Saturday, August 25, 2012

Faux timber finish on MDF - How to paint tutorial..

 There are lots of supplies of MDF in all shapes and sizes, suitable for craft projects. But MDF lacks the wonderfully warm look of a grained timber piece, don't you think? In olden times, craftsmen would enhance poor quality timber with a painted finish to simulate more expensive materials eg. Intarsia, faux marbling.  Hence Faux finishes were born and can be a valuable technique to add to your artistic repertoire.  I will show you a simple tutorial to create a faux timber grain on MDF.


Acrylic Base paint as a primer/undercoat
 in orange/light brown shade
(I used Matisse Haymarket)
Kleister medium ( I use Jo Sonja's)
Retarder medium
Acrylic gouache in colours:
Yellow oxide
Brown Earth
Indian Red oxide
3 "wide foam brush
Dustpan or very wide stiff bristle brush


1. Base paint the object with Haymarket or chosen yellow-orange shade. Let dry.
2. Sand lightly using 400- 600 grade sandpaper.
3. Prepare a paint palette with separate dobs of Yellow oxide, Brown earth, and Indian red, and one could even try a dash of black or burnt sienna. ( It is all a matter of personal preference)
4. Add some kleister medium but do not mix the colours and medium- just leave them on the palette in separate spots.
5. Dress the foam brush in retarder and coat the wooden piece lightly.
6. Dip the foam brush in the Kleister medium and then dip each corner of the foam brush in to the individual colours. I use Yellow oxide one side, Brown earth in middle and a little of the indian red or black on the opposite end of the foam brush. ( the colours will gently intermix on the piece. Kleister medium will help cement the pattern on the piece and prevent over blending of colours.
7. Drag the brush across the piece in the one direction, repeating as necessary.
Hint: Don't over do it. Less is more!!! If you have gone over too heavy, or don't like it, wipe off with a damp cloth and start again. The retarder will create a longer open time with the acrylic paint, giving you more time to play with the pattern and colours, before they dry.

To achieve a really soft uniform timber-like grain: Lightly drag a dustpan or wide stiff bristle brush in one direction over the piece. ( Use mainly one colour on the foam brush eg: brown earth and a tiny amount of yellow oxide)

You can give the completed piece a coat of either varnish to protect it or if you wish to add further decorative touches, use spray fixative or Jo Sonja’s clear glaze medium to give it a barrier coat. This means if you make a mistake and need to wipe out your decorative embellishment, it will not take all your lovely faux finish with it.

Now I will ponder over what particular type of decoration I shall paint it with… thinking traditional Hindeloopen with dark green trim…..updates to come…

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012


It is so easy to make your own smoked salmon. I have just found out how and will follow its progress via this blog:
1. Buy fresh piece of Salmon with skin on and cut into two equal size pieces.
Day 1 - oops forgot the black pepper!!
2. Remove any bones with tweezers
3. Cover pink side of salmon  with a combined mix of  1/2 cup salt and 1 cup sugar and some ground black pepper.
4.Chop up 2 bunches of fresh dil, stalks and leaves.
5. Layer the salmon, skin side on, then cover liberally with the chopped dill.
6. Finally add the second salmon piece so that the skin side is upwards
7. Cover with cling film, and leave at room temperature for 6 hours.
8. Place in fridge for 2-7 days - 5 days is suggested time for my recipe, turning every 12 hours.
9. Drain juices, scrape off dill and pat dry with paper towel. Then slice wafer thin and enjoy!


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Friday, August 10, 2012

More Mini Note book covers - inspired by Pillow a la Mode

 I just love this fun idea of using up beautiful paper. It is practical and functional and you can appreciate the lovely paper far more often than before. Sometimes the paper is so pretty, I am reluctant to use it, but I had no such trouble with this project. Some are planned to be small gifts, others I will use myself and then I cna appreciate the paper each time I use them.

I must credit Pillow -a la- Mode for the idea....

Not only something  I will ponder about but something I will write in....


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Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Perfect Scone - at last...

 What does it take to make the perfect scone. Ask my girl, as she is the one who took out first prize in the show. We got to meet the judge today and she revealed the criteria for judging. It is notoriously difficult to compete in the cookery section, due to the high standard of the goods presented.  Scones and pikelets are iconic Australian foods, and if you can't cook these standards, then some older generations might consider you hopeless!

What do the judges look for:
Light and fine in texture. (This comes about by kneading well.) 

For Pumpkin Scones: always strain pumpkin so no pieces of pumpkin show in scones when opened.
Size and shape- Consistency, about 5 cm, round

Taste - light, evenly cooked.
Look - When cut, feathering or layers evident.*Before bringing scones to a show, rub any visible flour off with a soft cloth.
*For Show work: Scones should never touch while cooking.

Would you like me  to share the recipe?

It is Granny's recipe for scones. It is super easy, super quick and obviously a prize winner!!
That is something for you to ponder about.... I will check the responses before posting the recipe.


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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What has happened to Cirque de Soleil - OVO!

Did you ever see the spectacular show called "Dralion?"  Performed in my town about 4 years ago, it was an incredible feast of entertainment, jam packed into a two hour performance. Often there was three simultaneous acts proceeding at the same time. One on stage, one up in the air, and one on the back wall. It could not have been better. So I was eager to help out a charity and purchase a ticket to the latest Cirque de Soleil show to come to town... OVO

Ovo performance glimpse...

It was good and it was entertaining, but it was no DRALION. It was a much scaled down version of Dralion, to the point that over 2 1/4 hours ( it finished 1/4 hour earlier than scheduled) I saw a mere six performing acts, with long interludes of drawn out slightly amusing actors performing a contemporary version of the clown act, except they were dressed as a ladybird and grasshopper. The Ovo them is insects.

Dont' get me wrong: the costumes and set were all fantastic, it was just the content that left me wanting. At one point, there was a band playing music, in a language I did not understand but nothing happening on stage. The highlight was the flying trapeze troupe and the Diabolo man...incredible.

But these acts were less than 10 minutes and then you had to endure another 20 minutes of the grasshopper and ladybird non verbal antics... ho hum....

Sadly disappointed and left wondering what has happened. Is it the result of financial difficulty that the production is a mere 30% of Dralion? Or is this a different production house using the Cirque de Soleil name? Must do some research as I am a bit confused...

Crowds were certainly down and the stage much smaller, so it seems word has got around...that is something I will ponder about today.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Part 7 - Travel Diary Munich to Salzburg 29th November, 2012

The weather was foggy, and frosty but cleared up to a wonderfully sunny winter day with a temperature of about 8 degrees. Although sitting in the peak hour Munich traffic, it seemed almost hotter than this. Traffic is extremely chaotic for a German city, given Germany's penchant for efficiency and orderliness! We drove past Lake Chiensee and later Lake Hohnsee - where one will find another of Mad King Ludwig's Castle ( we did not see it - but apparently it is neither finished nor as stunning as Lindenhof) and on to the infamous Berchtesgarden turnoff or Ausfart ( Ausgang )
First glimpse of glorious Austria was the Tirolachen / Osterrich ( which means East Kingdom) Border Stop which provided a rather disappointing backdrop consisting of heavy industry such as Ikea, Scania, and Bauhaus. However, the view from the roadhouse stop was surrounded by of course, Mountainous alps, not yet draped in snow :-(

I purchased rather aptly, a scarf featuring edelweiss and it has proved to be quite an asset. Made of silk, it keeps my neck surprisingly warm without the bulk of wool, and is a little decorative to boot. Heidi decided to take a few artistic shots of the frost, on the ground, as it was the closest thing we had got to snow, thus far.

Driving in to Salzburg, I snapped a shot looking up to the medieval fortress that dominants the city hills.

After we settled in to Castellani hotel room, resplendent with Juliet balcony, we had a walking tour of Salzburg, viewing a variety of sites, where Sound of Music was filmed.  Including the churchyard where the Von trapp family hid, (enhanced by Hollywood) and the chapel dating back to year 1000 A.D., the wall along which the children danced with Maria, and the bridge where they crossed the river in their clothes made from curtain fabric.

Shopping:  There was not much to buy here, and things were expensive. It cost me the equivalent of $5.00 AUD to send two postcards to Australia! The only thing that was cheap was Hot chocolate, made with real chocolate, so thick, it was as if it was melted chocolate. Demmel is the place to go near the old city square, for the best cakes/chocolate ever. Downstairs is a gourmet chocolate shop, and upstairs is a delightful cafe where you will be in awe of the range of delicacies to tempt you. If you are there at Christmas, remember to say "Gris godt" in the shops. A southern German/Austrian/Swiss greeting popular in this parts, meaning Merry Christmas... and don't forget to get your Mozart chocolate balls. Our very lovely guide, from Insight Vacations gave us each a Mozart chocolate when we returned to the bus.

Our afternoon was to be at our leisure, and I doubting that I could afford to buy anything in Austria, opted to see some more sites on the Sound of Music tour before our intimate dinner with an  Austrian family on their farm. The full Austrian experience was about to commence! 

The lake and Van Trap Mansion in Salzburg
If you are a fan of The Sound of Music, you  must visit Salzburg. The places ooozes Austrian culture in a way I have not seen elsewhere. For years Salzburg was its own city, not attached to an empire, and later became the centre of the enormous Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to WWI. In the War, Austria lost everything, including its port, so the navy was stood down and the reputation of the once great power in ruins. It was in this wake, the Von Trapp family ( the real ones) travelled to America to seek their fortune. So the sound of music story is a real one, albeit embellished to some degree. We saw the beautiful house where the family purportedly lived, but it was in fact, a much more modest house, later occupied by the Brotherhood of the Holy Blood, and now destined to become a B&B. 
The Gazebo used in the Movie, The Sound of Music.
We walked and posed for photos in front of the orginal gazebo where Leisl sang, "I am sixteen going on seventeen" and saw the lane where Julie Andrews sang "I have confidence." The buildings are quite magical and our guide, so sweet and full of Austrian humility. The irony she told us, was that only now was the Sound of Music becoming known in Salzburg, as it was now being sung in German. Austrians, like Germans, only watched overdubbed films, not sub-titled cinema. 

And to top off an amazingly excellent day we were invited to Borg's farm, where we saw the usual farm animals, and feasted on a three course meal of home made cheeses flavoured with egg/paprika/pork juice and potato ( all made on the farm), Roast Pork and strudel all whilst seated in a Austrian style ski hut. The authentic Austrian experience - can I join the Austrian culture please? ah.. the way for females to Austrian community is through the 3 k's: "Krist, Kinder and Kooking"... Children, church and cooking/cleaning.... Something for would be Austrian's/new immigrants  to ponder about.

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Marching Band Tattoo

Marching Bands may be a thing of the past, but there are still a few schools who continue this wonderful tradition of playing the fife, doing various marching diagrams and performing at Tattoos.

Do you realize how difficult it is to play a fife? Let alone play a fife and march along, concentrating on keeping the marching rhythm with one's feet, as well as playing the notes on the fife, and watching the person in front of you, and listening to the Majorette's whistles whilst the drummers play the beat. Nundah state school Fife Marching band has been in existence for more than 40 years, and is stronger today than ever.

The children learn valuable skills such as reading music, playing a musical instrument, co-ordination, discipline, deportment, and performance skills. All this in an outdoor environment much  needed by the computer obsessed generation of today.

Some might think this activity was spawned from the war time era when Marching Bands was a recreational activity, but nevertheless I was a very proud Mum today to see my daughter swing that Mace and lead the band as the Majorette.


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