Pruning Mint For Newer Healthier Plant

During the few weeks of dry spell and extreme heat in January, most of our home grown mint plants from cuttings became rather unhealthy looking, branches were dry and hard while the leaves were browning too soon. It was my cue for a cruel to be kind action: an absolute pruning.

It really seems like a very cruel thing to do, as I'd have to cut the dry and dead bits all the way down till I can see some green in the middle of the cut stems, so that the plants get to grow new shoots again.

Within 10 days, we've got some fresh new leaves sprouting all over the pot, new life just in time for the Lunar New Year of the Dog!

I believe we'll have lots of mint leaves to harvest and dry for another lot of homemade mint sauce 😋

Handmade Decorative Lanterns from Used/Old Red Packets Ang Pow

Ang Pao envelopes a.k.a. the red packets, a must have's for Lunar New Year but also a thing that will become clutter over time. We can never get the right amount of a certain design, and we'll often be left with too many unused/odd ones. Although I've handmade some this year but there is still a stack too many from previous years and some of them have specific year or zodiac design on which can't be used for the following year.

Growing up, we used to lots of fun making little lanterns with old red packets as festive decoration, and I think it's time to relive that sentiment.

Instead of the usual squarish designs, this is one in a spheric form, using just 1 basic modular shape:

Cut red packets (ang pao packets) into equal circles (about 8cm diameter) and draw an equal triangle on the reverse side. Fold on the triangle outlines, then glue the shapes together to get these:

The 2 round shapes are for the top and the bottom, whilst the long strip goes in the middle and …

DIY Ang Pow Packets

Walking through the Lunar New Year decorations in the shopping mall yesterday, reminded me that we'll need to get hold of some Ang Pow packets (little red envelopes for new year money). We usually get them free with purchase from departmental stores and supermarkets, but you'll often end up with too many or too few of certain designs/sizes. I'm not entirely keen on making unnecessary purchases just for those red packets, let alone advertising for corporations who are already making money out of us.

That's when these pretty backing papers springs to mind:

I got these lovey looking backing papers from the Diamond Jubilee issue of Crafts Beautiful (UK magazine). One of the many perks of buying crafts magazines is the little craft-making tools or craft materials that came with the magazines. But the downside is: they can become a clutter too. I had used them to wrap quite a few presents and made a couple of gift bags; yet several years on I'm still having plenty of th…

Handmade Turquoise Beaded Napkin Rings

In the past, we had some disposable napkin rings made out of old Christmas cards. Then I made some permanent ones using remaining beads from my handbag project. These were made in 2009, and I'm still using them for special occasions.

I've tried a very simple and basic weaving pattern, and it took me less than 3 hours to complete this set of 4. And I managed to use up all but 2 of the turquoise beads from the handbag project. The white beads are leftover from the beaded bracelet.

For weaving instruction please see handmade beaded handbag.

They've been put into good use since:

DIY Christmassy Purple Beaded Napkin Rings

Since the last bunch of beaded napkin rings, I've gone a little obsessed with napkin rings and have made another set with different coloured beads and design. I managed to make 5 with the leftover beads from making my choker necklace and a beaded belt.

I think they look really good with my mostly white table setting and crockeries.

Unlike the turquoise napkin rings, these ones have a slightly more complicated design so it took me almost 2 evenings to complete. Here is the step-by-step process in illustration:

1. I use a 0.35 nylon fishing thread (that's what I have in my drawer), but you can use a thinner one as the napkin rings are only small. I measure it to about 1.1m for each napkin ring. It's always best to use 1 whole thread for each, to save rejoining work halfway through.

Start with the beads in the middle of the thread and criss-cross to make shapes:
2. Here's to complete the first circle and move on to the next row (then repeat for the row after that):

3. To …

Handmade Hanging Christmas Tree with Table Lamp Inside

We made a Christmas tree with some tinsels and a broken tripod in both 2015 and 2016, with a little change in the trimmings. But the tripod has finally given way to even more wear and tear over time and humidity - all the plastic parts are falling off. It's time to have a renewed theme for our Christmas tree this year!
After a few nights thinking over it and several sketches later, I've decided to make use of an existing hook on the wall and make a tree hanging down from it, and wrapping a table lamp within.
I found a cardboard lid for an A4 paper box that's been tossed in the office (so that it can get one more use before going for its recycle round), and cut holes around it:

Putting it through the table lamp that will be the light source:

Then I tied 2 separate loops using some ribbons (out of my craft box collection) through the tree top star and hang it onto the hook:

What I did next is just to poke each strip of tinsel through 2 holes on the box lid, then pull up to …

DIY Christmas Wreath From Old Christmas Decor

Our old Christmas wreath made from old mince pie boxes has way passed its sell-by date, so it's time to have a new one made.

This new one can't be easier; I found an old wire in the tool box (probably taken out from an old hanger) and bent it into a circle, with both ends twisted into small loop then tied with a bendable twist tie wire. I then twirled a strip of old silver tinsel (found in the box with old Christmas decoration) around the wire, secured by twisting the ends together. Finally slapped on a decorative bell and ribbon - again, from the Christmas decor box.

Not a single penny was spent. Not even an inch of cello tape.

Welcome to the first day of Advent!