The Gift of Quirky

While my collections aren’t quite Borgin & Burkes, they do at times,  verge upon creepy with pinch of unconventional, an edge of steampunk and a notch of practicality. Sometimes, I even surprise myself with things that appeal to me.

Fortunately, when it comes to gifts, my family totally understands me and my quirks.

Meet the doll boy, who does not yet have a name.


There are several curious aspects to this doll. He appears to be made of vulcanised rubber (gutta percha) which was invented in the mid nineteenth century. On the era of his clothes and the toy plane in his hand, I’d call this doll Edwardian, but incase you missed it, he’s wearing a fez, so that makes him what? Turkish? Even that being the case, he was originally made and exported from Japan. According to the internet ‘made in…’ began in about 1915 but prior to 1921, Japanese products were mostly labelled Nippon perhaps making him a doll of the 1920s. The closest example I can find on the internet is a doll from a 1901 shipwreck though it is not of Japanese origin.

My other, slightly quirky presents can be found below.


What every girl needs. Old books. A child-sized cobblers’ shoe mold and literally a pair of handles.

Hope you all had a merry Christmas, or Festivus, or holiday. Joy to all!


Not the Brightest Light on the Christmas Tree

I love this time of year. I’ve already got the tree up and listened to some Christmas carols several times over.

I’ve sung these carols since I was a child, so it’s no surprise that mis-heard lyrics have carried into adulthood, and I think this can be forgiven. But.

What I’m about to confess to next perhaps not so.


You know the bit where they give the tree a trim?

Yeah, well. They’re not cutting it back, they’re decorating it. This occurred to me TODAY.

In my defence, my recording says ‘a trim’ not ‘the trim’.

My husband says I’m imaging that last bit. It’s definitely ‘the trim’.

Anyway. Go back to what ever it was you were doing.

Nothing to read here.


It feels as though time is in short supply. Usually I put up the Christmas tree on the last weekend in November, but with other commitments this weekend it didn’t happen. Next weekend isn’t looking great either so I’ve spent the evening raising the Christmas tree!

With my Christmas enthusiasm, this isn’t a quick task. So I find myself neck-deep in boxes, sneezing from the dust with the decorations mostly up.

It’s late now though, and with work tomorrow and a caffeine free beverage at my side, I shall post a quick cheerful photo of some of my favourite decorations and then head towards sleep…




Christmas Creative

Is it too soon to say ‘Christmas’?

No, of course it isn’t.

Last year I collected some pinecones with the intention of making wreaths for Christmas. I finally got all inspired yesterday and began making them. While this is a VERY affordable project, it’s not a quick one!


  • PINECONES – I sourced mine from a public park which had different varieties of pine tree. Check with your local council to see if  you need permission to collect them. Make sure not to stray onto private property.
  • EYELETS – I used wire to form my eyelets which simply had to be a loop with a stem. I already had the wire, and as the eyelets didn’t need to be pretty, I was happy to make them myself. If you don’t have the tools to make them you can buy eyelets from a hardware store.
  • PLIERS – I used a combination of regular and round-nose pliers to form the eyelets.
  • GLUE GUN – Or not. PVA glue would also do the job, and probably give a stronger bond but I was allured by the 60 second drying time.
  • STRING  – I used jute twine but you could even use fine wire.

You didn’t read that incorrectly, I am making a wreath by using a wreath.


[Aside: I actually have a craft book which features a project called ‘Making a decorative chair’ which requires you to have a chair. This is different, I swear]

I found my wicker wreath at a waste recycling shop for fifty cents. I removed the tatty tinsel and decorations which covered it but you can use anything circular. You could even thread your pinecones directly onto a loop of wire but you will need LOTS of pinecones as you can’t simply arrange them at the front.


Top left: The 1/3 completed wreath showing the base wreath. Top right: Glue-gunning the eyelets on. Below L-R: Forming the wire, drilling the pine cone, glue around the eyelet, arty shot.


Get lots of pinecones and make lots of eyelets.

Drill a hole into end of each pinecone. Insert eyelet. Glue, making sure the glue gets into the drill-hole.

Using the string, tie two or three pinecones together, and then tie them to the base wreath. Always add the larger bunches or bigger pinecones to the wreath first. Fill the gaps with smaller pinecones.

Any questions?

nanopoblano1Day 12. Writing every day in the month of November.

Extra note: Yes, you could simply glue-gun the pinecones onto the base circle. You could, but I’m aiming for quality *ahem* Also, as my front door gets a fair bit of sun this time of year, I’m hoping the eyelets may add a little more strength which will prevent the pinecones from simply melting off their surface. Here’s hoping.

The Gift of Giving

In the early months of my parents’ relationship, my mum met my dad’s mother. She took her a gift. It was nothing fancy but a goodwill gesture that implied something along the lines of ‘I come in peace’. My grandmother received it awkwardly, unwrapped it, left the room and came back with a box of something she’d pulled from the cupboard wrapped in the very same paper.

Honestly. Families are weird.

Admittedly, there are more factors at play here than simply etiquette, Mum’s future mother-in-law had a general dislike for anyone who dated my father. So perhaps this is a bad example to begin with but it is a neat segue into gifting.

Finding the perfect item for someone is THE BEST THING EVER! I get so much joy from this it may even be one of my favourite things. Being in a position to give is a privilege I will never take for granted. With Christmas looming, I thought I’d share my gifting philosophy – at times it’s a little unconventional.

Working in retail for many years of my life, it fascinated me how people would like something more if it was the right price, or rather, the amount they’d mentally assigned to spend on the giftee. There’s obviously logic here and I’m also governed by what I can afford, but if my gift is cheaper than expected I try to resist the inclination to add to my present. Especially if it’s purely for the sake of matching my budget. Next year, I might find just what I want to a little more than budget and I reckon it all evens out. Social expectation has us in fear of appearing mean when it really is the thought that counts.

I switch on my gifting-radar and leave it on all year. Much like the police are tuned into suspicious behaviour and writers think about plotlines on the way to the store, I’m constantly on the lookout for gift ideas. I start thinking about Christmas in January and birthdays months in advance, this is especially important for people I consider difficult to buy for. It also takes the stress out of it financially because my gift-buying is more evenly distributed through the year and it removes that last minute panic because I buy it when I see it.

I have a present drawer. This sounds more organised than it actually is. I really should label stuff when I put it in because a few times a year I find myself rummaging through it, trying to remember who I bought what.

The gift of time. Offering to baby sit or making yourself available for an afternoon of room-painting can be welcome help for the right people. For those arty-crafty-creative types, taking the time to make gifts is rewarding and personal.

The common card. It’s the simplest way to let people know you’re thinking of them. A thoughtful, simple, beautiful, delightful or humorous card that appeals to the receiver’s sensibilities can be the perfect gift in itself.

The important thing is, give because you want to and expect nothing in return.

Gifts are unconditional.

nanopoblano2015darkClick on the link to visit the team of Tiny Peppers. It’s Rarasaur’s version of NaBloPoMo and it’s called Nano Poblano.  Or, as I’ve been calling it lately Nano Problano.

We’re blogging every day in the month of November! I think I’m actually getting the hang of this.

Christmas Spirit

It has come to my attention that some people some aren’t feeling festive this season. In light of this news I thought I’d dedicate this blog post to the topic of how to create some Christmas cheer in your home.

Now I’m about to talk a lot about Christmas, but in a way that’s less about Jesus’ birthday and more about family, the spirit of giving, carols and celebration. I’m not especially religious but I am quite fond of this particular event, but if Christmas doesn’t feature in your calendar, I’d still love you read on.


Rustic Window Link

Rule 1. Start thinking about Christmas in January. Don’t groan, I have some valid reasons. If part of your Christmas spirit is about gift giving, switching on your gift-giving radar early allows you to find things when you least expect them. It is more economical too because it evenly distributes expenditure throughout the year and can take advantage of the opportunity to buy items when they’re on sale. With any luck half your presents will be bought before November. Admittedly, these will usually be the people who are easy to buy for, but it is still less you will have to do in December and that means less stress and more joy (with practice, this radar will help you with birthdays too).

Rule 2. Own some Christmas decorations. Real tree or fake tree, homemade, school-made or bought decorations, classy or cliché, string some lights along a bookcase, I don’t mind. They just need to be festive and joyous and make you smile when you look at them.

Rule 3. Buy a box set of Christmas carols in your favourite genre. Mine is the more traditional choral-type carol but if Susan Boyle, Perry Como, Michael Bublé or One Direction is your flavour, go and get it! You’ll need them for Rules 4 and 5.

Rule 4. Get your decorations up no later than the beginning of Advent. Why? Because taking them down is always a dud job, and if you only put them up the week before it’s even more ‘meh’. If you’ve missed that opportunity this year, you’ll know for next year, right? Right.

Rule 5. Find someone who has JingleBell-itis. There’s one in every family. My family has two and I’m one of them (and that’s just the adults – children are a sure thing). If you need that extra bit of inspiration this Christmas, invite that insane person around to help you with your decorations. They’ll bring cake and/or wine and they’ll wear an elf-hat and make you wear a reindeer antler headband. They’ll crank up the volume on the Christmas carols and pop an unused cracker from the year before and tell you a lousy joke. Hypothetically.

Rule 6. Get organised. Write a to-do list in November. Start wrapping those presents you bought as soon as you can.

Rule 7. Get perspective and relax. The world will not explode if you forget to buy cranberry sauce, or if Uncle Patrick’s designer T-shirt didn’t arrive in the mail 1 day before Christmas.

Rule 8. Have a very merry Christmas and/or holiday season.

Rule 9. Rule 8 is non-negotiable.