnt come up to the house to ask for a cuppa or even lunch!  
By the time it was almost time to get Lawson from school, I thought I had better go down to the shed to investigate what was going on.  It turns out I ruined his surprise as he was almost finished a pressie he had been making all day, just for me.  There is no particular name that he has given to this tool but I call it a mobile potting bench and wheel barrow. He has made it the exact height for cleaning out the chook house and the barrow space is just the right dimension to house the bag of sugar cane mulch I buy fortnightly from Bunnings.   The bench section is great for potting plants or transporting tools, storing gardening gloves, or housing a curious chicken.  He jokes that it looks like it has been made in a sheltered workshop and I think it is useful, practical and best of all made with love! Oh and it is recycled too, all except the wheel.
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