Women's Creative Centre, Greenslopes and Lifeline Store, Mt Gravatt

Last Wednesday I managed to get myself along to a craft workshop organised by the Women’s Creative Centre in Greenslopes. I post every Wednesday to help motivate me to write about getting out of the house. Included are some photos of things I bought when David took me to the Lifeline shop at Mt Gravatt the previous Sunday, like this cute little garden charm we now have sitting on our garden outdoor table.

It was a challenge to even find out about this craft group in the first place, as I’ve been looking on the internet for a while and hadn’t found anything local. I only happened to be told about this group when I asked at the Kingston Butter Factory craft shop if they held lessons. After searching the net for “Creative Women’s Centre” I found one short page as part of some listing site which had precious little information, just an email address. So I wrote to the email address and got sent a document that I couldn’t read because I didn’t have the software. Luckily, David helped me download it so I could read a little more. Last Saturday David drove me out to Greenslopes to see the place, as I wasn’t going to go by myself without ‘casing the joint’ first! I plucked up the courage to speak to two ladies in the shop about going along to a lesson.

The lessons, or workshop which cost only $4.50, is not held at the craft shop but in another room in the shopping centre. It was nervous for me to walk into a strange room with strange people, its a pity they kept the window blinds closed. One lady went to close the blinds because she ‘didn’t want people looking at us’. I think that’s a shame because it makes it harder for new people. I’m really glad I went to the craft group, and it went for two hours which was just the right length of time. I fit right in with my wonderfully perfect cane sewing basket which I got second-hand for an amazing $3 from the Lifeline shop last Sunday.

I learnt a new way of starting and ending my crochet work, which is great. I also talked with the instructor about tension and how to better judge which wool and hooks I should be using for certain projects. I had a go at an Irish Rose and I got a copy of the pattern, which is great. I also talked about the bolero I want to make, ending up changing my mind about which wool to use. There was a lot of inspiration for me to get going on several projects, I just don’t know which to start next! I’ll be going along again today, taking my patterns and cottons to ask about making doilies and to try and use up my pile of wool … which doesn’t seem to be shrinking yet!

Perhaps I should stop buying new wool??? lol!

The best pets are free

One thing that makes me sad about living here is I can’t have a cat and I would dearly love one. They are such beautiful company, and for many years I’ve always had one around. My small collection of ornamental cats is a cheaper version of the real thing – they don’t need feeding or trips to the vet!

But everything has its advantages and disadvantages. Other than all the positives about being renters, like the reduced stress for example, living in a gated community that does not allow pets definately has it upside. We are never woken up by dogs barking at ridiculous hours, by whining distressed pets left behind by their owners for the weekend, like my old neighbours used to do on a regular basis. There’s no vicous barking everytime someone dares to walk past, insulting the animal’s delicate sensibilities.

Instead, there’s a host of beautiful birdlife that often comes to visit because there are no cats around hunting them. We put a bird bath in the courtyard a few months ago, and a small swallow regularly stops by for his morning wash. There is also a pair of doves that live here, they often hang out on my fence and come right up to my back door where I leave crumbs for them. They have a pretty pink tinge and a speckled neck, and coo-coo delicately and lovingly to each other. Sometimes, the male goes right off and won’t stop his insistent love song, so I’m forced to play some music to drown him out, which sometimes does not work!

And then of course, there is Lizzie the Lizard. Now, I don’t know how she managed it, but this lizard looks an awful lot like the one at my old place. Or maybe, there is a resident lizard in every house that does not have a cat? Recently I’ve seen Lizzie chase a smaller lizard across the house, unusually oblivious to me, their tails flailing wildly and comically in the air.

So I guess because I can’t have a cat, I’ll just have to enjoy having these less intrusive pets around. Pets who are free to come and go as they please, and bring no harm to the other wildlife around the place. Except for other lizards that happen to be smaller than them! A bird free to fly away as it chooses I find a much greater joy than one that is caged against its will. There is nothing sadder in my mind than a bird meant to fly, captured in a cage.

Lavendar Afternoon

Last Easter, when we visited David’s father and his fiance in Stanthorpe, we stopped by a lavendar farm and got our very own lavendar plant to grow. So far it seems to have adjusted to the climate change (it can get very cold in Stanthorpe). We gave it a good sized pot and put a lucky grow charm at the base. I’m trying to shape it by pruning lightly. I’m supposed to do this after it finishes flowering I know, that’s why there aren’t as many flowers on it as there otherwise might be.  After the flowers finish, I deadhead them and keep the dried flower. It prefer’s a sunny spot and a good water, but doesn’t like to sit soaking.

After the stresses of the morning, I knew I had to take my stress management into my own hands and decided to make a lavendar bag! I made this one in about 30 minutes and did it by hand, not machine, as I did it for relaxation more than anything. It’s quite easy, this is how I did it.
Fold a scrap piece of pretty material in half with the back of the material on the outside, the front facing each other inside.
If a seam of the lip will fray, hem it first using blanket stitch and some matching coloured thread.
Using backstitch hand sew down the side of each of the two edges.
Turn the bag right way out.
Fold a scrap piece of thin white ribbon in half, put a knot in the end.
Sew the half way point of ribbon about an inch down from the top of the bag.
Put some tablespoons of dried lavendar inside and twist the ribbon around the bag to close it.

On one of our trips to Indoorpilly with David’s mum and his sister Michelle, we stopped by the T2 Tea shop, which is full of relaxing teas.  While we were there, some tea cups and saucers fell from a high shelf, as if of their own accord. One tea cup remained intact, so I declared it a lucky tea cup and bought it! I also picked up a packet of dried lavendar from there. Lavendar tea is very good for stress management and soothing migraines. I didn’t know you could drink lavendar tea like that, and through trial and error this is how I’ve come to prefer my lavendar tea.
Add 2 teaspoons of dried lavendar to a small tea pot with a removable mesh cup.
Fill with boiling water for no more than 2 minutes.
While waiting, jiggle the pot!
Test the colour every 30 seconds to make sure its not too strong.
Add 1 teaspon of sugar per teacup of tea before sipping.
Enjoy!

I remember a song my dad used to sing to me when I was little…
“Lavendar blue, dilly dilly, lavendar green.
When I am King, dilly dilly, you shall be Queen.
Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so.
Twas my own heart, dilly dilly, who told me so.”
/awwww

Good Luck Charms for the Garden

The ritual of placing good luck charms in the garden is a way to remind yourself to do the best you can as it’s caretaker. There is no voodoo or magic involved, other than the magic of self-motivation. I made up a little ceremony where David and I each chose a pebble from the collection of smooth river rocks sitting with my pony-tail palm. We then gave our pebble a peck and wrote the word ‘grow’ on it with a laundry marker. We then chose a plant to pop the pebble under and whispered ‘grow’ as we placed it. There is no witchery behind this, just a little ceremony to help us try hard while looking after our garden and to help us do our best. I believe it is a powerful thing indeed to convince the mind to have faith in something such as a little magical help in the garden.

This pair of lovey-dovey puppies started off the whole business of me placing lucky love charms. They were a gift from my late grandmother, and at the time I really wondered what I would do with such an impractical gift. I was in an unhappy relationship at the time and the significance of these puppies were lost on me. Now, I’m very grateful they take pride of place in our garden.

My granny also gave me a couple of windchimes, one year after the other, perhaps because my response to the first one must have seemed very positive. At the time, I really didn’t know what I was going to do with such things. But now one hangs from the pot plant hook with the newly planted peppermint, which looks as if its going to take off, and some lemon balm for herbal tea. Last spring I saw some crows pulling the coconut fibre from our hanging pots, presumably to line their nests. I hoped the sound of the chime as they tugged at the pot would scare them off, and so far it seems to have worked. But perhaps nesting season is over and the real telling will be if they come back next year. The other small and cute windchime hangs on the back sliding door that opens out to the courtyard. A soft pleasant ringing sound nicely reinforces a trip out into the garden before engaging in some pottering.

After some recent trips to the beach near David’s mum’s house, we couldn’t help ourselves but to pick up some rocks from the sand that we thought looked like love-hearts! Of course, in some cases you need a good deal of imagination to see it, not unlike being able to see things in clouds. But that is part of the fun! One person insists a rock is shaped like a heart, when for another the connection is dubious. We have a few little rocks placed around our garden, that with some stretch of the imagination resemble love hearts. Here are a couple I think look like hearts!

We almost never walk into what we call a ‘junk shop’, shops that sell poorly made bric-a-brac cheaply so those on a tight budget can get some retail therapy. But one day we were on the hunt for ‘lovey-dovey’ stuff to decorate our home, and we found this cute little piece to pop in our garden. I insisted a junk shop would have heaps of lovey-doveyness and I was right!

Here are two more  examples of lucky love charms in our garden. We got the love-heart bird house for $1.79 at Bunnings, it’s so cute! The dragonfly love charm was $2.95 from Turner’s Nursery and sits with our new Thai Chilli plant.

Homegrown Potted Chillies

We are really enjoying growing fresh herbs in our garden, so far we’ve had the most success growing chillies. We have not yet realised the full potential of our potted garden, and are still in the process of exploring what we can successfully grow here and how we can make practical use of the produce we grow.

The chilli pictured was grown from seed we bought from BigW last year so I think this plant must be a year old. We have already harvested it once or twice, this might be the 3rd batch.

Our first harvest was turned into what I called ‘Chilli Toffee’ as it was very sticky, although very nice to put on sandwiches. We removed the seeds to try and grow more plants. It was funny how David told me not to touch the seeds with bare skin but silly me, I didn’t think it could hurt so I removed seeds with my bare fingers while Dave carefully removed the seeds by just using the tip of a knife. Well I suffered for not taking his advice for the next couple of hours, as the skin on my fingers tingled with a hot burning sensation!

The second harvest made a very scrumptious tomato chilli relish, which was delicious on sandwiches and excellent when there were no fresh tomatoes left in the fridge. We want to make future batches with the tiny home grown tomatoes we occasionally get, probably supplimented with some more tomatoes from the shops. We need to relocate the recipe for this yummy relish so we can make more next time!

All of our chilli seeds have germinated very easily, a lot easier than any other types of plants we’ve tried to grow from seeds. A couple of batches of chilli fruit have yielded more seeds which we collected and planted, not thinking so many would take. Now we have many chilli plants after only about 12 months!

We have so many chilli plants, some should have festive-coloured fruit in time for next Christmas, which would make excellent gifts for those who like chillies and cooking. Even if they don’t, they make quite a handsome plant for the garden.

On a recent trip to check out a new nursery for us called Turner’s Nursery we saw an excellent Thai Chilli plant which looked very happy and was full of bright fruit, so we bought our own to bring home in a pretty ceramic pot! I put the dragonfly charm we bought there in the pot for goodluck!

Chillies enjoy a sunny position and don’t like to sit in water. The small square pot above comes with a tray which I detach and turn upside-down so it doesn’t hold water. We also give the chillies a light seaweed fertiliser when we do the tomatoes. For more details on growing chillies check out these websites
Tropical Permaculture – chillies
ABC Gardening Australia – chillies