Have a break, have a kit cat

Gracie the overweight cat at Cat Haven's Wet Nose Day

This weekend's been awesome because we've had no plans except for Wet Nose Day and football. We saw lots of cats. And I ate a hot dog. And got a hat trick. I'm taking all this as a sign that quiet time is so right right now.

It's hard, though, because garden school is over and it's springtime and I've got the crazy. I want to do all the things, and then I fry my brain thinking about them too much.

Close friends have told me to take a break. And you know, I absolutely mean to, but then I'm swept away by the excitement of all the things, and I'm making plans again. This is my vicious cycle, my downward spiral.

long cat taking a break

People have been asking me what I plan to do with my Horticulture qualification. I must sound so boring when I tell them, "Not much," but that's the deal.

I dream of running my own self-sustaining hobby farm one day, and have a hazy idea of what to do with my life, but in the last few years, I've learned I'm not good at fixed long-term plans. Things change. So in the near foreseeable future, I'm going to continue learning and experimenting, making and sharing, and see where that road takes me.

My head is full of all the things, but I don't want to set goals just yet. I feel a strong inclination to focus on my process moreso than my goals, and this kind of gutfeel usually takes me to a pretty good place. And also, I'm supposed to be taking a break.

man and cat, having a conversation

OK, so, raaaaa~ my break. Between now and the end of the year, I will try to take it easy. I will spend more time on my home and creative space. I will work on my Cruyff turn and try to be more conscientious about martial arts.

I will enjoy sinking hours into the new Civ and not feel guilty. I will quietly write to my penpals and play mail games and enjoy tea with my cats. I will not take on any stressful projects, including making promises about this break because that would be stressful too. I will try to slow down, and read and sleep more.

Hm, well, it's past midnight now, so I better make the effort on that last one. Good night!

DIY hardcover case for a Kindle

Kindle reader inside a home-made hardcover case

I bought a Kindle last month, and was determined not to let this new possession possess me - and buy itself a case, decals, bells and baubles. I fall into this trap often, and while sometimes it's necessary, it didn't seem necessary here. I did want a case, but I would have to make it myself.

I remember the first time I felt profound disappointment at a purchased item. The seam had come loose on my wallet, and I discovered beneath the factory-perfect machine stitching, behind the synthetic woven fabric... a sheet of cardboard. No different to a cereal box, just sans printing. The spell of storebought was broken.

Since then, I mentally deconstructed everything that crossed my path. Over the years, I found similar patterns of deconstruction used in everything from books to purses, clothing to cat toys. I couldn't replicate those patterns as perfectly myself, but felt increasingly sour about paying $50 for something that was essentially scrap paper, cotton and glue.

There's more to it, of course, and that's the more I want to learn by doing.

Kindle reader inside a home-made hardcover case

So here's my first hardcover item - a Kindle book cover. It's roughshod, and I would do some things differently next time, but just a few tools and salvaged materials can really go a long way.

using Kindle to measure cardboard


Mount fabric panels onto cardboard for stiff, nice-feeling things.

Materials & tools

  • 1 cardboard
  • 2 x scrap fabric pieces
  • PVA glue (white)
  • 4 strips of elastic
  • Scissors
  • Glue brush
  • Sewing machine

cardboard folded like a book cover

Measure your cardboard frame using your object (Kindle, tablet, notebook, whatever). Cut the cardboard slightly bigger than you need to - this leaves room for the thickness of the fabric when it bends.

fabric mounted to the outside of the cover

Brush glue on one side of the cardboard and stick one of the fabric pieces to it. Trim the fabric, leaving a 2-3cm edge around the cardboard. Fold the edges over and glue to the other side. This is the outer cover of your case.

completed inner panel

The inner panel is fiddly. Measure the fabric, and fold and pin the edges. Measure against the object and mark where you'll need the elastic holders attached to the fabric. Judge this based on your object, so the screen or buttons aren't obstructed. Pin elastic to fabric, except for the ends that go near the spine (we'll do this later).

Hem the edge, stitching across the elastic when you get to it, being careful not to attach the elastic on both sides of the fabric. That's the fiddly bit, so think about it beforehand. The elastic has to be loose on the other side, so the corner of your object can slide in.

You can reinforce the elastic with another line of stitches across the loose edge of fabric.

attaching the elastic near the spine

Now that the hem's done, we'll attach the remaining 2 ends of elastic. Where your markings are, cut a tiny slit, just enough to thread the elastic through. Stitch a line parallel to the slit, attaching the elastic to the other side. It'd look better to stitch a rectangle all around, but I didn't bother.

Finally, brush glue onto the inside of your book cover and stick on your newly assembled panel.

pen mark, from where I measured the elastic attachment

Learn from my mistakes

  • Don't use a pen to mark where your elastic goes - this isn't something you'll put through the washing machine after!
  • Wash your brush between uses so the glue doesn't dry on it.
  • Don't put your cover near piles of cat hair while the glue is drying.
  • If your scrap cardboard has printing on it, choose a thick, sturdy fabric that you can't see through. Or just avoid light colours altogether. Or prepare to decorate. :)
  • Consider a third piece of fabric to sandwich between the hard cover and the inner panel, so you don't get a dent where there are fewer layers of material. (pictured below)

Happy making!

My first hand-bound notebook

hand-stitched notebook with cardboard cover

Last night, I learned it's not that hard to bind a book and make it look halfway decent. With just a few sheets of notepaper, glue, needle & thread, and scrap cardboard from an old tea box, I was able to assemble a tiny notebook in about half an hour.

five-hole pamphlet stitch binding

My instructions came from Bookcraft by Heather Weston, but the process is simple enough to figure out, then combine with this tutorial for a 5-hole pamphlet stitch.

cardboard cover scrapped from a box of tea

Now, after borrowing from the book gods to make a box, I have helped the box gods pay their dues in turn. Happy making!

The best thank you letter

the best online shopping thank you letter ever

I received the best thank you letter today from a stationery shop in Japan. I bought an adjustable 6-hole punch from them via Rakuten. I love that the president hand-signed my letter. I feel someone with that level of commitment must certainly have written those heartfelt and passionate words.

The hole punch is damn nice. It's heavy, solid, with a reminder on the underside to oil the hinge once in a while. I got it so I could make stationery for my Filofax, and shall certainly enjoy doing so. I may even do so on Moon.

How great, great indeed! Thank you, Nakagawa-san. Thank you, Stationery Shop Bunkidou!

I made a book box!

book box work in progress

I made a book box! :D

It was easy. But also messy. There were paper shavings all over my desk. The tutorial I followed said to drill the corners, and I wonder if that would have made it a tidier job, but it's not so bad anyway if you have a bin beside you.

The principle is simple - you're basically making papier-mâché out of the pages, then carving up the bulk. It only took a few hours + 30 minutes of drying time every time I applied glue. One could easily start and finish a project like this in an afternoon.

Here's the guide I used, if anyone else wants to try:

book box, closed

book box, open

A little post before bed

partly-composed letter to a new penpal

I am slightly obsessed with paper things, at the moment. And penpalling, and planner stationery. I ordered my first Filofax and wonder if I should worry for my sanity. Maybe when it arrives, I can schedule and budget and plan for not turning into a crazy old lady.

It is way past my bedtime, yet I feel compelled to post. Like it will make me fall asleep quickly and have nice dreams. Who knows, maybe it will. So here are some things...

a little snail

Our worm farm seems to be doubling as a snailery lately. After seeing so many baby slugs and snails that don't look like the gargantuan horrible hungry things they grow up to be, I no longer feel these gastropods are a pest in our garden. They're still not allowed in the veggie bed, but like the worms, are treated as little pooping pets in our ecosystem.

pumpkin seedling

So far so good with my pumpkin seedling. I culled its twin sister, so we are feeding only one plant now. Slowly, the other plants - strawberries, silverbeet and rocket - are being harvested out of that bed, so the pumpkin can take over.

home-grown onion on a home-made pizza

We ate home-grown onion on a home-made pizza the other night. #baketober I have eaten a lot of onion this week, which doesn't generally agree with me. I've not been sleeping well, and my appetite's been average. I wonder if this could be a factor.

grilled barramundi from Village Bar

Was good today, though. For lunch, I ate this grilled barramundi from Village Bar, and it was pretty much amazing.

preparing to make a book box

Finally, to celebrate finishing my last horticulture assignment (for real this time), I'm going to try making a book box. More on that when my eyes aren't trying to close.

Hasta mañana, my friends. Good night.