Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Potters Cottage On Fletcher.

As an early Christmas present, James has taken the pair of us back to the Blue Mountains. And chilling here, feeling very relaxed and at peace and happy made me think that I ought to write up a bit of a recommendation for the cottage we stay at because it's a truly fabulous place.

The Potters Cottage is located at Wentworth Falls, a bit of a way out of the main township. It's tucked away behind the main house and surrounded by lovely lush gardens - today we encountered two gorgeous butterflies on the way to the car! The proprietor, Jim, is one of the hearty middle aged types who is absolutely delightful. He's friendly, welcoming and makes us feel right at home.

Stepping inside the front door [which currently sports a festive wreath] you walk past a washer and dryer into the kitchen, which has every darn thing you'll ever need to cook with, and have lovely views of the garden outside. And while I'm on the subject of the kitchen, it needs to be mentioned that your stay at the cottage includes tasty, tasty breakfast provisions.

From the kitchen you go into the living room. The walls feature a variety of art, except for the wall that is actually a lovely large door leading onto a little private patio and the wall that is a giant bookcase fill with videos, DVDs, books and a collection of nutcrackers. The couch is comfy, the TV is big, the clock is funky, there are two little stained glass windows and the gas fire with very warm. We convert the little dining table tucked into one corner into a computer desk. It's cozy and comfortable and I know it's a cliché term but it feels like a home away from home.

Up a half dozen stairs is the mezzanine bedroom with bathroom and closet off to the side. The bed is squishy, the bathroom is modern and the beside lamps are the cutest cherub thingies. There's another little table up on the mezzanine level, and a daybed as well. The most awesome thing is the skylight over the bed - you can lie in bed and watch the sky, which I find super restful.

I know this review has been mostly description, but basically this cottage is a beautiful place to stay. The lift a phrase from Home from the Sea by Mercedes Lackey that I'm reading right now, this place is "just nice enough that it felt special, and not so luxurious that [I feel] uneasy." It's perfect.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Tutorial #1: Christmas Stars

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought it's a good time to share one of my favourite decorations to make: three dimensional stars decorated in leftover wrapping paper. It's a fairly simple idea, so I'm sure someone else has had it as well, but it's something I figured out about five years ago. I haven't made Christmas decorations for a couple of years now, so it's been really great to get down and crafty again this year.

What You Need:
  • An assortment of wrapping paper
  • Thin cardboard [I sued a cereal box]
  • PVA glue
  • Thin ribbon
  • A smallish paintbrush
  • A pen
  • A ruler
  • Scissors
What To Do:

Step 1: Figure out how big you want your stars to be and draw it out onto your cardboard. I had a bit of a silly moment and forgot how to draw a symmetrical star, so mine turned out a bit wonky. Your star can have as many points as you want, I just prefer five pointed stars. And it goes without saying [but I'm saying it anyway] that you can apply this idea to any kind of shape you want. Circular decorations done this way would be a lot simpler to make and be just as cute. Cut out your first star. That's your template.

Step 2: Trace the star shape onto your cardboard as many times as you want, just keep in mind that since these are 3D stars you'll need two stars per completed decoration. Cut out all the stars, pat yourself on the back, and go get a cup of tea.

Step 3: Rip or cut your wrapping paper into little pieces. I love the effect ripping gives the decorations, but cutting looks a lot neater.

Step 4: Dollop out some PVA glue, draw a deep breath and start gluing the paper bits to the star. Don't worry about going over the edges of your star, because all you need to do is flip it over and wrap the excess over to cover the back side of the star. Easy as pie.

Step 5: Leave the stars to dry and then cover the other side as you did the first. Let them dry again.

Step 6: Get two stars. Cut one to the halfway point from between the two bottom points [if using five pointed stars] and the other to the halfway point from the centre top point.

Step 7: Attached a loop of ribbon to the topmost point of the star that is cut from the bottom. Clue, sticky tape, staples, whatever. Then slot the two stars together and voila!

Step 8: Go stick them on your tree and celebrate with another cup of tea.

PS Send me a picture if you make your own decorations in this method, I'd love to see!