Jul 31, 2012

How to dye cotton ribbon with food colouring.

I bought some cotton tape, which was plain white, for a $1 from my local Sallies, as I wanted to use it as some kind of binding for a craft project. And I like to re-use stuff.
So here's how you dye it with food colouring until it has pastel shades.

*white cotton tape of some sort,  *splash of white vinegar,  *drop of detergent,  *red, blue, yellow and green food colouring,  *old microwave proof containers,  *baking tray or similar container,  *plastic wrap, *syringe or dropper,  *microwave.

First I soaked the cotton tape in boiling hot water, with a splash of white vinegar (as a mordant so the colour will "bite in") and a drop of dishwash detergent (for the fibres to be more receptive).
 I even microwaved it in the container with the water solution for a minute or 2.
 I then lined a baking dish with gladwrap ( to contain the mess somewhat) and laid down the hot wet ribbon in it.

 I mixed up colours into separate containers, dropwise, you don't need huge quantities, and added the same amount of water drops.

Formulas with red, blue, yellow and green food colouring:

orange;   1 drop of red , 2 drops of yellow

purple;       3 red        , 1 blue

dark green;   1 red  , 4 blue , 1 yellow

lime green;    3 yellow  , 1 green

aqua;    4 blue  , 2 green

pink purple; 5 red,   1 blue

Double the quantities or triple  if you want a larger amount. Add the same amount of water, or keep it concentrated.

Mix into containers, and suck it up into a syringe or a dropper , so you have good drop control.

Now put 1 drop at a time onto the wet tape. Don't worry about the white spaces, because while it is cooking in the microwave the colours will flow together and blend.

 I wrapped the package up in the plastic wrap, keeping it flat. Otherwise the colours will flow together too much and the colours will become muddy.
In to the microwave with a glass of water for extra steam.
 I microwaved on high for 2 minutes.

Then I took it out and let it cool down. I did not leave it overnight, because I was afraid the colours would run together and the clarity would be lost. However you could experiment with that, you might get stronger colours.
Then I quickly rinsed the ribbon in luke warm water with a splash of vinegar. And rinsed again in cold water.

Let the ribbon dry and then iron flat. Don't iron while wet; a strange thing happened when I did that. The heat seemed to suck the dyed moisture upwards to the iron and the bottom side of the ribbon turned out paler in colour. Weird.

Remember to have fun with colour combinations!

Oh and don't forget to wear some gloves.... Unless you want your hands to look mouldy!  :)

Jul 27, 2012

Light Above.

Original 70's ceiling asbestos and plaster coating.
 Some home improvement updates now. After our holiday we had a company booked to come and strip the ceilings in our living-, dining-, bed-room and 2 small hallways of their textured coatings.
This coating, consisting of plaster mixed with asbestos, was sprayed on in the 70's to create a fashionable texture look. All dust and spiderwebs stick to it and even if you use a soft brush on the vacuum cleaner, it will start to crumble off. Yikes! So I didn't touch it!
The texture absorbed light and did not reflect it back.
There were beautiful original 1940's cornices hiding under it.
We moved out for a couple of days, after emptying most of the house into the garage upstairs, and downstairs into the smaller bedrooms.
Had a lovely stay at my brothers' house, nice bonus!
 The layer was quickly and safely removed by wet steaming and scraping it off like porridge, all the rooms were encased in plastic, which was all taken away.
After stripping the textured layer.
 Then a bunch of very weathered ceilings came to light.
 It looks very "wabi-sabi" ...
Well, they'll have to be tackled 1 by 1.
1940's plaster cornices in ugly state.
Some of the old plaster cornices had cracks in them and bits fallen off, even a couple of holes in the living room that had a leak above it, now fixed by The Man. (For the plaster to have worn away, how long had that leak been there already?)

3 New layers of plaster in the dining room.
So then we employed a professional plasterer, who luckily had some spare time within 2 days of the stripping job, and he re-plastered the dining room with 3 new layers.
 Since that was the room we want to concentrate on first.
He did a lovely job.
Cornices fixed up and sanded.
Then The Man fixed up the damaged cornices, sanded them, painted them with a special paint.
He was very careful, and as always, meticulous.
Although he criticised his own work....
Painting the cornices carefully.
Then he painted the ceilings several times, all at night. He never saw them in the daytime, as he had to go to work, but it turned out beautifully fresh and smooth.

A fresh, white, smooth dining room ceiling!
 The new wallpaper has been ordered in a fresh light aqua blue, but we'll have to wait another 6 weeks as it has to come from Germany. Plenty of time for the next jobs; getting the fireplace out and stripping the wallpaper off.
There is a second woodfire in the dining room which we don't need. We had the house insulated last year and we always have the rooms open to the woodfire in the living room.
The firebox is already out and sold to a friend, chimney and all.
 Next: the ugly dark brick fire place surround is coming away!
A new macho toy to tackle the bricks!
Oh Yes!  Just you watch out!

Jul 23, 2012

Winter Warm and Cosy.

The oak tree from the kitchen.
It is still very much winter, even though some early jonquils are out. The winter daphne is blooming below our deck, and every time I go out there to feed the birds their nectar water, the beautiful daphne scent wafts up. A fresh sweet, lemony smell.
 I do put some in a vase, but it will only release its scent in a cold room.

Wet lichens
The oak looks all soft and fresh, clad in its green lichens.
The raindrops are twinkling in the morning light.
And the tuis and bellbirds have started their late winter song contests.

I love living here...
and raindrops.
Impulse Buying.
The big Lions' garage sale was on recently, and my hubby and I scored some really good stuff! A near new steam-iron (his idea), another alarm clock (mine's broken), a much newer dishwasher ($10), some vintage fabrics for me and a radio tuner for him.
Then the auction started for the nice big things, so we went over to have a look: always entertaining if there is a good auctioneer full of quick jokes.
 We wanted to bid on a t.v.cabinet with storage, well no problem: ours for $45.
Up came the 2 black leather recliner chairs with footstool. We had already sat in them, but hadn't discussed them. We looked at each other; ok we'll go up to $100...
People stopped bidding at $70. Fantastic!
We already had a brown one similar, but these black chairs matched with the black leather couches. And one of our good friends is smitten with the brown chair, (he runs in and hogs it!), so he took that of our hands quite happily.
What a spiffy living-room!
We love to re-use, and all the money goes to local charities. Everyone happy!

Matching furniture.

Dana, my fire-cat.
She just sits there staring at the fire at night.
She gets really close, her whiskers just about frizzle up!
I usually look after the fire, and I always feel she is checking up on my job.

Happy-cat Fox
This is Fox, her brother, they are 15 years old. He is still very playful, but only for about half an hour a day. Then it's time to sleep.
He is the boss-cat, and always manages to keep De-ja-vu just under control.
He's a good boy!
De-ja-vu, are you sure you're comfortable?
This fat boy snores something awful. We try to control his food intake, but he steals from the others, and from dogs in the neighbourhood as well. But he is such a docile, gentle and affectionate fellow, he just has a little eating disorder...
He came as a stray and is about 13 years old.

Jul 22, 2012

Enter! into Bali

A hotel side entrance.
 My first series of Bali photos, of front doors.
I wish we had a garden gate like these, the one above shows a tantalizing glimpse of a lush water garden. A bit like in Alice in Wonderland, where she can only look through the tiny door at a sumptious garden far away, but has just grown too big to fit through.
Front door to a family compound.

 Doors can shut out that which you don't want to enter.
 Or they can protect that which lies within.

Unassuming front door with offerings for the bad spirits.

Doors can shut something within, which you don't want to get out.
It lies locked and enclosed.
Sanur front door with walls made of corals.

 Permission might be needed, special codes and entrusted keys, in order to pass through.

Carved posts in Sanur.

A door is the portal of change, you go from one place into another.
The point of transformation.
From one situation into another, and sometimes the door might announce what kind of place this may be.

Sanur beach front door with guardians, salt sprayed.
 I love this one, all weather beaten and overgrown.

Ubud hotel room door.
As if it wasn't decorated enough, every morning this door had fresh flowers placed into the carved posts. And on our bed. And by the washstand. And inserted into the lamp.

Jul 17, 2012

Oh, Bali... I want to go back....

I will now show you a little bit of our holiday in Bali. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back with great longing. It's the heat and the friendly people, the smells, the delicious food and beautiful things to see.
And because it is a cheap place to have a holiday, it's also the feeling of being able to do luxurious things, like eating out for every meal, and having a massage, and staying at a hotel with a pool, that makes you feel- well -like a rich person! And compared with the Balinese, who are mostly pretty hard-up, we are of course wealthy. But they'd fall over backwards if they would have to pay for a loaf of bread here. It's all relevant in the end.

Now don't forget to click on the pictures if you want to see it enlarged!

Bali from the plane. We were feeling very excited now!
We travelled with the sun and it had been a long day with 2 breakfasts and 2 lunchtimes already, and still a long afternoon to go, with a crazy ride from Kuta to Sanur.

Early morning overlooking Mt. Batur's crater lake, ready for our bicycle ride down the volcano, zooming past little villages and rice paddies. But first a breakfast of fresh fruits, black sticky rice pudding, and a banana pancake or 2. And don't forget the strong black Bali coffee.

Morning market in Ubud. Busy people, lots of talking, too much to see all at once.  People bringing offerings to the main shrine there (100s a day), spicy smells, strange fruits and smiles and greetings from everyone.

The carved balcony of one of our hotel rooms, where we sit at night with a book, a cold bintang beer, smiling at the little lizards chasing each other on the ceiling. We listen to nightsounds: frogs, crickets, dogs, a spirited gamelang performance further away with spooky chanting, and so now and then a firefly ambles by, blinking on and off.
Absolute magic...

And the food! Here some peanut sate chicken. And all for  just $2. We went completely Balinese, never ate western food. And it never disagreed with us .
Travelling with 3 other gardeners and landscape designers meant that I saw a lot of beautiful details and designs.
 But I didn't mind that in the least, because I got to see a lot of flowers, and gorgeous insects. Photos of which you will see in another post.

Cycling down a little rural road. Children calling out hello and wanting high-5s, mangy dogs lying in the sun, chickens scurrying off. So now and then a stop to have rice-paddies explained, try our hand at thrashing rice, learn about the trees growing in peoples gardens: bamboo, coffee, cocoa, clove-trees and fruits. How their communities are organized and the lay-out of their homes. A brilliant day!
Did I mention the food?
A rijsttafel, or a rice-table. 23 different dishes with this one.The trick is to eat slowly and relaxed.
Wash it down with ice-cold beer or delicious fruit juices. While listening to the live band (we came on just the right night! and were serenaded! ) and laughing a lot!                           

Mr and Mrs looking tanned and super relaxed in the grounds of another delightfully gardened hotel. Most restaurants and hotels have outdoor dining rooms and seating areas, so a breeze can go through. That way you can also hear the birds and cicadas sing.

Just a quick shot out of the window of the car, of the beautiful scenery in the north-east of the Island.
A quick break from my map reading duties ( 1 of my more useful skills) .We had rented a car and travelled through many backroads and mountain gullies. The roads were in a much better state than we had seen in the past.
 Although I am very much in love with this gorgeous place, and I could rave about it  for ages; this is where I will stop for now. But I will show some little series of pictures in other posts.

Jul 15, 2012

Four reasons why...

Double frilly tulip.
And so I haven't posted since Mothers' day.
I have been trying to think why exactly that is, because I certainly haven't been sitting still or twiddling my thumbs. Not as an excuse to you dear readers, because lets face it; -this is my blog and I only have to follow my own rules.  No, more as an examination of myself: why did I not continue blogging for 2 months...
 Well, here are some reasons (in case you are interested, otherwise just look at the pretty pictures)  :
Mothers' day bouquet.
 *Reason 1:      It seems that every time when I do find the time to sit down behind the computer, someone else is already there, even though we have other machines. Yet I just can not stand up for myself, to kick them off and take their place. They look comfy, and often I get that look aimed at me that says don't bother me or nag me. So I don't.
But it is the only computer that has my photos in its files.
I'll have to get tough...

Passion fruit sauce with my new labels.
*Reason 2:      I have been working a full school day all of last term, and my afternoons have not been my own, and by the time I finished with my chores, it would be 8pm and I'd be well and truly pooped and sinking into a comfy chair with a cup of tea. Suddenly weekend time became very precious because of that as well.
But that will change again, tomorrow actually. 
A new school term starts, and because I had expressed my doubts at work about something I was (suddenly and without consultation) supposed to help a special needs child with, doubts that this was not a teacher-aide's job, but a school-nurse's job. My concern for the childs' health and safety, and consequently my own, were expressed. The outcome is that they want to employ someone else for that 1 hour in the afternoons, and there would not be enough funds to keep 2 people going at the same time.
Unless that would change my mind and I'd like to reconsider?
I'd already agonised over it for 3 weeks and had a few bad nights, so I kept my integrity intact by saying I did not need to think about it and that I was still of the same opinion.
So I have my afternoons back.
Wonder who would work for 1 hour in the middle of the day?

All teacher-aides have also been told that there will be less funding from special needs departments and that there will be another 15 minutes shaved off their day.
This National Government keeps proclaiming that they want all children to succeed and that they will concentrate on the 1 in 5 that seem to fall between the cracks. So they cut funding to the really vulnerable ones. 
Good one.... That'll help. Not!

Baking a banana cake. With walnuts and white chocolate.
 *Reason 3:      I spend a lot of emotional energy on my family. That is normal for me and it is quietly done without too many people noticing. It all happens in my head when I worry or think things over.

- I thought about my eldest daughter in Wellington who is doing fine in her studies, but lives in a cold flat, with a super tight budget, had trouble with a date who wouldn't stop texting her. She is getting a ridiculous amount of A's and a sweet new boyfriend too.
-  I thought about my youngest daughter who had moved out to try flatting, then was overwhelmed by another bout of depression, had to quit her job, moved back home because her flatmates were all changing their lives around, got a new boyfriend who is way older than her, and tried to get back into study at college. She is still making all the right moves to help herself. She starts college in 10 days.
- I thought about my hubbie and the changes at his work, new bosses, new ways, and people losing jobs. So much pressure. And yet he keeps calling it interesting and tells me he'll be alright.
- I thought about my father-in-law who had a ceremony to bury the ashes of his wife and our loved Ma. He seems to have settled very well back in the Netherlands.
She has been in my thoughts a lot lately.
- I thought about my father who announced that they were packing up all the personal stuff in his house, would try to sell or get renters, and would go and live in Thailand for 1 to 3 years with his Thai wife. I'm afraid I didn't take that serious at first. But his feet were itchy as always, and they left last week.
There are different opinions around on how long he will stay.

Wool dyed with passionfruit skins. No mordant used.1/2 hour simmering.
*Reason 4:    We went on a holiday! Just him and me!
Well and our good friends too, they had always heard our stories about beautiful Bali, and last year they told us they were getting married, and how would we feel about coming along, since we had been there before and stuff. Fantastic, we have had such fun looking forward to this!
It was lovely, I still feel as if we were away for a looong time. It was a good 2 weeks.
We hadn't had a real holiday since 2005, except for a week in Wellington a few years ago. 
And we both needed some time together as a couple.

 I made loads of gorgeous photos with my lovely camera and you'll see some in my next post.