Upcycling With Chalk Paint

chalk paint header

I love a good upcycle. I love the challenge of taking something and turning it into something new.

I love how upcycling can allow me to keep things that might otherwise not continue to be useful or beautiful. Especially things that have sentimental value.

I’ve had my eye on Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for some time but baulked at the price being charged here in Australia. My perfectionist tendencies came to the fore and consequently I didn’t get going on a project as I didn’t want to ‘stuff it up’.

In my roaming around the interwebs, I discovered Websters Chalk Paint Powder. You can add this to any acrylic paint to create a very similar product. Sample packs are available for a really reasonable price, I thought I’d give it a go.

My first chalk paint project is a small ladder that I claimed from my hubby’s parents’ place when the family took on the huge task of cleaning it out after they’d both passed away. I wasn’t sure what I’d use it for but ended up displaying my necklaces on it. The brown finish wasn’t particularly attractive so I thought this might be a good place to start.

Ladder before

A great thing about chalk paint is that you don’t need to strip, sand or do any other fiddly preparation, you just need to clean the surface really well. After a good dust, I cleaned the wood with a solution of eucalyptus oil and warm water, let it dry and then was ready to paint.


I chose a tiny sample pot of Dulux Hog Bristle Quarter Strength, mixed the chalk powder in water and then added it to the paint.

one coat

I ended up doing three coats but I think next time I’ll just do two.


I wasn’t sure whether I wanted a distressed look or not but some of the more experienced chalk painters I’ve met online suggested that as it was going to sit against a white background, a distressed finish would look better.

After experimenting with different grades, I used a little piece of sandpaper to buff the painted ladder back to achieve a slightly worn look. I then sealed it with some beeswax polish I’ve used on other wooden furniture. For bigger pieces I think I’ll invest in some of the L’Essentiel beeswax recommended by many people but this certainly seemed to do the job for now.

Distressed closeup

Bracelets and bangles are on the top rung and rails. I’m contemplating making some s-type hooks for the bangles.

fnished 2

Shorter and longer necklaces on the lower rungs.

finished 1

The end result is a piece in our home that reminds me of my in-laws, a lovely display area for my jewellery which reminds me to wear it as I walk past it all the time and the satisfaction from having created this little beauty from next to nothing. I’ve got so many ideas now for what else I could paint that I’m not sure where to start!

Do you have any upcycled pieces in your home? What do you love about them?

Caz x

Why I’m Embracing Being Perfectly Imperfect

Perfectly Imperfect

We all can be our own worst enemies at times. You know, getting in our own way when we really want to move forward or up or sideways or diagonally or somewhere.

After years of knowing that I’m really hard on myself but not understanding why I keep getting in my own way, I finally reached a point a year or so ago where I could own the perfectionist tag. I never identified with it before. That was ‘other’ people.

What does perfectionism do for me?

Being a perfectionist has led me to achieve some neat things, usually for other people’s benefit rather than my own. And I mean that in a good way – I love doing things to benefit others and gain a lot of satisfaction from it.

Being willing to ‘work myself to death’ has enabled me to be part of some fabulous experiences. But not be able to fully embrace them as I was so exhausted and stressed.

What else does perfectionism look like for me?

The need for something to be perfect often means I don’t start something. What might people think? What abuse might my inner critic hurl at me?

Or I won’t finish something. I’ll enthusiastically start an ecourse or challenge but if I get behind or miss a day or two, I’ll throw in the towel as I’m not doing it ‘properly’.

I can lose sight of the big picture by having to get a small component perfect and forgetting what the main aim was.

Never ending self imposed pressure.

Burn out. Exhaustion. Ill health.

Combined with a seemingly never-ending run of stressful events, my perfectionism has led to my body screaming so loud for attention that I had no choice but to stop and pay close attention.

Why perfectly imperfect?

Perfection is a myth.

DLaP Masterpiece

There is always something more that could be done. Be improved. Be polished. There are an infinite number of possibilities to explore. But are they needed? What is enough? What does perfect actually look like?

Would I love my son any differently depending on whether or not he was ‘perfect’?. Hell no!! In fact, it’s his ‘imperfections’, his unique characteristics that make him so perfect. Just as he is.

A major turning point for me was learning to accept that I am enough. Just as I am. No improvements needed. Not when I lose the baby weight that has never left. Not when I get my house looking like a display home. Not when…

Perfectly imperfect means good enough. Truly enough, not with an undercurrent of guilt.

Perfectly imperfect is what makes us unique.

It is accepting who and what we are. Completely. Not begrudgingly.

Embracing perfectly imperfect has been enormously liberating. Am I perfect at it? Nope. In fact, I have really struggled with getting this blog post ‘perfect’ before pressing publish. It’s taken a fortnight longer than I had planned.

But do you know what, I’ll remind myself that it’s good enough and let it go. I’m happy being perfectly imperfect. It’s so much easier.

Are you a recovering perfectionist? How do you embrace being perfectly imperfect?

Caz x


Eating Our Way Around Singapore (Part 1)


Marina Bay Sands from Gluttons Bay

My musician hubby had a month long job in Singapore recently which gave Mr 7 and I the chance to hop on over for the middle part of his contract. That way we wouldn’t miss each other too much, we’d get a kind of family holiday plus a visit to Legoland Malaysia into the bargain!

We all love to eat in this house. Nom nom nom. My cooking is often inspired by the food we’ve eaten in our travels around south east asia over the last 18 years. Singapore has so much great food as it’s a meeting place of many cultures and cuisines.

We basically ate our way around the island, exploring the different ethnic quarters as well as the primarily residential area that was our home base.

Chinatown was one of our first outings. After a wander through the touristy stalls in Pagoda and Mosque Streets we found the Chinatown Complex Food Centre (upstairs at 335 Smith Street) and appeared to be the only Western tourists around. The food was amazingly cheap (much cheaper than outside on Smith Street itself) and delicious. Over a couple of visits, some of our favourites were the chicken rice, spicy wontons and char kway teow (fried rice noodles).

Chinatown Stall

The boys in Chinatown

Chicken rice

Chicken Rice – Singapore’s national dish

Spicy wontons

Spicy wontons


Little India
Both my ‘boys’ love to shop so we had to visit the famous Mustafa Centre in Little India. We spent a happy couple of hours prowling the crowded aisles before our stomachs grumbled. We wandered down Serangoon Road to the Tekka Centre on the corner of Bukit Timah Road, stopping for our customary fresh juices and to admire the old shop houses.

Curries, chicken tikka and a variety of breads filled us up with Mr 7 devouring a chocolate roti in record time. The enterprising owner of one of the drinks stalls offered table service and kept us ‘watered’ with orange juice (Mr 7), local beer (hubby) and lime juice with whole miniature limes (me).

Tekka centre

Tekka Centre lunchtime crowd

Indian food

Variety of Indian dishes

Lime juice

Lime juice – so refreshing!


Newton Circus
Newton Circus, also known as Newton Food Centre, is an institution in Singapore. It became our second dining room as it was only about a five minute walk from our hotel. Snacks, lunch or dinner were easy to grab on the way to or from the Newton MRT station.

Satays, popiah (a type of fresh spring roll), curries, nasi goreng, noodles… the selection was endless. Mr 7 was particularly happy when the Ais kacang stall was open as they did a version with chocolate syrup! Hubby and I treated ourselves to black pepper crab on our last day together.

walk to Newton

Easy walk to Newton Circus


We had to have mixed satay!

Black pepper crab

Black Pepper Crab


Kampong Glam (Arab Quarter)
We walked and walked to try to find a place for lunch that fitted our usual criteria – a place that wasn’t obviously for tourists and was more reflective of the locals of that area. Finally a Moroccan place a few doors from the Sultan Mosque seemed ok and we ventured in out of the heat. The meal itself was fine but took forever to come. The standout was my drink – lime juice blended with mint. I’ll be attempting to replicate it next summer.

Moroccan tiles

Gorgeous tiles in Kampong Glam

Sultan Mosque

The Sultan Mosque gleams even on gloomy days.

Mint lime juice

Minty lime juice – a winner!

There’ll be more about our Singaporean food adventures shortly.

How do you like to eat when you travel? What’s your favourite foodie destination?

Caz x

Nutty, Seedy Cookies

Nutty Seedy Cookies

I’m always on the hunt for baking recipes that pack a punch of goodness. I like to adjust, substitute and add things to increase the ‘value’, particularly for Mr 7. Cookies seem to be a better way to get nuts and seeds into him as he finds the contrast of textures too much in a muffin and muesli-type bars don’t appeal. [Read more...]

Listen To Your Heart

Listen to Your Heart

Listen to your heart…

No, not the Roxette song from the late 80s and I’m not talking in the romantic sense either.

Listen to your heart… Open your heart…

The universe has been conspiring to place women in my path to ensure I get the message:

Stop over-thinking.
Get out of your head and into your heart. [Read more...]

Confessions of a Dishonest Mama

Mothers lie

Yes, I lie to my child. Not just about the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny either.

Sometimes I lie to my child about what I’m feeding him.

As I’ve mentioned before, my Mr 7 has sensory and anxiety issues with food. It makes feeding him frustrating, difficult and sometimes embarrassing when other people don’t get why your child won’t eat millions of things ‘all’ children eat. [Read more...]

Upcycled Travel-Themed Storage Boxes

In an effort to help my study/spare room feel more loved peaceful and inviting, I was on the lookout for ways to better store and disguise some of the ‘stuff’ I had hanging around after a round of de-cluttering. Cheap, easy and preferably upcycled were key criteria.

DIY Design Fanatic Box
I fell for some jute/twine covered boxes but then discovered that they were very time consuming and by the time I bought all the twine and hot glue plus some fabric if I didn’t have anything suitable in my stash, more expensive than I was planning on.

Enter a trio of map covered shoe boxes and I knew I had my winner. I love travel, the colours would work with the vague scheme I’ve been trying to cultivate and I already had old atlas pages left over from my Love Garlands (they weren’t suitable as the orientation didn’t match on front and back). [Read more...]

Learning to fill my cup

Crio and candle

I’ve been feeling fairly blah again lately and out of any sense of rhythm or routine. Sigh…

Some of it has been rooted in the everyday – returning from Singapore, illness, fibromyalgia symptoms, Mr 7′s health and then getting sick myself with the the pelvic floor-challenging cough from hell. I’ve been struggling to keep on top of the everyday stuff and feel like I’m getting nowhere, or further behind if possible on other things.

I can see now that some of the blah-ness comes from neglecting myself. My inner self mostly. Sure I’ve been doing some things that I enjoy – reading, watching some favourite TV shows, cooking – but it hasn’t really kept me in touch with ME. I haven’t been nourishing myself with what my soul craves. [Read more...]

Filling a hole in our household

There has been something missing from my life for some time. Just over three and a half years in fact. There has been grief, longing but a level of acceptance that one day, some day, that hole would be filled.

For you see, although I have owned (or been owned by) cats, I am a dog person. My parents had a dog before I was born. I grew up with dogs and formed strong bonds with dogs of relatives and close friends.

My first very own ‘baby’, Dave came to us on our first wedding anniversary and stayed for nearly fifteen years. A rough coated Jack Russell Terrier, he had loads of personality and a winning way with everyone he met. He was just another member of our household.

Dave [Read more...]

Got 15 Seconds For Some Self Love?


Self care. Self love. I’ve been trying to work on this for a while. Sometimes it seems too hard. Too many other things I ‘should’ be doing. Too tired. Not enough time, energy, money, self discipline…blah blah…excuses…

I’ve made self care lists… have a massage, a long bath, a walk by myself, a girls’ weekend. Things that often seemed too big or tricky to fit into my sometimes complicated life.

I felt like I ‘should’ do affirmations. ‘I love and approve of myself’ and all that but they just left me feeling squirmy, like I was telling lies. I know lots of people swear by affirmations but they haven’t been right for me.

One day in the midst of the morning rush, I was doing my usual glaring at myself in the mirror as I ‘slapped’ on some moisturiser. I realised I was almost literally slapping myself. I was being rough, harsh and heavy with my hands as I was critical about my skin – irritated, red, blotchy, flaky.


I would never treat someone else I loved like that. Or anyone else at all for that matter. [Read more...]