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Garden, House

Twig by twig nesting.

6 December, 2012

My living room with a new coat of duck egg blue paint, two big beige chairs and the tv stand.

All the years I rented, not having much control over my space or the power to improve it even when it verged on unlivable, I thought buying my own home would be amazing. I was going to paint every wall a different colour and put up pictures! I’d knock out walls, re-tile the bathroom, install ridiculous tap-ware, and make the entire floor of the bedroom a mattress with draped fabric dripping from every corner. After the contract on the house settled and I saw how much money was left at the end of every fortnight I realised my absurd and fanciful home improvement dreams were going to have to wait. Now I’m trying to insert my whimsies in whatever budgetary cracks I can find, and while my beautiful swan-like domicile will unfurl its many coloured wings much slower than I’d have liked, I think it’s actually going to prolong the fun.

In the last week we’ve made significant headway in the living room thanks to Nick playing furniture tetris and finding a much more pleasant way of configuring the bulky lounge suite we bought so cheaply before we moved in. The living and kitchen areas are my problem zones due to the overuse of grey. 50 Shades of Kill-Me-I’m-Living-In-A-Rental-Again Grey. Grey carpet, grey curtains, grey tiles, grey cabinetry, grey counter tops. The sand beige lounge suite pushed me over the edge into blandtopia so I was pretty excited about the offer of leftover paint from my Mum, who tastefully chose a duck egg blue for her sewing room. I know it’s a bit out of “fashion” in blog land, everyone was all about duck egg blue in 2008 and I have no idea what they’re all about now but I still love it.

My colour block cushions in pink, yellow, aqua and red.

Last night I got out all my fabric including a bunch of scraps from my Granma’s stash and set to work salvaging all the best bits of the brightest colours and sewed it into four new cushions. I wasn’t intending on doing a colour block/ triangle thing but that’s what happened.

Our tiny giftmas tree with papercraft gems and rock salt lamp.

Earlier this week I permitted a small tree during this time of Giftmas, a time of the year so unbearable in temperature and jolliness that I reject reality for several months. This year I thought I’d ease up on the Scrooginess for Nick’s sake because he loves Christmas and he ought to be rewarded for tolerating my cantankerous nature for seven years. The paper craft gems are from Mini Eco; I will interrupt my crotchety lady times for a bit of gratuitous paper craft any time of the year. I’m still waiting on Kanye West to respond to my crafternoon invitations, I suspect he’d enjoy paper craft.

Our courtyard garden with flamingo populated turf.

I can’t help but shelve my angry pants when I go out to our courtyard. The lawn flamingos are a recent addition and are actually guarding the most burnt patches of grass, thanks to the potency of Miffy’s pee. (I know there are things you can add to dog water to alleviate the burnt grass issue but I haven’t bought any, and to be frank it’s not that distressing.) The cuttings I took from Mum’s place are mostly doing well – the daisies and geraniums are loving it, and the polka dot plant will probably flourish anywhere because all it wants to do is propagate all over earth.

Purple daisies blooming.

Super close up on the pink geranium.

Things that don’t grow so well in my garden: chives, pansies, pink begonias and poppies. So far we’ve enjoyed eating home grown beetroot, basil, shallots and marjoram. I’m currently growing rocket and mignonette lettuce, purple beans, tomatoes and kale. I don’t hold high hopes for the tomato and kale because spring melted into a heat wave and many of my seedlings have carked it. Growing plants is very experimental at the moment but it’s rewarding and offers me a space for meditation.

The proposed grey chevron along the long wall of our living room vs the current bare wall.

Come back inside and sit down while you listen to my grand plans for the rest of the living room! One thing I definitely know is blog-cool is chevrons and I don’t want to be that person, but I didn’t know it was cool until I started googling chevron textiles for the bedroom. I want to paint a pretty thick grey chevron pattern down the long wall of the living room that extends into the hall way, and on that wall I will hang an assortment of pictures. The blue wall is currently empty because it’s waiting for me to save up for some white floating shelves!

So that’s what we’re up to at the Perkhaus as 2012 winds down. It’s been a year of unexpected things, some good, some challenging and some pretty shit. I am very fortunate to have our little unit though, and look forward to putting it together piece by piece.


Giftmas of 2011 past.

2 January, 2012

Purple, pink, blue baubles on the tree (including tiny mirrored disco balls!)

I know everyone’s already posted their holiday photos but we were staying at Mum and Dad’s and I only just mustered the energy to pull all the photos off my camera. We had a quiet Christmas, a claim Nick would object to coming from a small family, and spent the day with my immediate family, our cousins, and some family friends. It was really hot and I wasn’t feeling fabulous. Yes, it’s me your resident Scrooge!

Enjoy my Giftmas spam, or How To Celebrate Christmas When You’re Atheist And Vegetarian. I’ve put the photos behind a link because there are a lot!
Continue Reading…


Miffy does not enjoy holidays.

24 December, 2011

Nick and I posing with Miffy, who looks incredibly displeased, with hand lettering saying "Happy Holidays! ♥ The Perkinseses" while Miffy is thinking "Ugh! Humans!"

But we hope you have the opportunity to enjoy yours, and if you aren’t able to have a holiday I hope you can glean a few moments to look after yourself.

This year has been really tough for me. I’m not the kind of person to tell a whole year to sod off because on reflection there have been some really nice moments that I would like to remember, but all the bad stuff I most definitely would like to banish to obscurity.

I’ve learnt a lot this year about myself, community, family and friends. I’ve been diagnosed with brand new disabilities and started to identify as disabled. I’ve taken time off to heal. I adopted a funny little dog. I moved to a new city. I became more me.

Me taking a photo of my reflection in a mirror.

There are so many things I want to write about that I didn’t get the chance to properly think through, my last post in particular comes to mind, and I want to continue to work this stuff out. Lots of people think I’m rather weird for this over-sharing tendency but honestly, it helps me a great deal to know I have a community of people to bounce ideas around with. Thank you for that!

Next year I want to do awesome things. While I’m not so naive as to think nothing bad will happen, I’m going to treat myself better when and if they do happen. That’s my resolution.

A Beautiful Life

Merry happy.

26 December, 2010

A photo of Nick and I standing to the right of a Christmas tree.

Even though I’m not big into Christmas I do like spending time with family and taking photos because Mum usually does pretty decorations and we’re all in the same location. This year it was awesome because we have our new camera and while I’m sure my photos aren’t that great, it’s good to have an opportunity to use it and practice.

I like to post photos of the Australian Christmas experience because lots of my northern hemisphere friends just can’t conceive of us celebrating the day in shorts and thongs! In my family at least, we don’t really eat much heavy winter food that is so typically eaten in the northern hemisphere and instead we eat barbecued prawns, cold meat, salads and what not however I think I did spy roast chicken and pork too. Since I have been vegetarian this year my Mum was a bit baffled as to what to feed me, but I had some lovely green salad and waldorf salad with a roast vegetable pastry concoction. It was great!

Photo of my mother, a middle aged lighted skinned woman with short light hair, and sister Amanda, a young slim dark haired woman, in the kitchen. Mum is drinking wine and smiling and amanda is holding a knife and looking at Mum and grinning.

Photo of lots of photo frames, silver trinkets and a purple wrapped present sitting on a sideboard.

Photo of my Nana, an older pale skinned woman, and my Auntie Sharon, a middle aged pale skinned woman, and Amanda, young slim woman, at the table. Nana is holding a knife and getting ready to cut the pavlova that in front of her.

Close up photo of shiny red cherries sitting in a clear bowl.

Photo of Nick, a bearded pale skinned man with glasses, holding Molly the dog whi is white and fluffy and looking at the camera dolefully.

Photo of some apricot and rum balls on the table with some red and green shiny bon bons sitting behind the plate.

Close up photo of Mum's green (fake) Christmas tree with aqua tinsel and silver, magenta and aqua baubles hanging off the branches.

Bonus: Nick and I singing Two of Us last night, recorded on my iPhone.
[audio:|titles=Natalie and Nick – Two of Us]

A Beautiful Life

So this is Festivus, and what have I done?

23 December, 2010

Today is the 23rd of December, the day that people like me celebrate Festivus! I haven’t put up a tree for the last few years because I’m kind of grinchy and I hate tinsel. If you read my last post you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of consumerism, and you’ll be correct in assuming that my disdain is especially strong at this time of year when the air is thick with the fug of spruikers and carpark rage.
Photo of a pole wrapped in tin foil and standing up with brown paper wrapped presents at the bottom of it.
Today I put up my Festivus pole and while it’s not a true aluminium pole it’s still in keeping with the austere spirit of the day because it’s recycled; I used the cardboard tube from a bolt of fabric and wrapped it in tin foil. Despite its ad hoc nature it does have an impressive strength to weight ratio.
Photo of lots of brown paper wrapped presents with blue and green wool wrapped around them like ribbon.
In keeping with my frugal nature, all the gifts we give are wrapped in brown paper but I’ve also wrapped them in the wool I bought when I was convinced I was going to crochet every day for the rest of my life. (I have managed to make two hats and a scarf.)
A voucher that says "Happy Festivus. To celebrate the holiday season, a charitable donation has been made in your name to: The Human Fund. Money for People". There's also a photo of me in animal print togs photoshopped onto a large inflatable swan in a pool.
But the gift giving isn’t just restricted to my immediate family, no! I have also made a charitable donation in all of your names to The Human Fund. People love money and I’m sure they are grateful for this most benevolent present.

Festivus has a number of traditions, and one of my favourites is The Airing of Grievances. Considering our household only has two people, well, it can get a bit petty… but traditions are traditions. At dinner I plan on expressing to Nick in the most plainest of words how annoyed I am when he leaves the dishcloth in the sink and misplaces my possessions. I have other grievances to air but I’m not going to plan this speech, I’m comfortable with winging it.
A photoshopped photo of a pair of wrestlers. My head is pasted on the woman who is holding a man with Nick's head across her shoulders.
After dinner we’ll enjoy Feats of Strength, however since we’re a pretty egalitarian household the bout might require some negotiation. You see, Festivus can only come to a close when the head of the household’s skull is pinned to the floor and since Nick and I both consider ourselves to be the boss Festivus might drag on all year!

PS: Love you Nick!
PPS: I hope everyone enjoys their respective holidays!

A Beautiful Life

It’s Boxing Day!

26 December, 2009

Giftmas 2009

Ahh the day of fussing over hangovers, and wondering what on earth you’re going to do with all this stuff you were given yesterday. And shopping the sales, if you do that sort of thing (I’ve only done it once, never again!) I hope you all had a safe and happy day yesterday, and that you enjoyed all the people around you, the food you ate and the gifts you gave and received.

Here’s a few photos from my Giftmas:

Giftmas 2009Giftmas 2009

Giftmas 2009
Happy birthday Nana!

Giftmas 2009

And the best husband ever gave me a Holga camera! I can’t wait to see how my first roll turned out :D

A Beautiful Life

Ahh, giftmas grief.

17 December, 2009

The festivus pole
So last night, I decided to put up a festivus pole.

I always get very grumpy around this time of year. It’s unbearably humid, I get flashbacks of my glandular fever symptoms which make me feel as if I were moving through mud, and I think most people are just generally struggling to keep up with working and all the events and shopping and housework and keeping everyone happy and so on and so forth. In my perfect world. I would eliminate Christmas and its rampant commercialisation and feverish gimme-gimme mentality, but this isn’t a perfect world and no matter how many times I try to opt out, I always get roped back in.

Because I’ve never had a whole lot of money, and also because I’m an atheist, Christmas sits uncomfortably with me. I feel a lot of guilt for these things, but also because I am not the world’s greatest present buyer. In fact, sometimes I think I go out of the way to make really uncool presents for people that take a week to make and a second to trash. I hope that my family don’t think of these gifts as disposable, because I do have a subversive kind of motivation for putting myself through hell by giving small and (I think!) thoughtful gifts.

When I was growing up I first noticed it… after all the wrapping paper had been torn from the presents, there ended up being more paper than present. We shoved these screwed up bits of jetsam into deep plastic bags – it took several just to accomodate the debris of the day and as every year passed it alarmed me to think how much paper was wasted on this one day of the year. The presents were mostly very practical (from my parents) but other people tended to exchange trinket gifts: things that aren’t really useful, except to collect deposits of dust and guilt as you chastise yourself for wanting to throw them out every year.

So I started to hand make presents for my family, because I wanted to create a real present that I could give to them instead of some useless piece of junk from the shops. I’ve painted portraits, made jewellery, sewn books, and created other things but last year I got really into creating elaborately crafted packagings for my presents. I don’t know if anyone kept any of the boxes the presents were housed in, but they took the longest time to make – far longer than it took to make or buy what was inside. Somehow, I felt like it was a kind of art project for me to investigate.

Use your noodle box

This year I have created presents for my family that consist of lots of little moments. I’ve still incorporated the hand drawn element, but I wanted to give something more than a thing. So, we bought Chinese takeaway style boxes which I nicknamed “Use your noodle boxes” and they contain little items that prompt the recipient to do things for themselves, or with other people. Games, pampering, self reflection and problem solving – activities that I feel are really important. I hope that the recipients of these gifts find them useful!


People have called me a Grinch and a Scrooge, but it’s not that I think Christmas is stupid – I have fun catching up with my family and having discussions and laughs about things. I wish it was more about making memories like that instead of about “who got who what”, and “someone didn’t give that person a present”, and “I’m exchanging this for something better”. I still feel guilty that I’m not getting people “kick arse awesome” presents from a retail chain, but I think I’m giving something much nicer, something from my love – a gift that can be shared, swapped, used, and remembered.


The giftmas that won’t end

13 January, 2009

Tonight I’m giving the gifts we bought in Melbourne to my family, as well as Mum’s birthday present because she was born on this fabulous day. I am pretty sure none of them will check my blog today, so I’m going to post photos!

Giftmas part two

I didn’t do quite so much elaborate drawing on these because my pens are running out of ink. The materials are pretty simple: brown paper, duct tape (best ever!), string, brown card, round corner stamp, scallop scissors and pens and markers. I used an awl to punch the holes too.

Giftmas part two

The lacing is my favourite part. I think I might incorporate this on future things.

Mum's birthday present

This is Mum’s birthday present – a hand bound book for her to write her creative ideas in. It lays flat too, I can’t stand notebooks that don’t lay flat!

Mum's birthday present

This is the best part of making little books. I just love sewing the signatures together! I’m still perfecting my binding technique, but if you want to try to make books you should check out Dave’s book tutorial. It’s incredibly helpful!

I don’t have any of the proper book binding materials – I used things I had lying around to substitute :D

A Beautiful Life

Twas the night before Giftmas

24 December, 2008

We’re heading down to Melbourne in a few hours, I hope the plane doesn’t fall out of the sky!
Have a silly season kids, and thank you for sticking around to read this pitiful blog.




23 December, 2008

My birthday was on Saturday and Nick bought me Prismacolors! I’d been wanting some for a long time but was always put off by the cost. They are very lovely to use, but I have to be so delicate with them in case the leads break. I’m so paranoid, I’m almost handling them with white gloves! I’ve had a few goes with them, but I’m still not happy with my blending or the papers I’ve tried so far.


I’ve been flat out with various projects this month, it’s been awesome. I will let you know about them as they drop :D

We’re spending giftmas in Melbourne this year, and I decided to take small gifts each with their own custom built box. I used reclaimed card from Reverse Garbage and embellished the boxes with my pens and markers. I figure it’s always nice when someone puts in a bit of extra effort no matter how small or humble the gift. Check out the longer version of this entry to see the photographs of the finished gifts. Continue Reading…