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Category: Slices of Life

Making Ornaments

At this time of year I get very distractible, and trawl through the web finding Christmas ornaments to make. I have no shortage of ornaments — I just like making stuff — and I save patterns and possibilities on my computer, so I thought I’d share some here, starting with paper ornaments.

All the ornaments in this photo are made of paper, except the holly wreath, which is polyclay. I’m not terribly patient so most of these are very easy, even though they don’t immediately look it. Three of them are “german bells” — the red and white pointy one, the green one and the small red and gold one) and they can look really beautiful, especially if you use gorgeous paper. (I love the red and white paper which was wrapping paper I got in a shop.)  If you want to make some yourself, here’s a link. You can also hang them the other way up and they look lovely that way as well.

Years ago my Vietnamese students showed me how to make fat little stars out of the strips you used to pull off the sides of computer paper. (That’s how long ago it was *g* ) We made heaps and strung them on a line all over the classroom and staffroom.  I spray painted some gold and some silver and left most of them white, and they looked so pretty.

And one year I made a heap of these kirigami stars  —kirigami is like origami except you cut the paper as well as fold it. These are made out of the inside of envelopes. I was recycling, but also I kept finding more patterns inside envelopes and so kept making more stars. Until then I never realized that there even were patterns inside envelopes. There are made from 8 small rectangles. You can glue them together at the end, but I didn’t and they stayed together remarkably well.

I really liked the ones here made from old music sheets, but I didn’t have any music sheets, and if I did I probably wouldn’t have wanted to cut them up anyway. This site shows you how to make them. Believe me, they’re very simple — a bit fiddly the first time, but after that — well, I made heaps while watching TV.

And there’s a slightly harder version here that looks very spiffy. You can see how the choice of paper makes such a difference. Her stars are olive green and silver and look so lovely.

This is one of the easiest of all — a pinecone, from a Canadian site.  It’s just a matter of cutting out the pattern and threading the pieces with a bead between them to keep them separate. I don’t know how much like a pinecone they are, but they do look lovely and graceful once hung up, when they catch the slightest breeze. 

And this one is even easier — it’s just strips of paper glued or stapled together. Really easy but quite elegant, and would look lovely in silver or gold paper. I love the way paper ornaments twirl and move in even the faintest breeze.

I have lots more, but I don’t want to bore you so that’ll do for today. Do you like to decorate your home for the festive season? Do you make any ornaments yourself?

My Ideal Thanksgiving

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Australia, but I wish we did. A day of reflecting on the things we’re grateful for would be good for us all. (The photo was taken by my friend Barbara Hannay, and is used with permission.)

My ideal Thanksgiving would be non-religious and would be celebrated by people from all cultures and religions, and it would centre around a friends-and-family feast — with no particular style of food.  Of course Americans have their traditional food and their Thanksgiving has a particular history, but in my ideal Thanksgiving people would bring dishes to share, so each feast would be different. And no one person would get stressed about having to cook.  (Though of course if cooking is your thing, go for it. Here’s a thanksgiving feast from an Aussie cook.)

I have no family within a thousand kilometres of me, so my Thanksgiving would be made up of friends, and possibly some strangers. When I was a kid, my older brother (who was an adult) often brought friends without family to our family Christmas. Some were new to this country — I remember a pair of American teachers who came for several Christmases —and a few times he brought a couple of backpackers. It always added to the fun and interest of Christmas, and was very much in the spirit of things. I’d make that part of my ideal Thanksgiving.

Above all, there would be some time in the celebration where we’d each reflect on things we are grateful for. I think that’s such an important thing to do.  I try to do that on a regular basis, and it can make such a difference to how you feel about your day, or about your life. It’s a kind of rebalancing procedure — we might be feeling frustrated and grumpy because of things (and people) encountered that day (or week), but sitting down with a journal (as I do) and listing five things I’m grateful for changes my mood completely. It doesn’t have to be hard — just scrolling through my photos trying to find a few pics to go with this post made me smile so much, so find five things that make you smile and you’re done and feeling happier already.

So that’s my ideal Thanksgiving. What’s yours?
I hope all of you celebrating Thanksgiving (including Canadians who’ve already had theirs) have a happy day.

Rooms with a View

I’ve always loved windows, especially those that frame a view. When I’ve traveled, I’ve often been lucky enough to score a room with a view, and so my photo collection has a lot of photos taken through windows, using the windows as a frame.     I even wrote a blog about my love of windows on the Word Wenches once. It’s here if you’d like to read it.

But today I discovered what might well become a new addiction for me — it’s a site called Window Swap, and it’s simply a live feed from windows around the world. You click on the link and it takes you to a window somewhere in the world — Scotland, Poland, India, The USA, Slovenia, France, Hong Kong, Russia, Holland, Brazil, Turkey, Australia, and many more.

So you watch rain falling through a screen and plants in Mumbai (that’s the photo above), then a view of trees and a busy road in Canberra, hens scratching around a quiet backyard in the US, a courtyard in Brazil, a tranquil scene in Ireland, a cat washing itself in Holland, a park in Poland, sunrise in Istanbul, an apartment view in Mexico, a view over Sydney Harbour, and so on.

Some showed an outlook over city construction sites and high-rise apartments, but the variety was wonderful. And it’s live, so you see places at different times of day. You see things move, and hear the rain on the roof, the wind in the trees, the birds calling, the trafffic . . . 

 

I found it fascinating. The photos really challenge your perception of how people in different countries live — you get an impression of places, gleaned from TV etc, but honestly, for so many of these, if it didn’t have a label telling you where it was, you couldn’t always guess. 

As well, it was a really peaceful and pleasant way to spend five or ten minutes. I’ve bookmarked the site because I know I’m going to pop back there again. You can also see more of these, though not live on their instagram page. And all of these images are screenshots I took.

Above: Sunrise over Istanbul.

Below: boats in Sweden.

Below: Tucson, reminding me of my friend Vicki’s garden there.

Below: Beautiful bougainvillea in South America (I think Brazil, but I forgot to note down all the places.)

The website again? Window Swap.  Or for a swift impression, without movement or change, or sound, instagram.